Youths are fleeing their villages to escape the Ta’ang National Liberation Army’s (TNLA) forced recruitment campaign in Kyaukme township in northern Shan State.
According to reports from locals, the Ta’ang soldiers abducted a Grade 8 student from Middle School No. 3 in Nitmile Kon last week. A woman told SHAN on condition of anonymity that the youth was from a small mountain village and was studying in the village and renting a house paid for by his family.
“He was on the list of new recruits. Many youths have already fled from wards in Kyaukme town to escape (forced) recruitment.”
The boy’s parents and teachers are calling on the armed group to release him immediately.
The TNLA also recently abducted youths from Sections 8 and 9 in Kyaukmegyi village tract.
“Many Ta’ang youths have already fled to neighboring counties or other safe places,” said a man who declined to give his name out of concern for his safety. He said that even the elderly have left his ward in Kyaukme town for fear of the TNLA soldiers.
“A few days ago, TNLA soldiers detained a 70-year-old man because his son had run away. They beat the old man and later released him, but he succumbed to his injuries after two days (in the hospital).”
A TNLA officer from the township, who wishes to remain anonymous, said when asked by SHAN, he couldn’t comment without an investigation. “We have a recruitment policy and have to find new soldiers every year. I don’t know about other issues.”