A judge who is presiding over a controversial case involving a former child soldier would drop charges that were brought against him on Wednesday January 17th 2018 as the authority in Yangon’s Dagon Seikkan Township has allowed the prosecution to proceed. Aung Ko Htwe, a former child soldier violated section 505(b) of the Penal Code. The Penal Code prohibits any statements made with the intent to cause or to fear or alarm the public or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offense against the state or against public tranquility. The former child soldier gave an interview to Radio Free Asia describing his experience as a minor being recruited into the military, if he were to be convicted he faces up to two years in prison.
In court, Aung Ko Htwe testified that he was not guilty and was just answering the interviewer’s questions about his feelings, difficulties and experiences as a child soldier. “I told my feelings, I had no intention of defaming the military,” he said. His sister is planning to protest against the military, despite local authorities objecting to her specifically pointing the finger for her brother’s hardships as a child soldier. This is a global issue because it affects a large amount of people and there are many people out there who perhaps want to speak up about their experience but because of this case and hearing about the punishment, they may not be able to and this issue won’t be stopped. Thousands of young children now are still serving in the military, there are about 120,000 child soldiers in Africa, the youngest being at 8 years old, serves in government forces and opposition groups. A lot of them participate in suicide missions, act as lookouts and act as messengers in dangerous situations. A large number of children are abducted or recruited by forces and some are joining out of despair believing that joining the military will keep them alive.
This is also long lasting because it is happening in many parts of the world and it is hard to stop.