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Myanmar eyes end to child soldiers

A signboard for prevention against the use of child soldiers which has been erected on 78th Street in Mandalay (EMG)

Publication Date : 14-10-2013

 

Myanmar's military eyes the elimination of child soldiers despite faci8ng difficulties largely do to documentation, said Lieutenant-General Myint Soe of the Ministry of Defence.

“We are trying to be at the stage where there are no more child soldiers in the military,” Myint Soe told the press after a three-day high-level peace talks with the Kachin Independence Organisation from October 8-0 in Myitkyina, Kachin State.

“There are some problems in some areas. Some of them who entered [the military] stated that they were over 18.  When their parents came to us, we learnt that they were not over 18 but only over 16. There were difficulties in making national identity cards,” he said.

Besides the military, ethnic armed groups also do not follow the international norms against the use of child soldiers, according to Lieutenant-General Myint.

“Proper actions must be taken against the military if it fails to follow the rules so it should be the same for other armed groups. Only then, we will have internal peace,” he added.

The Union Peacemaking Work Committee and the Kachin Independence Organisation signed a seven-point agreement on Thursday. Both sides have agreed to follow 18 points of the Joint Monitoring Committee which includes prevention against killing, mutilating, recruiting, rape and other sexual abuses of children.

“In KIA [Kachin Independence Army], we have our own regulations for recruiting new soldiers. There are others who follow the rules while some don’t follow them. We especially try not to recruit child soldiers, but we don’t recruit the soldiers in systematically. In the joint committee, both sides need to avoid doing this,” said Major General Gwan Maw, vice chief of staff of the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO).

Myanmar government signed an action plan with the United Nations in June last year to end the recruitment and use of children by 2014.

 

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