Ethiopian journalists have come to expect the worst from our government. One of the world's most hostile governments to an independent press, it has jailed friends and colleagues, forced them to leave the country and unjustly branded them as terrorists or enemies of the state for doing their jobs.
By Fasil Girma Aragaw as published by our top partner AllAfrica.com
But until now we have at least been able to count on the moral support of fellow journalists, media organizations and others opposed to injustice.
That has been changed by the deeply disappointing decision of the African Media Initiative (AMI) to hold its annual convention, the African Media Leaders' Forum, in Addis Ababa this year. Far from helping to improve Ethiopia's media environment, as suggested by the AMI's chief executive, Amadou Mahtar Ba, this move will instead embolden the government in its ongoing war against the press.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 49 Ethiopian journalists have been forced into exile since 2007. Nine of our colleagues languish in prison, making the country the second worst jailer of journalists in Africa after Eritrea.
Just last year, the government forced the closure of Feteh ("Justice"), the prominent independent newspaper in Addis Ababa, because of its critical editorial line. Its publisher, Mastewal Berhanu, who was forced to leave the country after receiving threats from security agents, is one of those who have said that the AMI's decision is a blow to jailed and exiled Ethiopian journalists.
We have held the AMI in high esteem because of its stated commitment to "promote the development of pluralistic media". But we believe its justification for holding the forum in Ethiopia is self-serving and insensitive to Ethiopia's independent media community, and we cannot understand why Mr. Ba calls the decision "courageous"…
Read the full editorial at AllAfrica.com