Saturday, August 19, 2017

Tatmadaw to investigate ‘training’ video

The Tatmadaw said it has launched an investigation into a video depicting junior soldiers being severely beaten which spread rapidly on social media yesterday.

The three-minute clip shows about a dozen young soldiers standing in a line at a training camp. They are physically abused, kicked and harshly slapped on the chest by their seniors, who accuse them of disrespect. The person filming instructs the beating to continue.

“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 for “correct news”.

He said the military is checking the badges on the arms of the soldiers in the video and will take action against those who are guilty of severe wrongdoings.

The colonel added that as a young soldier he never experienced such a beating, and that while that sometimes soldiers would receive a punishment from a senior, it was never in the form of a severe beating.

“We cannot scold others without reason, let alone beat them. It is seriously not allowed under the law for seniors to beat juniors,” he said.

According to the “Friends of Moemakha”, a community page that posted the video on January 3, the footage of the ill-treatment of first-year soldiers reveals rampant human rights violations within the Tatmadaw. The uploader does not mention where the video was taken.

Hundreds of Facebook users commented, condemning the treatment. Some people who described themselves as soldiers wrote that the video showed only a normal way of teaching respect in the military.

U Win Myint Aung, a Facebook user who claims to be a retired military soldier, said in a comment that seniors punishing subordinates for disciplinary infraction is normal in the army and is a way to steel recruits for when they go to battle.

A lieutenant-colonel in northern Shan State, who requested anonymity, said that he thought the badges looked to be from the Eastern Region Command (Ya Pa Kha), based in Taunggyi, where there is a military training camp.

“There was no such kind of ill-treatment in the military when I was a junior. Senior brothers were very kind to us. No one would accept such a wrongdoing,” he said.

Former child soldiers who ran away or were released under pressure from the UN have told The Myanmar Times they experienced near “unrelenting” beatings from superiors for even the smallest infraction. Last July, a former child soldier said on the very first day when he was pressed into service at the age of 16, he witnessed recruiters beating newly enlisted men.

International rights groups like Fortify Rights and Amnesty International have said the military systematically tortures civilians, forcibly recruits children and commits rape in conflict areas.