Thursday, August 11, 2011

US women senators condemn rape as weapon of war in Burma

Thursday, 11 August 2011 11:11 Mizzima News

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Thirteen women senators in the United States have sent a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling on her to take action over reports of rape in Burma.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during
the closing of the international conference
The letter dated August 10, and obtained from the U.S Campaign for Burma, voices concern about rape being used by the Burmese army as a “weapon of war.”

The senators urged Secretary Clinton to “call on the [Burmese] regime to end the practice of use of rape as a weapon of war, and pursue establishing an international Commission of Inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Burma.”

The 13 senators who signed the letter include Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Key Bailey Hutchison (R-TX).

The senators cited several recent reports that the Burmese army has been using gang rape in its conflicts with ethnic minorities along its borders. The Kachin Women's Association of Thailand reported that dozens of women have been gang raped since the truce between Burma and the Kachin Independence Army broke down in June, and cited a claim that Burmese soldiers have “orders to rape women.”

The Shan Women's Action Network has also been collecting information on all known cases of rape during the Burmese government's new offensive against the Shan State Army following the collapse of a 22-year ceasefire, with reports that the army has been given free rein to rape women and children.

Meanwhile, the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) issued a statement on Monday accusing the German government of blocking investigations into war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against members of ethnic minorities in Burma.

According to the STP, there are regular reports of systematic rape, forced labour, arbitrary arrests, executions, torture, forced relocation and intentional attacks on civilians in the minority-regions of Burma. More than 700,000 people are on the run from this violence, the statement said.

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