The military in Myanmar has blocked access to messaging services including Facebook and WhatsApp, three days after it staged a coup and took over the reins of the country.
A letter by Myanmar’s ministry of communications and information said Facebook would be blocked until February 7 for the sake of ‘stability.’
“Currently the people who are troubling the country’s stability…are spreading fake news and misinformation and causing misunderstanding among people by using Facebook,” the ministry letter claimed.
The power has been handed over to commander-in-chief General Min Aung Hlaing.
On Tuesday, General Min Aung Hlaing justified the action, saying the ouster of Aung San Suu Kyi’s government was inevitable.
The website NetBlocks, which tracks internet outages around the world, said multiple internet service providers in Myanmar were restricting access “as operators comply with an apparent blocking order”.
At least half of Myanmar’s population of 53 million use Facebook, which is considered to be an important source of communication.
The police in Myanmar have filed several charges against Suu Kyi after the military seized power in a coup against her democratically elected government. The charges against Suu Kyi include breaching import and export laws and possession of unlawful communication devices, including walkie-talkies found at her home in Nay Pyi Taw.
She was remanded in custody “to question witnesses, request evidence and seek legal counsel after questioning the defendant”, according to a police document submitted to a court. The documents also show that Suu Kyi has been remanded in custody till February 15, but her whereabouts are still unclear.
Activists in Myanmar have called for civil disobedience. On Tuesday, scores of people in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, honked car horns and banged on pots and pans as a part of public resistance to the coup.
The coup followed the landslide victory of National League for Democracy and Suu Kyi in national elections in November, with the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party faring poorly in its key strongholds.