Myanmar soldiers have raped more than 100 ethnic Karen women, using sexual assault as a weapon of war, even as the country's military government negotiates a cease-fire with Karen guerrillas, according to a new report. \n"These rapes occur as part of a strategy designed to terrorize and subjugate the Karen people, to completely destroy their culture and communities," said the report by the Karen Women's Organization (KWO), a voluntary group based in Thailand. \nThe report, which was released Friday, documents 125 case histories between October 2002 and March 2004. Some of the cases were from witnesses or survivors in Myanmar while others were obtained from Karen men and women staying in refugee camps along the Thai border. \nThe junta did not immediately react to the document, which came after it launched informal peace talks late last year with Karen rebels, who have been fighting for autonomy for more than 50 years. Both sides have declared a provisional truce to the fighting. \n"How can we believe that the regime is trying to bring about peace and democracy in Burma, when their troops continue to commit rape with impunity?" said Naw Zipporah Sein, KWO secretary. \nMyanmar has long been criticized by Western governments for its human rights record. The current junta came to power in 1988 after brutally crushing pro-democracy protests. \nTens of thousands of Karens have fled to neighboring Thailand. Karen women have rarely spoken out about the rapes because of the stigma and fear of retribution, said the KWO. \nIt said half of the rapes were committed by military officers; 40 percent were gang-rape. In 28 percent of the cases, the women were killed after being raped. \nIn 10 of the 35 fully documented cases in the report, women recounted being abducted from their villages and forced to work as porters. \nIn some cases women were able to escape within a few weeks but in others they were enslaved for periods of up to three years. All of them were routinely raped almost every night by one soldier or by groups of soldiers, the report said. \nThe report narrated the case of a woman named Naw Hsar Paw who was forced to carry heavy things in daytime and raped by one to five men every night. \n"When she was raped by many of them ... she was unconscious sometimes. At that time they jumped on her body with their boots," the report said.
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