Did you know? Children in Myanmar are in danger

By Kerri Whelan
May 12, 2021

Please note this story contains references to violence that are disturbing.

Myanmar’s military seized power of the country in a coup d’état on February 1, 2021. More than 700 people have been killed in violent attacks. And that includes more than 40 children as young as 7 years old.

It started after the country’s November 2020 election. The country’s ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party secured enough seats in parliament to remain in power. This victory over the main challenging party, the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party, meant that the country’s transition toward democracy, starting in 2015, would continue — after about 50 years of military rule.

The election left Myanmar divided. The military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party began floating allegations of election fraud, and fears of a possible coup began.

And in February, the military took total control. Aung San Suu Kyi and other democratically-elected leaders are being detained by the coup at an unknown location. The military claims that the NLD only won the election because of voter fraud, but there has been no clear evidence of this.

Protests against the coup have been happening daily, demanding the military hand back control and release NLD leaders. Large segments of the protest movement, including members of the ousted government, are calling for further action, including the complete removal of the military’s decades-long control of the country and the creation of a more equitable and just society among Myanmar’s diverse ethnic groups and minorities — including the widely-persecuted Rohingya. Many of the protesters are young people who have grown up in the last 10 years of a democratic system, and they do not want to return to a life under military rule. And workers like lawyers, teachers, engineers, health care workers and factory workers are leaving their jobs as a way to resist the coup — which has disrupted people’s access to basic services.

These protests have been peaceful. The coup’s response, however, has been anything but.

Some people are even being killed at random in the street or in their own homes. These random acts of violence are now putting more young children at risk.

Myanmar had already faced serious challenges before the coup, like poverty, malnutrition and lack of access to education for children. And 12% of girls in Myanmar ages 15-19 are already married. Support for children in Myanmar and Rohingya children who have fled to Cox’s Bazar refugee camp in Bangladesh has never been needed more.

Plan International works in Myanmar to protect children against violence and provide emergency assistance to people affected by conflict. Plan is also active in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, providing COVID-19 response programming, learning centers and protection for girls. With your continued support, we can help children stay safe from harm.