Myanmar junta killed 165 children in 2022, exiled opposition government claims

Myanmar’s military has killed 165 children from gunfire artillery, airstrikes, drone attacks and land mines, according to statistics by the country’s exiled opposition National Unity Government (NUG).

The deaths of children marked a 78 per cent increase from last year as the military-run government intensified bombings and airstrikes that targeted schools operating in NUG-controlled areas, said NUG’s Ministry of Women, Youths and Children Affairs.

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is in the throes of a bloody conflict after the military abruptly took power in a coup in 2021 and ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government in February 2021.

Since then, General Min Aung Hlaing, who is the commander-in-chief of the Tatmadaw, or military, has taken the charge of the country and been accused of human-rights violations and executions of activists by rights groups.

Analysis by local news website, The Irrawaddy, revealed artillery attacks by the junta targeting resistance led to the most number of children casualties.

Most attacks were recorded in the resistance stronghold region of Sagaing followed by the Rakhine and Kayah states, where the military frequently clashes with ethnic armed forces.

In September, over a dozen children were killed in an airstrike on a school in Sagaing in one of the deadliest attacks by the junta since it seized power in a coup. Myanmar’s military denied carrying out attacks on the school and village in the country’s north-central region.

It was followed by children fatalities among the victims of shelling in Rakhine on the western coast.

In June, UN Special Rapporteur Thomas Andrews said around 382 children were either killed or maimed, while more than 1,400 were arbitrarily arrested and 142 tortured since the coup.

He said there were reports of children being tortured with several of them being beaten, cut, stabbed, burned with cigarettes and having fingernails pulled out.

“They have been forced to hold stress positions; they have been subjected to mock executions; they have been sexually assaulted,” he said, describing it as a tactic to force their parents to surrender.

According to rights group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), a total 2,662 people were killed and more than 16,000 were arrested by the military since the coup, as of December 2022.