Statement 489 Views

Security Council must act now as Myanmar military junta’s forced conscription endangers peace, stability, and human security in Myanmar and the region

March 1st, 2024  •  Author:   398 Civil Society Organizations  •  14 minute read
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To Members of the United Nations Security Council
CC: UN Human Rights Council Members
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar

1 March 2024

Re: Security Council must act now as Myanmar military junta’s forced conscription endangers peace, stability, and human security in Myanmar and the region 

Your Excellencies,

We, 398 civil society organizations, call on the UN Security Council (UNSC) to take immediate action to ensure peace and stability in the region following the Myanmar military junta’s illegal enforcement of the conscription law. In particular, we call on Japan, as the President of the UNSC in March 2024, to convene an emergency meeting to put forward a binding resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter to impose targeted economic sanctions and a comprehensive arms embargo against the junta, and refer the crisis in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court or create an ad hoc tribunal. In addition, the UNSC must provide substantial support to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as declared in Resolution 2669, and assist Myanmar’s neighboring countries to promptly guarantee legal protection for people fleeing the junta’s forced conscription and mass atrocity crimes.

On 10 February 2024, the military junta announced the enforcement of the People’s Military Service Law, which the past military regime passed in 2010. Men aged 18-35 and women aged 18-27 will be at risk of forced conscription, and the age further extends to 45 and 35, respectively, for those with expert professions. Up to 14 million people across Myanmar are deemed eligible for this forced conscription, which requires serving up to five years during a state of emergency as is currently in place by the junta’s illegal declaration. Individuals face prison sentences of up to five years, hefty fines, or both, for failing to report for duty. The junta also reserves its arbitrary power to recall those who have already finished their military service.

The junta’s forced conscription efforts exacerbate the already unprecedented violence caused by its countrywide terror campaign. As it rapidly loses ground to democratic resistance forces, the junta has resorted to forced conscription as psychological warfare to terrorize the population into submission, force people to kill each other against their conscience, and inflame inter-ethnic and inter-religious tension. This ruthless measure underlines the junta’s calculated move to escalate atrocities, exploiting new conscripts as expendable human shields, porters, and frontline fighters—evident in the Myanmar military’s sordid history, particularly its forced recruitment of children in violation of international law. The forced conscription thus explicitly goes against the UNSC’s demand for an immediate end to all forms of violence in Resolution 2669.

This scheme to forcibly recruit 60,000 men in the first round will compound the severe instability and human insecurity that the junta has already unleashed on Southeast Asia. Young men have been kidnapped or otherwise compelled to join military service, according to the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. Hundreds of Rohingya in internment camps in Rakhine State are being arrested and recruited into service, or persuaded to enlist in exchange for freedom of movement. Other reports indicate people in Bago Region and Yangon City are being forced to serve, leaving them no other choice but to bribe junta personnel or face outright extortion to evade conscription. Individuals in disenfranchised and impoverished sectors, such as garment workers, lack such options as the junta’s workforce data collection is underway.

Meanwhile, the junta’s Labor Ministry curtails a route to flee the country by suspending recruitment drives of the Myanmar Overseas Employment Agencies Association. These realities will only lead to a massive influx of refugees and trafficking survivors into neighboring countries with track records of non-compliance with their international obligations, ensuring insufficient aid, no legal protection, and risk of refoulement.

For over three years since the military’s illegal coup attempt, the people of Myanmar nationwide have categorically and unequivocally rejected the Myanmar military’s futile attempts to seize power. The military junta has absolutely no legal authority to enforce any law in Myanmar. In fact, this forced conscription law is nothing more than modern slavery or forced labor under both domestic and international law.

We are alarmed by the sequence of events which led to the junta’s forced conscription: shortly after the ASEAN Special Envoy to Myanmar’s visit to Naypyitaw in January, and the Thailand-initiated and ASEAN-endorsed humanitarian assistance center in early February. Rather than restoring regional peace and stability and ensuring human security in Southeast Asia, these actions taken by the ASEAN Special Envoy and Thailand have only served to lend false legitimacy to the junta, emboldening it to intensify its terror campaign through forced conscription.

ASEAN’s ineffective actions have enabled the junta to commit more atrocity crimes with total impunity, while only deepening the bloc’s complicity in these crimes. In addition, we are gravely concerned by Thailand’s approach to humanitarian assistance, as it involves the Myanmar Red Cross which is part of the Myanmar military’s security apparatus and cannot be trusted as a partner to provide humanitarian assistance to those subject to the junta’s heinous crimes.

