Ethiopia Back Online Following Internet Shutdown

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Ethiopia’s internet service has been restored after a three-week shutdown amid country-wide protests and civil unrest. Protests broke out in the country’s capital of Addis Ababa after Oromo singer and activist Haacaaluu Hundeessaa was gunned down last month.

At the time of the shutdown, The New York Times reported that the government blocked the internet and arrested nearly 5,000 people, including activists, journalists and a prominent critic of the government as tensions continued to rise.

The outage was slammed by many, including NetBlocks, a non-governmental organization that monitors cybersecurity and the governance of the internet.

“The disruption constitutes a severe violation of basic rights at a time Ethiopians most need to stay informed,” NetBlocks said, reporting an estimated economic impact of more than $4 million (US) per day.

Oromo activist Jawar Mohammed was one of the many protestors arrested.

Hundeessaa music was hailed as giving a voice to the Oromo’s political marginalization and is even credited with the toppling of Ethiopia’s government in 2018, leading to the country’s first Oromo prime minister, Abiy Ahmed.

The Oromo is the country’s largest ethnic group, accounting for more than one-third of the population.

“He is somebody who is seen as an icon for the more than 50 million Oromos who live in Ethiopia and across Africa,” Awol Allo, senior lecturer of law at Keele University in England, told Al Jazeera following Hundeessaa’s death. “He had the rhetorical facility and the poetic expression with which he was able to articulate and insightfully identify some of the deeply entrenched and profoundly rooted problems that the Oromos have been facing throughout history.”

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