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Authorities in Ethiopia must restore internet access in Amhara

Authorities in Ethiopia must immediately restore internet access in the Amhara region, and commit to ensuring an open, accessible, and secure internet during and after the ongoing conflict.

Access to mobile internet services has been disrupted in the region since 3 August, 2023. Through an open statement, Access Now and the #KeepItOn coalition are denouncing the shutdowns and urging the government of Ethiopia to reverse its track record of imposing internet shutdowns in times of conflict. 

Authorities in Ethiopia must put an end to internet shutdowns, which violate human rights and block the flow of information in times of conflict, and commit to ensuring that everyone in Amhara can access the internet. Ethiopia remains the leading perpetrator of blackouts in Africa, having shut down the internet at least 26 times since 2016, including during active conflict, communal violence, and moments of political unrest. Felicia Anthonio, #KeepItOn Campaign Manager at Access Now

The internet shutdown is taking place amidst clashes between regional security forces and the national army, which has resulted in the death of 183 people according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. President Abiy Ahmed declared a state of emergency in the region on 4 August, 2023 after tensions between the warring parties escalated. 

Restricting freedom of expression and access to information during the state of emergency and beyond puts people in Amhara at great risk. Internet shutdowns enable the perpetrators of human rights violations to evade accountability and disrupt access to life saving information, as was seen during the civil war in the Tigray region. Jaimee Kokonya, Africa Campaigner at Access Now

This is the second time authorities have shut down the internet in Amhara this year. Authorities previously shut down access to mobile internet services on 6 April 2023, after protests broke out following the federal government’s move to disband regional security forces.