By Keffyalew Gebremedhin, The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
In Ethiopia, even stories that appear on the press, not even by far threatening to the stability of the state is considered protected information. The whole purpose of this is to create conditions to incriminate rights-conscious critical individuals, presenting in its political court the information that once upon a time was on newspaper as evidence of their crime(s).
This in particular is used against individuals that the ruling TPLF party wants to be thrown out of their jobs, disrupt their family lives or to eliminate those it considers critical. What I cannot understand is why the TPLF considers criticism more dangerous than itself, when actually it solely is to the nation and its citizens.
In the last couple of days, with no shame in place, in a country where about less than 2 percent of the population has access to Internet, the TPLF regime started complaining about becoming target for hackers – reportedly with over 1,000 attacks on a daily basis.
Fortunately, it is more likely to be untrue; but by propagating such stories, the agents of the TPLF regime pissibly think that they are increasing their importance to themselves or a sense of sympathy or support.
That not being the case, during celebration of the launch of the World Wide Web Foundation’s 2014 Web Index report on the Internet and its impacts on society, the economy and politics, Tim Berners-Lee on December 11, 2014 urged that the Internet should be recognized as a “basic human right”. He further added “more needs to be done to ensure that access isn’t threatened by online traffic discrimination, censorship, spying or abuse of women and other marginalized groups.”
It is heart breaking even to contemplate its implications, when the contrary is the case. For instance, as the years moved on the rule and practices in Ethiopia became more gut wrenching. A good example of this is that at the height of the Oromo protests and the crisis in Gambella (Ethiopia), the first impulse of the TPLF has been to render the social media, such as twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp, etc., non-functional,
on April 13 by journalist William Davison.
Of this and its likes, Tim Berners-Lee argues:
“We can’t take the equalising power of the Internet for granted.” Further he says, “Current trends suggest that we now stand at a crossroads between a Web ‘for everyone,’ which strengthens democracy and creates equal opportunity for all, or a ‘winner takes all’ Web that further concentrates economic and political power in the hands of a few.”
Unfortunately, in Ethiopia citizens of that country have not been lucky to enjoy their human and personal freedoms aided by modern technology – the regime using its long hands to cower and silence people, as they just did this week to young activist Yonatan Tesfaye.
The more the state engaged in using modern technology to defeat citizens, even if they do not harbor ill-will towards the TPLF, it is a regime in love with control and denial of progress.
The 2014-15 Web-Index ranked, according to Berners-Lee, 86 countries predicated on four key characteristics. Those are:
(a) Infrastructure and education that supports universal access to the Internet
(b) Online privacy and freedom of expression
(c) Availability of content that is relevant to users in languages and platforms they can understand; and,
(d) Empowerment, which assesses how the Web can help users foster positive changes in society, the economy, politics and the environment.
On these metrics, the top ten countries with the greatest overall scores in those areas are: 1) Denmark, 2) Finland, 3) Norway, 4) the UK/Northern Ireland, 5) Sweden, 6) the U.S., 7) Iceland, 8) South Korea, 9) the Netherlands, and 10) Belgium.
The lowest-ranked countries included, according to Berners-Lee’s article are the following with their ranking: 77) Benin, 78) Mozambique, 79) Burkina Faso, 80) Sierra Leone, 81) Haiti, 82) Mali, 83) Cameroon, 84) Yemen, 85) Myanmar; and guess what? The last of last was Ethiopia at the ranking of #86.
In the 2015 Index, again Ethiopia stayed where it was before, ranked 86th and the last in Africa. In Universal Access it got 0. in Freedom And Openness it got a score of 4.08, while Benin scored 48.89, Burkina Faso 41.96, Uganda 40.25, Namibia 42.38, Kenya 38.62, South Africa 56.89, etc.
Sadly, the Empowerment power of the Internet for Ethiopians is only a pathetic 1.54, compared to Kenya’s 37.48,Morocco’s 40.38 Rwanda’s 22.35, Egypt’s 25.59, etc.
Why is the TPLF endeavoring day and night to weaken and destroy Ethiopia?