Excellency Minister Lt. General Wai Lwin,
Lt. General Tun Tun Naung,
Major General Than Soe, Vice Adjutant General, Office of the Adjutant General, Office of the Commander in Chief of Defence;
Brigadier General, Tauk Tun, Director, Directorate of Military Strength, Ministry of Defence
Senior Representatives of the Government of the Union of Myanmar,
Friends and colleagues from the Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting
Mingalarbar and a very good morning to you all. It gives me great pleasure to be here on this special occasion marking the discharge ceremony releasing 109 children and young adults from the Tatmadaw. I offer my sincere congratulations to the Tatmadaw and also the young people and their families.
As you know, this is the seventh discharge under the Plan of Action that was signed between the Government of the Union of Myanmar and the Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting in June 2012. Less than two months ago, the Tatmadaw released 91 children and young adults in its 6th discharge. To date, a total of 472 children have been released under this agreement.
I would like to express my warm appreciation to the Tatmadaw and the Myanmar Government on the commitment you have shown in fulfilling your international obligations under the UN Security Council Resolution 1612 and the Plan of Action signed with the CTFMR. Through this Plan of Action, in close collaboration with the members of the CTFMR, The Tatmadaw has put in place important mechanisms to prevent children from being recruited and used in the army, and to identify those underage recruited persons to be discharged and reintegration with their families and communities.
In talking with some of the young people to be discharged today, I am aware of the payoff from the hard work undertaken by those of you here today – the Tatmadaw as well as the CTFMR. I know that there are many young people and families who, because of the enhanced country-wide awareness campaign on preventing underage recruitment and the opportunity for release, came forward to self- identify or use hot lines to be identified for discharge.
Furthermore, the regular review of suspected minor cases, which has been institutionalised between the CTFMR and Tatmadaw most recently, has proven an effective way to identify and verify children in the Tatmadaw. The discharge today is a direct result of these consultations and accelerated efforts. I congratulate you all for these concerted efforts and encouraging results.
I would now like to say a few words to the young people that are being discharged today.
I want you to know that you are discharged today, not because you have done anything wrong. It is important that you understand that you are being discharged because you were recruited by the Army before you were 18 years old. The age of 18 marks the threshold between being a child and an adult according to international standards. To be recruited when you are still under 18 years is against international standards. Your discharge today reflects the Tatmadaw and Government strong commitments to its international obligations under the overall umbrella of positive changes and reforms that are taking place in the country.
It is solely for these reasons, that you are being discharged today.
Some of you may have served in the army for some time and the army has become a way of life. I want to say that today marks the first step in a process of transition from your life in the Army to returning back to your family, your friends and your community: to school if you are school age and are thinking of going back to school or to learn a profession; earn an income and develop fullest potential.
We want you to know that the Country Task Force together with the Department of Social Welfare are here to support you in this process, to help you reintegrate and to reshape your pathway in life.
Finally, I would like to reiterate on behalf of the CTFMR, our strong commitment to continue with our collective efforts and a continued partnership with the Tatmadaw, the Government, families, children and communities to work together to ensure a child free Tatmadaw in Myanmar. I thank the Tatmadaw and the government for its current strong resolve and commitment to this noble cause.
And I wish each one of you young people and families here today, the best of success for your new start in life, and a very bright future ahead. Kyayzu tin ba de.