On Conscription Law & its Impact on the Resistance

by mohingamatters

In March, the regime officially initiated the recruitment process to implement the conscription law. Thousands of youths were coerced into the mandatory military training while several fled their homes in time to escape the imposition, by either finding opportunities abroad or taking up arms under various resistance forces. Families were broken apart and jobs were abandoned due to this action from the regime. The National Unity Government (NUG) received criticism from the public for failing to respond and handle this situation adequately. This month, we interviewed an official from the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF) to gain insight into their approach to addressing this challenge independently.

MM: Please introduce yourself.

ZH: My name is Zaw Htet, people know me as White Tiger on the battlefield. I serve in the Karenni Nationalities Defense Force (KNDF) in Karenni State. 

MM: What was your initial reaction to hearing about the conscription law?

ZH: We knew that the regime planned to exhaust the resistance. So there was not much reaction there. Safe to say we saw that coming. Hence, we always encouraged the public to support us and we also made efforts to grow our manpower, etc. There was no surprise. 

MM: Do you mean you had received the information ahead of time? Or just speculation?

ZH: No, we did not receive the information beforehand. In our opinion, the regime is getting short of manpower, they would do anything to expand their forces, especially with youths in times like this where they are losing every battlefront. Conscription was one of the possible ways we thought they would do.

MM: What actions have KNDF taken in response to this law?

ZH: Since day one of the resistance, we have sworn to protect all the ethnic people of Myanmar. The people who are facing difficulties due to this law are the people we swore to protect. Hence, we are helping youths who want to join us to fight on the just side of the war. It is the main thing we are doing. We can’t say the exact figure but several youths have joined our uniform since the conscription law was introduced. Not just our force, I have seen on Facebook that a few credible resistance forces have also recruited the same way. 

MM: What was the key motivation behind this move?

ZH: Many youths across the country both from urban and rural areas, are left with not many options. Since the situation is going to place them on a battlefield, they decide to stand with the resistance side instead of fighting for the regime, as simple as that. Our recruitment rate has increased due to the conscription law. We experienced that some of the youths who wanted to join us did not even have money to travel. We had to make sure they arrived safely and soundly. That said, we only like to welcome people with determination to fight the regime. Those who just want to move places and live an easy life under our shelter are not encouraged. 

MM: Those recruits are mainly from Karenni State or also from mainland Myanmar?

ZH: Karenni is a fairly liberated area, two out of three family members are already resistance soldiers. Recruits are from other areas. 

MM: How are you dealing with equipping all of them?

ZH: If there are 1,000 new recruits today, we cannot arm all of them. Probably 500-600 of them will receive proper equipment. Areas in the Sagaing Region struggle more with that, due to the challenging logistics issues. We in Karenni State are still okay with equipping rangers.

MM: For youths who are considering joining the armed resistance forces like yours across the country, who should they trust to make a move?

ZH: Multiple forces are recruiting in Sagaing, Karen, Karenni, etc. I would encourage them to follow those organizations on social media and monitor what they have done and what they are doing. There are many credible organizations out there. 

MM: The National Unity Government (NUG) received a lot of sticks for simply releasing statements one after another including in handling this situation. What are your thoughts regarding it?

ZH: In many ways, KNDF is coordinating with the Ministry of Defense under the NUG but we are not technically under the command of them. We can only give suggestions in this case. They need to take more actions other than releasing statements. At the end of the day, we fight on the ground, not on radio. The NUG can do better in coordination with the Ethnic Revolutionary Organizations (EROs) to welcome youths in the resistance, as well as  in the aspect of international liaison.

MM: Some of the resistance rangers have mocked the youths in the urban areas for failing to join them earlier. What is your stance on it?

ZH: It is neither wise nor justified to mock youths like this. A lot of young people inside the country participate in the resistance in different ways, some donate cash regularly, some join fundraising campaigns, and some operate in urban guerilla forces. On top of that, people have various problems, they may not have been in a position to join the resistance in the jungle. It is a different situation now. Think about this, if several youths end up serving in the military, obviously the resistance will have to fight them too. We must take this opportunity to convince them to join us, instead of pushing them away. One of the key military strategies is to reduce the enemy’s manpower. We must do it wisely by encouraging them to join us, mocking does not help.

MM: Do you think the conscription law has benefitted or weakened the resistance?

ZH: Both. Obviously, more youths have joined our side, which is a huge benefit for us. At the same time, the regime is going to have more manpower. It does not necessarily weaken the resistance but we might be forced to fight them too, which is a sad consequence.

MM: Anything to add?

ZH: I would just encourage youths again to avoid the mandatory drafting and join us, fight with us against the regime. It also goes out to the families to let the young souls make brave decisions, instead of blocking their ambitions and being stuck under the junta’s rules.

You may also like


@2024 – Developed by Mohinga Matters

Mohinga Matters
Mohinga over everything
Update Required Flash plugin