Did an aerobics video show parts of the Myanmar coup?

Following a military coup in Myanmar in February 2021, reports and social media posts claimed to show extraordinary video footage – a woman giving her regular outdoor aerobics class in the capital Naypyidaw , while in the background a convoy of military and police vehicles advance on the road towards the country’s parliament.

On February 1, Aditya Raj Kaul job the clip, along with the following description:

“A woman took her regular outdoor aerobics class without realizing that a coup was taking place in #Myanmar. A military convoy reaching the parliament can be seen behind the woman as she does aerobics. Unbelievable!”

This particular clip was originally posted to Twitter by Àngel Marrades, whose Spanish language the description also collected thousands of shares.

On the morning of February 1 (the evening of January 31 in the United States), generals favorable to the political opposition tabled and detained controversial Aung San Suu Kyi, along with several of his allies, and installed a military regime that they said would last for a year.

So the video footage, which was first posted to Facebook on February 1, appeared to show vehicles heading towards parliament and thus the first moments of the coup.

This is how it was reported by several press organs, including The Guardian, Los Angeles Times, and the New York Post, among others.

These descriptions contained a certain degree of accuracy. The video is genuine and there is no compelling reason to believe the footage does not show what it appears to show: the first moments of a military coup inadvertently recorded. However, evidence is lacking with respect to some key factual considerations, such as when the video was recorded and what exactly the convoy was doing as it made its way to parliament. Based on these factors, we assign a rating of “Mixture”.

Analysis

The video is real. The woman pictured there, a physical education teacher named Khing Hnin Wai, Job to his Facebook account at 3:00 p.m. local time on February 1 (3:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time). It can be viewed in full here.

Its exact location is the Royal Lotus Roundabout, about 3 kilometers east of the buildings that house the Union Assembly, Myanmar’s national legislature, in the capital Naypyidaw.

The location can be found on Google Maps here. The following street photographs, taken in August 2018, approximate the angle at which the video in question was shot and the reverse angle, which shows the part of the roundabout that Khing Hnin Wai was standing on and dancing on:

At first glance, the video may appear to have been created using a green screen background due to the way the Khing Hnin Wai shadow cuts off sharply, as shown below:

However, this apparent visual anomaly takes on its full meaning once the viewer realizes that she was standing on an elevated platform with several sets of steps behind her, leading to the road itself.

Over the past few months, Khing Hnin Wai has posted several videos of herself dancing and exercising in exactly the same spot, further emphasizing the authenticity of the footage released on February 1.

In November 2020, she job an exercise video, this time recorded from the reverse angle, meaning it showed the distinctive lotus sculpture in the center of the Royal Lotus roundabout, further demonstrating that this was the usual location of his aerobics videos.

Khing Hnin Wai posted the video to Facebook on the day of the coup and wrote about it in a way that makes it clear that it was also recorded on that day. According to a Translation by Agence France Presse, she wrote on Facebook: “Before hearing the news (suddenly) in the morning, the video I made for the aerobic dance competition became an unforgettable memory.

While there is no compelling reason to suggest otherwise, we have yet to verify that the footage was recorded on February 1. If this was the case, it is likely that the activities shown in the background were indeed related in some way or another to the coup, that the UK Channel News 4 reported began with pre-dawn raids.

However, on Facebook, Khing Hnin Wai herself Noted that it is not uncommon for an “official convoy” to appear in Naypyidaw, which is the site of virtually all major national government, military and diplomatic headquarters in the country.

Accordingly, we cannot rule out the possibility that the footage – although genuine – was recorded before February 1 and therefore showed activities that were unrelated to the military coup of that day.



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