Tag Archives: kality prison

Pengar skänkta av Journalistklubben går till Reeyot Alemu

I samband med att Eva Hamilton officiellt avtackats som VD har Journalistklubben gett en gåva till Kalityfonden.

Gåvan, som givits Hamiltons namn, har öronmärkts till att stödja Reeyot Alemu, fängslad journalist i Etiopien. Alemu skrev regimkritiska artiklar som fokuserade på sociala frågor, såsom jämställdhet och fattigdom. Tidningen hon arbetade för, Feteh, kom att stängas ned av regimen.

Alemu är fängslad under den hårt kritiserade anti-terrorismlagstiftningen. Lagen används som ett sätt att stoppa press- och yttrandefrihet, och många journalister, bloggare och oppositionspolitiker har fängslats med hjälp av den. Arresteringen och fängslandet av Alemu har många gånger fördömts av organisationer inom mänskliga rättigheter och pressfrihet. År 2013 gavs UNESCO-Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom-priset till Alemu för hennes arbete för yttrandefrihet.

Pengarna kommer gå till Reeyot Alemus advokatkostnader, samt till sjukvård för behandling av hennes bröstcancer.



Melody Sundberg

Blogged about human rights – Jailed for 100 days today

Today, 100 days has passed since six bloggers and three journalists were arrested in Ethiopia. The bloggers, Befeqadu Hailu, Atnaf Berahane, Mahlet Fantahun, Zelalem Kiberet, Natnael Feleke and Abel Wabela, are members of an independent blogger and activist group called Zone 9. Tesfalem Waldyes and Edom Kassaye are freelancing journalists and Asmamaw Hailegiorgis are senior editor.

Zone 9 Bloggers and Journalists

Ethiopia is with its almost 94 million population the second most populated country in Africa. Nevertheless, it does not according to an interview with Endalkachew Chala by Global Voices, have an independent daily newspaper or independent media. There was a need of an alternative voice and the Zone 9:ers therefore began blogging and using social media to write on subjects related to human rights. The name of the group, Zone 9, refers to the zones of the notorious Ethiopian Kality prison, where political prisoners and journalists are being held. The prison has eight zones, but the ninth “zone” refers to the rest of Ethiopia. Even if being outside of the prison walls – you are never truly free; any freethinking individual may be arrested. The bloggers wanted to be the voice of this ninth zone.

In the interview, Endalkachew says that the group had campaigns about respecting the constitution, stopping censorship and respecting the right to demonstrate. The group also visited political prisoners, such as journalists Eskinder Nega and Reeyot Alemu. They wanted to bring the publics’ attention to them by using social media. Zone 9 decided to collaborate with NGO:s – human right organizations – about the situation in Ethiopia regarding human rights and freedom of expression. They wanted to do a report and invited Ethiopian journalists to report and document about the repression they were facing while working as journalists. Despite the fact that what the group did was constitutional, the government of Ethiopia labeled it a crime. The group had all ready been facing surveillance because of their work – but now the surveillance by the government worsened. The government feared that the groups’ activities could lead to the people of Ethiopia beginning to ask critical questions. The group were threatened and told that they should stop with what they were doing. However, the Zone 9:ers did not stop because they knew that what they did was not only good – but also constitutional. They continued but the harassment and surveillance intensified. Eventually, the group was forced to go inactive. Seven months later they continued their blogging – but got arrested just after two days.

The bloggers and journalists were taken to the Maekelawi Police Station, the federal detention center in Addis Ababa. The center is a place known for torture, poor detention conditions and unlawful interrogation tactics. Several court hearings took place during which the prosecutors failed to present any evidence. According to the blog Zone9ers ‘trial’, this pre-trial procedure “is (a) procedure of keeping people in custody before the start of their trial. In common law tradition it is called remand. It is assumed remand prisoners are not guilty until proven otherwise but in Ethiopian justice system most of the time it is the inverse – you are guilty until proven otherwise.”

Recently, the bloggers and journalists mentioned were formally charged with terrorism acts and another blogger, Solyana Shimeles, was charged in absentia. The bloggers are according to Article 19 accused of associating with Ginbot 7 and Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), organizations banned as terrorist networks. However, the bloggers and journalists were openly critical to the outlawed groups and deny association with them. The bloggers are also charged for organising to destabilize the country and for attending a digital security training using an open source software, Security in a Box. The software are being used by journalists and human rights defenders to protect their anonymity, according to the mentioned interview with Henry Maina for Article 19. They were also accused of working with foreign human rights organizations, according to Committee to Protect Journalists.

The charged bloggers and journalists have been transferred to the Kality prison, and their trial begins tomorrow, on August 4.

Ethiopia – A country where dissent is silenced

Ethiopia is located in the Horn of Africa and is bordered by Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, Eritrea and Djibouti. Ethiopia is one of the greatest violators of freedom of expression. According to Al Jazeera, at least 41 journalists have fled repression during the past five years, and the country currently ranks 143 in the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index . What happened to the bloggers and journalists is not uncommon in a country where dissent and freethinking is being suppressed. The anti-terrorism law enacted 2009, has according to mentioned Article19 article been used to prosecute 22 journalists and bloggers: “This law contains unacceptably broad definitions for ‘terrorist acts’ and grants the government almost unlimited powers to spy on and harass human rights defenders,” says Maina. The law has been widely criticized.

