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A child soldier who repeatedly ran away from the Burmese army is feared to be under constant torture after he was again arrested by authorities last week for desertion, according to his mother.
Yay Chan, now 15, from Rangoon’s Hlaing Tharyar township was recruited by the army in 2009 after he ran away from home following an argument with his father.
His parents learnt that he was in an army training camp in Mon State’s Thaton, four months after he disappeared from home. Their request for his return was turned down by the army, and later sent to Shan State for deployment with Light Infantry Battalion 312.
In May this year, Yay Chan escaped from the army and returned home, only to be arrested by police and local authorities and sent back to his army unit.
In the following month, he managed to escape again and stayed at home for about one month before he was rounded up and arrested by about 50 government officials.
“My son was arrested by ward authorities and fire brigade members on July 5 around 11pm – they beat him up and sent him to Hlaing Tharyar police station and from there, he was transferred to a [Military Police] centre in Hlaing township,” said his mother Daw Sabae.
“When he was in police detention, he said he would commit suicide if he were returned to the army – he was tortured when they recaptured him.”
She added Yay Chan also attempted to run away from the army in 2010.
“I want my son to live in freedom, not serving in the army and I want to ask for help. I pray for his freedom and would like to urge the army not to treat children this way,” she said.
The family is now getting assistance from Human Rights Defenders and Promoters network which is helping them file a complaint to United Nations’ International Labour Organisation liaison office in Rangoon.