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Internet access once again cut off

(Mizzima/IFEX) - After about two weeks of slow Internet line recovery, users in Rangoon said on 1 November 2007 that access to the World Wide Web has been cut off once again.

Internet users in Rangoon said the Internet lines, which have been accessible for 24 hours a day since mid-October, once again went off at about 8 a.m. (local time).

Officials at Myanmar Teleport, one of only two Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Burma, said the lines face interruption due to technical problems and it remains uncertain when normal service could be re-established.

"The Overseas Gateway is down. And we don't know when the problem will be solved. It has been off since this morning," an official at Myanmar Teleport, the ISP which mostly provides services for civilian use and commercial activities, told Mizzima.

However, some believe that the Internet might have been cut off on purpose and as a precautionary step to prevent the flow of information, as occurred during the recent August and September protests.

During the recent protests, tech-savvy youths in Burma made utmost use of the Internet to post pictures and video clips of the authorities' brutal crackdown on peaceful protestors. The junta, in response, cut off the Internet lines and also disconnected the phone lines of key politicians and activists.

"What I think is that they [the junta] have a plan in cutting off the Internet lines. As in the recent protests, a lot of photos and video clips were spread through the Internet because the lines were not cut," an internet savvy youth in Rangoon told Mizzima.

He added that with a protest on 31 October in Pakokku, the authorities might be prompted to crack down if it continued the next day.

"Maybe that's why they want to first cut off the Internet - in order to prevent information flowing out," he added.

Another youth in Rangoon said that with the Internet lines down, people, particularly those with jobs that rely on the Internet, are facing extreme difficulties.

"The problem is that people who have family members abroad lose contact, but that's not severe. What is severe is that people travelling abroad have to fill their online departure forms, so when the Internet is down, they cannot do it," added the youth.

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