Transgenders in the Mandalay area alleged that they were sexually abused by policemen who arrested them following a recent crackdown in the district known to be frequented by trangenders and homosexuals.
The police claim that the twelve transgenders/homosexuals were arrested allegedly for "public disturbance" and for "possession of condoms." The transgenders were detained for more than four (4) hours and alleged that they were subjected to sexual abuse.
The arrested transgenders alleged that the police pulled off their clothes, kicked and beat them with police batons, their breasts squeezed, forced to do frog jumps naked, and shout "we are not women but men" in ‘masculine voices.’ When the police finally released on bail after more than four hours, the transgenders were forced to sign an agreement stating that they would not dress like women and would not go near the Sedona Hotel area, where many homosexuals and other transgender sex workers are known to gather. Before being released, the police even stated "We’ve done nothing to you, haven’t even touched you.”
Since when has "possession of condom" been a a crime? The last time we checked, condoms have not been classified among deadly weapons. On the contrary it has been proven effective in preventing unwanted pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted infections and diseases. In many parts of the world, condoms are integral to the sexual and reproductive health programs. Only in Mandalay, Burma, that possessions of condoms can get you arrested.
The police claim that the arrests were made on account of complaints of ‘public disturbance.’ We believe in the right to freedom of movement and that the transgenders have every right to stay in the scenic Mandalay area, for as long as they are not violating a crime, and certainly not for purportedly "disturbing the public." And since when has been humiliation, physical and sexual abuse been the punishment for ‘disturbing the public?’
We condemn these acts of violence and abuse against the LGBTs committed by the Burmese police. These homophobic/transphobic acts and hate crimes were committed by law enforcement agents who are supposed to protect and safeguard the public. This comes as a serious blow to the Burmese government, especially in the context of recent attempts at democratic reforms in the country.
We call on the Burmese authorities to conduct an impartial investigation on these allegations of police brutality committed against the transgenders, and that appropriate actions be taken against the guilty parties. We believe that doing this will help Burma demonstrate its seriousness in effecting democratic reforms by making sure that all citizens are protected and respected regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
ILGA Asia Board