Monday, May 5, 2014

GPU condemns jailing of Ethiopian journalists and bloggers

Hailemariam Desalegn - Ethiopia 2012 - World E...
Ethiopia is one of the worst countries for journalists in Africa under the leadership of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn - Ethiopia 2012 - World Economic Forum on Africa 2011 (Photo credit: World Economic Forum)

The Gambia Press Union, GPU, Saturday strongly condemns the Ethiopian government’s crackdown and jailing of nine journalists and bloggers and called for their immediate and unconditional release.
The message was part of coordinated efforts through the pan-African journalists’ body, the Federation of African Journalists, FAJ, in solidarity with colleagues in Ethiopia, one of the worst countries for journalists in Africa.

“Our hearts also beat in unison with the hearts of journalists experiencing unthinkable predicaments in Egypt, Somalia and Ukraine.

“…and journalists facing hard times and those who died in their duties in other parts of the world for doing their job and telling truth to power,” says Baboucarr Ceesay, GPU’s 1st vice president.

Top row, from left: Zelalem, Natnail, Mahlet. Middle row, from left: Atnaf, Abel, Befekadu. Bottom row, from left: Tesfalem, Edom, Asmamaw. (Courtesy Zone 9, Addis Guday, Facebook)
Take Africa backwards 

 Speaking on World Press Freedom Day, May 3, 2014 in Banjul, The Gambia, at the home of NGOs, TANGO in Fajara, Ceesay said the actions of Ethiopian leaders take Africa backwards to the dark days of Apartheid and one-party rule.

He says this has invoked an “Orwellian reality of official deception, secret surveillance and a disregard for honest voices speaking truth to power.”

“Ethiopia’s actions are an affront to all Africans who aspire to live on a continent that values justice, accountability, equality and freedom, and nurtures the creativity and potential of its peoples,” he adds.

World Press Freedom Day is an opportunity to renew Africa's commitment to freedom of expression and to reject authoritarian tendencies that reduce Africans to subjects not citizens, according to Ceesay.

 Ethiopia's actions are an injury to all Africans who believe in dialogue and engagement in the quest for a better future, he says.

The bloggers are members of an independent collective called Zone 9, which derived its name from Kality Prison, the main jail where Ethiopia’s political prisoners including several journalists are held. Zone 9 bloggers mainly publish news and commentary.

Jailed Ethiopian journalists and bloggers

Atnaf Berhane, IT professional & Zone 9 blogger, Mahlet Fantahun, IT professional & Zone 9 blogger, Natnail Feleke, Human Resource Manager at Construction and Business Bank & Zone 9 blogger, Zelalem Kibret, academic & Zone 9 blogger, Befekadu Hailu, academic & Zone 9 blogger, Abel Wabella, engineer with Ethiopian Airlines & Zone 9 blogger, Tesfalem Waldyes, freelancer, contributor to the English weekly Addis Fortune and the monthly Addis Standard, Edom Kassaye, freelancer, formerly a reporter with the state daily Addis Zemen, and Asmamaw Hailegeorgis, Senior Editor of the influential Amharic weekly magazine Addis Guday – were all jailed in Ethiopia on April 25-26, 2014

They are charged with "Working with foreign human rights activist organizations agreeing with idea, finance and inciting violence through social media to create instability in the country."

On 27 April 2014, they appeared before the Arada Court of First Instance in Addis Ababa, but the exact charges against each of them remain unclear, according to media reports.

 Other journalists jailed by the Ethiopian government are:

 Woubshet Taye, Awramba Times, CNN Free Press Africa laureate 2013 was jailed on June 19, 2011 and sentenced to 14 years.

Reeyot Alemu, freelancer, winner of 2013 UNESCO-Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize was jailed on June 21, 2011 and sentenced to 14 years in 2012. His jail term was reduced to 5 years on appeal.

Eskinder Nega, freelancer, winner of the 2014 WAN-IFRA Golden Pen of Freedom Award and 2012 laureate of PEN American Center's Freedom to Write Award was jailed on September 14, 2011, sentenced to 18 years in July 2012.

Yusuf Getachew, editor Ye Muslimoch Guday jailed on July 20, 2012, charged under anti-terrorism law and his trial is ongoing.

Solomon Kebede, Ye Muslimoch Guday jailed on January 17, 2013, charged under anti-terrorism law and trial ongoing.

Asfaw Berhanu, former contributor to The Reporter, convicted of spreading false rumors and sentenced to 2 years, 9 months on December 25, 2013 now appealing his sentence.

Saleh Idris Gama and Tesfalidet Kidane Tesfazghi – Eritrean journalists have been in custody in Ethiopia for 7 years and their whereabouts unknown.

This entry first appeared on The Voice 

Edited by Modou S. Joof



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