Shutdowns in Myanmar

Internet shutdowns hide atrocities: people in Myanmar need global action

Content note: this statement contains references to violence, murder, and war crimes.

Since the February 2021 coup, the Myanmar military has systematically imposed internet shutdowns across regions where it faces the most intense resistance, while implementing an aggressive scorched-earth campaign across the nation. In one of the regions most heavily hit by the military invasion, Sagaing, the junta has shut down internet, mobile, and landline connections since late 2021, with access only available intermittently for a few hours every few days. When connections are cut, it can be a sign of an impending military attack.

“The situation on the ground in Myanmar is deteriorating at a tremendous rate,” said Wai Phyo Mint, Asia Pacific Policy Analyst at Access Now. “The military is targeting these communication blackouts to bury the atrocities of its campaign and crush the resistance. Homes and religious buildings are regularly burned. Houses are raided, and people are dying. The flickering attention from the international community is further intensifying suffering. It’s time for immediate global action.” 

In a joint statement released today, Access Now and a coalition of  over 80 organizations from across the globe are calling on international actors, including governments and telecommunications companies, to keep global attention on Myanmar and strongly push back against aggression from the junta. The groups are urging telecommunications companies to continue engaging with civil society, and to seek all possible ways to provide information on military orders for shutdowns or notifications to curtail communications.  

“Under the cover of an internet shutdown, people cannot expose human rights violations on the ground,” said Golda Benjamin, Asia Pacific Campaigner at Access Now. “They cannot access life-saving information as they flee their homes. Digital repression in the region is life-threatening, and international actors must not contribute to it through silence and inaction.” 

Internet shutdowns facilitate impunity in Myanmar, and global, coordinated action is needed today.

Read the joint statement.