As many as 75 children have been killed and hundreds arbitrarily detained in Myanmar since a coup more than five months ago, UN rights experts said. The political turmoil in the country continues amid a health emergency brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The UN child rights committee reported that it had received “credible information” that 75 children had been killed and approximately 1,000 arrested in Myanmar since February 1.
“Children in Myanmar are under siege and facing the catastrophic loss of life because of the military coup,” committee chair Mikiko Otani said in a statement.
Myanmar’s residents have taken part in mass protests but have been met with a brutal military response since the coup which deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
“Children are exposed to indiscriminate violence, random shootings and arbitrary arrests every day,” Otani said.
“They have guns pointed at them and see the same happen to their parents and siblings.”
The committee is made up of 18 independent experts who are tasked with monitoring the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Myanmar signed onto in 1991.
Meanwhile, the experts said they “strongly condemned the killing of children by the junta and police”. They also pointed out that “some victims were killed in their own homes”.
A six-year-old girl in the city of Mandalay was shot in the stomach by police, the statement said.
The experts also slammed the widespread arbitrary detention of children in police stations, prisons and military detention centres.
They pointed to the military authorities reported practice of taking children hostage when they are unable to arrest their parents, including a five-year-old girl in Mandalay region whose father helped organise anti-military protests.
On Friday, Myanmar Now news website also reported that two minors, aged 12 and 15 were among seven villagers from Mandalay region’s Sintgaing township, who were detained and charged with possessing explosives.
The experts also voiced deep concern about the considerable disruptions in essential medical care and school education across the country. Access to safe drinking water and food for children in rural areas had also been disrupted, they said.