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Burma Issues Report on WoWomen in B
Subject: Burma Issues Report on WoWomen in Burma; Part 2 of 2
WEAVERS OF THE CLOTH
Janis E. Nickel
NOTE: The endnotes contain much information in addition to that
which is mentioned in the paper. It is the documentation of a
portion of what has been happening to women in Burma.
Abreviations - Sources
TN The Nation
BP Bangkok Post
NLM The New Light of Myanmar
FEER Far Eastern Economic Review
AI "Amnesty International" reports
ASDF As recorded by the "All Student Democratic Front"
Dawn "Dawn Newsletter"
KHR Reports from the Karen Human Rights group
KNU Karen National Union reports
Note: Other sources are individualy identified.
1. UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries, Sept. 1990,
article # 5:40.
2. Women and Children in Crisis: Inside Burma and Along the Thai
Border by the Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children c/o
International Rescue Committee. a) "There is only one government-
sanctioned Burmese Voluntary Agency, the Maternal and Child Welfare
Association. The leaders of the Association are professional women
whose husbands often hold positions of importance within the
b) "As a priority, we recommend the following: 1) Birth Spacing
- The international community must assist the Burmese government in
a nationwide dissinination of birth control devices....The enormous
rate of self-induced abortions underscores the nation's unmet
demands for birth spacing. 2) Further Development of Clean Water
Systems.... 3) Improved Public Health and Basic Vaccination....4)
3. "Rohingyas: A Case for Human Rights Violations" by Brother
Jarlath D. Souza C.S.A. in Shetu Report 1: Rohinga Refugee Issue
4. Cultural Survival QUARTERLY: Burma, In Search of Peace, Vol.
13, No.4, 1989. "The Kawthoolei Women's Organization" by Pippa
Curwen. The KWO was established in 1985. Its aims are: 1) To free
Karen women from all forms of oppression and raise their living
standards. 2) To raise the political and revolutionary
consciousness of Karen women. 3) To be active in the Karen
revolutionary movement in accordance with KNU policies. 4) To
have equal rights with men, and to protect these rights. Committee
members are responsible for organization, education and social
welfare. Leaders receive political training at KNU headquarters.
"KWO members are also expected to help preserve the 'traditional
moral character' of Karen women-explained as being a reference to
chastity before marriage."
5. TN 24/07/93 Aung San Suu Kyi is "one of the most extraordinary
examples of civil courage in Asia in recent decades."(Nobel awards
committee). Her "dention also symbolizes the oppression of the
Burmese women by the Slorc." "In Burma, the liberation of women is
intwined with the liberation of people from all walks of life under
Sloc oppression. But in order for that to happen, the Burmese male
political elite fighting for democracy has to accept the role of
women in politics. It is not uncommon to hear snide remarks made
by Burmese men about politically active women. Until recently,
Aung San Suu Kyi has been dismissed as a freak accident. Only
after she won the Nobel Peace Prize have Burmese men come to accept
her unconditionally as a national leader."
6. "Oppressed in an Oppressive Society" by Hla Moon and Naw Lwe
Say in Voices, Vol.16 No.4, December 1992 (Christian Conference
of Asia & Urban Rural Missions)
a) "..there are still unequal admission policies that restrict
women in such fields as geology, forestry and engineering
....instead of wasting her energy in the pursuit of higher
education, a woman's worth is to stay home to do domestic work."
b) "New opportunities have risen with the advent of the Open Door
Economic Policy mooted by the SLORC. Joint venture companies,
department stores, hotels and restaurants offer jobs where women
are employed for customer attraction....Although open prostitution
is not legally permitted, it is spreading widely from the top to
the bottom circle of masculine domination." (p.64)
c) "Women are more versatile in their usefulness: forced labor to
work as porters; human shield for the fighting army; property that
can be redeemed for a good sum of money; and entertainment for the
soldiers which finally ends in rape repeatedly."
d) The Myanmar Council of Churches is one of the few
organizationa left who try to uplift women in general.
7. NLM - Note: The newspaper has little to say about women and
less about their status but a sexist trend is apparent.
a) NLM 24/05/95 "Ministering angels with gentle hands and tender
hearts." Doctors are refered to as 'he' and nurses as 'she.' The
roles are clearly defined. "a nurse is cheerful, courteous and
efficient, just as the world around her expects her to be."
b) NLM 02/06/93 "Domestic science training in border regions."
This course is designed to deter "women going to the other country
to earn a living by selling their bodies;...to check the spread of
infectious disease, especially the AIDS,...to revive traditional
Myanmar culture." The subjects are sewing, embroidering, wool
knitting, gold brocading and cooking.
c) NLM 13/06/93 "International Olympic Day Commemorative Body
Building and Beauty Contest at Ghandi Hall." The beauty contest
has both a senior and a junior division.
d) NLM 22/06/93 The Social Welfare Department oversees womens
and girls 'training schools' and a 'women's home'.
e) NLM 26/06/93 "Konica Photo Competition prize distribution."-
'Lady models' are used in photographer's contest.
f) NLM 12/07/93 "Health Minister addresses World Population Day
ceremony." The state has been concentrating on economic issues and
so "population control could not be carried out immediately."
8. a) The Women of Rural Asia by Robert Orr Whyte and Pauline
Whyte (Boulder: Westview Press, 1982): Observes that women in Burma
have not been subjected to some of the resrictions like isolation,
segregation and covering as have other Asian women. They were
allowed freedom of movement and play an important role in
production, the provision of family income and hold power in the
family and household. Women's status is high but outwardly they are
differential to men. "In Burma, men are universally acknowledged
as superior to women spiritually and also widely considered as
intellectually and morally superior."(p.27) They [theoretically]
have social and legal equality.
b) Burma: A Socialist Nation of Southeast Asia by David
Steinberg (Boulder: Westview Press, 1982). "The Status of Women,"
"The Burman woman has had a high degree of freedom." This goes
back to pre-colonial, pre-Buddhist times. Scott wrote in 1883 that
women have a much freer and happier position than in any other
European country and Steinberg says this is still true in 1982.
