Human Rights Watch will issue a report today that alleges that the military junta that rules Burma is buying child soldiers to fill the ranks of the army from human traffickers who buy and sell children. Just when you thought you had seen the worst depravities that a government was capable of when they started killing peaceful monks, it gets worse.
Burma's military government has been forcibly recruiting child soldiers through brokers who buy and sell boys to help the army deal with personnel shortages, which have been exacerbated by desertions and public aversion to its brutality, Human Rights Watch concludes in a detailed report being released today.
Private militias and ethnic insurgent groups in Burma have also been using child soldiers, though in far smaller numbers, according to the New York-based group's 135-page study, based on an investigation in Burma, China and Thailand.
"The brutality of Burma's military government goes beyond its violent crackdown on peaceful protesters," said Jo Becker, children's rights advocate for Human Rights Watch. "Military recruiters are literally buying and selling children to fill the ranks of the Burmese armed forces."
Military recruiters and civilian brokers have been collecting cash and other forms of compensation for each new soldier, ignoring questions of health and age, the study found. Army expansion and unprecedented desertion rates have driven the process, it said.
Recruiters target children at train and bus stations, markets and other public places and threaten to arrest them if they don't join, Human Rights Watch said. Senior generals and recruiters in Burma, which the military junta calls Myanmar, condone and engage in this traffic, it said.
The junta supposedly formed a high-level committee to examine the charges of child trafficking. They spend their time denouncing foreign reports. While apparently figuring out how to buy more kids. You'll be pleased to know the UN is taking this very, very seriously:
While he was U.N. secretary general, Kofi Annan identified Burma's national armed forces in four consecutive reports to the Security Council as having violated international standards prohibiting the use of child soldiers. In the coming weeks, the Security Council's working group on children and armed conflict will take up the issue concerning Burma.
Meanwhile, the UN will be busy today debating the relative merits of au gratin potatoes versus hash browns.