Burma

Rakhine Woman Files Complaint Accusing Myanmar Military Troops of Gang Rape

By Min Aung Khine 13 July 2020

SITTWE, Rakhine—A local woman in Rakhine State’s Rathedaung Township has filed a complaint with the Sittwe Township Police Station against three military personnel accusing them of gang rape.

The 36-year-old woman from Uga Village in Rathedaung claimed that she was raped by three Myanmar military soldiers at gunpoint. She also underwent sexual assault forensic examination at Sittwe Hospital as she filed the complaint on Friday.

“I want the truth to be revealed, so I filed the complaint at the police station openly, by telling the truth,” said the victim as she met the press on Friday evening.

Local residents of Uga said that Myanmar military troops arrived at 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 and summoned her for interrogation before raping her at gunpoint, she said.

“They took me to their place saying that they had things to question me about. There, they said they had suspicions about me. I asked what it was about. They told me that I had two options: they said they would shoot me as a rebel if I flee, and the second option was that I had to give my body,” said the victim.

“As I attempted to flee, two soldiers held me, threatened me with knives and guns, and raped me one after another,” said the victim.

The three soldiers allegedly gave her 20,000 kyats (US$14.67) and told her not to tell anyone, including her relatives.

An hour later, one of the three soldiers then attempted to rape the victim’s 19-year-old daughter. Her daughter had just given birth to a child several days earlier, the victim said.

“One of the three soldiers who raped me came and said he would interrogate my daughter. I told him that my daughter gave birth to a child just six days ago. I begged him again and again to spare my daughter as I had given them what they wanted. But he forcibly took my daughter at gunpoint,” said the victim.

However, the victim’s 70-year-old mother then risked her life to save the young girl from the rape.

The Myanmar military’s Tatmadaw True News Information Team issued a statement on July 2 denying the alleged rape.

According to the statement, Tatmadaw 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 meters north of the village.

The military’s statement said the 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.

The chairwoman of the Rakhine Women’s Network, Daw Nyo Aye, lamented that Rakhine women have been seriously affected by armed conflicts and the resultant lack of security.

“It took around a week for us to file the complaint, because she was suffering from severe emotional trauma. We had to help her a lot so that she can speak out like a normal person and without fear,” she said.

The Sittwe Township Police Station has accepted the complaint and opened cases for rape, abduction with the intent to rape and aiding and abetting rape.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.

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