Myanmar anti-coup protests grow as army broadens Internet crackdown

YANGON: Myanmar noticed its largest anti-coup protests but on Saturday (Feb 6) with younger demonstrators spilling on to the streets to denounce the nation’s new navy regime, regardless of a nationwide Internet blackout geared toward stifling a rising refrain of well-liked dissent.

Around 3,000 demonstrators gathered on a highway close to Yangon University, most holding up the three-finger salute that has come to symbolise resistance to the army takeover.

In the primary such demonstration for the reason that generals seized energy on Monday, activists chanted: “Military dictator, fail, fail; democracy, win, win,” and held banners studying “Against military dictatorship”. Bystanders provided them meals and water.

Many within the crowd wore crimson, the color of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) which received Nov 8 elections in a landslide, a consequence the generals have refused to recognise, claiming fraud.

READ: UN chief backs Myanmar people’s right to peaceful protest in face of military coup

READ: US leads condemnation as Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi charged after coup

As the protest swelled and activists issued calls on social media for individuals to affix the march, the nation’s Internet crashed.

Monitoring group NetBlocks Internet Observatory reported a “national-scale Internet blackout”, saying on Twitter that connectivity had fallen to 54 per cent of extraordinary ranges. Witnesses reported a shutdown of cellular information companies and Wi-Fi.

The junta didn’t reply to requests for remark. It has tried to silence dissent by temporarily blocking Facebook and prolonged a social media crackdown to Twitter and Instagram on Saturday.

yangon protests Feb 6

Protesters maintain up the three-finger salute throughout an indication in opposition to the Myanmar navy coup in Yangon on Saturday, Feb 6, 2021. (Photo: AFP/STR)

Norwegian mobile phone firm Telenor Asa mentioned authorities had ordered Internet suppliers to disclaim entry to Twitter and Instagram “until further notice”.

Many had sidestepped the ban on websites such as Facebook by utilizing digital non-public networks to hide their areas, however the extra normal disruption to cellular information companies would severely restrict entry to unbiased information and information.

“Internet already down but we will not stop raising our voice,” wrote a Twitter consumer with the deal with Maw Htun Aung. “Let’s fight peacefully for democracy and freedom. Let’s fight until the last minute for our future.”

Myanmar civil society organisations appealed to Internet suppliers and cellular networks to problem the junta’s orders blocking Internet entry.

“By complying with their directives, your companies are essentially legitimising the military’s authority, despite international condemnation of this very body,” a coalition of teams mentioned in a press release.

READ: Operations resume for many Singapore businesses in Myanmar as they closely monitor situation

READ: Police warn against plans to protest in Singapore over situation in Myanmar

Telenor mentioned earlier than the Internet shutdown that it was legally obliged to comply with the order to dam some social media, however “highlighted the directive’s contradiction with international human rights law.”

Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for campaigns, Ming Yu Hah, mentioned shutting down the Internet amid a coup and the COVID-19 pandemic was a “heinous and reckless decision”.

Army chief Min Aung Hlaing seized energy alleging fraud though the electoral fee says it has discovered no proof of widespread irregularities within the November vote.

The junta introduced a one-year state of emergency and has promised at hand over energy after new elections, with out giving a timeframe.


The takeover drew worldwide condemnation, with a United Nations Security Council name for the discharge of all detainees and focused sanctions into account by Washington.

Aung San Suu Kyi, 75, has not been seen in public for the reason that coup. She spent some 15 years underneath home arrest throughout a battle in opposition to earlier juntas earlier than the troubled democratic transition started in 2011.

The lawyer for Aung San Suu Kyi and ousted President Win Myint mentioned they have been being held of their properties and that he was unable to satisfy them as a result of they have been nonetheless being questioned. 

Aung San Suu Kyi faces expenses of importing six walkie-talkies illegally whereas Win Myint is accused of flouting COVID-19 restrictions.

Sean Turnell, an Australian financial adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi, mentioned in message to Reuters on Saturday that he was being detained.

Commentary: Myanmar military never had any intention of giving up power

Saturday’s protest is the primary signal of road unrest in a rustic with a historical past of bloody navy crackdowns on protesters. There have been additionally anti-coup protests in Melbourne, Australia, and the Taiwanese capital Taipei on Saturday.

A civil disobedience movement has been constructing in Myanmar all week, with medical doctors and academics amongst these refusing to work, and each evening individuals bang pots and pans in a present of anger.

In addition to about 150 arrests within the wake of the coup reported by human rights teams, native media mentioned round 30 individuals have been detained over the noise protests.

The United States is contemplating focused sanctions on people and on entities managed by Myanmar’s navy.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken pressed prime Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi in a cellphone name on Friday to sentence the coup, the State Department mentioned.

Commentary: ASEAN can do better on Myanmar this time

China, which has shut hyperlinks to Myanmar’s navy, joined the consensus on the Security Council assertion, however has not condemned the army takeover and has mentioned international locations ought to act within the pursuits of the steadiness of its neighbour Myanmar.

UN Myanmar envoy Christine Schraner Burgener condemned the coup in a name with Myanmar’s deputy navy chief Soe Win, and known as for the rapid launch of all these detained, a UN spokesman mentioned.

The generals have few abroad pursuits that will be susceptible to worldwide sanctions, however the navy’s intensive enterprise investments might undergo if international companions depart – as Japanese drinks firm Kirin Holdings mentioned it could on Friday.

US-based strain group Human Rights Watch known as for the lifting of the Internet restrictions, the discharge of detainees and an finish to threats in opposition to journalists.

“A news and information blackout by the coup leaders can’t hide their politically motivated arrests and other abuses,” mentioned Asia director Brad Adams.

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