Myanmar military clamps down on internet service; satellite dishes confiscated

Myanmar military clamps down on internet service; satellite dishes confiscated
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Myanmar’s military junta on Thursday ramped up its crackdown on the country’s internet and communications services as it solidifies its hold following a February coup.

The military expanded an information blackout by further curtailing fiber broadband service, which provided the last legal way citizens could communicate with each other, according to The Associated Press. Authorities were also seen confiscating satellite dishes.

The moves came as protests against the military takeover show no signs of letting up. Demonstrators poured into the streets Thursday to protest the coup after nearly a dozen people were killed on Wednesday.

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More than 2,800 people have been arrested since the protests began and almost 600 people have been killed, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which has been tracking the developments in Myanmar.

The military has gradually limited internet access since its Feb. 1 takeover, starting with a nighttime ban on social media before ultimately working to a full prohibition on mobile data use. 

Satellite dishes had been one of the remaining ways people were able to get international news of the Myanmar coup. The junta has already stopped publication of all daily newspapers that are not state-owned. 

Roughly 30 journalists are also believed to have been arrested.

The Committee to Protect Journalists published an open letter Tuesday requesting “the immediate and unconditional release of all journalists detained in the aftermath of your February 1 suspension of democracy and imposition of emergency rule.” 

“Make no mistake: the world is closely watching events in Myanmar and your response to pro-democracy protests. A genuine move to release and protect journalists, rather than target and harass them, would be a welcome signal about your junta regime’s stated but yet unproven democratic intent,” it wrote.