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Authorities In Sudan Must Stop Imposing Telecommunication Blackouts To Control Information Flow During Military Coup

Content note: The following media alert contains references to violence and sexual assault.

Access Now denounces the imposition of internet shutdowns in Sudan, as military forces seize control of the government in a military coup.

In a televised news conference on October 25, Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan declared a state of emergency in the country, seized control of the government, and dissolved the Sovereign Council, Sudan’s transitional government which included both civilian and military members.

On October 25, the Ministry of Culture and Information also stated on Facebook that the military has arrested Sudan’s Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, and multiple other government officials and is now detaining them in an unknown location.

Shortly after reports of the military coup hit the media waves, the Sudanese authorities began shutting down access to the internet and telecommunication services on October 25. Data from Google Transparency reports and Internet Outage Detection and Analysis (IODA) showed a significant dip in traffic of internet connectivity at about 3:00 am UTC. The shutdown is affecting both fixed and mobile internet connectivity across the country on all major internet service providers.

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“Imposing internet shutdowns and blocking access to telephone lines is in violation of international human rights law,” said Felicia Anthonio, Campaigner and #KeepItOn Lead at Access Now. “Shutting down the internet while a military coup is unveiling and protesters are out on the street is a clear sign that someone is trying to cover up something. After authorities met protests for democracy in 2019 with a complete internet shutdown, the world was shocked by the atrocities that were perpetrated against the Sudanese people, and a return to this tactic is a major warning sign of what could follow.”

According to activists on Twitter, the Sudanese people took to the streets Monday morning to protest against the military coup using hashtags #__ ,#__ ,#_ and #SudanCoup.

“One of Sudan’s darkest chapters in history was committed while the internet was down. Peaceful protestors were brutally killed, injured, raped, and humiliated,” said Marwa Fatafta, MENA Policy Manager at Access Now. “In the wake of a military coup, and as the Sudanese people take to the streets in protest, we must not allow history to repeat itself. The internet must remain on as the world turns its eyes on Sudan.”

Access Now joins the global community to urge the authorities in Sudan to immediately restore full access to the internet and all communication services, and to #KeepItOn. Access to the free flow of information is essential for people in Sudan to stay safe, connect with loved ones, and to make their voices heard as democracy is threatened.

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