Myanmar Child Soldiers, In Progress { 45 images } Created 25 Oct 2014

He sits cross legged on the wicker floor, large hands resting in his lap. Dressed in a camouflage t-shirt, he has the broad shoulders of a manual worker, now at rest against the bamboo wall. His mother sits beside him, gripping his forearm, reluctant to let him out of her reach. Eight years ago, at fifteen years old, Kyaw Thura left home to join the Myanmar Army.

We drink condensed milk tea as he explains his journey, the argument with his mother that led him to run away from home, being taken by the army, front line guerrilla fighting. He is keen to offload, to talk about his training, the rocks in the soup, the sand in the rice, and his petrification at the first sound of gunfire.

He has a measured temperament, with an even voice, but is vacant in his pauses. His eyes glaze as he describes deserting, and turning over to the enemy - the Karen National Union. How they faked his death on a wooden crucifix, with animal blood and entrails. How he lived in hiding from the Myanmar Army.

The light from the open door hits his face, and his four year old son, Thant Zin, climbs into the cradle of his lap. Thant Zin calls him Uncle now, after years of absence, and plays with a plastic motorcycle as his father talks of making his way to back Yangon, of losing touch with his wife, and his eventual arrest for desertion..

Released from prison a week ago, he has found work at a welding shop on Insein Road, near downtown Yangon. “I have a lot of work to do,” he says, “a lot of time to make up.”

“Currently there are still a lot of child soldiers who's time is being wasted in the army, they cannot contact their parents, and should be released,” says Kyaw Thura, “there's also a lot of children who run from the army, they should solve these cases.”
View: 25 | All