According to the Democratic Voice of Burma, on September 21, a 13 year old boy was forced at knife-point to join the national army. A week after the kidnapping, the boy’s mother located her son at a military recruitment base in Utyinthaya but was unable to rescue him, a military officer citing official procedure.
There is growing evidence of child recruitment by the Burmese army, despite their denials of these accusations.
Sittwe [the region where the child was taken] residents said that the practice of forcing underage children into the army has become increasingly common in the township. One such incident occurred in March, when 14-year-old Maung Maung, was taken to an army recruitment camp and was not released until a payment of 30,000 kyat was made. Locals also reported a recent case in which a 15-year-old child from Kyaingphyu village was forcibly recruited into the army.
According to Jo Becker of Human Rights Watch, in a letter to the editor at the International Herald Tribune on September 12 of this year, Burma’s military regime may be guilty of using the largest number of child soldiers in the world.
Thousands of children serve in Burma’s national army, swept up in massive recruitment drives to offset high rates of desertion and a lack of willing volunteers. The United Nations Secretary General has identified the regime as one of the world’s worst perpetrators of child recruitment.