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February 2024

Episode: KPN 26-02-2024

Kaladan Radio February 26, 2024 1674 6

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Forced recruitment of Rohingya men raises concerns of human shield tactics

Myanmar’s military is forcibly recruiting Rohingya men from villages and internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in Rakhine State, sparking fears that they may be deployed as human shields.

The recruitment campaign, which commenced following the enforcement of Myanmar’s conscription law on February 10, has raised concerns among activists and residents about the potential use of inexperienced recruits in the ongoing conflict.

At least 400 Rohingya men have already been compelled to join the junta’s military, with reports indicating that they are sent for a brief two-week basic training.

Nay San Lwin, co-founder of the Free Rohingya Coalition, expressed concern about the limited training period, stating, “The junta’s military can only use those who have been trained for just two weeks as human shields.”

The forced recruitment has primarily targeted Rohingya men in Sittwe and Buthidaung townships.

The junta has intensified pressure on Rohingya community leaders and administrators to compile lists of men aged 18 to 35 for conscription.

This move, seen as a direct violation of Myanmar’s conscription law, has led to the drafting of at least 300 individuals from IDP camps in Sittwe, with plans for additional conscriptions from other areas.

Reports suggest that Rohingya men are promised a sack of rice, a citizenship identity card, and a monthly salary of $41 if they serve in the military.

Rohingya people, who are not recognized as citizens of Myanmar, face anxiety over the forced recruitment, fearing that sooner or later, they or their loved ones may become targets of conscription.

The initial group of 300 Rohingya men undergoing basic military training is stationed at the Artillery Battalion 373 base in Sittwe.

Nay San Lwin has called for swift and effective international action against the junta’s atrocities and human rights violations.

He has urged neighboring countries and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to intervene more decisively.

Myanmar’s military, facing significant defeats in battles against the Arakan Army (AA), has resorted to forced recruitment amid ongoing conflicts.

The AA, part of the Brotherhood Alliance, launched Operation 1027 in northern Shan State on October 27, 2023, seizing multiple junta bases and outposts.

The junta’s military is grappling with an army familiar with the terrain in Rakhine State and enjoys public support, making the situation more complex.

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