Rambree: Authorities have forced many youths ages 15 to 17 in Rambree Township in Arakan State to join a militia that was formed recently with the stated aim of defending the country from neo-imperialism, said one villager.
"The authority summoned 30 villagers from each village tract to attend the people's militia training, but some villages could not send that many due to a shortage of adults in the village. The village authorities then forced many underage youths to join the training and serve in the force," he said.
Burmese military authorities opened the militia training at Kalar Bon Village in Rambree Township from 20 to 30 January. For the training, they summoned 30 villagers from each village tract in the township.
30 villagers from the villages of Ran Thit Chay, Ran Thit Gyi, Kalar Bon, Fet Kyat, Sit Pya, Lat Pan, and Chaung New in Rambree Township were summoned to attend the training.
"About 30 youth aged between 15 and 17 attended the militia training in Kalar Bon after the village chairmen forced to do so. The chairmen were also pressured by the high township authority to dispatch 30 people from the village to attend the training. So the village chairmen forced youth to attend the training in order to avoid being fired," the villager said.
The militia training was conducted by three organizations, including the police, fire brigade, and Swan Ar Shin.
According to another source, three trainees from each village were selected by trainers to serve in the fire brigade and Swan Ar Shin, which is a strong-arm group of the military junta.
A retired teacher who wished to remain anonymous said, "The authority uses child soldiers not only for the Burmese army but also in the people's militias. A few months ago, the authority did a people's militia training in Rathidaung Township where many underage youths were forced by authorities to attend."
Many parents dislike their children serving in the militias but give permission for their sons to join under duress by the authorities.
The authorities say the militias are formed to prevent neo-imperialism but will use the force for manning election booths and providing security for the 2010 election. The authority will also use the militia during the 2010 election to coerce or force people to vote for government-backed parties, the teacher added.
4 months ago