For Zaw Myint Thein, a farmer in northwestern Myanmar, having no internet in his area for more than a year has caused many inconveniences — his son is unable to study, he can no longer sell his watermelon crops online, and he feels cut off.

"It's like my eyes and ears are closed," the 45-year-old said by phone from the Sagaing region.

But in this stronghold of resistance to the military junta that seized power in a coup early last year, the army-ordered internet shutdown — and sporadic cuts to mobile phone communications — also puts lives on the line, Zaw Myint Thein said.