The Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT) is gravely concerned for the lives of four women being held as sex slaves at a frontline post near Loije at the Kachin-China border, and calls for the Burma Army to immediately free them, and for foreign envoys in Burma to demand their immediate release.
According to porters who escaped on November 1 from Mu Bum mountain outpost, where about 50 troops from Light Infantry Battalion 321 are based, the four women were being made to clean and cook for the soldiers during the day, and were gang-raped by them at night.
The porters identified one of the women as Sumlut Roi Ja, aged 28, from the nearby village of Hkai Bang. She was last seen by her husband and father-in-law on October 28, when they were forced to carry corn to Mu Bum army post. The three had run away from the camp, but she had been too slow and was recaptured.
On November 1, Sumlut Roi Ja’s family members met with Lt. Col. Zaw Myo Htut, the Burma Army commander at the Loi Je military base, and begged for her release. He told them that she would be released on November 2, but they waited the whole day at the foot of Mu Bum mountain and she did not appear.
A KWAT documentor reported seeing Sumlut Roi Ja through a zoom lens at the Mu Bum camp from a nearby hilltop on October 31. The next day, on November 1, she was able to see a woman being dragged by four soldiers into a bunker at the camp, but could not clearly identify her. Since then, she has not been able to see any women at the camp.
KWAT is gravely concerned at the fate of the four women and demands that the Burma Army immediately releases them. KWAT also urgently requests all foreign envoys in Burma to call for their immediate unconditional release.
“Silence about the Burma Army’s blatant systematic sexual violence is placing the lives of all women and girls in the conflict zones at risk,” said KWAT coordinator Moon Nay Li.
The Burma Army has reinforced troops between Bhamo and Loije since mid-October, fuelling fears of an imminent offensive against the nearby KIA stronghold of Maijayang, where thousands of displaced Kachin villagers are sheltering.