(Front) Child Soldier 1 (19) with a group of other ex Burmese Army child soldiers
(Identities can be shown but names changed. Identity of one person (Child Soldier 2) has been hidden due to him not having release papers-see Extended Captions Document for more details )
Child Soldier 1 standing with other child soldiers who have escaped the Burmese Army in a village in the Irrawaddy Delta region. They were all illegally tricked into joining the army when aged 14-16 years old. Most spent over 2 years in the army and were badly treated. They all managed to escape with the help of MCC Community Organisers working with their parents and other agencies such as the International Labour Organisation. (ILO)
(Front) Child Soldier 1 was 16 and living in the Irrawaddy Delta region when approached by a man who offered him a job as a driver but then took him to the Burmese army where he ended up serving for 2 years. He didn’t have to fight but had to work on the army farm, 7 days a week and wasn’t given any food. He and the other child soldiers were regality beaten and abused by the officers. He wasn’t able to contact his family for the first year. When he did, his sister contacted Myanmar Council of Churches Community Organisers Naw May Lyan and Sein Chit who then helped get the correct release papers from the International Labour Organisation. Without the CO help this would have taken a long time to achieve.
He is now working as a bus boy between the Delta region and Yangon and hopes to be a driver in the future.
The use of child soldiers remain a controversial issue within both the Burmese Army and the numerous ethnic group militias. There are an estimated 5,000 child soldiers still active in the Burmese Army. The government have said they would demobilise them but progress has been slow.
(See Extended Captions Word document for full details.(
With the support of Act for Peace, The Myanmar Council of Churches (MCC) trains Community Organisers whose mission is to assist their community confront cases of injustice. The Community Organisers act as a base of knowledge and intermediary between the community and relevant organisations dealing with injustice such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO), UNICEF, anti-trafficking police, lawyers and government officials.
From 1962 to 2011, a military junta ruled Myanmar, suppressing almost all opposition and exercised absolute power. During those periods, the people suffered human rights abuses, including the forcible relocation of civilians and the widespread use of forced labour, including children. On 1st April 2011, the Burmese Military Regime stepped down for the Democratisation of the country.
Progress has been made in the country but it still has a long way to go before all human rights are restored.