Myanmar citizens seek escape as rebel advances intensify pressure on junta


The escalating advances of rebel factions in Myanmar are intensifying pressure on the ruling junta. The Arakan Army (AA) has reportedly seized control of yet another town within the country’s Rakhine state, further consolidating their influence. Additionally, they have announced the detention of two high-ranking officials from the junta’s forces. Meanwhile, amidst these developments, the junta has resorted to coercing Myanmar citizens into military service. In response, experts express concerns that the youth of Myanmar may opt to leave the country to evade conscription into the armed forces.

Anti-government and ethnic minority armed rebels are engaged in conflict with Myanmar’s junta forces, resulting in the occupation of various regions across the country. In response to these challenges, the junta government enacted a law on February 10. Under this legislation, individuals aged 18 to 35 for men and 18 to 27 for women are mandated to enlist in the military. They are required to serve for a maximum duration of two years, although this period may be extended to five years during a state of emergency.

Myanmar currently has 1.4 million citizens who are legally eligible to join the military. Concurrently, on Thursday, a national committee consisting of 18 members was established to oversee the proper implementation of the new law. According to the outlined strategy, the initial phase in April will see the induction of 5000 members into the army. It is emphasized that anyone found in violation of this law, attempting to evade military service, may face imprisonment for up to five years.

In light of the current circumstances, many young individuals from Myanmar are reportedly making arrangements to relocate to neighboring countries such as Thailand, according to experts. U Hot Chit, the executive director of the Foundation for Education and Development, an organization based in Thailand, remarked, “I’ve been informed that young people above the age of 18 are endeavoring to depart Myanmar by any available means.” This migration trend may lead to a rise in the number of illegal migrant workers in Thailand. Consequently, there is a heightened concern regarding potential violations of labor rights within this demographic.

“I will not miss the chance,” declared many individuals on social media platforms. Following the overthrow of the pro-democracy Aung San Suu Kyi government by a coup in Myanmar in 2021, the junta government assumed power. Since then, thousands of people have opted to leave the country in pursuit of improved job opportunities. Among the favored destinations are Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea. With the enactment of the February 10 law, a growing number of individuals are turning to social media to seek information regarding the procedures and expenses associated with relocating abroad.

Expressing his desire to leave the country, a 29-year-old resident of Yangon, who requested anonymity, voiced his shock and sense of unfair treatment regarding the newly implemented law. He lamented, “We are being treated unfairly, and we can’t do anything about it.” Contemplating ways to circumvent the law, he acknowledged the government’s likely efforts to deter people from leaving, yet affirmed, “Even so, if I get a chance to leave, I won’t miss it.”

The junta government has indeed implemented various measures to hinder citizens from going abroad. Reports suggest that numerous youths have been apprehended from their residences or while traveling. Moreover, restrictions have been imposed on domestic flights within Myanmar. In a recent development, the Myanmar government imposed a ban on sending workers abroad.

Seizing control of yet another town in Rakhine, the anti-junta campaign by Myanmar’s armed groups commenced following the military coup in 2021. Despite ongoing suppression of dissent by the junta government, many individuals have taken up arms against it. This resistance has seen the involvement of armed rebels from diverse ethnic groups across the country.

The activities of these rebels in Myanmar have escalated notably since October of last year. Occupying various regions throughout the country, the insurgent group Arakan Army recently asserted control over another town in Rakhine state, situated along the border with Bangladesh.

In a recent statement, the Arakan Army announced the capture of Miyebon city in Rakhine state yesterday. Over the past three months, insurgents have also seized control of several other towns including Paletwa, Pauktao, Kyauktao, Minbia, and Mrauk-U in both Rakhine and Chin states.

Yesterday, intense clashes erupted between the rebels and military forces in Rakhine. In a separate communication, the Arakan Army disclosed the detention of two senior military officers following recent confrontations in both Rakhine and Chin states. Regrettably, two officers were reported as killed, and one remains missing. Furthermore, a significant quantity of military weapons and ammunition has been seized by the insurgents at this time.

Meanwhile, the Three Brotherhood Alliance, comprising three rebel groups including the Arakan Army, has escalated its attacks on junta forces in Maungdu, Ramri, and Rathedong, three coastal towns within the state. The alliance alleges that the military is deploying large bombs in the vicinity of these cities to safeguard the numerous bases under their control. Consequently, the rebels find themselves in a defensive stance within these three cities.


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