Why is the Burmese Army Rapist? : အဘယ္ေၾကာင့္ မုဒိမ္းတပ္မေတာ္ျဖစ္ရသနည္း။

By Kanbawza Win | September 9, 2011

Among the many races and different ethnic nationalities residing in Burma, Myanmar is the only ethnic race that harbours the African mentality. This phrase may be galling to the Myanmar, but as an academic, we have to call “a spade a spade.” for we cannot lie. Burma still maintains the title of the longest civil war in the world yet we have not heard of any ethnic resistance army or a resistance pro democracy group committing rape, Why? This is because the ethnic nationalities army and pro democratic groups are born out of the people, whereas the Burmese army or rather Myanmar Tatmadaw (ျမန္မာ့တပ္မေတာ္) in Burmese is raping the ethnic women with impunity because it was simply a pocket army of the Generals. Instead the Tatmadaw did not feel any remorse or regret but instead they are even proud to do that as it is their bounden duty to clean the country of the undesirable ethnic nationalities. This is the psyche and rationale of the Myanmar Tatmadaw that compels them to rape and pillage the country. Hence it is predictable that it will continue to do that in the future also because rape by a Burmese soldier is considered as a reward of his hard work.

Rape as a weapon of war has been in existence for quite sometimes particularly in Africa and later in Bosnia. The Tatmadaw just copy from these examples as is practicing it on its ethnic nationalities as a means of ethnic cleansing to create a policy of a great nation.

Harking back to World History one can discover of how William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy vanquished the Britons in 1066 (just 22 years before the first Burmese Kingdom, Pagan Dynasty was established), rape the existing Saxons women, intermarried them and later became one race, the English which is a great nation. So also when Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492, the Europeans followed, kill the aboriginals (Red Indians, which is neither red or Indians) and eventually created the United States of America and Canada which are great nations of modern time. So also the Myanmar ethnic race wants to create the fourth Myanmar Empire and is following the steps of the three warrior kings whose huge statues can be seen in Naypyidaw. Hence raping the women and girls of the ethnic nationalities is a natural phenomenon.

They construe that ethnic nationalities are all rebels bent on balkanization. Their philosophy is that the present day Burma is developed in a linear fashion straight from the founding of the first Burmese kingdom in 1044 AD under king Anawrahta. Only the British colonization of the Myanmar Kingdom for 120 years was disrupted this historical development. They believe in the accounts of their mighty, expansionistic imperialist empires with subordinate alliances made up of multi-ethnic and multi-language communities, including the Shan, the Arakanese, the Mons, and so on, encompassing the present day Burma and its political boundaries and, at times, stretching into neighbouring India and Thailand, others are their subordinates and hence should not be treated as equal but above the ethnic nationalities. Hence an average Myanmar view the ethnic nationality as somewhat the necessary evil of the country where he is destined to live forever and that it is his unbounded duty to lead him to civilization He/she must be showed the real civilization of the Myanmar people and finally lead him to Theravada Buddhism on to Nirvana. It is a historical duty to bring these ethnic nationalities into Myanmar race and this is the sole reason of why the current administration did not accept the Panglong Concordat where everyone will share as the founding father of Modern Burma said “Shan Ta Kyat Bama Ta Kyat” (ရွမ္းတက်ပ္ ဗမာတက်ပ္) meaning we will share equally in weal and woe with justice and equality among the ethnic national races. This is the underlying cause of why the Tatmadaw is a rapist army.

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. Research by ethnic women organizations proves that an average soldier seldom committed this crime. 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 their basic philosophy.

A hard-hitting report released in 2002 by the Shan Women's Action Network (SWAN) - 'A Licence to Rape' - outlined in great detail the use of such a despicable ploy. International organisations and foreign governments looked into the allegations and confirmed the practice really was occurring. Today, with a number of former ceasefire groups facing the guns of the Burmese military, the use of rape has extended to women from these ethnic communities as well.
As usual the Junta denied it - as they do with virtually every accusation - but things have not change.  The latest report about rapes in Shan State comes only weeks after the Kachin Women's Association denounced the rape of 18 women and girls during renewed fighting in Kachin State

Rape brings stigma, shame, and reluctance on the part of victims to speak out about what happened to them. But an increasing number of women and girls from Burma - the ones that survived - have begun to tell of their experiences of rape and other forms of sexual violence in the country's war-torn areas. Burmese Army deserters confirm that rapes occur regularly and usually go unpunished. The UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women has published material that corroborates details in 'A Licence to Rape' and adds many new cases.

Lying the very concept of Truth” being the motto of the Tatmadaw obviously refuses to grant the UN access to the country to enquire about the rape. As incidents of rape continue to be reported, and the Burmese military must surely know what is happening. However the Junta engages in Orwellian double-speak has rejected the reports, instead launching its own investigations, and formed Myanmar National Human Rights Commission where one can hardly have confidence in their credibility and became a laughing stock of the world.

In 2000, the UN Security Council recognised that gender-based violence thwarts security and adopted Resolution 1325, which calls on parties in conflict to respect the rights of women and children, and particularly to prevent gender-based violence. In 2004, ASEAN governments vowed to end the impunity states like Burma have enjoyed and signed the Declaration to Eliminate Violence Against Women in this region. But these resolutions won't mean much unless action is taken. While the United Nations and a number of Western countries have spoken out against the use of rape in Burma's military campaigns, members of the ASEAN community have been conspicuously quiet. This Constructive Engagement Policy of the ASEAN enables the Tatmadaw to carry on its horrific military tactics.