Women run the family, household finances and often small scale
businesses. They gained equal rights and the vote in the
constitution of 1974. Abortion is usually illegal and requires the
husbands consent. Women pay public deference to their husbands in
public although they may be dominant in the home.
9. "Supplementary Report on Karenni State" 15/11/92 Naw Hai May,
33, of Ku Pra village, with five children aged 3 to 12 saw her
husband shot to death. She escaped, walking for two days with her
children, and then returned to bury her husband. Later - she
escaped to a refugee camp with her children. "...being a refugee
here is very hard. It's a strange place for us , and I don't know
how to get vegatables here or anything."
10. AI - April 1990: 7 lay-Catholic workers are arrested for
protesting the forced relocation of people from Rangoon. An
estimated 500,000 urban-dwellers have been moved to satellite towns
in remote rural areas.
11. Report on a visit to Burma (name with-held for security) Nov.
a) Irrawaddy Delta: "Twenty villages suspected of harbouring KNU
were ordered evacuated. Without food or clothing, the villagers
were moved into inaccessible camps. Men suspected of being KNU
were imprisoned; women and children were left behind in the camps
but many of the women were raped....a new army camp is being built
with the forced labour of women."
b) "People were forced out of their villagees in three days time.
Men were imprisoned and killed, women raped inside church
buildings. (Many of the Karen are Baptist) Young teenage girls
were taken away from their mothers under the guise of protection
but then taken to Yangon and sold into prostitution in Thailand."
(There are sexual atrocities carried out against women which are
graphically described in this report, are offensive and don't merit
c) "In one of the border states an army officer regularly picks
out a beautiful tribal girl, marries her, takes her to the Thai
border, sells her...girls end up in the Bangkok sex industry."
d) Satellite Towns: Three levels of town, the first two being for
gov't officials and employees while the third is for political or
other 'undesirables.' People are taken from their homes and dumped
on unused rice paddy land and left to build shelters and survive as
best they can. One of these 'towns' is reported as having 80,000
day labourers in it and that pimps and prostitution are a big
12. Burma Action Group, London, Nov. 1992
a) Refugees: 280,000 in Bangladesh (2000 died in camps)
70,000 Thai border areas
20,000 in India and China
b) Approx. 400,000 Burmese have fled to other countries with
another half million or so displaced people inside in areas where
humanitarian agencies are denied access.
c) An estimated 80% of all children now do not complete primary
school or have never attended. Inflation and low wages has led to
child labor and trafficking in children.
d) People have no recourse to an independant authority for
offences commited by the military since there is no independant
judiciary in Burma as both the US and Japanese Committees for human
rights pointed out.
13. "Shan Human Rights Foundation; Monthly Report," Oct. 1992.
Shan State - People from 56 villages (1477 homes) were abused and
forcibly relocated. At bayonnet point they were forced to leave
those unable to travel and all their possesions, marched with
little food and no shelter for 5 days. Many died.
14. Newsletter: Committee for Publicity of People's Struggle in
Monland Vol.1, No.2, May 1993
a) In March: About 10,000 people were relocated by Slorc. Ale
Sakhan village - a man was shot and his wife, along with 2 other
women, was taken by troops and gang raped. 3 Mon villages were
b) Mon refugee camps on the Thai border are educating a total of
over 30,000 children. There is one high school. Lack of basic
health education makes the malaria' and other deseases, situation
c) 3 Thai men are awaiting trail over the rape of a Mon woman. 2
Non-legal Mon girls are forced into prostitution by Thai
authorities while in detention.
15. Men flee villages.
a) Karen Human Rights group, Feb. 1993; "Whenever the Slorc
soldiers are coming all of the men in the village run to the forest
to hide so they won't be be taken away."
b) Sept. 12, 1992; Since the road from Belin to Papun was
finished SLORC started rounding up women from villages along the
road to use as mine sweeps. "They only use women because the men
all hide in the forest to avoid being taken as porters, and because
they don't trust the men near the road.
c) "Reports from the Karen Provinces," Manerplaw, Sept. 1992;
Dto Greh Township; the first week of every month SLORC takes
porters from each village. This usually includes 5 women from each
village - about 100 women have been taken and kept for 10 days,
carrying at least 10 viss (16kg)- "men know they'll be treated much
worse that the women so they don't go."
d) KNU - Women and children are regularly used as minesweeps and
as human shields. "Upon entering a village, the troops try to gun
down the men as they run away. For these reasons, all villages in
the area are usually utterly devoid of men."
e) "Report from Thanton District" March 1993 - Saw Po Thay, 25,
male, reports that if SLORC can't get male porters they take women.
