Twitter backlash after Ethiopia PM’s internet ‘not water or air’ threat

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“Internet is not water, internet is not air. Internet is a very important. However, if we use it as a revolution tool to incite others to kill and burn, it will be shut down not only for a week, but longer than that.

“For sake of national security, internet and social media could be blocked any time necessary.

“As long as it is deemed necessary to save lives and prevent property damages, the internet would be closed permanently, let alone for a week,” these are pronouncements of Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed during an August 1 press conference.

Abiy was for the first time reacting in person to assassination incidents of June 22 during which internet was cut across the East African country. Internet was also recently cut for national exams in the country.

Abiy stressed that if deadly unrest in the country continues with online incitement, internet in the country could be cut off “forever.” He adds that even though Ethiopia wants the internet to help drive development, it is “neither water nor air,” underlining its dispensability.

But his comments have received strong backlash from a large cross-section of Twitter users. Opponents underline the need for government to protect the rights of online users and not find justifications to infringe on digital rights.

Amnesty International’s East Africa region also waded in joining calls for a rethink of the PM’s position. One of Ethiopia’s famed bloggers accused the PM of outsourcing blame.

“(The Prime Minister) blames the neutral communication platform for violence in his administrative territory. To respect liberty of citizens and protect law and order for majority’s safety is your job, Mr. Prime Minister. Don’t outsource the blame,” Befeqadu Hailu tweeted.

𝔹𝕖𝕗𝕖ℚ𝕒𝕕𝕦 ℤ. ℍ𝕒𝕚𝕝𝕦@befeqe

“The first people who would be happy, if the social media suddenly disappears, are authoritarian states” ~ Stephen Stedman at . Authoritarians want to monopolize information flow and want to define fate of their people in stead of serving the latter’s will. https://twitter.com/Rozen_J/status/1157268982514290688 

Jonathan Rozen

@Rozen_J

“The internet for journalism is now like the air you breathe,” said @befeqe. “Without the internet, modern journalism means nothing.” #KeepItOn https://www.africaportal.org/features/journalists-under-duress-internet-shutdowns-africa-are-stifling-press-freedom/ https://twitter.com/emmanueligunza/status/1157144823259734016 

15 people are talking about this

Meron Dumo@MeronDumo

For a person with an IT background what PM Abiy said about Internet is bewildering. It is sad that we have to point out the importance of internet in this day and age but just an FYI in the year 2014 Internet contributed 1 Trillion dollars to GDP & 3 million jobs just in the USA https://twitter.com/AmnestyEARO/status/1157308970920566786 

AmnestyEasternAfrica

@AmnestyEARO

Replying to @AmnestyEARO

.@PMEthiopia Abiy shutting down the internet is not acceptable. The people have the right to #AccessToInformation to know what’s happening around them including thru the Internet. Restrictions must only be according to clear & precise public laws that pursue legitimate objectives

See Meron Dumo’s other Tweets

Edao Dawano@EdaoDawano

HAPPY Friday… meanwhile-
Internet might not be WATER nor AIR in Ethiopia, but surely is Economic fuel driving communication & commerce in the developed world,-… https://www.africanews.com/2019/08/02/ethiopia-will-cut-internet-as-and-when-it-s-neither-water-nor-air-pm-abiy/ 

Ethiopia will cut internet as and when, ‘it’s neither water nor air’ – PM Abiy

Abiy said Ethiopia wants the internet to help drive development but warned that it is “neither water nor air.”

africanews.com

See Edao Dawano’s other Tweets

AmnestyEasternAfrica

@AmnestyEARO

‘s @PMEthiopia Abiy would have people believe that it is fine to shut down the Internet saying it “is not bread or air” & if necessary his govt could shut it for good, let alone for a week. But he’s wrong, as the Internet clampdown denies people the right to information.

AmnestyEasternAfrica

@AmnestyEARO

.@PMEthiopia Abiy shutting down the internet is not acceptable. The people have the right to to know what’s happening around them including thru the Internet. Restrictions must only be according to clear & precise public laws that pursue legitimate objectives

31 people are talking about this

Abel Wabella 🐯@Abelpoly

The warning of the PM Abiy Ahmed @PMEthiopia to shut down the internet once and for all puts the civil liberties of Ethiopian in the digital world at stake. This is not something tolerable for rational, merit-based and responsible citizens of .

36 people are talking about this

mmatigari@matigary

Quote of the day🔥🔥🔥

“Internet is not water!”: Ethiopia PM Abiy Ahmed Ali

Embedded video

See mmatigari’s other Tweets

A number of people, however, agreed with the PM’s pronouncements stressing that security was paramount in the national discourse and needed not be compromised in any way.

The prime minister has been praised for reforms that include freeing political prisoners and ending a state of emergency, but internet shutdowns amid the unrest have worried many Ethiopians. One came during national exams.

