UN Special Representative condemns Myanmar military over sexual violence

·3-min read
Representative Image
Representative Image

New York [US], June 27 (ANI): United Nations Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Pramila Patten on Friday "strongly condemned" the reports of sexual violence in detention sites by Myanmar military's and urged to cease it with "immediate effect".

The patterns of sexual violence perpetrated by the Myanmar military, also known as the Tatmadaw, against women from ethnic and religious minority groups, as well as against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity, as documented by the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, is extremely concerning, Patten said in a statement on Friday.

The statement read, "Night raids, arbitrary arrests, sieges of townships and neighborhoods, torture and deaths in detention, attacks on locations and sites where civilians are gathered or have fled, and reports of sexual violence in detention sites, particularly sexual assault, torture, physical and verbal abuse and intimidation, have become an alarming feature of daily life. These alleged reports of sexual violence may amount to violations of international criminal law for those who commit, command, or condone them."

These patterns of sexual violence have also been documented in successive reports of the UN Secretary-General on conflict-related sexual violence to the UN Security Council since 2011. In 2017, the UN Secretary-General listed the Tatmadaw as a party "credibly suspected of committing or being responsible for patterns of rape or other forms of sexual violence in armed conflict on the agenda of the Security Council" and, with its integrated Border Guard, remains listed to this day, the statement added.

"The emerging reports of sexual violence in detention settings are very disturbing. I call for an end to all forms of violence against women, as well as unimpeded access to independently investigate the alleged reports." Patten said.

At a time when Myanmar faces a continued threat from the spread of COVID-19, and access to public health services has been severely impacted by the political crisis, some public health facilities have also suspended their operations due to serious concerns related to attacks on, and the occupation and looting of health facilities and hospitals.

"The current crisis is disrupting essential health and social services, including safe pregnancy and childbirth. In the midst of this civilian suffering, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential that appropriate multi-sectoral services are available to all civilians including non-discriminatory care for survivors of sexual violence, and unimpeded access for humanitarian actors to provide essential lifesaving services," Patten added.

Patten concluded her statement by applauding the work of the women's rights organisations in the country that are helping citizens despite the increasingly volatile situation.

Since the February military coup in Myanmar that ousted the democratically elected government led by civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who turned 76 on Saturday, she and other prominent politicians have been detained and hundreds of civilians have been killed by security forces.

As of Saturday, 881 people had been killed by the military junta since the coup, with around 5,100 others in detention, according to the AAPP. (ANI)

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