Last month Burma’s armed forces discharged 68 underage soldiers from its ranks.
The latest discharge means 176 children have been released from the military since the government signed a joint action plan in 2012.
Many have since become adults and they face many difficulties integrating back into society once they return home.
One of them is Aye Min.
He was recruited into the army when he was 16 after failing his exams.
His uncle had said it would be a good career choice as he could be a mechanic for the army.
“There were a lot of recruits who were persuaded like that – most of them being underage, mentally challenged or even physically disabled – you see all sorts in the army.”
After serving in the military for a year he managed to run away.
Now, he volunteers at a charity school teaching English.
“Apparently the army provides welfare for ex child soldiers but we rarely see that happen– most just end up in a hospital of the disabled where they live on hand outs by private donors and sympathisers but the army won’t do much for them.”
Soe Thiha Win was also a child soldier.
The International Labour Organisation provided him with the money to run a fruit shop.
He didn’t receive any help from the government or military even though he suffered a lot.
“There were a lot of soldiers younger than my age; such as age 15 and 16 years and many of them remained in the army. Despite their young age, they were made to carry very heavy loads unsuitable for their age. There was a lot of hardship for them.”
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U Ba son’s stood on a landmine while in the army at age16.
“He had his leg blown up and sustained shrapnel injuries but they only fed him two small chunks of boiled chicken and gave him Chinese medicine. His situation only got better after we reached out to the International Red Cross. I wish the government would create some kind of job opportunity for him or the ILO to rehabilitate him.”
Activists want the government to take responsibility for former child soldiers and to provide them with rehabilitation.
Thet Wei is an underage soldier activist from the ILO Myanmar.
“So this is our recommendation letter; mainly to rehabilitate the former child soldiers who left the army and provide them assistant in dealing with their mental and physical trauma.”
Aye Min resumed his education after he got back home, but he is still struggling.
“Life in the army is different from life with parents and right now they don’t have any soldier’s rights.”
No one knows exactly how many minors are still in the military and in all the ethnic armies across Burma.
But what is clear is that they get no help from the government or military to overcome the physical and mental injuries and to rehabilitate them back into employment.