Myanmar Military Cuts Off Internet, Deploys Tanks into Cities

The military in Myanmar has cut off Internet service and deployed tanks, including four water cannon vehicles, into several cities across the country on Feb. 15 amid warnings from diplomats.

“A near-total Internet shutdown is in effect in Myanmar as of 1 a.m. local time; real-time network data show national connectivity at just 14% of ordinary levels following state-ordered information blackout,” cybersecurity and Internet watchdog organization Netblocks said in a tweet.

Protesters, mostly the youth, have used the Internet to organize their protests, as well as document the response of the police and military, such as firing rubber bullets and live ammunition to disperse crowds.

The Internet shutdown came soon after live footage on social media platforms showed armored vehicles and soldiers rolling onto the streets of the cities of Yangon, Myitkyina, and Sittwe.

The military deployed its soldiers to power plants in the northern state of Kachin, including one plant in Myitkyina, where live footage from The 74 Media on Facebook showed the security forces firing at the protesters in an attempt to disperse them.

Some of the protesters present in the site of the confrontation believed that the military intended to cut off the electricity.

The 74 Media also reported that the military arrested at least five journalists covering the protest.

In a joint statement, a group of ambassadors, including those from the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union, denounced the military’s “interruption of communications, as well as the restriction of the Myanmar people’s fundamental rights and basic legal protections.”

“We call on security forces to refrain from violence against demonstrators and civilians, who are protesting the overthrow of their legitimate government,” the statement said, warning the military that the “world is watching.”

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