Burma’s Communications Ministry has given Internet service providers (ISPs) in southern Chin State’s Paletwa Township permission to resume their service, more than two months after ordering a total shutdown in the conflict-hit western part of the country.
Internet users in Paletwa and some parts of neighboring Rakhine State where a blackout had been imposed on June 21 reported that service suddenly became available early Sunday morning.
Despite complaints about slow connection speeds, the move was welcomed by local users.
“It’s good for us. Now we can communicate with our friends again. The Internet speed is not good, but at least people can communicate with each other. Money can be transferred now,” said Aung Ma Phyu, a worker with a local civil society organization in Paletwa.
The Communications Ministry shut down Internet services in Paletwa and eight townships in Rakhine State ahead of a major Burma Army offensive against the insurgent Arakan Army. The move provoked an outcry from observers, who said it appeared to be aimed at making it more difficult to monitor human rights abuses.
Besides Paletwa, the blackout has reportedly also been lifted in Buthidaung, Maungdaw, and Minbya townships in Rakhine State. However, it appears to still be in effect in Mrauk-U, Kyauktaw, Ponnagyun, Rathedaung and Myaebon townships.
According to the local media outlet Khumi Media, the shutdown has had a wide-reaching impact on the lives of people in the affected areas. Everything from personal communications to business transactions was disrupted due to the loss of Internet services, they said.
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