Excellencies, the UNSC can no longer continue to recklessly defer to ASEAN and its harmful approach which have to date jeopardized peace and stability in Myanmar and the region. With human security and civilian protection as its guiding principles, the UNSC must coordinate countries in the region to provide legal protection for Myanmar people fleeing from the junta’s terror campaign, including forced conscription and atrocities.

As a criminal entity, the Myanmar military has also facilitated the expansion of criminally run zones in Myanmar—now hubs for transnational crimes, breeding illegal online scam centers and human trafficking from which it has profited. These organized crimes severely endanger peace and security in the region and beyond. In the face of these nefarious activities, Myanmar’s democratic resistance forces have pledged to join forces with China and Thailand to dismantle the criminal hubs. In this regard, the UNSC must provide political and practical support to these resistance forces to topple the criminal Myanmar military and combat this problem effectively.

As the military junta weaponizes its forced conscription law, it is of utmost urgency that the UNSC act decisively: fulfill its mandate and implement its own resolutions to protect the people of Myanmar and establish peace and stability in Myanmar and the region. Once again, we urgently call on the UNSC to adopt a binding resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter that enforces targeted economic sanctions and a comprehensive arms embargo against the junta, and refers the crisis in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court or establishes an ad hoc international criminal tribunal. Regional peace and stability will remain elusive unless and until peace and stability is secured in Myanmar, and the Myanmar military, as an illegal and international criminal entity, is held accountable for its decades of mass atrocity crimes, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

 

For more information, please contact:

Signed by 398 civil society organizations, including 94 organizations that have chosen not to disclose their names because of the junta’s continued violence in Myanmar.

