Provide info on rape of Rohingya women
Myanmar should comply with a United Nations committee's request for information on the military's responsibility for widespread rape of Rohingya women and girls in northern Rakhine State, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Fortify Rights said yesterday.
The two groups provided the committee with an 11-page joint report on sexual violence committed by Myanmar's security forces against Rohingya villagers in 2016 and 2017.
On November 2017, the independent expert committee monitoring implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), a global women's rights treaty, requested that the Myanmar government submit a report on the situation of women and girls from northern Rakhine State by May 28, 2018, HRW said in a press release yesterday.
The CEDAW committee has requested for such an “exceptional report” three times previously.
“The CEDAW committee's rare request for Myanmar to report on sexual violence against Rohingya women and girls outside normal reporting procedures shows the extreme nature of the military's mass atrocities,” said Skye Wheeler, women's rights emergencies researcher at HRW. “The government should cease its shameless denials and start openly cooperating with international monitors.”
The CEDAW committee's request followed numerous reports of Myanmar army-led attacks on Rohingya Muslims, including mass killings, rape and other sexual violence, and widespread arson in hundreds of predominantly Rohingya villages, forcing more than 717,000 Rohingyas to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh since August 2017.
The joint report by HRW and Fortify Rights includes information based on hundreds of interviews with Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, including 37 women and girls who were raped in August and September 2017, mostly by gangs of uniformed soldiers.
Witnesses and survivors also saw many other women and girls raped in groups, which amounted to patterns of gang rapes, as well as biting, kicking, and other physical abuse. Many recounted soldiers killing their elderly parents or children, even by throwing their infants into fires.
“Myanmar's security forces used brutal gang rapes to terrify and injure as part of their ongoing attack on the Rohingya population,” said Matthew Smith, chief executive officer at Fortify Rights. “The authorities' denials, essentially saying Rohingya women are liars, compound the terrible harms inflicted.”
The CEDAW committee also requested that the Myanmar government report on any efforts to provide justice and other reparations to victims of sexual violence, as well as on access to sexual and reproductive health care for Rohingya women and girls.
Successive Myanmar governments have persecuted the Rohingya for decades, denying them citizenship rights, freedom of movement, and equal access to education and healthcare.
“Myanmar has repeatedly ignored international calls for information and access,” Smith said. “The CEDAW committee's report request was an important step, but the UN should now ramp up its pressure on the government to end its atrocities against women and girls as well as its denials of the abuses ever taking place.”