Thousands of boys and young men have gone missing in Myanmar after being detained by security forces in an attempt to end an uprising that began three months ago.
An Associated Press analysis of more than 3,500 arrests since February shows that the military is indiscriminately arresting young men to stop the ongoing protest.
UNICEF, the U.N. children’s agency, has confirmed that in some 1,000 cases of children or young people have been arbitrarily arrested and detained without getting to legal representation.
The military has been using the arrests to spread fear by staging midnight raids and forcibly removing the young men from their homes.
Most of the detainees have been moved to undisclosed locations and their families have not been able to contact them for weeks.
Some have ended while some have been imprisoned without trial. There’s also evidence that suggests the prisoners are being subjected to torture.
“We’ve definitely moved into a situation of mass enforced disappearances,” says Matthew Smith, cofounder of the human rights group Fortify Rights which has collected evidence of detainees being killed in custody. “We’re documenting and seeing widespread and systematic arbitrary arrests.”
Ever since taking over in February, the Myanmar security forces have killed more than 700 people, including boys as young as 9.
The families of those missing have been trying to track them down by posting their photos and videos online.
This is while the military-controlled Myawaddy TV and some websites have been publishing videos of the missing young men, their faces bloodied, with clear markings of beatings and possible torture.
The fact that the military is openly broadcasting such footage shows that it is seeking to discourage the protesters.
At least 3,500 people have been detained since the military takeover began. Nearly 2,700 of them are being held at undisclosed locations.
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