Statement on Press Freedom for Local Journalists in Ethiopia
Vision Ethiopia conveys its congratulations to the joint Amhara and Afar Special Forces, Amhara Militia Fanno, and the Ethiopian National Defense Forces on their heroic achievements in the fight to repel the brutal attacks by the terrorist groups, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the armed wing of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF- Shenie).
Regrettably, it is with great consternation that Vision Ethiopia (VE) has learned about the ongoing campaign against local journalists, including the recent arrests of Meazza Mohammed and Tamirat Negerra, who have allegedly been targeted because of their views.
VE believes that the campaign against these journalists and other popular media outlets would indubitably have ominously devastating implications for the fight against extremism at this crucial time when the country needs unity and democracy.
It is noted that many genuine Ethiopians have been critical of the manner in which the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has handled the gruesome attacks against Amharas and other Orthodox Christians in Oromia and Benishangul-Gumuz since it assumed power in 2018. Indeed, the government has played, at best, the role of a neutral spectator as thousands of Amharas and other followers of the Orthodox Christian Church were subjected to genocidal violence, massive displacement, and unimaginable suffering in these regions.
More recently, the world has witnessed with horror the incalculable destruction and human rights abuse in the Amhara and Afar regions committed by the TPLF after it was unleashed in June of 2021 when the government declared the ill-advised unilateral ceasefire. Defenseless inhabitants of the regions were exposed to brutal atrocities and pillage by the terror group, while the call of Amhara fighters for logistical and material support ostensibly remained unheeded by the central government.
VE applauds the Ethiopian communities in the Diaspora for their tenacity against the sinister ploy of the West to destabilize and disintegrate the country using the TPLF and OLF-Shenie terrorist groups as Trojan horses. We urge these Ethiopians in the Diaspora to continue their vigilance against injustice in all its forms, and to encourage the ruling party back home to respect press freedom and human rights and steer away from the discredited ethnic politics of Meles Zenawi and his terrorist organization.
VE appreciates the need for emergency measures to maintain peace and order and to preserve the territorial integrity of Ethiopia in these difficult times. However, the ongoing attack against genuine journalists or any measures taken to dismantle or harass allied groups such as Fanno can only be viewed as a continuation of the evil policies of the TPLF era.
Most importantly, draconian measures against innocent Ethiopians in the guise of the national state of emergency would irreparably damage the trust, in the ruling party, of the Diaspora community and weaken the historic and unprecedented movement to deracinate the threat of extremism to Ethiopia’s existence as a nation.
We, therefore, call upon the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to: 1. release immediately the journalists recently incarcerated for expressing their views against ethnic and genocidal violence by extremist forces;
2. respect the rights of journalists who raise their voices against extremism; and 3. promote national reconciliation and constitutional reform based on individual liberty and the establishment of a true democratic system of governance in Ethiopia.
Board of Vision Ethiopia
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