By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ANKARA (AA) - The Human Rights Watch (HRW) has rejected a Myanmar claim that there was "no evidence" to suggest its armed forces had raped Rohingya women.
Earlier this week, the Myanmar government submitted to the UN a report on the situation of women and girls in the northern Rakhine State saying no acts of rape had been committed by the army.
The global rights group termed the Myanmar submission "a darkly risible denial to a very painful truth”.
Myanmar was asked in late 2017 by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination again Women (CEDAW) to submit a report on the situation of women and girls in Rakhine State, where the Myanmar army has killed thousands of minority Rohingya Muslims.
The statement added that the evidence was compiled by HRW, other human rights organizations, the media, and the UN “uncovered gruesome accounts of rape, killings, and other crimes against humanity” in Rakhine State.
“Hundreds of Rohingya women and girls … were raped. I spoke to dozens of them. They risked both renewed trauma and stigma -- with little real hope of remedy -- to tell their stories. A 15-year-old girl, for instance, said soldiers dragged her out of her hut, tied her to a tree, and then raped her,” said Skye Wheeler, a researcher in its women's rights division.
The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.
Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).
More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience."
Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.
The UN has also documented mass gang rapes, killings – including of infants and young children – brutal beatings and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces.
In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.