Deserting from the Rape Commanders
covering burma and southeast asia
Thursday, October 18, 2018
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Deserting from the Rape Commanders


By Shah Paung JULY, 2004 - VOLUME 12 NO.7


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A child soldier, recruited into the Burma Army at age 11, tells his gruesome story.

Sixteen-year old Maung Myo (not his real name), a deserter from the Burma Army, said he wants to go back home and be reunited with his mother. If he tries he risks being arrested and court-martialed by the military.

Maung Myo, who comes from Rangoon, volunteered to join the Burma Army in 1999, aged 11. He was a private in the 44th Light Infantry Division fighting in Karen State when he defected and joined the Karen National Union, or KNU, in early June. Maung Myo said there were more than 60 child soldiers in his undermanned battalion, which had only 400 troops in total (normally an infantry battalion has about 600 soldiers).

Maung Myo was put in a dormitory—he estimated that there were over 80 other children staying in his room. He received military training for six months.

The eleven-year old joined the Burma Army after his father savagely beat him (he accused his son—accurately—of stealing money from him) and he had run away from home. He was sleeping and eating rough at a railway station when army recruiters spotted the boy and invited him to sign up.

“They [the recruiters] said they would help me study, or whatever I wanted,” said Maung Myo. “I followed them because I dared not go back to my home—I worried that my father would beat me again.”

Chief of the three recruiters was 27-year old Tun Linn. The boy stayed at Tun Linn’s house for three days. At that time he fell sick. His host, however, sent him not to hospital but to a camp that specialized in training child soldiers in the northwestern Rangoon suburb of Mingaladon (according to the boy, Tun Linn was paid 20,000 kyat—about US $23—and a sack of rice for each recruit). The camp commandant was Kyaw Myint.

Maung Myo was put in a dormitory—he estimated that there were over 80 other children staying in his room. He received military training for six months where he and the other boys were trained to shoot and maintain assault rifles and lay mines.

Discipline was brutal—the children were regularly beaten with canes or whips when they failed to carry out orders correctly. Victims were regularly hospitalized. Maung Myo claimed that a number of his fellow recruits died during the training.



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