IIn Myanmar, if you want to drive the evil out of your home, you hit pots and pans. The streets of Yangon were filled with the din of clashing metals in 2007, when the monks called for an end to the military regime, and before that, in 1988 when former President Sein Lwin, or the “Butcher of Rangoon,” ordered the troops that fired demonstrators for democracy. Tuesday night the pots and pans returned.
Evil has returned, they say; General Min Aung Hlaing has led a military coup against the democratically elected government and its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, whose immense popularity within the country helped her National League for Democracy (NLD) win a landslide victory in 2020. The electoral power of the military secured less than 7% of the available seats, which led it, and the army, to claim widespread electoral “fraud” without evidence.
But now, Aung San Suu Kyi is reportedly under house arrest in the capital, Naypyidaw, and elected lawmakers who were due to start a new legislature and address the impact of Covid-19, poverty and ethnic conflict in the embattled country. they have been confined indoors. his government house, surrounded by soldiers.
“People feel anger, fear and loss,” said a 24-year-old activist who requested anonymity. “Now the participation of the international community is key. You have to put pressure on the military and make them feel alone.
“Japan, Korea and China should withdraw their development plans in Myanmar. We have seen that sanctions do not have that much effect, I will leave it at that.
At 8 p.m., the first rattles and tremors echoed through the streets of Yangon, echoing in a chorus of cheers and spoons colliding with pans. Cars honk their horns, cyclists ring their bells, and passersby slap their hands against signs and stones.
This first public rejection of the coup lasted for 10 minutes throughout the city in a massive show of solidarity.
Downtown Yangon had been quieter than usual Tuesday morning, but people soon ventured into an uncomfortable new world. Queues leaving ATMs and supermarkets the day before had decreased, while phone lines and mobile internet services that had been spotty since the first hours of the coup began to return. A form of normalcy was restored, albeit filled with anxiety for the next move, be it from the military or the public, many of whom are unwilling to accept another military dictatorship.
Kyaw, 80, a retired hotel manager, has lived through several coups and new constitutions in Myanmar, but passed out twice after hearing that the military had taken power.
“It is the youth who will be most affected,” he said. “It is a very sad day for the country and our future. Nothing good will come of this. As for those who have done this, I hope they get burned. “
As military trucks stood in front of City Hall in central Yangon and pro-military protesters gathered in a local park on Tuesday, the first signs of resistance emerged. A federation of teachers called for the release of detained politicians and student leaders, Yangon Youth Network announced a campaign of civil disobedience, and Mandalay doctors refused to work under the military junta.
Yoon, 18, a student, was nervous, but hoped everything would go back to normal. “Everything has been altered and people are trying to adapt, but it feels impossible,” he said.
Memories of electricity and food shortages after the 1988 pro-democracy protests are still vivid for many, but even more so are the army’s brutal attack on protesters.
“In a country like Myanmar, there is no such thing as feeling safe,” said Khin, a 29-year-old teacher. “This is one of the most bitter days I have ever experienced in my life.”
On the streets, some residents have quietly removed NLD posters to avoid scrutiny from the military and their supporters, but to a greater extent, profile templates of Aung San Suu Kyi and her party have appeared on Facebook, the online mode. Myanmar dominant. communication.
“I am disgusted with the people who have taken over our country,” said Tun, 19, who had returned from an American university to Myanmar during the pandemic. “The country is turning into garbage.”
However, young or old, those who oppose the army understand what their soldiers are capable of. Rather than give them a reason to fire into the crowd, Tuesday night they showed their solidarity with pots and pans.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism