Myanmar Rights Groups Call for UN Action on Conscription

March 2nd, 2024  •  Author:   The Irrawaddy  •  3 minute read
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A total of 397 civil society organizations have called on the United Nations Security Council to take action to stop the junta’s forced conscription in Myanmar.

The statement on Friday said forced conscription will exacerbate already unprecedented violence caused by the junta’s national terror campaign.

It said the junta has resorted to conscription as psychological warfare to terrorize the population into submission, force people to kill each other against their conscience and inflame ethnic and religious tensions.

The signatories include Rohingya groups, women’s rights organizations and strikes committees along with other civil society and activist groups.

Conscripts would be expendable as human shields, porters and frontline fighters, contravening the Security Council’s demand for an end to all violence in Resolution 2669, the statement added.

The statement said regional peace will remain elusive until Myanmar’s military, as an illegal and international criminal entity, is held accountable for its decades of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

The UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar recently reported that men were already being kidnapped or forced into military service. Hundreds of Rohingya in internment camps in Rakhine State were being detained and recruited into service or persuaded to enlist in exchange for freedom of movement, the report stated.

The organizations urged the Security Council to adopt a binding resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter that would enforce targeted economic sanctions and an arms embargo against the junta, and refer Myanmar’s junta to the International Criminal Court.

The junta’s main ally, Russia, has a veto on the Security Council.

The organizations said the Security Council should help the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to guarantee legal protection to people fleeing conscription and atrocities.

The regime last month announced the potential conscription of men aged 18-35 and women aged 18-27 with age extensions to 45 for men and 35 for women for medics, engineers and other professionals.

Conscription can last up to five years while the junta’s state of emergency is in place.

More than 6 million men and 7 million women will be eligible for conscription and 5,000 people are due to be conscripted in the first batch after the Thingyan holidays in April. Following criticism, junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun said women would not initially be included.

Many of those eligible for conscription are attempting to flee the country.

Those conscripted face up to five years in prison for failing to report for duty. The junta said it would also recall military retirees.

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