Befeqadu Hailu, Abel Wabela, Atnaf Berahane, Mahlet Fantahun, Zelalem Kibret, and Natnael Feleke (all members of the Zone 9 blogging collective) and journalists Asmamaw Hailegeorgis, Tesfalem Waldyes and Edom Kassaye were arrested on April 25 and 26, 2014 in Addis Ababa. They have since been held in Maekelawi detention center with no access to legal counsel. They have not been allowed to see their families.
Since 2012, the Zone 9 blogging collective has worked to foster civic engagement and critical commentary about social and political issues in Ethiopia, alongside fellow journalists seeking similar results through newspaper work. Their arrest and detention constitute a violation of their universal human right to free expression, and their right not to be arbitrarily detained, as protected by Article 6 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The Global Voices community and our network of friends and allies are demanding the release of the nine men and women.
Here are four ways that you or your organization can lend support to the campaign:
1. Send a letter: Write to your country’s ambassador to Ethiopia or to the African Commission office in your country. Use one of these templates to get started. Deliver the letter by hand, like our friends in Uganda did.
2. Add your photo and message of support to the Free Zone 9 Tumblr
3. Sign the Global Voices Community Statement urging for the bloggers’ release
4. Spread the word! Talk to your friends, family, and colleagues about the campaign — share articles and links, work together on joint letters to policymakers, or plan a gathering.