UN Medics See Evidence of Rape in Myanmar Army’s Cleansing of Rohingya

UN Medics See Evidence of Rape in Myanmar Army’s Cleansing of Rohingya UN Medics See Evidence of Rape in Myanmar Army’s Cleansing of Rohingya

Doctors treating some of the 429,000 Rohingya Muslims who have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar in recent weeks have seen dozens of women with injuries consistent with violent sexual attacks, UN clinicians and other health workers said.

The medics’ accounts, backed in some cases by medical notes reviewed by Reuters, lend weight to repeated allegations, ranging from molestation to gang rape, leveled by women from the stateless minority group against Myanmar’s armed forces, news outlets reported.

Myanmar officials have mostly dismissed such allegations as militant propaganda designed to defame its military, which they say is engaged in legitimate counterinsurgency operations and under orders to protect civilians.

Zaw Htay, spokesman for Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, said the authorities would investigate any allegations brought to them. “Those rape victim women should come to us,” he said. “We will give full security to them. We will investigate and we will take action.”

Suu Kyi herself has not commented on the numerous allegations of sexual assault committed by the military against Rohingya women made public since late last year.

The medics say they do not attempt to establish definitively what happened to their patients, but have seen an unmistakable pattern in the stories and physical symptoms of dozens of women, who invariably say Myanmar soldiers were the perpetrators.

  Gang Rape Horrors Haunt Refugees

Shamila clutches her daughter’s hand so tightly it turns white as she recounts how soldiers broke into her home in Myanmar and gang-raped her in front of her children —a story heard over and over in Bangladesh refugee camps.

UN observers say they have seen scores of rape and gang rape survivors among the Rohingya who have fled ethnic violence in Myanmar in recent weeks.

Almost all said the perpetrators were men in uniform who they identified as Myanmar military.

Those cases, experts say, are almost certainly the tip of the iceberg.

The social stigma surrounding rape in their conservative Muslim society and the challenge of finding shelter and food means many women and girls have likely not yet come forward.

Shamila, not her real name, says she was still bleeding from the attack when she arrived in Bangladesh after walking for three days.

“All three soldiers raped me,” she said, tears in her eyes, as she gripped the hand of the six-year-old sitting beside her in a pink vest and shorts. “When they left, I ran out of the house with two of my children and followed the crowd of people running for their lives.”

Shamila’s husband was out when the attack happened and she has not seen him since.


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