Internet and telecommunication services in Myanmar have been disrupted amid an ongoing coup by the country’s military.
Data from NetBlocks Internet Observatory, a UK-based non-governmental organisation that monitors internet shutdowns, shows that Myanmar internet connectivity levels fell by 50% at 8:00am local time on Monday.
By midday internet service in Myanmar had been “partially restored” as network data showed a return to 75% of ordinary levels.
The disruptions began on Sunday as Myanmar’s military detained the country’s recently re-elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, along with other senior members of her governing party.
Disruption to Myanmar’s internet and telecommunications network are “likely to limit the coverage of events as they take place”, said NetBlocks Internet Observatory.
Preliminary finding from the monitoring organisation indicates a “centrally ordered mechanism of disruption targeting cellular and some fixed-line services”.
⚠️ Confirmed: Internet disrupted in #Myanmar amid military uprising and reports of detention of civilian leadership; real-time network data show national connectivity falling to 75% of ordinary levels from 3:00 a.m. local time; incident ongoing 📉
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) January 31, 2021
Network operators, including state-owned Myanma Posts and Telecommunications and international operator Telenor, have been affected by the outage. Banks have also closed, causing queues at ATMs.
TV and radio channels have also been offline during the coup, which follows a landslide win by Suu Kyi’s party. The military claims the election was fraudulent but has not provided any evidence. The election commission has rejected these claims.
It is the first time Myanmar’s armed forces have carried out a coup d’état against a civilian government since 1962. The takeover has drawn strong international condemnation.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“I condemn the coup and unlawful imprisonment of civilians, including Aung San Suu Kyi, in Myanmar. The vote of the people must be respected and civilian leaders released.”
Internet shutdowns are often used by some countries to supress protests. Over the weekend, the Indian government suspended mobile internet services in three locations around Delhi where tens of thousands of farmers staged a hunger strike to protest new agriculture laws.