Myanmar shuts down internet in Rakhine

Reuters . Yangon | Published: 02:08, Jun 23,2019


Myanmar authorities ordered telecoms companies to shut down internet services in conflict-torn western Myanmar, a leading operator said on Saturday, amid heightening tensions in the region, where government troops are fighting ethnic rebels.

Telenor Group said the Ministry of Transport and Communications directed all telecoms companies to ‘temporarily’ suspend internet services in nine townships in Rakhine and neighbouring Chin states, citing ‘disturbances of peace and use of internet activities to coordinate illegal activities’.

At a press conference on Saturday, a military spokesman said the army had no information about the shutdown.

‘We didn’t do it. We don’t know about that,’ said Brigadier General Zaw Min Tun.

The shutdown went into effect late on Friday, the Telenor statement said.

A spokesman for the transport and communications ministry declined to comment, referring questions to another spokesman who did not answer phone calls.

Meanwhile, Malaysia on Saturday said the perpetrators of violence against Myanmar’s Rohingya minority must ‘be brought to justice’, in sharp comments delivered at a normally tame regional summit.

Myanmar does not recognise the Rohingya as citizens, instead officially labelling them ‘Bengalis’, short-hand for illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.

In talks Saturday with Southeast Asian counterparts, Malaysia’s foreign minister Saifuddin Bin Abdullah called for the ‘perpetrators of the Rohingya issue to be brought to justice’, his ministry said in Tweet.

He also said repatriation of the minority from the fetid, overcrowded refugee camps of Bangladesh ‘must include the citizenship of the Rohingya.’ Malaysia, a Muslim country which hosts a large Rohingya refugee population, is one of the few members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to speak up for the minority.  

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