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    » 11/19/2009, 00.00

    MYANMAR

    ILO Report: The Burmese junta increases forced labour and child soldiers



    50% increase in complaints of forced labour and more than half involving children and young people enrolled in the army. The military junta has inserted a provision in the Constitution that authorizes the use of civilians in the construction of roads, infrastructure, such as porters or minesweepers.

    Yangon (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The alleged cases of forced labour in Myanmar increased by 50% over the past five months, over half concerns the recruitment of children and young people among the ranks of the army. This is shown by a recent report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), which admits the "ineffectiveness" of pressure to the Burmese government.  

    Last June, the ILO criticized a provision of the Constitution of Myanmar – which the junta drafted and ratified in a farce referendum in 2008 - that justifies the exploitation of forced labour as punishment for crimes or "in case of assignments entrusted by the Union [Myanmar], in accordance with law and in the public interest.”  

    As of 28 October, allegations of forced labour made to the ILO offices are 223. These are supplemented by the recruitment of 112 children in the army over the past seven months. Aye Myint, an activist for the rights of workers in Pegu, Bago division, told the dissident newspaper The Irrawaddy that the young people were recruited between May and November "and families have submitted complaints.  

    Defence of human rights groups confirm that the Burmese military junta continues a campaign of forced recruitment of minors into the army. Children are picked up from school, bars, cinemas or in the evening as they return home. They are threatened and beaten if they resist. Completed training, they are sent to war zones to fight against ethnic rebels.  

    The ILO document explains that, following complaints from families, “59 child soldiers were demobilized, 30 cases are currently pending and awaiting the start of the nine others".   Forced labour in Myanmar takes on many forms: construction of roads and infrastructure, use of civilians as porters for the army or minesweepers.  

    The government has signed an agreement with the International Labour Organization "not to punish" those who report cases of forced labour. In many cases happens, however, that local officials (civilian and military) retaliate, through harassment or violence against those who dare to rebel.  

    The Karen Human Rights Group (Khrg) is launching a new appeal for "a real step forward in defending the rights of children affected by war." The problem of child soldiers has dragged on for years in Myanmar: a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) in 2002 estimated that at least 70 thousand members of the Burmese army are under the age of 18.

     

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    See also

    09/09/2004 ASIA
    Child illiteracy and child labour are the continent's main social ills

    One fifth of India's GNP is generated by exploited minors working in farming sector.



    24/11/2009 MYANMAR – INDIA
    Useless UN and ILO rituals bring no change, Burmese dissidents says
    Tint Swe, a member of Burma’s government-in-exile, says that reports on forced labour and non-binding resolutions against the junta are ineffective tools against Myanmar’s military leadership. The support of China, India and Russia guarantee impunity to country’s junta. The people of Burma are under no illusions.

    15/12/2009 MYANMAR
    Child soldiers and opium cultivation, two faces of Burma’s dark pit
    The authorities are recruiting children with money and food to fight rebels and use as security forces in next year’s elections. Surface used for opium cultivation increased by 50 per cent since 2006. With drug proceeds, rebels buy weapons.

    22/04/2006 MYANMAR
    Peasants forced to work for army

     Soldiers are ordering residents of the three villages in Kachin state to repaid a road leading to Myitkyina and to clean up their military camp.



    24/02/2005 MYANMAR
    High-level ILO team cuts short Myanmar visit
    The delegation leaves Yangon after failing to meet top generals on forced labour.



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