Facebook has reportedly upheld a ban on many organizations in Myanmar that have joined forces to resist the military coup that occurred back in February, according to Rest of World. The bans were put in place back in 2019, when organizations like the Arakan Army, and many of its allies, were classified as terrorist organizations by the democratically-elected government.
Things have changed in Myanmar since then. After the military coup and government takeover by the Tatmadaw (carried out after an election which the military claims was fraudulent), the political situation has become extremely complex. There is, however, one thing that is seemingly clear: the Arakan Army is no longer classified as a terrorist organization, either by the current military-led government, or by the elected government currently in exile. Yet, according to Rest of World, the Arakan Army is still not allowed on Facebook.
The AA isn’t the only group that’s found itself unable to communicate through Facebook. There are apparently many ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) active in the country, some of which have banded together as a resistance to the coup government, which has been violently cracking down on pro-democracy protestors. Many of their Facebook pages were also restricted back in 2019, under orders of the democratically elected government, which has since been overthrown.
According to Rest of World, the ban of EAOs was controversial before the coup as well: some argue that it prevented the spread of information about human rights violations, like the genocide against the Rohingya Muslims carried out by the Tatmadaw. Now, EAOs and journalists in the country argue that Facebook’s bans prevent them from showing what’s happening in the struggle against the current military government. The director of a human rights organization told Rest of World that the bans are “like trying to close the people’s eyes and ears.”
Facebook also banned pages associated with the Tatmadaw following the coup, but human rights activist Thinzar Shunlei Yi tells Rest of World that the company has still failed to react to the political changes that have occurred in Myanmar since then, and called on the company to create an official oversight board for the country.