Myanmar soldiers are 'gang raping' Rohingya Muslims

Who are the Rohingya and why are so many fleeing Myanmar?Newsweek

Rohingya Muslim women are suffering "violent sexual attacks" at the hands of Myanmar soldiers, according to doctors working in refugee camps in Bangladesh.

Eight medical professionals said that they had treated dozens of women with injuries consistent with sexual violence since late August when violence erupted and the country's security forces reportedly started carrying out mass killings and arson attacks against the stateless minority group.

The doctors, working in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar district, told Reuters they had treated more than 25 individual rape cases since late August.

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The medical reports lend weight to victims' accounts compiled by human rights groups of Rohingya women being sexually assaulted and gang raped.

Tasnuba Nourin, one of the doctors with the UN's International Organisation for Migration (IOM), said that she had treated a 20-year-old woman with "skin marks" who was raped by a soldier in Myanmar.

"It showed a very forceful attack, an inhuman attack," she said. The woman's medical notes stated that soldiers had "pulled her hair" and used "a gun to beat her" before raping her.

Niranta Kumar, a health coordinator at an IOM clinic in Myanmar, reported that medics had seen evidence of beatings, forced penetration and lacerations to the vagina.

It is rare for UN doctors to accuse a country's armed forces of alleged rape, given the sensitivity of the matter.

Phil Robertson, Asia director for Human Rights Watch, told IBTimes UK that the organisation had documented "numerous cases" of Myanmar's soldiers sexually assaulting women and girls before "killing them, in some cases with machetes and bayonets" or "locking them in houses and burning them to death."

"These truly horrific rights crimes being committed by these soldiers need to be exposed, and the international community must take action to bring both the men committing these violations, and their commanders who encourage them, to justice. There is no excuse for inaction," he said.

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Myanmar's officials have consistently denied that the army has carried out violent attacks against Rohingya Muslims, dismissing the allegations as militant propaganda designed to destroy the reputation of its army.

A spokesman for Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi told Reuters: "Those rape victim women should come to us. We will give full security to them. We will investigate and we will take action."

Suu Kyi has not commented on the reports of sexual assault and is facing mounting criticism over her refusal to publicly condemn her army's actions and address allegations of ethnic cleansing.

At a conference in 2011, she described sexual violence in conflict as a "weapon by armed forces to intimidate the ethnic nationalities and to divide our country".

Around 429,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh in the past month and are living in overcrowded refugee camps near the border.

Doctors reported treating many Rohingya women who fled to Bangladesh for injuries caused by "violent sexual attacks" REUTERS/DanishSiddiqui
REUTERS/DanishSiddiqui
REUTERS/Rafiqur Rahman

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