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Myanmar appears to cut public Internet access
YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar's generals appeared to have cut public Internet access on Friday to prevent more videos, photographs and information getting out about their crackdown on the biggest protests against military rule in nearly 20 years.
Internet cafes were closed and the help desk at the main Internet service provider did not answer its telephones to explain why there was no access.
Citizen reporters have been at the forefront in informing the world of the protests against 45 years of military rule and declining living standards in Myanmar, also known as Burma.
They have even used the social networking site Facebook or hidden news in e-greetings cards. Networks of reporters for dissident news organisations have used the Internet to get stories and pictures out.
Correspondents who covered the last major uprising in Myanmar, in 1988, when the army killed an estimated 3,000 people, said a communications blackout was to be expected but would not stop the information flow.
"It may very well happen. It will just be a sudden shutdown," said British journalist Dominic Faulder who was based in Bangkok during the 1988 uprising.
The widespread use of modern technology by protesters and dissident news networks is in stark contrast to 19 years ago, when reports of massive casualties from soldiers shooting into the crowds took days to leak out.
"They're going to delay the message, but they're not going to stop it. This time, there will be more pictures and they will come out," Faulder said.
Dramatic footage and pictures of a Japanese photographer being shot dead and soldiers marching through the streets, rifles at the ready, have been a major factor in the current worldwide outrage and desperate diplomatic clamour for restraint.
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