Content note: The following post contains references to war crimes, sexual assault, murder, and death.
Since the start of the Tigray conflict in November 2020, warring parties in Ethiopia have used internet and telecommunication shutdowns as a weapon to control and censor information. The Tigray region has been in the dark for over 300 consecutive days, with both broadband and mobile internet shut off.
This region-wide blackout is not only making it difficult for journalists and human rights defenders to document and uncover heinous crimes against civilians — including mass rape and sexual violence, mass murder, and abuse of refugees committed by Ethiopian and Eritrean troops and the Amhara militia — but it’s also tearing families, communities, and businesses apart during already challenging times.
First-hand stories from those impacted by the current shutdown in Tigray, gathered through Access Now’s Shutdown Stories Project, highlight how the blackout is making it extremely hard for people to connect with their families, sustain their livelihoods, and maintain their mental health. Below we share survivors’ stories, and provide insight as to how you can support our global #KeepItOn campaign in the fight against internet shutdowns. For safety reasons, contributors in this blog post are identified by their first names or pseudonyms, while some are anonymous.
How you can help fight shutdowns in Tigray and elsewhere
The human cost of internet shutdowns is immeasurable. But by sharing your stories, survivors — you — can help bring attention to this growing form of censorship and contribute to the fight to #KeepItOn. Governments around the world continue to impose shutdowns that interfere with people’s lives and even put them at risk.
Help us amplify the negative impact of internet shutdowns under the #KeepItOn campaign, and shine light on the ways we can fight against them, by taking the following steps:
- Share this blog post on social media using the hashtag #KeepItOn and #InternetShutdown to raise awareness about the devastating impact of internet shutdowns on people’s lives.
- Share our Shutdown Stories form (also available in Tigrigna) with people in your network affected by a shutdown, to help us gather more testimonies to strengthen our advocacy work. Your stories serve as evidence of harm in court and at international forums.
#KeepItOn is a global campaign that brings together over 240 organizations from around the world united to end internet shutdowns through grassroots advocacy, direct policymaker engagement, technical support, and legal intervention.