December 27, 2007

70,000 Child Soldiers in Burma, Five Million Tourists in Tibet

Burma leads the world in number of child soldiers. Kids are literally pulled off the street and "drafted":

While 15-year-old San Lin Aung stood waiting for a train home at Pyinmana railroad station, an army sergeant approached him and asked to see his ID.

The boy couldn't produce one, so the soldier sent him to an army recruitment unit in Mingalardon, on the outskirts of Rangoon. The officer in charge of the unit refused to enlist him, but another unit in Mandalay accepted him without question.

Two 14 year-olds, Kyaw Min Thu from South Dagon, and a youngster from North Okkalapa, were also forcibly recruited by the army in late April, according to reports.

There may be as many as 70,000 child soldiers (and the number is growing) in Burma, according to a 2002 Human Rights Watch report. Because of this and all the other horrible things happening in Burma, the press there is heavily censored and intimidated, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Meanwhile, across southeast Asia, Pure Land Buddhism was officially recognized by the government of Vietnam. This is not a small thing for a Communist government to do!

And more good news about Tibet (from China's officially news agency):the economy is growing by leaps and bounds and five million tourists are expected to visit in 2008!

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Ven.Sumedha's picture

Ven.Sumedha - August 29,2008

I think Socially Engaged Buddhism may bring change in the Burma. I was in Burma quite a long time. I found Human Rights abuse is quite common. This is not only the Government but also the responsibility of each and every one in the nation. They should work together to resolve their problems. If not it will be hard to develop themselves. Government should giveup the recruitment of the kids in the Army.

The Irreverent Buddhist's picture


Corruption of Dhamma is found wherever Dhamma is found unfortunately. I once had the unhappy job of asking a visiting Indian ordained Bhikku to please stop looking at pornography on the internet as he was infecting every computer in the Dhamma centre with viruses trojans and the like.

In the Dhamma,


Gerald Ford's picture

Hey Phillip,

70,000 child soldiers is a real tragedy, but I do believe that Burma is only digging their own grave. Those children will grow up pretty disturbed I fear, then the government will have an even harder time controlling them. Burma can only keep this kind of system up for so long before they create the conditions for their own demise. :( I do worry about what will come next though.

I am quite pleased to hear about the Pure Land recognition in Vietnam. I lived there in 2001 in Hanoi, and I remember seeing how corrupt religious institutions were there. I remember climbing up a high mountain to see a shrine to Quan Am (Kwan-Yin), but found monks gambling there. Also, they have shrines to Ho Chi Minh himself, though he kind of looks like Elvis. No Joke. :)

Hopefully as an officially recognized organization, it will have better oversight, and also help bring Buddhist wisdom to folks who've been deprived of it for a while.

Take care!