Myanmar’s junta has declared compulsory 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 several parts of the country.
All men between the ages of 18 and 35 and women between the ages of 18 and 27 must serve for a maximum of two years, while specialists, such as doctors, up to the age of 45 must serve for three years. The service can be extended for up to a total of five years during the current state of emergency, state media said.
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Myanmar has been plunged into chaos since the military seized power from an elected government in a 2021 coup.
Since October, the Tatmadaw, as the army is known, has suffered personnel losses as it fought a coordinated offensive by an alliance of three ethnic minority insurgent groups, as well as allied pro-democracy fighters who have taken up arms against board.
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It is the biggest challenge the military has faced since it first took power in the former British colony in 1962.
Analysts have said the Tatmadaw is having difficulty recruiting soldiers and has begun forcing non-combatant personnel to the front.
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“The duty to safeguard and defend the nation extends beyond soldiers but to all citizens. That is why I want to tell everyone to proudly follow the military service law of this people,” said junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun, to state media.
A law requiring compulsory military service was introduced in 2010, but has not been implemented so far. Those who do not comply with the draft face prison sentences of up to five years, according to the legislation.
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