Myanmar’s military has ordered telecommunications providers to block access to Facebook—including other Facebook-owned platforms such as WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger—until February 7 on the grounds of upholding stability in the aftermath of a military coup carried out on February 1. Karin Deutsch Karlekar, PEN America’s director of free expression at risk programs, said the following:

“This ban should be lifted immediately. Facebook is one of the main ways people communicate and receive news in Myanmar, and restricting access to a vital channel of information-sharing is an infringement of free expression and the right to information. At a time of political turmoil, as the democratic transition has been upended, access to a variety of news and information sources is of utmost importance. We urge authorities to keep mobile networks and the internet running, and allow media outlets, journalists, and civil society activists to operate freely. Additionally, we remain concerned about the ongoing detention of writers and other dissidents who were arrested on February 1, such as writers Maung Thar Cho, Daw Than Myint Aung, and Htin Lin Oo; they should be released immediately.”

Read PEN America’s Monday statement on the coup.