Mistreatment and child soldiers in the Burma Army: Interviews with SPDC deserters

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Mistreatment and child soldiers in the Burma Army: Interviews with SPDC deserters

Published date:
Wednesday, June 3, 2009

This news bulletin provides the transcripts of two interviews conducted with soldiers who recently deserted from the Burma Army. A third deserter, who was aged 16 when he spoke with KHRG, provides a single statement. The testimonies of these former soldiers provide insight into the current dynamics within the Burma Army. Amongst other things, the deserters described the high number of child soldiers within the Burma Army, low moral, poor remuneration, theft of salaries and mistreatment of rank-and-file soldiers.

Footnotes

[1] For other recent accounts by Burma Army deserters see, for example, Forced recruitment, child soldiers and abuse in the army: Interviews with SPDC deserters, KHRG, April 2009 and Interview with an SPDC deserter, KHRG, July 2008.

[2] A section is the smallest military unit in the Burma Army. Conventionally, three sections comprise a platoon, three platoons comprise a company and three companies comprise battalion. A column is a collection of companies. A full strength battalion can have over 300 soldiers. However, Burma Army battalions are almost always under strength. While a full strength section should include 10 - 11 soldiers, Maung Z--- explained that there were only 5 or 6 people per section in his battalion.

[3] The interviewee may have meant Sa Ka Ka; the Burmese language acronym for Military Operation Command (MOC). Thus: MOC #10.

[4] Here, the 'rear' is being used to mean firmly SPDC-controlled areas including larger towns (like Pa'an) in Karen State as well as central Burma more generally as opposed to the contested 'frontline' areas.

[5] See footnote 5.

[6] While some deserters from the Burma Army previously interviewed by KHRG willingly enlisted, many told KHRG that, like many others, they later deserted due to poor conditions and mistreatment. See for example, Forced recruitment, child soldiers and abuse in the army: Interviews with SPDC deserters, KHRG, April 2009.