Myanmar: Internet, digital comms, and broadcast blocked after military coup

The population of Myanmar awoke Monday to a large-scale stoppage of Internet connections, along with television and radio broadcasts, after a rapid military overthrow of the civilian government.

The move came as a result of tensions over a recent national election which the military-backed party lost by a broad margin.

In a classic case of communications interruption to prevent any formation of protest or organized opposition, there was significant Internet and phone network disruption throughout the country.  

A CNN report citing NetBlocks, an organization which monitors Net blackouts on a global basis, said that real-time network data showed a major drop in connectivity in the early hours of Monday morning as the coup was implemented.

“Continuing disconnections have been monitored with national connectivity falling initially to 75 percent and subsequently 50 percent of ordinary levels by 8:00 a.m. local time,” according to NetBlocks. 

Reuters reported that Myanmar state media MRTV released on Facebook a statement reading:

“Due to current communication difficulties we’d like to respectfully inform you that the regular programs of MRTV and Myanmar Radio cannot be broadcast.”

Subsequently, MRTV broadcast aired military propaganda showing film of flag waving soldier, helicopter flying over military formation, and similar types of footage.

“Technical data show cuts affecting multiple network operators including state-owned Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) and international operator Telenor, with preliminary findings indicating a centrally ordered mechanism of disruption targeting cellular and some fixed-line services, progressing over time,” NetBlocks said in a statement.

Additionally, Banks in Myanmar were closed due to Internet disruptions, with news photos showing long lines of citizens at ATMs.

Civilian political leadership were detained, including de-facto civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a prominent former activist, along with other high-ranking leaders of the ruling National League for Democracy.

Partial restoration began in afternoon local time, to apprise Myanmar of ongoing state-of-emergency.