Myanmar junta begin summoning draft-age residents of Yangon, Naypyitaw

Published : 15 Mar 2024 09:37 PM

Just over a month after enforcing Myanmar’s conscription law for the first time, the junta has started collecting the personal details of people eligible to be drafted into the military, with detailed data collection processes now under way in Naypyitaw and Yangon, particularly.

In some townships, junta personnel are also issuing name lists of people who are eligible to be drafted, according to residents and leaked documents circulated online. The names are taken from official household registration lists, which show the number of people who live in a house, their ages and their employment status, among other things.

The junta activated the national conscription law on Feb. 10, summoning all young men and women to serve in the armed forces for at least two years as it struggles to cope with growing military offensives by anti-regime ethnic armed groups and their allied resistance forces across the country.

The activation of the People’s Military Service Law by the highly unpopular regime met with a public outcry as military officials announced that 14 million of the country’s young people are eligible for conscription. That amounts to 26 percent of the country’s population of 54 million. In Yangon, the junta started collecting the personal details of people who are eligible, aged between 18 and 35, on March 11 and 12, one month after the conscription law was enforced. Regime staff and ward administrators have also held meetings with residents in some townships on the outskirts of the city.

In South Dagon Township’s 20th Ward, the ward administrator, officials from the immigration office and some police officers held a meeting at the administrator’s office. They produced a list of 40 people aged 20 to 32 and explained the drafting process, said a resident of the ward.

“Those included on their list have to fill in registration forms they provided and send these forms back to the administrator’s office,” he said.

In a leaked document from the 92nd Ward administrator’s office, a letter addressed to an eligible person stated that the person was required to appear at the administrator’s office with a “guardian”.

In a leaked letter issued by the administrator’s office of the 4th Ward of Lewe Township in Naypyitaw, the administrator called on a young man to come to the administrator’s office with his parents.

While the process of detailed data collection on persons eligible to serve in the military appears to have begun on Yangon’s outskirts, it has not yet been reported in the downtown townships and some others.

But residents of Shwepyithar, South Dagon, Hlaing Tharyar, Dagon, Seikkan, Twante, Kungyangon and Kawhmu confirmed that such processes are already being conducted in some wards in their townships.

According to a leaked registration form, eligible and selected persons must fill in personal details including name, address, ID number, health condition and marital status, and must also state whether they wish to propose themselves as a “prioritized candidate” to serve in the military.

A local media outlet reported that the process was also happening in Mingalar Taung Nyunt Township, but this could not be confirmed.

In Taw Khayan Lay Village in Kungyangon Township, the village administrator called on parents or leaders of households with young people aged above 24 and under 35 to come to the administrator’s office on Thursday.

The parents of Ko Htet, 25, were among those summoned. They were asked whether they could send Ko Htet and his 27-year-old brother to serve in the military. The parents declined to do so and the administrator then said they must pay 45,000 kyats (about $21) for each of the young men. Ko Htet, a resident of Taw Khayan Lay Village, is now living and working at a warehouse in South Okkalapa Township in Yangon.

Such negotiations and extortion are also happening in other townships in Yangon, with the parents of young men being squeezed for money by regime officials.

“On the day when they are no longer able to extort money from people, they will definitely come and draft us. But, instead of allowing them to draft us, we would rather join the PDF [People’s Defense Force] and fight back against them,” said a young resident of South Dagon.