Bangkok, Feb 28 (EFE).- Myanmar soldiers have held 80 children captive during an anti-insurgency operation in the western Sagaing region, the opposition National Unity Government (NUG) said Monday.
An NUG statement said the junta forces targeted some villages in the insurgency hotbed region on Saturday “with indiscriminate airstrikes.”
Some 80 children, all under 12, were attending kindergarten in the Chin Pone village when the military launched the attack, said the statement from the parallel administration of deposed legislators and ruling party members loyal to jailed leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Some of the captive children are even below five years of age.
Teachers evacuated the children to the basement of a nearby monastery, “where they have since been held hostage by the junta troops,” said the statement from the women and children affairs ministry of the government in exile.
The ministry said the military threatened to “burn the village down unless the locals (who) fled violence return.”
“The children remain hostages in this threat. Given the junta’s escalating acts of terror and atrocity crimes against civilians, the NUG holds well-founded fears that returning villagers would be killed, disappeared, tortured or arbitrarily detained,” the statement said, expressing “grave fears for safety of the captive children.”
“The NUG condemns in the strongest possible terms the junta’s hostage-taking of the children as well as their parents and teachers,” the ministry said in a statement.
The opposition administration, formed after the military toppled an elected government in a coup on Feb.1 last year, recalled that Myanmar was a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its optional protocols.
The coup has plunged Myanmar into a deep political, economic and social crisis in which more than 1,580 people have died due to military repression, activists say.
The military justifies its coup alleging fraud in the now-annulled November 2020 elections, in which Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide.
International observers have described the polls as legitimate. EFE