The Senegalese Government on Friday blocked all social media platforms and messaging apps, including two private television station signal following the ongoing protests caused by the arrest of an opposition leader, Ousmane Sonko.
Facebook, YouTube, Whatsapp, Telegram CDN servers with Sen TV and Walf TV channels have been disrupted across the country by the National Audiovisual Regulatory Council (CNRA) in order not to draw attention to the situation happening in the country.
#FreeSenegal: Twitter Reacts As Senegal Blocks Social Media
The protest tagged #FreeSenegal began on Wednesday when Ousmane Sonko, Senegal’s leading opposition figure was arrested for disturbing public peace; at the heart of the arrest is an allegation of rape.
It could be recalled that in February, Sonko was accused of rape by an employee at a beauty salon, but he says the charges are politically motivated and an attempt by President Macky Sall’s allies to ensure he can’t run in the next election.
But on Friday, Senegal’s parliament voted to strip him of immunity so he could face those charges. Ahead of his court appearance on Thursday, hundreds of his supporters followed his motorcade, chanting and reportedly threw stones at policemen and the police responded with teargas and stun grenades.
The 46-year old tax inspector who came third with 15% of the vote in the 2019 presidential election, enjoys widespread support among Senegalese youth. He faces questioning after he was stripped of his parliamentary immunity last week.
This led to a clashed with police and supporters of Sonko in Bignona town in the southern Casamance region on Thursday (March 4, 2021).
One person was killed during the scuffle with police while four others were injured in what many are calling the worst unrest the country has seen in years.
The government’s response to the unrest has been to restrict the country’s digital access to social media. Senegal’s move is similar to Ethiopia’s decision to shut down the internet two years ago.
According to the NetBlocks report, “data show that CDN backend servers have been targeted, effectively limiting the sharing of photo and video content online. VPN services are effective at circumventing the restrictions at present.”
“The incident follows a decision the previous day from the National Audiovisual Regulatory Council (CNRA) to suspend two television stations over their coverage of the protests.”
However, Africans have taken to their Twitter handles to reacts to the ongoing protest while Senegal citizens beg users to help them amplify what is going on in the country.
Read some reactions from Twitter users;
#FreeSenegal is a call to stand with the people of Senegal. The government must stop its clampdown on innocent citizens.
— NO1 SEXY DJ BABYLYNN (@sexydjbabylynn) March 5, 2021
#FreeSenegal number 1 trending in London!! They can try and silence us but we will not let them!!!!!!!!! Keep sharing, tweeting and amplifying voices guys 🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳🇸🇳 pic.twitter.com/D8P54lOuNH
— DELA MOVE🇸🇳🧡 (@NestaWane) March 5, 2021
🇸🇳 #FreeSenegal : Its a very tensed Friday today in Dakar, the capital of Senegal. Thousands of protesters are expected in the streets to protest against the arrest of Ousmane Sonko. pic.twitter.com/hCieeaX5yh
— NWE (@NWEworldwide_) March 5, 2021
One thing common with African leaders and security operatives is, they find pleasure in killing innocent citizens and rewarding bandits. They are gradually killing democracy and we won't allow them. #FreeSenegal pic.twitter.com/T3B3NUZFh0
— AKIN (@Akinjoshua2017) March 5, 2021
Ongoing protest in Senegal, the citizens have taken to the street to demand for the release of the opposition leader Sonko
— iBrand_TV (@ibrand_tv) March 5, 2021