The Rapist Army

By Kanbawza Win

Friday, April 25, 2014

Map of rape incidents by Tatmadaw in conflict areas since 2010 (Source: Same Impunity, Same Patterns by WLB)
Map of rape incidents by Tatmadaw in conflict areas since 2010 (Source: Same Impunity, Same Patterns by WLB)

A seven year old girl was raped by the Burmese army Tatmadaw solder was no news for the tyrannical Burmese army. They have been doing this for more than half a century and the people in their back call them Mudane Tatmadaw meaning when the rapist army comes all the fair sex has to hide because they will not differentiate whether it is a child or a 90 year old women. They just want to rape in order to give the Myanmar genes to the Non-Myanmar ethnic nationalities. This is the unwritten and undeclared policy of the Myanmar nationalist government spearheaded by the Tatmadaw since 1962. So it is no wonder that one of the Myanmarnization policies of the Tatmadaw is the systematic raping of ethnic nationalities women.  Eyewitness accounts from civilians fleeing the territory under attack reveal a grim picture of the Tatmadaw, targeting unarmed women and children in a “widespread and systematic way,’’ say human rights and humanitarian groups.

Burmese troops are overtly targeting civilians; they are actively avoiding KNU military installations. That is why we are describing the attacks as ‘crimes against humanity’’ says Benjamin Zawacki, Southeast Asia, researcher for Amnesty International “The violations are widespread and systematic.’’ A well-documented phenomenon for at least a decade, the License to Rape report inspired a level of interest and outrage on the part of the international community outrage against the Burmese army. [1]

Several NGOs and independent organizations examined some of the structures, policies, and practices of the Tatmadaw, and concluded that many of these contributed to rape by soldiers against women from Burma`s ethnic nationalities, in particular, raping women from the Kachin, Karenni, Karen, Shan, Mon, and Tavoyan nationalities. The Generals has denounced the reports that such reports were fabricated. Private independent research tells a different story, and leads to the inescapable conclusion that the Tatmadaw uses rape on a widespread basis against women from many of Burma`s ethnic nationalities. These rapes are not an aberration, committed by renegade soldiers; they are part of a pattern of brutal abuse designed to control, terrorize, and harm ethnic nationality populations through their women. Rape is not confined to Shan State. It is widespread throughout the ethnic States. [2]

Rape by Tatmadaw soldiers is systematic. Its target of ethnic women constitutes the kind of preconceived plan or policy necessary to characterize the rape as systematic. Rape and increased militarization go hand-in-hand. When more soldiers are deployed, typically more rape occurs. Rape also occurs on Tatmadaw property especially in Tatmadaw bases, in Tatmadaw barracks, and in Tatmadaw jails. Those cases of rapes, where a soldier committing the offense in Tatmadaw property was only possible with the consent of the higher authorities, otherwise they will not be able to do it. This is an authenticated proof that rape was used as a weapon.[3]

Since soldiers of Tatmadaw are raping the ethnic women and girls with impunity, women and girls from the Shan, Kachin, Chin, Karen, Mon, Karenni and Arakan states have long suffered under these state-sanctioned sex crimes. Rape incidents in ethnic areas are higher than anywhere else in Burma because they are part of the regime’s strategy to punish the armed resistance groups or used as a tool to repress various peoples in the larger agenda of ethnic cleansing. But it was mainly part of the Myanmarnization program. Often than not the rapes are carried out with extreme brutality and usually result in death. e.g. in Chin state, a woman was stripped naked and hung on a cross, mocking her Christian religion and indicating that sexual violence is being deliberately used as a weapon to torture and terrorize local ethnic populations into submission. [4]

Almost half of the rapes were gang rapes, showing that there is a collective understanding among the troops that they can rape without consequence. And according to the women interviewed, about a 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 and even encouraged. None of these rapists have been prosecuted. In some cases, those survivors who were courageous enough to report the cases have even been threatened.

Before 1988 a secret order was issued that any Myanmar soldier who is able to marry an ethnic women is rewarded a handsome amount of money but this happens to be difficult and slow and so when the Tatmadaw takes over the administration, it encourages raping the ethnic nationalities. This unwritten message can be read by the lieutenants, and captains and hence it was these ranks who committed most of the rape cases. In the long run if only there one race Myanmar, one religion Theravada Buddhism and one country Burma will be able to govern and stand tall in the international community is the basic philosophy of all the various military juntas.[5]

Rape often occurs in conjunction with other human rights abuses, such as forced labor, forced relocation, forced portering, torture, and extrajudicial executions. There is a direct connection between rape and migration. Many women flee Burma either because they have been raped, or because they fear being raped. In addition, rape sometimes occurs while women are in flight. – Widespread rape is committed with impunity, both by officers and lower ranking soldiers.

Officers committed the majority of rapes documented in interviews in which the rank of the perpetrator was known. The culture of impunity contributes to the Tatmadaw atmosphere in which rape is permissible. It also leads to the conclusion that the system for protecting civilians is faulty, which may serve as proof that the rape is systematic. – Due to the well-known impunity for rape, survivors and families are extremely reluctant to complain about rape. In the rare cases where victims do complain, the military often responds with violence. On Tuesday, November 19, 2002, the United Nations General Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution on the human rights situation in Burma, A grave concern of rapes and other forms of sexual violence carried out by members of the Burmese army and the suffering of members of ethnic minorities, women and children from such violations of its own citizens.

After more than three quarter century of systematic rape by the (Mudane Tatmadaw, at last the UN Security Council from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the Burmese government to conduct full investigations into allegations of rape and sexual assault made by the Tatmadaw.  “I call on the Government of Myanmar to fully investigate and respond to current and historical human rights violations and abuses, including crimes of sexual violence,” and urged the government “to work to develop a comprehensive protection and service response for survivors” of sexual violence, with the UN’s support.[6] It was discussed at the Security council Women League of Burma pointed out, however, that “previous government-led investigations into military rape have not only failed to deliver justice, but have led to further humiliation and intimidation of rape survivors and their communities.” But up to the writing of this book presidential spokesman Ye Htut in an interview with Reuters still denied that the military uses rape as a weapon.

Now, not only the people of Burma but also the world has accepted the fact that the Burmese Army Tatmadaw is basically a rapist army, what in Burmese is called Mudane Tatmadaw, serving its own ends.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Kachinland News’ policy.



[1] License to Rape, documenting the rapes of at least 625 Shan women by Burmaese soldiers over a period over five years, from 1996 to 2001.

[2] Earthlights International powered by Joomla! Generated: 25 December, 2008, 12:43

[3] A technique which they copied from the Bosnia war

[4] Zahau; Cherry “Rape as a weapon of war”  in Chinland Guardian

[5] Win; Kanbawza ‘Why is the Burmese Army Rapist” Asian Tribune 9-9-2011

[6] Nyein; Nyein,UN Chief Calls for Burma to Investigate Military Rape Claims. The Irrawaddy 24-4-2014