Hold Myanmar military accountable for violence against women

Myanmar military - Photograph: Wikipedia

Dear President and Members of the UN Security Council,

Marking the 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, we, the Women’s Peace Network, and the undersigned organisations working for women’s rights and against gender-based violence, call upon the UN Security Council to hold the Myanmar military accountable for grievously violating the human rights of women.

Since the military’s illegitimate seizure of power on 1 February, the people of Myanmar have led nationwide mass movements to demand that the November 2020 election results be respected, the 2008 Constitution be abolished, a federal democratic union be built with full equality and self-determination, and those arbitrarily detained and arrested be released.

Despite engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience, thousands of civilians, including women, have been brutally assailed by the regime’s tactics of violent assault, arbitrary detention and extrajudicial killings. Given this military’s record of using sexual violence as a weapon of war, we fear that the country’s progress in enhancing the status of women is at risk now more than ever.

We, members of the global women’s rights movement, now urgently join forces to amplify the people’s calls: the Myanmar military and security forces must be held to account for their brutality, and all impunity fuelling their historical violation of women’s rights and international laws and norms must end.

Across Myanmar, the military continue to act in violation of the UN Charter and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. In over a month, the Myanmar military and security forces have indiscriminately fired live ammunition at peaceful protesters – killing at least 20 women.

Deploying armoured vehicles along the country’s streets, male security forces have targeted women with batons and slingshots, all while strategically wielding water cannons, tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets against other peaceful protesters.

Throughout states and regions, the regime’s arbitrary detention and arrests of civilians have continued to rise as allegations of sexual assault and abuse across prisons have spread rampantly.

If the Security Council and the international community do not take concrete action, we are concerned that the Myanmar military and security forces will continue to commit mass atrocities and act in contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, and the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.

We would like to express our sincere appreciation to the member states for enforcing targeted measures against the Myanmar military and security forces. The Security Council’s intervention is crucial for ensuring that these measures have their intended effect of putting an end to the military’s arbitrary violence against its own people.

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Over the past several decades, the military junta has tortured and killed the country’s ethnic minorities to consolidate its power nationwide, and perpetrated sexual and gender-based violence against women as a tactic of repression.

As reported by the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar in 2019, countless Rohingya women were subjected to rape, mass gang rape, sexually humiliating acts, sexual slavery, and sexual mutilations during the military’s “clearance operations” – amounting to crimes against humanity and genocide –  across 2012, 2016 and 2017.

Yet to be held accountable for these atrocities, the military has interpreted the international community’s lack of a unified and comprehensive response as a licensc to intensify their abusive practices against the country’s most vulnerable.

We are now asking you to take all necessary measures against the Myanmar military, in order to break the cycles of violence and abuse that have gone on for too long.

We, the undersigned organisations, urge the UN Security Council to hold the Myanmar military and security forces accountable by adopting a resolution to

  1. Refer the situation of Myanmar to the International Criminal Court in order to hold the Myanmar military and security forces to account, under international law, for committing crimes, including rape and sexual violence
  2. Dispatch a monitoring and mediation body to Myanmar in response to the Myanmar military and security forces’ increasing use of violence against peaceful protesters, including women
  3. Impose targeted economic sanctions and financial penalties and restrictions on the junta leadership and businesses that are owned and controlled by the Myanmar military
  4. Impose a comprehensive and global arms embargo on Myanmar

We thank you for your leadership and attention to this matter.

