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Newsweek: ETHIOPIA DETAINS JOURNALISTS COVERING #OROMOPROTESTS March 7, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in #OromoProtests.
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Odaa OromooNewsweek#OromoProtests‬ (1st March 2016) in Qarsaa town. Oromo nationals Muraadii and Kadir Siraj Ahmed killed by AgaziOromo Woman confronts Agazi in CalanqooNo To Fascist TPLF Ethiopia's genocidal militarism and mass killings in Oromia, Ethiopia#OromoProtests against the Ethiopian regime fascist tyranny. Join the peaceful movement for justice, democracy, development and freedom of Oromo and other oppressed people in Ethiopia

ETHIOPIA DETAINS JOURNALISTS COVERING OROMO PROTESTS

A woman and her child in Oromia awaits medical attention.
A woman and her child await medical attention in Oromia, Ethiopia, January 31. A severe drought and anti-government protests in Oromia have increased restrictions on press freedom in Ethiopia, according to a journalists’ association.EDMUND BLAIR/REUTERS

 

Press freedom in Ethiopia is dwindling in light of recent anti-government protests and the severe drought in the Horn of Africa state, according to a journalists’ association.

Two journalists and a translator were arbitrarily detained for 24 hours on Thursday when reporting on the protests in Oromia, according to a statement issued by the Foreign Correspondents’ Association of East Africa (FCAEA) on Monday. Bloomberg correspondent William Davison and freelance journalist Jacey Fortin, along with their translator, were not given any reason for their detention. Their phones and identification cards were taken during the arrest.

Protests among the Oromos, who constitute Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, have been ongoing since November 2015 and were originally directed against plans by the federal government to expand the capital Addis Ababa. At least 140 protesters were killed between November 2015 and January, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). The Addis expansion plans were dropped in January but the protests—which have morphed into a general expression of dissatisfaction with the government among Oromos—have continued and demonstrators are still being subjected to “lethal force,” HRW said on February 22. The Ethiopian government has said that “destructive forces” —including some from neighboring Eritrea—have hijacked the protests and would be dealt with decisively.
The FCAEA said that the detentions marked “a worrying escalation” in Ethiopia, which already has a poor record for allowing journalists to operate freely. Ethiopia was ranked 142nd out of 180 countries in terms of press freedom in 2015 by non-profit organization Reporters Without Borders, which recorded six newspapers closing and more than 30 cases of journalists fleeing abroad in 2014. “Ethiopia is well-known for its tough stance on journalists but this is a worrying spike of arbitrary detention of media workers at a time of increased interest in Ethiopia,” says Ilya Gridneff, chairman of FCAEA. “Journalism is not a crime and those in Ethiopia should not be treated as criminals.”Davison told Newsweek that the risks of reporting on certain topics in Ethiopia is too high because of the threat of detainment. “It was a shock to be held overnight in a prison cell and not be given any explanation of what we were being held for,” says Davison. The “very heavy and militarized response” to the Oromo protests “raises the chance that reporters are going to be obstructed from doing their work,” he says.

Newsweek contacted the Ethiopian Embassy in London but was yet to receive a reply at the time of publication.

Coupled with the Oromo protests, Ethiopia is currently experiencing its worst drought in around 50 years, partly due to the El Nino weather pattern. Up to 15 million people in the country require emergency humanitarian food assistance and the United Nations is appealing for $50 million to help the government cope with the crisis.


 

http://europe.newsweek.com/ethiopia-detains-journalists-covering-oromo-protests-434307?rm=eu

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.