Myanmar coup: ‘We were told to shoot protesters’, say police who fled

(BBC) – Police officers from Myanmar have told the BBC they fled across the border into India after refusing to carry out the orders of the military which seized power in a coup last month. In some of the first such interviews, more than a dozen defectors told us they escaped, fearing they’d be forced to kill or harm civilians.

“I was given orders to shoot at protesters. I told them I can’t.”

For nine years Naing – whose name we have changed for his safety – served as a policeman in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

Now, the 27-year-old is in hiding in the north-east Indian state of Mizoram.

I met him, and a group of policemen and women in their twenties, who say they ran away from their jobs back home, after refusing to carry out orders. “I was afraid that I would be forced to kill or harm innocent people who are protesting against the military,” one officer said.

“We feel that it was wrong for the military to overthrow an elected government.”

Ever since the Myanmar military, known as the Tatmadaw, seized power on 1 February, thousands of pro-democracy protesters have taken to the streets.

Security forces have been accused of killing more than 50 people.

Naing, who is a low-ranking officer from a town in the west of the country, says protests in his area began to escalate at the end of February.

He says he ran, after refusing twice to fire at demonstrators.

“I told my boss I couldn’t do that, and that I was going to side with the people.

“The military is edgy. They are becoming more and more brutal.”

As we speak, Naing pulls out his phone to show me photos of the family he left behind – a wife, and two daughters aged just five and six months.

“I am worried that it may not be possible to meet them again,” he told me.

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