Forgotten Future: Children Affected by Armed Conflict in Burma

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The top generals in the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) insist that Burma is a safe place for children, where all young people are “regarded as precious gems.” But many children in Burma, particularly those affected by armed con!ict, do not have access to education, healthcare, or other child protection services.

They are exploited for their labor and sexually abused. Like Yan Aung, their rights are ignored. They are Burma’s forgotten future.

Burma continues to be deeply affected by years of internal armed conflict. Intermittent clashes between the Tatmadaw and opposition forces are slowly eroding communities on the fringes of the country where child rights violations are endemic. In contrast with most other war-ravaged regions around the world, where civilian abuses are perpetrated primarily by non-state armed groups (NSAGs), the overwhelming majority of Burma’s human rights abuses occur under the hand of its ruling junta. Tatmadaw soldiers rape, torture, kill, abduct, and burn down entire villages ñ either under the pretense of punishing dissidents or in pursuit of the SPDC’s border-races development agenda. The UN Secretary General has taken action to address these alleged violations; his annual reports on children and armed conflict have consistently listed Burma as a country where children are used and recruited by armed forces and groups. As a result, in 2005 Burma was officially placed on the agenda of the UN Security Council and a task force was established, with the approval of the SPDC, to investigate six grave categories of violations.

Reflecting on the task forceís work, the Secretary General submitted his !rst report to the Security Council on the situation of children affected by armed conflict in Burma in November 2007. Consistent with international priorities, this report explores the six grave categories of violations against children outlined by the UN Secretary General, these are:
1. Killing and maiming of children
2. Recruiting or using child soldiers
3. Rape or other sexual violence against children
4. Abduction of children
5. Denial of humanitarian access for children
6. Attacks against schools and hospitals
It is evident from both HREIB’s primary research and other reports documenting these crimes that all six violations have been perpetrated in Burma over the last !ve years. This report examines who is responsible for these abuses and identi!es places where they typically occur. It illustrates trends and patterns of abuse in Burma and helps stakeholders consider protection measures.

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