Bangladesh shuts down mobile Internet to tackle teen protests

Bangladeshi students shout slogans and block a road during a protest in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018. (File photo: A. M. Ahad/AP)
Updated 05 August 2018
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Bangladesh shuts down mobile Internet to tackle teen protests

  • The country’s highest circulated newspaper Prothom Alo said 3G and 4G Internet services have been shut down for 24 hours
  • The move may be an attempt to try and limit the ability of students to mobilize or spread growing online outrage over how the government has handled the protests

DHAKA: Bangladesh authorities have shut down mobile Internet across swathes of the country, officials and local media said Sunday, as the authorities try to quell massive student protests that have spiralled into violence.
For the last week students have brought parts of the capital Dhaka to a standstill with a protest against poor road safety after two teenagers were killed by a speeding bus.
On Saturday the protests took a violent turn in Dhaka’s Jigatala neighborhood with more than 100 people injured.
Witnesses said police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at demonstrators and that alleged pro-government activists attacked youngsters, including some of those rushing to nearby hospitals for treatment.
The country’s highest circulated newspaper Prothom Alo said 3G and 4G Internet services have been shut down for 24 hours since late Saturday, shortly after the violence broke out.
Social media has been filled with comments from Bangladeshis unable to access the Internet via their phones, although wireless and wired networks appear to be unhindered.
Jahirul Haq, chairman of the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC), told AFP they received a “decision” from the government. But he did not clarify what was the government order was. He said he would comment further on the situation later Sunday.
A senior telecoms official who asked for anonymity said: “The BTRC has slowed down the Internet at the order of the government.”
The move may be an attempt to try and limit the ability of students to mobilize or spread growing online outrage over how the government has handled the protests, hours after police and unidentified men wielding sticks and stones clashed with students.
Images and photos of the attacks on students allegedly by the ruling party activists have flooded the social media, prompting renewed outrage.
Police denied they fired rubber bullets or tear gas at the protesters. However hospital staff said dozens of people had been injured, some seriously, sporting injuries consistent with rubber bullets.
The ruling Awami League party has also denied allegations its cadres beat students up.
Bangladesh’s transport sector is widely seen as corrupt, unregulated and dangerous, and as news of the teenagers’ deaths spread rapidly on social media they became a catalyst for an outpouring of anger against the government.
The government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has ruled Bangladesh since 2009, but in recent months it has been shaken by mass protests demanding an end to a decades-old system of discriminatory civil service recruitment.
Several powerful ministers have pleaded with students to return to their classes, amid worries the unprecedented teen outrage could turn into widespread anti-government protests ahead of general elections due later this year.
But their pleas have had little effect.


Eiffel Tower evacuated after climber spotted on monument

Updated 9 min 42 sec ago
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Eiffel Tower evacuated after climber spotted on monument

PARIS: The Eiffel Tower was evacuated on Monday afternoon after a man was spotted climbing up the Paris landmark, the company that operates the structure said.
"A climber has been spotted. It's the standard procedure. We have to stop the person, and in that case we evacuate the tower," an official with the SETE operator told AFP, adding that police were on the scene.
The esplanade underneath the monument was also evacuated.
"We kindly advise our visitors to postpone their visit," the SETE added on Twitter.
Police have made contact with the climber but do not yet know why he began his ascent via the iron beams, a police source told AFP.
The tower is regularly the target of rogue freeclimbers hoping to scale one of the world's most famous structures, often for bragging rights.

An unidentified man (L) climbs the Eiffel Tower, which had to be evacuated, in Paris, France, May 20, 2019. (Reuters)

But police have also been called in several times in recent years to try to thwart suicide attempts.
In October 2017, a young man ventured out on one of the beams and threatened to jump before police were able to convince him to come back.
In 2012, a British man managed to climb to the very top of the 324-metre-high tower before plunging to his death.
Nearly seven million people a year visit the 324-metre-high structure, which last week celebrated its 130th anniversary.


The first two floors can be reached by either elevator or stairs, but only elevators whisk people to the top observation deck.
That didn't stop the French urban freeclimber Alain Robert from making it one of his first targets in his campaign to scale the world's biggest buildings with no technical climbing gear.
He got to the top -- not including the antenna-- in the mid 1990s.