Archive | December 30, 2015

Ethiopia should “allow journalists to do their jobs” — Africa Times Editorial

Two journalists have been arrested by the government in Ethiopia as deadly demonstrations continue in the Oromia region. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent nonprofit organization promoting press freedoms, on Sunday released a statement calling “on authorities in Ethiopia to release the editor-in-chief of Negere Ethiopia online newspaper, Getachew Shiferaw, who was arrested on Friday”.

The Federal Police arrested Getachew Shiferaw.

Shiferaw’s arrest on Christmas day comes after the arrest of Fikadu Mirkana, a news anchor for the state-run Oromia Radio and TV broadcaster. Mirkana was taken into custody from his home in Addis Ababa on December 19.

Sue Valentine, CPJ’s Africa Program Coordinator, said, “Ethiopia prides itself on development, but economic growth is a hollow achievement if the public does not enjoy fundamental human rights such as the right to receive and share information and divergent viewpoints.

“Authorities should immediately release Getachew Shiferaw, drop all charges against him, and allow journalists to do their jobs.”

After police were given permission to hold Shiferaw for 28 days when he appeared in court on Saturday, reports have suggested that he is likely to be charged under Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation. Police suspect the journalist of inciting violence by using social media as well as recruiting for the opposition party, Genbot 7, reported the online publication Negere Ethiopia.

Ethiopia’s 2009 anti-terrorism law has come under much international criticism as it is seen to prevent the freedom of the press. It criminalises any who are considered by the government to provide “expertise or moral support” for a terrorist act or organisation. Many have suggested that the proclamation enables the government to “criminalize independent political coverage and infringe on press freedom as guaranteed by the Ethiopian Constitution.”

The government, on December 24, has also ordered five members of the Zone 9 blog to appear in court on December 30 after they were acquitted of terrorism charges back in October. Soleyana, one of the five bloggers, told CPJ that the prosecution is appealing their acquittal.

In the midst of criticisms over the lack of press freedoms in the country the government continues to crack down on protestors.

The protests started when students began resisting the government’s idea to expand the capital’s administrative control into the Oromia region. The region spans across the country and houses a third of the Ethiopian population. Whilst to begin with the protests were sparked by students they have been joined by farmers and other residents from the area.  At least 87 protesters have been killed thus far however accounts of how many have died vary.

The ruling party which has been in power since 1991 has been accused of suppressing dissent in the past. “Authorities use arbitrary arrests and politically motivated prosecutions to silence journalists, bloggers, protesters, and perceived supporters of opposition political parties,” Human Rights Watch reported.

TPLF’s tribalism policy is unfolding in front of our eyes

Showing Solidarity is the answer!

by Ewnetu Sime

The Tigray People Liberation Front’s (TPLF) master plan that was designed without people participation has faced strong opposition in Oromia region. For past several weeks, the vast majority Oromo students have displayed peaceful legitimate defiance to the plan. The TPLF’s agaize troops and local riot police reacted with full force. They opened fire on peaceful protestors committing killing, in discriminate beating, torturing and arresting in attempt to crash the protest. Despite to this horrific situation a series of anti-TPLF rallies has continued in several places. Calling to disban the master plan implementation, to stop the ongoing land grab policy immediately, a transition to democracy and end to tyrannical single tribal rule are some of their demand. The regime brutality response to unarmed protestors shall be condemned by all freedom loving people.Ethiopians united

Regrettably, during this time some elements of diaspora community are occupied in different mission. As seen on social media they are busy in injecting anti Ethiopia unity rhetoric to misguide the protestor’s goals. The participants of this on line activities, they claim to be from “Oromo origin”. They have been engaging in one ethnocentric sentiment spreading hatred to other ethnic group rather supporting the current protest in a solidarity sprit. Are they the regime agents working hard to break the momentum of the protest or bunch of hardliner fanatics advocating ethnic ideology as answer for Ethiopia political problem? Are they using this opportunities to reap the benefits from student protest? If their messages are unchecked, it is a threat for solidarity and freedom of Ethiopian people. The peaceful majority cannot afford to sit back and let it happen. Who can forget the crime committed by TPLF’s ethnic policy in displacement of several people due to their ethnic origin from several places in the past 24 years? We must pay attention to these very few fanatic people that are systematically poising the current protest in the name of ethnic rights. We should not allow their intention to expand. The responsible free media and Ethiopian elites should continue providing clear views on ethnic rights and Ethiopia nationalism.

At this critical time any attempt to exploit the current defiance by hard liner of tribal proponent to rise to power must be rejected. Regardless our ethnic origin we should align with the protestors and show our outrage on the going brutalities. The focus must be to bring an end to ethnic based ruling regime from power. No one wants to see a repeat of the TPLF’s regime ethnic policy by its successor. The tribal elite campaign on line could pose trouble as they become an instrument of hate to other ethnic groups. Even more intriguing as they are attempting to rewrite the Ethiopian history, censuring Ethiopian flag on protest sites, exchange slurs etc…Ethiopian flag is a symbol of freedom, hope and unity to all Ethiopian people. It is a pride and honor to have a national flag. If the hardliner grip to the state power, they may be more ruthless than TPLF regime. They will be accomplices of TPLF’s tribal policy. Their deconstruction approach to divide Ethiopia must be exposed and condemned.

It is clear that these Oromo hardliner don’t speak for the majority. The majority is looking for genuine democracy, liberty and social justice for all. We should fight for interest of the oppressed mass of Ethiopia people. Tribalism should have no place in the country. Many of us we are dismayed and appalled as we see the ethnic rights principle is used as camouflage to distort the current protest. Oromo people are oppressed like the rest of ethnic groups with tyranny rule.

The TPLF troops are cracking down and committing mercilessly killing of young boys, girls, and peaceful by standers. It is a desperate attempt to brutally crash the protest and same time terrorize the public at large. This action is similar to the red terror dark period of Ethiopia history. At this horrific situation, it is important for us to stand together with the protestors.

It is no brainer encouraging narrow ethnic politics will further cements TPLF grip in power. Ethnic based extreme ideology brings nothing and will have no positive impact for the society peace and progress. Addis Ababa University students and the recent protest at Washington, D.C. area have demonstrated solidarity and should be encourage and joined by all freedom loving people. It is a fact that the opposition parties at home are prevented to have solidarity rally with protestors. TPLF’S policy has being played out the ethnic division rule the past 25 years. That is enough experience. Let speak out with one voice against divide and rule TPLF’S policy.

It is unfortunate to see TPLF’S tribalism policy ruining our beloved motherland. Unless it is countered by pro-democratic forces, it is bound to more tragic event. What we wish to see is all inclusive voice and then to turn around the defiance to lead it to de facto freedom. We should not only support the protest but also agitate for freedom, equality, and unity among Ethiopian people. The on line media should be used to galvanize the aspiration and interest of Ethiopian public opinion. We must learn from TPLF failed policy to prevent the rise of another version TPLF rule.