More Than 100 Myanmar Police Officers Join Anti-Regime Movement

By The Irrawaddy 4 March 2021

YANGON—Following the recent deadly crackdowns on peaceful protesters against the regime, more than 100 police officers have joined the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) so far.

From the Feb. 1 coup to March 3, police and soldiers’ violent crackdowns against anti-coup demonstrations across Myanmar have killed around 50 people in numerous cities, including the commercial hub Yangon; Mandalay, Monwya and Myinchan in Upper Myanmar; and Mawlamyine and Dawei in the deep south of the country.

After joining the CDM, acting Police Colonel Tin Min Tun, 54, from the Yangon Police Department, said in a video message earlier this week that he had to make sacrifices in order to support the nationwide CDM launched by government staff.

He is the highest-ranking police officer to join the movement.

“I don’t want to serve the military regime,” said acting Police Col. Tin Min Tun, who has 31 years of service with the police force.

He added that the whole police force is now being misused by the military regime.

Following the lead of the senior police colonel, young officers are also joining the CDM. Police officer Kyaw Lin Oo, who finished his police training in August 2018, wrote on his Facebook page on March 2 that he would regret it in future if he failed to do something he knew should be done. “Have loyalty to the people rather than the police force. People are the main benefactor,” he wrote on his Facebook.

He and two friends, both policemen, have reportedly joined the nationwide CDM, defying military rule after being ordered to open fire on peaceful anti-coup protesters.

They are now in hiding, while their superiors hunt for them and put pressure on their families.

Also on Tuesday, seven policewomen from Tanintharyi Region in southern Myanmar joined the movement, announcing they will get back to work when the democratically elected government returns.

They said in their CDM announcements that police officers are ordered by the military regime to commit lawless acts against the people, and they cannot follow the military junta’s orders.

On Thursday, 17 police personnel from Putao Police Station in Kachin State, northernmost Myanmar and Bokpyin Police Station in Tanintharyi Region also joined the CDM.

Every day since early February, police personnel, including some higher-ranking officers in major cities in Myanmar, have joined the nationwide CDM, with the number now exceeding 100.

The movement, which was initiated on Feb. 3 by hundreds of doctors and nurses from government hospitals in many cities including Yangon and Mandalay, has gained momentum after being joined by tens of thousands of government staff and several thousand staff from essential private business sectors and military related businesses.

Since then, police personnel from many major cities across Myanmar have joined the CDM, taking part in the anti-regime demonstrations despite the risk of legal action under the Myanmar Police Force Maintenance Discipline Law, which carries a penalty of up to three years’ imprisonment for being absent from one’s duties.

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), about three police members have been detained or charged under the Police Force Maintenance Discipline Law.

In Naypyitaw, more than 70 police members have joined the CDM to defy military rule, according to a BBC news report.

Early this week, about 12 military personnel in Hpapun Township in Karen State joined the CDM, taking refuge with the Karen National Union (KNU), according to a news report from Myanmar Now.

Professor Dr. Zaw Wai Soe, who was appointed by the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (CRPH) as the acting minister for the ministries of Education; Health and Sports; and Labor, Immigration and Population; issued a statement appealing to those government workers who have not done so to join the CDM by the deadline of midnight on March 7 (12 a.m. on March 8).

The CRPH was set up by NLD lawmakers denied seats in Parliament by the coup. The Pyidaungsu Hluttaw is Myanmar’s Union Parliament.

He said the elected government will label those government staff failing to join the CDM movement on time as having neglected the public’s interest.

Currently, hundreds of thousands of people across Myanmar are taking to the streets daily to protest against the military regime and call for the release of State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint and others who have been detained since the Feb. 1 coup.

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