Ethiopia toughens state of emergency, restricts online communication

The Ethiopian government has issued directives over the weekend as part of the six-month state of emergency imposed on October 8 which includes ban on online communication.

Among the restrictions are exchange of messages through mobile phones, social media and traditional media citing two independent media in the country (Ethiopian Satellite Radio and Television (ESAT) and Oromo Media Network) prohibited from the public, the directive issued by the Minister of Defense, Siraj Fergessa stated.

Also, physically publishing and distributing documents, demonstrations, showing protest gestures as well as republishing and sending media materials for publication have been banned.

Security forces have been empowered to monitor, search and arrest anyone who violates the regulation while giving them power to defend themselves from any threat or attack.

Diplomats have also been restricted from travelling beyond 40 kilometers radius outside the capital without prior authorization and permission.

A dawn to dusk curfew among other directives are expected to cripple the opposition including five groups designated as terrorists by the government.

At least 500 people have been killed in a wave of anti-government protests in the Amhara and Oromia regions over the past months.

Over 50 people died on October 2 in a stampede at a festival in Bishoftu after police fired teargas and warning shots to disperse protesters at the event.

International bodies including the United Nations and the European Union have called on the Ethiopian government to exercise restraint against protesters.

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