#KeepItOn during elections

Stop shutting down the internet in Guinea: authorities must #KeepItOn amidst protest

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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.

Guinea has a disastrous track record when it comes to shutting down the internet to quell protest and silence dissent during key national events. Authorities in Guinea must stop interfering with access to the internet and digital platforms — it’s time to end all forms of censorship across the country. Felicia Anthonio, #KeepItOn Campaign Manager at Access Now

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 and authoritarianism go hand-in-hand. To truly support Guinea’s successful democratic transition, the junta must uphold the right to protest and freedom of expression — online and off. Bridget Andere, Africa Policy Analyst at Access now

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.