The country is one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies and has the continent’s second-largest population.

Africa News

11 Responses to Twitter backlash after Ethiopia PM’s internet ‘not water or air’ threat

  1. This new elephant in the room, social media, has become a dilemma for every country around the world. It is even a nightmare for those societies where technology has not taken deep roots yet. Twitter, Facebook and others like them have been very valuable tools and effective means to take millions out of poverty and their capabilities ain’t fully spread and utilized yet. There are many, many other positive achievements accomplished using these platforms at tools. They have the world’s outlook brighter. They have induced hope in the hapless millions. That is on their virtues to die for side.

    Now on the other side, they also have been used by destructive forces and individuals with twisted mind to sow poison in societies around the world. No country was spared from such demons. They have become a scourge of our time. Even here in the Good Ole USA, savage individuals and groups have been using these outlets to plan and do terrible acts on their own innocent victims. Just look at this beast who went out today and gunned down more than 20 innocent citizens he does not even know. It was reported that he was making his feelings known on Facebook or Twitter well before his shooting spree. He must have been poisoned by those bigots who have been hell bent on making this great country a field of unheard cruelty and bloodshed. I am sure that as more and more such brute acts continue to happen frequently, elected officials will come up with something that may seem infringement on individual rights but necessary. And these platforms have also become an addiction just like cell phones.

    This is going to be a serious challenge even for a democratically elected regime that comes to power over there. I remember seeing a video clip that was allegedly taken during the Irreechaa festival in 2016. It showed what looked like helicopter gunships flying over and then showing dead people all over the ground. One of the images was very memorable. It showed a dead festival attendant with his arms still crossed in the protest sign with his face rubbed in ash. He was dead with his arms still crossed!!!! Major US newspapers were given a press interview that the then administration used military gunships to mow down hundreds possibly tens of thousands of party goers. First it really boiled my blood. It is still questionable. The irony about that press ‘conference’ was that when the reporter asked about the burning down of factories by protesters, he was told that the targeted factories were those owned by the governing body or by those who have links to the government. It was ‘Woyane, Woyane then and they have now picked up another derogatory nomenclatura. Such fake news mills are still alive and well. The difference from 2016 and now is they have gone back with all their means intact and even better honed. They have trained home grown copycats in their hundreds possibly tens of thousands. They are steeped with this unwavering hatred toward others our old country has never seen. They post news of hundreds of their supporters being suddenly disappearing but residents don’t know what these rumor mongers are talking about.

    Again, these platform will continue to be thorns on the sides of all governments despots or democratic. Mankind has come to a point where it should examine everything it has as rights and come up with a game plan to ensure its survival. This is a huge task that awaits you, the younger generation.

    Ittu Aba Farda
    August 4, 2019 at 3:39 am
    Reply

  2. he must be filthy filled up with garbage.

    you should remove him from his carnival office. I din’t say oval . sorry donot get me wrong

    meri
    August 4, 2019 at 4:45 am
    Reply

  3. All those who criticized Dr Abiy about his explanation did they oppose when the wicked Susan Rice laughed at the election, where her friend the midget Melles or TPLF (winning) stealing the election 100%?
    The answer is No, so some Ethiopian need to extract their brain from their *55ol!!!

    Ethiopians wake up US supported the vile regim of Melles while he was killing you in thousands now Abiy is letting you speak civilly, but you prefer to engage in slandering and demeaning other fellow Ethiopians!!!
    Please Ethiopia wake up.

    wedinakfa
    August 4, 2019 at 7:11 pm
    Reply

  4. Wedinakfa shabo,

    Enjoy your democracy and freedom in your Eritrea. Ethiopian affair is not your business. If you want to hire Mr. Ahmed as a driver for Esayas, we will send him soon to the “great” shabo land.
    Promise!!

    Meseret
    August 5, 2019 at 4:27 pm
    Reply

  5. Ethiopia should get rid of vehicles, electric power, airplane, guns, and so on as they all are not water or air.

    sew tsew
    August 6, 2019 at 10:14 am
    Reply

  6. The dead entity is talking!!!Ethiopians have spat out TPLF like an expired chewing gum!!!

    Let me tell you TPLF is DEAD, you are dead too!!!

