Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Burma: The Army of Children

We all remember the inspiring pro democracy movement in Myanmar/Burma in September, but do we know who crushed that 'revolution'? Many of those 'military participants' were children who are forced to 'work' for the Burmese military. A new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), entitled "Sold to be Soldiers: The Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers in Burma" says there are thousands of children forcibly employed in the Burmese military.

Here are a few excerpts from an article on HRW,
Burmese military recruiters target children in order to meet unrelenting demands for new recruits due to continued army expansion, high desertion rates and a lack of willing volunteers. Non-state armed groups, including ethnic-based insurgent groups, also recruit and use child soldiers, though in far smaller numbers.
Military recruiters are literally buying and selling children to fill the ranks of the Burmese armed forces.
All of the former soldiers interviewed by Human Rights Watch reported the presence of children in their training units. Thousands of children are present in the army's ranks, although their prevalence varies considerably by battalion. Particularly in some newly formed battalions, children reportedly constitute a large percentage of privates.
The United Nations Security Council's working group on children and armed conflict will consider violations against children in Burma, including the use and recruitment of child soldiers. The UN secretary-general has already identified Burma's national armed forces in four consecutive reports to the Security Council for violating international laws prohibiting the use of child soldiers. The secretary-general has also listed several armed opposition groups as violators. Human Rights Watch
Listen to the entire interview with Jo Becker, Advocacy Director Children's Rights Division

and from the BBC article,
It claims that children are approached in public places by military recruiters and civilian brokers who have been promised cash rewards by the military.
The children are often beaten or threatened with arrest to force them to enlist, the report says.

It is claimed that recruiting officers routinely falsify enlistment documents to register children as being 18, the legal minimum age for recruitment.

One child quoted in the report says he was forced to lie about his age when he was recruited for a second time.

"When I said I was 16, I was slapped and he said, 'You are 18, answer 18.'

"I just wanted to go back and home and I told them, but they refused." BBC
Completely awful. Recruitment of children for the purpose of war is a WAR CRIME. Myanmar/Burma would not even exist if it were not for the international community. Greed, profits, oil and gas have KILLED 'democracy' in Burma. Worse, the politicians of the world have nothing to offer, but mere rhetoric.

Words alone will not solve the problems of 'democracy' in Burma, International Outrage and discontinuing economic and political support will.

End the Burma Travesty. Support Democracy. Support Human Rights. Support the world's children. Divest all monetary support and political resources....Myanmar falls as Burma rises.

Related Post:
Escaped Buddhist Monk offers insights into Sept. Protests in Myanmar

Same Players. Different Scandals.

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