Overlapping authority prevents justice in Three Pagodas Pass rape case

October 7, 2015

WCRP: Overlapping authority is likely to blame for the poor handling of a recent rape case in the Thai-Burma Border Sub-Township of Three Pagodas Pass. While multiple authorities have been alerted to the case, as of yet no action has been taken to pursue justice for the victim.

rapecaseinTPPOn September 29, a 35 years old Mon woman, Mi D—, was raped by two unknown assailants on the site of a brick kiln where she and her husband worked, one mile from Yaw Thit village in Three Pagodas Pass Sub-District.

According to Nai Kyaw Nyunt, owner of the kiln, the two unknown men arrived at the victim’s home on the brick kiln site, demanding payment of 50,000 Baht. Afterwards, the assailants threatened Mi D— and her husband with a gun, forcing her husband to flee the house and then raping Mi D—.

Mi D— described the events, “They beat my husband with their gun and they forced him out from the house. When my husband ran to the [nearby] checkpoint to ask for help from the authorities, one of the men took my phone and ran away. The other man raped me. He was drunk and I was scared that he would kill me. He covered his face and I did not dare to look up at him, because he was aiming at me with his gun”.

Locals suggest that the rape may be connected to another violent attack committed nearby on the same night, where a truck belonging to two Karen men was hijacked at gunpoint by two unknown assailants. The hijacking, during which gunfire has heard, took place at the Yaw Thit checkpoint close to the rape site.

A Yaw Thit villager described, “Before the rape happened we heard someone at the checkpoint shoot a gun around ten times and we heard someone hijack the truck. We did not dare to go and look because it was midnight”.

While the local police authorities were notified of the rape immediately, they failed to make any clear response to the attack, instead passing responsibility on to local military forces.

Nai Kyaw Nyunt, owner of the kiln, explained, “We went to the police station to report the case. The police asked us to go to the military. We also went to report the case to the Village Administrator and the Burmese [government] authorities. But they did not take any action on the case. So, now we have reported the case to the New Mon State Party”.

Overall, mixed sources of authority look likely complicate hopes of justice for the victim, making it unclear who is responsible for resolving the case. In Three Pagodas Pass Sub-Township authority is held by an array of actors, including the local government, village administration, police forces, military, militia groups, Border Guard Force (BGF), Karen National Union (KNU), Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army Peace Council (KNU/KNLA-PC), Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA) and New Mon State Party (NMSP).

Even should government authorities take action to ensure that the case reaches the courtroom, the victim will need to travel to a court 60 miles away from her home, in Kyainnseikyi Town, for the case to be heard. There is no courtroom in Three Pagodas Pass Sub-Township.

Meanwhile, the identity of the attackers remains unknown, with Mi D— able to add only that they spoke fluent Burmese.

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