  1. 5/ of Zaya State Strike
  2. 8888 Generation (New Zealand)
  3. Action Against Myanmar Military Coup (Sydney)
  4. Action Committee for Democracy Development (Coalition of 14 grassroots networks)
  5. Action Committee of Basic Education Students (ACBES)
  6. All Arakan Youth Orga
  7. All Aung Myay Thar San Schools Strike Force
  8. All Burma Democratic Face
  9. All Burma Democratic Front in New Zealand
  10. All Young Burmese League (AYBL)
  11. Alliance for Democracy in Burma
  12. Alliance of Students’ Union – Yangon (ASU-Yangon)
  13. ALTSEAN-Burma
  14. Ah Nah Podcast — Conversations with Myanmar
  15. Anti Dictatorship in Burma – DC Metropolitan Area (ADB-DCMA)
  16. Anti-Coup Forces Coordination Committee (ACFCC – Mandalay)
  17. Anti-Junta Alliance Yangon-AJAY
  18. Arakan CSO Network
  19. Arakan Youths Peace Network (AYPN)
  20. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR)
  21. Asia Democracy Network (ADN)
  22. Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR)
  23. Asian Cultural Forum on Development (ACFOD)
  24. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  25. Asian Health Institute (AHI)
  26. Association of Human Rights Defenders and Promoters (HRDP)
  27. Association Suisse-Birmanie
  28. Associazione per l’Amicizia Italia Birmania “Giuseppe Malpeli”
  29. Athan – Freedom of Expression Activist Organization
  30. Auckland Kachin Community NZ
  31. Auckland Zomi Community
  32. Aung San Suu Kyi Park, Norway
  33. Australian Karen Organisation (AKO)
  34. A-Yar-Taw People Strike
  35. Ayeyarwaddy West Development Organisation – AWDO (Magway)
  36. Ayeyarwaddy West Development Organisation – AWDO (Nagphe)
  37. Ayeyarwaddy Youth Network (AYN)
  38. Better Burma
  39. Blood Money Campaign (BMC)
  40. Burma Academy
  41. Burma Action Ireland (BAI)
  42. Burma Campaign UK
  43. Burma Canadian Network (BCN)
  44. Burma Civil War Museum
  45. Burma Human Rights Network (BHRN)
  46. Burmese Community Development Collaboration (BCDC)
  47. Burmese Community Group (Manawatu, NZ)
  48. Burmese Community Support Group (BCSG)
  49. Burmese Friendship Association
  50. Burmese Medical Association Australia (BMAA)
  51. Burmese Relief Center Japan
  52. Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK
  53. Burmese Rohingya Welfare Organisation New Zealand
  54. Burmese Women’s Union (BWU)
  55. Campaign for a New Myanmar
  56. CAN-Myanmar
  57. CDM – လျှပ်စစ်နဲ့ စွမ်းအင် ဝန်ကြီးဌာန
  58. CDM – သယံဇာတနှင့်သဘာဝပတ်ဝန်းကျင်ထိန်းသိမ်းရေးဝန်ကြီးဌာန
  59. CDM Medical Network (CDMMN)
  60. CDM ရန်ကုန်မြိုတော်စည်ပင်သာယာရေးကော်မတီ
  61. Center For Action Points
  62. Chaung Oo Township Youth Strike Committee
  63. Chin Community in Norway
  64. Chin Community of Auckland
  65. Citizen of Burma Award – New Zealand
  66. Civil Information Network (CIN)
  67. Civil Rights Defenders
  68. Coalition Strike Committee – Dawei
  69. Crane Center for Mass Atrocity Prevention
  70. Cross Cultural Foundation
  71. CRPH & NUG Supporters Ireland
  72. CRPH Funding Ireland
  73. CRPH Support Group, Norway and member organizations
  74. CRPH, NUG Support Team Germany – Deutschland
  75. Dawei Youths Revolutionary Movement Strike Committee
  76. Defend Myanmar Democracy (DMD)
  77. Democracy for Ethnic Minorities Organization
  78. Democracy, Peace and Women’s Organization
  79. Democratic Youth Council
  80. Depayin Township Revolution Steering Committee
  81. Doh Atu – Ensemble pour le Myanmar
  82. Educational Initiatives Prague
  83. Equality Myanmar (EQMM)
  84. Ethnic Youth General Strike Committee (Mandalay)
  85. Federal Corner
  86. Federal FM Mandalay
  87. Federal Myanmar Benevolence Group (NZ)
  88. Finland Myanmar Society Ry
  89. Free Burma Campaign (South Africa)
  90. Free Burma Rangers
  91. Free Rohingya Coalition
  92. Freedom and Labor Action Group (FLAG)
  93. Friends of the Earth Japan
  94. From Singapore to Myanmar (FS2M)
  95. Future Light Center (FLC)
  96. Future Thanlwin
  97. Gender Equality Network
  98. General Strike Collaboration Committee (GSCC)
  99. General Strike Committee of Basic and Higher Education (GSCBHE)
    • Basic Education General Strike Committee (BEGSC)
    • Basic Education Worker Unions – Steering Committee (BEWU-SC)
    • Representative Committee of University Teacher Associations (RC of UTAs)
  1. General Strike Committee of Nationalities (GSCN)
  2. Generation Wave
  3. German Solidarity with Myanmar Democracy e.V.
  4. Global Myanmar Spring Revolution (GMSR)
  5. Golden Heart Organization
  6. Grass-root People
