Thursday, November 20, 2008

Rights group highlights abuse of children in conflict

by Peter Aung

Nov 19, 2008 (DVB)–The Human Rights Education Institute of Burma has published accounts of numerous violations of the rights of children due to armed conflict, in a new report released today.

Forgotten Future: Children affected by armed conflict in Burma was launched today at a press conference in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Aung Myo Min, executive director of HREIB, said the report was based on interviews conducted over the last year with about 100 children, parents, school teachers and local influential figures in different regions across Burma.

"A unique thing about this report is that it pointed out all six different types of child abuse that take place in areas of conflict," he said.

"These include the killing of children in areas of conflict, sexual abuse of children, abduction of children, forced recruiting of children into the army, preventing them for receiving humanitarian assistances and attacking hospitals and medical centres."

These six categories were identified as grave violations of children’s rights by United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon and were set as a framework for investigation by a task force on Burma established by the UN Security Council in 2005.

The HREIB report claims that violations in all these categories have been committed against children in Burma over the past five years, mostly by government forces.

The recruitment of underage children into the military was identified as a war crime by the International Criminal Court in 1998, but the use of child soldiers continues, notably in Burma, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Sudan and Somalia.

The Burmese government has often claimed in the state-run media that the army does not use child soldiers, though there are regular reports of children being abducted by military officers and forced to enlist.

According to human rights groups, about 70,000 children in total are still being used as soldiers by the government military and ethnic rebel groups in Burma.

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