No Freedom from Fear

E12

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Abstract

Around the world, there are more than 250,000 child soldiers deployed in active combat today. Six million child soldiers have become disabled or displaced, and two million have been killed. For over twenty years, the Myanmar Armed Forces (the Tatmadaw Kyi) have actively recruited and used children as soldiers. Many of these children, some as young as eleven, are abducted off the street and thrown into forced labor for the military or to fight on the front lines; others are threatened with arrest and jail time if they do not “voluntarily” enlist; all are forced to sign documents that say they are eighteen and that they enlisted of their own volition. The government of Myanmar is complicit in these threats to human security—indeed, the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers claims that the State Peace and Development Council was designated the “most notable offender.” Despite recent political reforms, these human rights abuses continue. This paper evaluates the practice in its historical context; critically analyzes on the basis of primary and secondary sources the economic, cultural, and political factors on the local, regional, national, and international levels that are responsible for perpetuating the present situation in Myanmar; and ultimately closes with recommendations for addressing these various interconnected issues.