Myanmar Junta Imposes Conscription Law, Prompting Thousands to Flee

The Myanmar junta's new conscription law forces young citizens to join the military, sparking mass exodus and resistance, as the regime faces mounting challenges and potential disintegration.

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Olalekan Adigun
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Myanmar Junta Imposes Conscription Law, Prompting Thousands to Flee

Myanmar Junta Imposes Conscription Law, Prompting Thousands to Flee

The Myanmar military junta has imposed a conscription law in 2024, forcing young men and women to join the military. The law allows the military to summon all men aged 18-35 and women aged 18-27 to serve for up to 5 years, with exemptions given only to monks, married women, and people with disabilities. This move has prompted widespread alarm and fear, with many young people fleeing the country or hastily arranging marriages to avoid the draft, which is expected to recruit up to 40,000 people this year.

The conscription has sent a wave of terror across Myanmar, with potential draftees fearing they could be forced to commit atrocities against their own people. "The conscription has sent a wave of terror across Myanmar, with potential draftees fearing they could be forced to commit atrocities against their own people," reports indicate. Many have fled the country, while others are considering injuring themselves or joining the monkhood to avoid the draft. The junta's decision to enforce this law is seen as an attack on Myanmar's young people and a pronouncement of the military's resolve, with potentially unintended consequences.

Why this matters: The conscription law imposed by the Myanmar junta has far-reaching implications for the country's stability and the lives of its young citizens. The move is likely to further fuel resistance against the military regime and exacerbate the ongoing conflict, potentially leading to a humanitarian crisis as more people are displaced.

The imposition of the conscription law comes as the Myanmar junta faces increasing pressure, with important border cities falling under the control of ethnic resistance groups. The fall of Myawaddy, a major trading hub, is an example of the junta's weakening grip on the border areas. The Thai Prime Minister has acknowledged the junta's loss of control, stating that it may be the right time to establish communication and reach an agreement.

The prolonged conflict has resulted in the junta losing around 21,000 soldiers, and its effective strength is now only 150,000 people. The crisis in the Myanmar military is also evident in desertions, low recruitment, and loss of morale among its ranks. The situation has raised concerns about the potential disintegration of Myanmar, similar to the collapse of the Soviet Union or Yugoslavia.

The Myanmar military is facing multiple defeats across the country, with rebel forces pressuring the junta's State Administration Council (SAC) in various locations. The protests against the military coup in February 2021 have escalated into a full-blown civil war, with various political and ethnic groups taking up arms against the junta. The military is stretched thin and facing significant challenges, resorting to conscription to boost its ranks and armed personnel. As one young woman named Heiyu, who had to make a treacherous journey on foot through the mountains to reach China and escape the chaos in her home country, stated, "I had no choice but to leave. I couldn't bear the thought of being forced to fight against my own people."

Key Takeaways

  • Myanmar junta imposes conscription law, forcing 18-35 year-olds to serve 5 years.
  • Conscription sparks widespread fear, with many fleeing the country or hastily marrying.
  • Conscription seen as an attack on Myanmar's youth, fueling resistance against the junta.
  • Junta faces increasing pressure, with border cities falling under ethnic resistance control.
  • Junta's military strength diminished, raising concerns about potential disintegration of Myanmar.