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Simply Switched Off the Internet: Myanmar Junta v. Bloggers

Sanghas23.jpg When blogging is a revolutionary act:
Internet geeks share a common style, and Ko Latt and his four friends would not be out of place in cyber cafés across the world. They have the skinny arms and the long hair, the dark T-shirts and the jokey nicknames. But few such figures have ever taken the risks that they have in the past few weeks, or achieved so much in a noble and dangerous cause.

Since last month Ko Latt, 28, his friends Arca, Eye, Sun and Superman, and scores of others like them have been the third pillar of Burma’s Saffron Revolution. While the veteran democracy activists, and then the Buddhist monks, marched in their tens of thousands against the military regime, it is the country’s amateur bloggers and internet enthusiasts who have brought the images to the outside world.

Armed with small digital cameras, they have documented the spectacular growth of the demonstrations from crowds of a few hundred to as many as 100,000. On weblogs they have recorded in words and pictures the regime’s bloody crackdown, in a city where only a handful of foreign journalists work undercover. With downloaded software, they have dodged and weaved around the regime’s increasingly desperate attempts to thwart their work. Now the bloggers, too, have been crushed. Having failed to stop the cyber-dissidents broadcasting to the world, the authorities have simply switched off the internet.

Bloggers who risked all to reveal the junta’s brutal crackdown in Burma, by Kenneth Denby, The Times, 1 October 2007

Unfortunately for the bloggers, they all had to register with the government to be allowed to blog in the first place. If the junta falls, they’ll be heroes. If it survives, they’ll probably be dead.

This is not the first time. Continue reading