The Myanmar junta has deliberately killed hundreds of children as part of a strategy to inflict immense suffering on innocent civilians and subjugate the people of the country, a UN expert said on Tuesday.
At least 382 children have been killed or injured by armed groups since the coup and the Myanmar military bears the most responsibility for these deaths, according to a report by Tom Andrews, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar.
Of the deaths and injuries of children, 59 percent occurred during targeted or indiscriminate attacks by the military, according to the report, which also found that at least 111 were killed or injured by landmines.
The report states that the junta has arbitrarily detained over 1,400 children since the coup and at least 274 remain behind bars. From 2021 to March 2022, it adds, at least 142 children were subject to torture in prison, resulting in injuries and in some cases deaths. Regarding junta forces’ treatment of child prisoners, Andrews writes: “They have beaten, cut and stabbed children, burned them with cigarettes, forced them to hold stress positions, subjected them to mock executions, deprived them of food and water.”
Additionally, at least 61 children—some very young—are currently being held as hostages to put pressure on family members wanted by the regime.
On April 5, a 3-year-old boy was abducted from his kindergarten in Yangon by junta forces after they arrested his mother. On the same day, a 14-year-old boy was arrested by regime forces looking for his father, a friend of the 3-year-old’s mother.
The special rapporteur was unable to confirm the whereabouts of the mother, her son or the 14-year-old, all of whom appear to remain in the junta’s custody.
More than 250,000 children have been displaced since the coup due to junta attacks on civilians, Andrews said based on information from UN agencies, humanitarian and human rights groups and civil society organizations.
He urged the world to return its attention to Myanmar.
“Member states, regional organizations, the Security Council, and other UN entities must respond to the crisis in Myanmar with the same urgency they have responded to the crisis in Ukraine,” he said.
The UN special rapporteur recommended imposing an arms embargo on Myanmar, slapping sanctions on the Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank, Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise and other key sources of revenue, and facilitating cross-border humanitarian aid by the UN and ASEAN.
Original Post: The Irrawaddy