BURMA: Charges brought against child assault, rape victim by officials protecting perpetrators


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAU-011-2013
ISSUES: Child rights, Corruption, Rule of law, Violence against women,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received updated information that police and other officials in Burma are continuously harassing a teenage girl who has lodged complaints against a former employer for rape, assault and trafficking. As feared, the alleged perpetrators seemingly have used their money and influence to have charges brought against the girl over an alleged theft. And personnel of a special investigation team have come frequently to interrogate the teenager over the allegations, apparently with a view to intimidating her into backing down.


As we described in our original appeal (AHRC-UAC-023-2013), Ma Htet Htet (not her real name), now 15, was allegedly repeatedly raped by her employer, Myint Aung, and was also assaulted by him and his wife. Since she brought allegations against them, the couple have used their influence with local authorities to have charges brought against her over the alleged theft of a watch and money.

After the charges were laid, police took the girl to a reformatory school where she was held for two weeks. She would have been kept until trial; however, two bailors associated with the lawyers handling the case free of charge came forward to give security for her release from custody. They succeeded in getting bail only after the police also attempted to interfere in the process, roaming in and out of the office where the bonds were issued and allegedly taking other steps to block the release of the teenage girl.

Despite, getting the teenager out on bail, special investigative personnel have come repeatedly to ask questions of her in a manner that is seemingly aimed at intimidating her into backing down from her original allegations. Even while the trial is going on, they are continuing to call her for questioning, which is highly irregular.

Our original appeal letter, with full details of the case supplemented by updated information, is below. Please use it or write your own letter to the persons listed at the end of this update to call for the investigation and prosecution of this case to be transferred to the responsibility of other police and judicial officials who do not have contact with, and are less likely to be influenced by, the accused. Please also ask that the accused by charged with rape, grievious assault and other relevant offences for alleged human trafficking. And, please insist that the patently fabricated case brought against the victim be dropped at once.

Please note that for the purposes of the letter Burma is referred to by its official name, Myanmar, and Rangoon, Yangon.

Please be informed that the AHRC is writing separate letters to the UN Special Rapporteurs on Myanmar; violence against women, and the regional human rights office for Southeast Asia calling for interventions into this case.

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Dear ___________,

MYANMAR: Teenage victim of alleged rape, assault and trafficking herself charged and constantly harassed by officials aiming to protect alleged perpetrators

Name of victim: Ma Htet Htet (not her real name), 15, domestic worker, resident of Min Hla Township, Bago Region, Myanmar
Names of alleged perpetrators: 
1. U Myint Aung and Daw Cho Mar, residents of North Okkalapa Township, Yangon
2. Inspector Nyi Nyi Lwin, North Okkalapa Township Police Station
3. Personnel belonging to the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Unit, Yangon 
4. Judge U Thein Than Htun, North Okkalapa Township Court
Date of incident: November 2010 – 2 January 2013
Place of incident: At the house of the alleged perpetrators in Yangon, the apartment of Daw Nwe Ni in 3rd Street, Yangon, the New Light Restaurant, and a public toilet adjacent to the restaurant

I am writing to voice my deep concern that officials in North Okkalapa, Yangon are working to pervert the course of justice and protect a man accused of repeatedly raping a teenage girl and his wife who physically assaulted her while she was working for them as a domestic staff, by charging and harassing the victim of these crimes rather than properly pursuing lines of inquiry against the accused.

According to the information that I have received, Ma Htet Htet (not her real name), worked for 15,000 Kyat per month (around USD18) for U Myint Aung and Daw Cho Mar in Yangon since November 2010. Myint Aung also forced her to work at his Cherry Restaurant, where she had to sleep in a small locked room next to the cash counter. Over the next two years, Myint Aung allegedly repeatedly came and raped the girl when his wife went to collect their children from evening tuition, which finished at 11pm. He allegedly also gave her an Anlitin anti-pregnancy tablet after each incident and threatened her that he would kill her if he told anyone. Because of the repeated rapes, Htet Htet was bleeding from her genitalia and could not do her work well, cauing Cho Mar to also assault her, resulting in her suffering serious physical and psychological trauma.

