Myanmar: Joint Statement by UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict & the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children
Thursday, 1 April 2021
The UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, and the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, Dr Najat Maalla M’jid condemn in the strongest possible terms the ongoing violence against civilians, including children, in Myanmar since the military coup on 1 February.
The SRSGs are alarmed by the number of children who have lost their lives or have been injured as a result of the violence. As of 31 March, at least 44 children have been documented as killed according to UN funds and programs on the ground, including a 7-year-old girl shot while in her home. Countless other boys and girls have been seriously injured.
The SRSGs also strongly condemn the widespread attacks on schools and hospitals and protected personnel, with 35 incidents documented including arrests and violence against teachers and health personnel, which prevent life-saving interventions from reaching civilians. They further condemn the military use of education and health facilities, with more than 120 incidents documented.
Moreover, UN funds and programs on the ground have indicated that at least 900 children and young people have been arbitrarily detained. Although many of these have been released, many more are still held without access to legal counsel. This is in clear violation of international law which states that detention of children should only be used as a measure of last resort, for the shortest period possible and legal support should be provided to all children in contact with the justice system.
“We remind the Tatmadaw and the police in Myanmar that any use of force must be necessary and proportionate and not in contravention of international humanitarian and human rights law. We further urge them to stop the detention of children as clearly stated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We call on the Tatmadaw to halt widespread violence against children in any manifestation, to refrain from forcefully using or detaining children, to hold perpetrators of violence against children accountable and to uphold and respect Myanmar’s Child Laws. The children of Myanmar deserve no less.”
The two Special Representatives further express their deep concern over the longer-term effects of the current events in Myanmar on the physical and mental wellbeing of children and their families. The longer the current situation of widespread violence continuous, the more it will contribute to a continuous state of distress and toxic stress for children, which can have a lifelong impact on their mental and physical health.
Echoing the Secretary-General’s urgent appeal to the military in Myanmar to refrain from violence and repression and to hold those responsible for the serious human rights violations committed in the country accountable, SRSG Maalla M’jid and SRSG Gamba call on the Tatmadaw and defense and security forces in Myanmar to immediately cease excessive force and ensure the protection of civilians, particularly children from all such related violence.