Content note: The following post contains references to war crimes, sexual assault, murder, and death.
It’s been over 100 days since Ethiopian authorities flipped the internet “kill switch” in the Amhara region — a flagrant violation of human rights. On August 3, after conflict between federal military forces and members of the Amhara Fano fighters escalated, Ethiopia’s government cut off mobile internet services, fixed line internet, and access to social media and communications platforms including WhatsApp, Facebook, and X (formerly Twitter) without explanation. It is the second time this year that the people of Amhara region have been subjected to large-scale, arbitrary internet disruption.
The prolonged shutdown prevents people from accessing life-saving information and staying connected with each other amid ongoing conflict and human rights violations. In September, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission reported instances of extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, physical assault, displacement, and destruction of civilian property by government security forces and state militia, while their latest report, released just two weeks ago, revealed a deteriorating situation marked by escalating atrocities, including drone attacks targeting civilians. The same report also highlights a disturbing increase in sexual and gender based violence, with at least 200 cases of rape reported since August.
Cutting off internet connectivity compounds the woes of people caught up in the conflict, as well as allowing human rights abuses to be covered up. The following 11 stories, collected from Amhara’s students, nurses, brokers, engineers, civil servants, and lecturers — among others — all emphasize one thing: no one is spared from the devastating impact of internet shutdowns.
Join us in pressuring the Ethiopian government to end internet shutdowns in their country, once and for all, or read more about the human impact of internet shutdowns worldwide via Access Now’s Shutdown Impact Stories project.
11 stories from people in Amhara region, Ethiopia
Note: the names of some contributors have been modified for safety. If you can’t see the infographics below, please check your privacy-enhancing browser extensions. Open in desktop view for the best experience.
Ethiopia is a leading perpetrator of shutdowns in Africa
The impact of internet shutdowns is alarming, causing irreversible damage to people’s lives and institutions. Cutting off internet access must not be tolerated. Ethiopia’s government has a poor track record in this regard — Access Now and the #KeepItOn coalition have documented at least 26 shutdowns in the country since 2016, making it the leader for shutdowns in Africa. Ethiopian authorities should take urgent action to reverse this trend.
Join Access Now and the #KeepItOn coalition to pressure authorities in Ethiopia to stop weaponizing shutdowns during national crises, by reposting our message below and sharing this blog widely with your networks.
Access Now and the #KeepItOn coalition continue to collect and amplify personal stories of shutdown victims, to spotlight the devastating impact of shutdowns and hold perpetrators accountable. Since the coalition was launched, we have published and amplified stories from Ethiopia, India, Bangladesh, Togo, Cameroon, Tanzania, Uganda, Iran, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and other countries.
Have you or someone you know experienced internet blackouts? Share your impact story with us via this form:
About the #KeepItOn coalition
The #KeepItOn coalition is a global network of over 300 organizations fighting against internet shutdowns since 2016. Membership of the coalition is open to all civil society and independent organizations working on diverse human rights issues worldwide. Learn more here on how to join our efforts.