Myanmar military blocks Facebook, social media as pressure mounts

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    Generals occupying power on Monday claim that people are using platforms to create ‘instability’ as UN chief Guterres says the coup should fail.

    Myanmar’s military government on Thursday blocked Facebook and other social media platforms – important sources of communication for its people – to dissuade and seize power in a coup after detaining the country’s elected leaders. The UN chief said that should fail.

    Facebook, used by nearly half of Myanmar’s 53 million people, has emerged as a major platform for the coup on Monday, with widely shared photos of civil disobedience campaigns and pot-and-pan protests at night has been done.

    The Ministry of Communications and Transport said the restrictions would remain in force until 7 February.

    “Currently those who are disturbing the stability of the country … are spreading fake news and misinformation and creating misconceptions among people using Facebook,” the ministry said in a letter.

    Police took steps to calm online activity after filing charges against former leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has not been seen since being taken into custody early Monday morning, for illegally importing communications equipment , And as stated by the United Nations. To do all this could mobilize an international response to the military takeover.

    Netblock, which monitors online services worldwide, said that restrictions on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp by state-owned Internet provider MPT appeared to spread to other providers. People said people were using VPNs to get around the block.

    Netblock wrote on Twitter, “Facebook products are now banned in #Myanmar on many Internet providers because operators follow an explicit blocking order.”

    Facebook, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, confirmed the disruption.

    Facebook spokesman Andy Stone urged authorities to restore connectivity “so that people in Myanmar can communicate with their family and friends and use critical contact”.

    Most people in Myanmar use Facebook through their mobile phones and it is an important means of communication for businesses and government, although it has been linked to hate speech and disinformation.

    “The Internet really became available to the majority of the population only after 2011,” said Herve Lemahieu, director of the Power and Diplomacy Program at the Lowy Institute in Australia. “This block would be terrible not only in terms of its consequences for organizing the response to this coup, but also in terms of conducting day to day business and economic activity. These platforms are absolutely critical and have happened in the last 10 years. “

    Aung San Suu Kyi, the founder of the National League for Democracy (NLD), is under house arrest in the capital Neipedaw, but the generals have not commented on his whereabouts.

    According to the Election Commission, on November 8, the NLD garnered nearly 80 percent of the vote in the elections, but the military refused to accept the result, leading to unbridled allegations of fraud.

    The United Nations said that this would increase international pressure to ensure respect for the will of the people.

    UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said during an interview aired by the Washington Post newspaper on Wednesday, “We will do everything we can to make all the major actors and the international community put enough pressure on Myanmar to make this coup fail.” . ” .

    The Myanmar army on Monday armored vehicles on the streets of Mandalay after seizing army power. UN chief Antonio Guterres says the United Nations will do all it can to thwart the coup [Stringer/Reuters]

    “This is completely unacceptable after elections – elections that I believe took place in general – and after a large period of transition.”

    Reports surfaced on Thursday in a protest against the first road against the coup in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second largest city. According to the news website Myanmar Now, the riot police broke up a small demonstration and people fled in all directions.

    Accused of ‘ludicus’

    Police said six walkie-talkie radios were found in Aung San Suu Kyi’s house in Naypyidaw, claiming they were illegally imported and used without permission.

    Human Rights for ASEAN MPs (APHR), a group of legislators from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, termed the allegations leveled against Aung San Suu Kyi.

    APHR chairman and Malaysian lawmaker Charles Santiago said in a statement, “This is an illegal move to try to legalize their illegal power grab.”

    “We’ve been here before. ASEAN and the international community all know how far this is possible: for a brutal military dictatorship.

    In court documents, police requested Aung San Suu Kyi to be detained “to question witnesses, request evidence and seek legal advice after questioning the defendant”.

    A separate document showed that the police have also brought charges against ousted President Vin Mint, who was detained on Monday for violating protocols to prevent the spread of coronovirus.

    As the leader of Myanmar’s democracy movement, Aung San Suu Kyi spent nearly 15 years under House Arrest between 1989 and 2010 and was extremely popular at home despite damaging his international reputation over the plight of the country’s mostly Muslim Rohingyas. Huh.

    The military ruled Myanmar from 1962 until the NLD gained power in 2015 under a constitution that was written by the generals and gave them 25 percent of all seats in parliament and a major role in government Was guaranteed.

    Janta, led by Army Chief General Ang Hlaing, has announced a one-year state of emergency and new elections without giving a time schedule for him.

    On Twitter, which was available in Myanmar, #CivilDisobedienceMovement was the top trending hashtag in the country. Back was #JusticeForMyanmar.


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