Image: Two Years in the dark is two years too long

Two years of internet shutdowns: people in Tigray, Ethiopia, deserve better

Today, November 4, 2022, marks two years since authorities implemented internet shutdowns in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. After 730 days, this must come to an end. 

As peace talks between the government of Ethiopia and Tigray regional forces show positive signs of a ceasefire, this is the moment to reconnect all — everybody, from civil society to the African Union, has a responsibility to stand up and demand action.

“For two years — 730 days — millions of people in Tigray have been forced to survive through a horrific war, their circumstances exacerbated by a deliberate internet shutdown that prevents them from communicating with family and friends, accessing potentially life-saving information, and letting the world know what’s happening in their region,” said Felicia Anthonio, #KeepItOn Campaign Manager at Access Now. “Authorities must reconnect Tigray now.”

The internet was shut down a day after the civil war began, restricting information on war crimes, human rights abuses, and other horrific acts emerging from the region, and hiding the true extent of the violence and atrocities taking place. Bringing internet and telecommunications services back online in Tigray is an important foundation for ensuring the swift delivery of humanitarian aid, restoring essential services, accessing information on the peace process, and holding authorities to account.

“There are over six million people in Tigray, all with connections and communities inside and outside of the region,” said Saba Mah’derom, Tigrayan advocate and Women of Tigray (WOT) board member. “Their links have been severed since November 2020 and the onset of the war — this is unacceptable. People in Tigray have the right to freedom of expression and access to information through online platforms. People in Tigray deserve better than what the world has sat back and allowed to occur.”

To incite action from the African Union and member states, Access Now and the #KeepItOn coalition have launched a global petition calling for the regional leaders to condemn the Ethiopian government’s prolonged shutdown, and take action to help reestablish internet access across the region and beyond. Sign the petition.