    wedinakfa
    August 6, 2019 at 9:55 pm
    Reply

  7. The reason for blocking internet by this new deceiving prime Abiy Ahmed is his fear of exposition of his conflicting and twisting false news .This is a leader who lied that those armed soldiers entered his palace for attack as request of salary increment and he lied and later accepted it was for overthrowing him.The news about the body guard of General chief of the Army was also twisted by Abiy. First he told his puppeteers spoken persons that the guard committed suicide after killing the general and later he told them another fabrication the guard was wounded and taking treatment.lastly he told that the guard could not speak because of the wound in his throat that time will tell how this lies used to cover yup Abiy’s conspiracy and secret of dismantling the strong Amhara region special force that was organized well by general Asamnew to defend the Amhara innocent peasants who were murdered by Abiy supported OLF terrorists at Ataye confirmed their presence by Aba Geda Senbeteo.
    Abiy forgets that truth will never dies according to our Ethiopian proverb bit exists even thinner and thiner-እውነት ተከሳለች እንጂ ኣአትሞትም

    Degone Moretew
    August 7, 2019 at 6:36 am
    Reply

  8. በፈቃዱ ከድሮም በብሎገር የማውቅህ የሚዲያ ጀግና በአብይ የኢንተርኔት መዝጋት ዛቻ ላይ ሃቁን ተናግረሃል:: አብይ የወያነ የመረጃ ሃላፊ የነበረ ሰው ለምን ኢንተርኔቱን እንዲህ መፍራቱ ግልጽ ነው:: እንደፈለገ የሚቀምረውን ዜና ፈጣኖቹ የማህበራዊ ሚዲያ ሰዎች ገልጠው ገላልጠው እርቃኑን ስለሚያስቀሩት መሆኑን ከቡራዩ መሰቅልአደባባይ እስከባህርዳር የተደረጉ ድርጊቶችና ከህዝቡ የተደበቁ ምስጢሮችን ምን ያህል ለህዝቡ መቀርባቸው ስለሚያባንነው ነው::አብይ አህመድ ምክር የሚሰማ ቢሆን ሊሰማ የሚገባው ለፈታሪም ለህዝቡም ታማኝ በመሆን በይቅርታ ከጠማማ ስውር የጎሳ የሴራ ፖለቲካ ይመለስ:: ቅኖቹን ሰላማዊ ታጋዮቹን ይፍታ የሰሩት ቤት ሰዎች ቢረከቡ ደም የፈሳል የሲዳማ ክልል በጉልበት የመሰረታል ብሎ የንጹሃን ደም እንዲፈስ ያደረገውን ባለሜንጫው ጃዋር መሃመድን ለፍርድ ያቅርብ::

    Eddie Habte Mekasha
    August 7, 2019 at 6:46 am
    Reply

  9. You are ignorant. PM Abiy is the only best hope for Ethiopia and he ha close to 90% support exceptpeople like you who are narrow minded, selfish, and irresponsible. Rather than crying like a wolf, come to Ethiopia, organize a party and try to take power through ballots not bullets.

    Wedi Agame
    August 7, 2019 at 10:01 am
    Reply

  10. If there was freedom of expression in Ethiopia people would not resort to the internet.

    Free “Asrat media” , Journalist Elias Gebru and alike.

