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Ethiopian journalists, political activists and human rights activists arrested, denied due process

(A4O, April 1, 2018)– Advocacy for Oromia is gravely concerned that dozens of journalists, human rights activists and prominent opposition figures have been arrested and are being held in inhuman condition at Police Station.

On 25 March 2018, Ethiopian security forces arrested journalists Eskinder Nega and Temesgen Desalegn, Zone9 bloggers Mahlet Fantahun, Befekadu Hailu, blogger Zelalem Workaggnhu and political activists Andualem Arage, Addisu Getinet, Yidnekachewu Addis, Sintayehu Chekol, Tefera Tesfaye and Woynshet Molla.

According to reports, the arrests were made while the defenders were attending a private meeting at the home of journalist Temesgen Desalegn in Addis Ababa. The private gathering was held in recognition of the recent release of thousands of political prisoners amidst ongoing and widespread protests against political marginalisation and land grabbing in the Oromia and Amhara regions which began in late 2015. The eleven who have previously been jailed for their work as journalists or human rights activists are currently being held at Gotera-Pepsi Police Station in Addis Ababa.

Among those arrested Temesghen was taken from the prison to Zewditu hospital “due to severe back pain he developed during his jail time in recent past.”

Nega, who is a prominent political journalist, had previously spent nearly seven years behind bars on terrorism charges. He was released from prison several weeks ago, on February 14, only to be re-arrested this week.

The arrests follow the declaration of a national State of Emergency on 16 February for a period of six months. The State of Emergency imposes a blanket ban on all protests, the dissemination of any publication deemed to “incite and sow discord” including those who criticise the State of Emergency and allows for warrantless arrest.

Advocacy for Oromia asks for emails and letters urging Ethiopian authorities to secure Eskinder Nega, Temesgen Desalegn, Mahlet Fantahun, Befekadu Hailu, Zelalem Workaggnhu, Andualem Arage, Addisu Getinet, Yidnekachewu Addis, Sintayehu Chekol, Tefera Tesfaye and Woynshet Molla immediate, unconditional release and, pending their release, ensure that their cases proceed in a manner consistent with Ethiopia’s obligations under international law, in particular internationally recognized standards of due process, fair trial, and free expression; to ensure their well-being while in custody, including access to legal counsel and family and to bring an end to the suffering.

For PDF format:  Ethiopian journalists, political activists and human rights activists arrested, denied due process

Advocacy for Oromia

The following can be the sample of your letter: 

Subject: Release journalists, human rights activists and prominent opposition figures

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
P.O. Box 393
Addis Ababa
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

cc: Federal Attorney General of Ethiopia, President of Oromia Regional State, Ethiopian Ambassador to the United States, United States Ambassador to Ethiopia, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Advocacy for Oromia

Your Excellency:

I write to to express grave concern that dozens of journalists, human rights activists and prominent opposition figures have been arrested and are being held in inhuman condition at Police Station.

On 25 March 2018, Ethiopian security forces arrested journalists Eskinder Nega and Temesgen Desalegn, Zone9 bloggers Mahlet Fantahun, Befekadu Hailu, blogger Zelalem Workaggnhu and political activists Andualem Arage, Addisu Getinet, Yidnekachewu Addis, Sintayehu Chekol, Tefera Tesfaye and Woynshet Molla. The eleven who have previously been jailed for their work as journalists or human rights activists are currently being held at Gotera-Pepsi Police Station in Addis Ababa.

I further understand from Advocacy for Oromia that, on March 25, 2018, 11 journalists, human rights activists and prominent opposition figures were arrested while attending a private meeting at the home of journalist Temesgen Desalegn in Addis Ababa. The private gathering was held in recognition of the recent release of thousands of political prisoners amidst ongoing and widespread protests against political marginalisation and land grabbing in the Oromia and Amhara regions which began in late 2015.

I welcome any additional information that may explain these events or clarify my understandings. Absent this, the facts as described suggest that dozens of journalists, human rights activists and prominent opposition figures were arrested as a result of nonviolent expressive activity, conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Ethiopia is party. This raises not only serious concerns for Eskinder Nega, Temesgen Desalegn, Mahlet Fantahun, Befekadu Hailu, Zelalem Workaggnhu, Andualem Arage, Addisu Getinet, Yidnekachewu Addis, Sintayehu Chekol, Tefera Tesfaye and Woynshet Molla’s well-being, but for the ability of journalists, human rights activists and prominent opposition figures generally in Ethiopia to exercise their right to free expression.

