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Calls for Ethiopians to be Logged On

Amnesty International has called on the authorities in Ethiopia to immediately lift restrictions on several social media networks that began a month ago. The blocked sites include Facebook, Messenger, TikTok, Telegram and YouTube. It is not a complete internet shutdown. No official reason has been given for blocking them, though it happened following a split in the popular Orthodox Church, which raised tensions in the deeply religious country. At the time each side had planned rival rallies as a show of strength – but the demonstrations were banned and the stand-off appears to have eased since then. Social media content creators in Ethiopia have complained that traffic is down, though some people have been using virtual private network (VPN) software to access the sites. Demand for VPNs in Ethiopia over the last month peaked at one point by 3,651%, according to London-based VPN research firm TOP10VPN. Flavia Mwangovya, Amnesty’s deputy regional director for east and southern Africa, has urged the authorities “to lift this blockade without delay and to end this culture of interfering with people’s right to express themselves and to seek and receive information”.