The government says the state of emergency was put in place to prevent further loss of life and property, but many activists worry the new rules serve as a way to limit criticism and allow the government to use a heavy-handed approach to opposition.
The measures, announced October 16, cut across rights of communication and assembly, and have been criticized by human rights activists. Amnesty International said they “are so broad they threaten basic human rights that must not be curtailed.”
In the last month, 1,000 people have been arrested, said a mayor of a town close to Addis Ababa, according to state-affiliated media outlet FBC.
The tension hit a peak earlier this month, when at least 52 people were killed in a stampede
at a religious festival in the Oromo-dominated area of Bishoftu. The government disputed opposition reports that police fired live rounds into the crowd, saying all deaths stemmed from a stampede caused by “troublemakers.”
These are some things that are now illegal in Ethiopia:
Posting on social media
The new rules ban the use of social media, mobile devices or any means of communication to send messages the government deems will “create chaos, suspicion or discord among people.”
While the Internet and social media have often been blocked across the country throughout the unrest, people within Oromia have used social media during the protests to share videos and coordinate activities, and discuss new information.
Crossing wrists above one’s head
In what has become a symbol of solidarity with the Oromo people, crossing wrists above one’s head as if in handcuffs is now banned in the country.
The symbol became internationally recognizable after Olympic silver medalist Feyisa Lilesa made the gesture
while crossing the finish line at the Rio Olympics.
Diplomats are prohibited from traveling more than 40 kilometers outside the capital Addis Ababa without authorization.
Addis Ababa is home to many international organizations, including the African Union, United Nations offices and embassies.
After a series of attacks on foreign-owned firms, including a textile firm and a cement factory, the government has enforced a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew around “economic pillars, infrastructural projects and investments.”
Ethiopia has touted itself as a site of foreign investment and boasted of double-digit economic growth, growth that advocates say has not spread equally across the population.