ARTICLE 19 and 19 partners in civil society have issued a statement demanding that the international community publicly condemn the Myanmar junta’s brutal human rights violations and support efforts to destroy the military’s complex surveillance infrastructure.
Today, 1 February, marks two years since the Myanmar military initiated a deadly coup, ripping the country out of democratic transition. The bloody invasion is being systematically strengthened through authorities’ tightening stranglehold over the nation’s digital spheres and expanding surveillance infrastructure. After more than 700 days, this menacing control must be put to an end.
The military’s surveillance infrastructure is designed to track and target the people’s resistance. Since February 2021, the junta has managed to consolidate control over digital spaces and data by facilitating the sale of the last two foreign-controlled telecommunication providers, Telenor and Ooredoo — in turn, activating intercept technologies that monitor communications. This domination is further solidified through ongoing internet shutdowns and by compelling residents to surrender personal details to the military by the forced registration of SIM cards and unique IMEI numbers that can be used to gather location information or set the stage for false accusations of financing terrorism leading to the deactivation of mobile payment accounts.
As long as the military remains desperate to gain international legitimacy, there is leverage to resist this coup, both online and offline. Continued inaction costs lives.
The joint statement contains key recommendations to the international community and corporations.
Recommendations for the international community:
- Publicly condemn and push back against assaults on rights by the military and supportive private actors;
- Support calls for governments to scrutinise the sale of products to the Myanmar military to make sure these are not being used to facilitate human rights violations, and take further steps to enforce and tighten measures aimed at restricting the sale and supply of dual-use surveillance technologies to Myanmar;
- Hold companies accountable for apparent failures to respect human rights through their operations in Myanmar; and
- Provide support in various forms to the people of Myanmar, including human rights defenders, civil society, and journalists who face immense risk for their work.