  7. Green Network (Myeik)
  8. Human Rights Educators Network (HREN)
  9. Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM)
  10. India For Myanmar
  11. Industrial Training Centre (ITC) Family Sydney
  12. Info Birmanie
  13. Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID)
  14. Insight Myanmar
  15. Institute for Asian Democracy
  16. Integria, z.u (Prague)
  17. Inter Pares
  18. International Association, Myanmar-Switzerland (IAMS)
  19. International Campaign for the Rohingya
  20. International Karen Organisation
  21. Japan Campaign to Ban Landmines (JCBL)
  22. Japan Tropical Forest Action Network (JATAN)
  23. JMC Inn Lay
  24. Justice 4 Myanmar – Hope & Development
  25. Justice For Myanmar
  26. Kachin Association Australia
  27. Kachin Association Norway
  28. Kachin State Civilian Movement (KSCM)
  29. Kachin Student Union
  30. Kachin Women’s Association Thailand (KWAT)
  31. Kalay Township Strike Force
  32. Kanpetlet Land Development Association
  33. Karen Environmental and Social Action Network (KESAN)­­
  34. Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG)
  35. Karen Peace Support Network (KPSN)
  36. Karen Swedish Community (KSC)
  37. Karenni Association – Norway
  38. Karenni Civil Society Network (KCSN)
  39. Karenni Human Rights Group
  40. Karenni Humanitarian Response Team
  41. Karenni National Women’s Organization
  42. Karenni Society New Zealand
  43. Kayan Rescue Committee (KRC)
  44. K’cho Ethnic Association
  45. Keng Tung Youth
  46. Kings N Queens
  47. Kyae Lak Myay
  48. Kyain Seikgyi Spring Revolution Leading Committee
  49. Kyauktada Strike Committee
  50. La Communauté Birmane de France
  51. LAIN Technical Support Group
  52. Latpadaung Region Strike Committee
  53. Legal Aid for Human Rights
  54. Let’s Help Each Other (LHEO)
  55. LGBT Alliance
    • LGBT Alliance Myanmar (Kalay Region)
    • LGBT Alliance Myanmar (Kyaukse Region)
    • LGBT Community Yangon
    • LGBT Union – Mandalay
    • Monywa LGBT Strike
  1. MAGGA Initiative
  2. Magway People’s Revolution Committee
  3. Magway Region Human Rights Network (MHRN)
  4. Mandalay Medical Family (MFM)
  5. Mandalay Regional Youth Association – Revolution Core Group (MRYA-RCG)
  6. Mandalay Strike Force (MSF)
    • Chanmyatharzi Township People’s Strike
    • Co-operative University Mandalay Students’ Strike
    • Daung Sitthe Strike
    • Industries Strike
    • Maharaungmyay Township People’s Strike
    • Mandalar University Students’ Strike
    • Mandalay Alliance Coalition Strike
    • Mandalay Youth Strike
    • Mandalay-based People’s Strike
    • Multi-Religions Strike
    • Mya Taung Strike
    • Myanmar Institute of Information Technology Students’ Strike
    • No.12 Basic Education Branch High School (Maharaungmyay) Students’ Union
    • Samgha Sammaga-Mandalay
    • Seinpann Strike
  1. Mandalay-Based University Students’ Unions (MDY_SUs)
  2. Matu Burma Foundation
  3. May May Yin Khwin (Mother’s Embrace) CDM Support Team
  4. MayMyo Strike Force
  5. Mekong Watch
  6. Metta Campaign
  7. Min Hla Farmers Group
  8. Minbu Farmers Group
  9. Mindat Chin Community NSW
  10. Minority Affairs Institute – MAI Myanmar
  11. Mon Association – Norway
  12. Monywa People’s Strike Steering Committee
    • All Burma Federation of Student Unions (Monywa District)
    • Civil Society Organizations Coordination Committee (Monywa)
    • Former Political Prisoners and New Generation Group – Monywa
    • Network of University Student Unions – Monywa
    • Thakhin Kodaw Mhine Peace Network (Monywa)
    • The 88 Generation Peace and Open Society (Monywa)
  1. Monywa-Amyint Road Strike Leading Committee
  2. Myanmar Accountability Project (MAP)
  3. Myanmar Action Group Denmark
  4. Myanmar anti-Military Coup Movement in New Zealand
  5. Myanmar Baptist Churches in Norway
  6. Myanmar Campaign Network
  7. Myanmar Catholic Community In Norway
  8. Myanmar Community Austria
  9. Myanmar Community Coffs Harbour (MCC)
  10. Myanmar Community Group Christchurch New Zealand
  11. Myanmar Community Group Dunedin New Zealand
  12. Myanmar Community in Norway
  13. Myanmar Cultural Research Society
  14. Myanmar Democratic Force in Denmark
  15. Myanmar Diaspora Group Finland
  16. Myanmar Emergency Fund (MEF Canada)
  17. Myanmar Engineering Association of Australia (MEAA)
  18. Myanmar Engineers – New Zealand
  19. Myanmar Gonye (New Zealand)
  20. Myanmar Hindu Community – Norway
  21. Myanmar Labor Alliance (MLA)
  22. Myanmar Muslim Organization – Norway
  23. Myanmar Muslim Revolution Force (MMRF)
