Friday, 5 March 2021

Myanmar: Life under world’s longest internet shutdown

Photo: Lynn Bo Bo/EPA

NAYPYITAW: Since Myanmar shut off the internet in two states a year ago, lawyer Oo Twan Hla, who was once able to check online when his cases were scheduled, said he must now travel through a war zone to read a signboard.

An aspiring medic, in a community largely barred from accessing healthcare, can no longer search the web for remedies to help sick neighbours.

The government-ordered shutdown in two of Myanmar’s poorest states – Rakhine and neighbouring Chin – home to about a million people, is a year old on Sunday.

Justified on emergency grounds amid a growing insurgency, it is the longest internet blackout in the world, rights groups say.

Myanmar’s bloodiest conflict in decades has spiralled despite the shutdown and more than a dozen residents told Reuters the blackout had made their lives worse

From traders losing business to villagers forced to make risky trips to send messages, they described an information freeze that has damaged the economy and left them in the dark about the conflict and the novel coronavirus.

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