Censorship continues in Burma. Access to the social network Twitter was restricted on Friday night across the country in an attempt to silence the escalating protest in this country after the military coup that overthrew the civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi .
The army had already ordered suppliers on Wednesday to block access to Facebook, the gateway to the Internet for millions of Burmese. As a result, many users were on Twitter and the hashtags #HeartheVoiceofMyanmar, #RespectOurVotes, #WeNeedDemocracy or #Freedomfromfear were used millions of times, especially by several Burmese celebrities.
This undermines “the right of people to have their voices heard”
Twitter on Saturday condemned the Burmese army’s order to block access to its platform. “We are deeply concerned about the order to block Internet services,” said a spokesperson for Twitter. It violates “the right of people to have their voices heard”.
Telenor, one of the main telecommunications operators in the country, confirmed that authorities had ordered Twitter and Instagram to be blocked on Friday “until further notice”. The company, based in Norway, “contested the necessity and proportionality of the directive (…) and underlined (its) contradiction with international human rights law,” she said in a statement. , saying that she is “seriously concerned”.
Burma is also experiencing “internet shutdowns” across the country, internet watchdog NGO NetBlocks said on Saturday. The major disruptions “started around 10 a.m.” local time (3:30 GMT), the organization said.
Burmese are now turning to VPNs
The army had ordered two days earlier to prevent access to Facebook, the main communication tool for millions of Burmese. WhatsApp messaging was also experiencing disruptions on Friday. These networks are used to “cause misunderstandings among the public,” justified the Ministry of Transport and Communications.
To try to escape censorship, the Burmese are now turning to VPNs, virtual tools that allow them to bypass any geographic restriction.
The army has also stepped up arrests in recent days, but hundreds of people demonstrated in Yangon on Friday. Professors and students had gathered in front of Dagon University. Several thousand Burmese also demonstrated in Yangon on Saturday, the biggest rally since the coup against Aung San Suu Kyi.