The mother of the girl used to come and meet her daughter once in three months when she collected her salary. In September 2012 after she collected the money, the couple moved the girl to the apartment of Daw Nwe Ni, who is the first cousin of Myint Aung, on 3rd Street. Then Cho Mar told the mother that Htet Htet was missing. Since the mother don’t have money that time, she could only come to find out what happened in November. Cho Mar claimed that her daughter had eloped. The mother suggested they register a complaint about the missing girl at the local police station, but Cho Mar replied that she did it already. Later the mother was came to know that a First Information Report (North Okkalapa Police Station, No. Pa/49/2012) was in fact opened against her daughter as an alleged thief of a watch worth about USD350 and some money.

Despite what Cho Mar told her and the complaint against her daughter, on 26 November 2012 Htet Htet’s mother lodged a missing person complaint at the same police station. After that she had contact with local activists regarding her daughter’s case and with their help sent a letter of complaint on 7 December 2012 to various government departments and officials. On December 20 officials from the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Unit, under the Central Body for Suppression of Trafficking in Persons, came to ask questions of some relatives.

Meanwhile, what happened was that after Htet Htet was detained for a month in Nwe Ni’s apartment, in October Myint Aung and Cho Mar brought the girl to their home for a night and Cho Mar beat her with a broom. That night, Myint Aung allegedly raped her again. At 9am the next day, October 13, the couple asked her to pack around 10 clothes and brought her to the New Light Teashop, and arranged with the owner for the girl to serve tea for a couple of days. Witnesses saw them bring the girl and identified the car registration number as La/8371. Myint Aung came back on the same day and told the owner that the place was not safe and subsequently, the next day they shifted her to the public toilet behind the teashop. She stayed there for over two months and the couple came from time to time and pressured her not to go out and threatened to kill her. Myint Aung allegedly again raped her at this location. 

On 2 January 2013, Htet Htet got a chance to call her elder sister who lives in Min Hla with the help of person who came to the toilet to recharge his phone battery off an outlet. She told her family that she had been detained in the toilet. The next day, the girl’s elder sister and her uncle from Min Hla come to the place she mentioned on the phone and rescued her. On January 8, the activists who helped the family observed the public toilet where Htet Htet used to work and suspected that the toilet had some rooms inside for sexual purposes.

On January 9, officers from the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Unit again met members of the family but instead of interviewing Htet Htet they told the family to go to the township police station on January 11. The family went to the station and met with Inspector Nyi Nyi Lwin. And later in the evening, they went to the North Okkalapa Hospital to get a medical examination.

Since then, the family and others working with the girl have become concerned that the police and judge are working against her interests and to protect the accused. For one thing, the police record is incomplete. The inspector recorded that the girl was allegedly raped but did not record the places of alleged rape, and her movement from once place to the next by the family. Also, when the case was heard in the court on January 15 for preliminary inquiry the court heard her testimony in private then forced her to stamp her fingerprint on her testimony without her knowing what was written down. The judge three times asked her if she was making the complaint of her own accord or if someone else had set her up to make it. He is reportedly a regular customer at the Cherry Restaurant and knows the accused.

Thereafter, the accused couple themselves lodged a patently fabricated case against the teenage girl, on 23 February 2013, for alleged theft of a watch and money. The police promptly brought a charge against Htet Htet for “theft by a clerk or servant of property in possession of master” under section 381 of the Penal Code, an offence punishable by up to seven years in jail, and the following day detained her at a reformatory school. On March 7, two well wishers posted bail for her of five million Kyat (about USD6200), despite attempts of local police to intimidate them and prevent the issuance of bail. Notwithstanding, the harassment of Htet Htet has not ceased, since officials have kept coming to interrogate her and intimidate her in a manner that is inconsistent with ordinary criminal procedure. In fact, if the government attorney wishes to question her, this questioning can be done inside the courthouse, and it is unnecessary and inappropriate for her to be called for ongoing inquiries while the trial of the accused is underway.

