Myanmar junta bans conscription-age men from leaving country for work

The move comes as the military steps up its efforts to replenish its depleted ranks after more than three years of relentless fighting

Myanmar’s military junta will no longer allow men to go overseas for employment purposes if they are eligible to be drafted, a senior official told Myanmar Now on Thursday.

Nyunt Win, the permanent secretary of the regime’s labour ministry, said the move, which went into effect on Wednesday, would not apply to those who have already been granted permission to leave.

“Those who already got the approval are exempt from this ban. When we will lift it depends on prevailing circumstances. That’s all I can say for now,” he said.

He declined to comment on whether the decision was related to the large number of young men who have sought employment abroad since the regime announced earlier this year that it would begin enforcing the country’s conscription law.

While no official announcement has yet been made, Myanmar Now was alerted to the regime’s plan by a person who attended a meeting between junta labour minister Myint Naung and officials of the Association of Employment Agencies in Yangon on Tuesday.

“The minister said during the meeting that they would ban men from leaving the country for employment temporarily and that it was an order ‘from above’. He also complained that too many youths were leaving the country to avoid the conscription law,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

It will just force many to leave the country illegally in search of work, he added.

Responding to the news, a young man from Ayeyarwady Region said that it would leave those determined to avoid the draft with only one choice: joining the armed resistance.

“If all other options are barred, then we are left with only one. The situation is deeply concerning,” he said. 

Despite announcing that it would not call up its first batch of conscripts until after Myanmar’s Thingyan holidays in mid-April, the regime has already begun summoning its second batch of 5,000 draftees. 

Under the conscription law, all men aged 18 to 35 and all women aged 18 to 27 are compelled to serve in the armed forces for at least two years. Almost all conscripts to date have been men.

Those who refuse to enlist in military service face a five-year prison sentence.

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