By Zin Linn
Three Chinese women were gang-raped Friday by Burmese soldiers under Burma Army’s Military Operation Command-3 (MOC-3). The commander of MOC-3 is Brig-Gen Myat Kyaw and the troops are under the direct control of Northern Regional Command (NRC), based in Myitkyina, in Kachin State, referring officials from Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Kachin News Group said.
Each woman was raped by at least ten Burmese soldiers at the banana plantation in Shadan Pa, between the Namsan Hka River and Munglai Hka River, west of Myitkyina-Manmaw (Bhamo) Road, sources close to the victims said.
One of the three women was unconscious for hours at the nearby public hospital in Laiza, the headquarters of the Kachin Independence Organization, said hospital sources.
There are altogether ten battalions Under the MOC-3 command. They are Mogaung-based Infantry Battalion No. 74, Namti-based Light Infantry Battalions No. 381, 382 and 390, Kawa Yang (Mogaung)-based LIB No. 383 and 384, Nammar-based LIB 385 and 386, Mali Zup (Hopin)-based LIB No. 388 and 389, the source said.
The troops from all the battalions have been deployed in the area of the banana plantation since September, to seize the KIA strongholds near the China border. There are over 30,000 acres of banana fields in Shadan Pa and the land has been rented from the KIO since 2008 by Chinese businessman, Lau Ying, of Yunnan province, southwest China, quoting local residents the KNG said.
There are more than 20,000 Chinese and Burmese workers on the plantation and the KIA told all workers to return to their homes repeatedly and KIA’s last warning to plantation workers was issued on September 15th, KIA officials in Laiza said.
A report by the Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand (KWAT) entitled “Burma’s Covered Up War: Atrocities Against the Kachin People”, released on 7 October, stated the Burma Army broke a 17 year ceasefire with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and has committed killings, torture and sexual violence, displacing over 25,000 people.
The report said 37 women and girls were raped and 13 were killed during the first two months of the conflict in Kachin State.
KWAT spokesperson, Shirley Seng, said, “Some women were gang-raped in front of their families. In one case, soldiers slaughtered a woman’s grandchild in front of her before raping and killing her also.”
It became a war zone when the Burmese government broke its 17-year ceasefire and started a large-scale offensive against the KIA on June 9th.
The Shan Women’s Action Network’s landmark ‘License to Rape’ report in 2002 cited 173 incidents of rape by Burmese troops in the Shan state alone, between 1996 and 2001. Of these, around 61 percent were believed to be gang rapes, while a quarter resulted in deaths.
The Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN) and the Shan Human Rights Foundation (SHRF) also released a press statement on 14 July by condemning Burma Army of using rape as war weapon. The Burma Army has evidently given permission its soldiers to use rape as a terror weapon in its offensive against the Shan State Army-North (SSA-N), according to information documented by SWAN and SHRF.
“Burma Army troops are being given free rein to rape children, the pregnant and the elderly,” said SWAN coordinator Hseng Moon. “We strongly condemn these war crimes.”
While President Thein Sein has been swearing to build a democratic nation, his military wing has been violating the basic human rights up until now. All these war crimes violated by Burma Army will become troubles for the President.
So, before too late, the President must control the whole army and release a decree calling nationwide ceasefire. It is a shame not only for the President Thein Sein government but also for the whole nation that Burma Army has allowed rapists in its national defense service.