Conscription in Myanmar drives insurgent recruits: civilian government

Hundreds of trainees completed military courses on Wednesday.
By RFA Burmese
2024.06.06
Conscription in Myanmar drives insurgent recruits: civilian government The National Unity Government’s basic military training course graduation and arming ceremony, taken on an unknown date in May, 2024.
People’s Defense Forces Southern Military Headquarters No. 3

Nearly 1,000 people eligible for conscription into the Myanmar military’s ranks are instead seeking training from the shadow civilian government’s armed forces, the group announced. 

The junta, which seized power in 2021 and has since faced increasing desertions and military losses nationwide, announced the implementation of the People’s Military Service Law in February. The military has since recruited about 9,000 people through two rounds of conscription based on a lottery system.

Many young people have fled the country out of fear that they may be drafted. Recruitment by junta soldiers has involved coercing young people, including minors, threatening violence or property destruction and most recently, threats and heavy fines for parents of draft dodgers as a third round of conscription approaches, residents say.

About 960 people have chosen to seek training under the civilian National Unity Government’s People's Defense Forces, or militias opposing the junta, the group’s southern military office said in a statement on Wednesday. The statement included photos of a recent graduation. The N.U.G. was formed by members of the civilian administration ousted in the February 2021 coup.

A 28-year-old man eligible for military conscription under the junta in central Myanmar’s Mandalay Division told RFA he initially planned on going abroad, like many people already have, but he was now aiming to join anti-junta forces.

“At first I was hesitant to put my family at risk but now I canceled my preparations to go abroad and work and have decided to take up arms. Now I am preparing and am still trying to connect with the training group,” he said, asking to remain anonymous for security reasons. 

“I can’t take it anymore, mainly because of the [junta’s] injustice, the way they are killing and torturing people. Most young people would make the same decision. This is the only way left for us to root out the military dictatorship.”

The National Unity Government’s Southern Military Headquarters No. 3 began accepting trainees to undergo basic military courses in April and May, it said in its statement.

RFA phoned the headquarters for more information, but it could not be contacted due to limited telecommunications access.

Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Kiana Duncan and Mike Firn. 

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