Bangkok, Dec 5 (EFE).- The Myanmar junta announced a pardon to soldiers who had deserted the army if they reported back to duty.
The move comes amidst a rebel offensive in the country that is posing the biggest challenge to the regime since it came to power through a military coup in 2021.
The soldiers will be readmitted to their respective battalions or reassigned as needed, the military said in a statement on Monday, adding that amnesty will be given to people convicted of minor crimes and who still wish to serve in the army.
About 500 soldiers who had deserted the army are ready to return and resume their services, junta spokesperson Zaw Min Tun said in a statement published on the official website.
According to Myanmar’s military laws, deserting the army in peacetime is punishable with upto seven years of imprisonment, and even the death penalty in wartime.
The rebel offensive was launched by a group of three powerful ethnic guerrillas known as the Brotherhood Alliance in the northeastern state of Shan.
The offensive has since spread to other areas of the north, center, and west of the country.
Since the start of the offensive on Oct. 27, the Myanmar military junta has lost control of 19 cities, including those bordering China and India, and about 200 military bases, especially in Shan.
According to rebel estimates published in mid-November, about 750 Myanmar troops had deserted the military and even switched sides in some cases since the offensive began.
Captain Zin Yaw, who defected after the 2021 coup to join the ranks of the pro-democracy militia People’s Defense Force said the pardon comes to make up for the losses due to the rebel offensive and the challenges in recruiting new troops, local news portal Myanmar Now reported Tuesday.
The 2021 coup put an end to a decade of democratic transition and the elected government of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi and has opened a spiral of violence that has exacerbated decades of guerrilla warfare in the country with the emergence of new anti-junta militias. EFE