NEW YORK, NY – During today’s UN Security Council annual open debate on conflict-related sexual violence, Ms. Khin Ohmar, a women’s human rights defender from Myanmar, testified on behalf of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security. She called for justice and accountability for atrocities against ethnic and religious communities in Myanmar. Ethnic women’s organizations, she said, as well as the UN, have documented the military’s systematic and persistent use of rape as a weapon of war.
“The Karen, the Kachin, the Rohingya, the Rakhine, and others have all faced great suffering at the hands of the Tatmadaw [the Myanmar armed forces],” said Ohmar. “Who is next? Who else must come before you to urge you to hold the Myanmar military to account?” She urged the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court.
In light of the UN Security Council meeting, Sarah Costa, executive director of the Women’s Refugee Commission, issued the following statement:
“We commend Ms. Khin Ohmar for her powerful expression of inter-religious and inter-ethnic solidarity against a government that continues to incite violence and hatred against its own people. The crimes by Myanmar’s military against ethnic communities, particularly against women and girls, have received global attention, yet the UN Security Council remains largely silent. We remain deeply concerned about ongoing violence and continued restrictions in humanitarian access that hinder critical assistance to people in need.
“Myanmar’s government should immediately reinstate citizenship and ensure equal rights for the Rohingya, who continue to face discrimination and persecution. Women, girls, men, and boys, including those with diverse sexual orientation and gender identity and expression who are survivors of rape and other forms of gender-based violence, are in need of critical care. Providing age-, gender-, and disability-sensitive comprehensive services for survivors, including sexual and reproductive health services, is crucial.”
The UN Security Council debate was presided over by Heiko Maas, Foreign Minister of Germany, who holds the Council’s presidency for July.