Rape and Child Rights Violation in Burma: UN Secretary General

The issue of children’s recruitment in the Burmese army against the basic norms of human and civil society has once again resurfaced and acknowledged by the United Nations Secretary General – Mr. Ban Ki-moon’s report submitted to the UN Security Council as per the UN News Centre Press release issued on 23rd of November 2007. UN Secretary General has said that, “Although there has been progress in terms of dialogue with the Government of Myanmar and two non-State actors, but the State and non-State actors continue to be implicated in grave child rights violations,” and appealed to the military government in Burma to take immediate measures to address the problem which is common to both State and non-State actors.    

Apart from recruitment of children’s in the army, what is most alarming in the report by the UN press release is of “credible but unverified reports of rape perpetrated by Government forces and armed groups”? It is important to note that earlier in May 2002, the Shan Human Rights Foundation and the Shan Women’s Action Network published an extensive report of rape by army entitled, “Licence  To Rape” documenting details of 173 incidents of rape and other forms of sexual violence, involving 625 girls and women in only Shan State area of Burma.    

The report submitted by Mr. Ban Ki-moon to the Security Council documents “patterns of underage recruitment” by the Government, including those involving “poor and unaccompanied street children who are vulnerable to promises of food and shelter.” Other children picked up by the police for not having a national identification card are offered the “choice” of either being arrested or going into the army.   

However, UN Secretary General also notes progress in a number of areas, including the commitment by the Government that no child under the age of 18 will be recruited and the signing by two non-State actors – the Karen National Union and the Karenni National Progressive Party – of Deeds of Commitment to cease the recruitment and use of children.  

Other actors cited in the report in connection with the recruitment of children includes – the United Wa State Army; the Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation National Progressive Party/Karenni Army; Kachin Independence Organization/Kachin Independence Army; Karenni National People’s Liberation Front; Democratic Karen Buddhist Army; Shan State Army-South and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army; and the Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army Peace Council. UN Secretary General has also appealed to the military government to accede to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and to adjust national legislation accordingly.   

In the report submitted to the Security Council, UN Secretary General also recommends that the SPDC government should allow international and humanitarian organizations access for delivery of humanitarian services, and to accept the proposal of the UN refugee agency’s Assistant High Commissioner for Operations for an inter-agency humanitarian needs assessment in the country.     

(Source: UN News Service, UN News Centre Press Release, Secretary-General reports ‘grave violations’ of children’s rights in Myanmar, New York, 23rd of November 2007.)     

(The End)   

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