Myanmar coup: army blocks Facebook access as civil disobedience grows

People living in Myanmar have had their access to Facebook and other social media sites blocked by the country's army. The army is trying to suppress waves of civil unrest after it sacked the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. 

Quashing the Resistance

In the days following the intervention of the military, Facebook has emerged as an important instrument of protest. The social network site has been used to coordinate a civil disobedience campaign where dozens of health workers in several hospitals walk out of their jobs in protest against the actions of the army, on Wednesday. 

Facebook has also been the venue for strategizing and perfecting plans for evening protests by residents, who took to their balconies to bang pots and pans in a symbolic act meant to ward off evil. 

However, the country's ministry of communications and information has come out to impose restrictions on Facebook until Sunday, because people were "troubling the country's stability" by using the network to spread "fake news and misinformation".

Protests Continue To Emerge

However, Reuters reported that attempts to restrict social media were not comprehensive as several people retained their ability to access the sites. Several others simply went around the restrictions by downloading and using virtual private networks (VPNs).

Protests have continued to be observed in certain parts of the country, despite the army's drive to quell all forms of dissidence and activism. The first street protest against the military intervention was held in the city of Mandalay, on Thursday. A small group chanted: “Our arrested leaders: release now, release now” but they were swiftly dispersed by riot policemen, according to the news site Myanmar Now. 

Meanwhile, pressure from international bodies continued to mount on the Myanmar army to respect the vote. The United Nations secretary general, Antonio Guterres, told The Washington Post on Wednesday: “We will do everything we can to mobilise all the key actors and international community to put enough pressure on Myanmar to make sure that this coup fails".