Myanmar anti-coup protesters use unusual means to get message across

Anti-coup hackers target Myanmar government sites while defiant driversstopvehicles in middle of road

YANGON: In addition to the thousand who took to the streets yesterday, protesters have come up with some unusual ways to get back at the military for the Feb 1 coup that toppled Ms Aung San Suu Kyi's civilian government.

One way is to hack the government's websites.

A group called Myanmar Hackers disrupted websites including those of the Central Bank, the Myanmar military's propaganda page, state-run broadcaster MRTV, the Port Authority, and the Food and Drug Administration.

"We are fighting for justice in Myanmar," the group said on its Facebook page. "It is like a mass protesting of people in front of government websites."

Cyber security expert Matt Warren from Australia's RMIT University said it was likely the aim was to generate publicity.

"The sorts of attacks they would be undertaking are denial of service attacks or defacing websites, which is called hacktivism," he told AFP.

"The impact will be potentially limited, but what they are doing is raising awareness."

Another way to get at the junta? Leave your vehicle on the road so it blocks military ones.

At first glance, it looks as if motorists in Myanmar's largest city have collectively forgotten how to drive - streets are choked with overturned auto-rickshaws, stalled buses, cement trucks, cars and taxis.

But the traffic blockage on Yangon roads over the past two days has actually been a part of a disruption campaign by protesters in the hope of hampering movements of the security forces around the city.

Peak hour yesterday morning saw city roads turn into car parks as motorists stopped their vehicles in the middle of the road, with bonnets of some left open in pretence that the vehicles have broken down.

"We are participating in this 'broken-down car campaign' because we want to support the (civil servants) and also because we are proud of them," truck driver Phoe Thar told AFP.

Protesters demonstrated across Myanmar again yesterday and the police forcefully dispersed crowds, using a water cannon in the capital and catapults in a northern town.

Big crowds returned to Yangon's central Sule Pagoda while many young people also massed at another favourite protest site - an intersection near the main university campus, spilling into the streets as the police tried to move them on.


Meanwhile, the foreign ministers of Singapore and Indonesia expressed "grave concern" over the situation in Myanmar and support a proposal to hold an informal Asean ministerial meeting on the issue, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

The statement was issued after Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan met his Indonesian counterpart, Ms Retno Marsudi, in Singapore yesterday to exchange views on the ongoing developments in Myanmar.

Dr Balakrishnan urged all parties involved to exercise utmost restraint.

"There should be no violence against unarmed civilians. In particular, live rounds should not be fired on unarmed civilians under any circumstances," the statement said. - AFP, REUTERS, THE STRAITS TIMES