'They Rape Everyone': Widespread Use of Sexual Violence in Myanmar | Country specialists | 14 Jun 2018 | Amnesty International UK

'They Rape Everyone': Widespread Use of Sexual Violence in Myanmar

The Myanmar authorities launched a vicious campaign of ethnic cleansing little more than six months ago, on 25 August 2017, in response to attacks by the Rohingya armed group the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). Today, the UN Human Rights Council convened in Geneva to hear the overwhelming and concrete evidence given by the SR and FFM on Myanmar about the atrocities happening in Myanmar. The crimes and atrocities happening in Myanmar clearly amount to crimes against humanity.

Indiscriminate Violence

Violence against the Rohingya in Myanmar was exerted irrespective of age. In their recent report, 'No One Was Left', Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) estimates that at least 730 children under the age of five died from violence between 25 August and 24 September. Of the estimated 730 children under five killed since 25 August, 59.1% were shot, 14.8% were burned to death in their homes and 6.9% were beaten to death.  

During what the Myanmar authorities have called 'clearance operations', villages have been attacked and burned down. Men and women are brought into the paddy fields and separated. The army pick “the most beautiful girls” to be taken away and raped, either by individual soldiers or groups.  The rest are shot dead and dumped in mass graves.

Children have been targeted during these 'clearance operations'. Villagers have been shot at point blank and some were burned alive in their homes, often the elderly, disabled or young children unable to escape from the attacks. Many have been hacked to death by knives and swords. Children and babies have been killed, boys arrested and girls raped.

'I lost my six children, three girls, three boys. The smallest one was three months old. When I was fleeing from the military, I took one baby of the size of my own baby. I thought it was mine. But after a while I realised that it’s not my baby, this is another dead baby. Its tummy was slashed apart'.
Female, 35-years-old, from Tula Toli/Min Gyi Ywa, Maungdaw Township, 14 September 2017

'They hit my baby with something heavy. It hit his head and he died, I saw how his scalp split open, his brain came out. I lost my baby.'
Female, 25-years-old, from Tula Toli/Min Gyi Ywa, Maungdaw Township, 16 September 2017

Children have also seen family members and neighbours killed, maimed or abused.

Ms Yanghee Lee, the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Violations in Myanmar recounted her experience when she visited Cox Bazar, Bangladesh: 'A 3 year old boy came to me and said “they chopped up my father.” No one, let alone a child should have to see their own father killed, no child should have to live with the trauma of this experience. Imagine if this was your own child or grandchild.'

Widespread Use of Sexual Violence

There are also many reports of sexual violence of an extremely cruel and inhumane nature, including brutal rapes, gang rapes and other forms of sexual violence, often targeting girls and young women. Girls have been abducted, detained and raped in the security forces’ camps.

MSF, in their recent report, says more than half the girls it has treated after sexual assaults are under 18.  Of those fleeing Rakhine state who come to the clinic for treatment relating to rape, 'about 50% are aged 18 or under, including one girl who was nine years old and several others under the age of 10.' They have shown fresh and deep bite marks on their faces and bodies, their body parts have been mutilated. Many of the women and girls who were raped have died from their injuries.

'Two weeks before I left the military came at night. They were wearing uniforms, green, that’s how I know. They did it to me first. Then Mogh52 came to my house, maybe eight or nine, and also raped me. I don’t know how many did this, I passed out, but I am certain of at least three. Then they came to my house two times more, each after a few days.'
Female, 18-years-old, from Mey Rullah/Myinn Hlut, Maungdaw Township, 30 August 2017

Aerlyn Pfeil, an MSF midwife in Cox Bazar said, 'When I’ve been speaking to survivors of sexual violence, one of the more heartbreaking and common requests I’ve had is for new cloth skirts, because [weeks] later, they’re still wearing the same clothes they were raped or assaulted in.'

Human Rights Watch said last week: 'The Burmese military has clearly used rape as one of a range of horrific methods of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya.'

One mother described how she had to choose which children to save. The security forces had entered her house and grabbed her young daughter. Her son tried to save his sister and was attacked by the security forces.

The mother watched from the other end of the house and made the split second decision that that these two children would not live, but that she could perhaps still save her two younger children. They fled.

Her husband returned the next morning to the village and dug through pits of bodies until he found the corpse of their son. They never found the body of their daughter. The mother told the Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar with haunted eyes: “How can I continue with my life having made this choice?”

These horrific experiences have often been compounded by the arduous nature of peoples’ journeys to Bangladesh. The Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar has received harrowing accounts of families’ long journeys across difficult terrain, without food, sometimes resulting in the death of injured, weakened or separated family members.

More than 670,000 people have fled into Bangladesh since last August, in one of the fastest concentrated movements of people in recent history, joining up to 500,000 Rohingya who have fled in previous years. The official estimate of unaccompanied and separated children in the camps in Bangladesh exceeds 5,000.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights described the situation in Myanmar, as a 'textbook example of ethnic cleansing'.

The conduct of the security forces clearly amounts to crimes against humanity.

The government of Myanmar are unable and unwilling to hold these violations to account. The International community must adopt strong and effective measures to stop the ongoing atrocities. We urge Myanmar to support and facilitate criminal responsibility for these horrific crimes.

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