The children fleeing Myanmar as the army forcibly recruits young soldiers
Video report by ITV News Asia Correspondent Debi EdwardWords by Sanjay Jha on the India-Myanmar border
It is an everyday morning routine for young brothers - who we're calling Aung Lin and Kyaw Lin - to look towards the mountain and remember their friends and family after they were smuggled out a fortnight ago.
“Mummy, we really miss you and our friends and want you to come back now,” said younger brother Aung Lin, 13, on the phone to her mother in Myanmar.
“The situation is very volatile in our town and the army is continually raiding houses. So don’t think of even coming soon,” said the weeping mother on the other side of the phone.
Both brothers were studying in the local school of a small Myanmar town and were living with a family of six after the death of their father.
After their father died, their mother began working hard in their fields to ensure a proper education for her sons.
But it all changed with the military coup in Myanmar.
After the coup, the Junta started facing massive civilian protests all across the country and at many places policemen revolted and ran away to India, leaving behind their jobs and families.
Most of these policemen were not willing to shoot the pro-democracy supporters and have joined a civil disobedience movement called by ousted leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi.
Faced with its depleting ranks in armed forces, the Myanmar army started recruiting young children.
“They began searching for young boys in the day time and they would come in the night to pick them up for forcible recruitment in the army,” said older brother Kyaw Lin, 15.
“They searched for us as well. So me and my friends ran away from there and have taken shelter in India.”
Many families are hiding on the Indian side to avoid the daily violence and the army’s brutality in Myanmar.
One refugee from Myanmar, currently staying in India, told ITV News that children are running away from the country because the army is using its muscle power to recruit them. So boys aged 12-15 are running away from their homes and hiding in other countries and in jungles.
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ITV News met scores of young children who are currently staying in India to avoid being forced into joining the Army.
“My parents are worried for us and didn’t want us to work in the army so they shifted us to India. Most of my friends have also shifted to India. We can’t go back to Myanmar, the situation is very bad so we are still hiding in India,” said the 18-year-old who didn’t want to named.
Myanmar is thought to have up to 50,000 children serving for its armed forces, one of the largest numbers of underage soldiers in the world.
The military and its trigger-happy soldiers are ruthless and renowned for their brutality and these kids have seen their brutality and exploitation of children with their own eyes.