Myanmar military government orders shutdown of mobile internet in an attempt to contain protests

Myanmar’s military government has ordered the shutdown of mobile internet service in the country indefinitely, several phone companies have said.

The decision to suspend the Internet did not specify the reason. The government is believed to have taken the step in an attempt to dismantle the street protests, which have been spreading across the country for weeks.

In the country, access to mobile Internet is much more widespread than fixed broadband. The government has already ordered the suspension of Internet access on other occasions, but in a timely manner.

Two months ago, on February 1, the military overthrew the country’s civilian government and arrested its leaders.

Aung San Suu Kyi, 75, the main civilian leader arrested in the coup, has been the target of a new charge: that of violating a colonial-era law on official secrets, according to her lawyer.

At first, Suu Kyi was charged with minor violations, such as the illegal import of six walkie-talkies and an alleged violation of protocols to combat the spread of the coronavirus. She is being held in an unknown location and her lawyer can only speak to her by video call.

At least 538 people have been killed so far in protests against the coup, including 141 on Saturday (27), the bloodiest day to date, according to the AAPP (Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners), a group linked to the Burmese militants.

This Thursday (1st), new demonstrations took place in several regions of the country. At least two new deaths have been reported.

The armed forces seized power on the grounds that the national elections in November, in which the pro-military party suffered a crushing defeat for the National League for Democracy, led by Suu Kyi, were defrauded – an act of accusation so far without evidence.

Last week, the international community stepped up pressure on the Burmese military, with new US and European sanctions. However, Russia and China have avoided criticizing the coup. Since both countries are permanent members of the UN Security Council and can thus block UN actions against Myanmar’s current command. For this reason, pro-democracy activists have started attacking factories linked to China.

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