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Ethiopia govt shut internet following protests: Reports

The Ethiopian government cut off internet access in the entire country on June 30, after protests erupted in capital Addis Ababa and surrounding areas against the assassination of Oromo musician and social activist Haacaaluu Hundeessaa. This was reported by Access Now and Washington Post, among others. The internet shutdown was ongoing as of July 5 evening, per Reuters. More than 166 people have been killed during the anti-government protests.

Protests reached the Oromia region on the night of July 1. The Oromos are the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia, making up more than 50 per cent of the country’s population.

The Ethiopian government has deployed internet shutdowns earlier. In August 2018, it shut off broadband and mobile internet in the cities of Harar and Dire Dawa, and the entire Somali region for four days.

Parts of western Ethiopia, including some parts of the Oromia region, did not have access to the internet from January to March 2020. The internet was reportedly cut off due to an ongoing security crackdown in the area which has seen conflict between government forces and rebels.

In 2016, the government blocked social media, including access to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Viber, after university entrance exams were posted online. The government has blocked VoIP calls, “unauthorised calls” on Skype, and has a history to blocking opposition and human rights blogs.

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