Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Burmese military employs systematic torture

On May 1, soldiers from Burma's military held a woman captive in a church for three days, not far from my hometown. "Ngwa Wi" (not her real name) was beaten, stabbed and raped until she became mentally deranged, while her neighbor was forced to watch.
I know Ngwa Wi's story is not uncommon. The Burmese military employs systematic rape, torture, and murder when big corporations want access to our land for mining, drilling and other natural resources.
Despite this, last week the U.S. government announced it will suspend sanctions on American investment in Burma. That means American companies can join the frenzy for natural resources in my homeland, and Burma's military will step up their atrocities. Ngwa Wi's suffering could be repeated hundreds, if not thousands of times all over my country.
Abuses like rapes, killings and beatings cluster near major projects financed by foreign companies like drilling for natural gas and oil. Though my country is starting to escape a 50-year military dictatorship, there's still no rule of law in Burma. Soldiers like the ones that raped Ngwa Li are never brought to justice -- sometimes, those are even their orders.
But Secretary Clinton can prevent atrocities from happening because of American businesses in Burma. I know petitions have helped Secretary Clinton to speak out on human rights issues in the past. Last year, Saudi women petitioned Secretary Clinton to call for women's right to drive -- and she did, reversing her initial position because of their petition.
If enough people speak out and tell Secretary Clinton that she can't leave us without any protections against American companies' thirsts for our resources -- and the military's terrifying tactics -- she will listen.
Thank you,
Moon Nay Li

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