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Soldiers leaving Myanmar's air force by the dozens, report says

About 80 Myanmar Air Force officers have defected in protest since the military coup Feb. 1, according to a recent press report. File Photo by Xiao Long/UPI
About 80 Myanmar Air Force officers have defected in protest since the military coup Feb. 1, according to a recent press report. File Photo by Xiao Long/UPI | License Photo

May 5 (UPI) -- Dozens of soldiers with Myanmar's Air Force have deserted the military as air strikes continue against civilian populations in the country, according to a recent press report.

Aung Zay Ya, a sergeant who said he left the military to joint the opposition Civil Disobedience Movement in Myanmar, said about 80 air force officers have defected in protest since the military coup Feb. 1, Myanmar Now reported Tuesday.

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"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 said.

Defection among members of the Air Force is being reported as the military continues air strikes against populations in Kachin and Karen states, according to The Irrawaddy on Wednesday.

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About 30,000 members of ethnic minority groups in the region have been forced to leave their homes. On Monday an air raid hit a Buddhist monastery where displaced people were taking shelter, the report said.

The international community has blamed the junta for the escalating violence. Some defectors who spoke to Myanmar Now said they left because of their treatment in the military.

A former officer with the Mingaladon Air Force Command said his supervisors treated him unfairly.

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"I couldn't stand it. I'm a graduate of the Government Technical Institute," he said. "In the Air Force, I was made to just sweep floors and collect trash."

Another ex-soldier said the military's involvement in politics bothered him.

"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 said.

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Soldiers in Myanmar are considered deserters if they do not attend to their duties for 21 days, according to Myanmar Now.

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