YANGON: Myanmar’s junta made military service mandatory for all young men and women, state media said, as it struggles to contain armed rebel forces fighting for greater autonomy in various parts of the country.
All men aged 18 to 35 and women aged 18 to 27 must serve for up to two years, while specialists like doctors aged up to 45 must serve for three years.
The service can be extended to a total of five years in the ongoing state of emergency, state media said yesterday.
“The duty to safeguard and defend the nation extends beyond just the soldiers but to all citizens. So I want to tell everyone to proudly follow this people’s military service law,” junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun told state media.
Myanmar has been gripped by chaos since the military seized power from an elected government in a 2021 coup.
Since October, the Tatmadaw, as the military is known, has suffered personnel losses while battling a coordinated offensive by an alliance of three ethnic-minority insurgent groups, allied with pro-democracy fighters.
It is the biggest challenge the military has faced since first taking power in the former British colony in 1962.
The Tatmadaw is struggling to recruit soldiers and has begun forcing non-combat personnel to the frontline, analysts say.
A law mandating conscription was introduced in 2010 but had not been enforced.
Those who fail to comply with the draft face up to five years in prison, the legislation says.
A 31-year-old doctor in Yangon said he would rather leave Myanmar than serve in the military.
“I cannot continue to live in the country because they can come get us anytime. If they force me, I will just run away. There’s no way I am going to sacrifice my life for them,” said the doctor, who asked not to be named for security reasons.
A 31-year-old banker said she feared the junta would classify her as a “specialist” and force her to serve.
“Instead of serving them, I will either leave the country or probably join the revolution forces,” she said, also declining to be identified.