Myanmar’s military has admitted that three soldiers gang-raped a woman in the conflict-ridden Rakhine state, after two months of constant denials.
Around June, 2020, a 37-year-old Buddhist woman of the Rakhine ethnicity filed a complaint with a police station against three soldiers, accusing them of gang rape.
However, the military’s information team denied the allegation in a July 2 statement, saying after interrogating the accused soldiers the case was found to be fabricated.
But this week Zaw Min Tun, a spokesman for the team, declared that three soldiers admitted in a second round of interrogation that they had committed the rape.
“The military court will take action against the three soldiers under the 1959 Defense Services Act and also under civilian law,” Zaw Min Tun said.
He however did not elaborate how and when the soldiers will be transferred to a civilian court.
The victim, who is a mother of four children, was raped by three soldiers at gunpoint on June 29 while the troops were stationed overnight in the village of Oo Gar in the Rathedaung Township.
According to testimony, the soldiers gave her 20,000 Myanmar kyats (around $15) and warned her not to report it to police.
They also tried to rape the victim’s 19-year-old daughter.
Lawyer Aye Thuzar from Legal Clinic Myanmar, an NGO fighting on behalf of the victim, called for transparency in the military judicial process as well as for transferring the accused soldiers to a civilian court.
“We learned that the soldiers admitted to the rape during a military interrogation and action will be taken against them under military law.
“But we don’t know yet if the soldiers will be transferred to a civilian court,” she said.
Thuzar added that “We need to end the culture of impunity. These soldiers must be punished for what they did, and judicial process must be completed with full transparency.
“So the accused soldiers must be transferred to Sittwe court and their testimony must be publicized.