Myanmar: Condemnation of ‘Digital Dictatorship’ of Military Leadership
He said that at a time when the right of freedom of expression, information and access to privacy for the people of Myanmar is being systematically denied, the international community must not remain silent.
“Online access to information is a matter of life and death for many people in Myanmar. Among them are those who seek protection from the onslaught of the military and millions of others who are trying to get out of the catastrophic economic and humanitarian crisis. ”
UN experts insist that the military leadership, in addition to shutting down the Internet, is also monitoring it in order to weaken widespread opposition.
Special Reporters urge UN member states to condemn the military leadership’s attempts to control fundamental freedoms through online and offline media.
Since the military coup in Myanmar on February 1, 2021, the military leadership has imposed nationwide restrictions on the Internet and barred access to social media and other messaging platforms.
Trying to rein in the Internet
According to independent experts, the military leadership has blocked a number of websites and social media platforms, including Facebook, which is used as a major channel for information exchange in Myanmar.
In addition, Internet service providers have been asked to raise data prices and new taxes have been levied on data and SIM cards, leaving the Internet out of reach for many.
Human rights experts have called on the international community to impose targeted sanctions on the military and military-related companies, including restrictions on the sale or supply of surveillance technology.
At the same time, UN member states and international donors must support civil society in combating surveillance mechanisms and censorship in Myanmar.
Many areas affected
It has been reported that in recent times internet availability has been blocked in areas where the military leadership is facing stiff resistance from rival factions.
Since August 2021, the Internet has been disrupted in 31 townships and territories in seven provinces, and the speed of Internet service in 23 other townships has been extremely slow.
Experts warn that “Internet restrictions are being used by the military leadership as a cover to cover up the ongoing atrocities.”
He says barriers to Internet access have hampered the work of journalists, human rights activists and humanitarian organizations.
This makes it difficult to gather facts in cases of human rights violations and to provide assistance to the vulnerable population.
“In large parts of the country [इण्टरनैट] Lack of engagement poses a challenge to our mandates, which rely on the collection of contemporary facts on human rights abuses. ”
Three of the four telecom companies in Myanmar are directly linked to the military and are under pressure to use surveillance technology and hand over user data to police and military officials.
Two weeks after the military coup, amendments to the ‘Electronic Exchange Act’ have increased the interference of government and law agencies in private data, and a broader definition of online messaging offenses has been used.
Special Reporters have stated that a draft law on cyber security shows that the powers of government agencies will be enhanced and that internet access or online content may be restricted without any judicial review.
In addition, the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) will be banned, and these users could face up to three years in prison.
The law has not yet been enforced, but police and military officials have reportedly begun searching for VPN apps on the phones of suspected opposition activists and other detainees.
Human rights specialist
Of the human rights experts who issued this statement List here Can be seen.
All independent human rights experts are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, and work in their personal capacity, on a voluntary basis.
These human rights specialists are not UN staff nor do they receive any salary from the UN for their work.