Deutsche Welle journalist Yohannes Gebregziabhier was detained for hours by police in Afar region of Ethiopia,according to a report by VOA Amharic.
He was in Samara,the region’s capital, to report on drought and its impact in the region. He told VOA reporter, Meleskachew Amha, that he went to the region’s Disaster Prevention Office Head and got appointment for an interview on the matter.
In the mean time, he heard reports that President of Samara University in the region was arrested. The editor, says Deutsche Welle reporter Yohannes Gebregziabhier, instructed him to do a balanced report about it by contacting relevant bodies including police. And that is where,it seems,he run into trouble.
As he comes out of the region’s Disaster Prevention office, special police forces with AK 47 were waiting for him outside and told him to get into their car at gun point which he refused, he says. Then, head of the special forces came out from his car and told the journalist to follow them driving his own car,which was parked in the premise of the Disaster Prevention Office, to where they are going which, he says, refused again, and challenged them to tell him what he has done, who they are and where they want to take him. The answer from the head of the special force was, “You will know about it. follow us.”
As it turns out, the journalist was following them to a police station where he was harassed and detained. He had to give his laptop at police station for the officers wanted to make sure if he has any report about the arrested University President – who,says the reporter, was already released on bail. Finally, according VOA Amharic report, he was told that he can report about the drought but not the arrest of the University president, and released from hours of detention at the police station.
Government’s Communication Affairs minister, Dr Negeri Lencho, reportedly said that he is following the matter closely.
VOA Amharic reporter’s effort to get remark from Afar region’s police commission commissioner was unsuccessful as the commissioner failed to respond to repeated phone calls.
Ethiopia is in the lists of countries for abuses of journalists and repression of freedom of expression. And many journalists are thrown to prison on alleged charges of “terrorism.”