YANGON, Myanmar - When four Myanmar army officers hammered on her door, the schoolteacher had just gotten out of bed. They informed her that her electricity payment was past due and required her to pay at the government power company office immediately.
Thida Pyone, the teacher, inquired what would happen if she refused. "One soldier pointed his gun at me and said, 'If money is more important than life, don't go pay the bill,'" she recalled.
She was so terrified that she got goosebumps. She grabbed her money and rushed to the payment office, not even changing out of her yellow and pink pajamas.
Millions of people walked off work in protest after the Myanmar military took power in a coup on February 1. Millions of people also began refusing to pay for energy, an act of civil disobedience intended to deprive the junta of a vital source of money.
Experts believe these attempts alone will not be enough to bring down the administration. However, 11 months after the coup, the military appears to be in such urgent need of funds that its soldiers have begun serving as debt collectors.
Residents claim that troops have been visiting door to door with electricity company personnel for weeks to demand payments in critical urban areas, including the country's two main towns, Yangon and Mandalay.