Burma

Myanmar Junta Bans Satellite Dishes in Effort to Restrict Anti-Regime News

By The Irrawaddy 9 April 2021

The Myanmar military regime has banned people from using satellite dishes that enable them to access anti-regime protest news from a number of local independent media outlets. The move is the junta’s latest attempt to restrict access to protest-related news in Myanmar.

Satellite dishes have provided access to independent news for people in most parts of the country since the regime shut down broadband and mobile data access to the internet.

On Thursday, authorities confiscated PSI satellite dishes in parts of Ayeyarwady Region and Mon and Kachin states.

Citing an order from the township General Administration Department, administrators asked residents in some villages in Maubin Township, Ayeyarwady Region to remove their PSI satellite dishes, said a resident.

“They said the PSI satellite dishes are not licensed and asked us to remove them. They said they would take legal action if they find we are still using the satellite dishes when they next come for inspection,” he said.

Most households have removed their satellite dishes following the warning. “I have removed my satellite dish because when they come for inspection, they won’t handle it gently, they are likely to smash it,” said one female resident.

Police are reportedly seizing PSI satellite dishes from electronics shops in various parts of the country.

Myanmar’s military regime has gradually restricted internet service since their Feb.1 coup, in an attempt to impose a news blackout on the nationwide anti-regime protests.

Initially, the process began with the blocking of Facebook, which is synonymous with the internet in Myanmar. The junta then cut mobile data service, the most common way of connecting to the internet, but only at night. In the second week of March, the regime imposed a total ban on mobile data service following its increasing use of deadly force against protesters. It has also banned wireless broadband since early April.

The regime’s governing body, the State Administrative Council, has also scrapped the licenses of a number of private media companies since early March, including Myanmar Now, DVB, Mizzima, Khit Thit Media and 7 Day, as well as opening a case against The Irrawaddy.

But those media outlets have continued their operations on social media, while DVB TV and Mizzima also continue to operate their TV channels, prompting the authorities to target PSI satellite dishes which offer access to those channels.

The military council on April 6 said it has not been able to control online and foreign media.

During its previous coups in 1962 and 1988, Myanmar’s military was able to impose a gag on the press, using state-owned media for propaganda.

However, this time the military’s propaganda has failed thanks to extensive coverage of the coup by not only local and international media but also social media. That has ensured that the military’s unlawful activities such as indiscriminate shootings, torture and looting have been widely documented.

 

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