Myanmar police officers flee to India after claiming they were ordered to shoot protesters

Video report by ITV News Asia Correspondent Debi Edward

Myanmar police officers have been forced to flee to India, along with hundreds of others, after they claim they were told to shoot their own people.

ITV News spoke to officers from the country who said they were ordered to open fire on protesters but chose, instead, to flee rather than obey.

A violent crackdown on protesters is continuing in the country as the military attempts to maintain control following February's coup.

ITV News spoke to three officers who fled rather than shoot and kill their own people. Credit: ITV News

"They told us to attack the people, to shoot, to hurt," one officer said.

"We don't want to do that to our own people, so that's why we just don't want to stay there under order, that's why we went to India."

ITV News spoke to three officers who made the crossing together with nothing but the shirts on their backs. "Day by day our people are dying, shot or hurt," they said.

Anti-coup protesters in Mandalay this week. The military regime has declared martial law in parts of the country's largest city. Credit: AP

At least 149 people have been killed in Myanmar since the February 1 coup, according to a UN human rights official. Five of these deaths have been people in custody. 

Sunday was the deadliest day of protests so far since the February 1 coup, with at least four people shot dead by Myanmar security forces.

Hundreds of people from the southeast Asian country have fled into India, which shares a 1,643km border with Myanmar. Over 100 people fled from Myanmar into a single village in the Indian state of Mizoram. 

The border between Myanmar and India is very easy to cross, with most of it unmanned and unfenced. 

But in a worrying development for protesters fleeing Myanmar, the Indian government has ordered authorities to clamp down on Burmese refugees and deport them.

Protests erupted in Myanmar after the military launched a coup against prime minister Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1. Hundreds of thousands in Myanmar have taken to the streets protesting the military regime and calling for the return of Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government.

An anti-coup protester raises his hand with clenched fist in front of a crowd during a candlelight night rally in Yangon, Myanmar on Sunday Credit: AP

Myanmar’s military regime claimed there was electoral fraud in November’s elections, which Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won by a landslide.

But allegations of electoral fraud have been rejected by the UN. UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for imprisoned protesters to be released and called on the international community to “make sure the coup fails”.

The coup has also deepened a food and fuel crisis that could have “very serious” consequences for people in Myanmar, according to the UN.

Before the pandemic, 60% of households in Myanmar couldn’t afford a nutritious diet. The pandemic has made this situation worse. Military violence will further this economic crisis the UN have said, with workplaces shutting down and many workers too scared to leave their homes.