Ethiopia pushes Kenyan TV to drop report on rebels

By Mohamed Keita/Africa Research Associate on August 10, 2009 4:14 PM ET

OLF rebels in Ethiopia. (Reuters)

Last week, the Ethiopian government tried to force private Kenyan broadcaster Nation Television (NTV) to drop a four-part exclusive report on separatist rebels in southern Ethiopia. NTV aired the first two parts of "Inside Rebel Territory: Rag-Tag Fighters of the Oromo Liberation Front," which led Ethiopia's ambassador to Kenya to accuse the Nation Media Group of giving a platform to a terrorist organization, the daily Nation reported. The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), whose Web site is among several authorities block in Ethiopia, is fighting for greater autonomy for the Oromos, the largest ethnic group in the south of the vast Horn of Africa nation.

"Clearly, officials at the Ethiopian Embassy did not want NTV to air this program. We repeatedly explained to them that this is not possible," Linus Kaikai, NTV's managing editor of broadcast news told me today. The Kenyan Foreign Affairs Ministry was also involved in attempting to get the station to drop the story, he said. "No demands have been agreed to," Kaikai added, saying that the final two parts will air tonight and Tuesday.

The Ethiopian administration, whose leaders were once guerilla fighters allied with the OLF, has sought to censor international media outlets' coverage of rebel groups. In 2008, authorities accused Qatar-based satellite network Al-Jazeera of "direct and indirect assistance to terrorist organizations" after the station aired an exclusive report on the separatist Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), in southeastern Ethiopia. Al-Jazeera continued to air the program. In 2007, Ethiopian authorities detained three New York Times journalists for five days for reporting on the ONLF.

Local independent journalists who have reported on rebel groups have landed in prison on various criminal charges, including publication or distribution of "false news likely to incite violence" or "membership in a terrorist organization." In one case, three journalists, Garuma Bekele, Tesfaye Deressa, and Solomon Nemera of the defunct Oromo-language weekly Urji, spent four years in prison over an article challenging official claims about the killing of three alleged OLF members by government forces. Numerous state-employed journalists perceived to have sympathies for the OLF have also been thrown into prison on spurious accusations, including former Ethiopian Television News Director Dhabessa Wakjira.

On top of all that, Ethiopia recently enacted draconian anti-terror legislation, which criminalizes any reporting the government deems favorable to groups and causes it labels as "terrorist." In other words, reporting the activities or statements of such groups could be interpreted as glorifying or aiding their causes. An Ethiopian reporter, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of government reprisal, told me there was no public government reaction to the NTV controversy, and most local media did not report it.  Another one said independent coverage of such stories was difficult without a public statement from the government. "You cannot initiate [such] stories if there's no government reaction, else you run the risk of being labeled as someone who's promoting their movement," he said. 


Can the media help Ethiopia? The country which is home to over 80 million people but has no independent media? I mean virtually there is no private media, private TV, and independent newspapers (except a few weeklies allowed to churn out a few thousands of copies that disappear into the corridors of the 4 million strong Addis Ababa). The Zenawi regime has jailed or forced into exile all Ethiopian journalists. Information is key to economic development but Ethiopia is denied of its right to information. Internet service is state-owned, and those nearly 200,000 subscribers (this makes Ethiopia at the bottom of the world) have an on-and-off dial-up connection. The Asians may race to connect every home with Broadband service, but not in Ethiopia where "broadband service" is only for government and security purposes.

The group in power is rather seen as an enemy of the people after nearly 200 protesters were killed in 2005. Its stay in power depends by denying news and information reaching the Ethiopian people. Mr. Zenawi is too desperate he tried to jam Voice of America (VOA), Deutsche Welle, all pro-democracy websites are blocked.

Now if Zenawi's envoys cross the border into Kenya, and try to censore the Nation Media Group, it speaks volumes about the repression Ethiopians are subjected to under this regime.

Help free the shackled country of Ethiopia!

