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Myanmar bans citizens from going to work amid recruitment drive

Image source, fake images

Screenshot, In February, long queues formed outside foreign embassies in Yangon.

  • Author, Frances Mao and Burmese BBC
  • Role, in Singapore and Bangkok

Myanmar’s military government will no longer allow men of draft age to travel outside the country to work, weeks after an enlistment order prompted many to try to flee.

On Thursday, authorities said they would suspend all applications for men’s foreign work permits.

There is a large diaspora of Myanmar citizens working in other countries in Asia and locals were previously allowed to go abroad to work.

But the restrictions come as the junta fights growing opposition in the country’s ongoing civil war.

The junta had imposed the conscription order in February, after months of losses.

Nearly 100,000 men applied for work permits in the three months that followed, part of a wider exodus of people fleeing.

The young people had previously spoken to the BBC of their desperation to leave the country. Men from 18 to 35 years old and women from 18 to 27 years old are required to enlist.

The crackdown on overseas work is now seen as another major blow. Many in Myanmar had gone to work in countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates.

A 32-year-old man preparing to leave the country for Japan said he was devastated.

He told BBC Burmese: “(Everyone) has lost hope in the future.”

“There are no job opportunities within the country and now they have also prohibited us from leaving the country. “Are we not allowed to do anything?” she stated.

Ko Phyo, a 28-year-old from Lewey township in the capital, Naypyidaw, told BBC Burmese that the military council’s directive left the country’s youth without any job prospects.

The BBC has witnessed how tens of thousands of young Myanmar people have fled the country since the February edict, with many seeking help in the Thai border town of Mae Sot.

Most of the new arrivals have been young men avoiding the national draft.

Since the military overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government in a coup in 2021, the junta has faced an uprising by several different groups that has escalated into a full-blown civil war.

So far, the war has killed thousands of people and displaced at least 2.6 million people, according to the UN.