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[liberationtech] Satellite phones for Rohingya in Burma

Mark Belinsky mark.belinsky at
Sun Mar 17 14:18:56 PDT 2013

In my work with the Rohingya and research into communications systems in
Arakan state in the Western portion of the country, it was notable that
there was data coverage spilling over from neighboring Bangladesh and
people were using these towers to transmit information across borders.

All the best,

@mbelinsky <> |<>| phone:
+1-347-466-9327 | skype: markontheline

On Sun, Mar 17, 2013 at 4:49 PM, ttscanada <ttscanada at> wrote:

> Very good points, thanks, Jake. We were thinking more of phones since it
> appears they are more paranoid of cameras than phones, but you have a very
> good point, phones are more easily controlled. Rethinking.
> All the best,
> Heather Marsh
> @GeorgieBC on Twitter
> On 13-03-17 1:25 PM, Jacob Appelbaum wrote:
>> ttscanada:
>>> Hi Jacob,
>>> Yes, exactly to the security issues, which is why we have tried nothing
>>> to date, any Rohingya caught with anything like a camera or radio is
>>> tortured and killed. Ease of use is also paramount, there is no point
>>> risking lives to get a phone in that no one can use. We are
>>> unfortunately at final wipeout stage and the people there are agreed
>>> that the risk of being killed is 100% with or without phones. I don't
>>> know of anything except satellite phones they could use to document. The
>>> military is definitely paranoid of cameras, phones and outsiders atm.
>>> The situation in every refugee camp outside Burma is also awful, but
>>> still not at the stage where it is worth risking lives. We have managed
>>> to get some pictures (like of Rakhine flyers announcing the next
>>> massacre) but almost nothing out of Sittwe. There is plenty that needs
>>> documenting in the surrounding areas though.
>>> In any case, they know they will die, they don't want to die without a
>>> trace. I am slightly more optimistic that if we get some pictures out
>>> some of them won't die at all, we have it from good sources that the
>>> government is already very annoyed at the small publicity we have
>>> created and worried at the war crimes documentation. The government's
>>> official position is that the Rohingya don't actually exist, or if they
>>> did they just left.
>>>  The situation with the Rohingya is heart breaking. :(
>> If it is possible, I would suggest trying to bring cameras like the GoPro:
>> They're not easy or cheap in that part of the world. They are certainly
>> easier to pass on, harder to detect and have a quality that is rarely
>> available to any phone camera. Obviously, any camera is better than no
>> camera for documenting but those are generally weather proofed for
>> serious use.
>> It seems like physical smuggling or geo-caching of the data would be
>> much safer than a sat phone that can be *tracked* and *jammed*
>> simultaneously. At least with geo-caching, one could pass along the
>> coordinates for evidence later and then perhaps at a later date, we will
>> have the evidence stored, found and released.
>> As far as physical smuggling, I suspect that people would need to
>> swallow the media cards or to sew them into clothing. That would allow
>> the cameras to stay in the area but for the data to trickle out.
>> I wish that there was more that I could offer but areas with the
>> Rohingya is very hard to reach. If there is information that you would
>> like to discuss more privately, I welcome contact with GnuPG or with OTR
>> off list.
>> If you are able to get the data to a major city, I think that physical
>> transport *of a copy* will be your best bet for getting the data out
>> quickly.
>> All the best,
>> Jacob
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