April 18, 2021

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A woman in Myanmar was filming an aerobic dance video as the coup began

The video looks much like the other aerobic dances Khing Hnin Wai has posted on her Facebook page, at least on first glance.

With Myanmar’s parliament building as the backdrop, she waves her arms and bounces to the beat. But in the video shared Monday, the early stages of a coup are brewing.

In the video that has since gone viral, the aerobic dancer appears to have captured images of armored vehicles rolling up to Naypyidaw’s government complex on Monday as Myanmar’s military seized control of the government and detained the country’s civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

The military said Suu Kyi was detained for alleged voting irregularities in November’s election, and Gen. Min Aung Hlaing took power.

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One version of the dancing woman’s video has since garnered more than 20 million views on Twitter, and her initial Facebook post has been commented on and shared tens of thousands of times.

Khing Hnin Wai, who says on her Facebook she is a physical education teacher, said she was unaware of what was unfolding behind her as she shot the video.

“Before I heard the news (of the coup) in the morning, the video I made for the aerobic dance competition has become an unforgettable memory,” Khing Hnin Wai said in her, according to Al Jazeera‘s translation.

While some have debated the video’s legitimacy online and challenged her motivations, she followed up with another post sharing other videos of her dances that she had filmed from the same spot over several months.

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“I wasn’t dancing to mock or ridicule any organization or to be silly… I was dancing for a fitness dance competition,” Khing Hnin Wai explained in another post, according to Al Jazeera. “As it isn’t uncommon for Naypyidaw to have an official convoy, I thought it’s normal so I continued.”

The BBC also reported the video’s authenticity, and HoaxEye, a Twitter account dedicated to debunking fake images, said there were no “obvious signs of editing.”

According to the South China Morning Post, the song Khing Hnin Wai danced to in the video is an Indonesian protest song, “Ampun Bang Jago,” which touches on “the power struggle between the people and the authorities.”

On Wednesday, police formally charged Suu Kyi with possession of illegally imported walkie talkies. She can be held through Feb. 15. Military leaders said Monday they intended to take power for one year.

President Joe Biden denounced the military takeover in the country, also known as Burma, as “a direct assault on the country’s transition to democracy.” 

Contributing: Kim Hjelmgaard, Deirdre Shesgreen and The Associated Press

Follow USA TODAY’s Ryan Miller on Twitter @RyanW_Miller