Myanmar to Punish Facebook Users for Posting Fake Govt Order

By Htet Naing Zaw 7 April 2020

NAYPYITAW—The Myanmar government will take harsh legal action against the Facebook users who first posted a fake government order to detain those who disrupted the Facebook page of State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

According to the fake order, the State Counselor’s page had received disrespectful memes and messages. But government spokesman U Zaw Htay informed a group of reporters over Facebook Messenger that “the document signed by director-general Kyaw Tun Thet on behalf of the deputy minister of the State Counselor’s Office is fake.”

The fake order is addressed to deputy home affairs minister Major General Aung Thu, asking him to work with the Ministry of Transport and Communications and the cyber police force to detain those who disrupted the Facebook page of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

The order also said that “Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has instructed that the list of names and IP addresses attached to this order must not be leaked.”

Some of the Facebook pages and groups where the fake order was first posted are those that feature activities of a major political party and an institution, according U Zaw Htay. The government has reportedly recorded IP addresses and names of the individuals involved.

The fake document.

The Irrawaddy found that the Facebook page The Conservative was the first to publish the fake document. The page mainly features activities of the Tatmadaw, or Myanmar military, and its proxy the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). The page later removed the fake order.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi began posting on her Facebook account last Wednesday, saying that she wanted to be able to communicate effectively with the people as the country is facing the coronavirus pandemic. Through her page, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has held online discussions with people working in the field to address COVID-19, responded to public feedback and shared her views, attracting the attention of much of the Myanmar public.

The fake order followed an announcement on Monday afternoon by the national-level COVID-19 response team, led by Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, that the government will provide basic food for those across the country struggling during the 10-day Thingyan New Year holiday. The holiday starts later this week amid heavy restrictions on movement to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The government also promised that each household on the central electric grid will be allowed to use 150 electricity units free of charge until the end of April.

Myanmar has seen many cases of fake government announcements and instructions shared on social media, but the perpetrators of these fake documents have never been held accountable.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.

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