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Burmese Rights Groups Spotlight On License to Rape Report - 2003-04-13


Burmese human rights groups have accused the country's military junta of brutal sexual violence against women in a spotlighted case at the 59th annual meeting of the UN Commission on Human Rights.

Officials from the Australian Council for Overseas Aid told the UN commission that the military has used systematic rape as a "weapon of war" in northern Shan state. They accused the military dictatorship of being the principal cause of violence against women in the area -- which is embroiled in armed conflict between the military and ethnic rebels.

The accusations were compiled in report called "License to Rape" that was put together by Thailand-based human rights organizations the Shan Women's Action Network and the Shan Human Rights Foundation. The groups made their original rape allegations last June.

The report said 83 percent of the rapes were committed by officers in front of their troops and 25 percent resulted in the death of the victim.

A rights group representative Mary Jane Real, of the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, said women in Shan state were raped by the military junta's forces with impunity.

Burma's government has consistently denied the charges, calling rape a loathsome and detestable crime that violates the rules of basic religious moral conduct. Rangoon insists it never ordered, supported or condoned rape in any form.

Information for this report is provided by UN Press Release.

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