Cyber attacks cripple opposition Myanmar media

The Internet sites of three Myanmar opposition media groups in exile suffered widespread cyber attacks, the anniversary of last year's failed uprising against the Southeast Asia country's military dictatorship.
"We think it has something to do with the Saffron Revolution," the anti-government protests by thousands of Buddhist monks in Myanmar on Sept. 18, 2007, said Aye Chan Naing. The chief editor of the Oslo-based radio and TV network Democratic Voice of Burma told The Associated Press on Thursday that computers began flooding the station's servers with so many requests for information on Wednesday that the systems could not cope.
Similar attacks on Thursday also periodically shut down the servers of the Irrawaddy Magazine and the New Era Journal, Myanmar opposition media groups based in Thailand, he said. At its Web address, Irrawaddy confirmed that its service was not available due to a cyber attack.
The military dictatorship that has ruled Myanmar, formerly called Burma, since 1962 ordered an army crackdown on Sept. 18, 2007 that the United Nations later estimated left 31 people dead, including a Japanese photojournalist, and hundreds in detention.
Naing said the Internet attacks appeared to come from Russia, possibly Moscow, but that the networks had not been able to determine who was behind them. He said the Democratic Voice of Burma's severs suffered similar cyber attacks in July.
"We got several anonymous e-mails and phone calls before the (current) attacks, saying they were initiated by Burmese military members doing training in Russia," Naing said. If that is the case, he alleged, the soldiers could be using the attacks as a way of impressing their superiors in Myanmar in hope of being promoted.
Naing said the July onslaught lasted about four days, and that his network on Thursday was able to sporadically get its Internet sites back on line during the onslaught.
He said the Democratic Voice of Burma's radio and television broadcasts into Myanmar continued as normal, and that e-mail communications with sources inside the country were not impaired.
Exiled pro-democracy student activists, including Naing, founded the Oslo-based network in 1992, a year after Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo for her peaceful pro-democracy campaign.
Suu Kyi's party won a 1990 general election, but was not allowed to take office by the military. She has largely been held in house arrest since then.
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