This story is over 5 years old.

Central African Republic Bans Text Messages

Residents have been using SMS to send texts encouraging people to take to the streets and protest against the current government.
Photo via MINUSCA

In the Rwandan genocide, it was radio stations. In Myanmar over the past two years, it has been Facebook.

And in the Central African Republic capital of Bangui, residents have been using SMS text messages to incite violence.

This has prompted the government to ban text messages to help alleviate security concerns.

“On the instruction of the prime minister…in order to contribute to the restoration of security in the country, the use of SMS by all mobile phone subscribers is suspended,” read a statement from Communications Minister Abdallah Assan Kadre, according to Reuters.


Crisis in the Central African Republic. Watch all the episodes here.

In recent days, the capital has been the site of violent demonstrations as protesters have called for the dismissal of the current government. The violence comes days after a grenade attack inside a Catholic Church killed at least 15 people.

Christian youth retaliated by destroying one of the last mosques left in the city, according to the Associated Press. Christian militia also killed three Muslims on the way to an inter-communal reconciliation soccer match.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the recent attacks.

The AFP has reported that the ban is expected to last for several days.

Following the church attack, a SMS campaign recently called for mass protests and a generalized strike. Previously, text messages have been used to call for ethnic based attacks. Those who try to send texts now get an error message saying “SMS not allowed.”

War in the Central African Republic. Watch all the episodes here.

The Central African Republic has been awash in violence this past year after mostly Muslim rebels called the Seleka seized the capital in March of 2013. Mainly Christian self-defense groups called the anti-balaka clashed with the Seleka, leading to an anarchic civil war.

There are currently 2,000 French troops and approximately 5,000 African Union peacekeepers attempting to curtail the violence.

Joanne Mariner, the senior crisis response adviser for Amnesty International, said that there was a "definite possibility of at least some attacks being coordinated by phone" during the time she spent in the country earlier this year.

Anti-balaka had called Muslim civilians to threaten them, and many people's phones contained photos and videos, "horrible trophy photos," of the dead and wounded, she said.

Photo via MINUSCA