Today marks the second anniversary of Sumlut Roi Ja, an ethnic Kachin woman, being abducted by the Burmese Army. She is still missing, presumed dead.
Sumlut Roi Ja is a 28-year-old mother who was arrested by Burmese Army soldiers on October 28th 2011 while working on a family’s farm near her village Hkai Bang, close to the China border. Her husband and father-in-law were also arrested and they were forced at gunpoint to carry corn to a military camp, Battalion 321, at Mubum. They managed to escape, but Sumlut Roi Ja was left behind.
After her arrest, she was seen at the military camp by several witnesses. It is presumed that Sumlut Roi Ja has been raped and killed.
Sumlut Roi Ja’s husband, Dau Lum, took the case to the Supreme Court in Nay Pyi Daw but the case was dismissed. The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Burma has recently expressed concern about the lack of separation between the executive and the judiciary, which does not operate independently of government. President Thein Sein has taken no action to investigate and prosecute the soldiers who abducted her.
The case highlights ongoing violations of international law in Burma. These include the use of forced labour, the deliberate targeting of civilians in conflict, and the use of rape and sexual violence by the Burmese Army. There have been many documented cases of rape and killings by the Burmese Army since it broke a ceasefire in Kachin State in June 2011.
“The government of Burma does not admit that any human rights abuses are committed by its soldiers, and soldiers know they can rape ethnic women and get away with it,” said Zoya Phan, Campaigns Manager at Burma Campaign UK. “The case of Sumlut Roi Ja is an example of how violations of international law have continued under President Thein Sein. The British government should not be training the Burmese Army in the art of war while it still commits these kinds of abuses. The silence of the international community on the continuing use of sexual violence by the Burmese Army encourages them to continue to believe they can act with impunity.”