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Myanmar: Parliament bars debates on Rakhine internet ban

Internet cut creates situation that will enable rights violations against civilians to be covered up easily, says lawmaker

Kyaw Ye Lynn   | 18.07.2019
Myanmar: Parliament bars debates on Rakhine internet ban

YANGON, Myanmar

Myanmar parliament on Thursday blocked an urgent motion seeking the immediate lift of an internet ban in western part of the country where more than 40,000 people displaced by the fresh fighting. 

The internet blackout in eight townships in Rakhine state and one in Chin state has been effective since June 21 when the Transport and Communication Ministry directed all mobile service providers to temporarily block the internet access.

Khin Saw Wei, a lower house lawmaker representing Rathaytaung township of Rakhine state, told Anadolu Agency over phone that she submitted the motion to parliament on Wednesday.

"We are hoping to debate it [in parliament] today as it is important and urgent issue," she said on Thursday before the parliamentary debate hopeful.

She added that house speaker did not considered it an important matter and rejected the motion.

"These areas have at least 40,000 displaced people due to the fighting. With internet access, helping them would be easier," she said.

The internet blackout, she said, creates a situation which will enable rights violations against civilians to be covered up easily.

The Myanmar government said the main reason of the internet shutdown was to prevent the service from “misuse” by the rebel group Arakan Army -- a predominantly Buddhist ethnic group fighting for greater autonomy of the region.

It accused the rebel group of promoting propaganda and misinformation online.

The northern parts of Rakhine state has seen armed fighting between the military and the Arakan Army on a daily basis since the group launched synchronized attacks on police outposts in January, killing 13 officers.

The Arakan Army previously fought government troops in the northern Kachin state and the northeastern Shan state.

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