"We hear rumors that the women have been raped when they're taken
as porters, but they never talk about it. If they get pregnant
they take special medicine to stop it, and just keep quite about
it. The soldiers take the women for two purposes, firstly as
porters and human shields for long time periods like one month and
secondly to be raped. Soldiers come from the nearby camp of 19
Battalion and take girls away into the forest. This happens
f) Another man, 50 year old Maung Soe Aung, reports on forced
labour and mine sweeps. "We had to send 5 or 10 people at a time
for 5 day shifts...mostly women go , because only they dare face
the soldiers. The men are treated much worse if they go, or they
are made into porters."
g) KHR, 1993; Naw Paw Htoo, 30, was taken as porter with 2 other
women because all the men had fled the village. They joined 22
other women. She tells of starvation, beatings and rape. She was
raped first by 6 soldiers and the next night by 4. "I was so very
ashamed but I was very afraid." She, and several others got
pregnant and 'took medicine' to get rid of the babies. Some got
h) Arakan State, 1992 - Oziba Khatun, 20 was taken as porter in
place of her husband. She was raped all night. In the morning her
husband offered himself for her release. She never saw him again.
i) "Supplementary Report on Karenni State" 15/11/92 Another
woman said, after an 18 day trek through the mountains and fighting
zone with 7 children, that it was not the fighting or crossfire
they were fleeing from. "SLORC troops came to collect porter fees
2 or 3 times every week. If you don't pay you were beaten, and you
had to to jail or as porter...most of those who went as porters
died. My husband survived twice, but even while he was gone I
still had to pay porter fees!"
16. "A Record" by the Representative Office of Kachin Affairs, Jan.
1993. Cases involving women out of the 60 cases cited:
Case #1, 1968; Military troops rounded up 14 males and 3 females,
raped the women and shot them all.
Case #2, 1968; Troops systematically shot all the residents of
Gum San village - 7 women and 21 men.
Case #1, 1970; 3 women and 9 men were herded into a house, shot
and then burned with the house.
Case #1, 1971; Dingla Kwa and Dingla Lu were raped and stabbed.
The younger one survived
Case #1, 1974; Marip Hkawn and Lahpai Ja Nan were raped and
killed by the military.
Case #1, 1975; 4 women and 9 men were shot to death in a church.
Case #1, 1976; "The women were tied up in one row, while the men
were tied facing the women. The soldiers ordered each of them to
look at the genitals of the person across from them. Anyone
refusing was beaten. One elderly man who objected to this shameful
situation was immediately executed by sword. All were later shot
and killed. Among the 40 victims were 13 married women [17 females
in total] and 5 children."
Case #2, 1976; Kachins were singled out and 11 women and 21 men
were taken to the outskirts of town and executed.
Case #1, 1989; 350 women, some of who were pregnant, were among
the 5300 porters taken in March and June - to the front line.
Case #3, 1991; Soldiers chased and shot at a group of women. Two
were caught, raped and beaten.
Case #3, 1992; 8 women and 2 men were robbed and beaten to death.
The women were raped first.
Case #9, 1992; 3 women and 1 man died as the result of being
forced to walk ahead of soldiers to clear land mines. Later
soldiers gang raped 2 women aged 27 and 30
a) Cultural Survival QUARTERLY: Burma, In Search of Peace,
Vol.13, No.4, 1989. - "Mon Women Speak Out for Peace," Mi Chan,
farmer; "They used the young men as mine cleaners (to walk) in
front of their troops. They made a lot of trouble for young women
and committed rape." Mi Chan Mon, teacher, born in 1966. "Those
healthy and strong are arrested and have to serve as
porters....Many village girls are sexually assaulted, some raped
and some killed."
b) From interviews with villagers (Dec.1991-March 1992) as
recorded by the All Students Democratic Front. Most women said they
were forced to serve as porters due to the absence or inability of
male family members to perform the task:
- Ma San, 42, with 6 children, a Karen Buddhist from the village of
Kaw Lom Kyun reports that she and 30 others were taken to serve as
porters. She carried 12 shells for 60mm mortar. She and 4 others,
out of 90, escaped.
- Daw Khin Mya, 32, with 5 children, a Karen Buddhist from the Mu
Pone village was a porter for 22 days along with 40 other women.
- Ma Thanda Soe, 16, a Shaw Karen - Buddhist from Kyauk Kwin
village was taken as porter for 20 days and suffered 'various kinds
- Khin Khin Saw, 20, Arakanese Buddhist from Lae Ma Taw, Akyab
served as porter.
d) "Human Rights Violations by Slorc Troops: Karen Area, 1992.
Published by Karen National Union.
- Daw Hla Myaing, 42, with 6 children, from Kyaikto Township was
taken by Slorc soldiers. She joined a group of 100 other porters,
which included 40 women, aged 15-50. They were forced to carry
heavy loads, given little food and the women were raped. She and 3
other women escaped.
- Khine Khine Soe, 20 with 2 children - Arakanese, and her sister,
who was 6 months pregnant, were forced to go with soldiers at gun-
point. They were both raped and then brought to a military camp
where there were about 200 other porters, 80 of whom were women,
some as old as 60. Many women were gang raped. The sister got very
weak and sick and one day she was gone and the soldiers would not
say what happened to her.
- Daw Aye Hla, 32, with 5 children and Naw Wah Wah, 17, single,
from Kyaikto township were taken as porters were underfed, forced
to carry heavy loads and raped, till after 21 days they escaped.
They tell of the screams of women being repeatedly raped at night.
- Naw La Daw, 33, widow with 3 children was used for forced labour
to build a camp. She was interogated and raped 3 times in one
night by Sgt. Ba Gyi. She told him "that my life was nothing but
darkness. He just said, 'If your so troubled and ashamed, go hang
yourself.'" Later she found many other women had been treated the
e) KHR 16/02/93 A few of the stories of the thousands of women
used as porters by SLORC troops:
- Paw Ghi Lah, 18, tells how she and 8 other women of her village
were deprived of food and water, driven and beaten as porters. She
said she was raped but doesn't know about the others because "we're
all so ashamed to talk about it, in case our whole village might
find out." After more than a month they were released, many being
pregnant and aborting. Young girls have to serve the soldiers at
the Army Camp.
