Given how the regime is constantly trying to silence both our voices and our actions, I find myself constantly wondering how unified we still are. One way that I try to gauge the commitment of others is by the level of enthusiasm demonstrated nightly banging our pots and pans. I think that along our street we take a certain amount of pride in knowing that, to date, no matter what the regime has thrown at us, we have never missed a single day of banging pots and pans—now more than 100 and counting.
Still, no one should be fooled by this. I think that I speak for almost everyone when I say that we have all along been in constant fear of how the soldiers will react. They have tried nearly everything to silence us—verbal threats, spray painting cars, breaking car windows, bricks through apartment windows, slingshots, stun grenades, gunfire, sniper fire and numerous arrests. But still we carry on.
For safety reasons, people have gone deeper into their apartments to bang away and consequently the racket has become slightly less clamorous than before. While we continue to bang our pots and pans night after night, we did have to stop three or four times after only five minutes instead of the usual 15. Previously we sang three protest songs, now we are limited to one or two. However we haven’t yet missed a single night.
There is little doubt that eventually the pots and pans will be heard no more. Therefore we have formulated a backup plan to show our resistance after they have been silenced. After announcing our plan on social media for two nights at the conclusion of the usual pots and pans performance, last night we tested it. Everyone was asked to turn off their lights for 15 minutes. Lo and behold, almost every light went out! It was a beautiful sight to see. From my balcony I can clearly distinguish 110 to 120 apartment fronts. I counted, and except for seven apartments all the lights were out. Of those seven, I know that five are supportive, but have elderly relatives at home or just didn’t get the message.
If we could have turned off the streetlights it would have been perfect. Immediately after the coup we still had control of the local administrative offices where the switches for those lights are located. During the first month we fought for control of that building, with possession going back and forth between local residents and the military. In the end the locals had to concede. Still, all in all, mutual support among people remains very strong, which keeps us resilient and resolute.