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Myanmar Army’s Rape of Rohingya Women Sweeping, Methodical

Myanmar Army’s Rape of Rohingya Women Sweeping, MethodicalMyanmar Army’s Rape of Rohingya Women Sweeping, Methodical

The rape of Rohingya women by Myanmar’s security forces has been sweeping and methodical, the Associated Press news agency found in interviews with 29 women and girls who fled to neighboring Bangladesh.

The sexual assault survivors from several refugee camps were interviewed separately and extensively, Al Jazeera reported.

The women gave AP their names, but agreed to be publicly identified only by their first initial, citing fears they or their families would be killed by Myanmar’s military.

They ranged in age from 13 years old to 35, came from a wide swath of villages in Myanmar’s Rakhine State and described assaults between October 2016 and mid-September.

Yet there was a sickening sameness to their stories, with distinct patterns in their accounts, their assailants’ uniforms and the details of the rapes themselves.

The testimonies bolster the UN’s contention that Myanmar’s armed forces are systematically employing rape as a “calculated tool of terror” aimed at exterminating the Rohingya people.

The Myanmar armed forces did not respond to multiple requests from the AP for comment, but an internal military investigation last month concluded that none of the assaults ever took place.

Doctors and aid workers, however, say they are stunned at the sheer volume of rapes, and suspect only a fraction of women have come forward.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) volunteers have treated 113 sexual violence survivors since August, a third of them under 18. The youngest was nine.

Each woman interviewed by the AP described attacks that involved groups of men, often coupled with other forms of extreme violence.

Every woman except one said the assailants wore military-style uniforms, generally dark green or camouflage.

The lone woman who described her attackers as wearing plain clothes said her neighbors recognized them from the local military outpost.

Many women said the uniforms bore various patches featuring stars or, in a couple cases, arrows. Such patches represent the different units of Myanmar’s army.

Though the scale of these attacks is new, the use of sexual violence by Myanmar’s security forces is not.

Before she became Myanmar’s civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi herself said Myanmar’s armed forces used rape as a weapon to intimidate ethnic nationalities.

Yet Suu Kyi’s government has not only failed to condemn the recent accounts of rape, it has dismissed the accounts as lies.

In December 2016, the government issued a press release disputing Rohingya women’s reports of sexual assaults, accompanied by an image that said “Fake Rape”.

 

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