Sunday, April 11, 2021
Home Opinion Does the CPJ stand with the victims or Radio Télévision Libre des...

Does the CPJ stand with the victims or Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines?

Ethiopia _ CPJ _ Tibebe article

Tibebe Samuel Ferenji
July 4, 2020

The former UN Secretary Kofi Annan in his book titled “The Media and The Rwanda Genocide” wrote, “It was the French philosopher, Voltaire, who wrote: ‘We owe respect to the living; to the dead, we owe only truth”. He continued to state “In the case of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, the news media accomplished neither of Voltaire’s admonitions. Confronted by Rwanda’s horrors, Western news media for the most part turned away, then muddled the story when they did pay attention. And hate media organs in Rwanda–through their journalists, broadcasters and media executives–played an instrumental role in laying the groundwork for genocide, then actively participated in the extermination campaign.” 

Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) was a radio program that is responsible for promoting violence that caused a civil war between Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda which resulted in the death of about 800,000 Rwandans in 1994. A working paper published at Harvard University found that RTLM broadcasts were an important part of the process of mobilizing the population, which complemented the mandatory meetings. Richard Ashby Wilson an American-British social anthropologist of law and human rights, in his book titled “Incitement on Trial: Prosecuting International Speech Crimes” described RTLM as “Radio genocide”. 

What prompted me to write this is the press release issued by the CPJ on June 30, 2020, titled “Ethiopia: CPJ Condemns Ethiopian Internet Shutdown and Oromia Media Network Raid”. The issue of this press release and its content is not only irresponsible, it is counterproductive to the future work of the CPJ. The CPJ was quick to condemn, without taking into account the damage that has been done by the likes of the Oromo Media Network (OMN) and the danger posed to our nation. To prevent more death and more damages, the Ethiopian government took action by shutting down the internet and by raiding the OMN office that has been instrumental in instigating genocide in Ethiopia. What is wrong with that? First of all, it is absolutely wrong for the CPJ to consider the OMN as a legitimate News organization, and those who work there as journalists. The OMN is weaponized to undermine Ethiopia’s development effort and create a civil war with the objective of establishing “an independent Oromia” that few individuals can control and rule with force. This is what the OMN is promoting in the name of “journalism”.

Since its inception, OMN leadership has worked hard to incite ethnic violence in Ethiopia. Its operation is led and controlled by extremist elements and used for extremists’ political agenda. OMN is supported by the United States taxpayers; it is established with false pretenses as educational media when in fact it is used as a propaganda machine for an anti-Ethiopia in general and anti-Amhara in particular. It violated the spirit and the letter of its tax-exempt status and became a piggy bank for a few individuals’ luxurious lifestyles. As far as I am concerned the OMN is not any different than the RTLM with one exception; the OMN is stopped, at least for now, without causing the civil war it intended to cause. Because the OMN promoted revisionists’ version of history and incited interethnic violence, many innocent lives were lost. The CPJ should have taken such brutal action into consideration before standing with the OMN. CPJ and other human rights organizations should work to make those who are responsible for such violence in the name of journalism accountable instead of condemning the government for taking the necessary action to stop ethnic violence and genocide. It is irresponsible and dangerous to stand with an organization that uses RTLM’s playbook to promote civil unrest, genocide, and create havoc in Ethiopia. Any reasonable person who watched OMN understands the hateful propaganda and its agitation for violence, particularly against ethnic Amharas. As far as I am concerned OMN is not any different from RTLM; its objective has been to get rid of “none Oromos”, particularly Amharas from Oromia region.    

I am the son of the first Ethiopian TV journalist; I grew up around journalists and have a lot of respect for journalists who work under very difficult circumstances. Journalists in undemocratic countries are subjected to harassment, detention, and assassinations. Unfortunately, there are those who use this honorable profession to promote hate and conflict. There is no question that the world needs a free press. What the world does not need is pseudo-journalists who incite violence, promote genocide, and use the news media for evil political objectives. As technology allows almost everyone to become a “journalist”, it is essential to examine who is truly faithful to the profession and who uses the profession for propaganda with the intention of creating conflict among people. It is with this in mind that I believe to consider everyone who holds a microphone as a “journalist” is a disservice to true journalists who work hard to bring us unbiased and balanced news. Particularly now, when it is easy for anyone to broadcast worldwide, for organizations like the CPJ it is necessary to distinguish journalism, from propaganda, and yellow journalism.  

It is important for the likes of CPJ to understand what they are defending and to adopt a new standard to differentiate between real journalism and those who promote their evil agenda under the color of journalism. I am all for freedom of the press and speech. I have advocated for freedom of the press and speech all my life. I know and appreciate the work that the CPJ does around the world. Like most Ethiopians who have worked against injustice in Ethiopia, I have used press releases and reports from the CPJ as objective evidence to expose human rights abuse in Ethiopia. I understand and wholeheartedly believe and support the work of CPJ and other human rights organizations despite their actual and perceived bias. I also believe for the government to take all human rights-related reports seriously and conduct its own investigation by independent entities to distinguish between actual human rights abuse and politically motivated false human rights violations reports. 

