Four children sold to army recruiter

Jan 24, 2008 (DVB), Four children who were detained by market security guards in Kyi Myint Taing were reportedly sold to an army recruiter yesterday morning, according to an eyewitness.

The four children, aged between 12 and 15, had been working during the night collecting pieces of ice when they were arrested by security guards at the Central Model Fish Market in Kyi Myint Taing township, Rangoon division, just after midnight.

The children live in a municipal compound in Kamaryut and were hoping to sell the ice they collected from the fish market to help support their families.

Market security officials told the children's parents they would have to pay a fine of between 20,000 and 30,000 kyat for each child before they would be released, but the parents could not afford to pay immediately.

At around 4.30am, sergeant Soe Myint from the military recruitment centre in Danyin Gone, Rangoon, came to the market and paid 15,000 kyat for each child and took them to the recruitment centre.

When the parents asked the security guards if they had an arrest warrant, they said they were acting on the orders of officials from Kyi Myint Taing Peace and Development Council.

Neighbours explained to the children's parents that they could report the incident to international organisations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, but the parents were afraid that they would lose their living accommodation if they took any action.

The father of one of the children is on the municipal staff, and the family lives on the municipal compound in Simmlight, Kamaryut.

Sergeant Soe Myint has reportedly bought other children from poor families in the same way and taken them to the recruitment centre.

When parents have tried to report the forced recruitment, they have been threatened with losing their homes.

Sources close to the families of municipal staff have said an estimated 20 children have been taken from this compound alone.

Reporting by Aye Nai

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