Tonight at 8 pm we began banging pots and pans as we have done every night since February 1, the day of the coup. Soldiers often come into our quarter to put an end to it, but the next night we are always back at it. As far as I’m aware, this has been the case in every quarter. In the early days of the civil disobedience movement the regime actually enacted a new law specifically prohibiting it. (I’ve forgotten the identification number of this legislation because the military has come up with so many new laws that it’s become impossible to keep track of them.) The reason given was that the noise could kill the elderly. I’m happy to report that, so far, in our quarter, no one has died from listening to the banging of pots, and, in fact, every evening many old people join in!
As we engage in this nightly activity, we do our best to monitor our street to spot the police or soldiers coming and quit banging before they arrive. If you’re caught in the act they will enter your apartment, arrest the guilty parties, and steal whatever they please. We now have to watch as best we can since the 75 to 100 trustworthy volunteers who once made up our local street security team have mostly been arrested or are in hiding. Tonight we were taken completely by surprise.
Five minutes after we began banging, out of nowhere a squad of soldiers suddenly appeared in front of our apartment, immediately forced their way into one of the safe houses across the street, and arrested three well known protesters, one of whom had become something of a local folk hero. He usually changed apartments when the banging of pots and singing of songs ended, but tonight there wasn’t enough time.
After the soldiers took them away and continued on to the far end of the street, our near end quickly resumed banging our pans. Just as quickly the soldiers returned to our end. When we went silent, the far end of the street again started banging, so back the soldiers went to the other end. This back-and-forth went on for more than ten minutes, and for the entire time the soldiers were shouting, throwing bricks and stones at windows, and shooting them out with slingshots. Eventually they moved on.
While such a game of cat-and-mouse might seem comical, what the soldiers didn’t realize was that as they were running up and down, somewhat further along the street occupants of other safe houses were sneaking away to greater safety.
As soon as the soldiers were out of sight, people became extremely angry. Many started cursing and swearing at them at the tops of their lungs, and once again the pots and pans sounded. Once more, in greater force, the soldiers returned, again breaking windows. We went quiet. After about ten minutes the soldiers, apparently tired of the game, finally left and did not come back.