Remember Burma's Child Soldiers

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The otherwise excellent July 20 news story "A New Generation of Activists Arises in Burma" did not mention one part of the "new generation" excluded from political activism. Children, some as young as 11, are forcibly recruited into Burma's armed forces. According to a 2002 report from Human Rights Watch, Burma had the largest number of child soldiers in the world, about 70,000.

This practice is a crime against humanity. There are many reasons that the Burmese junta engages in repression, but one lies in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1379, regarding children in armed conflict.

The United Nations urges countries to prosecute those responsible for "egregious crimes perpetrated against children." So desperate is the Burmese regime to avoid accountability, including criminal prosecution, that it regularly arrests human rights advocates for teaching people at the grass-roots level about the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

RICHARD PIERRE CLAUDE

Senior Research Fellow

Human Rights Center, UC Berkeley

Berkeley, Calif.


© 2008 The Washington Post Company