'Don't call it a coup,' Myanmar junta warns

'Don't call it a coup,' Myanmar junta warns

Reports say seven high-profile figures facing charges over social media comments

Graffiti on a bus stop in Yangon on Saturday uses a word the military doesn’t like. (AFP Photos)
Graffiti on a bus stop in Yangon on Saturday uses a word the military doesn’t like. (AFP Photos)

YANGON: Myanmar’s military leaders aren’t happy with the choice of words used to describe this month’s coup.

Amid a state of emergency that was “in accordance” with the constitution, some media are using “incorrect words” such as coup and referring to the military as a “junta” or “regime”, the Ministry of Information said in a statement to the Myanmar Press Council on Friday.

Inaccurate usage could be “acts of instigation that may arouse civil unrest”, it said. It’s also a violation of laws related to publishing, the ministry said.

Cases have already been filed against seven well-known personalities in Myanmar over comments made on social media that could threaten national stability, the army's True News information team said on Saturday.

All those named are opponents of the Feb 1 coup in which the elected government was overthrown and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and dozens of others detained. The majority are also supporters of her National League for Democracy party.

The military — known as the Tatmadaw — has declared a state of emergency for a year and voided the results of the Nov 8 election, which the National League for Democracy (NLD) party won in a landslide.

Aung San Suu Kyi urged the country’s 55 million people to oppose the army’s move, calling it “an attempt to bring the nation back under the military dictatorship”.

Earlier this week, the junta proposed a cybersecurity law that could result in social media users being fined or jailed for posts containing what it construes as “misinformation or disinformation that causes public panic”.

Human Rights Watch condemned the sweeping law, calling it a “despot’s dream”.

The NLD party said the cybersecurity law was another attempt by the junta to limit freedom of speech and access to the internet.

The Myanmar Computer Federation, the largest private sector technology organisation, and affiliated groups said they strongly disagree with the enactment of the law, citing a lack of public consultation and insufficient time to give expert input to the ministry.

At least 120 technology companies in Myanmar issued a statement on Saturday to denounce the bill, which they said “violates the basic principles of digital rights, privacy and other human rights”.

“Given the current complex political situation, a regime fast-tracking bill is in violation with the fundamentals of the Constitution and will not create any positive values for the society,” the companies said.

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