Conflicts & War

World’s longest internet shutdown leaves Myanmar in dark

By Carlos Sardiña Galache

Bangkok, Jun 22 (efe-epa).- The world’s longest internet blockade in Myanmar’s conflict-ridden northwest has entered its second year, preventing the arrival of humanitarian aid and Covid-19 information to the Rakhine state.

Myanmar’s government has been fighting the Arakan Army (AA), an armed group fighting for the independence of ethnic Rakhine Buddhists, in a bloody war since January 2019.

Authorities shut down internet services in the area on 21 June last year which has been extended until 1 August, making it the world’s longest blackout, according to Human Rights Watch.

The move has drawn criticism from international and domestic rights organizations, as well as several Western embassies in the country who on Sunday issued a statement demanding its removal.

Laetitia van den Assum, a Dutch diplomat and member of a commission that seeks to find solutions to the Arakan conflict, tells Efe:

“The internet shutdown creates a black hole.

“Basic information for the functioning of society is sucked out of it.

“It makes it difficult to assess the volume of aid required.”

The conflict between the Burmese Army, known as Tatmadaw, and the AA rebel group has continued to intensify since January last year.

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