Myanmar Regime Cuts Phone, Internet Access in Resistance Stronghold Sagaing

By The Irrawaddy 24 May 2022

The regime has cut phone and internet services in nearly a dozen townships in resistance stronghold areas in Sagaing Region, prompting fears that a military offensive is imminent in the region.

The Irrawaddy has not been able to reach out to sources in Monywa, Ye U, Khin U, Kani and Yinmarbin townships since Tuesday morning.

The information page of the Kanbalu People’s Defense Force, one of the local resistance forces in Kanbalu Township, announced the communication blackouts on Facebook, citing sources on the ground.

“The phone lines in Kanbalu and Kyun Hla have been shut down since 6:55 a.m.,” it said.

The junta has blocked internet access in the region outside of major towns Monywa, Shwebo, Sgaging and Kale since early March. However, some areas still had access to 2G internet service. But on Tuesday, both phone and 2G services were down.

Sources close to residents in the area said regime troops launched attacks in some villages this morning, but The Irrawaddy was unable to verify the reports.

However, cutting phone lines and internet access is a common regime tactic whenever it launches offensives, especially against civilians.

Since last year, the junta has been trying to crush resistance to its rule in Sagaing, the largest region in northwestern Myanmar. So far, it has failed to bring the region under its control, as local anti-regime forces are scattered across it. The same is true in neighboring Magwe Region and Chin State.

In response to the resistance, the junta has used airstrikes and artillery attacks against villages, accusing them of harboring resistance fighters. It also raids villages nearly every day in the name of “clearance operations”, committing extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, looting and arson, causing many people to flee their homes.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in its latest report that as of early May, Sagaing had the highest displacement figures with 240,600 internally displaced persons since the coup, followed by 50,500 in Magwe Region and 36,300 in Chin State, with very limited humanitarian access in these areas.

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