I therefore respectfully urge you to investigate the situation and to secure Eskinder Nega, Temesgen Desalegn, Mahlet Fantahun, Befekadu Hailu, Zelalem Workaggnhu, Andualem Arage, Addisu Getinet, Yidnekachewu Addis, Sintayehu Chekol, Tefera Tesfaye and Woynshet Molla’s immediate, unconditional release and, pending their release, ensure that their cases proceed in a manner consistent with Ethiopia’s obligations under international law, in particular internationally recognized standards of due process, fair trial, and free expression; and to ensure their well-being while in custody, including access to legal counsel and family.

I appreciate your attention to this important matter and look forward to your reply.

Sincerely,

(Here-sign)

(Here -Your Name)

cc: The Honorable Getachew Ambaye

Attorney General, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Email:

cc: The Honorable Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Email:

cc: Advocacy for Oromia

Email:info@advocacy4oromia.org

The Honorable Abiy Ahmed

Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Email:

cc: Ambassador Kassa Tekleberhan Gebrehiwot

Ambassador of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the United States of America
Email:

cc: The Honorable Lemma Megersa

President of Oromia Regional State
Email:

cc: The Honorable Michael Raynor

United States Ambassador to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Email:
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20 ORTO journalists banned from work 

As Addis Admass newspaper writes quoting sources, twenty ORTO (Oromia Radio and Television Organization) journalists are banned from work for the alleged “Narrow minded political attitude” in connection with the assessment session it had on the issue of the Addis Ababa integrated master plan.

It is remembered that a discussion was held in April, 2014 at the Adama city on the topic of the Addis Ababa integrated master plan where the region’s politicians, journalists and higher officials participated. The discussion and assessment sessions were also conducted following the region wide violence in protest to the integrated master plan.

As sources told the newspaper, lots of journalists were expressing their idea and concern on the integrated master plan at the April’s discussion session and during the two-months long training given to the journalists.

Addis Admass writes that twenty ORTO journalists are prohibited from entering into their office on Wednesday and the journalists told the newspaper that expressing their idea on the training sessions must have been the reason behind their ban from work.

http://www.diretube.com/articles/read-20-orto-journalists-banned-from-work_5629.html#.U68oo0DDvIU

ORTO fires eighteen Oromo journalists

(A4O, 26 June 2014) ORTO journalist are falsely being accused of providing information to diaspora news organizations like VOA, DW, Seif, Eri-tv(Oromo), Oromo Voice Radio and the newly inaugurated Oromia Media Network (OMN).

According to our sources, 18* Oromo journalists of Oromia Radio and Television Organization (ORTO) have been fired since  June 25, 2014. The journalists say they received no prior notice and learned of their fate this morning when security prevented them from entering the station’s compound located in Adama.

Members of the management informed the journalists that they cannot help them as decision terminate their employment and the list of names came from the federal government. This firing follows a 20 day re-indoctrination seminar given to journalists and reporters of the ORTO and workers of the region’s communication bureau.

Main agenda’s for the seminar were the ongoing #OromoProtestsand the upcoming election. Speakers at the seminar included Bereket Simon, Waldu Yemasel ( Director of Fana broadcasting), Abreham Nuguse Woldehana and Zelalem Jemaneh.

Name and department/ assigned role of the 18 journalists fired from Oromia Radio & Television Organization Department of Technology & Development

1. Tilahun Megersa – reporter for the ORTO website Newsroom

2. Bira Legesse- Afaan Oromo anchor

3.Bekele Atoma- Afan Oromo and English Reporter

4. Hamza Hussien- Afan Oromo & English report

5. Dereje Gonfa- Afan Oromo Reporter

6. Adis Tegegn- Amharic

7.Lisanewok Moges- Afan Oromo and Amharic news producer

8.Marga Hangasu- Sport program producer

9. Obse Kassahun- Afan Oromo Anchor Entertainment

10. Ayana Chimdesa- ‘Gola Oromiyaa’ program producer

11. Abdi Gada- youth program producer

12. Yusuf Warqisa- Oromo language, culture & tourism presenter

13.Abdisa Fufa- Documentary program producers

14.Ezekeil Argaw- Entertainment producer Educational programming department

15. Kababo Ibsa- Producer

16. Olansa Wakumsa- educational programs producer

17. Zeleke Oljira- Producer/ presenter of ‘ Hello Doctor’ program

18. Bosona Dheressa-Editor and program producer

* updated on 27 June 2014