Target: President Thein Sein of Burma
Goal: Crack down on sexual violence against women by members of the military
Sexual violence conflicts in Burma are causing a controversial divide between authorities and activists as government officials continue to cover up rape crimes by soldiers from the general public. Four women in the remote region of Chin State were arrested for arranging protests urging punishment of a Burmese soldier who was arrested for the attempted rape of a 55-year-old woman. Instead of prosecuting soldiers accordingly, Burmese authorities are sweeping these cases under the rug and focusing their attention on those who speak out against rape crimes.
The four women of Chin State organized two demonstrations of more than 600 women in nearby towns of Razua and Matupi, and were charged under the ultimately flawed Peaceful Procession Law which states public right to assemble, but includes outrageously impractical regulations that make it almost impossible to engage in peaceful protest.
Burma’s military has gone to great lengths to protect its soldiers from being convicted of rape crimes, despite citizens’ cries calling for transparent justice. Since 2002, there have been countless credible reports by Burmese women’s rights groups detailing extensive impunities granted for rampant sexual violence committed by Burma’s armed forces. According to Human Rights Watch, the practice of rape in war is a ‘…widespread feature of Burmese army counterinsurgency operations…and in military cantonment zones around civilian settlements.’ In other words, soldiers are encouraged, even championed, to engage in rape crimes as a way to demonstrate resilient military or political force against the activities of enemy nations.
As the military continues to deny the fact that its troops perpetrate rape in war, Burma’s government maintains its disturbing momentum of turning a blind eye to sexual violence cases and prosecuting activists who simply wish to inform the public of these injustices. Sign the petition to encourage the Burmese military to improve its human rights record and end sexual violence conflicts.
Dear President Thein Sein,
It has recently come to my attention that the Burmese military has been involved in a slew of rape and sexual violence crimes against women — many of which have been ignored or shockingly granted impunity. As a supporter of women’s rights, I am appalled and saddened that military personnel, soldiers and even government officials seem to condone the repugnant practice of rape in war. There is nothing impressive or outstanding about raping innocent women in an effort to showcase authority, power and military resilience.
Instead of turning your attention to the actions of women’s rights groups and activists, you should be focusing on the reformation of your military’s human rights record and should be supporting the actions of groups committed to ending sexual violence in Burma. I urge you to free the four women activists of Chin State and do more to prevent rape crimes perpetuated by the Burmese armed forces.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: DavidDennisPhotos.com via Fotopedia