8 February 2010:With general elections in Burma slated to be held this year the military junta is out to woo the youth for votes. This month, the regime is mobilizing a group of youths to support it in Paletwa Township.
“The authorities are forcing all youngsters to become a member of a new group in each village in Paletwa Township, to ensure votes for the forthcoming 2010 general elections,” said a local in upper Bahlai village in Paletwa Township.
The Burmese Army authorities have ordered youngsters between 10 and 18 years of age to become a member of the new group. Those, who are between 18 and 45 years of age and already members of the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), Volunteer Firemen and Civil Militia are exempted.
A source said that junta officials had already recruited 15 people of ages between 18 to 45 years for the Civil Militia, 12 persons between 15 and 60 years for the USDA and 15 persons between 18 and 45 years as Volunteer Firemen in villages of Paletwa Township this month.
“The army is now forcibly recruiting youth, who are not involved with the Civil Militia, USDA and Volunteer Firemen as New Blood Youth group and Pioneer Youth group,” a local said.
Such forcible recruitment has led to 20 Chin youths fleeing to Mizoram, a northeast state of India last month.
“If we stay in our village they will forcibly enroll us. It does not benefit us in anyway. Staying in India as refugees is better than becoming members of such groups created by the military junta,” one of those who fled told Khonumthung News.
Most youths in Paletwa Township are trying to escape the military dragnet but they have no money to go out of Chin state. They are suffering under military oppression and are sometimes assaulted by regime officials.
Paletwa Township is the most affected by famine in Chin state. There are four military battalions and 30 military camps in 400 villages in Paletwa Township.- Khonumthung News