The military continued to repress internet freedom in the face of ongoing civil disobedience, political opposition, and armed conflict after staging its February 2021 coup. Following the nationwide, long-term shutdowns imposed in early 2021, authorities instead imposed localized restrictions ahead of military attacks against opposition forces. Most internet users in the country can only access 1,200 government-approved websites. The military directly controls two mobile service providers and forced the sale of another two to military-linked companies, leaving people in Myanmar even more vulnerable to censorship and surveillance. Despite these and other obstacles—including detentions, egregious physical violence, and the country’s first executions in decades—people in Myanmar continued to use digital tools to share information and organize opposition to the military.
Myanmar’s already-stalled democratic transition was completely derailed in February 2021, when the military seized control of the government, arresting dozens of senior government officials and preventing the newly elected parliament from convening. The National League for Democracy (NLD), which won a sweeping victory in the November 2020 elections, led a broad-based opposition to the takeover, organizing the country- wide Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM). Protesters were met with indiscriminate violence from military forces, and journalists, activists, and ordinary people risked criminal charges and detention for voicing dissent. Armed conflict between the military and ethnic armed groups continued, as did the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya, a mostly Muslim ethnic minority group.
A Myanmar translation of the report will be available soon.