internet shutdown

Internet shutdowns and blockings continue to hide atrocities of military coup in Sudan

للقراءة بالعربية / Read in Arabic

This statement was first published on November 4, 2021, and is being periodically updated.

Content note: this post contains references to violence and murder.

Update: 30 June, 2022: Authorities in Sudan have once again shut down access to the internet, digital communication platforms, SMS, and calls ahead of the #June30March protests that mark the third anniversary of the 2019 uprising and ousting of Omar Al-Bashir. According to media reports, security forces have killed at least nine protesters and injured several others as part of a  brutal crackdown. Internet access was restored after almost 24 hours.

Update: 2 January, 2022: With protesters taking to the streets for the first time in 2022, authorities again disrupted the internet, this time for 12 hours. Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok resigned amid the political deadlock that the country witnessed after the military coup of 25 October.

Update: 25 December, 2021: After less than a month since the internet and telecommunication services were restored in the country, authorities shut down the internet once again. As calls to demonstrate and protest mounted, internet services were disrupted on Saturday, 25 December. 

Access Now is monitoring the situation, and is continuing to pressure authorities for full internet access, and a commitment to ensure people in Sudan will be able to stay online in the future.

Update: 23 November, 2021:  After almost a month without connectivity, telephone and internet services are slowly being restored in Sudan. On Thursday, 18 November, internet service providers reconnected partial access

Update: November 16, 2021:  As Sudan languishes through its fourth week of a state-sanctioned internet blackout, Access Now is again calling on Sudanese authorities to comply with court orders and reinstate internet access across the country.

November 12, 2021: Sudan’s Telecommunications and Post Regulatory Authority ordered the internet to remain shut down under the emergency state to “preserve national unity and national security.” This comes in defiance to a previous court ruling to restore internet access to all. 

November 11, 2021: The Khartoum Court ordered the internet be fully restored across all regions in Sudan. This decision obliged providers including Canar Telecom, Zain, MTN, and Sudani to end the ongoing shutdown, which has left millions in the dark throughout the bloody military coup and subsequent protests. This judgement came a week after the same court ruled that the internet be reinstated to five plaintiffs who raised a complaint via the Sudanese Consumer Protection Society.

November 4, 2021: Access Now and the #KeepItOn coalition demand authorities reinstate internet access across Sudan.

Ten days after authorities shut down the internet in Sudan, coinciding with the bloody military takeover, millions of people are still unable to connect to vital services, access information, or communicate with each other or the outside world. Furthermore, journalists and human rights defenders are unable to fully document events within the country.

“We don’t know the full extent of brutality being inflicted upon people in Sudan,” said Marwa Fatfta, MENA Policy Manager at Access Now. “The internet blackouts are doing their job, and providing cover for the military’s violent takeover and hijacking of a possible democratic future for Sudan.”

Access Now has been working closely with local partners and organizations across the world, and although the situation is constantly changing, a number of key disruptions can be confirmed by the #KeepItOn community:

November 1, 2021: While the internet is still disrupted in the country, phone and SMS have reportedly been reconnected.

October 30, 2021: Amidst the continual internet blackout, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets as part of the “March of Millions,” the largest coordinated demonstration in the country since Monday. At least 17 people are reportedly killed and over 250 injured.  

October 29, 2021: On the night of October 29, a day before Sudan’s largest mass protests since the military coup, Phone and SMS services were completely shut down in addition to the internet blackout.

October 26, 2021: The internet remains down in Sudan, with only a brief one hour restoration. People in Sudan continued to report issues with local calls.

October 25, 2021: The Sudanese authorities began shutting down access to the internet and telecommunication services. Data from Google Transparency reports and Internet Outage Detection and Analysis (IODA) shows a significant dip in traffic of internet connectivity at about 3:00 am UTC. The shutdown is affecting both fixed and mobile internet connectivity across the country on all major internet service providers. 

Demands for change

Access Now and the #KeepItOn coalition joins the increasing calls for action from around the globe, specifically urging the authorities in Sudan to:

  1. Immediately restore full access to the internet and all communication services;
  2. Allow internet service providers to operate freely by providing open, reliable, and secure access to the internet and digital communications platforms; 
  3. Refrain from imposing future shutdowns even in times of crises; and 
  4. Uphold the fundamental rights of the people of Sudan, including peaceful assembly and association, freedom of opinion and expression, and access to information.