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Ethiopia: Disappearing blogs

Ethiopia's blogosphere was awash with speculation and accusations today after all websites hosted by the popular Blogger platform disappeared from the country's computer screens.

Twenty-three of the 32 Ethiopian blogs tracked by Global Voices could not be accessed by Ethiopian internet users – who all rely on the state monopoly Ethiopian Telecommunications Corp for their connections.

Internet users outside Ethiopia (and in the capital's United Nations compound which has its own internet connection) had no problem clicking on the links.

Widely-read political blogs like Weichegud! ET Politics, and ethiopundit were caught up alongside purely cultural titles like I was just thinking….

At the time of writing, there was no official announcement from Ethiopian Telecoms to explain the disappearances. But the bloggers themselves were not slow to point the finger.

Seminawork, claimed the scoop by reporting that it had been blocked alongside all other websites with ‘blogspot’ in their URL. The Ethiopia-based blogger known as Ethio-Zagol reported:

Over the last two days, all blogspots blogs including http://www.seminawork.blogspot.com/ have been blocked in Ethiopia. Those who seek political quips fron weichegud or intelligent analysis form other bloggers can't access the sites via the telecom servers. In addition, the government has blocked Ethiopian Review, cyber ethiopia, quatero and Free our leaders websites. My sources told me this is done by tel. with the advise and help of the chinese.

All of the websites mentioned in his post are well known for their anti-government commentary.

Ethiopian Politics, another Blogger blog invisible inside Ethiopia's borders, passed on the message in the post Breaking News – Government Blocks Blogs!:

According to Ethio Zagol all “blogspot” blogs have been blocked in Ethiopia including “the Ethiopian Review” and “Free our leaders” websites. Ethio Zagol further states that this was done by the Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation with the advise and help of the Chinese government.

Meskel Square, which uses the MovableType platform on its own rented server, stopped short of accusations, but confirmed the mysterious disappearances in Blog gone:

Where have all of Ethiopia's Blogspot bloggers gone? … Is there a big conspiracy? Or is it just another day of dodgy ETC dial-up connections? How will we ever know?

  • abdikariim

    The real reason is that the murderer Mr Meles Zenawi is getting to ethnicly cleanse the Ogaden somalia he has sent ovar 60.000 tigrean militia last couble weeks and they already start killing innocent Ogadens Ethiopia is been help by the Western Christian world in order to sloughter innocent moslems in horn of Africa

  • Power

    This is one of the means of the voted out government of Ethiopia to keep Ethiopians in the dark and silence them. Won’t work the tide is already high and it is almost there to sweep the EPRDF away from power and replace them with the true leaders of Ethiopia elected by the people. Power to the people.

  • Sultan Raya

    Since his regime lost the May 2005 election to the opposition the government of Meles Zenawi has been cracking down on pro-democracy protestors, leaders of the opposition and civil society, and the free press. Since May 2005 over 100 peacefully demonstrating youth have been killed by security forces carrying druganov sniper rifles and American Humvees donated to the government for counter-terrorism action againsts Islamist threats emanating from Somalia. The government has also shut down all free press publications. In a ludicrous move to quash the opposition movement, the government has jailed the entire leadership of the oppositon (including parliament electees, the mayor elect of the capital Addis Ababa, members of civil society and the free press including 5 Voicce of America radio journalists) and trying them in its kangaroo courts on trumped up charges of treason and genocide. Mind you the government kills over 100 pro-democracy protestors and jails upwards of 40,000 (yes that is 40K) in concentration-like open camps, and turns around and blame all this on the opposition. The recent crack down on the Ethio blogoshere is an extention of this repression. The government is losing it and is in its deathbed writhing. These atrocities need to be told all over the world. Ethiopian’s can’t overcome poverty without participatory democracy, free information, open communication and market economics. The regime of Meles Zenawi is standing in the way. The Ethiopian people have expressed their wish in May 2005. The Meles regime and the US government which is backing him need to be told enough is enough. No more tolerance for obstruction to democracy and the free flow of information via print, airwaves anf the internet. We need the support of all in exposing the suppression in Ethiopia. The recent crackdown on blogs by Meles’ regime with the technical advice of the Chinese government need to be stopped. Stand with the Ethiopian people, stand for unfettered exchange and freedom in the blogosphere!!!!!

