Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Human Rights Watch says Burma using child soldiers

According to a report released by Human Rights Watch, children as young as 10 are being forcibly recruited into Burma’s army, Agence France-Presse reported today.

The children are bought and sold by military recruiters, who receive incentives from the military junta, which is suffering from a high desertion rate and lack of volunteers, HRW said.

“The government’s senior generals tolerate the blatant recruitment of children and fail to punish perpetrators,” said Jo Becker, children’s rights advocate for Human Rights Watch. “In this environment, army recruiters traffic children at will.”

Although the regime has created a committee to prevent the recruitment of children, Becker says that the committee is a “sham” and spends most of its time denouncing reports of child soldiers.

Desperate to meet quotas, recruiters target children in public places and threaten them if they refuse to join. In some cases, the children are beaten until they agree, the report says. Former child soldier, Maung Zaw Oo, said that the recruiters “filled the forms and asked my age, and when I said 16, I was slapped and he said, ‘You are 18. Answer 18.’”

According to the report, child soldiers are used in other non-state armed groups as well, but in smaller numbers.

For the full story, click here

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