- Pi Seh Wah and Pi Hser Paw (interviewed together), both 60, were
used as porters; overworked and starved. "We didn't even have
clothes for changing and some women had mentruation. It was
awful." The two old women escaped, spending six days in the forest
- Naw Ghay Htoo, 19, was taken with 25 women, all single and under
30. She was raped. "I can't describe it to you. I can't talk about
it." She is afraid she is pregnant and wants to find a way to stop
it. Her parents don't know she was used as a porter and she doesn't
know what to say to them.
- Cha Ka Ri, 18, with 9 others carried shells and rice - about 20
viss (32 kg). When she couldn't carry the load she was beaten and
kicked till she was throwing up. They were at the front line and
hid in the trees from the fighting. The soldiers shut their mouths
with cloth and forced themselves on the women. 5 of the 9 were
rally ill when they got home. One still can't walk.
- Naw Si Po, 15, was a porter for over a month. She and others
carried water, dug bunkers at the front line, built fences, cut
grass and buried dead soldiers and porters - about 2 bodies each
day, some of which were blown apart. "Then they raped me. They
raped all of us. Now I don't dare go back home."
- Naw Muh, 16, was taken while watching their cow in the field and
kept for a month when she ran away. She was sick for a month.
f) Canada - Asia Working Group: "Slorc has continued its
practice of siezing civilians to use as porters and as human mine
sweepers. The porters are forced to carry heavy ammunition and
food for the soldiers, through the jungle and up the mountains, and
receive inadequate amounts of food in return. Women porters, even
those who are pregnant, nightly face the possibility of rape."
g) From a male porter (KNU report); "...all the women had to stay
nearby...they were gang raped by any soldier who felt like going
over. This didn't only go on at night, but also during the day
when we weren't on the move. Life was forcible for the women
because they also had to carry loads almost as heavy as ours and
survive on the same food....We know at least one woman who was
raped by 8 soldiers in a night. Some of the women told us that
others had been raped until they bled to death." About half of the
250 women died and others were let go because they were extremely
weak and some were pregnant and of no further use
h) Slorc soldier captured by Karen; "...there were 10 women
porters: 8 Karen and 2 Burmese. We were free to rape them any
time, and they were raped very badly, especially the Karen
women....14 Battalion had a lot of women porters who they raped.
18. Mrs. Thea Bock, deputy to the German Bundestag - Report, April
15, 1993. "People living in these relocation camps are forced to
serve the army as porters, build roads or do any other work without
receiving any kind of payment. More and more women are forced to
do so and it is especially them who face all kinds of cruelties
during the time while they are exploited, which in recent times
often means; during months."
19. "Behind the calm Burmese facade" by Jane Ellen Stevens in the
San Francisco Examiner 27/03/93. "Women undergo the worst
treatment. They reported being raped by one or more soldiers
nearly every night, and still having to carry supplies or
ammunition every day. Those who resisted were killed."
20. Rape / Torture
a) From a witness, Saw Eh Plaw of Hsar Chet village, Labutta
Township, regarding events between Oct. 1991 and June 1992: Reports
of torture, imprisonment, killing and "rape and molestation of
females cannot be left unmentioned." - Naw Mar Rah, age 47 and Naw
Say Paw,age 50 (and her 20 year old daughter), teachers in Paw Baw
Lee village were raped and tortured. Their whereabouts are
unknown. - Sein Sein and Khin Khin Hla, students, were arrested and
b) KHR group, 01/02/93 Naw Wah Lay Htoo, 38, with 4 children was
raped in front of her two young children at gun and knife point.
She was afraid her husband would be angry at her. He is not, but
says, "I'm furious at the Army. It makes me want to fight them.
c) KHR Feb. 16/93 Naw Wah, Naw Lah and Naw May Paw, ages 40, 26
& 55 gave accounts of how they were tortured by the SLORC troops.
Photographs show scars all over their bodies. The soldiers accused
them of helping the Karen Army. "Whenever the Slorc soldiers are
coming all of the men in the village run to the forest to hide so
they won't be taken away." This left only the women who were all
called out of their houses while the village was burned. Then
follows a horrendous report of being beaten, walked on, tied up,
strung up, have burning wax and plastic dripped on their skin,
burned with knives out of the fire, having water poured over their
heads, hung up by their hands and beaten and other tortures which
continued for 3 days and nights. They were tortured till they
urinated and defecated all over themselves. One of them was put in
a sack with her head sticking out and left to lie beside what was
to be her grave. The villagers finally bought their freedom. The
villagers wept and fasted with them for days.
d) "Report from Thanton District," April/93 Naw Bo Wah, 26, with
one child - husband was killed by SLORC after being tortured for
one week. They took all the rice and livestock from the villagers.
- Naw Shee Ku, 27, with one child, tells of their fear of the drunk
soldiers; how women don't dare stay or walk alone. One woman who
argued for her chickens was shot.
- Naw Aye Da, 30, with several children, tells of being forced to
dismantel their house and relocate.
- Naw Mi Lah Htoo, 40, with several children tells of Slorc's
taking their pigs and chickens, of fear, torture and rape. She
said, "I can't believe it - even though she has a husband and
children, they still raped her. She was so upset that she tried to
kill herself. She didn't eat for many days, but the villagers and
her relatives tried to comfort her." The village was forced to
e) Dawn Jan./92 In July of 1991 13 Slorc soldiers visited an
orchard of an Akha family and there raped a 12 year old girl who,
3 days later, died in the hospital as a result of the assault.
f) BP 16/04/92 7 villagers from Wahku villages were killed after
being gang raped or beaten up.
g) "Story of a Burmese Soldier who Defected" in B.U.R.M.A.
Aug./92 from "Report from Mergui/Tavoy District.- "In 1981, one
offecer namen Lt. Khaing Tun raped at least 27 Karen women. Maj.
