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Myanmar coup: Fitness instructor unwittingly films video as takeover unfolds

media captionDancing to music, this aerobics instructor caught a moment of Myanmar’s history on camera

Pumping her arms back and forth, fitness instructor Khing Hnin Wai dances for the camera, performing ordinary exercises on an extraordinary day in Myanmar.

At first glance, the video appears to show a routine dance workout.

But in the background, a convoy of armoured cars can be seen streaming by, suggesting all is not as it seems.

Ms Khing, an aerobics teacher, posted her exercise video to Facebook on Monday morning.

At the time, Myanmar’s army was in the process of a military coup, detaining Aung San Suu Kyi and other democratically elected leaders from her party.

The military would later take power and declare a year-long state of emergency, accusing Ms Suu Kyi’s party of fraud over its recent election win.

Meanwhile, Ms Khing gyrated her hips to the sound of an upbeat dance track, blissfully unaware of the gravity of events unfolding around her.

She captured the video on a roundabout on a main road leading to Myanmar’s parliament complex in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw.

The post soon went viral, with thousands of shares and views on Facebook, where many commented on the surreal contrast between Ms Khing’s frenetic moves and the military takeover.

“The background scene and the music kind of match,” she wrote in the original post. “I was filming the clip for a competition before the morning’s news came out. What a memory!”

Is the video genuine?

Yes, the video is genuine. At first, there was some scepticism, given the extraordinary circumstances in which the video was filmed.

But when internet sleuths, journalists and disinformation researchers looked into the origin of the video, its authenticity became clear.

The BBC has been in contact with Ms Khing, who confirmed the video is real.

image copyrightKhing Hnin Wai on Facebook

image captionKhing Hnin Wai said was was unaware of the military coup at the time she filmed the video

In another Facebook post, the fitness instructor said the roundabout had been her favourite location to dance “in the past 11 months”.

To prove it, she posted older clips of her doing similar dance routines from the same spot.

In response to criticism from supporters of Myanmar’s military, she took to Facebook to defend herself.

“I wasn’t dancing to mock or ridicule any organisation or to be silly. I was dancing for a fitness dance competition,” wrote Ms Khing. “As it isn’t uncommon for Nay Pyi Taw to have an official convoy, I thought it was normal so I continued.”

More on Myanmar’s coup:

media captionMyanmar coup: What’s happened so far?

What reaction has there been to the video?

On social media, the video was shared and watched widely, racking up more than 16.5 million views in one post on Twitter by an Indian journalist alone.

“Astonishing”, “incredible” and “emotional” were just a few of the words used to describe the video.

It got creative juices flowing on Reddit, where some users superimposed Ms Khing on to images from other historic events, such as the assault on the US Capitol in Washington DC last month.

Meanwhile, the video had particular resonance in Indonesia, where the song used by Ms Khing has become a protest anthem, often used to mock authorities.

A Myanmar woman dances to Indonesian viral jam “Ampun Bang Jago” as military coup unfolds.

“They are coming one by one, to fight over the throne” the lyric goes. The song was used widely on TikTok during Omnibus Law protests last year. how fitting! https://t.co/Y9VwB5cexB

— Resty Woro Yuniar (@restyworo) February 2, 2021

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

The song, titled Ampun Bang Jago, was popular on TikTok during last year’s protests against a job creation law critics said would harm workers and the environment.

But in Ms Khing’s case, the choice of song appears to be a coincidence.

On Facebook, Ms Khing denied she had a motive, political or otherwise, insisting she didn’t post the video “as a joke” or “to become a celebrity”.

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