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In response to the ongoing turmoil in Myanmar, the government has announced a new measure: compulsory military service for all young men and women aged 18-35, and women aged 18-27. The move comes after a series of defeats suffered by the military against ethnic militias and anti-coup fighters.

The junta has stated that it will release necessary bylaws, procedures, announcements, orders, notifications and instructions regarding this new law. The military has faced a string of humiliating losses in recent months, including the capture of border crossings and roads carrying most of the overland trade with China by three ethnic insurgent armies in Shan State – supported by other armed groups that oppose the government.

This conscription law was first introduced in Myanmar in 2010 but has not been enforced until now. Under this legislation, those who ignore summons to serve can be jailed for up to five years during a state of emergency. A state of emergency was declared by the junta in 2021 and was recently extended for another six months. Myanmar had endured almost 50 years of rule under oppressive military regimes before the move towards democracy in 2011. On February 1st, 2021, the military announced it had taken control of the country.

Since then, disorders and fighting have continued to affect Myanmar, with more than one million people displaced and thousands killed. The performance of the army in its recent battles with ethnic armed groups – some of which have ended in defeats and retreats – has sparked criticisms and doubts among its supporters. Despite these challenges, the government is determined to maintain control over the country through this new measure of compulsory military service.

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