Myanmar junta to abolish six police depts, send officers to war  

The junta will soon dismantle six departments under Myanmar’s police and force the officers into the military to bolster its fight against the anti-coup resistance movement, multiple police sources told Myanmar Now. 

The police sections due to be axed are those under the “special departments” of maritime, aviation, tourist, oil field, forestry and highway police forces. 

A police officer in Naypyitaw told Myanmar Now on Monday that the military had confirmed the plan to reassign the police officers from the six departments to police battalions across the country supporting the military in their war against anti-junta defence forces.

Police battalions are combat-trained and typically carry out general security duties; since last year’s coup they have been involved in crackdowns on protests and clashes with the armed resistance movement. As an institution, Myanmar’s police are part of the Ministry of Home Affairs, which—in accordance with the army-drafted 2008 Constitution—was under military control even prior to the coup.

The total number of staff affected was not confirmed at the time of reporting but is believed to be in the low thousands. 

“Everyone’s very afraid and worried now. I heard that they were going to relocate the members of these police forces to police battalions as they are needing more manpower to fight,” the police officer said on the condition of anonymity. 

“I think more police officers are going to either defect or join the CDM,” he added, referring to the Civil Disobedience Movement, a general strike which aims to topple the junta. 

Some 7,000 members of Myanmar’s 80,000 police have joined the CDM since the February 2021 coup, according to the Myanmar Police CDM Channel, which is made up of such officers. 

They noted that the six police departments soon to be dismantled were formed during the rule of ex-general Thein Sein, which lasted from 2011 until 2016—a move that intended to give governmental positions to personnel who had transferred from the military. 

Another officer participating in the CDM speculated to Myanmar Now that the military council’s plan to dissolve the police forces in question could backfire, as many of the police may reject the transfer into armed combat and abandon the armed forces.

“I think it’s safe to assume that at least one-fourth of those forces are going to defect and join the CDM,” he said. 

The military has also been bolstering its forces through support to the pro-army Pyu Saw Htee militia network. According to the minutes from a February 13 meeting between coup leader Min Aung Hlaing and junta chief ministers of Myanmar’s states and regions, the military has formed and armed a total of 77 Pyu Saw Htee groups across the resistance stronghold of Sagaing Region alone. 

Sagaing’s chief minister under the military Myat Kyaw reported that the militias were needed because the junta has yet to gain full control over the region. In addition to arming villagers supportive of the Myanmar army, the minutes show that he also suggested that male government staff be given weapons and military training.

The shadow National Unity Government (NUG) has said that more than 9,000 soldiers and police officers have been killed and some 5,300 injured in the last eight months of fighting between resistance forces and the military. 

Myanmar Now was not able to independently verify the NUG’s figures.  

The military council has not released any information on the deaths of police officers. Their spokesperson, Zaw Min Tun, has not answered Myanmar Now’s calls on the issue. 

Min Aung Hlaing was seen awarding medals to more than 4,000 members of the junta’s police on January 4, Myanmar’s independence day. Among those who were honoured were officers who were assassinated or killed during battles with the resistance. 

A police second lieutenant was sentenced to three years in prison last month for allegedly supporting the CDM. He had been detained since November last year and was convicted of “violating the rules and regulations of the police force.”

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