Myanmar Government Orders All Telecom Companies, Including Norway Based Telenor, to Shutdown 3G/4G Internet Service in Rakhine and Chin State until October 31, 2020

Woman activists in Yangon conducted an online photos op protest to reopen internet services in Rakhine Chin State on June 21, 2020. 
AN. Sittway. August 2, 2020.

Arakan News got information from local people last night mobile internet services were reopened in 8 townships in Rakhine and Chin States, but Norway based telecommunication company releases a statement today and said, “Myanmar Ministry of Transports and Communication (MoTC) directed all mobile phone operators, including Telenor Myanmar, to extend the Internet restriction on 3G and 4G services in all eight townships in Rakhine and Chin States. 2G service will be available in addition to voice and SMS as per directed.”

The statement said, “3G and 4G services went into effective on 1 August at 10.00 pm local time. The MoTC cites prevention of acts of terrorism as reason to continue internet restriction until 31 October 2020.” 

Telenor Myanmar said it is concerned lack of internet services in 8 township and impact on civilians.

Mobile operators reopened internet at 10 pm on August 1 but Myanmar government forces the operators to shut it down again on August 2. It had shut down the mobile internet service since June 20 last year. It reopened in May 2020 but blocked it again three months later. Since today, it has been continuing the Internet restriction.

The immediate effect of today Internet shutdown are Buthedaung, Kyauktaw, Minbya, Mrauk U, Maybon, Rathedaung, Ponnaygun, and Paletwa township in Chin State. 
Arakan Army Spokesperson Khine Thu Kha said, “The extension of internet shutdown is to cover up Myanmar government’s military committing daily-deadly war crimes against Rakhine people and attempts to deter timely report of the continuance the rights violation from the ground. This shutdown proves that they will escalate more abuses and war crimes.” 
He said, “There are amount of evidences Myanmar military has committed war crimes in killing, torturing, rapping women, setting fire the villages, use of jet fighters and some deadly weapons that are barred in civil war over the Rakhine and Chin populations.”

“What international community and United Nations have to clearly see through is both Myanmar government and the military are not like any other standard government and military and cannot be compared with it that respect and protect over the ruled. But they are state organizations that cruelly treat the ruled as the state is sponsoring the military terrorism and violence. They just name themselves they are government. In fact, they all are the real terrorists,” he said. 

He urges international community and UN should give more pressures on Myanmar government and use every leverage and power to stop the violence in Rakhine and Chin States and should enforce international law to bring the perpetrators to justice, and that should be a concrete option to end the state terrorism in Myanmar.

International community, United Nations, and local and international human rights organizations pressurized Myanmar government to open the world longest internet shutdown in Myanmar. But it seems music to a buffalo. 

“It is clear as natural evidence that the real state terrorists who always attempt to cover up their crimes as Myanmar government and military do and that is why they are extending the internet shutdown over the civilian populations in Rakhine State. There are many attacks of terrorists in in many countries as an example in US on 9/11 and over the World Trade Center but the government never shut down the internet while tacking down the individual terrorists and organizations, but Myanmar government does—it shows they are the real terrorist organization and perpetrating on ruled civilians,” he said.

Local activists and lawmakers protested many times to reopen the internet, but two Rakhine student leaders, Kyaw Lunn and Myat Hein Tun, are sentenced to jail for one month on July 23 in protesting to reinstate internet services in Rakhine and Chin States in May. 
“It is ridiculous the government forces the mobile operators to shut down the Internet services again in 8 townships in Rakhine and Chin States. It shows the leadership is out of compassion and irrational. It is a high threat of Covid-19 infection; election is coming in; over 200,000 IDPS are facing lack of appropriate and dignified shelters and privacy; lack of adequate foods and health care services; people are dying every day by landmines and shells and bullets set and fired by the government soldiers. Rakhine and Chin people are humans too. Their lives matter,” said a local activist, who does not want to publish his name for personal security. 
First, the government gave the reason for Internet shutdown was misuse of the people and hate speech. Later, it changed to military reason as AA was using the Internet services for remote mines planting and controlling. At this time, the MoTC gives the reason of terrorism law while forcing the mobile operators to shut down the internet services. 

Ko Kyaw Hla Tun* said, “Their words are the law. Whatever comes out of their mouths it is the law. Then they say it democracy and rule of law.”

“Who are the real terrorists? To whom terrorist law is applying for? I am very outrageous now. The government and the military are the real terrorists who treat people cruelly and discriminate against Rakhine and Chin ethnic people. This is the government that totally sponsors the state terrorism and giving the very brutal military for every impunity to extra judicial killing and arbitrary arrests and arson. Now, extending the Internet shutdown again that immensely impacts on millions of civilian populations,” he said.

Myanmar government has been charged with genocide against Rohingya populations before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in earlier month of this year. International Criminal Court (ICC) and Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM) are looking for criminal charges against individuals of Myanmar government and military leaders to bring into international justice for committing war crimes, crime against humanity, and genocide against Rakhine, Chin, Karen, Kachin, and Shan ethnic people after 2010.

Nicholas Koumijan, head of IIMM, has wrote a warning article in Bangkok Post a couple months ago and said he was closely watching on Myanmar and warned that the perpetrator (s) would not walk out free from the crimes they have committed and while internet was blackout. He said anyone is accountable for the crimes he/she commits. 


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