Number of children killed by Myanmar military since coup tops 570, NUG says

The number of children killed by junta forces in Myanmar since the February 2021 coup reached 578 on Wednesday, based on statistics compiled by the civilian National Unity Government (NUG) and additional casualty reports from the past few days. The figure covers those killed who were under the age of 18, The Irrawaddy reports.

Myanmar regime forces’ indiscriminate air strikes, shelling and raids on villages and other civilian targets across the country have killed large numbers of non-combatants including many children since the Min Aung Hlaing-led military seized power from Myanmar’s elected civilian government on Feb. 1, 2021, NUG Human Rights Minister U Aung Myo Min told The Irrawaddy.

He said his ministry recorded at least 576 child deaths from Feb. 1, 2021 to Monday.

Since then, Nyan Min Hein, a 3-year-old child from Myauktaung Village in Rakhine State’s Kyauktaw Township was killed by junta shelling on Tuesday and Joseph Malsawmhlua, 9, from Let Pan Chaung Village in Sagaing Region’s Kale Township was killed in another junta artillery strike on Wednesday, taking the total death toll among children to 578.

Already this year, junta troops have fired artillery shells indiscriminately at residential areas as well as schools and internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in several parts of the country where clashes between regime forces and resistance forces are ongoing, resulting in fresh child casualties.

The junta has been using aircraft and artillery to attack resistance forces in their stronghold areas of Karenni (Kayah), Kachin, Karen and Chin states and Sagaing and Magwe regions since the armed resistance movement started, but frequently targets civilian locations in those areas as well.

According to the NUG, the junta committed nine mass killings in 2021 causing 147 civilian deaths, followed by 44 cases in 2022 killing 515 civilians. In 2023 the number of mass killings increased dramatically to 86, leaving 1,342 civilians dead.

According to a report by the NUG’s Ministry of Human Rights, 172 children were killed last year alone, following 165 the year before.

“The regime has targeted civilians as the enemy and this continues to affect children. In 2023 alone it killed 108 boys and 64 girls, including some who were just months old, in their indiscriminate attacks,” U Aung Myo Min told The Irrawaddy.

The Myanmar military has committed a number of crimes against humanity, the minister said. A few significant cases are the Pazi Gyi Village attack on April 11, 2023 in Sagaing Region in which 40 children were killed; the Let Yet Kone air strike, which killed 11 children on Sept. 23, 2022; the Mone Lei Khet IDP camp artillery strike in Kachin State, which killed 11 children on Oct. 11, 2023; and the A Nang Pa incident on Oct. 28, 2022, which killed dozens of people, although it is unclear exactly how many children died.

All people under the age of 18 are protected and it is the responsibility of all armed groups to shield them from conflict, according to international laws and child rights principles, U Aung Myo Min told The Irrawaddy.

“Although we can confirm the total death toll of the children, the number of wounded and those who have been left disabled is beyond our capacity” to record, U Aung Myo Min said.

In Karenni, Rakhine and northern Shan states the junta is currently facing its greatest military challenge since seizing power, having lost many bases and outposts to resistance forces including the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force and the Brotherhood Alliance of three powerful ethnic armies: the Arakan Army, Ta’ang National Liberation Amy and Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army.

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