Myanmar’s Junta Imposes Mandatory Military Service Amid Rebel Conflicts

Yangon, Myanmar’s military junta has announced compulsory military service for young men and women in response to armed rebel forces seeking greater autonomy across the country. State media reports that all men aged 18-35 and women aged 18-27 will now have to serve for up to two years. Specialists like doctors up to the age of 45 must serve for three years. The service can be extended to a total of five years in the ongoing state of emergency.

The announcement came as the junta struggles to suppress armed opposition to its rule. Since October, the military, known as the Tatmadaw, has faced heavy losses while battling a coordinated offensive by a coalition of ethnic minority insurgent groups and pro-democracy fighters. The ineffectiveness of its counterattacks has reportedly demoralized low- and mid-level officers.

According to analysts, the Tatmadaw’s recruitment efforts have been unsuccessful, leading to the inclusion of non-combat personnel at the frontlines. In an audio message released by the junta’s information team, spokesperson Zaw Min Tun stated that a “national military service system involving all people is essential because of the situation happening in our country.”

This mandatory conscription law was introduced in 2010 but was never enforced until now. Failure to comply with the draft may result in up to five years of imprisonment, as per the legislation. However, the statement did not provide further details about how those called up would be expected to serve.

The unrest in Myanmar began in 2021 when the military seized power from an elected government, triggering mass protests and a violent government crackdown. Since then, more than 4,500 people have been killed, and over 26,000 have been arrested, according to a local monitoring group.

The junta’s defense ministry is expected to release additional information and instructions regarding the enforcement of the People’s Military Service Law. The introduction of mandatory military service is seen as a strategic move by the military junta to address their struggles in containing armed rebel forces across the country.

Please note that the information provided is based on state media reports, and independent verification is challenging due to restrictions on press freedom in Myanmar.