Scenes from a coup: Images from Myanmar show how the military took control in a matter of hours

  • Myanmar’s military forces staged a coup of the country on Monday.
  • Members of the ruling National League of Democracy, including Aung San Suu Kyi, were detained. 
  • Images from across Myanmar capture the moments immediately before and after the coup.
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Some of the residents of Yangon were doing yoga in the park when the coup happened. 

Trucks and tanks carrying military personnel rumbled through the streets of Myanmar’s largest city, and the location of what was to be the first meeting of the newly-elected parliament, on Monday. 

Myanmar’s military, known as the Tatmadaw, announced via its television channel Myawaddy TV that it would be taking control of the country for the next year.

The military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) had lost the election by a landslide to the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD).

As a result, the force cited widespread fraud during the country’s November 2020 elections, claiming there were 8.6 million instances of “voter irregularities.” An independent election commission found no evidence of fraud, the Associated Press reported. 

On January 26, the USDP gathered an independent election commission to investigate claims of election fraud, but the commission rejected the claims, recertifying the mass NLD win. 

In response, military spokesman Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun said the USDP wouldn’t rule out staging a coup — and less than a week later, the group did just that. 

Below, a look at the moments leading up to and after Myanmar’s military coup.

Monday was supposed to be the first official meeting of the newly-elected parliament, with the National League of Democracy claiming a majority 396 out of 476 parliamentary seats.

In comparison, the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party won just 33 seats.

Just two days before the military coup, signs heralding the incoming NLD leaders were up around Yangon.

On the morning of the coup, some residents of Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, were doing yoga in the park.

On the military-controlled Myawaddy TV station, an announcer declared a year-long state of emergency. 

 

The military immediately detained key figures of the NLD, including the civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.

The NLD had been in power since 2015, when the country ended nearly 50 years of military rule.

The party is led by Aung San Suu Kyi, an activist who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 while she was imprisoned by military authorities. 

Though Suu Kyi was previously hailed as a humanitarian hero, she has also overseen the persecution of the Rohingya Muslim ethnic minority during her rule.

Soon, military vehicles could be seen stretching out across Yangon's streets.

The police have been under the leadership of Myanmar’s military since 1995, and helped lead forces through Yangon.

The Myanmar police have been cited numerous times by human-rights groups for their brutal treatment of civilians.

Source: Human Rights Watch

Nearly 230 miles away, in Myanmar's capital of Naypyidaw, soldiers with trucks and tanks blockaded the roads to the country's parliament.

As news of the coup spread, citizens lined up at banks to pull their money out before access to their accounts was frozen.

The people of Myanmar are no strangers to military coups. In 1962, military commander Ne Win led a military coup that kept the Burma Socialist Programme Party in power for 26 years.

Military leadership continued until 2010, when a civilian government was finally installed. 

The streets of Yangon emptied out.

The city of more than 5 million people was known as Rangoon while under British colonial rule.

Residents of Yangon who were worried about access to food stockpiled basic supplies.

It was reported that the military temporarily cut off access to banks, markets, and the internet during Monday’s coup.

Meanwhile, supporters of the military gathered in the streets in front of Yangon City Hall to celebrate. 

 

Meanwhile, protesters across Asia protested in support of Suu Kyi and the NLD.

Leaders around the world have decried the coup, with the White House saying in a statement: “The United States opposes any attempt to alter the outcome of recent elections or impede Myanmar’s democratic transition, and will take action against those responsible if these steps are not reversed.”

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