A week into its coup, Myanmar's military shut down the internet and used rubber bullets and water cannons against protesters

Advertisement
A week into its coup, Myanmar's military shut down the internet and used rubber bullets and water cannons against protesters
A banner held by protesters reads "you messed with the wrong generation."PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images
  • Tens of thousands of people protested against Myanmar's military coup this weekend.
  • Police used rubber bullets and water cannons, and have restricted TV and internet access.
  • State-controlled television stations are running pop concerts rather than news coverage.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets to protest Myanmar's military coup - but images of the protests are scarce as the new military government restricted TV and internet access in the country.

Telenor Myanmar, one of the country's telecommunications companies, said it was ordered on Saturday to shut down service by the Myanmar Ministry of Transport and Communications.

"In the directive, the MoTC cites legal basis in Myanmar's Telecommunication Law, and references circulation of fake news, stability of the nation and interest of the public as basis for the order," Telenor said in a statement seen by ZD Net.

Advertisement

Internet access was partially restored on Sunday, but according to internet connectivity monitor Netblocks, service was at 14% of typical levels.

The state also appears to have restricted what can be aired on television. State-run MRTV is currently running a pop concert in lieu of covering the protests or reporting on the coup.

Smaller protests and acts of civil disobedience led to much larger protests across the country, especially in the country's largest city, Yangon. Protesters called for the release of National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and wore the party's signature red to signify allegiance.

Advertisement

Many also used a three-finger salute, popularized by the "Hunger Games" series, to silently signal their support.

A week into its coup, Myanmar's military shut down the internet and used rubber bullets and water cannons against protesters
Protesters are using the "Hunger Games" three finger salute as a silent symbol of resistance.YE AUNG THU/AFP via Getty Images

Aung San Suu Kyi and other NLD leaders are currently under house arrest. On Wednesday, she was charged with illegally importing 10 walkie-talkies, which were discovered during a search of her residence.

Ousted President Win Myint was charged with violations of the National Disaster Management Law over alleged breaches of COVID-19 guidelines. According to the military, Wyint illegally held a campaign rally in front of the presidential palace, according to the Myanmar Times. Both face up to three years in prison.

Advertisement

Myint's vice president, Myint Swe, is currently the acting head of government and signed the military declaration announcing a one-year state of emergency as part of the coup.

As protests have ramped up, so has the police response. In Naypyidaw, Myanmar's capital, police sprayed protesters with a water cannon and one man could be seen bleeding from the force of the water.

In the southeastern town of Myawaddy, Reuters reported, protesters hurled plastic water bottles at police, who fired rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.

Advertisement

Last week, workers at 70 hospitals took part in a work stoppage as part of a countrywide civil disobedience campaign.

Three hundred volunteers working at a COVID-19 quarantine center in Bago, a city around 60 miles northeast of Yangon, reportedly also quit in protest.

The country's parliament, known as the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, released a statement on Monday decrying the coup and praising the protest movement.

Advertisement

"The massive nonviolence movement of the people is in testament to the protest against the unlawful seizure of power by the military and the baseless claims of voter fraud driven by personal interests of the military leaders," the statement said.

It also referred to the coup as an "act of offense against the state in violation of Penal Code 6," which says that the vice president cannot represent the president if the president is alive and well.

{{}}