News / Africa

Uneven Coverage of Suppressed Ethiopian Journalists

Marthe van der Wolf

This month, Ethiopian officials shut down five magazines -- the latest in a series of shutdowns -- but the move got little attention from outside the country.  The East African country is well known for suppressing the media, but some cases seem to get celebrity status while others are ignored. 
 
Twelve Ethiopian journalists and publishers left the country in August after the magazines they worked for were forced by the government to shut down.  International media gave little attention to the self-chosen exile of these media practitioners.
 
In contrast, the cases of Eskinder Nega, Reeyot Alemu and more recently the Zone9 bloggers have been covered by outlets such as al-Jazeera and the BBC, as well as VOA.
 
Tom Rhodes of the Committee to Protect Journalists, or CPJ, says it can be partly explained why some cases get more attention.
 
“In the case of the Zone9 bloggers and Eskinder, they were quite well known in the diaspora, the Ethiopian diaspora, and had a lot of international contacts and backers. While other cases unfortunately are not so well known. I think of Solomon Kebede for example who is still waiting for trial," he said.
 
Forty-one human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and CPJ released a joint statement calling for the release of the Zone9 bloggers and journalists, who are charged with terrorism.
 
Amaha Mekonnen, lawyer for the Zone9 bloggers and journalists, said there was a small chance the international attention would have an impact.

"As we have the experience, there may be a chance to settle the matter out of court, in which case, this information, all deliberations and analysis the case of this bloggers and journalist may be used to speed up and finally get a successful results," said Mekonnen.
 
Both Eskinder Nega and Reeyot Alemu have been detained under Ethiopia's controversial Anti-Terrorism Proclamation.  Human rights group said the 2009 law was overly vague and allowed authorities to arrest anyone who criticized or opposed the government.

Serkalem Fasil accepts the 2012 PEN American's Serkalem Fasil accepts the 2012 PEN American's "Freedom to Write Award" for her husband Eskinder Nega, imprisoned Ethiopian writer, in New York, May 1, 2012.
x
Serkalem Fasil accepts the 2012 PEN American's
Serkalem Fasil accepts the 2012 PEN American's "Freedom to Write Award" for her husband Eskinder Nega, imprisoned Ethiopian writer, in New York, May 1, 2012.

Eskinder won the 2012 PEN American's Freedom to Write Award while serving an 18-year prison sentence and Reeyot won the UNESCO World Press Freedom Award in 2013 while serving an ongoing five-year prison term.
 
Reeyot is not allowed to see anyone else besides her parents, for 20 minutes a day.

Her father Alemu Gobebo said the attention was good for the morale of his imprisoned daughter:

“The international media is also encouraging the family of Reeyot, and Reeyot herself.  The international media coverage disclosing her strength on freedom of speech or freedom of press, and by that way she was awarded, I think, international prizes. In that case we are very delighted,” he said.
 
There was always a worry when giving exposure to a case, said Rhodes of CPJ.  But he also believed that it was crucial to inform people about what was going on.

“I think it both has a positive and a negative affect," he said. "Positive in the sense that we let the international community know what’s going on and we’re letting the Ethiopian press know what’s going on.  But it’s also negative in the sense that some authorities simply do not like criticism whether its local or international.  And may react badly to it.”
 
Ethiopia ranks 143 out of 180 countries on the most recent World Press Freedom index.  A 2014 Human Rights Watch report says Ethiopia is one of the three top countries in the world in terms of the number of exiled journalists.
 
The trial of the Zone 9 bloggers and journalists will resume October 15.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Goodheart from: Canada
August 31, 2014 2:13 PM
Ethiopia belongs to more than 50 Ethnic groups and has a population of 90 million. Most Ethiopians know that there are no genuine and mature opposition political groups in Ethiopia who truly stand for all Ethiopians and have a broader view of democracy. Some journalists, professors, power-hungry politicians want EPRDF to go away simply because they hate EPRDF. They don't care if Ethiopia turns up side down due to absence of strong government. This is childish. Matured, truly nationalistic, and honest Ethiopians are really thankful for having a strong government lead by EPRDF. We thank God Ethiopia will transition to full democracy through time.

by: Gehion from: Addis Abeba
August 29, 2014 2:25 PM
I sometimes wonder what exactly the western countries are looking to achieve by giving a credence to these so called Ethiopian reporters, (scumbags) that are being jailed because of their misguided and an ethical, fetiches, precarious lies and unsubstantiated stories about a person of government entity and or ethnically provocative stories which did not occur in any form or shape. I believe they do these sort of stuff so they can get recognition from international medias and therefore can be granted some western country visa for immigration purposes.
I see, listen and read to real reporters stories and their everyday outstanding reporting from around the world be it in wars, weather storms, good and bad situations risking their lives. Not these shameless human garbages who are trying to capitalize on the names of true and genuine reporters. I am sorry I forgot the American reporter who got beheaded by the savages of the Islamic state fighters in Syria or Iraq, these are our heroic world class reporters, who are scarifying their lives for the good of the world.
Ethiopia is not a full blown democracy yet, however I believe it is on the verge and therefore the so cold western democracies seems to be working hard to miscarriage the Ethiopian young and emerging democracy.

by: Doug Schwab from: New York
August 29, 2014 11:39 AM
If given half a chance the Ethiopian people could elect good leaders, as the Education level is getting very good. More is needed and the outlieing areas require better schools. The people are hard working and will sacrifice every thing for there children. The last guy did not do much in order to help the other tribes, they need to look beyound them selves.

by: Peace from: Kenya
August 29, 2014 6:11 AM
Don't mess with ethiopian government , they are the most tactical & wise leaders in africa. The western doesn't give a shit about africa, they're just tring to mess thing up by snitching. Go Ethiopia.
In Response

by: Truth Teller from: Ghana
August 29, 2014 12:32 PM
"Ethiopian government are... wise leaders in Africa"?!?! ... Really?! ... what kind of drug are you taking?? ... They ruled the country for over 20 yrs and you still are the second poorest country and repressive regime in the world!! ... so, what makes you wise?! ... I don't think the comment you've posted make sense to yourself. Pls re-read the comment you've posted - when you're off the drug you took when you post this comment.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs