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Myanmar’s military govt blocks social media, internet to gain control over information

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Myanmar's military govt blocks social media, internet to gain control over information

The Burmese military regime has arrested journalists and banned independent media in order to gain control over information and crackdown on protesters and the opposition movement.

Since February 1 coup, Myanmar’s media has been under pressure due to restricted access to social media and the internet, reported DW News Agency.

On February 4, Facebook, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp were blocked, followed by Twitter and Instagram ban by the ruling junta.

Blocking Facebook was a crucial move as about half of the country’s citizens use the social media giant as their main news source. The military has also imposed nationwide internet blockades since February 15, which have regularly lasted from 1 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Mobile internet was shut down on March 15, with only broadband connections providing access to the internet. The move worked as large parts of the population now receive their news almost exclusively from sources permitted by the military, reported DW News Agency.

In addition to cutting off online communication, the state television station MRTV has been brought into line. The broadcaster now regularly shows photos of activists and demonstrators, naming them as alleged enemies of the state.

Military broadcaster Myawaddy TV recently announced that for the first time in 30 years, 19 people had been sentenced to death for killing a soldier.

The state-owned newspaper The Global New Light of Myanmar has reported in detail the military’s legal and moral obligations for ousting the elected government, reported DW News Agency.

Meanwhile, independent or private media outlets such as Mizzima, Democratic Voice of Burma, Khit Thit Media, Myanmar Now, 7Day News and others have also been banned. Most have retreated to parts of the country controlled by ethnic minorities and their troops, such as Karen state on the border with Thailand. From there, they continue to publish their views against the military government.

According to Human Rights , some 48 journalists are currently in detention, 23 others were detained but have since been released.

Most have been accused of violating a new section of the penal code which criminalizes the dissemination of “statements, rumors or reports” that can lead to fear among the population and may incite people to “attack the state and public order” or to lead to “attacks between different classes and communities,” reported DW News Agency.

The journalist from the southern coastal town of Myeik livestreamed police shooting near his apartment as they detained him in a crackdown on March 1. He remains in custody.

( With inputs from ANI )

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