For the past ten days, protesters had taken to major streets of Sudan to show their displeasure with the rising prices of bread, unabated inflation, and shortages of fuel.
Protesters are calling on president Omar al-Bashir to resign from office. The president has ruled Sudan for almost three decades. Thus far, official figures show that not less than 19 people have been killed and an estimated additional 200 wounded in the various skirmishes. However, Amnesty International, a world leading human rights organisation, puts the figure of deaths from the protests at 37.
The government has introduced a state of emergency and made arrests of opposition figures. Despite this, the government has clamped down on the social media, blocking access as means of stemming the tide of protests across the country.
According to the data released by NetBlocks, a digital advocacy group that monitors internet shutdown, there were varying attempts at blocking the key social media platform of Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook on mobile networks.In 2013, the government also cut off internet access during similar anti-government demonstrations.
Advocates of digital rights have condemned the act, arguing that the action infringes on peoples’ right to access and share of information.
“The Sudanese authorities seem to have decided to curb access to social media to contain the crisis, and restrict the information available about what’s going on in the country,” said the advocacy director with digital rights group Access Now, Melody Patry. “This attempt of censorship and information control must stop.”
Four major telecom companies prodding internet services were affected by the blockade: MTN Sudan, Zain Sudan, Kanartel and Sudatel. This disruption of internet service is estimated to cost the economy more than 7.5 million per day, according to calcualtions done through NetBlocks Cost of Shutdown Tool (COST).
Friday marked the 10th day of the violent protests with large number of protesters emerging from mosques around Khartoum to continue their protests. However, riot police were able to disperse the crowds by firing teargas at them.