January 4, 2017

Oromo: Study Identifies Strategies Ethiopian Government Uses to Create Information Blackout

Photo courtesy of Awol Allo @Geeska Afrika Online

In an article recently published in Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies, Professor Habtamu Dugo analyses the way in which the Ethiopian government has orchestrated an information blackout surrounding the protests in Oromia.  The protests started in 2014 in response to government plans which would forcefully displace Oromos – Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group – from the capital region. The protests soon became a way to express wider grievances, such as a lack of political representation, and intensified in response to a heavy government crackdown. A state of emergency which was declared in October 2016 has been denounced by critics as a pretext for systematic state oppression.

Professor Dugo’s study identifies a selection of strategies used by the Ethiopian state “in order to distort, misrepresent, hide and deny massive human rights infractions perpetrated by the military”. He comes to the conclusion that the government has used draconian laws, suppression of communication applications, a robust misinformation campaign, as well as a mixture of other mechanisms to block the free flow of reliable information. According to Professor Dugo, the policies of the government in Addis Ababa defy not only internationally established human rights, but also the constitution of Ethiopia itself.

The full article, titled “Violence Against Free Media and Knowledge Dissemination in Ethiopia: An Analysis of the Mechanisms of Restrictions on Information Flow”, can be read here.