Myanmar military threatens jail for online ‘likes’ for opponents

Myanmar’s military spokesman General Zaw Min Tun attends a news conference ahead of the start of a new parliamentary term and the formation of the new government in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, January 26, 2021. REUTERS/Thar Byaw/File Photo

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September 20 (Reuters) – Myanmar’s ruling junta on Tuesday warned the public against showing moral support for a “terrorist” resistance movement, threatening jail terms of up to 10 years simply for “liking” its content on social media me” tagged or shared.

Violence has plagued Myanmar since the military seized power early last year, with clashes on multiple fronts between junta forces and militias allied to a shadow government and pro-democracy groups.

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Information Minister and junta spokesman Zaw Min Tin said “terrorists” were looking for means to kill innocent people in their campaign to destabilize the country, so their support would be severely punished.

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He said social media endorsements by the Government of National Unity (NUG) or its armed affiliate, the People’s Defense Forces (PDF), could result in jail terms of three to 10 years and worse for those who provide even small amounts of money.

“If you donate money or support terrorists and their actions, you will face harsher penalties. We are doing this to protect innocent civilians,” he said in a televised news conference that included a presentation detailing penalties for supporting resistance groups.

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Since the coup, opponents of the military have used social media platforms to further spread their message, with citizen journalists often posting images of protests and alleged atrocities by the army.

The United Nations has accused the junta of mass murder and crimes against humanity since its coup last year. Thousands were arrested and many imprisoned in secret trials.

She recently executed four democracy activists, accusing them of supporting militia attacks.

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International calls for deeper engagement with the NUG and their inclusion in any peace process in Myanmar have been voiced, which the junta refuses on the grounds of the need to restore order.

The UN human rights office called for further isolation of the military in a report last week, saying it had failed to govern the country in a meaningful and sustainable manner or to resolve a “deep financial sector crisis”.

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reporting by Reuters staff; Writing by Martin Petty Editing by Ed Davies

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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