Message to an Ethiopian Blogger : Mahlet Fantahun, You Are Not Alone

by Pernille Baerendtsen
twitter: @Dunia_Duara
Global Voice
Published on May 21,2015 17:33 GMT

Mahlet Fantahun (second from right) stands with Edom Kassaye, a jailed journalist.
Mahlet Fantahun (second from right) stands with Edom Kassaye, a jailed journalist.

Before she was arrested, Ethiopian blogger Mahlet Fantahun worked as a data expert in the Ministry of Health of Ethiopia. Mahlet is part of the collective blogging group known as Zone9. The group take their name from an Ethiopian state prison in Addis Ababa called Kality, which has eight zones. The bloggers named their project Zone9, after the “proverbial prison in which all Ethiopians live.”

I write this blog post in solidarity with Mahlet Fantahun and her group, Zone9.

I have never been to Ethiopia. I have however spent years in East Africa, and I am very aware that Mahlet’s everyday life and the risks she has taken are very different from the life I live. People like Mahlet who choose to face these risks, despite the consequences, have my deepest respect.

I do not know what it is like to spend so many days in an Ethiopian prison. I imagine some days are worse than others. I imagine that one of the hardest parts is the fact that it is unclear how many more days you are going to spend there. I imagine that one of the worst parts is when you think of your family and friends, who are worried for your health and your future. I imagine the frustration with the legal system. The frustration with being imprisoned for doing something that really should be an asset to a community: social engagement and taking responsibility for the future of your country.

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