Hla Myint...also raped several Karen women during this time. In
1986 I was transfered to the 104th Infantry Regiment where I also
witnessed executions and rapes."
h) BP 03/04/92 Burmese Muslims are reported raped and/or
murdered by Burmese soldiers.
i) AI report 05/92. Muslim Women reported being raped when
husbands were taken away for porter duty. One woman tells of being
kept all night and raped. The village headman paid 100 kyats for
her release the next day. Two young girls were gang raped. Men
spoke of female relatives who had been raped and sometimes killed.
j) May 7/92 "Asia Watch: A Division of Human Rights Watch" Vol.
4, Issue 13. "Rape of women after their husbands or fathers had
been taken for forced labor was common. Sometimes the rapes
occurred in the homes of the victims with children and relatives
left to watch; sometimes women were taken to a nearby military camp
where they were sorted out by beauty. In some cases women were
killed; in others they were allowed to return home"(p. 7).
k) The following women arrived at a Bangladesh refugee camp
around Feb. of 1992.
- Eslam Khatun, 31, with 6 children, wife of the headman of
Imuddinpara reported that her sister-in-law, the 16 year old Layla
was taken, raped and later found dead, appearing to have bled to
death from her vagina.
- Jahura Khat, 30, widow, of Naikaengdam village was taken, along
with 3 others and repeatedly raped.
- Rohima Khatun, 35, of Shigdapora village said her 14 year old
daughter was taken and not returned. She reports other girls
between the age of 12 and 16 being collected.
- Dilara Begum, 16, of Hashuradha village was raped by two
soldiers. She said this had happened often in the past 2 years and
was common in her village of 400 families.
- Jaharu Begum, 20, of Lapia, Devina, reports that her husband was
taken. Then she was beaten and raped continually for about 16
hours before she was released to the village headman.
- Gul Mar, 25, of Ludengpara, reports being taken with 20 other
women and their small children. During the 8 hour walk soldiers
tossed aside about 20 children who appeared to hamper their
progress. Gul Mar never found her 18 month old daughter. They
were starved for 4 days and raped several times a day. Ransom was
demanded for their release. Some were released - some came back as
- Doya Banu, 25, of Hangdaung village, was tied up with a dozen
other women, several being elderly, and walked all night. They
were separated 'by beauty' and raped continuously for 3 or 4 days.
- Gulbahar Rafig, 12, was raped by 5 men in front of her family.
They then took the girl with them.
- Aisha Khatum, 25, of Labadogh village was gang raped by 5 men and
had her rings ripped out of her ears. Her husband was hacked to
death in front of her.
- Sayed Hassein reports that he and about 100 other men were tied
and held at gunpoint while the soldiers raped the women of their
(Almost all men were used as porters or other forced labor.
21. a) "Refugees" by UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees) No 89, May 1992.- In 1978 220,000 Myanmar refugees
flooded Bangladesh and some 10,000, mostly children, died over the
next 6 months of famine and disease. A new influx began early in
1991. Sometimes up to 6,000, most of whom were women and children,
arrived per day. Women recounted stories of murder and rape. "They
said there was a systematic campaign to force the Rohingyas
[Muslims] out of the country. UNHCR's regional director, Jamshid
Anvar, said, "The refugees are not pouring into Bangladesh due to
fear of persecution, but only after being persecuted."
b) The Burma Monitor, April, 1993; "Ethnic Cleansing in Burma" by
Susan Blaustein. "Burmese army troops have looted, razed and
burned some 850 up-country villages, raped several thousand women,
forced more than a million people from their homes....The human
rights commission states that 'many women provided testimony that
women in villages relocated by the army were rounded up and taken
to military barracks where they were continually raped....Often the
pretty or young ones were raped immediately in front of family
members and then taken away'..."Prisoners report being forced to
watch soldiers rape Muslim women. Women have died from bleeding or
c) Burmese Relief Center newsletter, Chiang Mai, April/92 - Naw
Kler Moe, age 50, mother of 6, of Wa Mu Loe village watched her
husband being shot, then was raped by SLORC soldiers, had both arms
broken and had three deep cuts, one across her throat. She died.
- Feb.18 /93 Three Karen girls, under the age of 15, whose village
was occupied by SLORC soldiers for 6 days in Dec. were repeatedly
gang raped. They were allowed an hour of sleep each night being
forced to serve the soldiers in various ways the rest of the time.
The girls now feel ruined and are afraid to go home. Many women
feel guilt and shame and tell no one or only close relatives. The
psychological and physical after-effects can continue for the rest
of the women's lives. Long after SLORC is gone, their trauma
remains. "These rape cases are too widespread to be simply
individual acts of violence and hatred."
22. References to comments by Mary Ohn and Dr Cynthia are from
personal interviews with them by Janis Nickel, the writer of this
paper. A full report is available at the B.U.R.M.A. office.
23. Excerpts from a military operation plan found on the body of
Major Hla Myint:
- use more crooked tactics than those of the enemy's.
- own side must have least casualties and enemy's side must have
- reporters are not allowed to enter, do not speak at all.
- do what you have to effectively, necessary to fulfill your
- will not accept at all the question "What must I do?"
- get rid of any suspicious person found on the way.
24. Liberatas Vol. 2, No. 3, June 1992, "Overpopulation" by Chantal
Mantha (International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic
Development) p.3 "Improving the status of women is the best way to
control high birth rates without compromising women's dignity.
Women and children's access to health and education has a direct
impact on fertility rates. The World Bank reports that a reduction
in the birth rate in developing countries is invariably preceded by
a notable decrease in infant mortality..... Feminists have been
criticizing development policies which emphasize population control
policies based on the elimination of poor people rather than the
elimination of poverty."
