Opinion – Gendered digital oppression in Myanmar’s online dissent

Myanmar’s political history is full of violent military coups.upon February 1, 2021, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing seized control of Myanmar, turning a budding democracy back into a violent dictatorship. This is the third time in 59 years that the military has taken control of Burma since its independence. first coup d’état 32 years later under General Ne Win The second one was ordered by SLORC. This country’s history is full of brutal military regimes, but it is also full of people’s revolutions fighting against military regimes. 8888 uprising, saffron revolutionand now spring revolution.

The Spring Revolution is different from previous revolutions in that it is the most sustained anti-junta movement this country has ever seen. While both the 8888 Uprising and the Saffron Revolution lasted only a few months, the Spring Revolution continues to gain momentum in 2024, more than three years after the latest coup occurred. I am. The long-running conflict still continues across the country. As of April 26, 2024, 4,946 civilians was murdered A total of 26,573 people were arrested by the regime. Despite violent repression, millions of people took to the streets to protest the military occupation. The ongoing Spring Revolution includes a variety of actors and initiatives, including but not limited to: Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM)frontline protests; National Unity Government (NUG)and the People’s Defense Forces (PDF).

To strengthen cooperation between the various branches of the Spring Revolution, pro-democracy activists are increasingly relying on social media. For women in particular, social media has become a powerful space to express political opinions and organize against the military regime. In response to growing online resistance, the junta took the following steps: Strict measures for digital repression It actively persecutes civilians who show support for rebel groups online. Online violence against democratic activists often leads to offline violence, including arrests and sexual assault. The Burmese military’s digital crackdown is very gendered This is because women activists face significantly higher rates of gender-based violence and persecution than their male counterparts.

Authoritarian behavior and responses to online dissent in Myanmar can be categorized as follows: 5 categories: Internet shutdowns, online censorship, surveillance, targeted persecution of online users, social media manipulation and disinformation. However, in addition to these five categories, women online activists in Myanmar also face specific forms of gender-based violence. Examples of such gender-based violence include: exposure, Abusive messages containing sexist language, Leaking intimate videos and images without consent, sexual misinformation, threat of sexual violence, Rape threats, death threats. Various forms of sexual oppression have the most traumatic physical and psychological effects, exposing women online activists and their families to social shame. The overwhelming majority of gender-based online violence Activities targeting pro-democracy women are carried out by men.

When Myanmar women express political opinions on social media, their personal information is exposed much higher rate than men who are politically active online. Many women activists use pro-military or male-identifying social media figures, e.g. Han Nyein Wu and Banyun, was arrested by security forces. This arrest carries an additional risk of more gender-based violence against women. gang rape The Burmese military systematically employs a large number of women and girls.

The gender-discriminatory nature of the Burmese military regime’s digital repression is worrying, as online violence against women poses a major barrier to women’s meaningful political participation.by 2023 Freedom House Online Freedom Report, Myanmar is one of the most digitally repressive regimes in the world after China. realized through the political support of Russia and Chinais equipped with international surveillance technology, the Burmese regime has committed crimes against humanity by targeting individuals who spoke out against the military government on social media. Women bear the brunt of this targeted digital oppression simply because of their gender.

The case of Myanmar highlights how dictators are using social media as a political tool to not only react to women’s online activities, but actively block them. Online repression tactics employed by the Burmese military could be attractive to other authoritarian governments that suppress feminist dissent in their countries. If this disturbing possibility were to materialize, women’s rights could be further regressed at a very alarming rate in various authoritarian regimes. Therefore, it is not enough for the international community to condemn gender-based digital oppression in Myanmar through statements and press releases. International stakeholders are working with civil society in Myanmar to provide women with strong training in digital security and fight for democracy with safer, creative and disruptive forms of digital activism. We need to be able to continue.

Further reading on electronic international relations

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