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Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Uncategorized.
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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

Addis Standard#OromoProtests image, Addis Standardethiopia-curfew-forces-the-popular-independent-magazine-addis-standard-to-suspend-publication-after-5-yearsethiopia-curfew-forces-the-popular-independent-magazine-addis-standard-to-suspend-publication-after-5-years-p2


Vendors are too scared to sell the “Addis Standard,” its editor said.

One of Ethiopia’s few independent magazines has suspended its print edition after the government imposed a restrictive state of emergency in the country.

The editor-in-chief of the Addis Standard, Tsedale Lemma, told AFP that printers and vendors were afraid to be involved in producing the monthly publication in case the government interpreted it as dissent. “We have tried to convince them that the state of emergency only targets ‘inciteful material’ but they fear this can be interpreted and abused,” said Lemma.

Around half of the Standard’s 23 full-time staff are expected to lose their jobs. While the print edition is suspended indefinitely, Lemma said that the digital edition would continue and that new podcasts were in the pipeline. The English-language magazine had been in print continuously since February 2011.

Ethiopia newspapers

Ethiopian people read newspapers a day before the country’s general election, Addis Ababa, May 22, 2015. Most of Ethiopia’s press is state-controlled.TIKSA NEGERI/REUTERS

Ethiopia’s press is largely controlled by the government. The country is ranked 142 out of 180 nations in the 2016 World Press Freedom Index, compiled by international NGO Reporters Without Borders. Ethiopia arrested ten journalists in 2015, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn brought in the six-month state of emergency on October 9 following months of deadly clashes between security forces and anti-government protesters.

The clashes had intensified after at least 50 people died in a stampede during the Irreecha festival, an annual religious gathering held by members of the Oromo ethnic group. Protesters said that security forces provoked the stampede by firing tear gas and rubber bullets at the crowd.

Under the state of emergency, Ethiopians are barred from using social media to contact so-called “outside forces” and are not allowed to watch certain television channels that are based outside the country. The government is also cracking down on gestures of dissent, including crossed arms above the head, which has become associated with the Oromo protests and was demonstrated at the Rio 2016 Olympics by Ethiopian marathon runner Feyisa Lilesa.

Protests begun among the Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, in November 2015 against government plans to expand the capital Addis Ababa. The government abandoned the plans in January, but demonstrations have continued and spread to the Amhara, the country’s second-largest ethnicity.

Human Rights Watch said in June that 400 people had been killed in the course of the demonstrations, and there have been several incidents since—including the Irreecha stampede and clashes in the Amhara region in August, in which almost 100 people reportedly died. The Ethiopian government has denied that the death toll is as high as rights groups say.


OMN: ልዩ ዝግጅት LIVE (Oct 26,2016)

Press Release:The Foreign Correspondents’ Association of East Africa (FCAEA) is concerned about an escalation of the threat to press freedom in Ethiopia March 7, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests, Africa.
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Odaa OromooThe Foreign Correspondents' Association of East Africa (FCAEA)

Press Release: Foreign Correspondents’ Association of East Africa (FCAEA)


The Foreign Correspondents’ Association of East Africa (FCAEA) is concerned about an escalation of the threat to press freedom in Ethiopia after the recent 24-hour detention of two accredited journalists and their translator.

Journalists in Ethiopia have for years faced obstacles to press freedom. Now, two ongoing news events — a drought in the Ethiopia’s eastern regions, and protests across the central Oromia region — have called for increased travel outside of the capital Addis Ababa, which has become difficult due to a high security presence.

Arbitrary detentions, which typically last a few hours, were already a common impediment for accredited journalists in Ethiopia. But the recent 24-hour detention marks a worrying escalation.

William Davison, a correspondent for Bloomberg in Ethiopia; freelance journalist Jacey Fortin; and their translator were traveling in eastern Ethiopia on March 3rd when they were detained on the main road near Awash town, Afar region, at 12:40 p.m. by the Federal Police. Their phones and identification cards were taken during the arrest.

The three were escorted by Federal Police on a four-hour drive back to Addis Ababa. They were then briefly taken to an office of the security services, held overnight at a police station jail, and released around noon on March 4th. The authorities never offered a reason for the detention.

“Over the last five years, I have been detained multiple times in Ethiopia. I think reporting on certain topics has now become too risky because of the threat of detainment,” said Davison. “Until the government makes a genuine commitment to media freedom, it will be impossible for journalists to report safely with accuracy and integrity.”

The FCAEA is equally concerned about the dangers faced by translators, fixers and local journalists, who have no support from foreign embassies or international news organizations.

“Every time I’ve been detained while working in Ethiopia, I’ve felt that my translator has been most at risk,” said Fortin. “They are often asked to produce a media license like mine, despite the fact that such documentation is not available to translators.”

These threats are making reporting in Ethiopia increasingly difficult. We hope that dialogue with the relevant government agencies, including the security services, can begin to resolve the problem.