25. Other trauma
a) Myanmar: No law at all AI Oct/92 - A 30 year old woman of
Rakhin State; "He [her husband] ran out and tried to escape. We
heard them (soldiers) catch him and beat him. I ran to help, but
was kicked into the river. Three days later the army brought the
body back and we buried him."
b) A 35 year old mother of five, of Kayah State, about her 60
year old husband; "He went to hide in the small hut we had built to
watch the fields in the growing-season....I guess the army found
him there and shot him. We found his body; he had been shot in the
stomach. He was just a simple farmer."
c) A 23 year old woman of Kayah State; "At the time my husband
was in another village, Pwe Do Tha, not too far away, giving
religious instruction. The Burmese army came to the village so all
the men ran away, but my husband-as a church worker-stayed behind.
The soldiers arrested him, took him away and shot him....So we went
in the forest and found his body. He had been shot twice in the
back. This happened on 12 Nov., just before my second child was
d) A mother of six of Rakhine State; "My husband was taken by
about 15 soldiers in the middle of the night. After 21 days some
people found his body in the mountains not far from the village...I
went to see it. His eyes had been gouged out and his body was cut
in two up the front."
e) A Karen Christian who was forced to dig trenches and latrines
for three days; "He took out a knife and held it against my skin on
my throat and threatened to kill me - I said I'd rather he did, and
kept on praying. He cut me on my arm and drew blood, then he drew
the knife down my chest and stomach, leaving a thin line of blood.
Then he got his penis out. I was still struggling and I managed to
hit him in the testicles, but that just got him madder and finally
he raped me. He was very rough; he is a big man. He raped me
three times, though I was bleeding. I just kept on praying and
hoping he would stop. I was so ashamed."
f) Kayin (Karen State) "...The Burmese soldiers surrounded the
small hut when they realized that ther were people hiding there.
They didn't give them a chance to come out though-they just started
shooting. I found my sister's body later. She had been shot from
underneath through the bamboo floor and the bullet had gone right
through her chest. Her body was slumped over a sack of rice. a
boy leapt down and started to run but he was hit in the ankle.
After he fell, the soldiers went up to him and stabbed him in the
chest with a bayonet. My mother wasn't hurt; she was still
cowering in the hut when we found her."
g) AW 15/07/88 - The Padaung were affected in a different way.
The Karenis were charging tourists to see the 'giraffe women' who
had been relocated from relative isolation to a village on the Thai
side of the border.
26. AI 1988 Report, BURMA. The following women were interviewed
and described the murder or torture of family members:
a) A 38 year old Karen woman's brother was shot and knifed to
b)Woman helps to find the mutilated body of her 25 year old
c) Woman describes the killing of her 20 year old son. She was
pushed away as she watched him being beaten. Later, she and others
found his body.
d )Woman's husband is taken, abused, and kept for three months.
He died 4 days after returning home - a broken man.
e) Eyewitness describes the death of her cousin, "The bullet hit
him in the back of the neck and exited through his forehead,
causing his scull to explode and his brains to blow out."
f) A man descibes how he was tortured and of the rape of his
wife; "Two different soldiers raped her once each time, while a lot
of other soldiers stood around, some of them watching....She was
released the same time as me....She was crying a lot."
g) A woman accussed of feeding rebels was arrested, beaten and
held in a pit in the ground for 4 months.
h) A woman was kicked because the KNU had been at her house. She
described the rape and attempted rape of 2 single women from her
i) A porter describes the rape of 2 girls, aged 11 and 22. "The
older one was raped by six soldiers while her niece was first raped
twice by the unit commander and then by seven soldiers taking
j) A 30 year old woman was arrested because her husband had run
away. The camp commander raped her and told her to send for her
husband in order to be released. The husband surrendered, was
imprisoned and beaten and she was kept another night and raped
again. She also witnessed the rape of a young girl, "the four of us
were sleeping in the same room. She screamed at first but (the
second major) slapped her, hit her and raped her in front of
me...She cried, but because she was beaten she did not dare to cry
any longer....villagers said that after she was raped she died."
k) A woman was forced to act as a 'guide' to help search for her
missing husband and then detained for 8 months in an effort to get
the husband to turn himself in.
27. Prostitution - Financial reasons:
a) BP 19/05/91 Yupa Krusakayayawong of the Emergency Home in
Thailand said that 7 hilltribe children had been rescued from
brothels and sent back to Burma. One of these, a 10 year old Akha
girl had been sold by her father for 2000 baht.
b) TN 11/07/91 One Burmese was sentenced to life in prison and
another to 10 years hard labor for trying to sell women into
prostitution in Thailand.
c) BP 09/07/92 69 Burmese women (ages 18-25) were found in
brothel raids in Ranong. Many had been forced into the trade. Some
were tortured. Many fear either arrest or extreme poverty upon
returning to Burma.
d) BP 13/09/92 Burmese officers exchange identification cards
for sex with the girls. Many girls work in order to send money to
their families in Burma.
e) BP 05/01/93 Tak immigration officials said that about 200,000
Burmese illegally crossed the Thai border into Mae Sot in 1992.
f) TN 14/01/93 A person from the Thai Interior Ministry said
that of the 160 235 illegal immigrants, 47000 fled from political
persecution, 2500 are students fleeing persecution and others are
looking for work.
g) BP 11/02/93 The border opening has resulted in a dramatic
rise in the flesh trade as local girls are lured to Thailand.
h)-"Abuse in Myanmar" by Jackie Pollock (EMPOWER) 1993 "Often the
families will receive an advance on the girls' salary and thus the
girls start work with a debt to pay off." They are also held
prisoner by physical or psychological means.
i) UNICEF "Posibilities for a United Nations Peace and
Development Initiative for Myanmar" 16/03/92 At least 40,000 young
women and children have now been sold into Thailand's sex industry.
