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Myanmar: Junta shuts down internet again

Williams Babalola
As a strategy to disrupt anti-coup rallies, Myanmar’s generals have imposed a second straight overnight internet shutdown into Tuesday, even as the international community continue to condemn their moves, tagging it undemocratic.
Since Aung San Suu Kyi’s arrest, two weeks ago, the nation has been thrown into a confused state as open riot continues to erupt even at the face of daredevil troops.
There has been an unending duty for security operatives to curb the huge nationwide street protests, an effort that has yield no substantial result as freedom fighters continue to flock out en masse, hosting a disobedience campaign encouraging civil servants to strike.
Battalions, who have been charged with the use of force, have fired rubber bullets to disperse one rally in Mandalay, hours before authorities again cut internet gateways.
“They shut down the internet because they want to do bad things,” said 44-year-old Win Tun, a resident of commercial capital Yangon.
“We didn’t sleep the whole night so we could see what would happen.”
The internet shutdown is following Yangon protest. Protesters defied the presence of heavily armed troop that were stationed around key sections of the city and converged to show their grief, although the recorded a smaller turnout compared to other days.
The country’s second largest city, Mandalay, witnessed a clash were more than six people were injured after police used slingshots against the protesters and fired rubber bullet into the crowd.
A medic at the scene explained that demonstrators, in retaliation, threw bricks at the police officers present at the scene, while journalists lamented that police had beaten them in the melee.
Crowds returned to the streets in parts of the country on Tuesday morning.
A group of engineers in hard hats stood on the steps of a pagoda in the capital Naypyidaw and held signs demanding the release of Suu Kyi from detention, a livestream from local media outlet Myanmar Now showed.
The international community has also condemned the actions of the leaders of Myanmar’s new army administration, which have argued that it seized power legally.
UN envoy Christine Schraner Burgener, spoke to junta number two Soe Win on Monday and warned him that the regime’s internet blackouts “undermine core democratic principles,” a spokesman revealed.
More than 420 people have been arrested since the coup, according to a list of confirmed detentions from the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group.
There are numerous unconfirmed reports of other arrests.
Suu Kyi and her top political ally, Win Myint, have not been seen in public since they were detained in dawn raids on February 1, the day a new parliament was due to convene.
Both are expected to appear in court by videolink in Naypyidaw this week.
The Nobel laureate, who spent years under house arrest for opposing an earlier dictatorship, has been charged under an obscure import law for possessing unregistered walkie-talkies at her home.
Her lawyer Khin Maung Zaw said he had been unable to contact his client, though officials from her National League for Democracy (NLD) party have previously said she is in good health.
UN special rapporteur Tom Andrews told AFP Monday that he does not expect Suu Kyi’s court hearing to be fair.
“There’s nothing fair about the junta. This is theatre. It’s just theatre. And of course, nobody believes them,” Andrews said.

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