Myanmar (MNN) — Amid an intensifying crackdown, Myanmar’s military pushes for a new cybersecurity law to keep citizens in the dark. Meanwhile, Asian Access supports local Christian leaders as they shine Christ’s light in their communities.
On Friday, leaders of the military junta proposed a draconian cybersecurity bill, the latest chapter in ongoing communication cutoffs. If implemented, the bill would remove content the government deems unacceptable and punish violations with criminal penalties.
“The government is looking at shutting down all forms of communication because of pressure from outside the country, and because of uprisings and social unrest in the country itself,” Asian Access President Joe Handley says.
Civilians in Myanmar are “being fed information about what’s happening [in their country] from outside media sources, so the government has slowly and surely started to clamp down on those sources of information,” he explains.
“The first phase was all local phone lines were shut down. As of the 15th, they’re going to be shutting down all forms of internet communication – at least that’s the threat.”
Two weeks ago, a coup-d’état sparked widespread protests that continue today. Signs point to an even larger military suppression in the days to come. “Two things have increased the concern,” Handley says.
“One: they’re kidnapping people they suspect are communicating with the West or outside entities, and people that have been involved in the social uprisings,” he continues.
“My colleagues are now doing 24/7 watches on their own homes. They’re afraid for their own family’s sake.”
Friday brought another alarming development. “The second thing is the military has released tons and tons of prisoners within society,” Handley says.
“The people I’m talking to are very concerned that [release] will increase the likelihood of more criminal behavior on the streets. The military is creating more and more chaos to subdue [people].”
Asian Access partners with and equips local church leaders throughout Myanmar. Learn more here. While troublesome, current events provide Gospel opportunities.
“As these leaders are sharing the love and truth of Jesus, helping their neighbors, encouraging them, calming their fears – that’s when the Church can shine in society,” Handley explains.
“Pray for our colleagues as they try to head out on the streets. It’s dangerous to be out there, but they want to be there as a source of hope and light and encouragement.”
Header image depicts protestors in Myanmar on February 14, 2021. (Photo obtained via Wikimedia Commons)