Signed by

  1. African Women 4 Empowerment e.V.
  2. Akahatá
  3. Aliran
  4. Alliance for Gender Inclusion in the Peace Process
  5. Alliance of Democracies Foundation
  6. Altsean-Burma
  7. Articulación Feminista Marcosur
  8. Asha Parivar
  9. Asia Democracy Network
  10. Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development
  11. Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants
  12. Asian Migrants Centre
  13. Asian Migrants Coordinating Body
  14. Asian Muslim Action Network
  15. Association for Women’s Rights in Development
  16. Association of War Affected Women
  17. Aware Girls
  18. Az Zahara Women Group
  19. Bayan Hong Kong and Macau
  20. Beyond Borders Malaysia
  21. Building and Wood Workers’ International Asia-Pacific Regional Women’s Committee
  22. California National Organization for Women
  23. Cedaw Action Myanmar
  24. Center for Prisoners’ Rights
  25. Center for Trade Union and Human Rights Philippines
  26. Center of Excellence on Women and Social Security, Walailak University of Thailand
  27. Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy
  28. Citizen News Service
  29. Civicus
  30. Collective for Research and Training on Development Action
  31. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
  32. Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd
  33. Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, U.S. Provinces
  34. Congregation of St. Joseph
  35. Congregation of the Mission
  36. Covenants Watch
  37. Edmund Rice International
  38. Elman Peace Center
  39. Empatiku Foundation, Indonesia
  40. Empower, Malaysia
  41. Enlightened Myanmar Research Foundation
  42. Equality Bahamas
  43. EuroMed Feminist Initiative
  44. European Coalition-Global Refugee Led Network
  45. Federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas
  46. Feminist Alliance for Rights
  47. Feminist Task Force “Gender Equality to End Poverty”
  48. Feministischer Streik Darmstadt
  49. Fiji Women’s Rights Movement
  50. Filipino Migrant Workers Union
  51. Flora Tristán
  52. Fokus – Forum for Women and Development
  53. Fondazione Pangea Onlus-Reama Network
  54. Forum for Dignity Initiatives Pakistan
  55. Frauen für den Frieden Berlin
  56. Fund for Congolese Women
  57. Fundación para Estudio e Investigación de la Mujer
  58. Gabriela Hong Kong
  59. Gender Equality Network
  60. Global Interfaith Network
  61. Global Justice Center
  62. Global Network of Sex Work Projects
  63. Global Network of Women Peacebuilders
  64. Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict – Southeast Asia
  65. Hope Revival Organization
  66. Human Rights Watch
  67. Initiatives for International Dialogue
  68. Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Loreto Generalate
  69. Inter Pares
  70. International Alliance of Women
  71. International Civil Society Action Network
  72. International Domestic Workers Federation
  73. International Federation for Human Rights
  74. International Presentation Association
  75. International Trade Union Confederation
  76. International Trade Union Confederation-Asia Pacific
  77. International Trade Union Confederation-Asia Pacific Women’s Committee
  78. International Transport Workers’ Federation
  79. International Union of Food Workers Asia/Pacific Regional Organization
  80. International Women’s Development Agency
  81. International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific
  82. Internet Law Reform Dialogue
  83. Iraqi Al-Amal Association
  84. Iraqi Women Network
  85. Justice for Iran
  86. Justice for Peace Foundation
  87. Kachin Women’s Association of Thailand
  88. Karen Women’s Organization
  89. Kuki Women’s Human Rights Organization
  90. L’Association Djazairouna
  91. La Federación Internacional De Abogadas USA
  92. Leadership Conference of Women Religious
  93. League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran
  94. League of Women Voters of the United States
  95. Let’s Breakthrough, Inc.
  96. Madre
  97. Maldivian Democracy Network
  98. Manushya Foundation
  99. Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
  100. Mercy International Association – Global Action
  101. Millennium Sistahs T&T
  102. Mon Women Organisation
  103. Musawah Global Vision Berhad
  104. Naripokkho
  105. National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
  106. National Domestic Women Workers Federation
  107. National Fisheries Solidarity Organization
  108. National Organization for Women
  109. National Women Farmers and Workers Association, Bangladesh
  110. Nationality is a Right for Me and My Family Campaign
  111. Network for Solidarity, Empowerment and Transformation for All
  112. Network of Domestic Workers in Thailand
  113. Network of Migrant Domestic Workers in Thailand
  114. Network of NGOS of Trinidad and Tobago for the Advancement of Women
  115. New Women Connectors
  116. Ninu Chin Women Group
  117. Nobel Women’s Initiative
  118. Odhikar, Bangladesh
  119. Operation 1325
  120. OutRight Action International
  121. Passionists International
  122. Pax Christi International
  123. Pax Romana
  124. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor
  125. Project Sevana South-East Asia
  126. Public Services International, Asia Pacific Regional Office
  127. Punjab Women Collective
  128. Rainfall Feminist Women Group
  129. Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary NGO
  130. Rohingya Women Empowerment and Advocacy Network
  131. RW Welfare Society – RWWS
  132. Servas International
  133. Sindh Nari Purhiat Council [Sindh Women Workers’ Council], Pakistan
  134. Sisters of Charity Federation
  135. Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Office of Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation
  136. Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Congregational Leadership
  137. Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Western Province Leadership
  138. Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill Generalate
  139. Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill, Korean Province
  140. Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill, United States Province
  141. Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur
  142. Somos la mitad, queremos paridad sin acoso – Perú
  143. Suara Rakyat Malaysia
  144. Synergie des Femmes pour les Victimes des Violences Sexuelles
  145. Tavoy Women’s Union
  146. The Asian-Pacific Resource & Research Centre for Women
  147. The International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism
  148. The Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders
  149. U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph
  150. Unanima International
  151. Uni Apro Women
  152. United Domestic Workers of the Philippines
  153. United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-Migrante-HK)
  154. Urgent Action Funds
  155. Verein zur Förderung der Völkerverständigung
  156. Vietnam Committee for Human Rights
  157. Vivat International
  158. Voice
  159. Voice for Change, Papua New Guinea
  160. We Women Foundation International, The Netherlands
  161. We Women Foundation, Myanmar
  162. We Women Lanka Network
  163. Win-Peace
  164. Women Against Violence Europe
  165. Women and Harm Reduction International Network
  166. Women and Media Collective
  167. Women Development Society
  168. Women for Justice Foundation – Canada
  169. Women for Peace and Justice
  170. Women Graduates-USA
  171. Women in Governance (WinG)-India
  172. Women in Law and Development in Africa
  173. Women in Response to Aids and Drug Addiction
  174. Women Working for Social Progress
  175. Women’s Committee of the Federation of Hotel, Restaurant, Plaza, Catering, Apartment and Tourism – Indonesia
  176. Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
  177. Women’s International Peace Centre
  178. Women’s Network for Peace, Germany / Frauennetzwerk für Frieden e.V.
  179. Women’s Peace Network
  180. Women’s Refugee Commission
  181. Women’s Organizations Network Myanmar
  182. Women Peacekeepers (WePeace) Philippines
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