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

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers 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.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More