‘Anything Can Happen’: We Spoke to Someone in Myanmar’s Capital as a Coup Unfolded

Naypyitaw is where parliament was supposed to convene today before the power grab.
February 1, 2021, 7:29am
Myanmar coup
A soldier stands guard on a blockaded road to Myanmar's parliament in Naypyidaw on Feb. 1, 2021, after the military detained the country's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the country's president in a coup. Photo: STR / AFP

Myanmar leaders Aung San Suu Kyi and her top allies were arrested on Monday morning as the military declared a state of emergency after disputing election results.

Maung Swe, who works in the capital Naypyitaw, talked to VICE World News about what he saw in the sprawling capital since news of the coup began trickling out. His name has been changed to protect his privacy. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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It’s very worrying because anything can happen, because there is no law at this moment. So you cannot rely on anything. 

I saw some military helicopters flying over Parliament around 8 a.m. I am now in Naypyitaw. I’m with friends. We are all safe here. We had no mobile signals since 4:20 a.m. Some of my friends said they lost their internet connection and mobile signals at 3 a.m. So no internet, no mobile, no call, no text. I believe this is happening in the whole country. 

I was driving around with a friend in downtown Naypyitaw and everything seemed normal until around 7 a.m., when I witnessed some soldiers with guns around the guesthouse where the members of Parliament stay. Today they did not get a chance to get out of their place and of course there is no parliament session.

I got the news from television and it was confirmed that Aung San Suu Kyi and leaders were arrested. It was like we lost everything. We didn’t get a chance to connect with people. 

We don’t really know what is happening in Yangon. We are really worried that Yangon may be in crisis. We heard that some activists were arrested [around Myanmar]. I am really worried, because we don’t know what is happening. 

When I talked to people here this morning they said they lost their connection at the same time. I also talked to a girl from the petrol station and I asked her if she had gotten the mobile signal and she thought it was normal but then she realized it was not. 

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Police forces are pictured in a line of trucks in the downtown area of Yangon on Feb. 1, 2021, as Myanmar's military detained the country's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the country's president in a coup. Photo: STR / AFP

I am okay, I’m just worried about what is happening in Yangon. I’m trying to contact people in Yangon. They said they are okay, besides some arrests. 

To be honest I’m not surprised about what happened. Everything was planned. And last night the military put out a statement about the foreign diplomatic missions and we realized they are very angry [about losing the election and the international communities refusal to take their claims of fraud seriously).

I’m not really shocked they did this. But I’m really shocked they cut off the signal. I texted someone last night saying they can do whatever they want, and they have guns.