Internet blackout of Myanmar States that are home to ethnic minorities enters second year

As India’s slowdown to 2G in Kashmir is extended to July

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The internet blackout in towns in two states of Myanmar (Burma) has entered a second year.

Myanmar’s government imposed the blackouts in Rakhine State and Chin State on June 21st, 2019, citing security concerns as justification.

The situation in both states is complex. Rakhine was home to Myanmar’s largest Muslim population, known as the Rohingya people, but the predominantly Buddhist nation’s government asserts Muslim residents are in fact illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. In 2017 forced displacement programs moved many Rohingya out of their homes and villages and created a refugee crisis. Chin State is the only majority-Christian region of Myanmar. Locals say they have been the subject of persecution.

Self-determination insurrections have emerged in both States and among Myanmar’s reactions to those movements was the June 2019 imposition of a mobile internet blackout.

Local telcos like Telenor offered carefully-worded statements explaining that their inability to deliver services in the States was driven by executive fiat and expressing a hope that they would once more be able to enable free flow of ideas.

While the blackouts have sometimes lifted in some towns over the last year, they remain in place across swathes of both States.

The first anniversary of the blackouts saw Human Rights Watch call for their lifting before the tentatively-scheduled date of August 1st.

India, meanwhile, has extended its go-slow of mobile internet services in Jammu and Kashmir until July 8th. The disputed regions, alleged by India to be a hotbed of Pakistani provocation, were cut off from the Internet in August 2019 before a restoration of services at 2G speeds in March 2020. A order that would have seen that go-slow lifted last week was later extended until July 8th by a new order [PDF] dated June 17th. ®

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