The Myanmar military government has suspended the functioning of Facebook and other social mediums in the name of “public interest” and “state stability”. Telenor, which is one of the four operators running in the country, issued a statement that said that all mobile operators, international gateways and internet service providers in the country had received a directive from Myanmar’s Ministry of Transport and Communications to block social media platform Facebook.
The directive asked the operators to block Facebook from 4 to 7 February, under Section 77 of the country’s telecommunications law.
About half of Myanmar’s 53 million people use Facebook. The social media website has emerged as a key platform for the opposition as people have been sharing details about Monday’s coup with photos of civil disobedience campaigns and nightly pot-and-pan protests.
Following the directive from the Myanmar officials, Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone urged authorities to restore connectivity “so that people in Myanmar can communicate with their families and friends and access important information”.
The suspension of social media and messaging applications follows the Myanmar military’s coup. The junta declared a yearlong state of emergency and detaining de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, among others.
The coup had taken place following days of tension between the military and the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD), which won the November elections. The military, however, has refused to accept the results, alleging massive election fraud.
Suu Kyi has been charged by the military with offences related to some walkie-talkies allegedly imported with improper licence and for shaking hands during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the police document. She among other leaders from the civilian government was put under house arrest on 1 February as armed forces took the power after complaining over the voter fraud in the recent general election in November 2020.
Myanmar President Win Myint, who was arrested and removed from the office, would be reportedly charged with offences under the natural disaster management law.