Myanmar military resort to information blackout to contain growing decent

Myanmar military sealed off several areas in capital Yangon and imposed an information blackout in quest to contain decent.

More than 200 people have been killed in protests since the military seized power in a February 1 coup, according to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.

Bachelet said the death toll could be much higher because the UN agency doesn’t have access to some areas where more killings may have happened. She added that some 2,400 people have been detained.

The military imposed martial law in six areas of Yangon, following the bloodiest day of violence against anti-coup protesters amid arson attacks on Chinese-funded factories. Martial law was also imposed in parts of the second city Mandalay, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Martial law under the junta’s regime means the military commander of the Yangon region is given “full administrative and judicial authority” in districts where martial law is declared, local media outlet Myanmar Now reported.

“Effectively, martial law means that the military has complete control over these areas, rather than working through civilian administrators or judges,” said Melissa Crouch, law professor at the University of New South Wales, Australia.

Mobile network data across the country was cut.

Protesters and journalists have relied on their mobile phones to live stream demonstrations and document police crackdowns, and the military’s suppression of information has increased fears it could lead to more human rights abuses, killings and arbitrary arrests.

Meanwhile, opposition to Myanmar’s junta continues to spread. On Wednesday, the most powerful religious body in the Buddhist-majority nation said it will end support to the military by stopping all its activities, according to Myanmar Now.

The impact of the coup and civil disobedience movement, which has disrupted parts of the country’s economy, is starting to sting. On Tuesday, the UN World Food Programme said rising food and fuel prices are undermining the ability of the poorest in the country to feed themselves and their families.

“These rising food and fuel prices are compounded by the near paralysis of the banking sector, slowdowns in remittances, and widespread limits on cash availability,” the WFP said.