Photo – Suu Myat May Zaw
They held press conference in Yangon at Olympic Tower, Myanmar Press Freedom Centre on December 20 to brief the press about the situation of the two forcibly conscripted child soldiers.
Au Lui Say, son of Soe Nay Phaw from Aung Club village, Hsi Hseng Township, is an autistic child, and he was taken by an unidentified man and his family lost contact with him for eight months. His mother Soe Nay Phaw said that she lodged a missing complaint at the police station and then one day after lodging their complaint they got a call which informed that their son was found in Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) 427 in Demoso Township, Kayah State.
“I’d like to have my son back and staying with me. I don’t want to see him as a soldier. He can choose other work. I don’t like him in army as soldier. He is still a child and minor and he needs our protection. And also I don’t like to see other children having the same fate like my son,” the mother Soe Nay Phaw said.
She added that she visited LIB 427 to reclaim her son but the infantry refused to let her son go back home, he had a five-year bond in his recruitment.
Another child soldier who was forcibly recruited is Abraham from Lwe Yin Mingalar village, Pekon Township. His mother Mu Dan alleges that he was taken by a soldier with the rank of corporal from Infantry Battalion (IB) 421 in Pekon Town with the false promise of sending him to school.
After eight months of his disappearance she learned that he was serving in the army as private in Sumprabum, Kachin State and the corporal who took her son told her that he would take her son back home but he could stay only as a deserter and fugitive all his life and then she refused his offer, his mother Mu Dan said.
According to their birth certificates, Abraham is now 17 and Au Lui Say is 16.
Regarding this case, Mizzima contacted Tatmadaw (Defence Services) True News Information Team Vice-Chairman Maj. Gen. Tun Tun Nyi and then he replied that even if the parents of the minor children agreed to join army, the army could not accept them as new recruits and the recruit can join the army only if they meet the requirements.
“We do not accept minors as recruits. We scrutinize them. We will send child soldiers back to their parents when they present the documents and we found them correct and bona fide. And also we took action against those who entered false facts and information for recruiting these child soldiers. If the parents inform the concerned army units we will take action for them. We never ignore and neglect these cases,” Maj. Gen. Tun Tun Nyi said.
The parents said that their children were still in their army units and they had not yet arrived back home.
The Tatmadaw signed the Child Soldier Elimination treaty with the UN in 2012 and Tatmadaw and UNICEF issued a statement that Tatmadaw had released over 900 child soldiers up until March 2019.