Myanmar’s armed forces and some of the Southeast Asian country’s ethnic armed groups have long recruited and trafficked children to serve as soldiers, particularly in conflict-prone ethnic areas in the borderlands.
Military recruiters often snatch children under the pretext that they have committed a minor or nonexistent offense and tell them that they must serve in the army or go to jail. Others voluntarily join military organizations because their families are poor.
By Roseanne Gerin
A former child soldier has been arrested and charged with allegedly defaming the country’s military after telling the story of his abduction and forced conscription to RFA’s Myanmar Service.
Aung Ko Htway, 26, who spent nearly a decade as a child soldier, was arrested on Friday, and faces up to two years in prison, a fine, or both for violating Section 505(b) of the country’s Penal Code, his sister Nayzar Htun told Agence France-Presse on Aug. 18.
Myanmar’s government on Wednesday denied reports that it would train and arm ethnic Rakhine Buddhists in the country’s troubled Rakhine state, where residents have demanded the establishment of local militias following a string of deadly attacks in the region.
Myanmar government ministers met Buddhist monk leaders on Monday to discuss the deteriorating security situation in volatile Rakhine state and efforts to ensure the safety of the ethnic Rakhine people who live there.
During a meeting with 11 top Buddhist monks from the administrative capital Sittwe, border affairs minister Lieutenant General Ye Aung said the government will ensure security in the northern part of the state where forces conducted a crackdown on Rohingya Muslims following deadly attacks on border guard posts in October 2016.
Vehicles trapped in Mantong township for five days were able to leave the area in battle-scarred northern Shan state on Thursday after the Myanmar military reopened roads following an ambush by an ethnic armed group on one of its convoys, a local politician said.
The military closed off all entry and exit points to the township after the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) attacked one of its convoys on Aug. 5, prohibiting residents and visitors from coming into and going out of Mantong.