Two ethnic based organisations have been advocating for the release of 33 men and women who were forcefully recruited by the Kachin Independence Army (KIA).

The Shan Ethnic Affairs Team and members of the Peace Creation Group (PCG), from Kachin State, have been following up on complaints from parents and concerned relatives on April 6.

“There are three people who were released so far. Parents of the recruits reported to us. According to the statistics, 29 Shan recruits are still in captivity. We are ready to help when other ethnic groups ask us. Since women were also captured, think about how their parents will be suffered!” said Sai Tha Zone, the leader of Shan Ethnic Affairs Team.

Forced recruitment into the army is endemic among the military as well as ethnic armed groups. The U.N. has been dealing with complaints and following up but this is harder in areas controlled by ethnic armed groups.

Sin Wel, the mother of Htun Htun Naing who was captured when working in the gold mines near Sha-ngor village, appealed saying that the KIA asked for ransom to get her son back.

“They asked for KS 100,000 (US$ 100) to release my son. I gave them KS 200,000 (US$ 200) but my son hasn’t come back. They contacted me frequently to return my son back. My son is all I have. I couldn’t even sleep when I heard that defence forces marched to Kachin State,” said the distressed mother.

Sann Aung from the PCG said that they have tried to contact the KIA and that they are now joining forces with the Shan Ethnic Affairs Team, who are also working on similar cases.

“We already talked this case to the KIA central by phone. We also plan to contact by the letter. As the raw recruits have been engaged in active duty for long, there must be negations for their safe return. They released many then and I hope they will this time too,” he said.