As It Happens

'I am afraid,' says Myanmar protester hiding from armed military police outside his home

As Shain spoke to CBC Radio in hushed tones about the bloody crackdown in Myanmar, he could see the military police outside his apartment with guns and flashlights, searching for protesters to arrest.

A Sanchaung resident speaks to As It Happens as police sweep his neighborhood for protesters

The army move in to disperse protesters during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar on Sunday. Military police in the city spent Monday night searching the Sanchaung district for protesters, vowing to punish anyone hiding them. (The Associated Press)

Update: As It Happens has received confirmation that Shain, his mother and the young protester they were protecting are now safe. 

Read Story Transcript

As Shain spoke to CBC Radio in hushed tones about the bloody crackdown in Myanmar, he could see the military police outside his apartment with guns and flashlights, searching for protesters to arrest.

The protester spoke to As It Happens host Carol Off in the dead of night from his apartment in Yangon, where authorities have vowed to hunt door-to-door for protesters who took to the streets that day to oppose the military coup.

As It Happens has agreed to use the pseudonym "Shain" at his request, out of fear for his safety.

Shain lives in the city's Sanchaung district, where police used guns and stun grenades on Monday to corner hundreds of anti-coup demonstrators. Some managed to slip away, but officers vowed to check homes for people from outside the district, and punish anyone caught hiding protesters. 

Shain was also hiding another fellow protester in his apartment. He spoke to As It Happens just minutes before the military junta shut down the internet, which they do every night between 1 a.m. and 9 a.m. Here is part of that interview. 

What is going on around you?

All the news is true. Now [the] military has cut off the electricity and [is making] sure nobody gets outside. [They are] also shooting the flash cans [stun grenades].

You're speaking very quietly, because why? What's going on?

Because right now they have a flashlight, so they point [it at] the building [to see] who is sneaking.

Nobody can go outside. They want to black out the Sanchaung people.

When you say "they" who are you talking about?

Military and cops.

Protesters run from police in Yangon on Monday. (Reuters)

Can you tell us what you have seen of the military and the police in your neighbourhood?

Just now, they are outside my apartment. I think they want to take the people away from Sanchaung who have been protesting.

So they are very near where you are right now?

Yeah, they are very near. I can see [them] from my home.

What do you fear will happen if they catch you?

I can't even think about it because we are so afraid … they will catch the people, or me. 

It's dark there right now, isn't it?

Yes, they cut the electricity. 

So you are in an apartment. It's night. It's dark outside. They've cut the electricity. We fear that we may even lose this phone connection because the authorities may cut our internet, right?

After ... 1:00 a.m., they will cut the internet.

I understand that the police are going door to door looking for people like you.

I think they are waiting [until] after 1:00 a.m. They will come and take the protesters. Because the internet was cut, nobody would know about this.

And so you will, tonight, be expecting or worrying or thinking there might be police [who will] come and arrest you?

Yes, I was afraid for that.

And how will they know you?

They will make sure [because they were] spying on us this afternoon.

And you think they identified you as a protester?

Yes, because most of the people in Sanchaung, all of the young people, [are] protesting.

People flash a three-finger salute as they attend a funeral on Friday for those who were shot dead during the anti-coup protest in Yangon. (Reuters)

So you're speaking very quietly because someone might hear you. What else are you doing right now? Because your phone has light that might show. What are you doing right now as we speak?

Right now, I'm in my kitchen so I can see what's happening out there. But my phone light is off. But now what I see is they are walking toward the street.

Describe what you see outside.

Three people outside with guns in their hands.

How afraid are you right now?

I'm definitely afraid. 

Today, when you were out, when the young people were out on the streets, how did the police, how did the military, react to you?

At first, they shoot the flash bangs [stun grenades] at the groups of people. And we retreat … but they were taking more and more steps forward. So we need to go to [an]other place because now they are also shooting with an airgun, I think. Most of the military people are shooting at us. So we need to run as fast as we can.

Earlier today, in your day, the international agencies, the United Nations, were asking or demanding that the Myanmar authorities let the young people go home.

They didn't do that. So nobody can go home right now. Also, I think they don't care about the news ... because they're doing what they want to do right now.

The military and police mean they have to protect us, right? But right now they are slaughtering us.- Myanmar protester

Have you been out on the streets these past weeks?

Yes, I have been protesting every day.

When did it start to get really violent with the police in Yangon?

I think it's been 10 days now.... They don't listen to other embassies or other news. So they don't care. They just wanted to do whatever they want to do.

The United Nations says at least 50 of the protesters have been killed at this point. Do you know anyone was killed by the army?

Yes, I know most of the young people who were killed by the army. You can see on the Facebook that the news is really true. They are killing people right now.

Do you know if people are going to hospital? Because also we've heard the hospitals are being occupied by the military.

Hospital and the school and also other places, they [are] occupying, because if someone is injured, if they come to hospital or school, they want to catch [them]. So if anyone [is injured], we can't go to the hospital.

And what's happened to those who have been arrested, people you know? Do you know anything about what's happened to them?

Nobody knows about them. Most of the people say they're in the prison or somewhere in the military base. I really don't know about that. But they are taking the people. They are not free now.

And if they find you, what do you think will happen to you?

I really don't know how to say. [I'm] just afraid because the military and police mean they have to protect us, right? But right now they are slaughtering us.

Shain, why have you agreed to speak with us tonight?

I want to tell everybody around the world.... It's fake news they're broadcasting. Right now ... in Myanmar, we only have each other.

What do you want Canadians to know about why you're doing this? 

Because we need help. We need help from other countries. The UN also. Because right now ... the military ... wants to do whatever they want to do. They [are not] afraid of anything. So we want the countries [to] help the Myanmar people.

What time is it there now?

12:50. In 10 minutes, the internet will be cut off.

Are you alone?

No, [I'm] with my mother and I rescued one protester, a girl, in my house. So we have three people in my home.

Do you know the girl?

We don't know who she is, but she is running from the military police. So we said you can come to our house if you want to.

Where is your mother right now?

She's in her bedroom.

And this girl, this woman, how is she doing?

She's fine now. I don't know, just sitting. I think her mind is blank right now because she was afraid, too.

I am afraid. But I just want [other countries] to know what's happening in Myanmar.

What can we do to protect you and that woman at home?

Whatever you can do. If you want to tell the other countries.

Well, you are doing it yourself. You are telling the world what's happening to you right now.

[whispers] Oh, my God, I think they're in front of my house.... They're just trying to enter the apartment.

Shain, do you have to go?

No, no, no.

If you have to hang up and leave, you do that immediately, OK?

Yes, yes. Right now they are searching the apartment. Yeah, I see them, their flashlights. So they go inside the apartment, and they're searching one of the apartments.

Are they taking people out?

No, I can't see right now. [All] I can see is the flashlight.

Don't get too close to the window.

Yeah, yeah. I was sneaking. I think they are searching [for] people outside the house. Most of the houses are locked, so they're banging [on] the doors.

One of the apartments has opened the door and [is] talking to military police right now.

Please, wherever you can do to help us and Myanmar people, that's all I want to say.

Shain, I'm going to let you go so you can get to a safer place in your apartment, OK?

Yes, yes. Thank you for asking me this. Thank you for this interview.

Written by Sheena Goodyear. Interview produced by Jeanne Armstrong. Q&A has been edited for length and clarity. 

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now