“On the nights of July 6th and 7th, twelve gay and transgender people were arrested along the east and southeast areas of the Mandalay moat and subjected to verbal, physical, and sexual abuse by police officials… Approximately ten policemen assaulted the detainees verbally and physically—kicking them, hitting them with police batons, and yelling at them with homophobic slurs and violent threats. One detainee, a 35-year old make-up artist who shared her experience, said: “Police officers beat us and kicked us. They forced those of us dressed like women to take off our clothes in front of the others, and made of fun of us. We had to flaunt our breasts and walk as if we were performing in a model show. They kept making jokes about us. We were humiliated.” The police took down the victims’ personal information and forced them to sign an agreement stating they would stop dressing as women and visiting the southeast area of the moat.” – The Burma LGBT Rights Network
In response to these horrific actions, Burma’s LGBT Rights Network requested immediate support from Urgent Action Fund to launch a campaign to raise awareness about violence directed at LGBT people in the country. The campaign included a press conference, held in Mandalay on July 14th, and advocacy in Yangon. The press conference featured statements from two victims of the incident, along with other LGBT activists, to highlight the alarming abuse of authority directed towards the LGBT community by police officials. Importantly, the two victims who presented at the conference were temporarily evacuated to a safe space to prevent backlash from local police and authorities.
A meeting will be held with government officials, the Myanmar National Human Rights Council, UN agencies and international NGOs to share information about the incident, discuss opportunities for legal and advocacy follow-up, and advocacy for improved protection and promotion of LGBT rights in the country.
For more information, read Burma’s LGBT Rights Network’s full press release on the incident here.