28. Prostitution - Violation
a) Time 02/08/93 Prostitutes rescued from Ranong; "We were sold
for 5,000 bahts each and were never paid any money."said a 15 year
old. "If we complained, they beat us....I was forced to sleep with
men even when I was pregnant. When I was three months along, I
could not take it any more because of the pain. The pimps hit me
and punched my stomach. Blood gushed out and I fainted." She lost
the baby but survived. Theerapol Veerawat, child rights advocate
said, "The girls are in great danger if they are repatriated to
Burma. Pimps are lurking on both sides of the border ready to
pounce on them."
b) BP 31/07/92 Burmese Students Committee for Social Affairs
reports that Ma Thader, 21, was forced into prostitution and
beaten. There are also reports of selling the prostitutes babies.
c) BP 31/07/92 Geneva-based Association Francois-Xavier
Bagnoud, a shelter for child prostitutes in Thailand, investigated
brothels on the Thai-Burma border. They found prison-like places
where many women were beaten and those who were sick or of no
further use often 'disappeared.'
d) TN 31/07/93 Du Boisrouvray of the FXB visited 16 of the 95
prostitutes who had been repatriated to Burma. The women said they
were treated well in Burma but "they recounted incidents of torture
and murder by pimps and brothel owners of various nationalities in
29. Police raids:
a) BP 24/05/91 A police raid rescued 31 Thai, Burmese and
Chinese women (age 17-15) who had been confined, sometimes
tormented and forced into prostitution.
b) BP 20/06/91 A brothel raid in Ranong rescued 25 girls, many
of which were Burmese Mon, who had been forced into prostitution.
They were often beaten and some had miscarriages. 9 other Burmese
Mon, ages -12-20, were arrested in Nonthaburi, on charges of
illegal entry to Thailand.
c) BP 20/07/91 10 Burmese girls (ages 15-21) were saved from
being exported to Brunii. They came to Thailand through the Mae Sai
District of Chiang Rai.
d) BP 21/07/91 86 young girls (ages 12-22) from Thailand, Laos
and Burma were rescued from Bang Khen District.
e) BP 24/07/91 10 out of the 23 girls (ages 13-26) rescued from
a hotel in the Phra Nakhon District were of Burmese origin. One 14
year old said customers paid 150 baht but she only got 20 baht per
f) BP 16/08/91 Relief workers and witnesses report rapes, forced
labor and humiliations at the Thai-Burmese border detention center.
Two Mon women were allegedly raped.
g) BP 22/10/91 A brothel raid reveals 15 Burmese women at a tea
house in Klong San District.
h) BP 28/03/92 9 brothels were raided in the Nong Khae District.
66 girls, including hilltribe and Burmese nationals were rescued.
Police heard complaints of forced prostitution.
i) TN 11/06/92 39 Burmese and 3 Thai women were rescued in a
brothel raid in Ranong's Muang District. Many had been forced into
prostitution. One reported being forced to have sex 2 weeks after
giving birth and 3 told of beatings with coat hangers.
j) BP 22/02/93 Many of the illegal entries into Thailand are by
Burmese women from the Shan state who are lured into prostitution.
"Those arrested were apparently helped into Thailand by an
organized Thai-Chinese human trafficking ring...."
k) BP 26/02/93 In Jan./93 police rescued 20 Burmese women from
forced prostitution at a brothel in Trat Province. 19 girls, 18-
20, were rescued by police in other areas.
l) BP 28/02/93 19 Burmese women, ages 18 -25, were charged with
illegal entry through Chiang Rai's Mae District. They were taken
to Suphan Buri by an agent to do traditional massage.
m) BP 13/05/93 6 Burmese women were arrested for illegal entry
into Thailand through Chiang Rai's Mae Sai District.
n) From - Burma Information Group: 20/07/93 The women who were
rescued from the brothels (July/93) will be charged with illegal
entry and sent back to Burma. They are being detained in 2
extremely crowded, filthy and smelly rooms in the Ranong police
station. Many are sick and have some form of VD.
a) BP 13/09/92 "Local traders, officials and brothel owners in
Ranong are apprehensive about such pressure [human rights/sex
trade] from the outside world, saying the sex trade is part of a
complex structure and dismantling it would spell economic ruin for
the province." Burmese fishermen and other workers create a demand
for Burmese prostitutes since Thai women don't like Burmese men.
Traders say that abuse and child prostitution should be suppressed.
b) BP 13/09/92 Col Bancha Jurujareet, who heads the CSD Anti-
Vice Center, says that the flesh trade is overseen by gangsters
with links in Thailand and Burma and that immigration officers are
involved or 'look the other way.' Women are lured from Burmese
c) TN 16/07/93 148 Burmese girls, many between 15 and 18, were
rescued from 3 brothels behind the Immigration Office in Ranong.
"The bothels were surrounded by barbed wire to prevent the girls
escaping, said Ranong police chief inspector Pol Lt Gen Sudjai
Yanrat. At least 20 girls were pregnant. Some of them had been
beaten to force them to continue having sex with clients." One
girl said she was beaten to bring on a miscarriage. 8 of the 11
pimps arrested were Burmese. Sudjai said that it was 'normal' that
there was a prostitution problem in Ranong since Burmese were
allowed to work there. "In my opinion, it is disgraceful to let
Burmese men frequent Thai prostitutes. Therefore I have been
flexible in allowing Burmese Prostitutes to work here. Most of
their clients are Burmese."
a) "Project Care" an Aids care organization; "The country suffers
from large-scale enforced relocation by the military, social decay
as the regime undermines traditional religious authority, and open
warfare in which a 250,000 strong SLORC force, supported by Chinese
jet aircraft, stages scorched earth campaigns in the forests of
frontier tribal people. These conditions are conducive to the
growth of public health crises of any kind: cholera, typhoid,
plague, malaria, AIDS.
