Myanmar launches probe into soldier beatings

Nay Pyi Taw, Feb 4 (IANS) The Myanmar army has announced the launching of a probe into incidence of soldier beatings in the armed forces, after a video of officers severely thrashing a group of younger troops provoked social media outrage, the media reported on Thursday.

“This is unacceptable, they can face many charges like jail or removal from the army,” said Colonel Khin Maung Cho of the military information team.

The three-minute video clip, which was first circulated by a local Facebook community in early January, received condemnation from Myanmar media users, some of whom said they were former soldiers and physical abuse was a standard part of training, EFE news reported.

Khin Maung Cho said the military will take action against the senior soldiers recorded kicking and punching younger recruits on film, in which the person recording can also be heard mocking the violence.

Former child soldiers who have escaped military service — sometimes with the assistance of the International Labour Organization (ILO), which in 2007 set up a complaints mechanism for forced labour — have alleged beatings, torture and neglect by their superiors.

“I didn’t have the courage to run away, but survival was a constant struggle,” said former child soldier Ko Kyaw Zaya, who eventually left the army with the help of the ILO years after he was forced to join at the age of 17.

Meanwhile, human rights organisations, including Human Rights Watch, Fortify Rights and Child Soldiers International, have extensively documented and criticised the systematic practices of abuse exercised over the past decade by the Tatmadaw — the official name of the Myanmar Armed Forces.

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