Southeast Asian MPs condemn Myanmar’s newly enforced national conscription law


Southeast Asian MPs condemn Myanmar’s newly enforced national conscription law

BANGKOK – ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) strongly condemns the decision by the Myanmar military to enforce a national conscription law that would mandate all men aged 18-35 and women aged 18-27 to serve for at least two years in the armed forces. 

We are deeply concerned about the impact the Conscription Law will have on the young people of Myanmar. This is yet another disgraceful attempt by the military junta to rule through fear and sabotage,” APHR Board Member and former Thai foreign minister Kasit Piromya said today.

The People’s Military Service Law was enacted in 2010 but never enforced or repealed under the National League for Democracy, despite calls to do so from civil society organizations. Nearly two decades later, the law is being implemented as the Myanmar junta’s bases and territory are rapidly being lost to the armed resistance forces. It is apparent that the junta is seeking to make up for the casualties it has lost  at the cost of the future of Myanmar’s youth. 

“This law seeks to undermine the youth-led struggle against the dictatorship and knowingly pits them against the opposition forces so many of them have supported. Its enactment also shows the utter cowardice of the Myanmar junta; they – quite literally – cannot fight their own battles,” Kasit said.

The announcement has caused widespread uncertainty for young people and their families who have no desire to serve under the military’s corrupt and violent dictatorship, which is deeply unpopular throughout the majority of the country. Myanmar’s young people have shown exceptional bravery in the wake of the military’s increasing violence and have done so to ensure their generation does not inherit another era of authoritarian rule. In a brutal and coordinated attempt to silence those efforts, the junta is forcing them to the frontlines. 

We urge ASEAN member states and the wider international community to help provide access, including visas and educational opportunities, to Myanmar youth who seek to flee to other countries ahead of the draft. We also call on the international community to recognize that this is a desperate attempt from a failing regime to cling to power and act decisively to support Myanmar’s pro-democracy forces and bring an end to the junta’s rule,” said Kasit.

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ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) was founded in June 2013 with the objective of promoting democracy and human rights across Southeast Asia. Our founding members include many of the region's most progressive Members of Parliament (MPs), with a proven track record of human rights advocacy work.

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