At least 20 children killed so far, with at least 17 children still held in arbitrary detention
23 March – At least three more children have reportedly been killed by Myanmar security forces on Monday and Tuesday, bringing the total number of children who were killed to more than 20[i] since the military coup on 1 February. Among the casualties today was a 7-year old girl who was reportedly shot dead at home in Mandalay. On Monday, a 14-year-old Mandalay boy was reportedly shot dead whilst he was inside or around his home, with no direct involvement in the current resistance protests.
According to multiple sources on social media, the boy’s sister said he was at home in a ‘squatters’ area’, which was ‘not strong enough to stop bullets’. Footage of the boy’s grieving mother is also circulating social media. The teenage boy was due to turn 15 in July.
Although the growing number of child deaths is most alarming, Save the Children also fears for the safety of at least 17 children – among them an 11-year-old girl – who are reported to remain arbitrarily detained. As of March 22, Save the Children and its partners have responded to a total of 146 cases of child arrests or detentions.
In addition to these child detainees, other protestors, many of them young students, continue to be arrested, with at least 488 students currently being held in detention according to latest estimates. At least twenty are high-school students whose ages are unknown, though some of them could also be under 18.
Save the Children is concerned that children and young people in detention are not receiving adequate treatment, including access to food – and is extremely worried by reports the UN has received about acts of sexual violence against detainees.
Save the Children said:
“We are horrified that children continue to be among the targets of these fatal attacks on peaceful protestors. The death of these children is especially concerning given that they reportedly were killed while being at home, where they should have been safe from harm. The fact that so many children are being killed on an almost daily basis now shows a complete disregard for human life by security forces.”
“The safety of children must be protected under all circumstances and we once again call on security forces to end these deadly attacks against protesters immediately. Time and time again we see that children are inevitably the innocent victims of any crisis. The only way to protect children in Myanmar is to stop violence against all people in Myanmar altogether.”
“We’re also extremely concerned for the safety of the hundreds of young people being held in detention, of whom many are thought to be children. Prison is no place for a child and being held in detention is likely to be extremely traumatic, particularly for younger children who are already struggling with the fear, loss and injuries that these violent crackdowns are causing.”
Save the Children and its partners are providing support to children who have been harmed and their families where possible. This includes providing psychosocial support for children who have witnessed violence and developing resources to support the country’s growing mental health crisis. Due to insecurity and ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, a lot of this work is being done remotely, and many children are still not able to receive the support they so desperately need.
In a further violation of children’s rights, security forces have reportedly occupied more than 60 schools and university campuses in 13 states and regions as of 19 March. In at least one incident, security forces reportedly beat two teachers while entering premises, and left several others injured. In a statement released last week, Save the Children, UNESCO and UNICEF called on security forces to end all forms of occupation and interference with education facilities, personnel, students and other public institutions.
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[i] Data on child fatalities/detentions compiled by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) – last updated on 22 March, 2021. The death of the 14-year-old boy and the 7-year-old girl have not yet been included in the official AAPP data.
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