Tue, Aug 22, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Speaking about a past as child soldier could lead to jail

AFP, YANGON, Myanmar

A Burmese man faces up to two years in jail after he was arrested for allegedly defaming the military in an interview he gave detailing his harrowing life as a child soldier.

Aung Ko Htwe, 26, was arrested on Friday, shortly after he spoke to Radio Free Asia’s Burmese Service recalling how he was abducted and forced into the military as a teenager, his sister, Nay Zar Htun, said yesterday.

“The police arrested him for 505(b),” she said, referring to a section of the nation’s criminal code covering defamation of the military, which carries up to two years in jail.

The central army and the myriad of ethnic rebel armies it is fighting had a long track record of using child soldiers, a scourge that saw tens of thousands of minors abducted and forced into military service over decades.

Nay Zar Htun said her brother was kidnapped by the military in 2005, when he was 14 years old.

“He felt bad about the time when he spent in the military,” she said. “So he always wanted to tell his story to people and parents to make sure children didn’t end up like him.”

She said he was being held at Yangon’s Insein prison, and a court date is set for Friday next week.

Police in the township where the arrest was made did not respond to requests for comment.

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