Thursday February 18, 2021
Creative resistance after coup
“Myanmar hackers” attack the military junta
The foreign ministers of the USA, Great Britain and other large states are calling on the military junta to move Myanmar back to democracy. The people in the country are imaginatively defending themselves against slipping into dictatorship: with their cars and with hacker attacks.
The protesters in Myanmar have shifted to new forms of protest against the military junta: A group called “Myanmar hackers” claimed to have attacked the websites of the central bank, the army’s PR department, the port administration, the food and drug regulator as well of the state broadcaster MRTV. In Rangoon, numerous motorists blocked the streets to prevent the security forces from getting through.
“We are fighting for justice in Myanmar,” said the hacker group on their Facebook page. She called her cyberattacks “mass protests in front of government websites”. The state newspaper “New Light of Myanmar” confirmed the attacks.
Mass protests against the junta have taken place in the Southeast Asian country since the military coup on February 1. In the largest city in the country, Yangon, the streets during rush hour were clogged with apparently broken down cars, buses, trucks and taxis. “We are participating in the ‘Car Breakdown Campaign’ because we want to support the (civil servants) and because we are proud of them,” said truck driver Phoe Thar. In the past few days, air traffic controllers, teachers, doctors and railway workers, among others, went on strike.
Eleven arrests at the State Department
Thousands of demonstrators crowded the city’s major intersections and showed the three-finger salute that has become a symbol of the protests. They chanted, “Don’t go to the office! Join the civil disobedience movement!” A monk held a sign that read “We need the US Army to save our situation”.
Tensions also erupted in the country’s second largest city, Mandalay. According to eyewitnesses, police and the military disbanded a group of demonstrators who were obstructing train traffic on Thursday night. According to a rescue service employee, the security forces also used firearms. It was unclear whether these were rubber bullets or live ammunition.
Police used water cannons in the capital, Naypyidaw. In addition, according to information from ministry circles, eleven employees of the Foreign Ministry were taken into custody for participating in the protests. A police officer who wanted to remain anonymous reported that at least 50 officers had been arrested in the past four days.
During the night, internet use was also severely restricted for the fourth time in a row. According to the organization Netblocks, the connections fell to around 20 percent of the usual level.
“Tracking Companies That Fund Oppression”
The foreign ministers of the USA, India, Japan and Australia called on the military junta in Myanmar “urgently” to return to democracy. Britain imposed sanctions on three high-ranking generals, including the heads of the Defense and Home Office. In addition, plans are in place to stop British companies from working with the military junta, the State Department said. Canada also sanctioned nine people responsible in Myanmar. Last week the US had already imposed punitive measures against the military leadership in the Southeast Asian country.
Human Rights Watch chief Kenneth Roth said the most important thing in the fight against the junta is tightening the financial thumbscrew: “The main problem is financial. So the next step must be tracking down the companies that the military owns and owns who used it to finance the coup and its suppression, “Roth told Deutsche Welle.
After almost 50 years of military rule since the country became independent in 1948, many citizens fear renewed repression. Hundreds of people have been arrested since the coup and several injured in the demonstrations. Nevertheless, the protest movement is still very popular. The demonstrators are demanding the return to democracy and the release of the disempowered de facto head of government Aung San Suu Kyi. She was arrested by the army in the course of the coup and placed under house arrest.