Burma

Myanmar Junta Soldiers’ Gang Rape Victim Reveals Her Ordeal

By The Irrawaddy 19 November 2021

“They came four times. There were three of them when they came for the first time. All of them raped my aunt,” said ethnic Chin woman Elena, an alias to protect her identity.

On November 11, Elena’s aunt was gang-raped several times by three junta soldiers in front of her husband. The 27-year-old had given birth little more than a month previously and had yet to recover from a difficult delivery.

“Words fail me,” said Elena’s aunt, a mother of three children. Elena’s aunt speaks only Chin, so Elena translated for her. “She begged them not to [rape her] and told them she had not yet recovered from giving birth. But the soldiers didn’t listen.”

Her oldest child is just five and her new baby was with them when the crime took place. Her husband was forced to crouch at gunpoint while his wife was raped.

This terrible crime happened five days after junta troops arrived in Aklui Khua Village, on the Kale-Tedim road, as reinforcements to crush the growing armed resistance in Chin State to the military regime.

Apart from the gang-rape, drunk regime soldiers committed other crimes in the village. Elena’s aunt, who suffered the worst, initially wanted to stay silent about what happened to her, but later decided to report the crime to a local resistance group, the Civil Defense Militia-Siyin (CDM-Siyin).

Three junta soldiers arrived at the victim’s home at 11pm on the night of November 11 and beat the husband around his head until he was bleeding. Two of the soldiers held the husband at gun point, while the third raped the victim. The other two soldiers then raped the woman as well.

Around half an hour afterwards, two of the soldiers returned and raped her again. They came back two more times that night and stole a phone, a pair of gold earrings and 180,000 kyats.

The victim reported the case to CDM-Siyin on November 14. The group then helped move the family to a safe place, said an official of the group.

“It is abominable to rape a woman, especially when she has given birth just a month ago,” said the official.

The crime was an insult to ethnic Chin people, said CDM-Siyin in a statement condemning the rape and warning that action would be taken against the perpetrators.

Villagers said that they saw ‘22’ on the uniforms of the junta soldiers stationed in the village, identifying them as belonging to Light Infantry Division 22 from the Myanmar military’s South Eastern Command based in Karen State.

However, light infantry divisions are directly commanded by the office of the army commander-in-chief. They are not based in fixed locations, but are flexible military units ready for mobilization across the country, said military sources.

An army officer who appeared to be the commander of the troops deployed in Aklui Khua Village later apologized to the victim. She said that when she came to the unit to receive the apology, she saw one of the perpetrators tied up and that he seemed to have been beaten up.

“The face of the soldier was swollen and covered in blood. He might have been punched and he was tied up outside,” said Elena, interpreting for her aunt.

Despite the fact that she was raped by three junta soldiers, only one admitted the crime. “The soldier who was tied up said he did it alone. So the other two escaped,” said Elena.

The items stolen from Elena’s aunt’s house were returned, but she was not told what action would be taken against the perpetrator. Junta troops looted five other houses in the village, stealing valuables. In one of the houses, they tied up a pregnant woman and beat her husband in front of her, said locals.

On the evening of November 13, the junta forces moved on to Thaing Ngin Village at the junction of the Tedim and Falam roads.

In late October, junta forces committed other atrocities in Chin State, More than 160 houses, as well as churches, in Thantlang went up in flames following regime artillery strikes on the town. Many villages in Mindat Township were also burned down and looted.

In Shan State, a junta soldier raped a 62-year-old woman in Kutkai Township on November 7. The regime confirmed the rape case and said action would be taken against the soldier responsible.

Daw Tin Tin Nyo, an advisor to Burmese Women’s Union, a rights group that documents human rights violations against women in ethnic areas, said that Myanmar military commanders hardly ever take action in such cases.

“They never bother to punish the perpetrators in these cases. Only when a [rape] case grabs headlines, do they say that they will punish the perpetrator. But, in fact, the military has never had an open judicial system,” she said.

Soldiers who commit rape are tried at court-martials instead of civilian courts and no one knows if they are punished.

The CDM-Siyin official said it is unacceptable that junta soldiers are committing such crimes.

“The upper level officials will say that they have no knowledge of such incidents. They don’t bother to control their subordinates. They are all the same,” said one Chin resident.

Elena’s aunt has been left with permanent mental scars from the attack. “She is not talking much now. She is very scared. She is scared even when a dog barks. She is different now,” said Elena.

“I want to urge them [junta soldiers] not to do what they did to me when they arrive in other places,” said her aunt.

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