The Huffington Post writes that the country is operating a sophisticated monitoring and filtering system for the Internet. In an interview by BilisummaaTV Oromia, Endalkachew is being asked why the Ethiopian gonverment is so concerned about a few bloggers considering the fact that only about 1.5 percent is connected to the Internet. Endalkachew states that change often comes from the cities – and most internet users are in the cities. If one is controlling what information people recieves, one can avoid possible critizism.

Massive support

The arrests has sparked an outrage and the hashtag #FreeZone9Bloggers is circulating in social media. July 31, Global Voices held a Tweethathon where people all over the world could show their support for the detainees. In July, 41 organizations, such as Amnesty International, Article 19 Eastern Africa, Committee to Protect Journalists and Human Rights Watch called for the release of the bloggers and journalists. When the bloggers had been detained for 90 days, anyone who wanted could send messages of support which were posted on this website. Yesterday, an event called ZoneLight was held in DC August 2. Candles were lit in support and devotion.

The bloggers motto are “we blog because we care”.

Today, 100 days has passed. Let us never forget, let us never give up.
Let us continue showing that we care for them. They cared for us.

Melody Sundberg



Jailed journalist Eskinder Nega wins Press Freedom award

Imprisoned journalist and prisoner of conscience Eskinder Nega has recently won the World Association of Newspapers’ Golden Pen of Freedom award. The award is given to a person, a group of people, or an institution who in deed or writing has been working in the cause of press freedom.

In his writing, Eskinder criticized Ethiopia’s use of the anti-terrorism legislation. The legislation, which came into effect in 2009,  has been misused many times, and journalists have been claimed to be terrorists. Many of them have been imprisoned. Eskinder had also suggested that something similar to the Arabic Spring might happen in Ethiopia. Arrested in 2011, Eskinder is currently serving a sentence of 18 years in the Kality prison in Addis Ababa.

Both Eskinder and his wife has earlier been imprisoned for their work for justice and press freedom. Eskinder has been jailed nine times. He knew that he was risking another jail sentence – but the love for his people and his country made him continue his work.

He chose not to run – he chose courage. But for this, he and his wife and son payed with his freedom.

Today, he is living under horrifying circumstances in the notorious Kality prison. Most prisoners do not have a bed; they are sleeping at a cold concrete floor. Food is scarce and the water has to be boiled in order to be safe to drink. The prison is full of lice, fleas and rats, and one can often hear the screaming of prisoners being tortured. In a letter to his eight year son, Eskinder writes:

“ … The pain is almost physical. But in this plight of our family is embedded hope of a long suffering people. There is no greater honour. We must bear any pain, travel any distance, climb any mountain, cross any ocean to complete this journey to freedom. Anything less is impoverishment of our soul. God bless you, my son. You will always be in my prayers.” (Source)

eskinder_nega_and_sonEskinder together with his eight-year-old son. Image source: Tadias.

Eskinder stood up for imprisoned journalists, questioned the government and criticized the law. In a world where journalists are claimed to be terrorists – and are being silenced, threatened, harassed and imprisoned – the work of Eskinder Nega is more important than ever. He is a role model for a new generation of young people who sees it their calling to stand up against injustice.

The journalistic deed will continue, because it can never be jailed.

The Golden Pen award is not only an acknowledgement of Eskinder’s journalistic deed, and for enduring more than a thousand days in jail, but it is also an acknowledgement of the importance of press freedom. The award shows that anyone who is defending freedom of expression, and is viewing human rights as something inviolable, is doing something honorable.

Today, Eskinder will know that he is not forgotten. Today, he will know that the world is standing behind him. Today, he will go with his head held high.

Thank you, Eskinder, for fighting for our freedom.


Melody Sundberg

The family of Eskinder Nega asked Martin Schibbye to honor Eskinder and accept the award on his behalf. You can read Martins’ speech here.


Legal Support for Reeyot Alemu and Eskinder Nega

Imprisoned journalist Reeyot Alemu. Image source: CPJ.org.

The Kality Foundation supports the Initiative by Media Legal Defence that has launched a fundraising campaign to support its bid to free Ethiopian journalists Eskinder Nega and Reeyot Alemu.

MLDI has brought a legal challenge to the African Commission and Court of Human Rights, the main human rights tribunals at the African Union, asking them to declare that Reeyot and Eskinder’s conviction under Ethiopia’s anti-terrorist laws breaches their human rights and to stop the abuse of anti-terror laws to silence journalists.

While the legal team all give their time and expertise for free, there will be significant costs in attending hearings, translating numerous legal documents and other court-related expenses. MLDI is asking for donations to help cover these costs.

All contributions to the Kality Foundation for the moment will support this initiative. Donate by clicking here. You can also follow the campaign on Twitter. See hashtag #kality


Imprisoned journalist Eskinder Nega. Image source: Amnesty.org