After seeking to profit from the rape of a young girl, corruption allegations follow police across Mon State

June 4, 2019

HURFOM: Allegations of police corruption stemming from two separate incidents in Mon State’s Mudon and Thanbyuzayat townships the rape of a young girl and the possession of illegal drugs have led to the opening of an investigation into police conduct, and have prompted villagers to file formal complaints with various state and Union-level government offices.

With respect to the first incident, the Mawlamyine District Police Station ordered police in Thanbyuzayat Township to investigate allegations that on May 18th 2019, Police Captain Khin Maung Tun demanded a 200,000 kyat (US $131.05) bribe from the father of an accused rapist in Kaw Kha Pone village, Mudon Township.

It is alleged that the 12-year-old victim in this case was raped repeatedly by her cousin. On May 18th 2019, the girl’s mother reported the man to the Mudon Police Station, and the accused was arrested and charged under Penal Code 376 (Punishment for rape).

I was raped five times by him. I was forced to take pink pills [unknown substance] every time before he raped me. He threatened that he would beat me if I told my mother,” said the girl.

Shortly after the girl’s mother reported the crime, police targeted the accused’s father.

At about 4pm on May 18th, two police officers came to my house and arrested me. I didn’t know why I was being arrested, but I went with them. As soon as we reached the station, one of the officers punched me twice in the face. He then demanded that I give him 200,000 kyat by 9am the following day. I told him I was a laborer, living hand to mouth, and that I didn’t have the money. He then told me I had to give him 100,000 kyat (US $65.52),” said U A—, the father of the accused.

By noon the following day, U A— had collected the money but was unable to return to the police station, leaving it instead with U Myint, the 100 households head of Kaw Kha Pone village, believing that he would deliver the money to police.

When asked by HURFOM, U Myint said he knew nothing about the money and would not provide any further comment.

Learning of the incident from a social media post, on May 23rd 2019, the Mawlamyine Police Station ordered police in Thanbyuzayat Township to investigate the allegations against Police Captain Khin Maung Tun.

Allegations of corruption soon emerged elsewhere when police in Wae Toon Chaung (Da Ton Chit) village, Thanbyuzayat Township, demanded that the family of a man arrested on drug charges pay 600,000 kyat (US $393.15) to ensure he receive a reduced sentence.

On May 19th 2019, Mg H— was arrested and charged under Articles 16(c) and 20(a) of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Law for the possession and distribution of kratom. According to his mother, community leaders and Police Sergeant Kyaw Zin Oo arrived at her home shortly after his arrest demanding a payment of 1 million kyat (US 655.25) in return for reduced prison time.

Community leaders and Sergeant Kyaw Zin Oo came to my house to tell me that he [the sergeant] would alter the charges against my son to just personal use. Then he demanded 1 million kyat. I said I couldn’t afford to pay 1 million kyat, so he then told me I must pay 700,000 kyat (US $458.68). I told him I couldn’t afford to pay that either, but could pay 500,000 kyat (US $327.62). At first, he refused to accept this but after some negotiation he said he would accept 600,000 kyat. We agreed that I would pay him at the village administration office the next day,” said Daw N—, the mother of the man detained.

Unable to immediately collect the 600,000 kyat sum, Daw N— eventually met with community leaders and police at a village church to pay the money. However, when Mg H—‘s uncle learned of the extortion, he drafted formal complaints and submitted them to the Myanmar State Counsellor Office, the Anti-Corruption Commission of Myanmar, and the Mon State Government Office.

If we don’t report this incident, villagers will continue to be extorted. They’ve [the police] already done something like this several times in the past. We’ve filed our complaints to stop this from happening again,” said U T—, the man’s uncle.

The police sergeant said my son wouldn’t avoid imprisonment but would make sure his charges were reduced. He apologized to us and asked us to withdraw our complaints. I replied that we had already filed the complaints and that they couldn’t be withdrawn,” said Daw N—.

It is not clear if or how the three government offices contacted will respond, but these two incidents nonetheless highlight a number of issues that continue to impact the lives of villagers in Mon State and throughout Burma.

The rape of a young girl is the fourth such incident that HURFOM has reported since January 2019, and serves as a reminder that until the Protection and Prevention of Violence against Women Bill is enacted, sexual and gender-based violence will continue to threaten the safety, security, and well-being of women and children throughout Burma.

The arrest of a man for the possession and distribution of kratom suggests that more effective drug treatment options are needed in lieu of criminal sentencing, for the harsh penalties imposed on users have proven not to reduce consumption.

Overall, the above allegations underscore a broader culture of corruption among police forces in Mon State. To disrupt the rule of law by seeking to profit from the rape of a young girl, authorities devalue the severity of the crime and the justice that victims seek. To circumvent the rule of law by offering reduced sentencing in exchange for personal financial gain, authorities communicate that the criminal justice system operates according to one’s financial status. Such behavior erodes trust between villagers and police and could possibly undermine the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement if villagers look to Ethnic Armed Organizations for the protection that police fail to provide.

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