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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs