Burma’s military regime has cut phone internet services in the majority of townships in Sagaing Region timed with its massive clearance campaign that began last autumn against resistance groups fighting to overthrow the dictatorship in the Southeast Asian country.
A man from Katha Township, who wishes to remain anonymous, told KNG that the cessation of phone data transmission in 31 of the region’s 52 townships is part of the junta’s ‘Four Cuts’ to restrict communications in areas where it’s fighting with the rebels and committing human rights violations against the population.
Since it began its Ahnawrahta military operation in the Sagaing Region last September, it’s cut mobile phone communications in 23 townships and attacked resistance groups and ordinary civilians with artillery fire and fighter jets.
“After cutting internet connectivity, the Burma Army (BA) torched about 100 houses in Kani Township, killing 122 civilians and PDF fighters. Four females, including a 14-year-old girl, were raped by soldiers,” said a People’s Defence Force (PDF) fighter in Katha. He said the disconnection was linked to an increase in human rights violations against the population in Burma’s largest region.
In September, mobile phone data connectivity was suspended in Pinlebu, Kani, Pale, Yin Mar Pin, Ayartaw, Wontho, Butalin and Kawlin townships. In March, it was switched off in Chaung Oo, Salin Gyi, Myaung, Khin Oo, Depayin, Wetlet, Yay Oo, Myin Muu, Bamauk, Katha, Tigyaing, Tese, Min King, Kalaywa, Tamu, Mawlike, Inndaw, Hommalin, Kyun Hla, Phoung Pyin, Khamti and Lahe townships.
A PDF member from Tigyaing Township said they’ve been unable to keep up to date with the Burma Army’s (BA)’s movements in their area since it was stopped while the BA torched houses in Thakhup Kyawng, forcing hundreds of people to flee their village. ”Before it was cut off, the situation wasn’t so bad,” he says.
A PDF fighter from Myo Hla said BA has started spreading misinformation and propaganda in Sagaing Region since the suspension of the internet on people’s phones.
According to Data For Myanmar, between 1 February 2021 and 1 March 2022, BA set fire to a total of 6,158 houses in the country, including 3,689 in Sagaing Region where the regime launched its largest and most brutal assault on resistance groups.