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Internet access reportedly "cut" in Burma; journalist beaten, arrested

(SEAPA/IFEX) - The main link to the Internet in Burma -- the main medium that has allowed the world access to images and reports about the violence and political crisis gripping the country -- has been severely compromised, wire news agency Agence France Presse (AFP) is reporting.

On the afternoon of 28 September, 2007, the AFP said that "after two days of unrest in [Rangoon's] streets, [Burma's] main link to the Internet has stopped working, according to a telecom official who blamed the problem on a damaged cable."

The news agency quoted the unnamed Myanmar Post and Telecoms official as saying: "The Internet is not working because the underwater cable is damaged."

The Burmese government -- run by a military junta -- holds a monopoly over telecommunications systems in the country, including over the main Internet service provider in Rangoon.

AFP says that telecoms sources in Bangkok, in neighbouring Thailand, confirmed that as far as they can monitor some Internet service inside Burma had been cut.

The situation further plunges Burma into desperate isolation in a time of severe political crisis, and a possible humanitarian emergency. Mobile telephony, the Internet and bloggers have allowed news and information to still trickle out of Rangoon in the last days, as Burmese civilians, led by monks, continued to defy government and military actions to clamp down on protests in Burma.

Meanwhile, reports have now surfaced of a local journalist, Kyaw Kyaw Tun, 22, of "The Voice Journal", being arrested on 27 September. According to the exile-run Mizzima news agency ( http://www.mizzima.com ), journalists from a local news journal, whose identities cannot be revealed for their safety, said they saw security and police beat and haul up Kyaw Kyaw Tun into a military truck after he took photos of the military facing down protesters at Burma's holiest shrine, the Shwedagon Pagoda.

Japanese photojournalist Kenji Nagai, 50, of the Tokyo-based video and photo agency APF News, was killed the same day by military gunfire.

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