Since November, state security forces have killed hundreds of protesters and arrested thousands in Oromia, Ethiopia’s largest region. It’s the biggest political crisis to hit the country since the 2005 election but has barely registered internationally. And with the protests now in their fifth month, there is an almost complete information blackout.
A teacher arrested in December told me, “In Oromia the world doesn’t know what happens for months, years or ever. No one ever comes to speak to us, and we don’t know where to find those who will listen to our stories.”
Part of the problem is the government’s draconian restrictions on news reporting, human rights monitoring, and access to information imposed over the past decade. But restrictions have worsened in the last month. Some social media sites have been blocked, and in early March security officials detained two international journalists overnight while they were trying to report on the protests. As one foreign diplomat told me, “It’s like a black hole, we have no idea what is happening. We get very little credible information.”