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Update: Internet shutdown in Rakhine enters fifth week

Update on July 25: The internet shutdown in Rakhine has entered into its fifth week, despite residents' calls on the government to end the blackout. Earlier on June 24: Myanmar’s Ministry of Transport and Communication last week directed all telecom operators in the country to “temporarily” shut down internet services in nine towns in the states of Rakhine and Chin, reports Reuters citing officials from Telenor Group. The shutdown went into effect late on June 21st (at 10 pm local time), according to a Telenor statement. Telenor Myanmar’s customers in the affected areas are being informed via SMS, said the company. The government's order to Telenor did not specify when the shutdown will end. MediaNama has reached out to the Telenor Group for comment. Tensions between government troops and ethnic rebels are high in the region; the ministry ordered the shutdown citing "disturbances of peace" and potential use of the internet to coordinate illegal activities. In 2017, about 730,000 Rohingya Muslims fled from Rakhine into Bangladesh following a military crackdown. Interestingly, a military spokesperson said that the army had no information about the shutdown since they “didn't do it”. The Myanmar government can intercept, suspend, or obtain any information that threatens the national security and prevalence of law in the country, according to the country's telecom laws. Arguments to ensure proportionality and limitations to the scope and time of the shutdown have also been put forward by Telenor Myanmar, and will be further highlighted as part of continued dialogue with…

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