Freedom of press in Ethiopia is almost dead compared to Western countries, e.g. France

It is really impossible to get independent voices in Ethiopia.  Media is treated as a threat rather than a valued source of information and analysis. The TPLF/EPRDF regime has been shut up Freedoms of expression for the last 23 years in Ethiopia. All pillars of democracy are under the tight control of the cruel and lawless repressive regime. Political leaders and popular journalists are either in prison or in exile.

Different ways through which TPF is terrorizing journalists include threatening   by phone and text, arresting, robbing their livelihoods, put families under pressure and fear of harassment, follow up by cars while they are on the road. The government exerts control of the press media in many different ways. Printers and distributors of critical publications are also closed. There are some print publications which are working affiliated with the government. Due to this, Ethiopia is suffering from lack of independent media so as to have pure information and they are forced to have only state-owned media for those boring and unreliable information. For example, the government always says Ethiopia´s GDP is growing at about 10.4%. So, if there is someone who trusts such figures of the Ethiopian government, he is illiterate, because such data are one-sided information unless and otherwise they are confirmed by independent media. That is why TPLF is always fighting with journalists the same thing like cats and mouse doing.

Facts are always hidden by state media. For example, dragging of body of killed person on the ground is totally inhumane and this is something which is commonly seen when terrorists are doing. The same thing has been done by TPLF soldiers recently in area called “Seman Shewa, Dera wored”, according to ESAT news on 28/1/2015. After they killed two persons who were claimed as “bandit”, they dragged their cadavers on the ground and the hanged them on fence of the main road. Such terrible news, which is out of Ethiopian culture, was able to release to the ear of the Ethiopian people only through a privately owned media located in USA which is called ESAT.

Witness from external bodies like Human Right Watch (HRW) has confirmed that social media in Ethiopia is heavily restricted, blogs and websites of Ethiopians abroad are blocked inside the country, jamming broad casts and foreign Diaspora radio and television stations are daily practiced by TPLF as if it was written in constitution of the country. HRW reported that found patterns of government abuses against journalists that resulted in 19 being imprisoned for exercising their right to free expression, and that have forced at least 60 others into exile since 2010. In April 2014 authorities arrested six people from the Zone 9 bloggers, who have now been in prison for more than 260 days under antiterrorism laws. A report from Reporters without Borders also said at least six publications had been forced to close in recent months and 30 journalists forced to flee abroad as the result of the biggest crackdown on privately-owned press since 2005. After observing the depth of problem of freedom of expression and freedom of the press, government of United States urges Ethiopia to ensure fair trial to bloggers and journalists.

Historically, Ethiopian had many inputs to Africa, but now the history of Ethiopia is distorted thanks to TPLF for their antidemocratic governance. Africa Union whose main office is located in Addis Ababa, capital city of Ethiopia, prefers to sit calm. Shame on Africa Union which is unable to criticize the brutal TPLF party in Ethiopia, this is because all dictators in Africa help each other to increase their life on power. When we see Ethiopia comparing to other African countries, unlike Nigeria Ethiopia government did not invite witness from European Union for the election in May, 2015, afraid of release of their lies. When Ethiopia is jailing more and more journalists, recently Eritrea is releasing 6 journalists from prison. Due to this Ethiopia’s media will not play a crucial role in the coming national election in May 2015. This indicates the failure of commitment of TPLF for democracy.

Freedom of speech in Western countries is alive. For example, when we see France, historically it had philosophers who wrote and published a lot of reading materials for their citizens.  Their work gave the principle of tolerance to diverse ideas and acceptance of multiple of religious beliefs to take part in the development of the society. A peaceful demonstration had been carried out in France on 07 January, 2015 in which over 3.7 million participants were involved to defend freedom of speech guaranteed by the French Constitution and to oppose the act of terrorists on  Charli Hebdo which is a weekly magazine, they express their support displaying a slogan: “I suis Charlie” (I am Charlie). This is indication to the quest for free speech in all its forms tolerated in all genuinely democratic societies. Contrarily, it remains as a dream even to make a real demonstration against the ruling party in Ethiopia.

Freedom of speech in Ethiopia is terrorized by the government itself and it is happening daily, but in France it was done by terrorists and also only once. That is why we are saying that freedom of speech and press are dead in Ethiopia.

Posted by: Syit Desalegne

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