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Mass release of children by Myanmar Armed Forces important step towards a new Myanmar

© UNICEF EAPRO/Thierry Falise

YANGON, 18 January 2014 – In an historic step towards ending the recruitment and use of children by the Myanmar Armed Forces (the “Tatmadaw”), ninety-six (96) children and young people today rejoined family and friends following a ceremony marking their entry back into civilian life.

The release - the largest since the signing of the Action Plan to prevent and end the recruitment and use of children by the Tatmadaw between the Country Taskforce on Monitoring and Reporting on grave child rights violations (CTFMR) and the Government of Myanmar - follows in the footsteps of a visit to Myanmar by the United Nations Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict from 30 November – 4 December 2013.

“This is the largest release since the signing of the June 2012 Action Plan which is currently due for renewal”, said Ms Renata Dessallien, United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator and CTFMR co-Chair with UNICEF. “Today demonstrates the importance of the Action Plan which constitutes a significant commitment by the Myanmar Government to prevent and end the recruitment and use of children by the Tatmadaw,” Ms Dessallien continued. “The Action Plan remains a critical instrument for the CTFMR and the Myanmar Government to reach the ultimate goal of zero recruitment and full demobilisation of children,” she added.

The CTFMR welcomes continued positive engagement with and constructive efforts by the Myanmar Government and the Tatmadaw in continuing to implement the Action Plan. “To date 272 children and young people have been released under the auspices of the Action Plan,” said Mr Bertrand Bainvel, UNICEF Representative in Yangon and CTFMR co-Chair. “Some have been released under the supplementary ILO complaints mechanism and as a result of a nationwide public awareness campaign,” he added. Action Plan discharges include: 42 children and young people in September 2012; 24 in February 2013; 42 in July 2013; and 68 in August 2013 in addition to today’s release.

Myanmar children are also recruited and used by non-state armed groups. “We encourage the 7 listed non-state armed groups in Myanmar to also sign up to their own Action Plan with the CTFMR,” said Ms Dessallien.

Additional positive steps towards the complete demobilisation of children include a recent Myanmar Government commitment to ratify ILO Convention 182 addressing the worst forms of child labour. In addition, the CTFMR continues to call upon the Myanmar Government to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict in line with commitments made in the Action Plan.

“Today is an important step towards real reform - a strong commitment by the Myanmar Government and the Tatmadaw to end a practice that steals the lives, hopes, and dreams of children”, said Mr Bainvel. “More than 18 months into the Action Plan, discharge efforts such as this must be continued throughout 2014,” he added. “It will not be possible to build a new Myanmar without ending the use and recruitment of children by the Tatmadaw and non-state armed groups once and for all,” Mr Bainvel concluded.

BACKGROUND

* All young people released under the auspices of the Action Plan were under 18 when recruited by the Tatmadaw.

# In addition to the Tatmadaw, there are seven non-state armed groups listed by the UN Secretary-General as also being “persistent perpetrators” in the recruitment and use of children in Myanmar. They are the:

1. Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA)
2. Kachin Independence Army (KIA)
3. Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA)
4. Karen National Liberation Army Peace Council
5. Karenni Army (KA)
6. Shan State Army South (SSA-S)
7. United Wa State Army (UWSA)

ABOUT THE CTFMR

United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1612 mandates the UN and others to establish UN-led CTFMRs in countries where there is verified evidence that grave violations against children are being committed by parties to a conflict either by armed forces and/or by armed groups. The CTFMR is tasked with establishing a monitoring and reporting mechanism which documents, verifies and reports to the UNSC on grave child rights violations including the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict. The CTFMR is also mandated to provide a coordinated response to such grave violations. The CTFMR was established in Myanmar in 2007 and is co-Chaired by the UN Resident Coordinator and the UNICEF Representative in Yangon. The CTFMR in Myanmar includes relevant UN agencies (ILO, UNDP, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, UN OCHA, the UN RCO and WFP), Save the Children and World Vision.

For more information please contact:

Kirsten Sjolander, Interim-in-Charge, Communication Section, UNICEF Myanmar, Tel: +95 9 421 177 294 (m), ksjolander@unicef.org.

Ye Lwin Oo, Communication Officer, Communication Section, UNICEF Myanmar, 09 511 3295 (m), ylwinoo@unicef.org.

 

 
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