Myanmar’s military accused of using children as human shields

Women preparing dinner in a displaced people camp in Mrauk U, Myanmar, August 2020 Women preparing dinner in a displaced people camp in Mrauk U, Myanmar, August 2020 Hkun Lat/Foreign Policy

14 October 2020

UN agencies call for an “expedited investigation” over the killing of two children allegedly used as human shields by security forces in Myanmar’s Rakhine State

The UN Country Taskforce on Monitoring and Reporting on Grave Violations against Children in Myanmar (CTFMR) expressed grave concern over the killing of two boys, caught in a crossfire between the Tatmadaw - official name of Myanmar’s armed forces – and the insurgent Arakan Army. 

As reported by the CTFMR, the children were part of a group of 15 local farmers who had allegedly been forced “to walk in front of a Tatmadaw unit to ensure the path towards a military camp was clear of landmines and to protect the soldiers from potential enemy fire”. As they were marching ahead, fighting broke out and the two boys were later found dead with gunshot wounds. The incident took place in the northern state of Rakhine, which is the theatre of an escalating conflict between the Tatmadaw and the rebel forces of the Arakan Army. Recently designated as a terrorist organization by Myanmar’s government, the latter was established in 2009 to fight for the self-determination of the Arakanese population. 

Calling for “a full, transparent and expedited investigation”, the CTFMR warned that “the use of children for non-combat purposes by armed forces and groups should not be considered as a separate and lesser violation than the formal recruitment of children”. The UN agency also expressed grave concern over the increasing number of casualties among Myanmar’s children, pointing out that “more than 100 children were killed or maimed in conflict during the first three months of 2020, amounting to more than half of the total number in 2019.” 


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Author: Ester Zangrandi

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