With the night in Myanmar came the fright.
In cities across the country, armored vehicles pulled in on Sunday night, along with trucks filled with soldiers in camouflage. Security forces fired rubber bullets, water cannons and tear gas at a crowd. Troops surrounded the homes of government workers who dared to take part in a nationwide civil disobedience campaign. Politicians, activists and journalists fled and turned off their phones while disappearing into the shadows, hoping they would overtake the men afterwards.
“I suffered from the military dictatorship earlier in my life,” said Ma Tharaphe, a government accountant who, like many other civil servants, boycotted work to demand that the country’s civilian leadership be restored almost two weeks later. a military coup may return. “But now I feel fear. Tonight will be a real nightmare. ”
While the generals carried out a coup on February 1, overthrew an elected government and returned the country back to army government, they showed their full power on Sunday.
On Sunday night, ambassadors from several Western countries, including the United States, issued a statement warning the statesmen to “refrain from violence against protesters and civilians, who are protesting against the overthrow of their legitimate government.”
“We support the people of Myanmar in their pursuit of democracy, freedom, peace and prosperity,” the statement added. “The world is watching.”
Since the army took power, millions of people have joined street protests and a civil disobedience movement to paralyze the operation of government.
The days were filled with provocative protests as motorcyclists, bodybuilders, students, women in ball gowns and even Golden Retriever lovers gathered to demand the resignation of an army that had controlled Myanmar for nearly half a century before seizing power. handed over to a citizen. government in 2015.
On Sunday morning, hackers attacked a state news website and tripled it with triple ultimatums: ‘We want democracy! Reject military coup! Justice for Myanmar! ”
The faint, brilliant face of senior general Min Aung Hlaing, the military chief who led the coup, has been violated countless times on posters and online.
But the nights brought fear. On Saturday night, the State Administration Board, the name Orwellian chosen by the state creators, announced that it was taking away basic civil liberties, which are being held indefinitely and that the police could search homes with impunity. Arrest warrants have been issued for veteran Democratic activists who have already spent years in prison.
Late Saturday night, residents of Yangon and Mandalay, the two largest cities, watched in horror as unidentified men set fire to neighborhoods and ran. Police raids have targeted protesters as well as politicians. The previous day, 23,000 prisoners were emptied in a large amnesty. There is now room to keep people locked up in what has felt like a prison state for decades.
By Sunday night, armored vehicles were pulling through city streets, posing more of a threat. In Sittwe and Mawlamyine, cities in the far west and east, armored vehicles patrolled with soldiers stationed at weapons towers. People in Myanmar now refer to these evenings of sleep deprivation and fear as a kind of psychological warfare.
In Myitkyina, a city in the north, security forces fired rubber bullets, water cannons and tear gas at a crowd that had gathered to protest the army’s takeover of a power station.
“Now I’re afraid of what’s going to happen tonight because they can cut off the electricity and do what they want,” said U Than Naing, an employee of the local power company.
The US Embassy serves in Yangon tweeted that “there are indications of military movements in Yangon and the possibility of interruption of telecommunications overnight between 01:00 and 09:00”
The military cut off much of the internet when it staged the coup on February 1 and arrested dozens of civilians, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s de facto leader, whose National League for Democracy in two major victories were elected. The generals cut telecommunications networks again a few days later and ordered bans on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
For the protesters, organized through encrypted messaging services and the recording of arrests and civil disobedience campaigns, the prospect of another internet outage has caused more anxiety.
U Min Ko Naing, a former student protester who spent his youth in prison, posted a video on Facebook on Sunday after hiding the day before the day after a warrant for his arrest.
“Last night, at the same time in different parts of the country, you all may have faced terror,” he said, referring to the prevalence of unknown troublemakers in cities across Myanmar. “It simply came to our notice then. It is used as bait to incite anger among the people. ”
Mr. Min Ko Naing urged employees to continue their strikes. The economy was paralyzed because bank employees, doctors, government officials and others did not want to work for the State Administration Board.
“The most important thing is the civil disobedience movement, that civil servants do not go to work,” he said. “This week is the most important week.”
On Sunday night, the military information unit issued a statement explaining the sudden military build-up in cities across the country.
“Security forces will provide day and night security for the public to sleep peacefully in the community,” the statement said.
In Naypyidaw, the capital of the army, government workers looked out of their windows at the soldiers surrounding them.
Tharaphe, the accountant, said that the troops had not yet arrived, but that she was expecting it. Her toddler was in bed, but she was not.
“Anything can happen, they can kill us anonymously,” she said. “I certainly can not sleep tonight.”