News / Africa

Ethiopia Accuses Rights Groups, VOA of 'Smear Campaign'

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

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine 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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid