Zimbabwe Forces 'Total Internet Shutdown'

More than 600 arrested in fuel protests
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 18, 2019 4:02 AM CST
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A prison guard directs some of the people arrested during protests over the hike in fuel prices, as they arrive to make their magistrates court appearance in Harare, Zimbabwe, Thursday, Jan, 17, 2019.   (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
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(Newser) – Zimbabwe's government has again forced a "total Internet shutdown," a media group says, after a days-long violent crackdown on people protesting dramatic fuel price increases. MISA-Zimbabwe shared a text message from the country's largest telecom company, Econet, calling the government order "beyond our reasonable control." The shutdown faces a court challenge from the group and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, the AP reports. On Friday, a prominent pastor and activist who faces a possible 20 years in prison on a subversion charge arrived at court, one of more than 600 people arrested this week. Evan Mawarire calls it "heartbreaking" to see the new government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa acting like that of former leader Robert Mugabe.

Mawarire is accused of inciting civil disobedience online. "It's a shame what's happening," the handcuffed pastor said Friday. "Our country is going through one of the most trying periods in its history," the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference said. Gasoline in the economically shattered country is now the world's most expensive at $12.53 a gallon as of Sunday, reports the Washington Post. Zimbabweans heeded a nationwide stay-at-home call earlier this week in protest. The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights has said it had treated 68 cases of gunshot wounds and 100-plus other cases of "assaults with sharp objects, booted feet, baton sticks" and more. Hungry residents of the capital, Harare, who ventured out seeking food reported being tear-gassed by police. There have been reports of up to eight people killed in the unrest.

(Read more Zimbabwe stories.)

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