Ongoing Underage Recruitment and Use by the Myanmar Military and Non-State Armed Groups
Myanmar’s November 2015 Parliamentary election resulted in a sweeping victory for the National League of Democracy (NLD), generating hopes that the new NLD-led government will bring about a demonstrable improvement in the country’s human rights situation. Child Soldiers International has documented the widespread recruitment and use of children as soldiers in Myanmar for over a decade, and believes that the new government needs to make a renewed commitment to ensure that the Tatmadaw Kyi (Myanmar military) becomes a child-free army.
Almost four years since the UN and the Myanmar government signed a Joint Action Plan (JAP) to end the recruitment and use of children in June 2012, children continue to be present in the ranks of the Tatmadaw Kyi as well as non-state armed groups (NSAGs), although recent trends indicate that active recruitment of children by the Tatmadaw kyi appears to have significantly reduced. The Tatmadaw Kyi discharged 146 children in three separate releases in 2015, and a further 46 on 12 March 2016, bringing the total number of children discharged since the signing of the JAP to 745. Due to an absence of comprehensive monitoring, it is not currently possible to determine the number of children present in the ranks of the Border Guard Forces (BGF). However, the BGF discharged one child in 2015, indicating that other children may also remain in the ranks.
Child Soldiers International also received reports of increased recruitment by NSAGs, including of children, in the backdrop of escalating conflict between the Tatmadaw Kyi and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Shan State Progressive Party / Shan State Army North, and the Palaung State Liberation Front / Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA); and between joint Myanmar military-Restoration Council of Shan State/Shan State Army South forces and the TNLA since September 2015.
The briefing offers a set of recommendations, which, if implemented, would contribute to ending and preventing the practice of underage recruitment and use within the ranks of the Tatmadaw Kyi and non-sate armed groups in Myanmar.
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