Three student groups demand an end to Rakhine internet blackout and media freedom

Ni Min Htun
Narinjara February 18th 2020

A statement issued by three students groups has called for an end to the internet blackout and for media groups to be able to freely access information in 8 townships in Rakhine State and one in Chin State.

In the statement, the Myanmar National Student Union, the Rakhine State Student Union and Rakhine Student Union (Yangon Universities) also questioned the role of the NCA, expressing doubt that it offered a genuine pathway towards a political solution to the conflict.

Talking to Narinjara, Rakhine State Student Union Spokesperson Kyaw Naing Htay said “concerning recent events in Rakhine State, three student unions have come together to issue this statement. In Buthidaung Township, 21 young students were injured after an explosive shell landed in school grounds.  As the situation deteriorates the internet has been shut down.  We see that the media is not permitted to work freely.  For these reasons we have decided to make this statement”.

The statement emphasised that the consequences of the civilian war in Rakhine - the civilian casualties, those illegally detained and tortured, the damage caused to the economy and businesses, the destruction of historical antiquities and religious buildings, and that schools have become battlefields - are more likely to occur when the internet is blocked and access to information is restricted, the recent shelling of the school injuring young students being a case in point.

The statement made three requests:
-        To resume internet services in affected areas of Rakhine and Paletwa immediately

-        Those responsible concerning the explosive round which fell into the grounds of a primary school in Kha Mwe Chaung Village, Buthidaung Township, Rakhine State and injured 21 students on the 13th February 2020 should be fully held to account for their actions
-      To ensure transparency in light of these controversial events, international media should be given the right to report freely from wherever and whenever they choose, and for the International Commission of Inquiry to carry out investigations.