Thousands protest Myanmar coup despite internet ban


People attend an evening protest towards the navy coup in Yangon, Myanmar February 5, 2021. REUTERS/Stringer

Thousands of individuals took to the streets of Yangon on Saturday to denounce this week’s coup and demand the release of elected chief Aung San Suu Kyi despite a blockade on the internet by the junta.

In an upwelling of anger within the nation’s largest metropolis protesters 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 colour of Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) which received Nov. 8 elections in a landslide, a consequence the generals have refused to acknowledge, claiming fraud.

Yangon streets had a pageant environment as a cacophony of automotive horns blared throughout the town. Thousands marched towards City Hall. Drivers leaned out of their automobiles and raised the three-finger salute. Bystanders returned the gesture. Some held up NLD flags or footage of Suu Kyi. Many clapped and danced.

Several hundred individuals gathered within the capital Naypyidaw, in central Myanmar, with motorbikes blaring horns. They chanted slogans towards the coup and referred to as for the discharge of Suu Kyi.

The protests constructed despite a blockade of the internet imposed after demonstrators first started to collect.

Monitoring group NetBlocks Internet Observatory reported a “national-scale internet blackout”, saying on Twitter that connectivity had fallen to 16% of bizarre ranges. Witnesses reported a shutdown of cellular information providers and wifi.

The junta didn’t reply to requests for remark. It prolonged a social media crackdown to Twitter and Instagram after in search of to silence dissent by quickly blocking Facebook, which counts half of the inhabitants as customers.

Facebook urged the junta to unblock social media.

“At this critical time, the people of Myanmar need access to important information and to be able to communicate with their loved ones,” Facebook’s head of public coverage for Asia-Pacific rising nations, Rafael Frankel, mentioned in an announcement.

The United Nations human rights workplace mentioned on Twitter that “internet and communication services must be fully restored to ensure freedom of expression and access to information.”

Norwegian cellular community supplier Telenor ASA mentioned authorities had ordered all cellular operators to quickly shut down the info community, though voice and SMS providers remained open.

Many activists had sidestepped the Facebook ban through the use of digital personal networks to hide their areas, however the extra normal internet disruption will severely restrict their means to arrange and entry unbiased information and information.

Myanmar civil society organizations appealed to internet suppliers and cellular networks to withstand the junta’s orders, saying in a joint assertion they had been “essentially legitimizing the military’s authority”.

Telenor mentioned it had burdened to the authorities that entry to telecom providers ought to be maintained. However, it added it was sure by native legislation and its first precedence was the security of its native staff.

“We deeply regret the impact the shutdown has on the people in Myanmar,” it mentioned in an announcement.

Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for campaigns, Ming Yu Hah, mentioned shutting down the internet amid a coup and 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 handy over energy after new elections, with out giving a timeframe.

Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi, 75, has been charged with illegally importing six walkie-talkies, whereas ousted President Win Myint is accused of flouting COVID-19 restrictions. Neither has been seen because the coup. Their lawyer mentioned they had been being held of their houses.

NLD member Aung Moe Nyo, chief minister of the Magway area, mentioned on Facebook earlier than the shutdown: “It is not OK to let the country fall under junta government. I am very much thankful to those who oppose this, to those government staff who oppose this. This act is to save the country.”

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

Australia’s authorities, with out naming Turnell, mentioned it had summoned the Myanmar ambassador to register “deep concern” over the arbitrary detention of Australian and different overseas nationals in Myanmar.

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

The coup has sparked worldwide outrage, with the United States contemplating sanctions towards the generals and the U.N. Security Council calling for the discharge of all detainees.

It has additionally deepened tensions between the United States and China, which has shut hyperlinks to Myanmar’s navy. Secretary of State Antony Blinken pressed prime Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi in a telephone name on Friday to sentence the coup, the State Department mentioned.

The generals have few abroad pursuits susceptible to worldwide sanctions, however the navy’s in depth enterprise investments might endure if overseas companions depart – as Japanese drinks firm Kirin Holdings mentioned it could on Friday.

Suu Kyi spent 15 years beneath home arrest after main pro-democracy protests towards the long-ruling navy junta in 1988.

After sharing energy with a civilian authorities, the military started democratic reforms in 2011. That led to the election of the NLD in a landslide victory 4 years later. November’s election was meant to solidify a troubled democratic transition.

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