Friday, April 19, 2024

Washington Update: Press Freedom

Press freedom.

The human rights situation in Ethiopia continues to deteriorate, especially with regard to the Ethiopian government’s assaults on freedom of the press. Killing, beating, harassment, and imprisonment are daily risks for journalists in Ethiopia, especially in the Amhara region.

At a recent National Press Club Press Freedom Week event, a panel of experts discussed the situation in several countries, including Ethiopia. Tamerat Negera, an Ethiopian journalist who the government of Abiy Ahmed Ali unjustly imprisoned, made an impressive, emotional speech about his ordeal in jail. He said his only crime was writing the truth.

The Committee to Protect Journalists recently issued a statement about Ethiopia’s persecution of Gobeze Sisay, who was arrested in Djibouti: “Ethiopian authorities have brazenly reached across borders to silence and retaliate against journalist Gobeze Sisay. His arrest will instill fear in all the journalists who have fled the country, seeking safety in exile,” said CPJ’s sub-Saharan Africa representative, Muthoki Mumo.

Ethnic cleansing and persecution

A largely invisible campaign of ethnic cleansing has been underway in Ethiopia’s Wollega region for 18 months.

Crisis 24 reported, “Increased tensions are likely to persist in Amhara Region through at least late May amid ongoing security operations. Federal security personnel are undertaking military operations to integrate a local militia known as FANO into several security structures, including the federal or regional police and the national army. Amhara activists opposed the decision and viewed the move as a way to reduce autonomy and leave the region vulnerable to attacks. This decision has sharply increased tensions between the federal government and FANO. Low-level clashes and civil unrest incidents have led officials to impose various restrictions on gathering and movement, including in Gondar.”

Corruption in Tigray

The United States aid agency USAID has said it is pausing food shipments to Ethiopia’s war-torn Tigray region after discovering that goods it supplied were being sold on the local market. USAID administrator Samantha Power announced in a statement that the aid had been intended “for the people of Tigray suffering under famine-like conditions.”

Statement by Ethiopian civic organizations on Abiy Ahmed government’s war on the Amhara people.

On May 1, a group of Ethiopian civic organizations released the following statement:

The Federal Government of Ethiopia has declared an all-out war on the Amhara region after relative peace and the silencing of the guns from the devastating war in northern Ethiopia. There are credible indications that the Ethiopian government is committing war crimes using all its arsenal, including the Air Force. Unless this brazen aggression is immediately stopped, thousands of Amharas will be killed, with devastating humanitarian consequences that can spill over into the broader community of nations. The Middle East and Europe will be flooded with unprecedented refugee crises. This brutal onslaught will only galvanize stiff resistance and further destabilize the country, triggering a collapse of law and order.

We call upon the international community and their partners to give the utmost attention to the war declared on the Amhara people by Abiy Ahmed and his generals. This unlawful operation must be stopped at the flashpoint areas of the Amhara region. The government has also cracked down on non-Oromo speaking residents of Addis Ababa, restricting people’s movements, and launching house-to-house kidnappings. The bank accounts of Amhara businessmen have also been frozen.

Eritrea, Turkey, Russia, China, India, USA, AU, UN, EU, and other members of the International Community should never underestimate this new declaration of an all-out war on the Amhara people.

Therefore, the International Community should call upon the Government of Ethiopian to:

1. Immediately stop the war against the Amhara people.

2. Stop the Amhara Genocide in Wolega zones of the Oromia region and Northern Shewa zones of the Amhara region

3. Stop the ethnic cleansing of the Amharas from Addis Ababa and surrounding cities

4. Stop the systematic demolition of Amhara and other non-Oromo Ethiopian homes in Addis Ababa and its environs

5. Free the over 10,000 Amhara political prisoners in Addis Ababa and the over 20,000 political prisoners in the Amhara region. 

World Bank Group Statement on Current Situation in Ethiopia

The WBG seeks to ensure that the activities it supports are responsive to the needs of all people in Ethiopia. In particular, our Environmental and Social Framework (ESF) is applied to all Bank-financed operations. Among key ESF principles are requirements for nondiscrimination, meaningful consultation, effective public participation, property rights, accountability, transparency, and good governance.

Ethiopian-Americans must stand together to seek a new path forward for their homeland, one based on democracy, human rights, and justice.

Author profile
Mesfin Mekonen

Mesfin Mekonen is the author of Washington Update, a bulletin about Ethiopia’s struggle for freedom and prosperity, and founder of MM Management.

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