Upcoming event: Social Research and the Internet in Post-coup Myanmar (December 7, 8:30pm MMT/ 9am EST)
“Cyberspace and Freedom of Expression in Post-coup Myanmar”
Join Tea Circle and the SecDev Foundation on Tuesday, 7 December 2021, at 9am EST, for “Social Research and the Internet in Post-Coup Myanmar,” where affiliated researchers will discuss the report, “Cyberspace and Freedom of Expression in Post-coup Myanmar,” and other research documenting the evolution of online responses to the coup. Register for the event here.
The political crisis in Myanmar has shown once again how the digital world is now an integral part of civil conflicts. Whether in Syria, Hong Kong, Thailand, or the United States, online interactions are interwoven with real-world protest, resistance, and violence. Following the military coup on 1 February 2021, protesters organized online and used social media to spread and amplify their voices. The military regime responded with network shutdowns, control over telecoms, online surveillance, and stop and search of mobile phones. Youth in Myanmar faced an existential crisis. The country’s brief experiment with democracy and an open media environment had seen social media emerge as a place of outspoken discussion and free expression – including the challenging rise of online hate speech and social punishment. Now, that online environment is linked to many cases of arrest, torture, and even death.
To explore how the coup has impacted the country’s youth from a social and political angle, a team of researchers in Myanmar has written the report described here and discussed in Tuesday’s upcoming event, hosted by Tea Circle in association with the SecDev Foundation. The researchers, who carried out focus group discussions and key informant interviews on cyberspace and youth conceptions on freedom of expression, have requested anonymity to protect themselves and their subjects. The report, “Cyberspace and Freedom of Expression in Post-coup Myanmar,” is a bold attempt to document Myanmar’s shifting digital culture. It looks beyond statistics and user data, to ask about the complex motivations Myanmar youth have for engaging with the online world. Does the online world make youths feel energized, fatigued, or conflicted? What does “freedom of expression” mean amidst a political crisis? And what about the controversial practice of “social punishment”?
The research grant that funded this report included support for three small multimedia ‘artivism’ projects that gave young creatives a chance to visualize and explore their thoughts on freedom of expression. The below video summarizes the three artivism works. As with the report’s researchers, all of the artists have requested anonymity.
The full research report is available here.
Disclaimer: This research project was facilitated by the SecDev Foundation with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of the SecDev Foundation, IDRC or its Board of Governors.