The Myanmar military imposed a second successive internet shutdown on Tuesday as it tried to suppress the growing protests against its coup, AFP reported.
Fresh protests had erupted across the country on Monday after the military cut internet services overnight, deployed more troops and rolled in armoured vehicles into several cities.
The crackdown on protests in Myanmar has drawn international criticism. United Nations Envoy Christine Schraner Burgener spoke to Myanmar military’s Deputy Commander-in-Chief Soe Win and warned him that the internet shutdowns “undermine core democratic principles”, according to AFP.
The citizens of Myanmar also criticised the internet blockade. “They [the military] shut down the internet because they want to do bad things,” Win Tun, a resident of Yangon, told the news agency. “We didn’t sleep the whole night so we could see what would happen.”
Just hours before the internet ban, the police in Mandalay used rubber bullets and slingshots to disperse crowds. According to an eyewitness, the protestors retaliated by throwing bricks. Six people were injured in the clash.
More than 400 people have been arrested since the coup on February 1, AFP reported, citing non-profit organisation Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.
The coup in Myanmar followed the landslide victory of National League for Democracy and Aung San Suu Kyi in national elections in November, with the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party faring poorly in its key strongholds. Suu Kyi was detained after the military seized power.
The country’s military refused to accept the government, citing unsubstantiated allegations of fraud. It was also announced that the coup was the result of the government’s failure to delay the November election despite the outbreak of the coronavirus.
However, Myanmar’s Army chief General Min Aung Hlaing said last week that “free and fair” elections will be held after the completion of the emergency period, and the military will hand over power to the winner.