Home Asia Myanmar enforces mandatory military service law amid escalated turmoil

Myanmar enforces mandatory military service law amid escalated turmoil

Desk report, Feb 11: Myanmar junta overnight ordered compulsory military services for all young men and women for at least two years as fierce fights between government troops and resistance forces are taking place on multiple fronts across the country, the state media of the country and international media outlets reported today.

Myanmar’s state-run media said all men aged 18 to 35 and women aged 18 to 27 must serve for up to two years, while specialists like doctors aged up to 45 must serve for three years.

The televised announcement said the service could be extended to a total of five years in the ongoing state of emergency under the conscription law.

“The duty to safeguard and defend the nation extends beyond just the soldiers but to all citizens. So I want to tell everyone to proudly follow these people’s military service law,” junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun told the state media.

The junta issued the notification of the effectiveness of People’s Military Service Law starting from February 10, 2024.

The then Myanmar authorities introduced a law mandating conscription in 2010, but it was not enforced until the February 11 announcement, while the decree said those who would fail to comply with the draft face up to five years in prison.

BBC carried a report commenting that in recent months the government troops have been defeated in a series of battles with ethnic militias and anti-coup fighters.

The army seized power from the civilian government in a 2021 coup, toppling an elected government.

“Three years on, the junta is struggling to crush widespread armed opposition to its rule and recently suffered a series of stunning losses to an alliance of ethnic minority armed forces,” AFP commented.

Reuters supplemented the observation, saying since October, the Myanmar military called Tatmadaw has suffered personnel losses while battling a coordinated offensive by an alliance of three ethnic-minority insurgent groups, allied with pro-democracy fighters.

“It is the biggest challenge the military has faced since first taking power in the former British colony in 1962,” the wire service remarked.

Referring to unnamed analysts, the report said the Tatmadaw was struggling to recruit soldiers and has begun forcing non-combat personnel to the frontline.

Since the coup, pro-democracy “People’s Defence Forces” have enlisted tens of thousands of young recruits and are taking the fight to the junta across swathes of the country.

In late October, an alliance of ethnic minority fighters launched a surprise offensive in northern Shan state, capturing territory and taking control of lucrative trade routes to China.

The success of the northern offensive and the military’s failure to mount a counter-attack has dented morale among low- and mid-level officers, according to several military sources contacted by AFP, all of whom requested anonymity.

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

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