Journalists in Myanmar continued performing their professional duties undeterred on Tuesday flouting a ban imposed by the military junta to muffle the coverage of ongoing anti-coup protests.
The junta late on Monday revoked the license of five local media groups — Mizzima, Democratic Voice of Burma, Khit Thit Media, Myanmar Now and 7Day News — in a bid to stop them from airing news about the protests.
“These media companies are no longer allowed to broadcast or write or give information by using any kind of media platform or using any media technology,” the junta said on state-run broadcaster MRTV.
In clear defiance, four of the banned media outlets continue the coverage of anti-coup protests online.
Tha Lun Zaung Htet, founder of the Khit Thit Media, said the ban was a major blow to press freedom in Myanmar.
“The security forces and the junta itself are acting lawlessly. The license revoke was clearly an attempt to block the flow of accurate information,” he told Anadolu Agency over phone on Tuesday.
“We will continue providing information,” said Htet, who was among those who recently resigned from the Myanmar Press Council after a ban was imposed on the use of the terms “regime, coup and junta.”
More detentions and protests
At least 34 journalists have been detained by troops since the Feb. 1 military coup, according to a tally by the Democratic Voice of Burma. While many were released shortly after, at least 10 detained journalist have been facing charges as of Monday.
7Day News, one of the largest dailies in the country, stopped publication on Tuesday and apparently deactivated its social media page as well.
In a related development on Tuesday, residents of Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, took to the streets demanding the release of their detained peers.
Fearing police action, some 200 protesters hid inside house in the Sanchaung township, one of the major protest sites in the city on Monday.
The troops cordoned off the neighborhood and announced via loudspeakers that resident should inform them of overnight guests.
The troops finally left in the wee hours of Tuesday and volunteers helped in evacuation efforts.
Dozens of people have been killed by security forces in Myanmar in their clamp down on anti-coup protesters which started just after Feb. 1 when democratically elected leader Aung Suu Kyyi was ousted and detained by the military junta.
The UN and rights groups have expressed concern over the use of disproportionate force by the military junta on unarmed protesters.
Private bankers defy junta
Following over 100 police officials decided to quit their jobs and join the anti-coup movement, bankers in Myanmar also broke ranks, forcing most of the private banks to shut down on Monday.
The National Administrative Council, led by the coup leader Sen. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, ordered all banks to open their branches across the country yesterday, after the financial sector has been in chaos for weeks following the growing anti-coup movement.
Private banks, however, were unable to resume operations due to a lack of staff, said an official of the Myanmar Banks Association.
“As far as I know, private banks asked their staff whether they would resume their work on Monday. However, most of the staff choose not to go back to work as say they are not in a position to follow the order,” the official said requesting anonymity because of fear of reprisals.
It was not yet clear whether the staff would return to work or remain absent for a longer period of time.
“Some private banks will, however, be able to resume operations in the coming days,” he told Anadolu Agency by phone.
Nonetheless, he said private banks are in full operation for digital banking services.
A large number of people were seen lined up at a branch of Myawaddy – a military-owned bank – in Yangon’s Lanmadaw township.
Since the Feb. 1 military coup, the number of police who have quit their jobs has risen to more than 100.
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