Myanmar’s ruler, Gen Min Aung Hlaing, has ordered forced military service for all young men and women, state media reported on Saturday. Gen. Min’s directive comes as the Tatmadaw battles to control armed rebel factions seeking for greater autonomy throughout the country.
All men aged 18 to 35 and women aged 18 to 27 must serve for up to two years, while experts such as doctors aged 45 and up must serve for three years. According to official media, the service can be extended for a total of five years as the state of emergency remains in effect.
Myanmar has been in instability since the military overthrew an elected government in a 2021 coup.
Since October, the Tatmadaw, as the military is known, has lost people while fighting a concerted onslaught by three ethnic minority rebel groups, as well as allied pro-democracy fighters who have taken up arms against the junta.
It is the most significant challenge the military has faced since assuming power in the former British colony in 1962.
According to analysts, the Tatmadaw is struggling to attract soldiers and has begun deploying non-combat staff to the front lines.
“The duty to protect and defend the nation extends beyond the army to all citizens. So I’d like to encourage everyone to enthusiastically follow this people’s military duty law,” junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun told Myanmar Now.
A law mandating conscription was passed in 2010, but it has not been enforced until recently. Those who fail to comply with the draft face up to five years in prison, according to the legislation.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International claims General Min should be prosecuted for war crimes when an airstrike last month killed 17 villagers, including two children, as they were attending a Sunday church service.
According to Amnesty, photo and video analysis, as well as interviews with witnesses, reveal that the Myanmar air force dropped bombs on three areas near the St Peter Baptist Church in Kanan village on January 7 morning.
The village located in the Sagaing area, near Myanmar’s border with India. At least 20 people sustained injuries.
The damage is “consistent with air strikes,” the rights organisation stated in a statement on Thursday. “The combined photo and video evidence indicates at least three impact locations, with craters consistent with aircraft bombs of approximately 250kg each.”
The Myanmar military has previously disputed culpability for the strike, claiming that no aircraft were flying in the region at the time.
However, Amnesty International stated that an analysis of video footage obtained during the strikes revealed the “distinctive swept-wing silhouette of an A-5 fighter jet flying over the village,” stressing that the China-made aircraft is exclusively flown by military personnel.
Furthermore, satellite imagery from the Tada-U airbase near Mandalay indicated active A-5 operations on the airstrip, while plane spotters claimed an A-5 takeoff, flight, and landing, all consistent with that morning’s attack on Kanan.
“The Myanmar military’s deadly attacks on civilians show no signs of stopping,” said Matt Wells, director of Amnesty International’s crisis response project. “These attacks must be investigated as war crimes, and the United Nations Security Council should send the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court.
The perpetrators of these international crimes must face justice.”
Myanmar was plunged into turmoil three years ago when General Min deposed the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, sparking enormous protests that turned into armed resistance as the military responded with terrible force.
Since the coup, at least 4,485 civilians have died, and violence has become more widespread.
Min Aung Hlaing, a Burmese army officer, has ruled Myanmar as chairman of the State Administration Council since gaining power in a February 2021 coup. He also appointed himself Prime Minister in August 2021.