‘Ashamed’ Myanmar soldier joins anti-coup movement
Dressed in his army uniform, Shing Ling flashes a three-finger salute for defiant social media posts after deserting Myanmar’s military to join the democracy movement.
The 30-year-old soldier posted the image on Facebook last week as security forces were staging increasingly lethal crackdowns against protesters.
It racked up more than one thousand shares as commenters praised his bravery, before his profile went private.
Since the military ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi from power in a February 1 putsch, more than 180 people have been killed as police and soldiers deployed tear gas, stun grenades, rubber bullets and live rounds during near-daily crackdowns on anti-coup demonstrators.
“I have felt so guilty and ashamed since February 1,” Shing Ling told AFP from a hideout in Yangon.
Despite feeling “shocked” about Suu Kyi’s detention, it was the violence in Yangon’s North Okkalapa township in early March that became the catalyst for him to join a nationwide civil disobedience movement.
“I was stationed really close to North Okkalapa, so it would be my gun that shoots unarmed people,” he said. “I couldn’t let that happen. That’s why I decided to join.”
On his public Instagram account, the ethnic Chin soldier has posted photos of himself wearing his military uniform since October 2018.
In his most recent post, he shared the image of him flashing the three-fingered salute after joining a nationwide boycott by civil servants who refuse to work under a junta regime.
But while there have been isolated reports of police and soldiers’ defection, it remains rare for them to publicly announce a change of allegiance while still in Myanmar, for fear of retaliation.
For soldiers, the punishment for desertion is the death penalty, under military law.
Nearly 200 police officers and their families have fled the country since the coup — part of a growing stream of defectors crossing into the northeastern Indian state of Mizoram, according to Indian security officials…..read more