Every morning, the whole of Myanmar wakes with a sickening feeling, consumed by worry and uncertainty over the possibility of arrests and crackdowns, full of rage and struggling to hold on to hope. We’ve been living this nightmare since the military staged a coup and seized power on Feb. 1.
Riot police stand guard in Mandalay on Feb. 19. / The Irrawaddy
It has now been 19 days, but every citizen here feels they have been in hell for ages. When I say “every citizen”, the phrase obviously excludes the coup leaders, their associates and supporters. But they are just a handful among the country’s 54 million people.
I repeat: Everyone wakes with a feeling of dread, not knowing what will happen to them in the next 24 hours, let alone for their foreseeable future—much less their children’s future.
This is a moment of tremendous loss for our country. It’s not the first time the military has seized power—it did so on two previous occasions, in 1962 and 1988—but the blow feels harsher this time, as our short-lived democratic era of 2011 to early 2021, and the exhilaration it brought us, has been suddenly, deliberately and brutally snatched away by the coup leaders.
The Peaceful Musicians group performs for anti-military regime protesters in Yangon on Feb. 19. / The Irrawaddy
Before long, however, those negative feelings tend to turn into a positive energy that sustains us for the rest of the day.