Myanmar's military declares mandatory service for young men and women

The country has been gripped by chaos since the military seized power in a 2021 coup

Members of Myanmar’s military security force patrol a street during a 'silent strike' to protest and to mark the third anniversary of the military coup in Yangon. AFP
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Myanmar’s junta has declared mandatory military service for all young men and women, state media said on Saturday, as it struggles to contain armed rebel forces fighting for greater autonomy in various parts of the country.

All men aged 18-35 and women aged 18-27 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 continuing state of emergency, state media said.

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 co-ordinated offensive by an alliance of three ethnic minority insurgent groups, as well as allied pro-democracy fighters who have taken up arms against the junta.

It is the biggest challenge the military has faced since first taking power in the former British colony in 1962.

Analysts have said the Tatmadaw is struggling to recruit soldiers and has begun forcing non-combat personnel to the front line.

“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 said.

A law mandating conscription was introduced in 2010 but has not been enforced until now. Those who fail to comply with the draft face imprisonment for up to five years, the legislation says.

Updated: February 11, 2024, 12:47 PM