Internet shutdown is human rights abuse, says UN exec

The decision by Myanmar's military-led government to block access to the Internet from within the country violated its citizens' right to communicate, the head of the UN telecoms agency, quoted by an Associated Press report, said.

The Associated Press report quoted Hamadoun Toure, secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union as saying that secure access to the Internet is a basic human freedom that 'needs to be preserved, no matter what.'

'No government has the right to cut off its citizens from cyberspace,' he told reporters in Geneva.

The Myanmar government shut down the country's Internet service providers last month as part of a crackdown on the biggest anti-regime rebellion in nearly two decades, the Associated Press report said.

Dissidents and foreigners had used the Internet to get word of the government's brutal quashing of the protests to the outside world, it added.

The government says 10 people were killed but oppositions groups say up to 200 people died when security forces attacked demonstrators who were largely led by Buddhist monks, the report said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Security Council that Myanmar's military rulers have to 'take bold actions towards democratization and respect for human rights,' which observers say are regularly abused in the Southeast Asian country, the report added.

Bloggers from at least 45 countries joined forces last week for an online protest against Myanmar's efforts to keep citizens from sending photographs, videos and reports to the outside world, the report further said. 

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