A new report released today by Kaladan Press Network documents the Myanmar Army’s widespread, systematic use of sexual violence during its “clearance operation” against the Rohingya in 2017.
“Rape by Command”, based on testimonies of 36 refugees, including eight rape survivors, provides evidence that government troops raped well over 300 women and girls in villages across northern Rakhine State. Maps in the report situate the sexual violence, including in downtown Maungdaw.
Most rapes took place during attacks starting on August 25, when hundreds of troops entered villages shooting indiscriminately, torturing and killing civilians, and burning houses. Women and girls were caught and raped in their houses, as they were running away, or after being rounded up in large groups in the villages. Scores were raped as they tried to flee across the Mayu mountain ranges towards the Bangladesh border.
Rape was committed flagrantly by groups of soldiers, often in front of other troops and civilians, showing clear confidence of impunity. Women were also forcibly detained in military camps for rape.
Rape incidents involved other brutal forms of torture, including biting, beating, cutting with knives, and burning alive. In twelve locations, rape victims – including young girls – were killed or died from their injuries, some after horrific mutilation.
“Women and girls were raped, mutilated and killed for their very identity as Rohingya,” said Ms Razia Sultana, chief researcher of the report. “Rape is being used as a weapon of genocide.”
The report urges the Myanmar government to stop blindly defending its army, and start holding the military’s entire command structure to account for the systematic use of rape and other atrocities against civilians.
“Indescribable horrors have been inflicted on Rohingya women and girls,” said Razia. “It is time for those in command to be held responsible.”