Friday, March 04, 2011

Burma: Abusive treatment and recruitment of underage soldiers still common

Source: The Irrawaddy - A former child soldier who spent a year in the Burmese army before getting out with the help of the International Labor Organization (ILO) says abusive treatment of low-ranking troops and recruitment of underage soldiers are still common practices in the army, despite calls for reform.

The former soldier, Min Swe Oo, said that he was forcibly recruited at the end of 2009 by an unidentified sergeant in Taungoo, Pegu Division. At the time, he was just 14 years old.

He said he received basic military training at Training Battalion No. 4 in Pinlaung, in southern Shan State, and was later sent to Air Defense Workshop No. 7, located in Kyaukse, Mandalay Division.

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Thursday, Min Swe Oo said: "When I was in the army, I received just 2,000 kyat (US $2.25) per week. I don't know how much my actual salary was, because my superior officers took it to pay for various 'fees'. But when I left the army, my commanding officer, Maj Moe Lwin, said that none of my possessions belonged to me anymore."