Burma army recruits 10 year olds

Guardian:

Burma's military, facing a gathering manpower crisis, is forcibly recruiting children as young as 10 into its ranks, according to a report today by Human Rights Watch.

Civilian brokers and recruiters for Burma's 400,000-strong armed forces receive cash payments for each child they sign up, according to the international pressure group. Battalion commanders under pressure to keep numbers up and facing high rates of desertion often turn a blind eye when the recruits evidently violate the minimum age requirement of 18.

Military recruiters target underage recruits at bus and train stations, threatening arrest if they refuse to join. Some children are beaten into making them "volunteer". The number of child soldiers is estimated to run to thousands.

Recruiters often falsify enlistment papers to register the children as 18, according to the study, Sold to be Soldiers: The Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers in Burma. "The brutality of Burma's military government goes beyond its violent crackdown on peaceful protesters," said Jo Becker, the report's author and Human Rights Watch's children's advocate. "Military recruiters are literally buying and selling children to fill the ranks of the Burmese armed forces."

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When you consider it is a country with no external threats, the need to recruit children is pretty remarkable. It is also a sign of a country on the brink of destruction. If they can't people to defeat unarmed monks they are in serious trouble.

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