A Chin Girl Speaks at UN about Gender Violence in Burma
By Salai Elaisa Vahnie – February 27, 2007-New York: Cheery Zahau of Women League of Chinland ( WLC) spoke today at the United Nations held the panel discussion at its 51st Session of Commission on the Status of Women at the UN Headquarters building in New York. The panel discussion focused on discrimination and violence against women in Burma and Sudan. The panelists presented about rape and sexual violence in both countries where Mass Rape have been practiced as a State Sanctioned Weapon.
In her panel presentation, Cheery, coordinator of WLC, figured the total number of victims documented in several different sources of reports prepared by Women organizations in Burma to be as many as 1,859 girls and women.
“Often the rapes have been carried out with extreme brutality and in some cases resulting in the death of the victim. In one case, a woman was stripped naked and hung on a cross, in a deliberate act of mockery against her Christian religion. This indicates that sexual violence is being deliberately used as a weapon to torture and terrorize local ethnic populations into submission.
Almost half of the rapes were gang-rapes, showing that there is a collective understanding among the troops that they can rape with impunity. And about third of the rapes were committed by officers, sometimes in their own army camps. Again, this is a clear example to the troops that rape is acceptable under their command.”
“It is very sad and unacceptable that none of these criminals are prosecuted”, she told Chinland Guardian.
These crimes are committed by the SPDC officers and her troops who took power in 1988 after crushing the democracy movement led by Aung San Suu Kyi. It continued to refuse to hand over power when Suu Kyi let National League for Democracy party won a landslide election victory in 1990 fair and free election.
Cheery also expresses her sympathy with women inside Burma and wanted to send a message to them that their suffering is heard by the World.
She repeats the need for the United Nations Security Council immediate intervention in Burma crisis while calling China and Russia to reconsider their position on Burma issue. “By opposing the UNSC resolution on Burma in January 2007, China and Russia gave the wrong signal to the Burmese military regime to continue killing its own people and to rape more women and girls” she said.
Ambassador Grover Joseph Rees, U.S. Department of Sate’ Special Representative for Social issues, who also is a lead panelist at “Rape and Burma” criticized UN for failing to fully cooperate with the initiative.
A one and half hours long panel discussion on “State-Sanctioned Mass Rape in Burma and Sudan” was organized by the US-UN Office and moderated by the Ambassador Patricia Brister, US Representative to the UN Commission on the Status of Women.