I am shocked to learn that despite several complaints to local police and to government officials, the rescued girl continues to be treated like a suspect and an ignorant person, rather than as a victim of crime deserving of support and respect. I am particularly concerned that in cases of this sort in Myanmar it is well known that police and judicial officers collude with influential businessmen to cover up their crimes, in exchange for payments and other favours accruing to them over time.

I am doubly dismayed that not only have the authorities dragged their feet on the case against the accused couple but also meanwhile they have acted with great promptness to bring what is obviously a totally fabricated and frivolous charge against the victim of their crimes, in order to pressure her to drop the allegations against the two of them.

Accordingly, I urge that responsibility for investigation of this case be transferred to a higher level in the police service, and also that the case be transferred from the local township to some other township where a judge is less likely to be influenced or purchased by the accused. I also call for the accused to be charged with the relevant offences under the Penal Code, including rape and causing grievous bodily hurt, and under the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Law, which provides for criminal prosecution not only of people directly involved in trafficking, but in others involved in syndicates and networks for the movement of trafficked persons. I also take this opportunity to call for the victim to receive appropriate medical treatment, both physical and psychological, to enable her to recover as best as possible from this ordeal, and financial compensation from the perpetrators. And, needless to say, I demand that the ridiculous and totally unjustified and groundless allegation of theft against the victim be withdrawn without delay.

I am aware that this case is by no means isolated. All across Myanmar, children of tender ages like Ma Htet Htet are daily forced into what are correctly described as “modern forms of slavery”: jobs for which they are paid insignificant amounts of money and are constantly subjected to heinous forms of abuse. I am also aware that the persons responsible for these modern forms of slavery are invariably influential people with money and means to manipulate local authorities’ behaviour and prevent any effective investigations of their crimes. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that an example be set in this case so that other perpetrators of similar forms of abuse be made to understand that they can indeed be held to account for their crimes, in order that the incidence of such crimes be reduced as quickly as possible.

Yours sincerely,


1. U Hla Min
Minister for Home Affairs
Ministry of Home Affairs
Office No. 10
Tel: +95 67 412 079/ 549 393/ 549 663
Fax: +95 67 412 439

2. U Thein Sein
President of Myanmar
President Office
Office No.18

3. U Tun Tun Oo
Chief Justice
Office of the Supreme Court
Office No. 24
Tel: + 95 67 404 080/ 071/ 078/ 067 or + 95 1 372 145
Fax: + 95 67 404 059

4. Dr. Tun Shin
Attorney General
Office of the Attorney General
Office No. 25
Tel: +95 67 404 088/ 090/ 092/ 094/ 097
Fax: +95 67 404 146/ 106

5. U Kyaw Kyaw Htun
Director General
Myanmar Police Force
Ministry of Home Affairs
Office No. 10
Tel: +95 67 412 079/ 549 393/ 549 663
Fax: +951 549 663 / 549 208

6. Thura U Aung Ko
Pyithu Hluttaw Judicial and Legislative Committee
Pythu Hluttaw Office

7. U Aung Nyain
Pyithu Hluttaw Judicial and Legislative Committee
Committee for Public Complain and Appeals
Office of Amyotha Hluttaw

8. U Win Mra
Myanmar National Human Rights Commission
27 Pyay Road
Hlaing Township
Tel: +95-1-659668
Fax: +95-1-659668

9. Ko Ko Hlaing
Chief Political Advisor
Office of the President
Fax-+951 532500

10. Chair Person 
Anti-trafficking Unit Department
Ministry of Home Affairs
Tel-+95 67 412555/412666
Fax-+95 67 412555/412666

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : AHRC-UAU-011-2013
Countries : Burma (Myanmar),
Issues : Child rights, Corruption, Rule of law, Violence against women,