b) BP 29/06/91 4 of the 21 girls rescued from a brothel in the
Tha Muang district were Burmese (one was 13) and suffered from
c) From the Representative Office of Kachin Affairs; 1) The
problems are not only Slorc but also Heroin abuse, prostitution and
Aids. Testing has existed since 85 and Aids is increasing. Changes
from 1989 to 1991 = Male female ratio from 19:1 in 89, to 2:1 in
1990, and 2.4:1 in 1991. Highest in ages 20 to 39. 2) Prostitutes
- 65% are from villages; 25% from towns. The reasons given for
entering prostitution are usually economic, either for their own
spending or to look after others. The example of others is an
d) FEER 20/02/92 Of the prostitutes tested, 70% of those who had
been working for more than 6 years, had Aids. These reports don't
reach the young women and Aids knowledge is virtually nil among
e) TN 02/04/92 Thai police stopped deporting Burmese girls
rescued from brothels when they received deports that girls
infected with Aids were injected with cyanide. The HIV positive
girls are said to be missing from their villages - whereabouts
unknown. Out of 147 girls rescued 76 had Aids.
f) TN 20/08/92 PM office Minister Dr. Saisuree disbelieves the
allegations that HIV positive women were injected with cyanide upon
being returned to Burma and is planning on repatriating the women
rescued from Thai brothels.
g) TN 18/10/92 About half of the 95 women repatriated to Burma
from forced prostitution in Thailand have the Aids virus and are
reportedly undergoing treatment in Rangoon.
h) Time 21/06/93 "One survey found that 50% of Thai child
prostitutes are HIV-positive." "Entire villages in northern
Thailand along the Burmese border are almost berift of young girls
because they have been sold into prostitution....Having exhausted
the Thai supply, child traffickers have expanded recruitment into
Burma and China."
i) BP 30/07/93 Analysis of 36 countries, including Burma, showed
that the rate of AIDS infection peaked for young women at age 15 to
25 and for men at 25 to 35 .
j) TN 30/07/93 "Tarantola [Aids specialist from the Harvard
School of Public Health] warned that Burma was facing a critical
Aids situation with 300,000 to 400,000 people already infected with
the HIV virus, the precurser to Aids."
a) AW 15/07/88 "Eye witness: women of War" - Sgt Mi Chon Dee, is
a 22 year old, female, Mon rebel. Women were allowed into the New
Mon State party in 1985 and now  at least 200 are in the
National Liberation Army. "Civilian women support them, though the
men are slow to accept the challenge to tradition." Beginning in
March of 88, 70 women volunteered to serve in the Karen National
b) "Burmese Relief Centre" - Aug./92 "A Woman Leader from Arakan"
29 year old Mra Raza Linn, a teacher, was part of the 1988
demonstration in Arakan. She became an organizer and then escaped
by boat and on foot to Bangladesh where she leads her own
Democratic Front of Arakan. She is the only woman leader in the
Democratic Alliance of Burma. She has opened a school for Arakan
refugee children, has formed the women's support group -"The Ladies
Union" and is setting up a weaving project for Arakan women. She
has established contact with international women's groups.
c) BP 09/03/92 Reports; "Seven women left a Karen settlement on
the Thai side of the Moei border river to make their men a meal
after the sound of gunfire on the nearby mountain became
d) "Report from Thanton District," March 1993. Pi Saw Lwe, 68,
with 3 children, has been the head of her village because no man
dares to be head any more. The soldiers tie up and beat the
headman "but not usually if it is a woman." Soldiers took the
villagers money and food and shelled the village for not warning
them that the Karen army had mined the road. People were tortured
and killed. She confronted the army for attacking their village and
also tried to get them to free a suffering porter.
e) Kachin Women's Association has founded village kindergartens
and sponsers community health programs.
f) Equality in being arrested;
- AI Nov/89: Detained in March/89: Female students - Ma Lay Lay
Myint, Ma Mar Lar Nwe, Ma Sanda U, Ma Thi Thi Maw, Ma Sein Sein
Kyu, Ma Tin Win, Ma Mu Mu Lwin, Khin Yu Swe, Kaing Kaing Maw. Also
detained: Ma San San Oo, Ma Win Myo Kyi, Ma Saw Thu Wai, Ma Saw
Sandar Win and Aung San Suu Kyi. July/89 -Daw Cho Cho Than, Daw Aye
Aye Than and Ma Theingi.
- AI Oct/90 "Victims of extrajudicial executions include members
of ethnic minority groups, women, children and old people."
- AI Dec/90: Among those arrested, for 'political offences,' was
Nita Yin Yin May, then in her early 40s. On Nov. 19,1990 she was
sentenced to 3 years imprisonment under the Official Secrets Act.
She is a Burmese national who was working as an information officer
for the British embassy in Rangoon. She had been detained twice
before and questioned about contacts with opposition groups.
Family and associates were denied access.
- Myanmar: No law at all AI Oct/92 - "Men and women, people of all
age groups and from almost every economic and social group have
been detained on political grounds, often solely for their non-
violent opposition to government policy,"
33. BP 27/07/93 From the World Conference on Human Rights, Vienna,
1993 - women's lobby
34. Aung San Suu Kyi, Freedom From Fear ed. by Michael Aris
(Penguin Books, 1991) p 184.
PO Box 1076, Silom Post Office
Bangkok 10504 Thailand
phone: 662 234 6674
Burma Issues (formerly Burma Rights Movement for Action,
B.U.R.M.A.) is a Bangkok-based non-governmental organization that
monitors events in Burma with a focus on human rights, ethnic
minorities and the ongoing civil war.