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05 Feb 2020 | 11:47 AM UTC

Myanmar: Internet service temporarily suspended in Rakhine and Chin states February 3

Internet service temporarily suspended in five townships in Rakhine and Chin states February 3; communication disruptions expected

communications/technology
security
MMR

Event

Internet services were temporarily suspended in five townships in Rakhine and Chin states late (local time) on Monday, February 3. According to Telenor Group, the ban is to stay in place for three months. This internet shutdown comes months after a previous internet ban in Rakhine and Chin states was lifted in September 2019.

Internet disruptions are expected to continue in Rakhine and Chin states over the near term. Related demonstrations are possible in affected areas amid a heightened security presence. Clashes between protesting residents and security forces cannot be ruled out.

Context

Officials suspended internet service in nine townships in Rakhine and Chin states on June 21, 2019. Service was restored in five areas on September 1 following a "restoration of peace and stability."

Violence resumed in early December 2018 between Rakhine separatists and the military. The Arakan Army seeks greater autonomy for Buddhists in Rakhine state. According to the Myanmar office of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), about 7500 displaced people are scattered across 29 sites in Rakhine due to the violence and 730,000 people in neighboring Bangladesh.

Advice

Individuals in Rakhine and Chin states are advised to monitor developments, prepare for continuing telecommunications disruptions, remain vigilant for militant and military activity, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.

Travelers are advised to avoid all but essential travel to Rakhine state, except the southern townships of Kyaukpyu, Ramree, Munaung, Toungup, Thandwe (including the tourist resort of Ngapali), and Gwa.