Life in Yangon appeared normal today, with shops and temples open as traffic filled the streets. But, in a city once teeming with Buddhist monks, their absence is glaring.
It has been nearly a week since the crackdown on protestors of Myanmar's repressive regime began, and many Buddhist monks who led the protests, have simply disappeared.
Numerous reports from inside the country say dozens have been killed, tens of thousands are locked in their monasteries, with thousands more held prisoner in jails, universities and even a race course.
Former political prisoners, including Hong Ong, say they face harsh treatment.
"They kill. They arrest. They capture, everything they can do. We are just like ants," Ong told ABC's Jim Sciutto.
Accounts from former prisoners are consistent — those seen as enemies of the state face torture, denial of medical care and, for monks, the demeaning fate of being stripped of their robes.
Refuge in Thailand
Fearing a similar fate, some monks are fleeing to safety in neighboring Thailand.
"They're arresting us indiscriminately," one monk said. "They're shooting at us. I had to flee."
Another said, "When I first started protesting, I was not afraid … but, when the troubles began, I was scared and ran."
Democracy activists say they have not given up, and are convinced that popular anger with repression and poverty will soon lead to more protests.
"Everyone feels that they could do something to stand up against this regime. The genie is out of the bottle. You are not going to be able to stop the people," said activist Debbie Stothard.
But the monks' fate is less clear. For now, the people of Myanmar can only keep their vigils, and hope for change.