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15 Years in Jail for Using Skype: Zenawi’s New Law

Ethiopia’s communications crackdown targets Skype

15 Years in Jail for Using Skype: Zenawi's New Law

A new law in Ethiopia has criminalised the use of VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) services such as Skype. Users could face up to 15 years of jail time. The law was passed May 24th, but the story wasn’t picked up by international media until recently.

Here are some highlights from around the web:

In Ethiopia using a service like Skype is “theoretically punishable by fifteen years in prison!”
©Abdirahman Tamaam

#Ethiopia – #Skype, not allowed please use smoke signals

“@africareview: Ethiopia passes law outlawing Skype bit.ly/KP9qdf” , 15yrs jail time for skype??? Guess i’ll be emailing!

The reasons behind the ban were a cause for debate online. Two reported/ Reportedly explanations were national security and concern that Skype was hurting the state-owned telecommunications carrier.

The #Ethiopia’n government banned the use of all Internet phone service (VOIP), citing reasons of “national security”. My foot!
©Abdirahman Tamaam

Remember #Ethiopia i/net cafe skype ban loosely enforced when I moved 6 years ago b/c ate into govt telcoms cashcow. Maybe this same idea?
Barry Malone

Interesting point: #Ethiopia Skype ban is likely targeting internet cafes, where phone calls are free. Cuts into govt telecom business.

@SMGebru @Semhar @davos Cant foster an environment of innovation w so much strangulation of the pipes. Guess they have a strategy out of it
TMS Ruge

Calls outside Ethiopia cost a fortune. Govt seems unable to see beyond short term gain to open sector to comp and develop l/term potential
Barry Malone

Government protecting of the telecommunications industry is not a new tactic. One Ethiopian sought asylum in the United Kingdom after the government accused him of using Skype to run an illegal competing phone service. A petition to stop his deportation from December 2011 was widely circulated online.

For many Ethiopians, the law is just the latest development in a trend of restrictive behaviour on the part of the government.

If you’re surprised about Skype being illegal in Ethiopia, you’ll be baffled to know that BlackBerry is also illegal. @Semhar @tmsruge
Samuel M. Gebru

In this video, recorded at the Oslo Freedom Forum, exiled journalist Abebe Gellaw discusses the manner in which Prime Minister Meles Zenawi controls the country’s media.

[youtube pECH8Co_oxE 640 360]

Some have also noted a recent media workshop was held in Addis Ababa with the cooperation of the Chinese Communist Party. Users have been quick to point out that China has been known for restricting VOIP services.

Also slightly chilling to note “Internet management” a topic of media workshop between #Ethiopia and #China in Addis.. eprdf.org.et/web/guest/news…
Barry Malone


35 Responses to 15 Years in Jail for Using Skype: Zenawi’s New Law

  1. Janamora

    June 15, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    There is nothing off limit to TPLF cabal. The sporadic resistance we ever had this long suddenly begin together momentum ever since Abebe Gelaw’s bold stand.Neverthless,we seem to be over preoccupied about Abebe’s heroic act , I am afraid ,as to lose sight of the developing events. The fear is already broken; we need leaders from all political spectrums to reach consensus for a collective action. The gravity of the problem this regime has posed to Ethiopia and Ethiopians should give the resistance rest. We must, at least, all political organizations come in to grip with the notion that, no matter what, any government is much preferable than TPLF bandits. This conviction ought to be commonly shared value by all. Though I speak in this terms, I am of the opinion that the many years of national dialogue we have had through these forums will be used a guiding principle, to put in place all inclusive representative to tackle the myriad problem of the country.

    Personally, I suggest we need to have two approaches to the struggle to liberate Ethiopia and two of them can be used side by side. One, establish brand new all representative national resistance army that will be directed by an all-inclusive political leadership. Once this plan is under way, the peaceful opposition political organizations need to call the nation to protest against weyane miss rule of the country. One thing we must know is the fact events will not continue the way they are. There is already a political crisis under way against this regime, precipitated by TPLF thieves interference on the two faiths. Irretrievably gone forever is public support to the occupying bandas.And there must be a consorted effort on the part of all political parties to seize this moment to hold the TPLF cabal responsible. We must not keep talking and let this moment slip away from us. It is for this reason that this condition needs proper handling and response.Peacful protest must be called. Depending on the result of the peaceful protest, provided the government clamps down on peaceful protesters, there has to be another alternative to freedom. Here in comes the role of the first method: armed resistance to free Ethiopia.

