January 20, 2015

Burma Campaign UK has confirmed reports that two ethnic Kachin teachers were raped by Burmese Army soldiers overnight on 19th/20th January.

Burma Campaign UK is calling on the British government to implement provisions in its Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative and dispatch a team of experts to Burma to investigate the case. Burma Campaign UK is also calling on the British government to halt its training of the Burmese Army, which is currently taking place.

Two female Kachin teachers, Maran Lu Ra (20 years old) and Tangbau Hkawn Nan Tsin (21 years old) from the Kachin Baptist Convention, were brutally raped and killed by the Burmese Army overnight on 19th/20th January. The attack took place in Kaunghka village, Northern Shan State.  This area has been facing increased conflict since 2011, when the Burmese Army broke a 17-year-old ceasefire with the Kachin Independence Army.

Burmese Army soldiers committing rape and sexual violence are able to do so with impunity. The Women’s League of Burma’s most recent report, ‘If they had hope, they would speak’, documented 118 cases of sexual violence against ethnic women by the Burmese military since 2010.

The international community, including United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, have repeatedly called on the Burmese government to fully investigate such cases. It has failed to do so. The Burmese government has also failed to implement any of the provisions of the Declaration to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, which it signed last year.

As a result of the ongoing impunity, women’s organisations in Burma, Burma Campaign UK and other NGOs are calling for an independent international investigation into these incidents of sexual violence, many of which meet the legal definition of war crimes.  The British government has refused to support such an investigation, in contravention of its own stated goal of ending impunity for sexual violence in conflict.

Last year the British government controversially began providing training to the Burmese Army, without placing any requirements that the Burmese Army agree to reforms and end impunity for sexual violence and rape committed by its soldiers. The British government has no system in place to ensure the soldiers trained using British taxpayers money have not been involved in rape or other war crimes.

After pressure from the British Parliament and Burma Campaign UK, the British government did finally include Burma in its Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative, but it has carefully targeted projects in Burma that avoid directly addressing the use of rape and sexual violence by the Burmese Army, apparently for fear of offending the Burmese government, from which it is trying to secure trade and investment agreements for British companies.

“The brutal rape and killing of these two Kachin teachers is just one of the many examples of how the Burmese Army is still using rape as a weapon of war,” said Zoya Phan, Campaigns Manager at Burma Campaign UK. “The international community has mostly been silent about the ongoing use of rape by the Burmese Army, and this has encouraged the Burmese Army to think they can keep getting away with these crimes. The British government and others must now support an international investigations into rape and sexual violence in Burma. The British government, which claims ending sexual violence in conflict is a top foreign policy goal, must stop avoiding tackling this issue in Burma, and insist on sending a team of experts to investigate this case. It is simply not good enough for the Foreign Office to keep insisting the Burmese government carry out its own investigation when it knows that a genuine investigation is extremely unlikely. In the UK we don’t ask criminals to investigate their own crimes.”

For more information contact Zoya Phan on +44(0)20 7324 4710 (UK)

In Northern Shan State contact Mr Zau Ra on +95 949309263 (Burma)

Burma Campaign UK briefing on Rape and Sexual Violence by the Burmese Army is available here.


Correction 22 January 2015: The age of Tangbau Hkawn Nan Tsin has been corrected from 20 to 21.

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