Friday, January 21, 2011

Three-and-half year prison term given to child soldier

Friday, 21 January 2011 19:28 Myo Thein

Mizima News – A man, now 22 years old, has been arrested for desertion from the Burmese military when he was a 14-year-old child soldier and sentenced to three years in prison.

His parents in Taungsun village in Waw Township in Pegu Division say their son, Zin Aung, joined the army when he was 14 and returned back to his home after about seven months in the army to be with his parents.

His parents, Thaung Kyi and Kyi Win, said he was arrested in October 2010, about eight years after his desertion and is now in the Pegu jail.

His mother told Mizzima: “He told me that he worked at a poultry farm owned by an adjutant officer when I asked him what he did in the army. He came back home and lived with us for eight years. Then local Ward Peace and Development Council (WPDC) chairman Than Lwin came to our home with a police team and took my son away in handcuffs’.

Zin Aung’s grandfather Aung Pe, 78 died of a heart attack on October 5, 2010, when the police came to the home and arrested his grandson, she said.

The young man was sentenced to three and half year imprisonment for desertion on December 4, 2010.

‘He left home when he was 14 along with two friends. We couldn’t locate him. Then he came back home after about seven months. He told me that he left the army when I asked him where he had been’, said his mother.

When Zin Aung and his two friends visited Light Infantry Division 77 at Pegu, the army accepted Zin Aung because he was tall and sent him to Taungdwingyi in Magwe Division for basic army training.

He was reportedly sent back from training camp because he was underage and placed under the supervision of Captain Thurein of Light Infantry Battalion 105 in Indagaw in Pegu, where he began work on the poultry farm.

His parents informed the Pegu branch of the National League for Democracy (NLD) about their son’s imprisonment and asked for help.

NLD member Kyaw Win told Mizzima that they informed the battalion concerned and the International Labour Organization on December 20.

‘I wish he could come back to me’, his mother told Mizzima. ‘My health has grown worse because of this. I ask the authorities to release him.’

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