Access Now and the #KeepItOn coalition join the human rights community and media fraternity in Guinea in strongly condemning the ongoing internet shutdowns and media censorship in the country.
According to media reports, access to social media networks and messaging services has been extremely limited in the country since Wednesday, May 17, following a call for demonstrations by the Forces Vives — a group of civil society organizations and opposition political parties contesting the military junta in power. The Association of bloggers of Guinea has accused the government of imposing the internet shutdown to quell the planned protests, while the country’s professional press associations have decried the blocking of media websites and a crackdown on two radio stations in the country on the day of demonstrations.
Data by the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI) corroborates reports of blocking of digital communications applications including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Facebook, Telegram, Snapchat and Instagram have been blocked in the country since last Wednesday.
The Minister of Posts and Telecommunications and government spokesperson, Ousmane Gaoual Diallo, has acknowledged the network disruptions, but attributes it to a technical problem linked to the submarine cable which connects the country to the internet. Authorities in Guinea have previously weaponized internet shutdowns without explanation including during the country’s 2020 elections when they imposed a social media blackout, and subsequently a complete internet shutdown throughout the voting period.
Internet shutdowns are just one tool the military junta has been using to quash democracy, including outlawing the right to protest since May 2022 when it announced a three-year transition period to civilian rule. Forces Vives has been calling for a return of demonstrations.
Access Now calls on the military junta to reverse their actions in shutting down the internet and put a stop to all forms of censorship in the country.