BANGKOK (AFP) — Myanmar's military government has cut off the mobile phones of prominent pro-democracy supporters and of some journalists representing foreign media, including two from Agence France-Presse.
The management of AFP has requested that the authorities in Myanmar restore mobile phone service to its reporters so that they can carry out their work.
Myanmar's military government issued a strong statement last Sunday, warning that it would take "effective action" against pro-democracy supporters who have staged a rare series of anti-junta protests beginning on August 19.
Since the statement was issued, members of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party, a leading AIDS activist and a workers' rights advocate say they have had their mobile phone signals cut off.
Late Wednesday, the main landline to the NLD office in Yangon was also apparently disconnected, an NLD spokesman said.
Telecommunications sources said that more than 50 phone services had been cut off since Monday to try and curb the spread of information about protests.
In addition to the activists, journalists representing foreign media also had their mobile phones disconnected, including one journalist and one photographer from AFP whose lines were cut off on Tuesday.
Calls to their phones give only a message saying the numbers have been "temporarily barred."
Officials at the telecommunications ministry told AFP that the numbers had been disconnected "on orders from higher authorities."
Pro-democracy activists have staged the most sustained protests seen in a decade against Myanmar's military, which has ruled the nation since 1962.
The small but persistent protests were sparked by a massive rise in fuel prices and have drawn in Buddhist monks in towns around the country.
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