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Myanmar coup: Military bans satellite dishes in media crackdown

By
Don Johnson
Security forces stand guard in Yangon, Myanmar, on February 8 during civilian demonstrations that oppose the military-led government takeover that occurred a week earlier. File Photo by Xiao Long/ UPI
Security forces stand guard in Yangon, Myanmar, on February 8 during civilian demonstrations that oppose the military-led government takeover that occurred a week earlier. File Photo by Xiao Long/ UPI | License Photo

May 5 (UPI) -- More than three months after it took over the civilian government, Myanmar's military on Wednesday banned satellite dishes that it says were providing access to television programs that "harm state security."

Since the Feb. 1 coup, the military has stepped up efforts to halt independent news coverage of the takeover and subsequent civilian protests. During the coup, the military junta arrested leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other elected leaders, arguing that they had retained power through a fraudulent election last fall.

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Military-controlled newspaper Global New Light of Myanmar reported Wednesday that anyone who installs a satellite dish faces a year in prison or a $320 fine. It said news outlets were using "illegal" satellite dishes to broadcast programs that "harm the state security, the rule of law and community peace and tranquillity."

Broadband Internet access has also been restricted and mobile data cut off for more than 50 days.

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Wednesday's ban is the latest in a series of measures aimed at censuring Myanmar media.

Yuki Kitazumi, a Japanese journalist, was arrested Monday and became the first foreign reporter in Myanmar to face charges since the coup, according Kyodo news agency.

Kitazumi is charged under a law that says it's illegal to publish information that causes fear or spreads false news.

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Military authorities have also revoked operating licenses for several major Myanmar media outlets, United Nations spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said this week.

Protests, meanwhile, continue.

Teachers, students and parents marched outside schools in Mandalay on Wednesday calling for a boycott of the education system under the junta.

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The United States imposed sanctions last month against Myanmar's state-owned timber and pearl industries, key industries for the country, and President Joe Biden's administration is seeking to cut key financial resources to the military.

The sanctions freeze assets and block U.S. citizens from doing business with blacklisted companies.

Suu Kyi has been charged with multiple crimes since her arrest and has rarely been seen in public. Dozens of people have been killed in clashes with security forces.

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