Education under Attack 2010 – Myanmar

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THURSDAY, 19 AUGUST 2010

The Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict reports that the Myanmar Armed Forces have occupied educational facilities for military purposes, recruited teachers and students for forced labour, and planted landmines close to or on the paths to schools. The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) has reportedly set fire to schools as part of a policy of burning whole villages to prevent people from returning to them. Schools have also reportedly been shelled or destroyed using other methods by both state and non-state forces.

Armed forces and proxies abduct children on their way to or from schools in rural areas, according to the Human Rights Education Institute of Burma, and subject them to forced labour, rape and trafficking.

Children as young as seven have been victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence, including gang rape, Burmese women’s organizations have reported; they have also been abducted, ill-treated and tortured by Myanmar Armed Forces and NSOAGs. Girls have been attacked at school as well as at home, resulting in severe injury and, in some cases, death.

The women’s groups have collected more than 1,800 reported cases of rape by the Armed Forces against women and children in ethnic minority areas, including the Chin, Shan, Kayin (Karen), Kayah (Karenni), Mon, Rakhine (Arakan) and Kachin States, between 1995 and 2008; but the real number may be substantially higher, as survivors are afraid to speak out, fearing reprisals or stigmatization.

Cases of abduction for forced child soldier recruitment have been reported across the country, according to Human Rights Watch. Myanmar’s armed forces are reported to have been recruiting and using child soldiers for more than 20 years, and have been listed in four consecutive Reports of the UN Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict to the UN Security Council. In 2002, Human Rights Watch calculated, based on research samples, that there may be as many as 70,000 child soldiers in Myanmar, the highest number in any country. The Child Soldiers Global Report 2008 noted that thousands of children were still being recruited by the army and armed groups, and local NGOs have compiled evidence that recruitment is ongoing. It is not known what percentage of them is recruited at or on their way to or from school, but there is evidence that this occurs.

In early 2006, soldiers reportedly entered a village in Fallam Township, Chin State, and abducted 22 high school students, 15 of whom were aged 15 to 17. They were held at a recruitment centre for four months before escaping. In early 2007, in Kachin State, a 15-year-old girl was recruited on her way home from school in Myitkyina because her family had not met the quota for girl recruitment imposed by the Kachin Independence Organization/Kachin Independence Army.

[Refworld note: The source report “Education under Attack 2010” was posted on the UNESCO website (www.unesco.org) in pdf format, with country chapters run together. Original footnote numbers have been retained here.]

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