Why did the CPJ issue the press release on June 30, 2020? Did it check any facts before jumping the gun? Does the CPJ take any responsibility for the damage to any journalist or pseudo journalist and “news organization” cause? Does it matter for the CPJ when innocent Amharas are massacred in Shashamane, Arsi, Zeway, etc., as a result of the work done by the OMN and its pseudo-journalists? What does the CPJ gain by rushing to judgment and issuing a press release as it did? As Kofi Annan said, “Western news media for the most part turned away, then muddled the story when they did pay attention.” Here the CPJ action is nothing but muddling what took place in Ethiopia. The CPJ failed to act responsibly and rushed to defend those suspected in committing a crime. Journalism is not a crime, but using journalism as a guise to incite violence is a crime. Journalism does not give anyone the right to violate laws and regulations. The profession is not “bulletproof vest” to escape prosecution when and if journalists or pseudo-journalists commit a crime. Where was the CPJ when the OMN incite violence? Did the CPJ warn OMN what it was doing is against the law and an abuse of journalistic ethics? 

I also find it irresponsible for the CPJ to condemn the internet shut down in Ethiopia. I don’t think the CPJ is ignorant of the fact that the shutting down of the internet saved lives.  Like any responsible government, the Ethiopian government took the necessary action to protect the people. We all are aware that internet technology is used to disseminate dangerous and false information; it is with that in mind the Ethiopian government took the appropriate action. It costs the Ethiopian government and the business community in Ethiopia in Billions of dollars when the internet is shut down. No amount of money is not worth the life of innocent citizens.

If the likes of CPJ became partisan hacks, then they will not be trusted and their report or press release will have no weight. The institution must examine its June 30, 2020 press release and apologize to the people of Ethiopia and put the necessary process and guardrail to prevent such grave error from taking place again. Human life has more value than the profession that the CPJ is trying to protect. 

God Bless Ethiopia and her people. May God heal our nation and mend broken hearts.   

Join the conversation. Like borkena on Facebook and get Ethiopian News updates regularly. As well, you may get Ethiopia News by following us on twitter @zborkena

advertisment

10 COMMENTS

  1. CPJ has outlived its usefulness in its current form and it is becoming more and more dominated by those hopelessly infected with yellow journalism. The same goes for Amnesty International. These two need a shot in the arm and better reinvent themselves. Amnesty was telling us the other day those officials who were murdered in cold blood in June last year were all critics of the current administration. By such claim they were sending a sinister and loaded message so readers would connect the dots into thinking PM Abiy is a habitual killer of his critics. What they were trying to allude to was this young man, the pride of my Oromos and Ethiopians, Artist Hachalu, was murdered by PM Abiy because he was critical of the administration just like those murdered leaders of the Amhara region along with General Seare and his retired friend. Where did they get that? That was just run of the mill yellow journalism and not human rights advocacy. They must be starving for getting attention these days.

  2. Dear Tibebe

    Thank You for articulating what I felt when I read the news release of CPJ. I believe it was less than 24 hours between the tragic incidents in the country and when CPU came up with the one sided lecturing of the Ethiopian government. It clearly felt like a hit job for CPJ to be doing this even while the ink had yet to dry and the whole nation was trying to sort out what had transpired the day before. All too often foreigners misunderstood some of the detrimental ways social media is being used in developing countries. I ask these journalists what is more important: preservation of innocent’s lives or a blanket carte blanche for these social media outlets to continue to wreck havoc on the society in the name of press freedom. Has CPJ ever bothered to investigate the inter-communal violence that OMN has been propagating against non-Oromo citizens in Ethiopia? In one incident alone over 86 innocent people died following a social media host by Jawar Mohammed, leader of OMN, accusing the authorities of withdrawing the security detail that was assigned to protect him. Where was CPJ then? Is CPJ advocating that the authorities do nothing while there is real and imminent danger that the mob would be let loose once again to cut down the lives of innocents. No, I don’t think this is responsible journalism. Nor would it have been acceptable for the government not to have done anything while OMN was free to unleash the violent mob that it had done so many times before.

  3. The author’s first mistake, assuming CPJ or the likes of Amnesty International are legitimate “non-profit” human rights organizations. I once volunteered for Amnesty, fake and corrupt is the short story, and few media willing to expose them.

