Myanmar junta enforces compulsory military service amid widespread armed opposition News, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Myanmar junta enforces compulsory military service amid widespread armed opposition

Myanmar’s military, known as the Tatmadaw, announced Saturday the enforcement of the People’s Military Service Law, which requires all men between the ages of 18 and 35 and women between the ages of 18 and 27 serve in the military for a minimum of two years.

The activation of the People’s Military Service Law follows a series of defeats for the military junta in recent months. The “Tripartite Brotherhood,” an alliance of rebel groups in Myanmar, launched a major offensive in the northern Shan region, capturing a border crossing with China and several military outposts. Since the offensive began on October 27, opposition forces have taken control of several towns in Shan State, disrupted critical roads to the border and forced hundreds of junta soldiers to surrender. Despite the military’s intense air and artillery bombardments, the junta has struggled to regain lost territory, emboldening other rebel groups across Myanmar to intensify their attacks, further compounding the junta’s losses.

This military escalation stems from the Tatmadaw’s coup d’état on February 1, 2021, which resulted in the arrest of top government officials, including Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint. The military claimed the election was rigged, a claim rejected by independent observers, sparking widespread protests and civil disobedience demanding the release of detained leaders and the restoration of democracy.

In response to the escalating armed opposition, the junta issued a statement announcing the implementation of the People’s Military Service Law, which was introduced in 2010 but has remained inactive. The 2010 law emphasizes the duty of citizens to safeguard Myanmar’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and mandates military training and service. In the event of an emergency, the law allows military service to be extended for up to five years. It also outlines penalties for non-compliance, including imprisonment or fines. While the junta’s statement was short on details, it mentioned that the Ministry of Defense would soon issue key regulations, procedures, announcements, orders, notices and instructions related to the law’s implementation.