News / Africa

Ethiopia Accuses Rights Groups, VOA of 'Smear Campaign'

TEXT SIZE - +

Ethiopia has charged that recent human rights reports and Voice of America broadcasts are aimed at destabilizing the country ahead of the May 23 national elections. Jamming of VOA broadcasts to Ethiopia has been expanded in recent days.

Government spokesman Shimelis Kemal describes the latest reports on Ethiopia by Human Rights Watch and the U.S. State Department as part of a pre-election smear campaign.

"These reports are made under the guise of human rights concerns but primarily focused on defaming and unduly blemishing the good image of the country," said Shimelis Kemal.

The report by the New York-based Human Rights Watch accuses Ethiopia of creating a climate of fear ahead of the May elections with a 'coordinated and sustained attack' on political opponents and journalists.  The State Department's annual report documents a number of violations, among them that Ethiopia is holding scores of political prisoners, including opposition leader Birtukan Mideksa.

Both reports were issued in the past few weeks.

Speaking to reporters, Shimelis called the reports a 'litany of condemnation' filled with false allegations designed to destabilize Ethiopia.

"It is a smear campaign intended to portray the forthcoming elections as unfair and the conditions surrounding the election as undemocratic," said Shimelis. "One can discern that the prime focus of this reporting is to create a kind of weak government in Ethiopia that would easily bend to pressures from foreign elements, foreign forces.

Shimelis also defended Ethiopia's decision to jam VOA language service broadcasts, alleging that the Amharic Service has a history of sowing seeds of hatred.

"VOA in the past has repeatedly broadcast programs and statements that tend to incite, foment hatred between different ethnic groups," he said. "Recently, it has transmitted a program alleging the government of Ethiopia had staged state sponsored genocide in Gambela."

Shimelis noted that several VOA Amharic Service staffers working in Washington had been charged in absentia with 'openly promoting violence' in the wake of the 2005 election. VOA rejected the accusations, and the charges were later dropped.

VOA broadcasts to Ethiopia were blocked around the 2005 election, and again before the 2008 local elections. Jamming of Amharic Service programs began again February 22. The jamming has been extended in the past few days to other Ethiopian language broadcasts, in Tigrinya and Afan Oromo.

Despite the jamming and the denunciation of human rights reporting, spokesman Shimelis described the overall Ethiopia/U.S. relationship as strong, and based on mutual interests. The United States views Ethiopia as a key ally in the volatile Horn of Africa region.

VOA Director Danforth W. Austin issued a statement Thursday calling the jamming "unfortunate," and strongly denying that the broadcasts are aimed at destabilizing or defaming the government of Ethiopia. The statement said VOA supports free, uncensored press, and recognizes the opportunity to serve the people of Ethiopia with unbiased news and information.  

The Voice of America is a multi-media international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. Government. VOA broadcasts more than 1,500 hours of news and other programming every week in 45 languages to an audience of more than 125 million people.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid