A new report documenting dozens of cases of sexual violence committed against women of the Chin ethnic minority group by the Burma army was released Tuesday on Burma's "Armed Forces Day."
Unsafe State: State-Sanctioned Sexual Violence against Chin Women in Burma, published by the Women's League of Chinland, details 38 cases of rape with impunity by the Burmese army throughout Chin State, in western Burma near the India border.
Nearly half the reported cases were gang rapes, and at least a third were committed by officers, according to U.K.'s Christian Solidarity Worldwide, which monitors persecution and advocates Christian human rights. Sexual violence was also often combined with extreme brutality and humiliation such as severe torture and murder.
"These horrors are being sanctioned by the state in Burma," said Cheery Zahau, a spokesperson for the Women's League of Chinland, in a released statement. "How can the civilized world accept this junta among their ranks? And how can countries like India and China be arming these rapists?"
The Chin population in Burma is about 90 percent Christian and is severely persecuted by Burma's pro-Buddhist military regime. Reports indicate that the regime forces Christians to tear down crosses and demolish churches and replace them with Buddhist pagodas and statues. Christians are also forced to contribute financially to Buddhist projects.
Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship, commented in a recent column that the Chin and other Burmese Christians have become the "preferred targets of one of the world's most brutal regimes."
In one known case, a woman was stripped naked and tied to a cross, in "a savage act of mockery against her Christian beliefs," described the new report.
Burma is designated as a "Country of Particular Concern" by the U.S. State Department for its severe religious freedom violations.
"The Chin people are among the most forgotten people in the world, and their suffering is horrendous," said Stuart Windsor, national director of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, in a statement. "The use of rape, accompanied by religious persecution and forced labor, should not be tolerated. It is time for the international community to act."