The Myanmar Military Going After Mobile Phones To Maintain Their Control

Andar (not her real name), a 27-year-old saleswoman from Mandalay, was walking down a street when a member of the junta’s armed forces ordered her to hand over her cellphone.
My gallery of photos was viewed by them. My messages were read by them. They also checked my Facebook Messenger account. When I was asked if I participated in the protests, they asked if I was a part of it. “They wanted to know which side I supported in politics,” she replied.
She had already deleted any incriminating photos or messages. Without a perfunctory roadside interrogation, before she was sent on her way, they would not have let her off.
They could have ended these tense few minutes very differently if they discovered something suspicious. Like thousands of other Americans, she could have easily ended up in prison.
Andar (not her real name), a 27-year-old saleswoman from Mandalay, was walking down a street when a member of the junta’s armed forces ordered her to hand over her cellphone.
“They looked at my photo gallery. They read my messages. They also consulted my Facebook Messenger account. Then they asked if I had been involved in the protests. “They wanted to know what side I supported in politics,” she responded.
Fortunately, her incriminating pictures and messages had already been deleted. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have allowed her to get away with a roadside interrogation before sending her on her way.
If the investigators had found anything suspicious, these tense few minutes might have ended very differently. Like thousands of others across the country, she could have easily ended up behind bars.
Young people say they are especially at risk in Yangon, the former capital, because their generation, known as “Generation Z,” has been at the forefront of the anti-coup movement.
“Anything that suggests our support for the movement, such as a photo of the three-finger salute, is enough to get us imprisoned and tortured,” said a Yangon resident.
When he moves around the city regularly, he said he avoids areas where armed resistance fighters have attacked regime forces or assassinated military informants. Places where explosions have targeted government buildings or properties owned by military allies are most dangerous, he said.
As one young woman who was recently subjected to a thorough interrogation while traveling from Yangon to her hometown of Pyapon in Ayeyarwady Region told me, the worst thing you can do is betray your fear.
“If you look nervous, they will try to make you even more afraid,” she said of the soldiers who stopped her. “I just showed them my phone and did not show them how worried I was.”
The troops who took her phone didn’t just examine her social media accounts. They also examined the apps she used for financial transactions, such as KBZ Pay and Wave Pay.

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