    “Revealed: Amnesty’s secret £800,000 pay-offs to two bosses… which it doesn’t seem very keen to talk about”

    dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1358537/Revealed-Amnesty-Internationals-800-000-pay-offs-bosses.html

  4. Hate speech has no room in any society. Free speech is a responsibility it cannot be a hate speech. If any group is working for dominance but not for co existence it is a problem

  5. Prior to the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda Hutu radio did had been pouring out venomous anti Tutsi propaganda for months. They called out to their supporters to target the Tutsi regardless of who they were. Nearly a million souls were slaughtered as a result the hate propaganda that came from radio Hutu. For the last 2 years since Jawaar Mohamed set foot on Ethiopian soil many people have died as a result of his direct order. One can mention the massacre at Burayo, Gedio, wollega harar, Negele. 86 innocent peasants were massacred only a few months ago.
    Genocide on a grand scale was/is being planned by the narcissist Jawaar .These are the facts CPJ are unwilling to find out.
    Hate politics is what drives Jawaar Mohammad. He is telling his followers they will live heaven on earth if they kill all neftegna. This is the ideology of this satanic person whose followers look on as a demi god. Only they know what they will achieve by butchering people to death, destroying looting and burning property

  6. CPJ is aiding and abating genocide not journalism by supporting Jawar Mohammed, an ethno fanatic and blood thirsty agitator. Jawer wants to grab power at the expense of slaughtering many innocent people.

    He has falsified facts about Ethiopia and fooled many Oromo youth to grap power becasue he knows he is good for nothing as far leading a country and he has no way of grabbing power.

    He amassed wealth from extortion or collaborators from Siltes, who recently demonstrated in support of him, and Adares. Both were were Woyane sysmpathizers.

    The current Oromo government led by Abiy is giving a free hand to Oromo agistaors, looters, killers, while harrasing other Ethiopians like Eskinder. In addition, other Ethiopians in Addis, or other cities are banned from demonstrating or organizing, thus becoming a victim organized Oromo mobs and thugs.

    The Oromo fanatics are getting the uppoer in hoodwinking CPJ and other media by being vocal, while the rest of Ethiopians failed to counter their false naratives. You have to give credit the Oromos for their action, while the rest of Ethiopians cowardly look the other way and do nothing.

    The old saying may be true, the Amaras are only good for making other people especially the Oromos fight for them, but keep the power. Clearly, they want the power, but never wanted to pay the price for it.

    The bottom line is CPJ, even CNN and others are taking the Oromo narrative despite becing false. The fault lies on other Ethiopians for not countering it.

  7. CPJ is aiding and abating genocide not journalism by supporting Jawar Mohammed, an ethno fanatic and blood thirsty agitator. Jawer wants to grab power at the expense of slaughtering many innocent people.

    Jawar has falsified facts about Ethiopia and fooled many Oromo youth to grap power becasue he knows he is good for nothing as far leading a country or earning through the ballet box.

    He amassed wealth from extortion or collaborators from Siltes, who recently demonstrated in support of him, and Adares. Both were were Woyane sysmpathizers.

    The current Oromo government led by Abiy is giving a free hand to Oromo agistaors, looters, killers, while harrasing other Ethiopians like Eskinder. In addition, other Ethiopians in Addis, or other cities are banned from demonstrating or organizing, thus becoming a victim of organized Oromo mobs and thugs.

    The Oromo fanatics are getting the upper hand in hoodwinking CPJ and other media by being vocal, while the rest of Ethiopians failed to counter their false naratives. You have to give credit to the Oromos for their action, while the rest of Ethiopians cowardly look the other way and do nothing.

    The old saying may be true, the Amaras are only good for making other people especially the Oromos fight for them, but keep the power. Clearly, they want the power, but never wanted to pay the price for it.

    The bottom line is CPJ, even CNN and others are taking the Oromo narrative despite becing false. The fault lies on other Ethiopians for not countering it.

  8. Dear Tibebe

    Thank you for your post exposing CPJ. I add my voice in condemning these destructive forces (CPJ, Amnesty Int’l, Human Rights Watch, etc.). Many compatriots seem to believe that these entities are generally forces for good, only at times they fail to understand, be objective, judicious, etc in their reporting.

    But I’ve totally a different understanding, and I think these are all part of the West’s imperialist machination disguised as rights protectors. They deliberately fuel conflict in developing countries where the Western powers dislike for one reason or other, or governments that resist to be influenced / dominated by them.

    How can they do not know the crimes of Jawar, or OMN, or other so called ‘activities ‘, ‘oppositions’ in Ethiopia? I believe they know because it is their business to know. They watch and enjoy the destruction these cause and add fuel were they can. But they ‘burn’, and jump to action when such forces that flame conflicts and promote genocide are disabled. So, their condemnation of the actions taken by the Ethiopian government is only to be expected; that is why they are there.

    ‘OMN is financed by the American tax-payers……’? hhhhhmmmmm. Now, do not tell me the American government ( including the American Embassy in Addis) do not know what Jawar / OMN is up to when they give him money. Please, you shouldn’t consider them so ignorant!

  9. Crime against humanity is committed by the media they are supporting. What is their answer? Close to 200 people are slaughtered in day time with the order if this crime instigating media….cpj seems to be a corrupt and biased organization. RIP!

  10. The world organizations now a day are intercepted to the specific interests. And they don’t prioritize humanity, but their affiliated interest on the expense of the society values and ethics. That is what exactly happening

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here