  • http://www.choreber.blogspot.com Girma Degefa

    This is a common practice of loser government all over the World.We have no govrnment in our beloved country , but killers!!!! What ever they did we don’t scare. Last year this govrnment shutdown all independent presses , took their money from their office and detained free journalists. This year bloked internet news sources , Ethiopia is not a private property for a group of killers!!!!! please , please , please free Mr. SISAY AGENA , Independent publisher and Journalist from prison , and give back his own money !!!!!!!!

  • Kainan

    The Reason is That Ethiopia leaders Only Know how To kill Their Inocent Peole In the Ogaden And Elsewhere and Don’t Respect the rights of Their Citizent Journalist,

  • Gudu Kassa

    This is another manifestation of the true nature of Meles Naziawi and its cohorts. Awake the world, awake peace loving nations, awake media watchdogs, awake, human right watchdogs……Ethiopians are being stripped of thier yet another inalienable right for freedom of expression

  • Abugida

    I am not surprised, this is onlythe beggening of the end. If your govermnet is trying to send you back to the dark age, he is mistaken, that is the sign of a fall.“I think these are specifically political trials of the people in power in Ethiopia who are minority of the people and they feel deeply threatened. And when they are threatened and backed into a corner, their only option is repression. It’s only the actions of a totalitarian state.” The former US top official for Africa. Isn’t that true?, isn’t the government proving it right?
    It is only a matter of time.
    Power to the Ethiopian people.

  • Gemoraw

    This is not new for ethiopia. Earlier, we were not allowed to apeak loudly; later, the text messages were disconnected. Yes, the government had ‘reason’. Again, it blew the coffee shops and cafiterias where there is news exchange. And not to bloggers. They killed us too. I am not sure what comes next. I surely see how TPLF is boundlessly inhumane, and brutally stupid! Well, it is not an insult, for there is not normative element in this statment. I dare not to insult them for they dont have moral. It is just a statment of fact. If there is any nation where the people is consistently wise and patient than its rules, it is always Ethiopia! We shall deal with them with wisdom and patience. They will die of panic and paranoy. Our silence is a heavy noise for them. Our disappearance is a great presence. They will be lost in themselves.

  • http://www.coffeechillisun.blogspot.com Dina

    Since I cannot access the dashboard to create and post a new entry I’ll hijack this forum for a bit (sorry Global Voices).

    While we are getting increasingly worried about the freedom of the web and the muffling of the few free public fora in Ethiopia the oppression is mounting. Since the bombings on Friday the 12th of May the presence of military in various types and colours of uniform has been stepped up. Armed soldiers, who had been walking around with their rifles casually slung around their torsos are now seen with their itchy fingers on the trigger, especially in the “poorer” areas of Lideta, Abinet, Merkato etc. The “security guards” by the Customs offices in LaGare are actually stationed on the wall with their rifles pointing into the street- a busy street.
    Other news is that the highly publicised use of teachers and schools for oppression and intimidation is continuing. A teacher of foreign origin (a 2nd generation Italian according to my source) at a public school was forced to leave the country after refusing to disclose the name of “troublemakers”- students who are known for political awareness raising and agitation. He was actually lucky… His family here though are still facing uncertainty.

    Returning to the freedom of blogs- we are told that we can use Secure Tunnel and similar sites to access blocked blogs, but how can we post? And, more importantly- is it still safe to post? Will Blogspot collaborate with the government like Yahoo did with the Chinese government?
    There is a need for some detailed advice as to what is a secure way to post on the blogs and also write safe e-mails using means that a cranky, overworked and inefficient Ethiopian Telecom Server can quickly handle.

  • Alem

    Ditacership starts at home but does not end there! That is what we are witnesing currently. The dictater Meles Zenawi began to squeze the free press at home but could not stop there and now streching its hand to the elctronic media out side whose publishers are out side of Ethiopia. It is a war that dictaters can not defeat.The only source that free ethioipians rely was the internet specifically some websites like ethiopianreview.com and ethiofourm.org, today i tried to browse but could not.In the 21st centurey it is like to grap a shadow to try to block internet access , and hope soon therewill be a means we can read true stories that we are missing from the so called Ethiopian media.

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