On Thursday, judges of the New York tribunal, where 12 Burmese women victims testified on March 2nd, and rights campaigners met with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to push for the Burmese military junta to be referred to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.
Tuesday's mock trial on Crimes Against Women of Burma was presided over by Nobel Peace Laureates Shirin Ebadi and Jody Williams along with human rights experts Dr. Heisoo Shin of Korea and Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn of Thailand.
The testimonies were organized into three categories, violence against women (rape, sexual violence, trafficking), civil and political violations (torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, harassment), and social, economic and cultural violations (forced labor, portering, relocation).
"They raped us all without a second thought, until we finally escaped their drunken grasps. News spread quickly throughout my village… The shame I brought to my family, my village, was so difficult to bear," one of the 12 victims said in her testimony to the tribunal.
"I was caned by my teacher in front of the entire school and expelled from my school and community for bringing shame upon it. Left without a home, a school, friends or a family, I was arrested by the police for "defaming" the same soldier that raped me," she added.
The story was only one of the stories of rape, sexual violence, torture, forced labor, imprisonment and forced relocation told to the panel formed by the Nobel Women's Initiative, a group created by six Nobel Peace Laureates, in collaboration with the Women's League of Burma (WLB).
The panel, in their press release on the findings of the tribunal, said violence against women in Burma is often ethnically motivated.
The findings further said Burma's military leader, Senior General Than Shwe, is a war criminal who has reigned terror over the people of Burma for decades. But, continues the findings, the international community has failed to hold him and his cronies criminally responsible, resulting in a state of impunity and leading to even further license in the escalation of violence against the people of Burma.
With crimes against Burmese women continuing, the recommendation calls on the United Nations Security Council to refer Burma to the International Criminal Court and urges members of the UN to fulfill their obligations in exercising universal jurisdiction and to prosecute those responsible through national tribunals.
The conclusions also "Urge the United Nations system to take measures to ensure that the Burmese authorities comply with international human rights standards and international humanitarian law."
Burma is a member state to a number of international conventions and treaties dealing with human rights, including the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), but has consistently failed to honor the pledges.
The military-ruled Southeast Asian nation has long been the focus of international pressure for holding about 2,000 political prisoners, including opposition leader and Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. The regime, however, has denied having any political prisoners, saying all arrests have been made in relation to criminal acts.
The testimonies presented at the tribunal also said that women in remote areas of Burma, such as Karen, Shan and other ethnic minority enclaves, are frequently subjected to sexual violence and other forms of rights violations, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee to neighboring countries including Thailand, China and India.
According to the Thai-Burma Border Consortium (TBBC), a group providing assistance to Burmese refugees along the Thai-Burmese border, there are currently over 140,000 Burmese refugees in nine camps along the border.
While many flee the country and reside in refugee camps, others cast their lot as migrant workers. According to Thailand, there are over 2 million Burmese migrants working in the Kingdom.
The panel, in their statement, implores regional countries and particularly Southeast Asian nations to exercise their influence on the Burmese regime to stop the violations.
A complete list of recommendations made by the panel to the Burmese junta, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the United Nations can be viewed at www.nobelwomensinitiative.org.
Mungpi is a special correspondent to Mizzima based in Oklahoma City