Facebook removed a post on the page of Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed for violating its policies against inciting violence. The post on Sunday asked citizens to use “any type of weapon” to reverse advances by the rebel Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) on the capital, Addis Ababa.
In the post, the PM said “Our people should march … with any weapon and resources they have to defend, repulse and bury the terrorist TPLF.”
“We were made aware of a post by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister and removed this for violating our policies against inciting and supporting violence,” a spokesperson for Meta Platforms Inc., newly rebranded parent company of Facebook said. In an emailed response to questions, he said:
“At Meta, we remove content from individuals or organizations that violates our community standards, no matter who they are.”
Ethiopia’s government declared a nationwide state of emergency on Tuesday and said residents of the capital should defend their neighborhoods.
The TPLF and the Oromo Liberation Army have captured the key towns of Dessie and Kombolcha on the way to the capital, and on Wednesday claimed another town , Kemise, which is located north of Addis Ababa.
Crisis in Ethopia
In November 2020, Abiy ordered a military offensive in the northern Tigray region after the TLPF bombed a military barrack. The conflict was supposed to be shortlived but it has now become protracted.
The fighting has left thousands dead and displaced more than 2 million people from their homes in a country that is already facing economic hardship.
Mr Abiy Ahmed ended a long-standing territorial dispute with neighbouring Eritrea, an action that earned him a Nobel Peace Prize in 2019. This move, however, caused unease among critics in Tigray as they saw it as an attempt to centralise power and destroy Ethiopia’s federal system.
It is unsurprising that some citizens are in support of the prime minister’s call to arms. Some additionally called for the government to shut down Facebook, just like Nigeria banned Twitter after the President’s tweet was deleted.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, has condemned ethnic cleansing in Tigray and admonished all parties to ceasefire.
“All parties must stop military operations and begin ceasefire negotiations without preconditions,”
The Biden presidency has also warned that Ethiopia will lose access to US trade programs unless it takes significant steps toward ending the ongoing conflict by next year.
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