Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Report on child soldier released

by Phanida

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – The unabated recruitment of child soldiers into the Burmese Army has been exposed in a report released by the Thai-Burmese border based ‘Yoma 3’ Burmese News Agency today.

The agency said, it took about one and-a-half years to compile the 72-page ‘Child Soldiers: Burma’s Sons of Sorrow’, which was released on Wednesday at a press conference held along the Thai-Burmese border.

The report includes interviews with two child soldier deserters, a sergeant and four parents of child soldiers forcibly recruited by the army.

“The junta always claims to the international community and UN that it never recruits child soldiers into the army. They also always claim that organizations in exile are disseminating concocted stories to western countries. We wish to let people know clearly what the true facts are,” Nyein Lu, editor of the Yoma 3 told Mizzima.

The report also presented news and photographs of the No. 1 Recruit Centre at Danyinkone Township in Rangoon Division, No. 2 in Mandalay, No. 3 in Yemethin and No. 9 Basic Military Training School in Zay Chaung village of Thaton Township in Mon state.

The group said, the survey and the facts and figures in the report were provided by activists inside Burma, military personnel in the Burma Army and former soldiers.

Yoma 3 news agency was founded in 1998 by pro-democracy and human rights activists, who fled to the border after the 1988 uprising. The report is Yoma 3’s second report on child soldiers.

Despite persistent allegations made by the UN, ILO and Human Rights organizations on the use of child soldiers by the Burmese Army, the junta has always blatantly denied.

In the UN Secretary General’s report released in December 2007, Ban Ki-moon says besides the Burmese Army, there are nine more ethnic armed forces, which also use child soldiers in their respective armed units.

Following severe criticism, Burma’s military rulers in February 2007 allowed the International Labour Organization (ILO) to open a liaison in Rangoon to accept complaints of child soldiers and to help in eliminating the use of children in the army.

According to complaints received by Mizzima, the junta often recruits children mainly between the age of 14-16 from poor family backgrounds in Rangoon, Irrawaddy and Magwe Divisions by using pressure tactics including summoning by quota from each village, intimidation and incentives by way of money.

In 2005, the Yoma 3, published its first child soldier report in collaboration with the Thailand-based ‘Human Rights Education Institute of Burma’ (HREIB).

The group said, they will also present the report to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, Asia Human Right Council and Human Right Watch.

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