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Burma Releases 42 Child Soldiers, Vows to End Practice

  • VOA News

A Burma soldier (L) gives the national identity card to child soldiers who were recruited into the army before reaching the age of 18, during a ceremony where they were handed over to their parents and guardians in Rangoon, September 3, 2012.

A Burma soldier (L) gives the national identity card to child soldiers who were recruited into the army before reaching the age of 18, during a ceremony where they were handed over to their parents and guardians in Rangoon, September 3, 2012.

The Burmese military has released 42 child soldiers from its ranks, as part of efforts to end the recruitment of underage fighters in the Southeast Asian country.

The state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper says army officials handed the children over to their parents and guardians at a ceremony in Rangoon on Monday.

The newspaper says Burmese officials also have vowed to rid the armed forces of all child soldiers within 18 months, in accordance with a United Nations agreement signed in June.

The U.N. says at least eight other armed groups, apart from the government armed forces, recruit and use child soldiers in Burma, including several rebel and separatist groups.

Since taking power last year, Burma's nominally civilian government has undertaken several reforms, including easing media restrictions, allowing more freedom to opposition groups, and releasing hundreds of political prisoners.

But rights groups and activists have said that, despite the political and economic reforms, there have been no significant changes in human rights abuses carried out by Burma's military, particularly in rebel-dominated areas.
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