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Members of Congress urge Meles to end repression

Police try to restrain Ethiopian demonstrators protesting near the G8 Summit at Camp David over the weekend. (AP/Timothy Jacobsen)

Two members of the U.S. Congress, a Republican and a Democrat, have publicly voiced indignation at Ethiopia's persecution of journalists under the leadership of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, with both declaring that stability and security are enhanced by press freedom.

Sen. Mark Begich, an Alaska Democrat, published a statement Monday in the Congressional Record, the official daily journal of the U.S Congress, following the Camp David G8 Summit last weekend during which President Barack Obama convened four African leaders, including Meles of Ethiopia, for talks on food security in Africa.

In a letter to Obama, CPJ urged the president to engage Meles on ending Ethiopian censorship practices--such as suppressing independent reporting and denying media access to sensitive areas--that undermine international responses to food crises.

"I want to take this opportunity to address the necessity for the United States to help foster stable and democratic nations as partners as we build multilateral coalitions to tackle global issues," Begich said in his statement. Ethiopia is a key partner of the United States in counterterrorism and regional stability and a major recipient of U.S. humanitarian assistance. Recalling Obama's 2011 commitment to a G8 declaration on democracy, Begich declared that "as the events in North Africa and the Middle East have shown, supporting reliable autocrats who are helpful on matters of security and economics at the expense of human dignity, basic democratic rights, and access to economic opportunity is more perilous than ever to long-term U.S. national security interests."

Begich called for the end of the persecution of independent journalists and dissidents rounded up in Ethiopia in the wake of the Arab Spring. "To foster the benefits of a diverse citizenry, the many political prisoners and journalists should be released," he said. The senator urged colleagues in the U.S. Congress to join him in helping the citizens and government of the Horn of Africa country achieve a national consensus on the value of the free flow of information and make press freedom, as outlined in Ethiopia's constitution, a reality. "Such are hallmarks of inclusive and sustainable economic growth, and they provide a return of accountability and transparency to both American taxpayers and Ethiopian citizens," he added.

On Friday, Rep. Edward Royce sent a public letter to Meles in which he expressed "deep concern with the Republic of Ethiopia's disregard for press freedom." Royce, a California Republican who chairs a House subcommittee on terrorism, said "national security must not cripple press freedom." Expressing concern over the prosecution of 11 journalists on terror charges, Royce said that "the judicial process clearly fails to meet international standards," citing as an example the government's use of national public media to pressure the courts.

Over the weekend, hundreds of Ethiopian expats gathered near Camp David to protest the country's slide into authoritarianism, according to news reports. Washington is home to one of the largest Ethiopian diaspora communities in the world, a population that includes three Ethiopian journalists charged in absentia with terrorism in relation to their work, according to CPJ research. A fourth journalist, now languishing in a prison in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, was educated in the Washington area before returning to Ethiopia and launching one of the country's first independent newspapers. The former editor of another independent Ethiopian paper also lives in Washington after fleeing his homeland in the face of government intimidation.

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"As the events in North Africa and the Middle East have shown, supporting reliable autocrats who are helpful on matters of security and economics at the expense of human dignity, basic democratic rights, and access to economic opportunity is more perilous than ever to long-term U.S. national security interests."
These should be a wake up call for Zenawi!

Thank you. Thank you CPJ for fighting freedom of press and for standing for journalists worldwide.

Of course, there are congressional represenatives, like Sheila Jackson of Texas, Senator Inhofe of Oklahama, who are supporting this dictator and looking the other way like the White House and the State Dept.

For many many years it has been a fashin like to just ignore African struggle for freedom, justice and independence. It is sad to see people like Sheila Jackson of Texas and senator Inhofe of Oklahama.The poor people of Ethiopia are sad. We all have precious life like any human being rich or poor. Justice is for all human kind not only for the few. The White House and in particular President Obama's administration ought to look in this matter seriously. African dictators must be accountable to the poor people who are help less to powerful and insensitive, and reckless army and security forces of their govenment. Poor African people are at the mercy of GOD. The world is not fair. Mr.unkown





Ethiopians in the Diaspora are ready for this afternoon program of Straight Talk Africa so am I. Straight Talk Africa Ethiopian callers will flood the program today, 2:30pm to 3:30pm EST. Hope the producers will handle the traffic. May 18, (5/18) which we dubbed it as "No Dictator Day" will be celebrated thanks to the brave act of Abebe Gellaw one of ESAT TV producers who exposed Meles Zenawi for who he is, Dictator, Human Right Abuser. Abebe said, We demand Freedom, Freedom, Freedom before Food !!!!

This is also what I call " The Rosa Park Factor" for the brave black woman in USA who defied the White establishment of discrimination and segregation in 1960s by refusing to give Her Seat for White Person. Following that defiance the March for Freedom to end discrimination has started. We had the first African American President in 2008. The whole Africa and the young generation of the World supported Obama. Unfortunately, Obama betrayed his own words of freedom and accountability we heard in the Ghanaian parliament in 2008 and chose to sleep with Meles Zenawi. Shame on Obama !!!!

Abebe Gellaw's defiance of Obama and other Western powers in their own conference last Friday at Regan Building in Washington DC has already made Abebe Gellaw a rallying cry to end dictatorship in Ethiopia once and for all. Abebe is the Rosa Park of Ethiopia !!!! President Obama the beneficiary of Rosa Park Torch undermined his credibility in Africa and in the eyes of young people all over the world big time by mixing Ghana a true Democracy with Meles of Ethiopia another Western loved Mubarak. Mubarak was removed 15 months ago by popular uprising and today Egyptians are electing a new president for the first time. We are certain that day will come to Ethiopia inspired by heroic deed of Abebe Gellaw. Many more Abebe Gellaw's will flourish in Ethiopia and in the Diaspora. Freedom Now !!! Freedom Tomorrow !!!! That is the only weapon that will guarantee everything including Food Security.

Thanks

Development without Freedom
How Aid Underwrites Repression in Ethiopia
October 19, 2010
This 105-page report documents the ways in which the Ethiopian government uses donor-supported resources and aid as a tool to consolidate the power of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

Ethiopia is one of the world’s largest recipients of development aid, more than US$3 billion in 2008 alone. The World Bank and donor nations provide direct support to district governments in Ethiopia for basic services such as health, education, agriculture, and water, and support a “food for work” program for some of the country’s poorest people. The European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany are the largest bilateral donors.

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Thank you to all at CPJ for the tireless effort defending the most vulnerable journalists all over the world. Ethiopians appreciate CPJ's relentless advocacy on behalf of the world's most endangered species..THE ETHIOPIAN JOURNALIST!! When Ethiopians are free we will write about these dark days and the tremendous role that CPJ played, helping to light our way to liberty, lightening the load of oppression. Inameseginalen!!! Misgana.

I wish Meles Zenawi gov't destroying from Ethiopian country.

qalbeessaa aloo May 25, 2012 7:06:42 AM ET

u talk more but nothing happen.pm meles is our pm.we millions love him n ready to protect our renaissance.we know gossip never change a country.so u gossiper go on ur gossip.

u diaspora,plz plz never decide based on unproved information n gossip.u r overthere,hw an intellictual living in the modern society have a stand based on an unproved information?r u opposing only 4 the sake of opposing?plz come n prove n decide.its obevious that in poor countries like eth u find so many problems.but things are changing now.eth is moving fast towards modernization.its a matter of time to achieve our goal.b a part of this change.never b a part of the gossipers.any way come n prove everything.