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In the recent months, some of the website’s recent stories included documents revealing alleged business interests of the children of top military generals and details of military profits from international businesses. In response, Myanmar authority has blocked all such websites. “The Justice for Myanmar” was one of the prominent website. It has been blocked in Myanmar on August 27 for allegedly spreading ‘fake news’.
The website was launched on April 28 by a ‘covert group of activists’ who vowed to expose the systemic corruption in the Myanmar military. They began to expose the systemic causes of inequality, violence, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Justice for Myanmar and its allies had been collecting evidences and exposing the vast business network funding brutal oppression in Myanmar.
The responsible persons of this website has said, ‘our claims are backed up by evidence and we welcome the government to respond to our reports, with evidence. However, instead of engaging in public debate and accountability, the civilian government has chosen repression and is attempting to cover-up the military’s wrongdoing’. They also added, ‘the blocking creates a challenge for us to fully engage with people within Myanmar. It shows the increased intolerance by the government on freedom of expression and that they are trying to cover up the crimes and corruption of the military. This is absolutely disturbing’. One of their objectives is to pressure international companies to cut financial ties with Myanmar’s military. They also said, ‘we will continue our campaign to dismantle the Myanmar military cartel by exposing their operations and building pressure for international action, including targeted sanctions and divestment. This is essential for Myanmar to achieve federal democracy and a sustainable peace’. They said there are more than 150 international and domestic companies engaged with military-owned businesses in Myanmar.
Myanmar’s military has ruled the country for decades until it was replaced by a civilian government in 2011. The military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party lost in the 2015 elections but the military is assured of seats in the parliament through a constitutional provision which the junta drafted and approved in 2008.
Myanmar’s telecommunications ministry spokesperson Myo Swe has tried to justify the reason why it ordered the blocking of a named website and three associated IP addresses. “The social media monitoring team found that some websites are spreading fake news.” Telecommunications operator Telenor Myanmar, a subsidiary of the Norwegian Telenor Group, released a statement protesting the directive issued by the ministry although it didn’t identify the blocked websites.
This is not the first time that the government invoked Section 77 of the Telecommunications Law to block websites. Last March, more than 200 websites were blocked for allegedly spreading ‘fake news’. The list included ethnic media platforms providing news coverage in remote communities.