Ethiopia: Second Journalist Arrested in a Week as Oromia Tensions Flare

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The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says Ethiopian authorities have arrested two journalists in the space of one week as tensions flare over the Oromia land dispute.

Fikadu Mirkana, anchor of state-run Oromia Radio and TV was arrested on December 19. Then, on December 25, the editor in chief of online newspaper Negere Ethiopia, Getachew Shiferaw, was detained by authorities.

 

Terror charges

An Ethiopian court has granted permission for the suspects to be held for 28 days of interrogation under the country’s anti-terrorism laws. The most likely outcome is they will be charged under the laws on the basis they have encouraged groups in the Oromia region to protest against the government.

Violent demonstrations are becoming regular across Oromia as government plans to expand the capital Addis Ababa into Oromo territory spark anger in the country’s largest region. Ehtiopian security forces have opened fire on crowds at numerous demonstrations, killing almost 100 people, according to opposition members.

The government claims less than 10 have been killed in the violent protests, branding participants as terrorists and enemies of the state. Reporting on the events across Oromia – particularly the actions of government security forces – is a dangerous prospect for journalists in the highly censored nation.

 

CPJ calls for media freedom

The CPJ has once again called on Ethiopia to give journalists and other members of the media more freedom. It questions the reputation for economic development the country has become known for while it continues to neglect basic human rights.

“Ethiopia prides itself on development, but economic growth is a hollow achievement if the public does not enjoy fundamental human rights such as the right to receive and share information and divergent viewpoints,” Sue Valentine, CPJ’s Africa coordinator, was quoted from a statement.

 

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About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.