A group of sixteen journalists have signed a petition denouncing Ethiopia‘s government for the media crackdown in the East-African nation, which they blame on the country’s dwindling press freedom.
In a statement made by the group on Monday, March 7, it said the dwindling media space has driven some journalists to resign, while others have fled to exile.
“We stand today in solidarity with our colleagues across the country. For decades, Ethiopia had carved a reputation for itself as one of the world’s top jailors of journalists due to institutional and systemic crackdowns on critical voices, and intolerance to dissent.
“Ethiopia’s infamous anti-terror proclamation, passed into law in 2009, paved the way for journalists to be charged with treason, terrorism, and be sentenced to life in prison. This led to scores of Ethiopian journalists being arrested or forced into exile and served as a pretext to shut down broadcast and print outlets which didn’t cater to pro-government narratives,” said the group.
The group stated that when detained journalists were released in 2018 and those in exile were allowed back home, there was widespread excitement. For the first time, foreign media outlets have set up shop in Ethiopia.
“However, the country has since backpedalled considerably on its pledges to honour press freedoms. Detentions of journalists have once again become the norm. News outlets have been forced to shut down and the local independent press has been all but scuppered.
“Over the course of 2021, two journalists, Dawit Kebede and Sisay Fida, were killed and over forty journalists and media staffers were detained, resulting in Ethiopia rejoining the ranks of Africa’s top jailors of journalists” the group added.
It noted that the setbacks and reversals of progress made just a few years ago had uplifted Ethiopian media professionals and had many of them desiring to contribute in their own capacity to the widening of our country’s autonomous press sphere.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered journalists not to report on military activities in his country.
As the war continue to damage Ethiopia’s popular and largest nation in the Horn of Africa, the Ethiopian government issued an order stopping the media from covering military operations in November of last year.
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