Friday, May 29, 2009

Forced recruitment of tribal youths into Burmese Army

Dhaka (Narinjara): Officers have forcibly recruited Khami tribal youths, especially from Pelatwa and Buthidaung Township on the western Burma border to serve in the Burmese Army, said Aung Soe a Khami youth in the area.

Army officers from LIB 55 and 289 have recruited our youths in the border area with the help of some Khami leaders who are supporters of the Burmese Army. Some Khami youths have joined the army while some have fled from the areas to avoid recruitment,” Aung said.

Khami is an ethnic nationality of Burma and most Khami people live in Arakan state and southern Chin State.

“Most of our youths are unable to speak Burmese language fluently but yet the army officials recruited them. The Burmese Army needs more youths to serve in the armed forces, so they have recruited young men no matter who they are,” Aung said.

Army officials have to provide some assistance like rice and money to the family after recruiting youths from the families.

Aung Said, “Two bags of rice and 10,000 Kyats have been given by army officials to the families whose youth joined the Burmese Army.”

The Burmese Army has recently registered a decrease in the number of youths joining in two western provinces after many youths in Arakan and Chin went looking for jobs in Thailand and Malaysia illegally.

“Most of our youths were engaged in mountain cultivation with the family before but they are now leaving for neighbouring countries like Thailand, Malaysia and India as well as Bangladesh looking for jobs. There are good jobs for our young people,” Aung said.

The Burmese junta has disallowed mountain cultivation in the western parts of Burma to prevent deforestation. Because of this many Khami young people became jobless and later left for neighbouring countries. The remaining youths in the area have been forced to join the army.

The recruitment of Khami youths started this year and local army officials are carrying out the plan in accordance with the instructions of senior Burmese Army officials from the western command based in Ann.

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