As of December 1, 2015
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At the Lideta courthouse in Ethiopia's capital city, Addis Ababa, stands a statue of a blindfolded woman holding a set of scales in her outstretched hand--a universal symbol of justice, here cast in metal of pinkish gold and wearing thick braids in her hair.
Nelson Mandela regularly harangued the media once he'd been freed after 27 years of imprisonment by South Africa's apartheid government. He would call individual journalists when he liked or disliked something they had written or when he wanted to advance a political lobby.
Par Ferial Haffajee
Libéré après avoir passé 27 ans dans les prisons du gouvernement de l’apartheid en Afrique du Sud, Nelson Mandela haranguait régulièrement les médias. Il appelait individuellement des journalistes lorsqu’il aimait ou n’aimait pas ce qu’ils avaient écrit ou lorsqu’il cherchait à appuyer tel ou tel lobby politique.
It will be one year this weekend since six bloggers were arrested in Addis Ababa, just days after the group announced on Facebook that their Zone 9 blog would resume publishing after seven months of inactivity. As the anniversary of the arrests approaches on Saturday, Soleyana S. Gebremichale, one of the Zone 9 founders who was charged in absentia, told me the situation was not hopeless.
A year after the death of Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn succeeded in preserving the repressive climate in Ethiopia. Several journalists faced interrogation or prosecution for writing about the late leader, his policies, and even his widow. One journalist, Temesghen Desalegn, former chief editor of the critical weekly Feteh, was charged in February with defaming the government in connection with his articles on Meles. Some reporters attempting to cover other sensitive topics, like anti-government protests and the forced eviction of farmers, were also detained and harassed, while others fled the country fearing arrest. The government did not disclose the health, whereabouts, or legal status of two journalists who have been in custody for seven years. Authorities banned two independent newspapers, accusing them of violating press regulations, as well as a private broadcaster which was reporting extensively on peaceful protests by Ethiopian Muslims. The country faced international condemnation over the imprisonment of award-winning journalists Eskinder Nega, Reeyot Alemu, and Woubshet Taye, who were serving heavy terms on vague terrorism charges, but the Ethiopian government retaliated by imposing harsher conditions on them, including the threat of solitary confinement. Authorities continued to crack down on the online press by increasing its “technological capacity to filter, block, and monitor Internet and mobile phone communications,” according to an October report by Freedom House.
Do you believe the free flow of information must be protected? Sign the #RightToReport petition and demand that President Obama immediately:
1. Issue a presidential policy directive prohibiting the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organizations.
2. Limit aggressive prosecutions that ensnare journalists and intimidate whistleblowers.
3. Prevent the harassment of journalists at the U.S. border.
Or click here to see the full petition, and join leading journalists like Christiane Amanpour, The Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger, Editor of the AP Kathleen Carroll, and Arianna Huffington in signing on.