Yangon, Monday 18, February, 2013: The Tatmadaw officially discharged 24 children in a ceremony in Yangon on 15 February, Friday, attended by senior officials of the Tatmadaw, the Representative of UNICEF as co-chair of a UN Country Task Force on children and armed conflict, senior officials from the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief, Rehabilitation and Resettlement and member agencies of the Country Task Force.
This discharge of 24 children is part of a commitment made by the Government of Myanmar to end the grave child rights violation of recruitment and use of children under 18 years of age in the Armed Forces. The commitment – in line with Myanmar national law and international best practice - is contained in an Action Plan signed between the Government of Myanmar and the United Nations Country Task Force on Monitoring & Reporting of grave child rights violations (CTFMR*) in June 2012 under the framework of UN Security Council Resolution 1612.
Myanmar is among 14 other countries - with armed forces or armed groups identified by the UN Secretary General as committing grave child rights violations - working together with the United Nations system to end grave violations against children in situations or armed conflict.
The CTFMR co-chair and UN Resident Coordinator, Mr Ashok Nigam, stated that "this release of 24 children is a welcome step in the implementation of the Action Plan by the Government and reflects its commitment that children should not, and will no longer, be recruited and used for military purposes. I call on the acceleration of the release of all children from the Tatmadaw and for the non-state armed groups to also do the same."
As awareness of the Action Plan increases among the Tatmadaw and the general public, and as the identification process rolls out across the rank and file of the Tatmadaw, many more children are expected to be released.
The Government’s continuing efforts to meet its obligations under this Action Plan, and to identify and release all children under 18 years of age in the Myanmar Armed Forces, signals its commitment to reform of its Armed Forces into an institution that is professional and respected on the world stage.
Under the Action Plan to end and prevent recruitment and use of children in the Tatmadaw, the Government has agreed to:
- Identify all children in the Tatmadaw and ensure their unconditional release/discharge
- Facilitate the reintegration of children released from the Tatmadaw into their families and communities
- Facilitate processes that seek to end child recruitment by Non-State Armed Groups
- Take all feasible measures to enhance the overall protection of children affected by armed conflict
- Take steps to prevent future underage recruitment into the Tatmadaw, and take action against those who engage in underage recruitment
- Raise awareness of the Action Plan and the issue of underage recruitment among the Tatmadaw and among the general public, including through the setup of a hotline (09421166701, 09421166702) for reporting child recruitment
- Facilitate the work of the United Nations and the CTFMR in monitoring implementation of the Action Plan
As partners in this Action Plan, the CTFMR is working closely with the Tatmadaw to advocate and raise awareness on the Action Plan; to monitor its implementation across military facilities and battalions; and to support effective identification and release of children recruited under the age of 18 years. At the ceremony, the CTFMR co-chair and UNICEF Representative, Mr Bainvel stated, “a series of discharges just like this must accelerate in the coming months in order for the Tatmadaw to quickly achieve the double objective of zero underage recruitment and full discharge of those that are under 18 in the armed forces.”
Addressing the children who were discharged, Mr Bainvel said, “You have not done anything wrong. You are discharged because you were recruited by the Army before you were 18 years old, and that is what was wrong.” He added, ‘It is another kind of courage that you will need now -- the kind of courage that one finds to fulfil one’s dreams.”
Security Council Resolution 1612, adopted in 2005, asked the UN Secretary-General to establish a monitoring and reporting mechanism to provide timely and reliable information on six grave children’s rights violations, including the recruitment of children into armed forces.
*CTFMR – Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism of Grave Violations against children in situations of armed conflict – co-chaired by UNICEF and UN Resident Coordinator and membership includes: UNHCR, ILO, UNOCHA, UNDP, WFP, UNFPA, Save the Children, World Vision.
For more information, please contact:
Hagar Russ, Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF Myanmar, Tel: +95-1-375527-32, email@example.com
Suleman Malik, Officer In Charge- Programme Communication and Information Section, UNICEF Myanmar, Tel: +95-1-375527-32, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sandar Linn, Communication Officer, Programme Communication and Information Section, UNICEF Myanmar, Tel: +95-1-375527-32, email@example.com