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Situation on the SLORC soldiers(1-2
Documented by Hsaw Wah Deh-FTUB(TUR/HR)
May 2, 1998
Situation on the SLORC soldiers
The military junta of Burma has increased buying arms and increased the
number of battalions to about 400. Besides, increasing the battalion
numbers but also the number of soldiers in battalion are set up. A company
has soldiers, from 118 to 135.
However, there are not many soldiers in the army and the moral and
discipline of the soldiers are rather doubtful.
A sergeant who had deserted in Thailand said, "There are only 5 to 6
soldiers in a section of most of the battalions, in a platoon there are
about 15 to 18 soldiers and a company has only about 50 soldiers. The
whole battalion has around 250 soldiers including wounded and clerks.
Very difficult to control because each section has about 2 children and the
other two are drug users. Officers are all corrupt and soldiers do not
trust and rely on them. Officers also do not trust privates. Even in
frontier, some times, sentries' guns are kept by officers, who worrying of
soldiers escaping with guns." He added, " I was selected to march in the
52nd Anniversary of Armed Forces Day Parade, there, our arms were checked
several times, and we did not get permission to visit but we had to stay
with guards who watched us carefully."
How soldiers are recruited
The army demands villages to send young men (even criminals) through quota
system and uses tricks to join the army. There is a system that if a
soldier recruits a person, he is rewarded 500 Kyats and if a soldier wants
to resign, he has to recruit 3 new soldiers to get permission of
resignation from the army.
A 14 years old SLORC private from LIB. 548 explained that in 1997, summer,
a group of soldiers came to his village in Mandalay division and said,
"There was a riot between Buddhists and Moslems in Mandalay. Young and
brave men are required to protect famous pagodas and monastery. Each
person who protects pagodas will receive 100 Kyats a day plus meals." Then,
he and about 50 villagers near by his village went to Mandalay with the
soldiers. They had to watch monks destroying a mosque. They did not get
100 Kyats allowance. Instead, a train took them to Moulmein. Then, sent
by cars to a town where there was a training camp for new soldiers. He did
not know which town because trainers never said about the place and
disliked when asked about the location of the training school. Three
months later, he was sent to LIB. 548 in Kawkareik township. He was not
happy as a soldier, and so, decided to escape from his unit. He had no
knowledge about politics, even did not realize what KNU is, so he was
shocked when he learnt that persons who provided food and guided direction
to Thailand were Nga Pwes (bad name for the KNU guerillas used by the
SLORC). Also officers from the KNU 7th Brigade were amazed of his
A teen-age boy from Letpadan, Pegu division explained his experiences, " I
met a friendly soldier at a pagoda festival and he gave some money for
gambling. We won and lost and at last the money went out. Then, he
advised me to go and ask some money from my parents. But my father scolded
me. I went back to him and he gave some money again and said if I were a
soldier, I would have a lot of money as well as an automatic gun. The next
day, he and I went to meet an army officer. Since then, I haven't seen him."
Another boy said, " I and my friend went to sign to join the army.
Afterwards, my parents came to the battalion office and requested to take
me back because I was under age and was attending school. An officer
replied I would not be sent back unless 10,000 Kyats be given as a bribe.
I knew my parents could not afford and I thought it was not so bad being a
soldier. Attended training in Shan State, then, was sent to Loi Kaw.
One day, I lost the way from my column on patrol, because I rested too
long. While I was having lunch in a village, my gun was taken and a
Karenni guerilla (later learnt that an officer of Karenni army) appeared
and spoke to me. I was requested to join the Karenni army. I liked his
gun, AK 47. It looked much better than my gun so I decided to follow him.
At the moment, we were told that my column was coming back to find me so we
ran away. On the way he showed me how to shoot the AK 47 and gave that to
me. He went in front of me with a bag full of papers and a grenade in his
hand. The column was quite close and I heard my name
being shouted. I decided not to go back to the battalion, which treated me
badly. We reached a base of Karenni and later the commander of the base
asked me if I wanted to study." Now he is attending at a Karenni school.
In reality there are many deserters in the SLORC army. Some deserters
explained that if a soldier escapes from his unit, officers do not take out
his name for a year but go on taking his salary. In each battalion, there
are about 50 deserters annually and an average of 40 new soldiers arrive in
a year. Young boys are recruited but there are problems because those
children soldiers ask for snacks in front lines and cry when they hear
To be continued soon.