  24. Myanmar People Alliance (Shan State)
  25. Myanmar Professionals Association Australia (MPAA)
  26. Myanmar Refugee Policy Group
  27. Myanmar Students’ Union in New Zealand
  28. Myaung Youth Network
  29. MyaYar Knowledge Tree
  30. Myingyan Civilian Movement Committee
  31. National Advocacy Group – New Zealand
  32. Nelson Myanmar Community Group New Zealand
  33. Network for Human Rights Documentation – Burma (ND-Burma)
  34. New Light Federation of Labor Unions Myanmar (NLF-Myanmar)
  35. New Myanmar Foundation
  36. New Zealand Doctors for NUG
  37. New Zealand Karen Association
  38. New Zealand Zo Community Inc.
  39. NLD Organization Committee (International) Norway
  40. No Business With Genocide
  41. Norway Falam Community
  42. Norway Matu Community
  43. Norway Rawang Community
  44. New Rehmonnya Federated Force (NRFF)
  45. NSW Karenni (Kayah) Communities
  46. Olive Organization
  47. Open Development Foundation
  48. Overseas Mon Association. New Zealand
  49. Oway Institute
  50. Padauk Finland-Myanmar Association
  51. Pale Township People’s Strike Steering Committee
  52. Political Prisoners Network – Myanmar (PPN-M)
  53. Politics for Women Myanmar
  54. Progressive Voice
  55. Pwintphyu Development Organisation
  56. Pyi Gyi Tagon Strike Force
  57. Pyithu Gonye (New Zealand)
  58. Rangoon Scout Network (RSN)
  59. Rohingya Action Ireland (RAI)
  60. Rohingya Community in Norway
  61. Rohingya Maìyafuìnor Collaborative Network
  62. Rohingya Southeast Asia Network (RAISA)
  63. Rohingya Union for Women Education and Development (RUWED)
  64. Rural Community Development Society
  65. Rvwang Community Association New Zealand
  66. Save and Care Organization for Ethnic Women at Border Areas (SCOEWBA)
  67. Save Myanmar
  68. Save Myanmar Fundraising Group (New Zealand)
  69. Save Myanmar – USA
  70. Services for the Health in Asian and African Regions
  71. Shan Community (New Zealand)
  72. Shan MATA
  73. Shwe Pan Kone People’s Strike Steering Committee
  74. Sisters 2 Sisters
  75. Sitt Nyein Pann Foundation
  76. Social Garden
  77. Southern Dragon Myanmar
  78. Southern Monitor
  79. Southern Youth Development Organization
  80. Spring Friends
  81. Spring Traveller
  82. Student Voice
  83. Sujata Sisters Group (NZ)
  84. Support 4 Myanmar
  85. Support Group for Democracy in Myanmar (The Netherlands)
  86. Sydney Friends for Myanmar Unity
  87. Synergy – Social Harmony Organization
  88. Ta Mar Institute of Development
  89. Ta’ang Women’s Organization (TWO)
  90. Ta’ang Legal Aid Foundation (TLAF)
  91. Tanintharyi MATA
  92. Taze Strike Committee
  93. Thai Action Committee for Democracy in Burma (TACDB)
  94. Thailand 4 Burma
  95. The European Rohingya Council (ERC)
  96. The Institution of Professional Engineers Myanmar (IPEM)
  97. The Ladies
  98. Township Leading Group (Winemaw)
  99. Twitter Team for Revolution (TTFR)
  100. S. Campaign for Burma
  101. Unity in Diversity Action for Youth (UDAY)
  102. University Students’ Unions Alumni Force
  103. Volunteers in Myanmar
  104. Wetlet Revolution Leading Committee
  105. White Coat Society Yangon (WCSY)
  106. Winemaw Lisu Development Association
  107. Women Activists Myanmar (WAM)
  108. Women Advocacy Coalition – Myanmar (WAC-M)
  109. Women Alliance Burma (WAB)
    • Chindwin (West) Villages Women Strike
    • Dawei (Ashaetaw) Women Strike
    • Depayin Women Strike
    • Gangaw Women Strike
    • Kalay Women Strike
    • Mandalay Women Strike
    • Monywa Women Strike
    • Monywa-Amyint Road Women Strike
    • Taze Women Strike
    • Thayat Chaung Women Strike
    • Wetlet Twonship Women Strike
    • Yangon Women Strike
  1. Women Lead Resource Center
  2. Women’s League of Burma
  3. Women’s Democratic Club, femin
  4. Women’s Peace Network
  5. Yadanabon University Students’ Union (YDNBUSU)
  6. Yasakyo Township People’s Strike Steering Committee
  7. Yinmarpin and Salingyi All Villages Strike Committee
  8. Youth Empowerment
  9. Youth for Democratization of Myanmar (UDM)
  10. Youth Heart Beams
  11. Zomi Association Australia Inc.
  12. Zomi Christian Fellowship of Norway
  13. Zomi Community Norway
  14. ကြားကာလပညာရေး (Online Federal School)
  15. တ.က.သ ကျောင်းသားဟောင်းများအင်အားစု
  16. ဒို့မြေကွန်ရက် (LIOH)
  17. ပြည်သူ့ပန်းတိုင် – People’s Goal
  18. ပွင့်ဖြူလယ်ယာမြေကွန်ရက်
  19. မျိုးဆက်-Generations
  20. မရမ်းကုန်းမြို့နယ် လူစားချင်းစာနာထောက်ထားမှုဆိုင်ရာကော်မတီ
  21. ရုန်းကန်သံ
  22. သမိုင်းသစ် သယ်ဆောင်သူများ
  23. SEA Junction

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