Many of us are unable to go one day without the Internet, check news, emails, social networks and the like. In fact, we would not know many things and many current events. Now, imagine what would happen if instead of a day or a week without the Internet, we were left a whole year without access to the network. Well that is precisely what is happening in some areas of Burma who have been without Internet for 1 year due to a government blockade. Many don’t even know about the coronavirus pandemic.
Burma, also known as Myanmar, is a Southeast Asian country bordering India and Bangladesh to the west, Thailand and Laos to the east, China to the north and northeast, and the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea to the south. The current population exceeds 54 million inhabitants, occupying the ranked 145 out of 188 countries in human development, according to the Human Development Index.
Since June 2019 without Internet
In June 2019, the Myanmar government, led by lawyer Aung San Suu Kyi, blocked Internet access in 9 cities. In doing so, they wanted to prevent telecommunications networks from being used by insurgents against the government. Internet access was restored in one of the cities in May this year, but the other eight have remained without mobile communications since then. In total, almost 1 million people in absolute darkness.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have already opposed this blockade, which they do not hesitate to classify as “mortal”. This is because it prevents reporting human rights violations, but it also renders many of the country’s inhabitants oblivious to the global coronavirus pandemic and unable to access the country’s public health campaigns.
On June 12, the Burmese government confirmed that “we will restore Internet service if there are no more threats to the public or violations of the telecommunications law.” However, they have already prolonged the blockade, at least, until the August 1 of this year, more than 365 days without Internet connection for 800,000 people.
Blocking affects mobile telecommunications. This is the main form of Internet access in Burma since it is more common to have a mobile than a desktop device or a laptop, not to mention the lack of fixed network infrastructure in many parts of the country.