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Force to Fight: Military Conscription in Southeastern Burma

May 7th, 2024  •  Author:   Human Rights Foundation of Monland  •  2 minute read
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As the conflict intensifies across Burma, it has become abundantly clear that the military junta is desperately trying to compensate for their historic losses on and off the battlefields. On February 10th, 2024, it enacted a compulsoryconscription law, which sent shock-waves across the country.

The order comes amid high casualty rates of junta soldiers by the opposition forces as well as soaring defections amid economic turmoil and rising poverty. The 2010 People’s Military Service Law, mandating conscription, is now being enforced for the first time since it was passed.

“This decision came after the military sufferedproblemsinbattles.They promised to defeat anyone against them. They plan to start recruiting 5,000 people in April 2024,” a 25-year-old Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) civil servant said on March 28, 2024.

The implementation of mandatory military service includes all men aged 18-35 and women aged 18-27 who must be in the Burma Army for at least two years. This law has caused widespread fear and uncertainty among young people.

Since the attempted coup on 1 February 2021, youth have been at the forefront of a Revolution that has refused to inherit another era of military rule.

Women, in particular, adopted new roles as they transcended previously held gender stereotypes.

The CDM was led by sectors dominated by women in education, labour and health care. When the revolution shifted from peaceful protest to armed resistance, women joined their male comrades on the front lines, continuing to participate in the shared quest for freedom.

These efforts have not gone unseen by the military junta, which has unsuccessfully portrayed the youth as guilty in efforts to ‘destabilize the State.’

The majority of civilians support the pro-democracy values spearheading the revolution. Their calls include federal democracy and a release of all political prisoners.

At the end of 2021, the people- powered movement shifted from peaceful protest to armed resistance where groups have made considerable gains in capturing key bases, territory and camps once controlled by the junta.

Now, the military is trying to sabotage the futures of the young people by forcing them to turn against their pro-democracy allies and take up arms to fight with them. Those who fail to adhere to the law can be imprisoned for up to five years.

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