Content note: the following post contains references to violence.
Access Now and the #KeepItOn coalition condemn the ongoing internet blackout imposed by authorities in Somalia’s self-declared Republic of Somaliland, in a knee-jerk reaction to protests against the postponement of the presidential election.
“Shutting down the internet in times of political instability and unrest fuels crisis and conceals human rights violations against people,” said Felicia Anthonio, #KeepItOn Campaign Manager at Access Now. “Whenever the internet is shut down during high tension moments, lives are endangered. This flagrant abuse of power in Somaliland cannot be condoned in any way.”
On August 11, journalists in Somaliland reported an internet shut down that started at around 06:00 local time as protesters from the opposition and general public gathered in various locations, including Hargeisa and Burao. During the protests, a complete loss of internet traffic was recorded in the Woqooyi Galbeed region, which affected internet service providers, including Telesom, Somtel and Somcable. Our partners are reporting that access to the internet was restored at 16:00 local time and that the shutdown also affected parts of Southern and Central Somalia. This blackout could not stop reports emerging from the ground of violence at the hands of state forces.
Authorities in Somaliland and neighboring countries are increasingly turning to internet shutdowns to quash voices and assert control over populations.
This trend must end now. Controlling and restricting internet access violates human rights. Access Now is calling on authorities in Somaliland to ensure free and open access to the internet and to ensure the safety of protesters.