Myanmar’s junta has announced new conscription laws, making it compulsory for all young women and men to join the military amid the ongoing emergency situation in the country, state media said on Saturday.
The military government said all men aged 18-35 and women aged 18-27 must serve for up to two years with service extension possible to a total of five years amid ongoing crisis across the country as the junta struggles to contain armed rebels fighting for greater autonomy.
Specialists like doctors aged up to 45 must serve for three years, according to the new conscription rules, the junta said.
The military government’s latest announcement is being seen as subtle admission that its army is struggling to contain the nationwide armed resistance against its rule, which began in 2021 after the junta seized power from the elected civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Myanmar’s junta still struggles to contain armed groups opposing its government three years on, facing large setbacks in recent times.
In October, a surprise offensive launched by an alliance of armed ethnic groups led them to capture large parts of northeastern Myanmar along the Chinese border just within three months.
Armed troops in other parts of the country have also launched their own surprise attacks.
The junta is facing opposition on two sides, including pro-democracy forces following the army’s takeover in 2021 as well as the armed and trained ethnic minority groups that have been fighting for greater autonomy for decades.
Failure to mount successful counter attacks against armed groups has led to low morale among army officers, Reuters reported citing anonymous military sources.
Now the junta says a “national military service system” involving all people is essential “because of the situation happening in our country,” the Associated Press reported.
Since the 2021 coup, over 14,000 troops have defected from the military, according to the defense ministry.
The mandatory conscription law was first introduced in 2010 but has not been enforced until now.
Those evading conscription under the law may be punished by three to five years in prison and a fine.
Civil servants and students can be granted temporary deferments while members of religious orders are exempt, according to the conscription law.
“So what we want to say is that the responsibility of national defense is not only the responsibility of the soldier. It is the responsibility of all people in all parts of the country,” the military government’s spokesperson Maj Gen Zaw Min Tun said.
“National security is everyone’s responsibility. That is why I would like to tell everyone to serve with pride under the enacted law of people’s military service,” Mr Zaw Min Tun told state television.
While Saturday’s statement did not reveal further details, the junta said it would “release necessary bylaws, procedures, announcements orders, notifications and instructions.”