Conflicts & War

Myanmar protests continue amid blackouts as YouTube bans junta channels

Yangon, Myanmar, Mar 5 (efe-epa).- Cities in Myanmar suffered blackouts Friday amid a new day of protests against the military coup, as YouTube banned several channels controlled by the junta.

The electricity cuts began in Yangon, the country’s largest city, at about 1:00pm local time (6:30 GMT) and were repeated in other cities in the country, residents told EFE.

In addition to the electrical cut, citizens also noticed problems in telephone connection disruptions.

The military junta has been cutting off Internet access every night for weeks as part of repressive measures against the population, which has launched a movement of civil disobedience against the junta, who launched a coup on Feb. 1.

Anti-coup protesters took to the streets Friday in several cities in Myanmar despite deadly police repression that has already killed more than 50 people.

Protests were taking place in Yangon, the country’s largest city, Mandalay, Monywa, Myingyan and Bagan, after security forces killed at least 38 demonstrators on Wednesday alone, the bloodiest day since the Feb. 1 military coup.

Hundreds protested Friday morning in the streets of Mandalay, the country’s second largest city, wearing white helmets and makeshift shields without any intervention by security forces so far.

In Yangon’s Thaketa district, demonstrators were dispersed with stun grenades by police but regrouped to continue the protest against the military junta.

In the capital, Naypyitaw, where there have been large-scale arrests, Friday’s protest comprised of a small group of some 30 people that dispersed as soon as the police appeared, local media Frontier Myanmar reported.

The fierce crackdown on anti-coup protests has claimed 54 lives so far, all at the hands of military and police forces, according to the UN human rights office.

The UN agency said that this figure only included the cases it has documented and added that casualties among protesters are likely to be considerably higher.

“It is utterly abhorrent that security forces are firing live ammunition against peaceful protesters across the country”, Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said.

Meanwhile, Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said on Friday that it was a “national shame” for Myanmar’s armed forces to use weapons against their own people.

“The use of lethal force against unarmed civilians is inexcusable under any circumstances. The immediate concern is to step back from a rapidly deteriorating situation,” he said during a parliament session, local TV channel, Channel News Asia, reported.

Singapore’s remarks on Myanmar are of particular significance given the city-state’s large foreign investment in the country.

The UN Security Council plans to address the situation in the country Friday in a closed-door video call, according to the United States, which holds the organization’s rotating presidency.

The peaceful protests being held across Myanmar for weeks are part of the civil disobedience movement against the military, which seized power after arresting a part of the elected government, including the de facto leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Protesters demand that the military, which ruled the country between 1962 and 2011, restore democracy, recognize the results of the November election and release all those detained.

YouTube announced Friday the blocking of five Myanmar television channels that reproduced their content on its platform in response to the violence carried out by the military junta.

“We have removed a number of channels and removed several YouTube videos in accordance with our community guidelines and applicable laws,” said a YouTube spokesperson in response to a question from EFE.

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