Myanmar restricts Twitter as outrage over coup grows

YANGON — Myanmar misplaced entry to Twitter on Friday evening, the newest transfer to stifle dissent as the navy widened an web ban days after a coup that has drawn international condemnation and the specter of new sanctions.

De facto chief Aung San Suu Kyi was detained Monday and ousted from energy, returning the nation to navy rule after a 10-year dalliance with democracy.

Facebook was the primary platform that noticed points on Wednesday, and by Thursday, Myanmar customers had flocked to Twitter to unfold a hashtag marketing campaign in opposition to the navy putsch with thousands and thousands of mentions.

But round 10 pm native time (1530 GMT), they noticed their Twitter acccess curtailed, with some saying it couldn’t be used even with a VPN service.

“Twitter is now being restricted in #Myanmar on multiple network providers,” mentioned NetBlocks, which screens web outages all over the world.

It additionally confirmed that different Facebook merchandise — Whatsapp and Instagram — had been dealing with disruptions.

According to a Ministry of Transport and Communications doc seen by AFP however not verified, Twitter and Instagram had been used to “spread incitement and false news… causing misunderstanding among the public”.

“For the sake of the public and stability of the country, Instagram and Twitter will be temporarily blocked until further notice from February 5,” it mentioned.

Friday additionally noticed round 200 lecturers and college students protest at a Myanmar college — the most important present of public dissent inside the nation thus far.

Displaying the three-finger salute borrowed from Thailand’s democracy actions, the protesters sang a well-liked revolutionary track.

“We have to resist this dictatorship,” lecturer Win Win Maw instructed AFP.

“If all civil servants participate in this movement, it’s not easy to operate this government system.”

Hours earlier than the rally, Win Htein, a key aide of Suu Kyi, was arrested at his daughter’s home, mentioned Kyi Toe, press officer for her National League for Democracy occasion.

The 79-year-old NLD stalwart, thought of Suu Kyi’s right-hand man, has spent lengthy stretches in detention for campaigning in opposition to navy rule.

Speaking to native media forward of his arrest, Win Htein referred to as on individuals within the nation to “oppose (the coup) as much as they can”.

While Suu Kyi has not been seen in public since she was detained on Monday, Kyi Toe mentioned she’s currrently “under house arrest” in Naypyidaw, the nation’s capital, and was “in good health”.

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), a Yangon-based group that screens political arrests in Myanmar, greater than 130 officers and lawmakers have been detained.

‘Hope broken’

With Facebook stifled on Wednesday, many individuals had moved to Twitter in current days or began utilizing VPN providers to bypass the blockade.

After the Twitter restriction Friday, hashtags like #WeWantDemocracy and #FreedomFromFear — based mostly on a well-known quote by Suu Kyi — began trending.

A so-called Civil Disobedience Movement has gathered tempo on-line, calling on the general public to voice opposition each evening by banging pots and clanging cymbals to indicate their anger.

“I feel our hope is broken by the military after they seized power,” mentioned meals vendor Thazin Oo, whose mobile phone case has a photograph of Suu Kyi.

Police in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second largest metropolis, detained greater than 20 individuals for banging pots and pans. They had been sentenced Friday to seven days in jail for violating a public dysfunction regulation.

Another 4 college college students from Mandalay had been charged Friday for protesting at a small rally the day earlier than with out permission and breaking coronavirus guidelines.

As they had been escorted out of court docket in chains, they flashed a defiant three-finger salute to the ready media.

In Naypyidaw, dozens of workers from a number of authorities ministries posed for group images sporting purple ribbons and flashing the democracy image.

Some 300 MPs additionally held a digital assembly Friday to convene an unofficial “parliament committee” in defiance of navy rule, in accordance with the NLD.

‘Refrain from violence’

The coup has drawn condemnation globally.

On Thursday, US President Biden reiterated his name for the generals to reverse course.

“The Burmese military should relinquish power they have seized, release the advocates and activists and officials they have detained, lift the restrictions in telecommunications, and refrain from violence,” he mentioned.

His National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan additionally mentioned the White House was “looking at specific targeted sanctions” on military-linked entities.

The UN Security Council took a softer line, voicing “deep concern” — a step down from a draft Tuesday that had condemned the coup.

Diplomats mentioned veto-wielding China and Russia, Myanmar’s predominant supporters on the UN, had requested for extra time Tuesday to finesse the council’s response.

There have been calls on multinational firms working with Myanmar’s military-linked companies to chop ties as a technique to strain the generals.

Japanese beer large Kirin — lengthy underneath scrutiny over its ties to Myanmar’s army-owned breweries — mentioned Friday it was terminating a three way partnership with a military-owned conglomerate.

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