- Since 21 June 2019, an internet shutdown has been in place across eight townships in Rakhine and Southern Chin states. The internet shutdown is part of the central government’s response to conflict between the Tatmadaw government forces and the Arakan Army (AA).
- On 1 August 2020, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to maintain the internet shutdown but allowed 2G services, now available in seven townships (Buthidaung, Kyauktaw, Minbya, Mrauk-U,
Myebon, Ponnagyun, Rathedaung) in Rakhine and one township in Chin (Paletwa). The extension to the internet shutdown was made on the basis that the AA continues to use mobile internet technologies to carry out attacks, including detonating IEDs and landmines remotely and inciting ethnic tension (Telenor 01/08/2020 Ministry of Foreign Affairs 08/07/2020).
- Some 86,000 people are internally displaced across the two states because of conflict. The internet shutdown heavily impacts information on ongoing violence in the region which is important for villagers and village leaders. This allows them to coordinate and determine whether displacement can be expected. From a humanitarian perspective, the shutdown makes sourcing information to and from IDP sites particularly difficult.
- National elections are set for 8 November 2020. The internet shutdown limits people’s access to information regarding the elections, their ability to provide feedback on outdated voter lists, and heightens the governments control of digital spaces.
- The internet shutdown has increased protection concerns for those across the two states.
Villagers who want to communicate with family or loved ones are forced closer to unstable areas, such as military bases, due to better connection. Protesting the shutdown also carries the risk of jailtime.
- The internet shutdown severely impacts information on COVID-19. The local population in Rakhine and Chin states are largely unaware of containment measures related to COVID-19.
Source: Assessment Capacities Project