In the aftermath of the bloodiest episodes of protests against the military coup in Myanmar, Facebook banned the Armed Forces main page and a growing crowd has taken to the streets to demand the return of democracy.
“In accordance with our global policies, we have removed the Tatmadaw news team page [como é conhecido o Exército mianmarense] for repeated violations of our standards which prohibit incitement to violence and coordinated damage, ”said a spokesperson for the platform, in a statement released on Sunday (21).
In recent years, Facebook has engaged with civil rights activists and democratic political parties in Myanmar and opposed the military after facing international criticism for its mission to contain campaigns and hate speech on the platform.
The head of the armed forces who now command the country, General Min Aung Hlaing, and 19 other officers and organizations had already been banned by the social network in 2018. Hundreds of pages and accounts managed by the army have also been deleted for “coordinated inauthentic behavior” – a technical term used by the Facebook team to refer to the use of multiple fake accounts to deliver content or increase interactions on the network.
Shortly before the legislative elections in November, the platform, which ended up being blocked in the country after the coup, also pulled from the air a network of 70 accounts and talking pages operated by soldiers who published content. pro-army and opposed to State Councilor Aung San Suu Kyi and his party, the National League for Democracy (LND).
Suu Kyi was, in practice, the civilian leader of Myanmar. During the February 1 coup, she and other officials, such as President Win Myint, were deposed and detained by the military. The advisor was subsequently the target of an obscure charge of violating trade standards – she allegedly illegally imported six walkie-talkies. Last week, she was also charged with an alleged violation of protocols to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
Protests that have escalated in Myanmar cities for more than two weeks call for the release of Suu Kyi and hundreds of other political prisoners after the seizure of power – a total of 569 have been detained since February 1, according to the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners of Myanmar.
In addition, the acts have taken on new life as a result of the deaths caused by police crackdown on protesters. This Saturday, the death toll rose to three during the protests.
A 36-year-old carpenter and an undisclosed teenage boy died from gunshot wounds to the chest and head, respectively, according to testimonies and doctors from the emergency services.
The two victims join Mya Khaing, whose death was confirmed on Friday (10), ten days after she was also shot in the head during protests in the country’s capital, Naypyitaw.
Tens of thousands of people gathered in Mandalay, where Saturday’s deaths took place, in a peaceful act in memory of the victims and against the military regime.
“They are targeting the heads of unarmed civilians. They are targeting our future,” a young protester shouted at the crowd. In Rangoon, thousands of others demanded the return of democracy. “We young people have our dreams, but this military coup created many obstacles. That is why we have taken the lead in the protests,” another participant in the acts told Reuters news agency. .
Similar protests were also reported in towns such as Myitkyina, Monywa, Bagan, Dawei, Myeik, Myawaddy and Lashio, covering all parts of Myanmar. Saturday has so far been the bloodiest day since the action began, but the violence of the police crackdown has not dampened the morale of the protesters.
“The number of people will increase, we will not stop,” said a participant in the protests in Rangoon.
On social media, several photos and videos show members of the security forces shooting at protesters. While it is not possible to indicate the type of ammunition used in the shots, there are also a number of images of deadly casings found by witnesses.
“From water cannons to rubber bullets, to tear gas, and now to troops firing point blank at peaceful protesters. This madness must end now,” said Tom Andrews, UN envoy to Myanmar, in a post. on Twitter.
Other international leaders and officials have also condemned the excessive use of force to quell protests, such as US State Department spokesman Ned Price and UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
For the military junta which now controls the country, however, the words of foreign nations “constitute a flagrant interference in the internal affairs of Myanmar”, according to a statement released Sunday by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The note reiterates that the takeover of power in the country occurred within the confines of the Constitution and says Myanmar’s security forces maintain public security in accordance with national laws and international practices. “
Despite the illegal demonstrations, the incitement to unrest and violence, the authorities in question show maximum restraint by using minimum force to deal with the disturbances, ”the statement said.
State media reproduced the position of the military junta. The Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper said strikers sabotaged boats in Mandalay harbor and attacked police with sticks, knives and catapults, leaving eight police officers and several soldiers injured.
“Some of the aggressive protesters were also injured as a result of security measures taken by law enforcement,” the newspaper said, without mentioning any of the three protesters who died.
In an announcement on MRTV, also linked to the military, authorities said that by planning another large demonstration for Monday (22), the protesters were inciting anarchy and pushing young people down a path of confrontation “in which they would suffer loss. of life”.
Myanmar has a violent record of reactions to protests. During the 1988 uprising, more than 3,000 protesters were killed by the country’s security forces in acts against the military regime – the country lived under a dictatorship from 1962 to 2011.
The military attempted to use alleged election fraud charges to justify the seizure of power. The military also added to the narrative the argument that the country’s electoral commission used the coronavirus pandemic as a pretext to prevent a fair campaign. They also claim to have acted in accordance with the Constitution and that the majority of the population supports their conduct, accusing the protesters of inciting violence.
On February 1, General Hlaing declared a one-year state of emergency. “We will implement a true multi-party democracy,” said the new regime, adding that power will be transferred after “the holding of free and fair general elections”. The promise, though repeated, is viewed with skepticism by opponents of Myanmar and international observers.
The LND, Suu Kyi’s party that has ruled the country since 2015, won 83% of the vote and won 396 of 476 seats in parliament in Myanmar’s latest elections, held in November last year. The legend, however, was unable to take over when the coup was implemented on the day the new legislature was inaugurated. The Military-backed Solidarity and Development Union Party won only 33 seats. We are a family business.
CHRONOLOGY OF THE POLITICAL HISTORY OF MYANMAR
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 criticism 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