The military junta that seized full power in Myanmar (formerly Burma) in a coup on Monday ordered this Thursday the blocking of Facebook, the most popular social network in the country, given the multiplication of calls for disobedience civil. The blockade will continue until February 7, as indicated in a letter by the Ministry of Communications and Information in which it expresses the “concern” of the military about the situation, “with people who are threatening the stability of the country, who spread hoaxes and misinformation, causing misunderstandings among people through the use of Facebook ”.
The NetBlocks portal, which monitors access to computer communications in the world, has confirmed that the MPT operator, controlled by the Government, has restricted access to that platform and other related applications, such as WhatsApp or Instagram. The Norwegian telephone company Telenor, which operates in the country, also registers a decrease in access to the social network.
On Tuesday, the ministry had already publicly warned against spreading “rumors” on the Internet that could incite unrest or social instability. Several Internet users in Burma have denounced that since Thursday they cannot access their accounts on that social network or its associates. Facebook is extremely popular in Myanmar, which has 54 million inhabitants. More than 22 million people maintain accounts in it to keep in touch with friends and family, receive news or manage business.
Since Monday, when the military forced the declaration of a state of emergency and took power, thousands of Burmese netizens have taken to protesting the coup on social media. An account under the name Movement for Civil Disobedience and created the next day accumulates about 200,000 followers.
In a statement collected by Efe, Telenor indicates that “although the order has a legal basis in Burmese law, it does not believe that the request is based on necessity and proportionality, in accordance with international human rights law.” However, it stresses that it will comply with the directive while expressing “its grave concern about the violation of human rights.”
The incipient campaign of civil resistance called for by this movement has begun to spread throughout the country. The main city of Myanmar, Yangon, where economic activity and most of the population are concentrated, has staged two consecutive nights of intense caceroladas, between shouts of “Long live mother Suu!” Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto head of the civilian government and Nobel Peace Prize winner, has been detained since the beginning of the coup. She faces three years in prison after being charged by the military authorities for violating import laws, after radio frequency tracking devices were found to be illegally brought into the country.
In the city of Mandalay, the second in the country, videos circulating on social networks show what appears to be a small demonstration outside a hospital against the military junta and to demand the release of the detained leaders. On Wednesday, armored vehicles of the Burmese army had patrolled its streets amid rumors of protests.
The strike of health workers in about 70 hospitals across the country, which began on Wednesday, has spread to other medical centers, according to the independent Burmese digital Frontier Myanmar. Teachers in public schools and engineers from the military-owned telephone company Mytel have also begun to join, according to this outlet.
The military junta has promised to call elections within a year and hand over control of the country to the winner. The armed forces have justified the declaration of a state of emergency, and their seizure of power, with the argument – rejected by the electoral commission and international observers – that there was a “massive fraud” in the elections on November 8. The National League for Democracy (NLD, for its acronym in English) of Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint – also detained – obtained a landslide victory in that event, in which he won 346 seats, for only 33 for the parties who support the army.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.