Myanmar rights groups call for UN action on forced conscription

March 2nd, 2024  •  Author:   Dhaka Tribune  •  3 minute read
  • 397 civil society organizations of Myanmar appealed to United Nations Security Council
  • Signatories urged Council to refer Myanmar’s military to International Criminal Court

A total of 397 civil society organizations of Myanmar appealed to the United Nations Security Council to intervene and put an end to the junta’s forced conscription.

The signatories, including Rohingya groups, women’s rights organizations, strike committees, and various civil society and activist groups, expressed deep concerns over the potential escalation of violence resulting from the junta’s national terror campaign.

The statement, issued on Friday, highlighted that forced conscription is being used by the junta as a form of psychological warfare, aimed at terrorizing the population, forcing individuals to act against their conscience, and exacerbating existing ethnic and religious tensions.

The conscripts, according to the statement, are likely to be deployed as expendable human shields, porters, and frontline fighters, contradicting the Security Council’s demand for an immediate cessation of all violence (Resolution 2669).

The organizations argued that achieving regional peace is contingent upon holding Myanmar’s military accountable for its long history of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

The recent report by the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar highlighted instances of men being kidnapped or coerced into military service, particularly affecting Rohingya populations in internment camps in Rakhine State.

The joint statement called for the UN Security Council to adopt a binding resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, enforcing targeted economic sanctions and an arms embargo against the junta.

Additionally, the signatories urged the Council to refer Myanmar’s military to the International Criminal Court. However, the statement acknowledged the potential challenge in implementing such measures due to Russia’s veto power on the Security Council, a key ally of the Myanmar junta.

The civil society organizations emphasized the need for the Security Council to support the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in providing legal protection to individuals fleeing conscription and facing atrocities.

The Myanmar regime had recently announced plans for potential conscription, targeting men aged 18-35 and women aged 18-27, with age extensions for certain professions.

Conscription, which can last up to five years, has led to a surge in individuals attempting to flee the country to avoid forced military service.

The organizations raised concerns about the potential imprisonment of those failing to report for duty and the junta’s decision to recall military retirees.

The statement concluded by urging swift and decisive international action to prevent further human rights abuses by the Myanmar military.

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