Rape in the real world, however, is receiving media attention, and public consciousness is being raised about it. What is new is not the practice of mass rape but the extent of its relatively recent publicity and some of rape's consequences for public health in an era of HIV. The most common post-traumatic disorders are found in women and children subject to rape: Rape victims, battered women, and sexually abused children are its casualties in this longest civil war. Hysteria is the combat neurosis of the sex war. The role of women who are raped and then murdered is like that of people who are murdered in a bombing.

By raping women Tatmadaw send a clear message that they will do like this again if the resistance ethnic group continue to resist and did not obey their command. This also sends another message to the second targets i.e. the populace under their control that everybody must obey the Tatmadaw command or else face the consequence of rape. So the ubiquitous threat of rape is a form of terrorism. Rape served as a double edge dagger not only to the women survivors who were its immediate victims but also the men socially connected to them

Rape is a cross-cultural language of Tatmadaw domination as forcible impregnation and is a tool of genetic imperialism. Where the so-conceived child's social identity is determined by that of the biological father, impregnation by rape can undermine family solidarity. Even if no pregnancy results, knowledge of the rape has been sufficient for many men in patriarchal societies to reject wives, mothers, and daughters. Tatmadaw aims to destroy an ethnic nationality’s identity by decimating cultural and social bonds. Many women and girls are killed when rapists are finished with them. If survivors become pregnant or are known to be rape survivors, cultural, political, and national unity may be thrown into chaos. These have been among the apparently intended purposes of the mass rapes of women in Burma

Tatmadaw treat the situation of women who are enslaved as war captives and war booty. Captured and impregnated females might be “persuaded” to alter their loyalties where nothing comparable could have been done to change the loyalties of their fathers or spouses. Enslavement rather than slaughter as war captives has two apparent advantages. First, if any woman might become a war captive, it could be to his advantage to survive (rather than be killed) even as a sex slave and hope for a reversal of fortune. Second, sex slavery instituted a class system, providing exploitable productive labour for conquerors. But to what advantages could a woman look forward who was enslaved rather than slaughtered? Would a captured woman who was impregnated, gave birth, and then survived to be freed when political fortunes changed are better off after the change of political fortune? What would have become of her identity or her children and her ties to them? Or, as a wife of Tatmadaw soldier, what would it do for her were her husband to take female concubines from defeated peoples? Are the many questions that cannot be answered?

Unwittingly, rape has become a political institution in Burma . That soldiers who rape “enemy women” are not to be reported.  A soldier may rape because he was ordered, or because he felt like it. Superior officers, on the other hand, may look the other way because of the martial purposes such rapes serve. Burmese soldiers may not always be given direct orders. They may be induced in other ways, for example, they may be given reason to believe that if they do not participate, they will be beaten or raped themselves. Hence the attitude of a Tadmadaw soldier to ethnic women is “We will do everything to ensure that your children become Myanmar” 
Tatmadaw use rape to demoralize and disrupt bonds among the ethnic nationalities and to create bonds among perpetrators. Of many forms of, rape has a special potential to drive a wedge between family members and to carry the expression of the perpetrator's dominance into future generations. A major long-range aim of rape would be to eliminate patriarchal and protectionist values. Organized rape has been an integral aspect of Tatmadaw warfare for a long time. The primary target here is to inflict trauma and through this to destroy family ties and group solidarity within the ethnic nationalities. It is a fundamental way of abandoning subjects: rape is the mark of sovereignty stamped directly on the body, that is, it is essentially a bio-political strategy using the distinction between the self and the body. Through an analysis of the way rape was carried out by the predominantly Myanmar soldiers is introduced within the woman’s body (sperm or forced pregnancy), transforming her into an abject-self rejected by the family, excluded by the community and quite often also the object of a self-hate, sometimes to the point of suicide. A Myanmar soldier is made to believes that the penetration of the woman’s body works as a metaphor for the penetration of enemy lines. In addition it is argued that this bio-political strategy, like other forms of sovereignty, operates through the creation of an ‘inclusive exclusion’. The woman and the community in question are inscribed within the enemy realm of power as those excluded. The impact of rape goes far beyond the immediate effects of the physical attack and has long-lasting consequences.

Rape by the Tatmadaw soldiers is not a simple by-product of war, but is a well planned and targeted policy. This recognition of rape as a weapon of war has taken on legal significance at the Rwandan and Yugoslav Tribunals where rape has been prosecuted as a crime against humanity and genocide. The apparent primary aim of the rapes by the Burmese army is the expulsion and dispersion of entire ethnic groups. The idea is to destroy family and community bonds, humiliate and terrorize, ultimately to drive out and disperse entire peoples in “ethnic cleansing,” the current euphemism for genocide in Burma

 Hence the international bodies and UN should consider taking the Burmese General to the International Court for Justice. Burma has refuses to live up to the standards of decency that ASEAN has set for itself. Surely more can be done. Sadly, there seems to be little political will to do anything about ongoing atrocities in Burma. ASEAN needs to act, because its credibility erodes every day that nothing is done. What hypocrisy will be more apparent than giving the chairperson of ASEAN to Burma in 2014. Obviously it will reflect the ASEAN values to see. Marty Natalegawa, the Indonesia's Foreign Minister and the current ASEAN Chairperson to visit Naypyidaw, instead of pushing Co1 as others civilized nations have done.
The author can be reached at bathannwin@gmail.com

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