Troops abduct 19 for military recruitment

Oct 6, 2008 (DVB), Burmese troops in Mandalay division are said to have abducted 19 people and forced them to join the army, according to one of those who managed to escape.

The State Peace and Development Council's Light Infantry Battalion 420, based in Mandalay’s Thar Si township seized the 19 people, some of whom were reportedly minors.

A friend of Kyaw Oo, one of the people abducted, said they were taken from a train on 10 September.

"[Kyaw Oo] was abducted along with 18 other people, including underage boys, by soldiers from the LIB 420 while traveling on a train to Meikhtila to visit his mother on 10 September," his friend said.

"Then a recruitment official who was a sergeant took away their ID cards and accused them of being the culprits behind bombings in Rangoon," he said.

"He then threatened them and said they had to join the army."

When Kyaw Oo refused to sign up he was beaten by the soldiers, his friend said.

"Ko Kyaw Oo works as a crew member on a private cargo ship and he is a married man with one child, so he refused to join the army and was beaten and tortured by the soldiers," his friend said.

"They rolled a rolling pin over his legs and told him he was going to be jailed for the bombings."

The 19 people were held in holding cells at the barracks for more than two weeks before five managed to escape.

"On 28 September, senior army officials were visiting the LIB 420’s barracks and the officials decided to keep the people they had detained out of their cells," Kyaw Oo's friend said.

"Ko Kyaw Oo and four other people took that chance to escape."

Reporting by Aye Nai

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