Astonishing video has emerged from Myanmar showing the moment the military staged a coup against the government – captured in the background of an aerobics workout video.
Khing Hnin Wai, a PE teacher from the capital Naypyidaw, recorded the footage outside the country’s parliament building on Monday – without realising that the government was being overthrown right behind her.
The video shows Wai performing a workout routine to upbeat music, while armoured trucks and soldiers blockade the road behind her and before a convoy of police and military vehicles arrive.
Wai continues her routine even as the vehicles pass through the roadblock and then turn down a side-street towards the parliament, as the military seized full control of the government.
While some internet users called out the footage as faked, it does appear genuine.
Wai uploaded it to her Facebook page, where she routinely posts videos of herself dancing to share with her followers.
As her latest video went viral, Wai posted a collection of other videos that were recorded in the same spot, explaining that she has been using the parliament building as a backdrop for her fitness videos for the last 11 months.
In the post, Wai suggested that she knew something was going on behind her as she filmed on Monday – but the significance only became clear later.
Some pointed out that the song she is dancing to is called called Ampun Bang Jago, an Indonesian phrase that is often used to mock arrogant military leaders.
Users suggested that Wai may have suspected what was going on, and been making a joke with her choice of track.
But she firmly denied that on Facebook, saying that she didn’t post the video ‘as a joke’ or ‘to become a celebrity’.
‘I posted the video because I was relaxing myself and minding my own business,’ she added.
Myanmar’s military previously ruled the country with an iron first, brutally repressing dissent and those who mocked the regime.
The country had begun to transition to democracy in 2010 with its first partial elections, with more votes held in 2015 and again in November last year.
But on Monday, just hours before the new government was sworn in, military leaders used a clause in the constitution – which they drafted – to oust the government and seize power.
Generals say the move was necessary due to ‘voter fraud’, which defacto leader Aung San Suu Kyi won with 83 per cent of votes – leading to fears she could try to reform the constitution and remove the military’s stranglehold on power.
Analysts added that internal politics within the military – whose workings are obscure even to experts – could also have played a role.
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who is thought to harbour political ambitions, was due to enter forced retirement from the military this year at the age of 65 – and may have realised there was no way to stay in power by relying on the ballot box.
Following the coup, he has been named leader and all government powers have been transferred to him.
Meanwhile Ms Suu Kyi, who has spent a total of 15 years under house arrest, found herself back under armed guard on Monday.
Also placed under house arrest was president Win Myint, with vice president Myint Swe – himself a former general – promoted in his place.
Many influential MPs from Ms Suu Kyi’s NLD party were also rounded up and arrested, while others were placed under armed guard at a parliamentary dormitory in Naypyidaw – which one described as ‘an open-air detention centre’.
General Hlaing has declared a year-long state of emergency, pledging that free elections will be held afterwards and the winner handed power.
But Suu Kyi has called for protests and warned her countrymen that military leaders are trying to reimpose dictatorship.
World leaders have condemned the coup, with US President Joe Biden pledging to reimpose sanctions and take further ‘actions’ against the plotters.
However, neighbouring China has pointedly refused to condemn the military – with state media referring to the coup as a ‘cabinet reshuffle’.