Belarus must keep it on!

#KeepItOn: Comoros must not black out the internet to quell post-election protests

Access Now condemns the decision of authorities in the Union of Comoros to disrupt internet access in an attempt to quell post-election protests against the re-election of President Azali Assoumani. According to Access Now’s STOP database, this marks the first documented internet shutdown in Comoros. The Comorian government must end the ongoing blackout immediately.

It is alarming to see Comoros join the list of actors wielding internet shutdowns to suppress human rights globally. This is an immediate call to authorities to reinstate the internet now. With over 60 elections taking place in 2024, governments everywhere must ensure open, fair internet access before, during, and after elections. Felicia Anthonio, #KeepItOn Campaign Manager at Access Now

Internet traffic measurement partners, Cloudflare Radar and IODA confirmed the shutdown. Data from Cloudflare Radar shows that there was a significant dip in traffic in Comoros at 09:00 UTC on Wednesday, January 17, 2024, impacting the main internet service provider, Comores Telecom. 

Under the shroud of darkness, one person has reportedly been killed and 25 others injured, as police continue to engage with opposition supporters in the capital, Moroni. Internet shutdowns hinder documentation and reporting, enabling authorities to conceal human rights violations and evade accountability.

Internet blackouts interfere with people’s ability to exercise their human rights including access to information, freedom of expression and association, and other economic and social rights, while fuelling disinformation. Internet access enables people to access and share information easily, helping ensure they stay as safe as possible, and remain in contact with their loved ones and communities.

Governments must not be allowed to normalize the use of shutdowns in response to national crises like protests. During times of unrest, reliable, fair, and free internet connectivity is of utmost importance. Bridget Andere, Senior Policy Analyst at Access Now

Authorities in the Union of Comoros must urgently reconnect the nation and #KeepItOn.