In June 2019, as human rights abuses and a humanitarian crisis were continuing in Myanmar, the country’s Ministry of Transport and Communication directed telecom companies to shut down their mobile internet service in parts of Rakhine State and neighboring Chin State. Citing “disturbances of the peace” and “illegal activities,” the Myanmar government claims to have enacted the shutdown “for the benefit of the people.” In reality, the blackout cut over a million people off from access to essential information and communication, and disrupted humanitarian efforts. As Matthew Smith from Fortify Rights has stated, “This shutdown is happening in a context of ongoing genocide against Rohingya and war crimes against Rakhine, and even if it were intended to target militants, it’s egregiously disproportionate.”
Through our work with activists who have experienced internet shutdowns, we have learned some useful tips and approaches to capturing and preserving video documentation during internet shutdowns that we are sharing in this series. We wrote them with Android devices in mind, but the tips can be applied to iPhones as well. Some of the strategies require advance planning (and often, internet access), so it’s a good idea to review them and implement any steps before you are in a situation where you do not have internet and you need to document. Save a copy of any of the tutorials so you can refer to them or share them during a shutdown. And finally, start practicing the techniques and methods in your everyday work so that they become second-nature before you’re in a crisis situation.