Theodoros Agera, exiled ethiopian journalist, has written a summary about what has happened regarding press freedom in Ethiopia since the Swedish journalists Schibbye and Persson were released last year.
Hailemariam Dessalegn who succeeded the late Ethiopian strongman of 22 years, “pardoned” the two Swedish journalists Martin Schibbye & Johan Persson on the eve of Ethiopian New Year (September 10, 2012), after being held in Kality prison for 14 months. Hooray! But Ethiopia’s “New” Premier, is he really New?
Many uniformed and/or complacent observers rushed to praise Ethiopia is opening its doors for democratic reforms and accommodating dissent views following the inaugural of the “new” Prime-minister in the office; as if arresting innocent Ethiopians on dubious charges with doctored evidences and parading them with coerced “confession” on National TV to be released, is a new thing for the ruling party. Well, Ethiopia’s “new” Premier is not short of all what his predecessor had been doing for the last two decades with impunity; dissenting Ethiopians (with political and/or religious views) have met with arrests, killings and harassment by security forces of Ethiopia’s “new” leader not to mention the eviction of thousands of Ethiopians from various regions for speaking Amharic (Ethiopia’s supposedly official language). Voila! No condemnation, no press release, no protest deters the “New” premier from maintaining the legacy of his mentor.
Here are the recaps of the crackdown in Ethiopia since Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson where released last year:
Sept. 25, 2012: Court in Ethiopia orders “confiscation” of Eskinder Nega’s house and his wife’s car.
October 5, 2012: Ethiopian Police in the capital, Addis Ababa, briefly detained Marthe Van Der Wolf, a reporter of U.S. government-funded broadcaster VOA as she was covering a protest by members of Ethiopia’s Muslim community.
November 21, 2012: UN panel on Human Rights urged the Ethiopian government to release immediately dissident award winning blogger Eskinder Nega and adequately compensate him.
December 18 2012: Sixteen members of the European Parliament (MEPs) wrote an open letter to Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn calling for the immediate release of the independent journalist and blogger Eskinder Nega, who was condemned to 18 years in prison under the country’s controversial 2009 anti-terrorism law.
January 2013: CPJ ranked Ethiopia 3rd in the world for forcing its 49 Journalists into exile in five years because of intimidation and repression.
January 8, 2013: In a ruling that lasted five minutes, the Ethiopian Court of Cassation rejected an appeal filed on January 8, 2012 on behalf of award-winning journalist Reeyot Alemu.
January 10, 2013: Ethiopia sanctioned The Addis Times magazine after being published for only four months while its predecessor, Fitih ,was subjected to an avalanche of legal proceedings before being closed for good by the authorities in August 2012.
January 17 2013: Ethiopian security authorities arrested Solomon Kebede, managing editor of the now-defunct paper Ye Muslimoch Guday (“Muslim Affairs”), and took him to the Maekelawi federal detention center for covering Muslims’ protest.
February 8, 2013: The Ethiopian Federal High Court of Addis Ababa, revived three charges against Temesghen Dessalegn , former chief editor of the now-defunct Feteh, and one against the general manager of Mastewal Publishing, a company that formerly printed Feteh.
April 10, 2013: Kality prison authorities have threatened Reeyot Alemu with solitary confinement for two months as punishment for alleged bad behavior toward them and threatening to publicize human rights violations by prison guards.
April 19, 2013: Woubshet Taye, former deputy editor of the Amharic-language weekly Awramba Times, was transferred to a detention centre in Ziway, 130 km southeast of the capital, Addis Ababa.
May 1, 2013: After delaying a decision on seven occasions, Ethiopia’s Supreme Court upholds Eskinder Nega’s 18 years sentence.
May 16, 2013: Ethiopian Journalist arrested over article about the late PM’s wife.
May 30, 2013: Ethiopian authorities detained Muluken Tesfaw, a reporter for the private weekly Ethio-Mihdar, who sought to interview people evicted from their homes in a region where the government is building a contentious hydro-electric dam on the Blue Nile.
August 2, 2013: Ethiopian security officials in Addis Ababa, arrested two journalists who have been covering Ethiopian Muslims’ protest for the last one year.
September 2, 2013: Editor of the now defunct Awarambatimes Journalist Woubshet Taye who was sentenced to 14 years of jail term with terrorism charges, has received a flat ‘rejection letter’ from the “new” administration of Hailemariam Desalegn.
Compiled by: Theodros Arega, exiled dissident journalist/blogger who fled from Ethiopia in 2005 and is staying in Sweden since then.