  2. MFWoyanee

    June 15, 2012 at 5:55 am

    criminals don’t like soft talk, they need criminal’s talk. The only way to fight woynee is to be together by all means. Banning skype and other voip services will serve woyanee for now, but it will back fire soon on their face. come on folks, lets stand together and make our voice the Ethiopian people voice..`

  3. Selamawit Solomon

    June 14, 2012 at 10:35 pm


  4. jalaliz

    June 14, 2012 at 10:15 am

    It is true;the gangs who have been running the suppressive and oppressive regime for more than two decades are completely lawless and criminals.Yes,the regime is shaking and will innevitably collapse soon.

    The distructive steps taken by Zinawi and his regime against the freedom of using communication media for sure is resulted from Zinawi’s weak desire to extend his staying on power, and keep the people and the country in endless darkness.

    Each time Ethiopians progressed in fighting the brutal regime,of course, the enemy reacted desperately to stop the progress.We will not stop the struggle because we have already affirmed our commitments to fight the enemy to the finish.For every distructive measures that the enemy has taken against Ethiopians,we will retaliate with victory.

  5. Sister

    June 14, 2012 at 8:40 am

    Dear editor,

    I sent two sensible but critical messages and you chose not to print it . It is no good to shout about censoring in Ethiopia while you are selective about what to print here. This problem will continue to dog us for the forseeable future unless we learn to understand views means just that-view. It does not have to be what you want to hear. You need to lead by example and allow different and critical voices to surface. We are not sheep to just follow one another.

  6. Sister

    June 14, 2012 at 8:38 am

    Dear editor,

    I sent to sensible but critical messages and you chose not to print it . It is no good to shout about censoring in Ethiopia while you are selective about what to print here. This problem will continue to dog us for the forciable future unless we learn to understand views means just that-view. It does not have to be what you want to hear. You need to lead by example and allow different and critical voices to surface. We are not sheep to just follow one another.

  7. DCM

    June 14, 2012 at 3:32 am

    The banning of SKPYE shows that the ethno-fascist woyane junta leader zenawi and his cadres are trembling with fear. They know it deep in their hearts that the Ethiopian people loath them. that is why they want every means of social media to be either under their control or to be banned, to deny people the opportunity to talk.

    The woyane have a lot of things they want to hide because they know they are engaged in serious crime against the Ethiopian people. That is why they are working 24/7 to ban , restrict, jam every means of social media so that their crimes remain hidden to the outside world.

    No wonder Ethiopia has the lowest rate of internet penetration in the world at 0.05%. We are in the 21st centure, but Ethiopia is being deliberately kept in the dark ages by the woyane.

    The woyane’s next law will be to ban people going to the toilet with out their permission! YOU NEVER KNOW, IT MIGHT HAPPEN

  8. habtemariam

    June 13, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    ወያኒ በመሞቻው,,ዋዚማ,,,,የሚለቀው ነጠላ ዚማ ,,,funny .

  9. derese

    June 13, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    Some want to compare the coming of al Bashir to Addis with the coming of the Iranian President to New York. Unlike the Iranian President, al Bashir is a convicted criminal. The Iranian President is not a wanted criminal by the ICC but al Bashir is. So do not compare apples and oranges. Terrorist Meles and al Bashir are murderous criminals who are wanted by the ICC but are still at large. Proving and convicting Meles for genocide and crimes against humanity does not require any effort, none at all. Suffice to mention the well documented repeated massacres in the streets of Addis following the May 2005 elections. This is more than enough to prove and convict Meles for crimes against humanity at any independent court in the world. They were committed in front of the world camera. These massacres were committed under the direct order of terrorist Meles, per his own admission. We know that terrorist Meles humiliatingly lost the elections 100% but this is not a justification to massacre 200 innocent people (per his own admission only) in Addis alone. The real number is much much higher but the lives of 200 people are much more than enough to convict terrorist Meles for committing genocide and crimes against humanity. This is not to mention the other war crimes, massacres, murders and tortures committed elsewhere throughout Ethiopia. Terrorist Meles has continued terrorizing the Ethiopian people and the peoples of the Horn of Africa at large. Any run-of-the-mill prosecutor can easily convict Meles before any independent court. That is why Meles is a terrorist and a convicted criminal and therefore he belongs to Guantanamo prison cell and not to the free world.

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