Cleansing Gov-Issued Social Media Accounts of Ethnic Tigrayans

For the last couple of days, people who run Ethiopian government-issued social media accounts have been busy cleansing the accounts of ethnic Tigreans.

In one such development, the spokeswoman of the Prime Minister, who goes by the bizarre-looking name Billene ቢልለኔ Aster Seyoum on Twitter, has “blocked” multiple accounts owned by ethnic Tigreans. This came following one of “her” (quote because I am taking liberty in assuming that’s her preferred pronoun, given that she’s expressed her loathing of conventional honorifics and titles) latest tweets expressing her anger at the international media. She accused the international media of deliberately belittling and ignoring Mr Abiy’s achievements in Tigray, such as “quickly restoring telecommunication and electricity services.” She thinks the international media ignored the “positive development” because it wouldn’t jibe in with its vested interest continuing the “war narrative,” and expressed her anger by asking “why” rhetorically.

Obviously not everyone joined in the celebrations. A lot of people, specially ethnic Tigreans, countered that they haven’t still managed to get through to family members, that if indeed there’s nothing to hide in Tigray, the government should allow independent reporters and investigations and that Mr Abiy’s visit to Mekelle, clad in military fatigue, seems to have the intention of creating fear among the people rather than solving any problems.

Apparently angered by the reaction, she went on a “blocking” spree. A lot of people, including myself, can’t now follow government updates because we have been blocked.

This of course is a clear violation of our rights to know what the government is up to. Even worse, cleansing social media accounts of Ethnic Tigrayans is an eerie reminder of what the government is actually doing on the ground against Tigrayans. It’s to be recalled that multiple bodies, including the Tigray government, have accused Mr Abiy’s totalitarian government of ethnic cleaning.

Teklai Gebremichael

Writes about Tigray.

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