Human Rights Watch, calls on Ethiopian government for an immediate lift of telecom blackout

#Mekelle- 09 March 2020 (#DW-TV) – #Human rights Watch (HRW) indicated today that Ethiopian Prime Minister #Abiy Ahmed ordered telecom shutdown in response to media reports on human rights violations in #Oromia national regional state by the government.

Watch therefore, called for an immediate lifting of a telecom ban in the regional state.

As could be known from various media outlets, Oromia has been virtually disconnected from internet and phone communication for two months, preventing communities from accessing services and information.
As per #HRW, the telecom shutdown in the region, that includes social media services, was implemented in areas under federal military control as a response to media reports on human rights violations by the government. The media have credibly reported human rights abuses, including accounts of killings and mass detentions by government forces, watch furthered.

The two-month-long shutdown, according to HRW, has prevented families from communicating, disrupted life-saving services, and contributed to an information blackout during government counterinsurgency operations in the area.

Since January 3, 2020, the authorities have disconnected mobile phone networks, landlines, and internet services in western Oromia’s Kellem Wellega, West Wellega, and Horo Gudru Wellega zones.

In East Wellega, residents reported that the internet and social media services were blocked, with text and cell service available only in major towns, HRW report pointed out. .

HRW also restated that government-sanctioned communication blackouts are becoming the norm under prime minister Abiy Ahmed as a way of silencing political dissent during social unrest.

The vague justification given for the telecom blackout by Ahmed was “security reasons,” it reiterated.