Hours after armoured vehicles rolled into several cities of Myanmar, which is currently under the control of the military, the country’s internet was cut overnight on Sunday amid protests.
According to a media report, armoured vehicles were seen on the streets of Myitkyina, Yangon and Sittwe on Sunday.
It has been reported that this was the heaviest show of force so far by the Myanmar military since it staged a coup on February 1.
On Sunday evening, the US embassy in Myanmar warned of reported “military movements” in Yangon, the main city of the country and said it expected interruptions to internet access.
The internet-monitoring service Netblocks reported at around 1.30 am that the national internet connectivity had fallen to 14% of ordinary levels.
Contacts in Myanmar could not be reached by email or messaging apps, the report said.
The US embassy requested its citizens to “shelter in place” on Sunday evening after three armoured vehicles appeared in the city for the first time since the military coup.
The embassy also said there was a “possibility of telecommunications interruptions overnight between 1am and 9am” (6.30pm to 2.30am GMT).
A group of ambassadors in Myanmar, including the envoys from the EU, US, UK and Canada, issued a joint statement on Sunday night voicing their concerns about the shutdown and a spate of arrests of activists, civil servants and political leaders over the past week.
“We call on security forces to refrain from violence against demonstrators and civilians, who are protesting the overthrow of their legitimate government,” the joint statement said.
“We support the people of Myanmar in their quest for democracy, freedom, peace and prosperity. The world is watching,” it added.
The internet was blocked last Saturday as the protest movement was taking shape, but restored after 24 hours.