Myanmar Junta Is Holding Senior Foreign Executives Of Major Telecommunications Quasi Hostage

Myanmar -

Myanmar Junta Is Holding Senior Foreign Executives Of Major Telecommunications Quasi Hostage

Several senior foreign executives of major telecommunications firms in Myanmar are being held quasi hostage after being told by the junta that they are not allowed to leave the country without permission.

Months before the Feb. 1 coup, telecom companies and internet service providers were ordered to install spyware to allow the army to spy and monitor civilian communications. Among the military's first actions on Feb. 1 was to cut and limit internet access in effort to hide its crimes from the world and prevent protests from organizing. The telecoms were given regular lists of websites and activist phone numbers to block. A confidential order from Myanmar’s Posts and Telecommunications Department (PTD) in mid-June said senior executives, both foreigners and Myanmar nationals, must seek special authorization to leave the country. Telecom companies were also told they had until Monday July 5 to fully implement spyware intercept technology.

The travel ban comes after intensified pressure from military officials to finish the implementation of the surveillance equipment. The ban is meant to pressure telecoms firms to finish activating the spyware technology. The espionage technology would allow authorities spy on calls, messages and web traffic and to track protestors and potential dissenters. The junta also announced it would pass a cybersecurity bill that would require telecoms providers to provide data when requested and remove or block any content deemed to be disrupting "unity, stabilization, and peace." It also amended privacy laws to free security forces to intercept communications.

The junta has destroyed Myanmar economy which was one of the fastest growing in the region and its telecom sector, which had been one of the fastest-growing globally. The Myanmar junta has set the country back decades and killed over 892 people, mostly youths. Many of which were brilliant and represented a bright future and opportunity for Myanmar. Instead, the country is now ruled by an oligarchy of rogue military elites engaged in the mass plundering of the countries resources and a military caste that has done little for innovation, progress, or economic stability.

The United Nations and the Western powers led by the United States continue to condemn the illegal take over. The US has imposed a series of new sanctions against the regime, including freezing $ 1 billion in reserves that Myanmar’s Central Bank was holding at the New York Fed. The United States has also imposed fresh sanctions on 22 individuals including four Myanmar government ministers in July in response to the February military coup. The sanctions target Myanmar’s minister of information Chit Naing, minister for investment Aung Naing Oo, labour and immigration minister Myint Kyaing, and Thet Thet Khine, the minister for social welfare, relief and resettlement. Three members of the powerful State Administrative Council were also hit with sanctions, as were 15 spouses and adult children of officials, in an expansion of US punishments imposed in February, March and May following the coup. Under the sanctions, all US property in the name of the individuals are blocked, and Americans or people in the US are prohibited from conducting property or interest transactions with them. Other Western powers are expected to increase sanctions and pressure as well.

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