November 2, 2013

Burmese children sold as conscripts into military for 40 dollars and a bag of rice

Notwithstanding the promised reforms, very little has changed in Burma. It has now emerged in inquiries by the UN and the International Labour Organisation that recruitment of vulnerable children as child soldiers in the military is still rampant, bought over in exchange of a few dollars.
Naypyidaw: Children are being sold as conscripts into the Burmese military for 40 dollars and a bag of rice, or a can of petrol. The recruitment of child soldiers in the military is still rampant, despite assurances from Burma's ruling junta that it is cleaning up its act in a bid to see Western sanctions lifted, The Independent reports. The UN has verified that almost 24 instances of children being forced to become soldiers in the first three months of 2012 alone. The International Labour Organisation is investigating a further 72 complaints for underage recruitment between January and April this year. The new details of child soldier recruitment have emerged at a time when Burma is desperately trying to attract foreign investors and persuade Western nations to lift sanctions against the country's ruling military elite. Many observers, particularly in the business community, have begun lobbying for an easing of sanctions. Human rights groups are concerned that reforms have been implemented very slowly. They point to the ongoing recruitment of child soldiers as an example of how little has really changed. Researchers for Child Soldiers International have just returned from a trip to Rangon and the Thai border in which they interviewed child conscripts. They reported that military and civilian brokers scour the streets looking for vulnerable children whose identity documents are then forged to make them seem over 18. Soldiers who want to leave the army often have to find three to five replacements and young teenagers are often the first people they look to conscript. Aung Myo Min, a Burmese exile who helps child soldiers from neighbouring Thailand, is concerned about sanctions being lifted without meaningful reform.

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