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Myanmar ends world’s longest internet shutdown in the Rakhine and Chin states

Written by Stephanie Pearl Li Published on 

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Internet services in the states were suspended in June 2019 after clashes.

High-speed internet has been restored in the northern Rakhine State, according to a report from local news media Narinjara on Wednesday, amid ongoing uncertainty following a military coup in the country earlier this week. 4G services have also resumed in the Paletwa township in the Chin State, informs Aung Kyaw Moe, founder and director of the Center for Social Integrity. Some subtownships in Paletwa still don’t have access.

“The 4G internet resumed at 1:00 a.m.,” Aung Kyaw Moe told KrASIA. “Access of information and internet have been banned for almost two years, and of course, local residents are very happy that they can be connected. Access to the internet is a basic human right.”

Internet services were suspended in the Rakhine and Chin states in June 2019, after hostilities broke out between the state military and rebel groups representing the local ethnic population. Connectivity was somewhat restored in August 2020, when a basic 2G network was made available. Two months later, the government again ordered to curtail 3G and 4G access in eight townships of Western Myanmar, impacting around 1.4 million people.

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The Narinjara report found that eight townships in northern Rakhine including Maungdaw, Buthidaung, Rathedaung, Ponnagyun, Mrauk-U, Kyauktaw, Minbya, and Myebon were able to access 4G internet from midnight.

“So far, all mobile internet services have resumed, except Ooredoo, as they seem to be having some technical issues,” Aung Kyaw Moe added. “Given the current situation, the internet might be down again after two days. With full services being resumed, there might be risk of misinformation spreading by those who want to make things complicated. If the political situation worsens, internet disruption might also happen.”

Article 77 of Myanmar’s Telecommunications Law enables the government to suspend telecom services. Connectivity was severely restricted on Monday, after the military detained the country’s de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, together with other senior officials and activists, and seized control of the government in the country’s capital Naypyidaw.

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