Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Locals Say Wa Army Conscripting Girls For Military Training

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Tens of teenagers have reportedly been sent to a UWSA training camp to prepare for a military parade in 2019.

The United Wa State Army (UWSA) has been recruiting tens of girls and women aged 15-20 to participate in an upcoming military parade, according to local sources in Wa-controlled areas.

The event, scheduled for mid-April, will mark the 30th anniversary of the UWSA signing a ceasefire with the central government after splitting from the Communist Party of Burma. Girls and women selected to perform in the parade must train for nine months in preparation—parents of recruits say that this involves marching, reception, and coordinated performances.

Conscription allegedly began in July in Pangwai, Nar Pan, Mongmaw, and in areas along the Thai-Burma border, with training starting earlier this month.

“They told me to send my daughter on July 23,” said Aik Kap, a father of a new recruit from Hotawng. “They don’t allow me to see my daughter in the training camp. It’s not right for parents to not be able to see their children,” he added.

Aik Kap said that some youth had fled across the border to China upon hearing that girls were being recruited into the UWSA.

There are five UWSA brigades in eastern Shan State along the Thai-Burma border and four brigades along the Chinese border. Locals told SHAN that each UWSA administrative zone—controlled by a specified brigade—was required to send at least 50 girls for training. SHAN could not confirm this.

However, speaking on the condition of anonymity, a UWSA official said that such recruitment is carried out to “raise the dignity of our area.”

“We cannot abandon this duty—we have to serve in every way,” he said, adding that in this practice, the organization “did not discriminate against any races.”

For more than 10 years, the United Nations and Human Rights Watch have identified the UWSA as being among groups in Burma that recruit and use child soldiers.

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