Ethiopia: When Violence Flares, Ethiopia Continues to Turn Off Internet
5 October 2018
When dozens of people died in ethnic clashes last month on the outskirts of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, protesters took to the streets. The government, meanwhile, turned off the internet.
Mobile internet service stayed off for about 40 hours. It was the second time this year the internet has gone down in Ethiopia during times of unrest, in addition to a months-long outage that began last year during protests that led to the resignation of former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.
Officials have yet to explain this latest outage, but activists and journalists believe the typical justification, to ensure public safety in turbulent times, doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.
They’re also concerned that the government continues to suppress information and impede journalists, even in the midst of wide-reaching reforms.
“Restricting the internet has repercussions on freedom of expression, access to information and freedom of speech,” Muthoki Mumo, the sub-Saharan Africa representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists, told VOA.
Mumo, who is based in Nairobi, added that internet outages can be particularly harmful in times of crisis, when decision-makers need credible, up-to-date information.