Ethiopian Officials Kill Internet Amid Political Unrest

| by Sarah Zimmerman
Protesters in Ethiopia's capitalProtesters in Ethiopia's capital

The Ethiopian government is responsible for killing dozens of protesters as well as shutting off all access to social media sites as anti-government tensions escalate in the country.  

Protests began last November when the government announced plans to expand the country's capital into Oromia, a region mostly occupied by farmlands. Oromo farmers feared displacement, according to the BBC. 

After a number of protests, the plan for capital development was abandoned in January. However, protests continued over the continued incarceration of anti-governmental demonstrators, as well as the government's marginalization of the Oromo and Amhara people and its numerous reported human rights violations. The Oromo and the Amhara are the largest and second-largest ethnic groups in Ethiopia, respectively. 

Authorities have cracked down on protests in both regions, with police throwing tear gas and even shooting into crowds. According to Aljazeera, the actual death toll is unknown, with one diplomat placing the number at 49 and Amnesty International putting the number as high as 97.

"[There appear] to be low level, quite disorganized protests scattered all around," said the anonymous diplomat to AFP, according to Aljazeera. "The brutal response of the government risks provoking more anger and making it worse." 

One resident told BBC that he saw his friend brutally shot in the head by police.

"I saw others getting arrested. The government was out with guns in town. They're moving with so-called special forces. There was lots of shooting," said another resident, according to Aljazeera. 

The government additionally imposed a blanket internet ban throughout the country.

The Ethiopian News Agency, which is owned and controlled by the state, reported that "illegal protests" started by "anti-peace forces" are now under control. However, it failed to mention any causalities, notes Aljazeera.

"Ethiopian forces have systematically used excessive force in their mistaken attempts to silence dissenting voices," said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International's Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

Sources: BBC, Aljazeera / Photo credit:

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