The Myanmar military junta has brutally killed children and systematically abused their human rights, a UN expert said in a report released on Tuesday, noting that over the past 16 months, the military has killed at least 142 children in Myanmar.
The report called for immediate coordinated action to protect the rights of children and safeguard Myanmar’s future.
Over 250,000 children have been displaced by the military’s attacks and over 1,400 have been arbitrarily detained, said the report received from Geneva.
At least 61 children, including several under three years of age, are reportedly being held as hostages. The UN has documented the torture of 142 children since the coup.
“The international community’s approach to the coup and the junta’s atrocities has failed,” said Tom Andrews, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, adding that States must take immediate coordinated action to address an escalating political, economic and humanitarian crisis that is putting Myanmar’s children at risk of becoming a lost generation.
He said the junta’s relentless attacks on children underscore the generals’ depravity and willingness to inflict immense suffering on innocent victims in its attempt to subjugate the people of Myanmar.
The Special Rapporteur said it was clear from the evidence that the children of Myanmar were not only being caught in the crossfire of escalating attacks, but that they were often the targets of the violence.
“During my fact-finding for this report, I received information about children who were beaten, stabbed, burned with cigarettes, and subjected to mock executions, and who had their fingernails and teeth pulled out during lengthy interrogation sessions,” Andrews said.
The junta’s attacks on children constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes, he said, adding that Junta leader Min Aung Hlaing and other architects of the violence in Myanmar must be held accountable for their crimes against children.
“For the sake of Myanmar’s children, Member States, regional organisations, 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.”
Andrews urged Member States to work in coordination to alleviate the suffering of children by systematically increasing pressure on the junta.
He urged States that have already imposed sanctions on the military and military-linked companies to take stronger coordinated action that will inhibit the junta’s ability to finance atrocities.
“States must pursue stronger targeted economic sanctions and coordinated financial investigations. I urge Member States to commit to a dramatic increase in humanitarian assistance and unequivocal regional support for refugees,” he said.
“It is scandalous that the international community has committed only 10 percent of the funds required to implement the Myanmar Humanitarian Response Plan 2022, causing lifesaving programs for children to be shelved,” he said.
The Special Rapporteur’s report describes the impact of the 1 February 2021 coup on the human rights of children in Myanmar and details the alarming, underreported facts of the violence being perpetrated against them.
Soldiers, police officers and military-backed militias have murdered, abducted, detained and tortured children in a campaign of violence that has touched every corner of the country, the report said.
The junta has intentionally deprived children of their fundamental human rights to health, education and development, with an estimated 7.8 million children out of school.
Following the collapse of the public health system since the coup, the World Health Organization projects that 33,000 children will die preventable deaths in 2022 because they have not received routine immunizations.
Andrews said the lack of action by Security Council was a moral failure with profound repercussions for children in the country.
“World leaders, diplomats and donors should ask themselves why the world is failing to do all that can reasonably be done to bring an end to the suffering of the children of Myanmar,” the expert said.