The protests against a military coup in Myanmar gathered momentum on Saturday (6). Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Rangoon, the country’s largest city, and the capital, Naypidaw. The day before, the acts had gathered a few hundred.
Demonstrators call for a return to democracy and the release of jailed leaders. They marched towards the Rangoon Prefecture headquarters, which was taken over by the military earlier in the week. In Naypidaw, motorcycles rang and activists sang songs against the regime.
In the midst of acts, the new government determined the reduction of Internet access and the blocking of social networks. Telenor, one of the country’s main telecommunications operators, has confirmed that military authorities have ordered Twitter and Instagram to be blocked, with no planned recovery.
Throughout Saturday morning, the country experienced difficulties in accessing the Internet throughout the country, according to the NGO NetBlocks, which monitors Internet access.
To get around the blockade, many activists used VPNs, virtual networks that mask the origin of access.
On Wednesday (3), the army blocked Facebook, one of the networks most used by Myanmars. Other company departments, such as Whatsapp, also log interruptions.
The aim is to censor opponents active on social networks and to dismantle acts of resistance. On the networks, the hashtags #WeNeedDemocracy, #HeartheVoiceofMyanmar or #FreedomFromFear bring international support to supporters of democracy in the country.
The current “ virtual blackout ” has a similar scope to that determined on the second (1st), when the army struck a coup and arrested the top civilian government, including President Win Myint, and took control of the country, interrupting the process of democratic transition. started ten years ago.
The military also detained State Councilor Aung San Suu Kyi, who was actually the leader of the country, on an obscure charge of violating trade rules – she allegedly imported six walkie-talkies.
Due to the history of backlash against the protests in the country, throughout the week, activist groups created a civil disobedience movement that grew as nuances of the coup military state become clearer to the people.
In the beginning, the most important participation was that of health professionals. Later, students and teachers also started to protest.
According to the movement, doctors, nurses and other workers at more than 70 public hospitals in 30 cities have gone on strike. Many of those still active wore red ribbons on their uniforms to mark their opposition to military rule.
The red ribbons could also be seen during the demonstrations this Saturday. Red is the color of the National League for Democracy (LND), Suu Kyi’s party.
Also wearing a mask and handkerchiefs, the protesters shouted “under military dictatorship” and saluted with three fingers pointing upwards.
The gesture comes from the “Hunger Games” book and movie franchise and is used as a show of thanks, admiration, and farewell to someone loved. In real life, the same greeting has been used in protests in Hong Kong and Thailand.
Chronology of Myanmar’s political history
1948: Former British colony, Myanmar becomes an independent country 1962: General Ne Win abolishes the Constitution of 1947 and establishes a military regime 1974: Beginning of the first post-independence constitution 1988: The violent repression of demonstrations against the military regime generates international critics 1990: National League for Democracy (LND), in opposition to the regime, wins the first multiparty election in 30 years and is prevented from coming to power 1991: Aung San Suu Kyi, of the LND, wins the Nobel Prize in peace 1997: US and EU impose sanctions on Myanmar for human rights violations and disrespect for 2008 election results: Assembly approves new Constitution 2011: Thein Sein, retired general, is elected president and the military regime is dissolved 2015: The LND obtains the majority in both houses of Parliament 2016: Htin Kyaw is elected the first civilian president since 1962 coup and Suu Kyi assumes the post of State Councilor, equivalent to that of Prime Minister 2018: Kyaw resigns and Win Myi nt assumes the 2020 presidency: in the legislative elections, the LND receives 83% of the vote and defeats pro-military party 2021: army alleges election fraud, arrests LND leaders, seizes power with new coup