The twelve transgender and gay individuals who were targeted last weekend were arrested based on unfounded allegations of public disturbance and detained for several hours at the Mandalay Division police station without charge. The detainees were held in custody while approximately ten policemen assaulted them 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 arrests and subsequent treatment clearly violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that no one shall be subjected to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment; that everyone has the right to recognition as a person before the law; that all are equal before the law without any discrimination; and that no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. The police’s actions last weekend in Mandalay represent a violation of the victims’ human rights and asevere and alarming abuse of their authority, particularly in their role as supposed protectors of citizens’ rights and safety.
The police’s actions were also in violation of clause 347 and clause 353 of the 2008 Myanmar Constitution, which staterespectively that the Union shall guarantee any person to enjoy equal rights before the law and shall equally provide legal protection; and nothing shall, except in accord with existing laws, be detrimental to the life and personal freedom of any person.
We, the LGBT Rights Network, will take actions against the police personnel responsible for this perpetration of abuse against LGBT people. We will file a complaint regarding this case with the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission and other human rights institutions. As human rights activists and defenders, we will continue our work to prevent the abuse and violence which is regularly carried out against LGBT people throughout the country due to their sexual orientation and gender identity. We will continue to fight pervasive homophobia and transphobia. And we will continue to protect and promote the rights of LGBT people everywhere.
Myanmar LGBT Rights Network
14 July 2013