Is Ethiopia Restricting Access To Social Media In Oromia Region?

Is Ethiopia Restricting Access To Social Media In Oromia Region?

Ethiopia’s Oromia region, a province engulfed in violent protests  over plans to expand the capital Addis Ababa, has been without internet messaging application Whatsapp and Twitter for over a month.

According to a Bloomberg report, some parts of the East African nation including Oromia, have had no access to these social media sites on mobile devices linked to state-owned monopoly Ethio Telecom.

Seyoum Teshome, a university lecturer at Ambo University’s Woliso campus, told Bloomberg all social media application have not been working for over a month and it looked like the blackout was mostly affecting those accessing the sites via mobile.

“The blackout is targeted at mobile data connections,” Teshome said.

Reports also indicate that people in Hawassa, a city located in the southern region of Ethiopia, have also not been able to access the social media applications for more than a month.

The Ethiopian government has however denied restricting internet access in Oromia over the bloody protest, AFP reported.

Getachew Reda, the Ethiopian government spokesman, said on Monday that internet outage in these region was being investigated, but not good explanation had been found yet.

In  November 2015, protest broke out Oromia state, one of the largest provinces in Ethiopia. Earlier in the protest university students in Oromia clashed with ant-riot police as they rejected plans by the government to expand the capital city Addis Ababa into the state.

The protest quickly turned violent as more people joined the students in the riots. Human Rights Watch (HRW), a global rights agency, estimated that hundreds of people were killed during the protest, but the government denied these allegations.

The same government clumped down on media reports about the protest and only a few details and images managed to get out through social media.

The protest ended in January after the government scrapped its plan to expand Addis Ababa.

“Pulling the plug in social media is a predictable attempt to cut the flow of news and information about the Oromo protests,” Leslie Lefkow, deputy director for Africa at HRW, told AFP.