The internet cut will affect Maungdaw, Buthidaung, Rathedaung and Myebon townships in Rakhine region, and Paletwa in Chin region. These townships already suffered internet cuts from June until September 2019. These latest cuts are affecting approximately one million citizens.
The authorities issued the directive under article 77 of the 2013 Telecommunications Law that allows the government to cut the telecommunication service “when an emergency situation arises”. However, in July 2016 the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution condemning countries that prevent or disrupt online access and information.
The Myanmar government justified the blockade with the need to ‘maintain the stability and law and order in these areas’ when the clashes began. The fighting has intensified since November, causing tens of thousands of civilians to flee their hometowns.
The IFJ said: “Having free access to mobile internet services and the free flow of information is essential for civilians, activists and journalists, especially in times of crisis. With its decision, the Myanmar authorities are putting thousands of lives at risk. We urge the government to follow the UN’s guidelines on Freedom of Expression and Responses to Conflict Situations and lift the internet suspension immediately.”