ESAT founds itself in internal dispute, the matter has angered many Ethiopians
June 2, 2019
Now with several offices outside of Washington DC, Ethiopian Satellite Television ( ESAT) and Radio have been in operation for more nine years now. Most Ethiopians, both in the country and abroad, are in agreement that the broadcaster has made a significant contribution to the struggle for democracy and justice in Ethiopia by way of informing Ethiopians. A considerable, if not the lion’s share, portions of funding for the organization came from Ethiopians in the diaspora who are organized through different chapters in many North American and European cities. As well, there reports that even Ethiopians in Ethiopia used to support ESAT financially clandestinely when it was legally banned.
In recent weeks there have been rumors that the broadcasting organization has been rattled from within due to political differences. This week it came to the open that there is indeed a difference between the board and a number of journalists, mostly those based in Washington DC studio, working for the organization.
Each side came up with their own narratives and they both have issued a statement.
As it became clear in from the latest statement of 10 journalists on June 1, 2019, the journalists who decided to go their own separate ways, and they are ten in numbers including Ermias Legesse, Reyot Alemu and Habtamu Ayalewu who were both prisoners of conscience as well, following the board’s decision to lay off five journalists, they claim that their reports on the displacement of Gedeo and demolition of houses in Legatafo which reduced tens of thousands of residents were stifled. The layoff affected five journalists namely, Menalachew Simachew, Getachew Abdi, Liyu Tsegaye, Eyerusalem Tekletsadik, Habtamu Ayalewu. The Journalists says that the layoff is due to the political differences.
They also allege that the opening of a new studio on Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was not procedural and that many journalists in the DC studio did not know about it.
The board, on the other hand, says that the layoff is due to financial problem that is affecting ESAT and the need to reorganize it for the next phase of the struggle in Ethiopia – something the journalists, who seem to think that the board as ill intent, are rejecting. The statement from the board says that ESAT is not a political organization and journalists could have their own political views.
What is not stated in the statement is an alleged question of ownership by Ginbot 7 – political organization whose existence ceased to exist recently following a recent merger with a group of other political organizations in Ethiopia that formed a new party in mid-May of this year- Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice Party.
In a statement issued on June 1, ten journalists stated that they have decided to make the issue public and intend to have a public consultation and disclose decision about next steps.
There are unconfirmed rumors that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration is in part behind division within ESAT.
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