In Ethiopia, a Mix of Regulations and Repression Silence Independent Voices January 30, 2016

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Odaa OromooEthiopia's scores in freedom in the world 2016, freedom House World Report, January 2016.
Journalist Fikadu Mirkana, Oromia TV and Radio

Two of the Zone 9 Bloggers at Irreecha in bishooftu, after their release from jail

(Resurgent Dictatorship) — After a tense year marked by widely-criticized elections in which Ethiopia’s ruling party won 100 percent of parliamentary seats, 2015 concluded with yet more repression in the East African nation. During the last weeks of December, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported the arrests of two journalists, while five Zone 9 bloggers who had been acquitted of terrorism charges in October were summoned back to court as state prosecutors appealed their earlier acquittal.

These detentions occurred amid widespread protests in Oromia state, Ethiopia’s largest region. Human Rights Watch reported that since the protests began in mid-November 2015, police and security forces had killed 140 protesters and wounded many others, while hundreds of demonstrators and activists have been jailed; Ethiopian government officials have only publicly acknowledged five deaths.

The trigger for this recent crisis was the Integrated Regional Development Plan for Addis Ababa. Commonly known as “The Addis Ababa Master Plan,” its implementation would have expanded the capital city into parts of the neighboring Oromia region, potentially displacing a large number of local farmers, threatening their constitutionally-protected right to livelihood, and eroding local authority. One Ethiopia analyst, Tsegaye R. Ararssa, noted that the Master Plan violated Articles 39 and 105(2) of Ethiopia’s Constitution, which authorize alterations to state boundaries only by a referendum of self-determination or a constitutional amendment. Although the government recently decided to scrap the Master Plan, the decision was made primarily to silence the protests and falls short of addressing the protestors’ underlying concerns about the lack of good governance, access to information, and freedom of expression in Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian government prides itself on having one of the world’s fastest growing economies (the International Monetary Fund ranks the country among the top five globally). But the authorities often promote growth at the expense of citizens’ basic human rights, and many citizens feel that they have not benefitted from the country’s economic growth. The United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Index ranks Ethiopia 174 out of 187 countries, and despite the government’s growth plans, 29 percent of Ethiopia’s population lives below its national poverty line.

The recent Oromia protests are a clear indication of what happens when the population feels that development is being imposed. If the government genuinely believes in inclusive economic growth, its plans would benefit from better communication with the people. Instead, the authorities have closed most venues for two-way communication and use state media to control media narratives and disseminate propaganda about their development plans.

In my January 2016 Journal of Democracy article, I describe how Ethiopia’s authorities have used legal and economic methods to suppress civil society and independent media. Ethiopia’s criminal code and press law, which have long been highly restrictive, have tightened significantly in the years since Ethiopia’s 2005 general elections, when mass protests erupted over vote-rigging allegations. Media repression became even more organized and systematic in 2009 after Ethiopia adopted the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation (ATP). Ostensibly intended to counter security threats, since its adoption the ATP has only ever been used to bring charges against political activists and members of independent media.

The Civil Society Proclamation (CSP), adopted in 2009 around the same time as the ATP, has also curtailed the efforts of most human rights organizations. Restrictions on foreign funding and regulations which limit how much a civil society organization (CSO) can dedicate toward its administrative and operations costs make it extremely difficult for CSOs to survive. According to onestudy, the number of federally-registered local and international CSOs in Ethiopia dropped by 45 percent (from 3,800 to 2,059) between 2009 and 2011. Ethiopia’s Charities and Societies Agency (CSA) claimed in 2014 that 3,174 CSOs were registered in Ethiopia, but a 2014 study by the joint European Union’s Civil Society Fund (EU-CSF II) found that of the total number of CSOs registered by Ethiopia’s Civil Society Agency, only 870 were actually operational. USAID’s 2014 CSO Sustainability Index for Sub-Saharan Africa noted that the impact of CSOs in Ethiopia is limited by national policies, funding restrictions, and a lack of government interest.

As a result of policies like these, platforms which normally serve to facilitate communication and feedback between government and citizens, such as media and civil society organizations, have been silenced by heavy government censorship and the criminalization of dissent. The lack of accountable communication channels makes the population feel alienated from the government, and the only remaining avenue for the public to express its concerns—peaceful demonstration—typically results in a harsh crackdown, as the last few months have shown.  In December, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn appeared on state television to defend the government’s use of physical repression against Oromia protestors, saying the government will take “merciless legitimate action against any force bent on destabilizing the area.”

These remarks betray the authorities’ insecurity. The increased intensity of repression against independent media, associations, and civil society organizations reflect a government that feels threatened by independent voices. Like most authoritarian regimes, Ethiopia’s government worries that the more informed and connected the people are, the more empowered they will be to hold the government to account. In other words, Ethiopia’s attempt to gag the media and choke civil society is not a sign of the government’s strength, but rather of its weakness.

Simegnish “Lily” Mengesha is a visiting fellow and former Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy’s International Forum for Democratic Studies. A seasoned journalist, media consultant, and translator, she previously served as director of the Ethiopian Environment Journalists Association.

The views expressed in this post represent the opinions and analysis of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for Democracy or its staff.


Click to access JoD-Jan-2016-Ethiopia-Silencing-Dissent-Mengesha.pdf