Business & Economy

Myanmar military government cuts Facebook access

Yangon, Feb 4 (efe-epa).- Facebook access in Myanmar was limited Thursday after the military junta ordered telecommunications providers to block the social network.

The move comes after the military seized power on Monday in a bloodless coup.

“All mobile operators, international gateways and internet service providers in Myanmar received a directive on 3 February 2021 from the Myanmar Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC) to temporarily block social media service Facebook,” Norwegian telecoms operator Telenor said in a statement, adding it would comply with the directive on Thursday “while expressing grave concerns regarding breach of human rights.”

It added that “while the directive has legal basis in Myanmar law, Telenor does not believe that the request is based on necessity and proportionality, in accordance with international human rights law.”

Facebook itself also confirmed the ban, which is reportedly to last until Feb. 7 for the sake of “stability.”

“Telecom providers in Myanmar have been ordered to temporarily block Facebook. We urge authorities to restore connectivity so that people in Myanmar can communicate with family and friends and access important information,” a Facebook spokesperson told EFE Thursday.

Facebook, Messenger and its messaging app WhatsApp as well as Instagram were all being blocked by state-owned Myanma Posts and Telecommunications (MPT), according to independent internet monitor NetBlocks.

“Facebook products are now restricted on multiple internet providers in #Myanmar as operators comply with an apparent blocking order,” NetBlocks said in a tweet.

A decrease in access through Telenor was also noted by NetBlocks.

An estimated 22 million people use Facebook in Myanmar out of a population of around 54 million.

The military coup has generated an incipient civil disobedience movement in the country, joined by health personnel from more than 70 hospitals and medical centers who refuse to work for a dictatorship.

Thousands of residents of Yangon, the former capital and most populous city in the country, also protested Wednesday night for the second day in a row against the coup by banging pots and pans.

The military on Monday declared a state of emergency to seize power, alleging fraud in the general election held in November and in which de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party swept the polls.

On Wednesday, charges were laid against Suu Kyi, deposed as state councilor, and against Win Myint, the deposed president. They remain in custody. EFE-EPA


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