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Monks March Again Against Burma's Dictators

Written By David D'Angelo on Wednesday, October 31, 2007 | 10/31/2007

More than 100 monks have marched in central Burma, the first time they have returned to the streets since last month's bloody crackdown on protests.

The monks chanted and prayed as they marched through Pakokku, the site of an incident last month that triggered pro-democracy protests nationwide.

The government said 10 people died during the crackdown, but diplomats believe the toll was much higher.

Thousands more - many of them monks - were thought to have been detained.

Separately, the Human Rights Watch organisation has accused the Burmese army of forcibly recruiting children to cover gaps left by a lack of adult recruits. (Click here for the full article)

Child Soldiers Being Recruited

Burma's military government has been forcibly recruiting child soldiers through brokers who buy and sell boys to help the army deal with personnel shortages, which have been exacerbated by desertions and public aversion to its brutality, Human Rights Watch concludes in a detailed report being released today.

Private militias and ethnic insurgent groups in Burma have also been using child soldiers, though in far smaller numbers, according to the New York-based group's 135-page study, based on an investigation in Burma, China and Thailand.

"The brutality of Burma's military government goes beyond its violent crackdown on peaceful protesters," said Jo Becker, children's rights advocate for Human Rights Watch. "Military recruiters are literally buying and selling children to fill the ranks of the Burmese armed forces."

Military recruiters and civilian brokers have been collecting cash and other forms of compensation for each new soldier, ignoring questions of health and age, the study found. Army expansion and unprecedented desertion rates have driven the process, it said.

Recruiters target children at train and bus stations, markets and other public places and threaten to arrest them if they don't join, Human Rights Watch said. Senior generals and recruiters in Burma, which the military junta calls Myanmar, condone and engage in this traffic, it said.

The group predicted more recruitment of children as fewer older volunteers step forward following the recent crackdown on monks and civilian demonstrators. (Click here for the full article)

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