Myanmar’s Civilian Govt Vows Action After NLD Official Accused of Child Rape

By The Irrawaddy 10 May 2023

Myanmar’s parallel National Unity Government (NUG) says it will cooperate with Thai authorities to arrest a National League for Democracy (NLD) member accused of raping a Myanmar child in Thailand’s Mae Sot.

“We are working to open a case and issue an arrest warrant for the suspect,” NUG spokesman Nay Phone Latt told The Irrawaddy.

The suspect has been identified as U Aung Min, secretary of the executive committee of the NLD chapter in Yangon’s Twante Township. He is accused of raping the five-year-old daughter of a striking education officer who took refuge in Mae Sot after fleeing Myanmar for fear of junta reprisals.

Family members of the victim filed a complaint with the NUG against U Aung Min on May 2. The suspect remains at large.

Family members accuse him of sexually abusing the girl, citing her accounts. The accused, the family of the alleged victim and other families lived together in a rented compound in Mae Sot after fleeing Myanmar.

The alleged victim was examined by a striking nurse on May 1. The nurse said she found evidence of molestation and penetration. The mother asked for a sexual assault forensic examination at a Mae Sot hospital the following day but had not yet obtained the result when the complaint was filed with the NUG.

The NUG will cooperate with local police and law enforcement in line with international procedures to arrest and interrogate the suspect, said U Nay Phone Latt.

“We will inform Thai authorities about it. We don’t know yet how Thai authorities will respond,” he said.

The NUG’s Women, Youth and Children Affairs Ministry has relocated the victim and her mother and is providing counseling, according to the NUG.

NLD central executive committee member U Kyaw Htwe said: “I support taking legal action against him if he really committed [this crime]. The party will also take harsh disciplinary action against him. But if he is innocent, justice must be served for him too.”

The NUG said its court will also punish the suspect if he is found guilty, without providing details of what punishment would be imposed for the sexual abuse of a child.

Political activists say the NUG’s judicial system is not yet properly functional, and has been unable to handle the majority of previous allegations of crimes committed by resistance forces. Only when the NUG acts promptly and solves less complicated crimes like rape, will its justice system win the trust of Myanmar people, said activists.

A political activist said: “People have filed complaints with the NUG. But many complaints including [rights] violations by armed [resistance] groups have not yet been dealt with. Whenever a crime happens, the NUG will issue statements vowing punitive action. But I haven’t seen the NUG administer a fitting punishment in any case so far.”

The 2021 coup and violent junta crackdown triggered the civil disobedience movement that has seen a mass exodus of civil servants, politicians and political activists to neighboring countries. The majority have sought refuge in Thailand.