[AspirantWorld Explained] World’s longest internet blackout enters 2nd year in Myanmar

• The Myanmar government shut down mobile data in several townships across Rakhine state and neighboring Chin state on June 21 last year.
• The internet shutdown in Myanmar’s conflict-ridden northwest, described by rights groups as the world’s longest, entered a second year Sunday with locals and campaigners appealing for an end to the blackout as coronavirus fears grip the region.

What is the reason behind this internet blackout?

• Myanmar’s government has been battling the Arakan Army (AA), an armed group fighting for the independence of ethnic Rakhine Buddhists, in a bloody war since January 2019.
• Due to the conflict, more than 130,000 people have been displaced in the remote areas of northern Arakan and southern Chin State, where the digital blockade has failed to defeat insurgents.
• A government official said earlier this month the internet shutdown would continue until at least August 1st in eight townships.
• Telecom companies said the government ordered the blackout to prevent “illegal activities”.

What is Arakkan Army (AA)?

• The AA, which has about 6,000 troops, was created in 2009 by a group of ethnic Rakhine predominantly Buddhist students to fight for state autonomy.
• The government, led since 2016 by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, has been involved in a complex peace process with several guerrillas for years but the AA has been excluded from talks as it is deemed a terrorist organization.
• The conflict with the AA is not the only one that the country”s Army has been embroiled in the state of Arakan in recent years.
• In 2017, the Rohingya Muslim minority, which authorities deny citizenship and describe as migrants, suffered a brutal crackdown by the military after forming a guerilla.
• More than 730,000 people fled to neighbouring Bangladesh for which the military and the Myanmar government face an accusation of genocide at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

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