Update: January 25, 2022 — Access Now and the #KeepItOn coalition welcome reports of the full restoration of internet access and the unblocking of Facebook by authorities in Burkina Faso. The coalition, once again, urges the government to refrain from shutting down the internet at any point in time, and especially during critical national moments.
Update: January 24, 2022 — The government of Burkina Fast must stop any and all attempts to control expression, communication, and access to information through arbitrary internet shutdowns.
Yesterday, January 23, authorities made the decision to shut down the internet for the third time within months, targeting mobile internet in the country. The shutdown was implemented amid reports that the country’s president is allegedly being detained by mutinying soldiers, with gunfire allegedly heard last night around the presidential palace and at barracks in the capital, Ouagadougou.
Mobile internet was again disrupted in Burkina Faso on January 10 at approximately 15:30 local time without any explanation from the government or internet service providers operating in the country. Although access was restored the following day, reports indicate that Facebook remained blocked. Last week, the government confirmed that they shut down Facebook for “national security” reasons.
“It is deplorable to see authorities in Burkina Faso toying with internet access, cutting a lifeline for many during this ongoing pandemic,” said Felicia Anthonio, Campaigner and #KeepItOn Lead at Access Now. “Once a government flips the kill switch, they gain the confidence to do it again, even though shutdowns are never the solution to the underlying problems in the country. We cannot watch silently while governments continue to gratify their whims and caprices through these acts of repression.”
Access Now and the #KeepItOn coalition are demanding full restoration of internet access in Burkina Faso with immediate effect, and are calling on internet service providers operating in the country to resist the shutdown orders they receive.
Update: November 29 — Reports indicate that authorities in Burkina Faso have reinstated nation-wide mobile internet access. While Access Now welcomes this move, no government has the right to implement internet shutdowns at any time, and calls on authorities to ensure they will not make this decision again.
November 25: Access Now and the #KeepItOn coalition are demanding that the government of Burkina Faso reinstate internet access for all, and without exception.
It has now been five days since authorities shut down the internet on November 20, citing vague “public safety” and “national defence” reasons. On November 24, the Kaboré government extended the blackout until November 27.
“The #KeepItOn coalition is outraged that the government of Burkina Faso shut down the internet,” said Felicia Anthonio, Campaigner and #KeepItOn Lead at Access Now. “Authorities made a bad decision earlier this week when they disconnected millions, but yesterday’s 96-hour extension truly reflects their blatant contempt for human rights.”
The government shut down the internet as demonstrators blocked a French military convoy travelling through the city of Kaya. This appears to be the first time authorities in Burkina Faso have blocked internet access, but there is a global trend of governments interfering with connectivity during protests and civil unrest.
“More and more governments are shutting down the internet to silence dissent all across the globe,” said Marianne Díaz Hernández, #KeepItOn Fellow at Access Now. “They are afraid of the power of the people. We will not let them quash democracy.”