Ask Angelina Jolie and the UN Women to do more to help the women of Myanmar

Angelina Jolie and the UN Women

We write to you out of grave concern for our sisters in Myanmar. After the Myanmar military staged a coup on February 1, women in Myanmar have been at the forefront of the protests nationwide. Since the start of this coup, the military has arbitrarily detained over 3,300 pro-democracy protesters. Many of them are women under the age of 25. They come from all walks of life; they are university students, medical practitioners, celebrities, teachers, and community leaders.

Many women activists, medical doctors, and protestors are on the junta’s arrest list and have been forced into hiding as a result. The military has taken abducting their family members (including children) as a means of coercing the women to surrender to the police.

Recently, extensive and alarming evidence has emerged that women detainees are subject to acts of violence and sexual assault by the security forces (see endnotes for details). Women detained at interrogation centers, particularly those from marginalized religious and ethnic groups, are subject to extreme torture and rape, which are regularly deployed by the military as intimidation techniques to force false confessions.

Women in custody are being denied basic medical care, and are often unable to receive food and medications from family. There is little sign that these women will be released soon. Many have been denied legal representation, or any opportunity to meet with their family members.

These accounts of sexual violence are consistent with war tactics deployed by the fascist Myanmar military against ethnic minority women for decades. These have been well documented in the military attacks orchestrated against the Rohingya, Karen (Kayin), Shan, and Kachin women, among many others.

Would you join us? We invite you to join our protest in speaking up and calling for immediate action to help Myanmar women who are detained, silenced, and oppressed. Please help us to demand an end to the vicious attacks on women and accountability for the perpetrators of these assaults.

In Solidarity,

Activists and Concerned Citizens for Myanmar

Endnotes: Here are more details on sexual violence and torture experienced by our women.

From Radio Free Asia’s (RFA) interview.

Below are the key points from the account of a young woman detained for protesting. In the interview, she recalled the details of the sexual violence inflicted upon fellow Myanmar women in the prisons.

  • Young, women detainees were ordered to spread their legs and were kicked in the groin by soldiers and police. Reports also describe sexual abuse (ie. penetration) with police batons. One particular detainee was seen to suffer traumatic bleeding from this abuse and had significant difficulty walking;

  • Women and young girls were beaten repeatedly with metal rods to their heads and faces. The blunt force trauma left severe wounds on the gums and cheeks which prevented many from eating (chewing, swallowing, etc.);

  • Soldiers and police rode on women’s shoulders and yanked their hair, in an attempt to violently subjugate them.

Further:  

  • Several women with active arrest warrants have received coercive threats ordering them to sexually submit to high-ranking officers in exchange for protection from gang rape in prison.

  • One high-profile woman celebrity received lewd mobile text messages from a soldier saying he had masturbated to her pictures on Facebook, and that she will be raped “to [his] heart’s content once she is caught”.

  • The military, notorious for its misogynistic culture, is particularly abusive to incarcerated individuals identifying as gender and sexual minorities. A well-respected trans woman protester was recently arrested, and reports have emerged of her being detained in a male ward of the infamous Insein Prison and subjected to undue humiliation due to her gender identity (eg. being forced to strip and change into a male sarong).


Sources:

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/shwe-yamin-htet-04222021181201.html)

https://twitter.com/nslwin/status/1384183054982279170?fbclid=IwAR1BLs65m8F5K9XFh35DLqzQunOF7Az8RcVySAY-IRGXq15MNCicXxgh3nU

https://twitter.com/ett89075034/status/1383820219836080133?s=21&fbclid=IwAR0mj2sH5xnkxJy74lEl-Oss5nkCWkYRl1qT_EE3s_ZQu3-itrarMKDGGBY

https://twitter.com/nslwin/status/1383789183794171921?s=20

https://www.facebook.com/100045692436309/posts/304279104438502/?d=n

https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/08/1044811


Petition by
Alyson Chadwick
Stony Brook, New York
Sponsored by

To: Angelina Jolie and the UN Women
From: [Your Name]

​We write to you out of grave concern for our sisters in Myanmar. After the Myanmar military staged a coup on February 1, women in Myanmar have been at the forefront of the protests nationwide. Since the start of this coup, the military has arbitrarily detained over 3,300 pro-democracy protesters. Many of them are women under the age of 25. They come from all walks of life; they are university students, medical practitioners, celebrities, teachers, and community leaders.

Many women activists, medical doctors, and protestors are on the junta’s arrest list and have been forced into hiding as a result. The military has taken abducting their family members (including children) as a means of coercing the women to surrender to the police.

Recently, extensive and alarming evidence has emerged that women detainees are subject to acts of violence and sexual assault by the security forces (see endnotes for details). Women detained at interrogation centers, particularly those from marginalized religious and ethnic groups, are subject to extreme torture and rape, which are regularly deployed by the military as intimidation techniques to force false confessions.

Women in custody are being denied basic medical care, and are often unable to receive food and medications from family. There is little sign that these women will be released soon. Many have been denied legal representation, or any opportunity to meet with their family members.

These accounts of sexual violence are consistent with war tactics deployed by the fascist Myanmar military against ethnic minority women for decades. These have been well documented in the military attacks orchestrated against the Rohingya, Karen (Kayin), Shan, and Kachin women, among many others.

Would you join us? We invite you to join our protest in speaking up and calling for immediate action to help Myanmar women who are detained, silenced, and oppressed. Please help us to demand an end to the vicious attacks on women and accountability for the perpetrators of these assaults.

In Solidarity,

(Insert Group Names/Signatories) (Your Signature)

Endnotes

From Radio Free Asia’s (RFA) interview.

Below are the key points from the account of a young woman detained for protesting. In the interview, she recalled the details of the sexual violence inflicted upon fellow Myanmar women in the prisons.

Young, women detainees were ordered to spread their legs and were kicked in the groin by soldiers and police. Reports also describe sexual abuse (ie. penetration) with police batons. One particular detainee was seen to suffer traumatic bleeding from this abuse and had significant difficulty walking;

Women and young girls were beaten repeatedly with metal rods to their heads and faces. The blunt force trauma left severe wounds on the gums and cheeks which prevented many from eating (chewing, swallowing, etc.);

Soldiers and police rode on women’s shoulders and yanked their hair, in an attempt to violently subjugate them.

Further:

Several women with active arrest warrants have received coercive threats ordering them to sexually submit to high-ranking officers in exchange for protection from gang rape in prison.

One high-profile women celebrity received lewd mobile text messages from a soldier saying he had masturbated to her pictures on Facebook, and that she will be raped “to [his] heart’s content once she is caught”.

The military, notorious for its misogynistic culture, is particularly abusive to incarcerated individuals identifying as gender and sexual minorities. A well-respected trans woman protester was recently arrested, and reports have emerged of her being detained in a male ward of the infamous Insein Prison and subjected to undue humiliation due to her gender identity (eg. being forced to strip and change into a male sarong).

Sources:

(https://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/shwe-yamin-htet-04222021181201.html)

https://twitter.com/nslwin/status/1384183054982279170?fbclid=IwAR1BLs65m8F5K9XFh35DLqzQunOF7Az8RcVySAY-IRGXq15MNCicXxgh3nU

https://twitter.com/ett89075034/status/1383820219836080133?s=21&fbclid=IwAR0mj2sH5xnkxJy74lEl-Oss5nkCWkYRl1qT_EE3s_ZQu3-itrarMKDGGBY

https://twitter.com/nslwin/status/1383789183794171921?s=20

https://www.facebook.com/100045692436309/posts/304279104438502/?d=n

https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/08/1044811