World News

U.S. voices concern to Myanmar about reported rapes of Rohingya women

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department said on Friday that it had voiced concern to Myanmar’s foreign ministry about the reported rape of Rohingya Muslim women by soldiers during a recent upsurge in violence against the persecuted minority.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner told a briefing that the United States wanted Myanmar to investigate the reported rapes and hold those responsible accountable.

Toner said earlier that the United States had raised the issue with the Myanmar foreign minister, but the State Department later issued a transcript of the briefing saying it had brought the issue up with “the foreign ministry,” not the foreign minister.

Eight Rohingya women, all from U Shey Kya village in Rakhine State, described how soldiers last week raided their homes, looted property and raped them at gun point.

Reuters interviewed three of the women in person and five by telephone, and spoke with human rights groups and community leaders. Not all the claims could be independently verified, including a total number of women assaulted.

Zaw Htay, a spokesman for Myanmar President Htin Kyaw, denied the allegations. The military did not respond to an emailed request for comment about the accusations.

Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Writing by David Alexander; Editing by Doina Chiacu, Toni Reinhold