Amid ongoing turmoil in Myanmar, the government has announced compulsory military service for all young men and women. This move, which will require all men aged 18-35 and women aged 18-27 to serve at least two years under military command, comes as the country faces defeats in battles with ethnic militias and anti-coup fighters.
In recent months, the government has been facing humiliating defeats, including the capture of border crossings and roads carrying most of the overland trade with China by three ethnic insurgent armies in Shan State. Myanmar’s military-installed president, Myint Swe, has previously warned that the country is in danger of breaking apart if the government could not bring fighting under control.
This latest move is a response to these challenges. The junta said that its defense ministry would “release necessary bylaws, procedures, announcements orders, notifications and instructions” to implement the new policy. The move was initially proposed last year but was delayed due to opposition from some groups.
The decision to introduce conscription in Myanmar was first made in 2010 but has not been enforced until now. Under this legislation, those ignoring summons to serve can be jailed for up to five years during a state of emergency. A state of emergency was declared by the country’s junta in 2021 and was recently extended for another six months.
Myanmar had endured almost 50 years of rule under oppressive military regimes before the move towards democracy in 2011. On February 1st, 2021, the military announced it had taken control of the country once again, resulting in ongoing disorders and fighting that have affected millions of people ever since. The performance of the army in its recent battles with ethnic armed groups has sparked criticisms and doubts among its supporters