Myanmar’s government should immediately lift internet restrictions in Rakhine and Chin States that have put civilians at added risk, Human Rights Watch said today. Government restrictions on the internet have hampered the coordination of aid, collection of accurate information, and monitoring of abuses.
The government has offered new reasons for its ban on mobile internet services, which affects more than a million people amid an armed conflict between government forces and the Arakan Army (AA), an ethnic Rakhine armed group. Myanmar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed in a statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council on June 30, 2020 and elsewhere on July 8 that the blackout was required, in part to “prevent the AA from exploiting mobile internet technologies to detonate IEDs [improvised explosive devices] and landmines.” Yet command-detonated landmines, such as those attributed to the AA, can be detonated remotely by various simple means, none of which require the internet, Human Rights Watch said.
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