SLORC RAPE IN THATON DISTRICT
An Independent Report by the
Karen Human Rights Group
Manerplaw, February 1, 1993
The following account was given by a Karen refugee who arrived in the Karen Revolutionary Area in late December 1992 with, her husband and children, having left their home village in Thaton District due to increased SLORC activity there. Her name has been changed and the name of her village deliberately omitted in order to protect her relatives.
Name: Naw Wah Lay Htoo
Nationality: Karen Address: Pa'an Township, Thaton District
Family: Married with 4 children aged 10, 7, 5, and 6 months
My story happened in November when we were still living in our village. We were very afraid of the Burmese, especially because we women and children were all alone in the village. All the men had left the village to hide from the SLORC, because every time the SLORC sees village men in the area they take them straight away to the frontline to be porters. The SLORC troops at De Caw PO camp also send orders for our men to go as porters often, and if you don't go you have to pay 1,500 Kyat each time.
One night last November, after dark when all the children were already asleep, more than 60 SLORC soldiers from 99 Division came through our village,. I heard many soldiers pass my house. My two eldest children were sleeping at their grandmother's house, and I was alone with my two smallest children. I had a small lamp burning because I was very afraid. I thought maybe some soldiers had gone underneath my house. Then one soldier came straight into my house, and he put out the light right away so I couldn't see his face. The soldier said to me, "Mother, where is Father?", meaning my husband. I said, "He's at the farm". The soldier sounded not too old, and he stank of alcohol. Then he asked, "Has your husband gone to join the Karen Army?" I said no, hes a farmer and just works at our farm. Then the soldier told me to lay down. He said "Lay down, Mother". I refused, so he pushed me and I fell on my children. They started crying, and the soldier jumped on me and started to wrestle with me. Then he put his rifle barrel against my face - it felt so cold and made me so afraid I can't tell you. He put the barrel against my chest and pushed me down again. He grabbed my throat and said "If you shout I'll choke you!" and tried to slap me but I turned my face away. So he took his gun and held it against one side of my face, and pulled out his knife and held it against the other side, and said "If you fight or cry or shout, I'll kill you".
My sarong had already come apart while we were fighting. He raped me, and I couldn't even scream. My children started crying very loudly so the neighbours must have heard, but they were all too afraid to come and help because soldiers were in all of their houses too, cooking their food to eat and stealing their things.
After he raped me he said "You mustn't tell anyone anything or I'll kill you. You and you children must just be quiet. Go to sleep quietly." Then he left, and I lit the light and we went to my mother-in-law's house. I told her what happened. I was angry at her and said "Why didn't you come? You heard my children crying". She said they couldn't because some soldiers were in their house too and were going into their bedroom and stealing their things. I told her I was very afraid my husband wouldn't understand and would be angry at me, but she tried to calm me by saying he would understand.
[Her husband, Saw Eh Plah, age 39, adds: "I can't be angry with her but I'm furious at the Army. It makes me want to fight them."]
I didn't hear that any other women in the village were raped that night, but the soldiers went into many houses, cooked people's food and stole all their belongings. The next day we heard that the same group of soldiers had met 3 farmers from Baw De Ploh village who were bringing rice home from their field on a cart. The soldiers took them and killed all 3 of them outside Tee May Baw village. We don't know why, all we know is that one of the farmer's names was Pa Khay. Those soldiers were from a camp in Bilin Township. We hadn't seen them before.
After I was raped we only stayed in our village about 10 more days, then we left and came here. Now we're never going back.