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

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

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

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' 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.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
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 S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
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 Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. 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.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs