Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Serious Violations against Children in Burma: Ban

The Irrawaddy News

WASHINGTON — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday reported grave violations against children in Burma including credible reports of recruitment and use of children by some government military units and several ethnic armed groups.

Expressing serious concern over the plight of Burmese children, the secretary-general in a report to the UN Security Council urged the Burmese military government to put into place a tighter mechanism to prevent the military recruitment of children.

Ban also urged the junta to demobilize unconditionally all children who participated in any capacity in its armed forces, in coordination with the UN country task force on monitoring and reporting.

“The secretary-general stresses the need for the governments concerned to facilitate dialogue between the United Nations and the Karen National Union and Karenni National Progressive Party for the purposes of signing an action plan in accordance with [relevant] Security Council resolutions,” Marie Okabe, deputy spokesperson for the secretary–general, told reporters at UN headquarters in New York.

In the report, Ban urged Burmese authorities “as a matter of priority” to “redress the prevailing culture of impunity, to launch investigations into all incidents of recruitment and use of children, and to prosecute people responsible for such acts under the Penal Code.”

“Building on the limited progress thus far, the government should, with immediate effect, cease the arrest, harassment and imprisonment of children under the age of 18 for desertion and/or attempting to leave the army and continue to work with the country task force to monitor such cases and to ensure the swift and unconditional surrender of children,” Ban said.

Besides government military units, the secretary-general identified several ethnic armed groups involved in recruitment of children: the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army, Kachin Independence Army, Karen National Liberation Army Peace Council, Karen National Liberation Army, Karenni Army, Karenni National People’s Liberation Front, Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, Shan State Army-South and Shan National Population Liberation Organization and United Wa State Army.

Ban noted in the report that there was a continued lack of humanitarian access to Burma, particularly in conflict zones and ceasefire areas, was an impediment to providing much needed humanitarian assistance. He urged the junta to ensure full, unhindered and safe access for children and to allow free passage for the delivery of UN humanitarian assistance in all parts of the country.

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