The Return of the Darkness – Year One

Kyaukpadaung Township, Mandalay // One year after the coup d’Etat, many Burmese people stayed indoors as a form of protest against General Min Aung Hlaing’s seizure of absolute power. During this Silent Strike, Ko Aung Aung, a Mandalay resident, stood on his own in front of the local electricity office and set fire on himself

He left a note with the message: “May the people have 24-hours electricity. We are not going back to 2001-2002.” The 20-years old man remembered the hardships of living under military rule for years since he was born. The man was later reported dead. He was an ironworker and relied on electricity to earn an income. 

Since the junta seized power, electricity black out for hours or days on end is common in many townships. The military government claimed that the shortage is caused by the rising fuel price and the destruction of power lines by armed popular resistance forces. 

Many people have stopped paying their electricity bills as an act of resistance. As retaliation, state authorities intermittently turn off the whole network in some neighborhoods and still carry on deadly shootings. The power shortage leads to dysfunctions in the water system. Many Yangonites have to pay extra money for pumping or queue up for water supplied from independent charity organizations. The hot season has arrived and without electricity, people will not be able to use AC, a fan or even to cook food.

YGN102 says: “The electricity is only on for 2-3 hours a day, so people cannot charge their phones, cannot browse the Internet, and cannot donate to the PDF funds. Data prices are so expensive now anyway. Most people in Yangon can’t even cook their meals because they don’t have a wooden kitchen. People in the cities need electricity otherwise they can’t do anything. They need water, and they need electricity to pump it. Everything is broken down, every business is delayed. On top of that, the diesel price is going up, before the coup it was 800 MMK a liter and now it is 2500 MMK. It is just becoming worst on every level as the junta wants to break people’s spirits by making their lives unlivable”.

People in Myanmar lit candles during an electricity outage. Photo credit: Visual Rebellion/ Credit: YGN102