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Myanmar military government orders to block Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp

Myanmar’s military reverted to power earlier this week. After protest calls on Facebook, the network and other services were blocked.

Four days after the military coup in Myanmar, the new government has ordered a blockade of Facebook and other services of the US group. In addition to the network itself, Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are affected, observers report. The reason given by the new government was that Facebook and the services of the US company would “hinder the restoration of stability in the country”. Immediately after the coup, the internet and telephone networks were deactivated, but they are slowly being restored. Among other things, the NGO Acess Now points out that Facebook is synonymous with the Internet for many millions of people in Myanmar.

In Myanmar – formerly Burma – the military held power for decades until a process of democratization began in 2011. In the largely free elections, the party of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi received broad support, but after the most recent elections the military assumed that election fraud had been committed. On Monday night, generals staged a coup and had many politicians arrested. Aung San Suu Kyi, who was not president but actually headed government affairs, is probably under house arrest. The military claim that there will be a state of emergency for a year, then there will be free elections. Aung San Suu Kyi is to be charged with high treason.

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In the wake of the coup earlier this week, internet and telephone connections in the Southeast Asian country were cut. The network activists of Netblocks have registered that the connectivity has been restored at least in part. Calls for civil disobedience and videos of protest actions had recently spread virally on Facebook. The military leadership is now taking action against this, according to Access Now, the blockade should initially apply until February 7th. With Telenor Myanmar, a provider has confirmed the blocking order and stated that they are complying with the legal decision, but have expressed strong concerns about the violation of human rights. They want to enable access to Facebook services again so quickly.

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