Myanmar man arrested for telling life as child soldier

A former Myanmar child soldier was sent to prison Saturday, for telling how he was abducted and forced to serve in the military, his family members told Anadolu Agency.

Aung Ko Htwe, a resident of Kalaware Village, outside the commercial capital of Yangon, was kidnapped by the Myanmar military in 2005 when he was a teenager. He shared his long struggle with the Radio Free Asia (RFA) Burmese Service.

He was abducted by a Myanmar army sergeant in Yangon in 2005, and sold to another soldier who took him to a recruitment center in central Mandalay region.

Along with two other underage soldiers, he received a death sentence in 2007 for accidentally murdering a motorbike owner during an effort to escape from the military camp in restive Shan state. The penalty was later commuted to 10 years’ imprisonment. (He was 16 in 2007.)

With that life over, “He got arrested on Friday, days after the story about his life was published by RFA,” Nay Zar Tun, his elder sister, told Anadolu Agency by phone.

She said he was arrested under a sedition charge filed by Lt. Col. Myo Myint Aung of the Yangon Military Command after his story came out on Monday.

He was charged under Article 505 (b) of the country’s Penal Code which does not allow bail to be set and detainees face up to two years’ imprisonment, a fine, or both.

“I don’t know anything wrong for disclosing the life of a child soldier,” she said.

A police officer confirmed to Anadolu Agency that Aung Ko Htwe was arrested in Dagon Seikkan Township of Yangon region and sent to Insein Prison.

“The first court hearing is due on September 1,” said the officer on condition of anonymity.

This was believed to be the first such case against a former child soldier in the country where the United Nations said government troops and seven other ethnic armed groups continue recruiting and using underage soldiers.

The Myanmar military said it has discharged 849 underage and young people from its ranks, and demoted or jailed 439 troops including 87 officers for the use and recruitment of child soldiers since a 2012 agreement with the UN to stop using child soldiers.

Source – Anadolu Agency

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