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Reports of Myanmar’s military recruiting Rohingya at displaced camps, says Radio Free Asia

According to sources in the region, the junta in Myanmar has decided to offer freedom of movement to Rohingya Muslims who are currently living in camps in Rakhine state. This is being done as part of a plan to entice them to join the military, especially now that a conscription law has been rolled out nationwide. This new law, called the People’s Military Service Law, has caused some draft-eligible civilians to escape from Myanmar’s cities, either by leaving the country or joining anti-junta forces in remote border areas, rather than fighting for the military.

The military in Myanmar has been suffering severe losses due to the conflict with the ethnic Arakan Army, or AA, in Rakhine state. Since the AA ended a ceasefire in November, they have managed to take over several townships from the military. However, this new recruitment drive has faced criticism from rights campaigners who believe that it is intended to stoke ethnic tensions in Rakhine state. They consider it unlawful because Myanmar has refused to recognize the Rohingya as one of the country’s ethnic groups and denied them citizenship for decades.

The junta in Myanmar has also visited the city of Kyaukphyu and taken a census of the Muslim population for the purpose of military service. Over 160 people have been deemed eligible for conscription and have been informed that they will have to undergo a two-week military training program. The junta has tried to persuade these Rohingya residents to join the military by offering them freedom of movement within Kyaukphyu township. This offer does not guarantee them citizenship, but it does allow them to go freely within the township.

Despite the pressure from the military, the residents of the Kyauk Ta Lone camp have refused to join the military. They believe that the recruitment attempt is an effort by the military to create a rift between them and ethnic Rakhines.

The junta has started similar recruitment efforts in other parts of Rakhine state, including Sittwe, Buthidaung, and Maungdaw. Junta troops have been arresting and collecting data from members of the Rohingya community to force them into military training. The AA has even called on ethnic Rakhines to seek refuge in AA-controlled territory from alleged junta oppression, which includes forced military recruitment and unlawful arrests.

There has been strong opposition to the conscription law in Myanmar, and the efforts to recruit Rohingyas and other civilians is considered unlawful by many. No information on these recruitment efforts has been released by the junta.

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