Myanmar Military to Investigate Soldiers for Rape of Rakhine Woman

By Min Aung Khine 23 July 2020

SITTWE, Rakhine—The Myanmar military is conducting an internal investigation into the alleged rape of a woman in Rakhine State’s Rathedaung Township by three military personnel, according to Major General Tun Tun Nyi of the military’s Tatmadaw True News Information Team.

The 36-year-old woman from Uga Village in Rathedaung filed a complaint with Sittwe Police Station on July 10, reporting she was raped by three Myanmar military soldiers at gunpoint. The police station accepted the complaint and opened cases for rape, abduction with the intent to rape and aiding and abetting rape.

“We are conducting an investigation according to procedures and the police station that has accepted the complaint of the victim will also do police work according to their procedures,” Maj-Gen Tun Tun Nyi told The Irrawaddy.

He added that the military will cooperate fully with “relevant organizations” to find out the truth.

Police Major Zaw Naing, head of the Sittwe Township Police Force, said an investigation is underway.

“What I can say for the time being is that we are carrying out an investigation—this is all we can say. We can’t say how many witnesses we are interviewing,” the police major told The Irrawaddy.

Lawyer Daw Mya Thuzar from the Sittwe branch of Legal Clinic Myanmar is acting on behalf of the victim and called for an impartial investigation into the case.

“Only the police can do an investigation, but outsiders aren’t allowed. Outsiders can’t monitor the investigation. We want the truth to be established impartially,” said Daw Mya Thuzar.

According to Rakhine Women’s Network chair Daw Nyo Aye, police have questioned around 20 people in Uga.

Local residents of Uga said that Myanmar military troops arrived in their village around 6 p.m. on June 29 and stayed overnight. When the soldiers arrived, male villagers fled, fearing that they might be arrested on suspicion of having ties to the Arakan Army (AA), an ethnic armed group fighting the Myanmar military in northern Rakhine.

The victim hid in her house together with five other women and three children. Three soldiers were staying the night at her neighbors’ house. They summoned her for interrogation and then raped her at gunpoint, she said.

The Myanmar military has denied the accusations of rape. In its statement on July 2, the Tatmadaw True News Information Team said Myanmar military troops arrived at Uga Village around 7 p.m. on June 30 and left the village around 8 p.m. to stay overnight in the mango plantations some 250 m north of the village.

It added that troops then entered the village around 6 a.m. the following day, asked for information about the AA and left for the mountains to the north of the village around 8 a.m.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.

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