Roughly 80 soldiers have defected from the Myanmar Air Force since the February 1 military coup, a sergeant and a captain who joined the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) have told Myanmar Now.
The air force’s central command has declared the soldiers deserters, said sergeant Aung Zay Ya, who joined CDM in early April.
“They’ve printed out the names of every soldier who has defected and put them up at the air force commands along with their photos,” he told Myanmar Now. The sergeant served at Yangon Region Command and is now in hiding.
Soldiers are normally declared deserters after failing to show up for 21 days, he said.
He chose to defect because he disagreed with the military being involved in politics. “To be frank, I disliked it from the beginning,” he said.
“I very much prefer to just do my job. If you’re a soldier, do a soldier’s job. It’s very off-putting to see these soldiers be such know-it-all snobs who think they can improve the country and be part of politics, I never liked them,” he added.
The defections began in March and include soldiers from the Tada-U, Namsam, Pathein, Mingaladon and Taungu air force commands, a captain who left his post in early April to join CDM told Myanmar Now on condition of anonymity.
“They’re not announcing it as CDM, they’re just fleeing. There’s about 80,” he said.
A soldier from the Mingaladon Air Force Command told Myanmar Now he deserted before the coup. “I couldn’t stand it. I’m a graduate of the Government Technical Institute. In the air force, I was made to just sweep floors and collect trash.”
There are also defectors from commands in Meiktila and Magwe, most of whom are low ranking, said the soldier, who requested anonymity for his security.
“There is no fairness in the military, all the privates are oppressed. Just look at the housing at the command; there are holes in the roof,” he said.