Rights activists urge Ethiopia to stop blocking the internet

Rights campaigners have called on the Ethiopian government to restore internet and mobile services that have been cut off since January in parts of the country’s largest region, Oromia.

Human Rights Watch said restrictions violate multiple rights and should be lifted immediately, as many have been unable to reach their relatives in the area.

Ethiopia has blocked the internet at least eight times since Prime Minister Abiy Amhed came to power in 2018.

The internet was blocked during protests but also during secondary school exams.

Many of these incidents lasted for no more than a few weeks.

But the current shutdown in the western part of Oromia has gone on for more than two months.

In some of these areas mobile networks are also unavailable.

In late February a senior military official told the BBC that the communication shutdown had been useful for counter-insurgency operations the army is taking against “bandits”.

Preparations are underway for a highly anticipated general election later this year but many fear communications shutdowns could have a negative impact on its credibility.