The most ominous sign that something was afoot came in mid-July, when all of a sudden family visits were banned. Families, anxious to hear about their loved ones’ fate in jails, were turned away from prison gates with no clear explanation. This total darkness continued for three months.
Inside, guards spread the word that an “Amnesty Commission” had been formed, which would interview each prisoner in order to issue a general amnesty. Few believed the guards, but the move, coming in the wake of the ban on family visits, gave rise to much speculation among prisoners as to what the real intentions of the regime were. It did not take long for the truth to emerge.