The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (S/2019/280) issued on 29 March 2019.
Following direct engagement with survivors, witnesses, caseworkers and service providers in April 2018, my Special Representative expressed serious concern about a pattern of widespread atrocities, including sexual violence against Rohingya women and girls. The forms of sexual violence consistently recounted by survivors include rape, gang rape by multiple government soldiers, forced public nudity and humiliation, and sexual slavery in military captivity. These acts occurred in the context of collective persecution, the burning of villages and the torture, mutilation and killing of civilians. There are indications that the threat and use of sexual violence was a driver and “push factor” for forced displacement on a massive scale in and out of the northern part of Rakhine State. These observations, together with information that has been verified by the United Nations regarding sexual violence committed as part of military “clearance” operations in October 2016 and August 2017, indicate a wider pattern of ethnically and religiously motivated violence.
In 2018, the United Nations documented the rape of an 8-year old girl by the Myanmar Armed Forces (Tatmadaw Kyi) in the south-east of Myanmar. In September 2018, the independent international fact-finding mission on Myanmar, established by the Human Rights Council through its resolution 34/22, documented mass killings, rape and sexual violence by Tatmadaw soldiers during 2017 “clearance operations” in Rakhine State, as well as credible accounts of sexual violence and torture in Kachin and Shan States (see A/HRC/39/64). The Fact-finding mission also documented cases of sexualized torture in detention which were perpetrated by the Tatmadaw Kyi.
In September 2018, in its resolution 39/2, the Human Rights Council established the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar to consolidate, preserve and analyse evidence of serious international crimes committed in Myanmar since 2011 and to prepare files for criminal proceedings. In 2018, the Government of Myanmar also established an independent commission of inquiry. In December 2018, my Special Representative signed a joint communiqué with the Government of Myanmar on conflict-related sexual violence. In accordance with Security Council resolution 2106 (2013), the communiqué requires concrete actions by the Myanmar Armed Forces such as the issuance of clear orders prohibiting sexual violence and ensuring accountability for violations, as well as timely investigation of all alleged abuses. My Special Representative undertook a second visit to Myanmar in February 2019 to facilitate the preparation of an action plan to implement the commitments as expressed in the joint communiqué.
In 2018, an additional 15,000 Rohingya refugees fled Myanmar’s Rakhine State seeking safety in Bangladesh. In the central part of Rakhine State, 78 per cent of the 128,000 displaced people are women and girls. In Kachin and Shan States, an additional 43,000 people have been forcibly displaced since January 2018, as a result of fighting. Access restrictions have severely hampered the delivery of legal, medical and psychosocial services to these areas.
During her visit to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, in May 2018, my Special Representative noted the extreme vulnerability of displaced persons from Myanmar. The vulnerability of women and girls is compounded by their lack of livelihood opportunities and rooted in unequal gender norms, which has exposed them to high risks of trafficking and sexual exploitation. Negative coping mechanisms such as child marriage and the confinement of adolescent girls at home have also increased. My Special Representative signed a framework of cooperation with Bang
I welcome the signing, in December 2018, of a joint communiqué between the Government of Myanmar and the United Nations to prevent and address conflictrelated sexual violence. I call for its full and swift implementation in close coordination with my Special Representative and the United Nations country team in Myanmar, including the commitments regarding accountability for conflict-related sexual violence allegedly perpetrated by the Myanmar Armed Forces and border guards. I further call on the Government to ensure that the draft law on the prevention of violence against women fully complies with international standards and call for its immediate adoption. I urge the Government of Myanmar to provide national and international humanitarian agencies with access to all conflict-affected areas, including to provide services to survivors of sexual violence.