    Kiyumma
    August 7, 2019 at 4:33 pm
    Reply

  11. In what was said to be a trend setting press conference, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) appeared before the media for the third time since his ascendance to power a little over a year ago. In a Press Room located within the compound of the Office of the Prime Minister on Lorenzo Te’azaz Street, the 42-year old Premier announced the determination of his party and government to hold the upcoming national election in 2020.
    Admitting that he is unaware of the resistance the newly drafted electoral law is facing from 33 opposition parties, Abiy, however, reiterated his party’s determination to see the upcoming national election take place within the stipulated time frame. In a statement they issued on Thursday August 1, 2019, the 33 parties demanded the revocation of 20 articles and the amendment of 13 others from the newly drafted electoral law which is now tabled before the House of People’s Representatives.
    “The draft was prepared with the involvement of various experts along with the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) unlike the previous practice of drafting laws by only government experts,” Abiy defended the draft proclamation adding that there had been discussions on the draft proclamation; and there will be additional ones at the HPR before it got approved.
    But, he is of the view that it is not appropriate to accept or reject a law depending on individual interest.
    “This draft proclamation is by far much better than the previous separate proclamations providing for the establishing of the NEBE as well as the political parties’ registration proclamation,” he said indicating that the new proclamation will incorporate the two proclamations into one.
    However, it is clear that there are two burgeoning points of view regarding the upcoming General Election in Ethiopia. One is advocating for the postponement of the election until the country can ascertain stability and peace, Abiy says; while the other side discourages doing so in favor of holding the election as soon as possible. For him, both sides have some truth in their argument.
    “A month and half ago, we discussed this subject at the Executive Committee meeting of the EPRDF, and we also evaluated the pros and cons of holding the General Election within the allotted time frame,” Abiy revealed. “We had no reason to suggest that the election should not be held in the original timetable. Had we had the impression that the election won’t be held, we would have not allocated election budget, which, by the way, is more than the budget allocated for an election during the past five cycles.”
    He also stated that the electoral law reforms could not have gone thus far if there were intentions to extend the election beyond the timeframe.
    “But, the assertion that the current government would no longer be illegitimate if the election is postponed is a flawed argument. And it emanates from not understanding the law. If the parliament postpones the election, it is a legal parliament and it is possible to postpone elections and still remain a legitimate government,” he stressed contesting thoughts that urges the government to hold the election as per the schedule unless which the government and its leader, the Prime Minister, will be illegitimate leaders of the country.
    “Even if the country extends the election by 2-3 years, it is unlikely that we could create a perfect electoral institutions, attitude and legal framework as our history of institution building suggests,” Abiy indicated, hence, “the EPRDF has taken a general understanding that, rather than extending the election for this reason, it is imperative that we hold it according to the plan.”
    The difference at this time is that, Abiy told journalists, EPRDF won’t decide whether to hold the election or not unlike previous times. And, it is supporting the electoral board as a party in order to make the process and the outcome of the election to be standard.
    “If people believe that their votes counted and when people do not die or get wounded after the election, we can say it is successful,” the PM evaluates.
    Apart from the election, Abiy also dwelt on multiple questions that were raised by the members of the media.
    Speaking of the internal fractures within EPRDF, especially being manifested in the recent war of words by two of member parties of the coalition, the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Amhara Democratic Party (ADP), Abiy said that such behavior is not new to the member parties; what is new is the expression of their thoughts and arguments in public statements accusing each other.
    “Following the statements by TPLF and ADP, people were concerned about the country and its future,” he said, reminding that every party has to measure its actions and deeds based on two criteria: political morality (the pros and cons of the action) and the outcome.
    Also asserting that both statements should be measured based on the benefits they bring both to the respective regions the parties lead as well as Ethiopia as a whole, he said, expressing his wish that the parties did not handle the situation in the manner that they did.
    “I prefer the statements by TPLF and ADP had not been made in that manner. But, there is nothing to be shocked about so far since politics does not involve bullets. It is necessary to allow everyone exercise their freedom of expression by opening the platform,” Abiy stressed.
    The other members of the coalition as well as the affiliate parties have a role to create the platform for the two to come to a common ground and discuss their issues, he directed.
    Apart from this, Abiy said that the effort to forge the four-party coalition into a one national party is a work in progress and there is a consensus that the party has to grow into a one national party among the member parties of the coalition.
    “There are issues that have been raised in this regard like things we need to work on first before coming to the formation of the party. But, there is no one against the formation of one, national party,” he revealed.
    While hoping that the coalition will eventually be forged into a national party, Abiy also believes that it should involve the participation of all parties and that there is a need for further discussion on the subject matter.
    Commenting on the “coup” on June 22, 2019 that claimed four Amhara region senior officials including the President Amhachew Mekonnen (PhD) and chief of staff of the Ethiopian Defense Force Seare Mekonnen (Gen.), Abiy said that it should not be taken as a simple matter because it was foiled quickly.
    “The event of June was very dangerous had it not failed; it could have averted the democratic process we have embarked up on,” Abiy said. “If it was not aborted quickly and the operations (killings) were executed as planned, it could have created unprecedented destruction.”
    The operation that aborted the coup attempt, according to Abiy, was complicated and was directed by some “quality leadership” which he left for history to reveal in detail.
    While admitting that more than 350 people were arrested in connection to the attempted “coup,” Abiy, however, argued that about 120 of them have been released since. “We have received more than 1200 public tips regarding the ill-fated operation,” Abiy told journalists, adding that the participation of the public in apprehending those involved was instrumental.
    Apart from politics, Abiy also reflected on the economic aspect of nation dealing with inflation and forex. He said that his administration’s effort to control inflation was largely successful despite the spike in the rate in May. Nevertheless, he asserted that the economic sector remains to be the government’s primary focus.
    He also said that the country has generated better foreign exchange compared to the previous year. Apart from the availability of forex, the year was also better in terms of private sector share from the foreign currency distribution, Abiy claimed. “Unlike the previous years, forex allocation this year saw bigger chunk of the forex going to the private sector,” Abiy stated.
    “Forex has been better both in terms of availability and allocation; the majority went to the private sector,” he told journalists.
    But, he did not reflect much on the dwindling export performance and the plan for sustainable forex generation.
    Finally, speaking of the Greening Ethiopia initiative that planted more than 350 million seedlings in 12 hours, Abiy said that it was much more than planting trees; and that it is a victory to country as whole.
    “The world is talking about of our cooperation and many appreciated our ability to come together for the same cause. We will now focus on the improvement of the investment landscape and one of our mottos for the year will be ‘finishing’; it will be a ‘year of execution!’ he asserted.

    Chane
    August 7, 2019 at 5:00 pm
    Reply

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