Asia - Pacific

Police breaking ranks amid rising unrest in Myanmar

Acting Police Colonel Tin is highest-ranking officer to join civil disobedience movement

Kyaw Ye Lynn   | 05.03.2021
Police breaking ranks amid rising unrest in Myanmar

YANGON, Myanmar 

The number of police who broke ranks and refused to obey the Myanmar junta's orders has risen to more than 100 following days of a bloody crackdown on anti-coup protesters.

More than 60 people have been killed and over a thousand have been arrested during a series of anti-coup demonstrations in cities and towns in Myanmar denouncing the military rule following the Feb.1 coup.

February 28 and March 3 were the bloodiest days since the coup.

According to local media reports, after the bloody crackdown on protesters, more police broke ranks and joined the anti-junta movement.

The Irrawaddy, a local news outlet, reported that the number of police who have switched sides has risen to more than 100.

The first group of police officers' desertion happened in Loikaw, the capital of the country's smallest Kaya state, during the first week of anti-coup protests.

The footage of the dramatic movement in which 49 protesting police officers were protected by the protesters was uploaded on social media by the Loikaw-based outlet Kantarawaddy Times on Feb.10.

Acting Police Colonel Tin Min Tun of the Yangon Police Department was the highest-ranking officer to defect, joining the civil disobedience movement this week.

In a video message sent to another local outlet, Mizzima News, Tin Min Tun said the police and soldiers had crossed the red line, citing the anti-coup protesters' killing in Yangon's North Okalapa township on Wednesday.

"The people in North Okalapa were unarmed civilians peacefully demanding the restoration of democracy. They were mostly youths defending their rights," he said in the video.

"Don't you guys feel shame for killing these people? You guys are acting worse than you did on the battlefield," he remarked.

After the bloodiest day of the crackdown on Wednesday that left at least 37 people dead, scores of police officers have refused to take orders from the military junta.

BBC Burmese Service reported this week that more than 70 police officers have broken ranks and joined the anti-junta movement.

The police defections were also reportedly occurred in Northern Kachin state bordering China, Chin state bordering India, and southern coastal region of Tanintharyi this week.

Ngun Hnin Thang was among the police officers who defied the military's order to shoot protesters in Chin state's Falam township.

"How could we shoot peaceful protesters? It is like killing our own family members. That's why we refused to take orders," he told Anadolu Agency via a messaging app.

He said he is in hiding to avoid the arrest by the police but vowed to continue supporting the anti-coup movement.

Myanmar NOW, a prominent news outlet in the country, also reported on Tuesday that in a show of solidarity with anti-coup protesters, 12 Myanmar military soldiers defected to the Karen National Union (KNU), a political organization with an armed wing that claims to represent the Karen people.


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