Military holds 14-year-old hostage in bid to force his father to hand himself in

Junta forces have detained a 14-year-old boy for more than two weeks and say they will only release him if his father, a former local National League for Democracy (NLD) leader, hands himself in, a friend of the family has said.

Police and soldiers raided Khant Wai Lin’s home in Mandalay Region’s Taungtha Township while he was sleeping on September 3 and took him away when they could not find his father, Kyaw San Lin. 

Kyaw San Lin, 40, is the former chair of the NLD for Taung Lel Kan village and has been accused by the junta of training resistance fighters. 

“They came for my husband and took the kid, saying they needed him to show them where his dad was,” said Myint Khine, the boy’s mother. “I didn’t know he would be detained. He’s in 9th grade now, he’s only 14.”

The boy is being detained at a retirement home in the township where soldiers are stationed. Myint Khine, who also has a two-year-old daughter, has visited several times to plead with soldiers to release her son.  

“I keep waiting for his release. I don’t want anything else, I just want my son back,” she said Myint Khine, who was left home alone with her 2-year-old daughter.

A friend of the family who accompanied her to negotiate with the soldiers at the retirement home said that a tactical commander told them that the military would release the teen only if the father came to talk with them.

“The tactical commander said that they wanted the father to come and clear the air if he was innocent, and that they wouldn’t release the kid if the father didn’t come,” the family friend said.  

“They accused him of training the PDFs and sending medical aid to injured PDF troops in Myingyan. He did not do anything like that in truth,” the friend added.

Currently in hiding, Kyaw San Lin told Myanmar Now that though he used to be the NLD chair for his village, he had lost contact with the party since the coup and has not been involved in any protests against the regime. 

“I’m just scared of being tortured and killed [if I turn myself in],” he said.

Myanmar Now was unable to contact local military units for information about the case. 

It is a common tactic of the junta to detain the family members, including young children, of those they want to arrest but cannot track down. 

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