Myanmar’s Child Soldiers

by JRajotte on November 14, 2013 - 11:42pm

In the article updated on November 1, 2013 (the original date is not written) called The Fight to Free Myanmar’s Child Soldier published on the CNN website. The article talks about some child soldiers that have managed to get out of the military and also about their parents and their experience. It is said that at the age of 14, Zaw Min Paing was enrolled by the army. The article also states that he was lured by the money since the family business was not going well and he was not entirely sure of what he was going into by joining the army. According to the countries law and international law it is illegal to enroll people under the age of 18. The article says that the situation has been improving due to policies that where adopted in June 2012 after having signed an agreement with the UN, this has been responsible of returning 176 children and now adults that where under 18 when enrolled. While there has been progress this issue does continue. In the article it is said that the recruiters are recruiting the vulnerable child, usually some without parents who died during the hurricane of 2008, some of them have no choice since they have lost their identification, it is either joining the military or going to prison. There is also the story of a father and his son that was taken by the recruiters while he was away at a monastery. The child was 13 and at the time he was released was 16. He spent 3 and a half years working for the military until something was done. His father fears that he might be bring to court for being a deserter even if he has some paper work that should protect him, yet the army has yet to officially give him his official resignation paper, every day he lives in fear of being re-recruited once more. Any military recruit is trained for 4 and a half month, then send on the front line, where it is said that they would “detonate mines, carrying arms and good and rations” The problem is worsen by the fact that officials pay between 30$-50$ to anyone bringing them recruits as this in return reduces the time before they can retire.


Personally I think this is a sick practice that has to be stopped now, the current officials have made some steps in the right direction but it seems that it is not enforcing its policies strongly enough and that there are no true repercussion being dealt to the military officials that engage in such activities. I think that there are several ways to solve or at least reduce this problem. First one being, the stricter application of the laws. Second solution would be to stop this, the more recruit “I” contribute to the army the less time until my retirement rule, this only fuels the system and creates a cycle, and this cycle has to be broken. Some major problems to implementing these solutions to this issue are simply controlling the army which is powerful another problem to this would be proving that they were in fact child since a lot of these child do not have any official documents left and forgeries are said to be common.

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I find it pathetic that at the age of 14, young children can enrol into the military world. It is such an unsafe world and young kids should not be allowed to be brought into this world just yet. Thank goodness the officials have made reinforcement when it comes to this situation, but like you said, they did not enforce them enough because it is still happening. I agree with your two solutions, though like you said, the major solution would be simply controlling the army. If officials control the army and make sure they know who enters the army then maybe young kids like Zaw Min Paing would not be allowed to enter. I am aware of the fact that his family was not going too well economically and the fact that he would enter the army would greatly help for the money, though I believe there are other ways for young kids like him to be more involved in their families income, such as working in markets for example. This kind of work is not dangerous and does not put the children's life on the line. Myanmar should really be more careful I believe.

The fact that children are able to fight is messed up in so many ways. I recently read a book written by a child soldier and it's not only the aspect of them being in the middle of the fighting that is hard, but also the time it takes for those children to recover, granted they make it out alive. It takes years to restore them to their former selves, and even then, they have lost their childhood completely. And it's awful to think that kinds like Zaw Min Paing feel that joining the army is the only way they can help their families economically. I completely agree with your solutions. I don't think this can be dealt with by the country's government, however. It is too widespread of an issue throughout countries like Myanmar that it should be brought to the attention of a higher power such as the UN who is capable of dealing with such a big human rights violation.

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