Myanmar’s junta declares it will enforce military service laws for young people | Myanmar


Myanmar’s junta has declared mandatory military service for all young men and women, state media said, as it struggles to contain armed rebel forces fighting for greater autonomy in various parts of the country.

All men aged 18-35 and women aged 18-27 must serve for up to two years, while specialists like doctors aged up to 45 must serve for three years. The service can be extended to a total of five years in the ongoing state of emergency, state media said on Saturday.

The junta “issued the notification of the effectiveness of People’s Military Service Law starting from 10 February 2024,” the junta’s information team said in a statement.

Myanmar has been gripped by chaos since the military seized power from an elected government in a 2021 coup, which sparked mass protests and a crackdown on dissent.

Three years on, the junta is struggling to crush widespread armed opposition to its rule. Since October, the Tatmadaw, as the military is known, has suffered personnel losses while battling a coordinated offensive by an alliance of three ethnic minority insurgent groups, as well as allied pro-democracy fighters who have taken up arms against the junta.

The success of this offensive and the military’s failure to mount a counterattack has dented morale among low- and mid-level officers, according to several military sources, all of whom requested anonymity.

Analysts have said the Tatmadaw is struggling to recruit soldiers and has begun forcing non-combat personnel to the frontline.

A “national military service system involving all people is essential because of the situation happening in our country,” junta spokesperson Zaw Min Tun said in an audio message released by the information team.

A law mandating conscription was introduced in 2010 but has not been enforced until now. Those who fail to comply with the draft face imprisonment for up to five years, the legislation says.

Saturday’s statement did not give further details but said the junta’s defence ministry would “release necessary bylaws, procedures, announcements orders, notifications and instructions.”

It did not give details on how those called up would be expected to serve.

More than 4,500 people have been killed in the military’s crackdown on dissent and over 26,000 arrested, according to a local monitoring group.

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