The regime gaoled 21 Tanai youths for 2 years and released 8 others who were under 18. In May, the military had arrested them all at a checkpoint near the town, accusing them of having links to the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) Brigade 2, with which it is fighting in Kachin State.
The minors were detained along with the others until their trial in December, while the trial of the other youths concluded last week.
The released minors are N’hseng Ladin Awng, Maran Seng Naw, Hpau Myan Bawk La, Lazum Zau Htoi, Lashi Naw Lum, Hpau Myan Lu Bu, Maran Roi Ja and Seng Htin Seng Nan.
The conditions for their release required their parents to sign a letter promising not to enter KIA territory for three years. Should they break the agreement, they must each pay a fine of $2,800.
“I am so happy that my son was released, but I feel bad for those who were sentenced to two years in prison. We expected all of them to be released,” a mother told KNG. Local civil society organisations and religious groups have been campaigning for the youths’ freedom.
Citing regional security concerns, the court sent the convicted youths, 14 men and 7 women, to serve their sentences in the camps of Light Infantry Battalion 318 and Infantry Battalions 238 and 86 in Tanai town instead of Myitkyina prison.
Among those convicted, 17 are from Nawng Mee and 4 from Warazup in Tanai Township. All the minors are from Nawng Mi.