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Internet and mobile services were disrupted overnight Sunday into Monday, and Monitoring NGO NetBlocks said network connectivity across the country dropped to only 14% nationwide since at 1 a.m. local time. Mobile services from all carriers were also disrupted, according to residents.
The country has faced widespread protests over the past two weeks since the country’s military seized power in a coup on February 1, ousting democratically-elected leader Suu Kyi and detaining key government officials. In response, the military has sought to limit access to the internet and news services, as well as floating a potential new cyber security law that observers fear could further limit the flow of information.
The military has also cracked down on demonstrators in the streets. Hundreds of people have been arrested since the coup, and most held without charge, according to the United Nations human rights office, citing Assistance Association for Political Prisoners Burma (AAPP).
The US Embassy in Myanmar on Sunday warned of possible military troop movements and communications interruptions, advising US citizens to shelter in place.
Western ambassadors in Myanmar also issued a joint message warning that “the world is watching” and advising the military to refrain from violence against protesters.
“We call on security forces to refrain from violence against demonstrators and civilians, who are protesting the overthrow of their legitimate government,” read the message published on the official Facebook pages of several embassies, including the US, Canada, and the European Union.
The statement condemned arrests of civilian leaders and activist, and denounced “the military’s interruption of communications, as well as the restriction of the Myanmar people’s fundamental rights and basic legal protections.”
Over the weekend, the military suspended three laws that were aimed at constraining security forces from detaining suspects or searching private property without a court approval.
“Sections 5, 7 and 8 are abolished under the Article 420 of the 2008 Constitution to protect the citizens’ personal freedom and security” a post on Myanmar army, also known as Tatmadaw’s official Facebook page, @TatmadawInformationTeam said on Saturday. The statement, signed by military leader Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, gave no specific time or date for the suspension.
Reuters reported that among the three suspended sections is the law that mandates a court order to detain any prisoner beyond 24 hours and limits security forces’ ability to enter private property to search it or make arrests.
The suspensions also free up spying on communications, according to the Reuters report.