Child recruits returned to families

Feb 7, 2008 (DVB), Four children who were sold to an army recruiter in Kyi Myint Taing township on 23 January have been returned to their families, who were asked to pay for their transport, local market vendors said.

The children were detained by market security guards at the Central Model Fish Market and then sold to sergeant Soe Myint, who took them to Danyingon military recruitment centre.

According to a vendor at the market, the children were brought back from Danyingon in the early hours of 24 January, the day after the story was made public by several news agencies.

"Sergeant Soe Myint returned the children at around 2am in a military vehicle," the vendor said.

"He asked for 30,000 kyat from the parents for transportation fees, and the children have been banned from entering the fish area of the market for six months."

The parents were unable to afford the 30,000 kyat demanded by Soe Myint, so the vendors in the market came up with the money to free the children.

One market vendor said that Soe Myint was well known for buying children from the market in this way, and had made a lot of money from it.

The Burmese regime has claimed that there are very few cases of child military recruitment in the country, and says that those involved in the practice will face punishment.

However, the United Nations and international rights organisation Human Rights Watch have both recently drawn attention to the problem of child recruitment in Burma.

The government has taken no action against Soe Myint or the market security guards.

Reporting by Aye Nai

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