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Anatomy of a Military Curfew

Fear, uncertainty, and doubt are key elements to any successful military curfew. The goal is to not to intimidate the population with what they know you are doing, but rather make worry about what they are not sure you are doing. With a military imposed media blackout, those tuning into BBC World news for foreign news find that when the story about Dhaka and the Bangladesh military curfew airs – the broadcast suddenly becomes filled with static. Coincidence or intentional? The BBC correspondent – filing his report via cellphone – cuts off in mid-report. Bad connection or was he cut off on purpose? If there is uncertainty and doubt – there is fear. And thus, there is control.

With my previous post, I had hoped that the military had yet to catch up to the internet age. Despite a media blackout and blocking of cellphone calls, I was still able to upload photos to flickr and use gmail and MSN messenger. Today, the internet has slowed to a crawl. The gateway connecting Bangladesh to the internet via transatlantic cables have been shut down. Even with V-Sat backup connections, websites like BBC World News and services such as Gmail, and MSN Messenger fail to load at all. Even Facebook, which has always been reliable, suddenly displays a message reading “Hey, your account is temporarily unavailable due to site maintenance”. Coincidence? Or intentional?

It’s times like this that the freedom enjoyed by Americans and other Western nations is put in perspective. Even with cameras on street corners, warrant-less wiretapping, or other Big Brother-esque infringements – Americans and much of the Western World have much to be grateful for.