How Zimbabweans stayed online when government shut down the internet

Jan 20, 2019, 03:08
How Zimbabweans stayed online when government shut down the internet

"The total shutdown of the internet is simply to enable crimes against humanity".

A Zimbabwean man speaks on his phone outside a branch of mobile service provider Econet Wireless in central Harare.

The United Nations human rights office called on Zimbabwe's government on Friday to "stop the crackdown against protesters" and "excessive use of force" by security forces including firing live ammunition.

Ravina Shamdasani, U.N. human rights spokeswoman, denounced allegations of "generalised intimidation and harassment" by security forces in night-time door-to-door searches, beatings by police and the shutting down of Internet and social media.

The government of Zimbabwe has reportedly launched a "total internet shutdown" in the country to silence people protesting about its chaos-stricken economy.

Several hundred people have been arrested and doctors say they have treated scores of victims for serious gunshot injuries.

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Interesting enough, it seems that they don't need a VPN to access Telegram Messenger and this has resulted into Zimbabweans rallying each other to download and install the app.

MISA-Zimbabwe also said they had text messages from Econet staff saying the situation is "beyond our reasonable control", ITV said.

Arriving at court on Friday, he called it "heartbreaking" to see the new government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa acting like that of former leader Robert Mugabe.

Mawarire is accused of inciting civil disobedience online.

The Herald said 700 people had been arrested after the violent protests, which it blamed on the opposition MDC party and trade unions.

"The allegations are that he said the government must attend to economic challenges. and that people must be paid in US dollars", she says. Mawarire faces up to 20 years in jail if convicted.

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As NPR's Eyder Peralta reports: "Mnangagwa ushered in an era of historical civic freedoms: Police checkpoints were lifted and for the first time in decades Zimbabweans were allowed to air political views".

Activist group Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said it was representing more than 130 people arrested following the protests.

"We are concerned by the Zimbabwean government's blocking of Internet services in the country January 15-16 and urge the restoration of access to social media sites and applications", the embassy said in a statement.

The BBC's southern Africa reporter Andrew Harding says the internet blackout has added to a sense of deepening crisis for a country which had hoped its worst years were over.

The partial lifting of the internet closure should ease the economic impact of a web shutdown.

This may have prompted the government to order the second Internet blackout.

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