At least 43 children have reportedly been killed by armed forces in Myanmar in the two months since the military coup on 1 February. The death toll of children has more than doubled in the past 12 days, demonstrating the utter disrespect of armed forces for the lives of children.
The total number of people killed now stands at 521, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).
The youngest victim was a girl, who was just seven years old. A total of 15 children under the age of 16 are among the casualties, including children aged 9 and 11. Among those killed were a 13-year-old boy who was reportedly shot in the head whilst trying to run away from armed forces, and a 14-year-old Mandalay boy was reportedly shot dead whilst he was inside or around his home.
The number of children who have been physically injured as a result of the post-coup violence is unknown, but it is likely to be significant. Among those injured was a one-year-old baby who was reportedly shot in the eye with a rubber bullet.
The fear, stress and grief caused by the ongoing violence is having a deep impact on the mental health of millions of children in Myanmar, Save the Children said.
The organisation is also alarmed by the reported bombing of a school in Kayin State on March 29, during a series of airstrikes in the area that caused thousands of people to flee. Images show the school, reportedly empty at the time, completely destroyed by the attack. Attacks against schools constitute a grave violation of children’s rights and cannot be justified under any circumstances.
Save the Children said:
“We are shocked that children continue to be among the targets of these fatal attacks, despite repeated calls to protect children from harm. It is especially horrifying that several of these children were reportedly killed at home, where they should have been safe from harm.
“This is a nightmare scenario unfolding. Innocent children have had their futures brutally and needlessly snatched away from them. Grieving families – among them young children who have seen siblings die – are suffering unimaginable loss and pain. Children have witnessed violence and horror. It is clear that Myanmar is no longer a safe place for children.
“We once again call on the armed forces to end these deadly attacks against protesters immediately. Time and time again we see that children are the innocent victims of any crisis. The only way to protect children in Myanmar is to stop all lethal violence immediately.
Save the Children and its partners are providing support to children who have been harmed and their families, providing front line emotional support to children who have witnessed violence, and referring children with severe mental health needs to specialists. 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.
“We join the global movement and stand for the immediate end of violence against children in Myanmar, and call on world leaders to come together and take concrete action in prioritizing their safety and protection under all circumstances,” said Atty. Alberto T. Muyot, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children Philippines.
NOTES TO EDITORS
[i] Data on child fatalities/detentions compiled by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) – last updated on 31 March, 2021.