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Residents have reported the return of seven bodies of conscripts, compelled to join the Myanmar military, to their families. These recruits were from the Rohingya community, which has long faced persecution from the military due to its heritage and Islamic faith.

A resident, who chose to remain anonymous for security reasons, disclosed that police informed the families of the deceased that their loved ones had perished while attempting to flee.

“Seven bodies were transported in a police truck,” the resident stated. “When questioned about the circumstances of their deaths, the families were informed that the men were killed by landmines while attempting to escape during training.”

According to residents, five of the deceased individuals hailed from Thea Chaung Let Tha Mar Kone village, one from Thet Kay Pyin village, and another from Thea Chaung village.

“The bodies exhibited severe injuries, including missing limbs, but it remains unclear whether they sustained bullet wounds,” the resident added.

The Rohingya recruits undergo military training at the Myanmar military Regional Command Headquarters in Sittwe.

Reports from other villages suggest that bodies of Rohingya community members have also been returned under similar circumstances, though these claims remain unverified by Rvision. Hla Thein, the spokesperson for Rakhine state’s military, did not respond to inquiries regarding the cause of death.

Since the announcement of Myanmar’s conscription laws by Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing on Feb. 10, military personnel across the nation have sought to forcibly enlist large numbers amid dwindling recruitment numbers. The People’s Military Service Law mandates that individuals aged 18 to 35 serve in the military’s armed forces for two years. Many young people have resisted the call to duty through evasion, fleeing the country, and staging protests.

In the Bago region, mass arrests of youth have instilled fears that they may be utilized to bolster the military’s ranks. However, in Arakan state, Rohingya survivors of the 2017 genocide face even harsher recruitment tactics, with the junta resorting to threats of execution to coerce compliance.

Since February, village administrators in Akyab, the capital of Arakan state, have conscripted Rohingya residents into junta-led military training. Administrators have compelled between 20 and 30 individuals per village, alongside numerous others from internally displaced persons camps, to undergo training, as reported by residents.

Under duress and physical abuse, these methods have coerced over 1,000 Rohingya from Akyab, Buthidaung, Kyaukpyu, and Maungdaw townships in Rakhine state into joining the army, according to an activist speaking on condition of anonymity for safety reasons. A video released on March 10 depicted Rohingya trainees under army command.

The junta-controlled Myanma Alinn Daily newspaper refuted claims of targeting Muslims for recruitment in Arakan state in a Feb. 28 article.

An Arakan Army statement issued on Wednesday alleged that junta troops deliberately deployed Rohingya to areas with intense fighting. The group further asserted that it discovered and publicized photographs of Rohingya soldiers’ bodies in junta bases it seized in Rathedaung earlier this week.

Rohingya Vision News