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News: Amnesty joins growing calls urging Ethiopian gov. to lift month-long blockade on selected social media platforms

The social media platforms jammed by the government include Facebook, Telegram, Tik Tok and YouTube

Addis Abeba – Amnesty international joined growing calls urging the Ethiopian government to lift state-sanctioned month-long blockade on selected social media platforms.

The blockade was imposed after a fracture between the government and the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church (EOTC) Holy Synod in Addis Abeba picked momentum in the month of February. It has now entered its second month. A similar call was made on 24 February by Daniel Bekele, Chief Commissioner of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

Similarly, on March 03, the Ethiopian Media Council (EMC), expressed its concern on the blockade and asked the government to end the practice of frequent jamming of social media platforms.

“Ethiopian authorities have, for a month now, blocked people in the country from accessing selected social media platforms such as Facebook, Telegram, Tik Tok and YouTube. The authorities thus continue to violate people’s right to freedom of expression, which includes the freedom to seek, receive and impart information,” Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, Flavia Mwangovya said.

Flavia further said that the blockade on these selected social media platforms “clearly violates citizens’ rights to freedom of expression and access to information. It also flies in the face of Ethiopia’s own constitution, and national laws, as well as regional and international treaties to which Ethiopia is a party to. The restriction further stains the country’s already dismal record on media freedom.”

Amnesty International became the latest rights advocate to urge authorities to lift the blockade “without delay and to end this culture of interfering with people’s right to express themselves and to seek and receive information.” 

Internet access rights advocacy group, Access Now, recently said that internet shutdowns stoke tensions, yet authorities in Ethiopia have blocked access  on several instances citing security concerns, denying and curtailing  people in the country the ability to exercise their fundamental rights. “The government shut down the internet in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, blocking access to life-saving information for more than two years of a bloody civil war. 

“Coming off the heels of the UN Internet Governance Forum hosted in Ethiopia in December 2022, the government must remember its commitment to restore internet services in parts of the country and not do anything to jeopardize this,” said Bridget Andere, Africa Policy Analyst at Access Now. “Frequently shutting down the internet is a dangerous action and not a sustainable mechanism for dealing with tensions and strife.”

The Ethiopian government has not commented on its latest month-long jamming of these selected social media platforms. AS

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