There has been steady pressure on the Myanmar Army and non-state armies to fall in line with human rights standards of ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and International Labor Organization. The armies are making small acts of compromise in appeasement but the use of child soldiers is still commonplace, even though Myanmar (also known as Burma) is a member of the Convention of the Rights of the Child. 

Children are kidnapped in their early teens, or convinced to join the Tatmadaw (Myanmar Army) and armies of pseudo independent states, with the lure of a small but steady income. Military men or corrupt civilian administrators faced with filling quotas, will often forge the paperwork of minors, allowing them to be admitted into official recruitment centres.

They’re forced to fight front-line battles in Myanmar’s civil wars, to act as porters for heavy equipment, and to walk remote fields acting as human mine detectors. Some are still children when they are released or when they manage to escape. They return to parents who thought them dead or escape to refugee camps in neighboring China or Thailand, unable to return to families nor send word of their survival.

This project was supported by The Pulitzer Center on CrisisReporting.

This project by Spike Johnson was presented during Slideluck Dallas.

Multimedia Tips

a. What program was used to create the multimedia?

Adobe Premiere.

b. How and why did you choose that music?

An interview sound-bed was important for the work in this format, it offers some contextual information in the absence of captions. It’s a quiet piece, and subject’s stories are not necessarily obvious from visuals alone.

c. Tell us about the editing process when you think of a multimedia. 

It’s a balance of image selection, audio or interview sound-bed, then matching image order to sound-bed. 

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Spike Johnson | Of The Same Life – Releasing Maynmar’s Child Soldiers