Myanmar's internet shut down as protesters flooded the streets. The military-coup leaders sought to shut down Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter earlier this week.

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Protesters attend a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon, Myanmar. Myanmar Now/Handout via Reuters
  • Leaders of Myanmar's military coup on Saturday appeared to shut down the country's internet.

  • Last week, they'd sent letters asking internet providers to block Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

  • The shutdown would "severely limit coverage of anti-coup protests," NetBlocks said.

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As protesters on Saturday flooded Myanmar's streets, calling for an end to the military coup, the country's internet access was almost entirely shut down.

"The regime has cut off all internet lines amid ongoing protests against the #militarycoup," Myanmar Now, an independent local news agency, wrote on Twitter.

Connectivity fell to about 16% early Saturday, according to NetBlocks, an internet-tracking firm based in London. Earlier in the day, connectivity had fallen to about 54% of ordinary levels, the firm said.

NetBlocks said there was a "near-total" shutdown in effect in the country. "The information blackout is likely to severely limit coverage of anti-coup protests," it added on Twitter.

Photos posted online by Myanmar Now showed protesters marching on Saturday in Yangon, the country's largest city. Other photos showed riot police lined up on the streets.

On February 1, Myanmar's military said it was taking over, rounding up the country's democratic leaders in the early-morning hours. They detained President Win Myint and Aung San Suu Kyi, the country's political leader. Within a few hours, military vehicles filled Yangon's streets. Internet access was curbed during the coup, dropping by about 50% throughout the country.

In the days since, Suu Kyi was charged with breaking importing and exporting laws and possessing unlawful electronic devices, including walkie-talkies.

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Graffiti by the Thai artist Mue Bon against the military coup in Myanmar in a street in Bangkok. Chalinee Thirasupa/Reuters

A group of civil-rights organizations, the Myanmar Civil Society Organizations, posted an open letter to internet-service providers on Saturday asking them to restore service and keep user data private, according to Myanmar Now, which posted the letter on Twitter.

The military government sent letters to internet providers last week, directing them to block Facebook, Reuters reported. On Friday, the military also asked them to also block Twitter, and Instagram, according to the open letter.

"By complying with their directives, your companies are essentially legitimizing the military's authority, despite international condemnation of this very body," the group wrote to internet-service providers.

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