Myanmar Junta Imposes Conscription Law, Forcing Thousands to Flee or Marry

Myanmar's military junta imposes mandatory conscription, sparking fear and defiance among youth, as resistance forces gain ground in the ongoing civil war, raising concerns for regional stability and foreign investors.

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Myanmar Junta Imposes Conscription Law, Forcing Thousands to Flee or Marry

Myanmar Junta Imposes Conscription Law, Forcing Thousands to Flee or Marry

The Myanmar military junta has activated a new conscription law that will draft 60,000 young men and women into military service each year, starting after the traditional New Year festival in mid-April 2024. The law applies to men aged 18-35 and women aged 18-27, with some exceptions for certain professions.

The move has sparked fear, anxiety, and defiance among young people, with many considering fleeing the country or joining resistance groups to avoid the draft. The military government claims the conscription is necessary due to losses from desertions and defections since the 2021 coup. The shadow National Unity Government has declared the conscription law unlawful and urged people to intensify their participation in the revolution against the military junta.

Many young people are fleeing the country or hastily marrying to avoid the draft, which is expected to recruit up to 40,000 people this year. The military has been in control of Myanmar for decades, and the current civil war is not a conflict with an external enemy, but rather a struggle between the military and the democratically elected government that was overthrown in 2020. People are avoiding conscription not because they fear the danger of war, but because they disagree with the military's position and do not want to be forced to kill peaceful protesters.

Why this matters: The conscription law is a significant escalation in the ongoing conflict between the Myanmar military junta and the resistance forces. The move has far-reaching implications for the country's stability, as well as the lives of thousands of young people who are being forced to choose between joining the military or fleeing their homes.

The Myanmar junta has faced significant setbacks in recent months, with rebel groups like the Arakan Army (AA), Kachin Independence Army (KIA), and Karen National Union (KNU) gaining control of strategic border areas and trade routes. The fall of the border town of Myawaddy was one of the most significant gains by the resistance forces since the 2021 military coup.

The conscription law is seen as the junta's response to the intensifying conflict and its loss of control over key strategic assets. The situation has raised concerns among Myanmar's neighbors and foreign investors about the safety and continued operations of their businesses in the country.

The ongoing civil war in Myanmar has not attracted broad international notice, but a new generation of democracy fighters has taken up arms. If they push into the nation's heartland, they could unseat the military that has had the country in its grip for decades. The shadow National Unity Government has declared the conscription law unlawful and urged people to intensify their participation in the revolution against the military junta, stating, "We call on the people to join hands with the people's defense forces and revolutionary forces to end the military dictatorship and establish a federal democratic union."

Key Takeaways

  • Myanmar military junta activates new conscription law to draft 60,000 annually.
  • Law applies to 18-35 year old men, 18-27 year old women, sparking fear and defiance.
  • Many flee country or join resistance groups to avoid draft, seen as unlawful by NUG.
  • Conscription law escalates conflict between junta and resistance forces, threatens stability.
  • Junta faces setbacks, conscription seen as response to losing control of strategic assets.