27 January 2010: More than 40 youths from southern Chin State have escaped to India in recent days to avoid ongoing forcible recruitment drive that targets people between the age of 15 and 45.
The latest in a series of measure to boost local supports for the junta ahead of the planned 2010 elections, the conscription is currently being implemented in Paletwa Township, which consists of about 400 villages.
The ongoing drive, in effect since the beginning of January, is sparking fears among Chin youths in the area whose names have been collected without their consent for enlistment in various pro-junta groups, including militia and vigilante groups. The conscripts have been made to sign a document pledging their supports for junta-backed political parties at this year’s planned elections.
“My name was included in the list of people to train as militia from our village. Burma Army Light Infantry Battalion (LIB-55) has set a 15-person recruitment quota for our village for militia service through the Village headman,” said a 17 year-old conscript from Balai Village who has recently arrived in India’s Mizoram to dodge the conscription.
According to the order, each village in Paletwa Township, numbering as many as 400 villages, is to contribute 15 people between the ages of 15 and 45 for militia service, 15 people between the ages of 15 and 60 for Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), and 10 persons each for two youth groups set up by the junta.
One leader of a group of 21 draft evaders who recently made it to Mizoram capital city Aizawl, said that he also know of another group of 20 people who have recently arrived in Saiha, another town in Mizoram, due to similar circumstances.
“More people are likely to flee from the area in the coming days because nobody wants to serve,” said Aung David a native of Paletwa Township.