(Click here for a Burmese translation. Translator: Nu Nu Lusan.)
The opening scenes of Burma Spring 21 are deafening. They show citizens and residents of Burma protesting the February 2021 coup d’état by banging pots and pans from their windows and on the streets. Since the 1830s, when opponents of Louis Philippe I of France banged pots against his regime, it has become a key form of political protest across the world. In Burma, as commentators have pointed out, it is also a “traditional ritual way” to ward off evil spirits. “Let’s bang pans and pots tomorrow to drive away the evil dictatorship,” urged the anti-coup Civil Disobedience Movement on July 3, 2021, the birthday of the Junta’s chief General Min Aung Hlaing. In the Burmese news website The Irrawaddy’s analysis, banging pots and pans in Burma has had, in this regard, “a mystical as well as a political purpose.” But there is a purpose thereof that has been largely neglected by scholars, pundits, and political commentators. The “new sound” of the Burmese protests has served to alert one’s fellow neighbors of the arrival of policemen and soldiers often in the dead of the night.
Since February 13, 2021, activists and human rights organizations have denounced the ways in which the military has “kidnapped” and “night-dragged” those who have participated in the Civil Disobedience Movement. As a Burmese activist wrote on Twitter, the “Burmese police are starting to kidnap community leaders, fire civil servants who are in the Civil Disobedience Movement. Neighbors bang their pots and pans to scare them away. We’re told to be alert. We feel very, very unsafe.” Or as Nant, the young protagonist of the documentary feature Padauk: Myanmar Spring, says, “When they roam the streets at night searching homes and shooting into windows, we call them dogs and bang on pots in protest.”“We’re Told to Be Alert”: Pots, Pans, and the Ends of Civil Disobedience weiterlesen