Military Junta’s internet blackout in Hpakant Township has severely affected online education and all business affairs of the township in Kachin State.
“We cannot transfer money because there’s no connectivity. We can’t use internet or phone services here in Hpakant. We’ve lost everything because we cannot do business,” a man told KNG, explaining that everyone in the township has been unhappy since Burma Army (BA) blocked it on 20 August.
Without the Internet, travelling has become dangerous because we cannot access news about political instability or fighting, a second source said. “It’s impossible to travel if we don’t have up-to-date information… We can’t access information. It’s like we’re living in a dark age,” he said, explaining how frustrating this is at a time when everyone is struggling to survive. “I don’t know what will happen. It’s a really difficult time for us right now.”
”We don’t know what’s happening with the COVID-19 outbreaks in Hpakant Township” or what the political situation is, a third source said, explaining at the same time, the cost of products has gone up.
Many predict that the military shut off the Internet to launch offensives against the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) and civil resistance groups.
“We’re worried that there will be clashes in our region and have started preparations after internet services were cut off. We’ve packed extra food and clothes in case fighting breaks out,” a fourth interviewee told KNG, saying he was worried because they didn’t know what was going on.
The military makes a lot of money from the jade mines in Hpakant, but has suffered some embarrassing defeats in recent months in battles with the KIA and People’s Defence Forces. According to locals, the BA has shut down the Internet to make it difficult for Kachin resistance forces in the run-up to a major military operation against them. Conflict in Hpakant Township was frequent until the end of July, but since the blackout, fighting has all but stopped.