But when night falls, fear sets in. Communication is difficult because of internet shutdowns in the last six nights – a digital curfew now exists alongside the actual curfew, which is imposed in major cities between 8:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m.
The military justified the seizure of power on the grounds that widespread electoral fraud took place during the November 2020 elections, a claim that has been refuted by the Electoral Commission.
Some protesters that During the day they march fearlessly through the streets, at night they hide and go from house to house to avoid arrest.
“It’s both a mental and a physical struggle,” said Thinzar Shunlei Yi, 29, a well-known human rights activist who went into hiding a few days after the coup. She said not knowing what will happen each night and that the daytime protest was some kind of “psychological warfare”.
“I don’t want a new generation to experience what we have experienced. I want them to live without fear.”Sanchaung Bo Bo, resident of Yangon
“Every morning we have to check: Are we going to this (event)? Because anything can happen on the streets at any time. But outside we feel united and strong,” she said.
She said she was protesting despite the danger of “letting the people and the military know that our current political system is failing” and that Myanmar needs “a new solution” and a “framework” that includes all people and races.
From the larger cities like Yangon and Mandalay to remote villages, people across the country are protesting the new military regime and risking arrest for their actions. And while the demonstrations are dominated by young people like Thinzar Shunlei Yi who have tasted democracy and are unwilling to give up, they are supported by many in the older generation who remember what it was like under the previous military rule.
In the early hours of February 1, before Myanmar’s coup leaders officially announced the takeover of the country, a white van pulled up outside Maung Thar Cho’s house in Yangon’s suburbs.
Within The vehicle, says his relative, consisted of several soldiers and others in civilian clothes.
The unmarked white delivery van waited in front of the house for three hours until at 7:30 am, plainclothes staff came to the door to pick up Maung Thar Cho. His family say they were asked to provide a towel to blindfold him but were not told where he was going or why he was taken.
But Maung Thar Cho, a well-known Burmese writer and history professor, is popular with young people in Myanmar, and the speeches he gave across the country have been widely viewed on YouTube and other social media sites.
One of the officers told the family, “We will only take him for a while and (will) give him clothes and medicine and we will take care of him,” said a relative who did not want to be identified for safety reasons.
“We were very shocked. And we didn’t know what to do,” said the relative. “You didn’t tell us who you are.”
It has been almost 20 days since Maung Thar Cho was arrested early that morning, and his family said they had not had any contact with him since two phone calls on February 2nd and 3rd. when he calmed her he was taken care of. They say they still don’t know why it was taken.
“He has never been arrested before … (He) has not been very open about the military agenda in the past. He spoke with a more scientific interest in his talks and speeches,” said the relative, who was concerned about Maung Thar Cho has no access to his heart medication.
What happened to Maung Thar Cho heralded the upcoming overnight raids – and was seen as an early warning of the possible consequences for those who criticize the coup. The relative said he knew of other writers who had also been involved in similar raids since the takeover.
“Now we have no purpose and no future. So we protest for our democracy and freedom.”A protester, Yangon
“He made these literary speeches in every corner of the country – (in) villages and small towns. I think the military may have been concerned about his influence,” said the relative.
Burmese human rights organization, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), announced Thursday that it had been reviewing 471 coup-related arrests since February 1. 477 of these individuals remained in detention or pending charges. CNN cannot independently verify the status of everyone on the AAPP list
Among them, according to the AAPP, are civilians, activists, journalists, writers, monks, student leaders, as well as politicians and officials from the overthrown government of the National League for Democracy Party (NLD).
Maung Thar Cho didn’t face time to be confiscated by the authorities, but the thousands who take to the streets every day work diligently to evade the same kind of fate as they oppose a coup, the Myanmar’s brief and troubled transition to a country abruptly ended young democracy.
Many feel they are fighting for their future – especially those who remember more than half a century of brutal, isolationist military rule.
The Myanmar military did not respond to repeated CNN requests for comment.
The older generation gets up with memories of the past
Sanchaung Bo Bo, 48, said he was leaving every day in protest because he knows firsthand how violent military rulers can be and doesn’t want the younger generation to suffer like him.
Sanchaung Bo Bo was 15 and lived in Yangon When the security forces brutally suppressed a mass uprising against the military regime in 1988, thousands were killed in protests that year, according to Human Rights Watch.
After the violence, thousands of pro-democracy activists fled to the jungles around Myanmar. After a short stay in prison, Sanchaung Bo Bo joined them and went into hiding in northern Myanmar for four years. He said he joined a group of students who formed an armed political opposition group, but life in the jungle was tough.
When members of the group turned on each other and 30 of his friends were killed in an infamous massacre, he returned to Yangon.
In 1998, Sanchaung Bo Bo was arrested after trying to organize a 10-year anniversary event to mark the riot. He was charged with defamation of the state and spent 11 years in prison where he said he had been repeatedly tortured.
In one case in 2000, he said that a prison guard hit him so severely with a metal-tipped rope that he remained deaf in his left ear and continued to have difficulty sleeping. His prison experience took such a toll that he said he once considered suicide, but something within him urged him to survive.
“People still bear the trauma of this generation. Even when they see people in uniform, it gets on their nerves. It’s like they’re allergic to it. They feel their blood getting hot too.” Sanchaung Bo Bo said.
It is important to assert oneself against the military rulers because he believes that Myanmar cannot return to the era of war rule. The laws governing the country must be “specific and fair,” he said, calling on the international community to protect the civilian population in Myanmar.
“I don’t want a new generation to experience what we have experienced. I want them to live in their lives without fear,” he said.
The protesters remain determined
Sanchaung Bo Bo said a key difference between today’s coup and 1988 is the fact that younger people have now cost democracy and are generally better educated than his generation.
The Generation Z brand is certainly firmly anchored in the recent protests, with creative protest art and graffiti mocking General Min Aung Hlaing, who is now in charge of the country. Protesters hold up the three-fingered salute from the film “Hunger Games”, a popular symbol of anti-coup protests that arose from the recent political unrest in neighboring Thailand.
In downtown Yangon, thousands of people sang and held placards with Suu Kyi’s picture and banners reading “Justice for Myanmar” and “Reject military coup” on Wednesday as they marched to Sule Pagoda.
32-year-old Venice, who refused to use her full name for security reasons, was among them. She said she had protested every day since February 6th and quit her job as a business development manager because her company didn’t want her to demonstrate.
“Now it’s about everyone. They affect our democracy. Our country has just started democracy and we are still at a very early stage,” she said. Venice noted that regular blackouts in Myanmar when she was younger taught her how to bypass periods without internet.
“With the internet cut off, people can still organize … we all have experience with it,” she said. “So we’re organizing it like we did before the separation period. We’re already gathering, we’ve already announced on Facebook, Twitter, and so on.”
And now we even have a Telegram and Signal Messenger, “she added, referring to the encrypted messaging apps.
Another young protester, who refused to be named for fear of arrest, said he was demonstrating for the future of his generation.
“Now we have no purpose and no future. That is why we protest for our democracy and freedom,” he said. “We know our fathers’ experiences and we don’t want the military, we want our government. So let’s go out.”
The protester said he returned to Yangon from Singapore six months ago because of the coronavirus pandemic. Like many of his colleagues, he said during the day he went out on the streets to protest, but at night he moved from house to house to avoid arrest.
“Every day I go out and we play drums and sing revolutionary songs – we drum for the revolution. Every day we protest. We never stop,” said the young protester.
“I’m not afraid of being shot. I’m afraid of being arrested.”