Bravo NTV!
I encountered many Ethiopian journalists who had been forced in to exile,in my previous employment with the International Federation of Journalists. Many of them had been detained for months without trail and on accusations that they were sympathisers of OLF. I also met the three Urji, journalists, whose tales were horrowing.

Many years on,I am amazed that the Addis government still thinks that suppression is the best way to deal with dissenting views- By the way are the OLF free to participate in the country's civic politics?
Come NTV, go on and tell us the other side of the story and let us make our judgment!

Why, on earth, would the Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetangula try to get NTV to stop the story? It is evident that NTV is not a state TV so how was he going to do this-is it through threats of withdrawal of advertisement or invocation of the many draconian laws the regime has kept in cold storage for such purposes?
And had he been prompted by the Ethiopian regime? If he was then he either misled them he can do anyting about the report or the minister has wilfully become a mouthpiece for the Meles regime.
Lately he has been accused of acting like that regmes mouth-piece on Igad and regional issues. Seyoum Mesfin went silent and Wetangula took over.

On my view the Olf looks like being advocated by some members close to the goverment.This is a good indication how security will never be met and that is why you see other groups like Mungiki is also a problem to deal with.Ntv has done a good job to show how East African countries bad security is.Keep up Ntv with good job.

Kenya has not learned from the Somalia situation. They supported the warlords for several years and destroyed Somalia and now they want to assist OLF to destroy Ethiopia? A terrorist is a terrorist irrespective of its victims. OLF is a terrorist organization killing innocent civilians. They could have resolved their issue peacefully but they chose a violent route and I don't understand why Kenya chose to play with them. Our country always has a cordial relationship with its southern neighbor based on non-interference on internal matters. Kenya has no business promoting the expired cause of OLF. A person with a glass house should not throw the first stone.

This is a mere publicity stunt by NTV, trying to imitate Al-Jazeera. OLF is a bankrupt organization whose leaders are divided as well as disillusioned, that is a fact one can search on the wide web. NTV just wanted to make a name for itself. It should have reported about OLF years ago when it was alive and kicking if the media group was that genuine.

NTV must first deal with Kenya's own internal problems before it meddles with neighbor's affairs. We know how f-ed up most things are in Kenya as it is in Ethiopia. So why not report that one first. Obviously, crossing a border is more appealing/newsworthy and generates unimagined publicity.

It's good news to those who are hoping the dreams will come soon.Ethiopians are exausting for hesring the so-called regime of Melese.
Ethiopians Free Press Journalists still hammering by the melese;Is now also an attapmt to neihbouring media like NTV.I advise the Nation Media crew members to stillingstand,standoff on behalf of truth is timebombing.
An ethiopian Free press member in USA,Houston

Here is the problem. One has to be very careful in using the term, “free Media” or “Independent Media”. The media has a very distinguished power to inform the general public and influence an entire nation and/or generation. As any form of power, it can also damage, incite, and corrupt an entire generation as well. There has to be some kind of accountability in the part of the media to know the consequences of their reporting. The validity of the facts, their source, the reason for their story, who is telling the story, and so on. During conflict over a national separation, a question of one’s attempt to gain independence may often be viewed as sedation by the states government. That has held true internationally. NTV must exercise it’s right to do stories that are affecting lives in Africa, but will have to make sure they remain objective and not subjective to the OLF or EPRDF. NTV must make sure that they are not being the mouthpieces for any political organization.

really there is a rule of law in Kenya, the Malez regime was confused to differenciate kenya freedom of speech and his dictatorship in Ethiopia, we are very glad NTV to air it programme and show the show the dictator malez the freedom of speech and free press was emplemented in the Kenya, Tanzania,and uganda.
East African scholars:-
Brothers we have a responsibility to denounce human right violation and Tyranny in the countries like Ethiopia,not to respect border when a regime killing your brother and raping your east african sister.
East african federation will succeed soon.

Bravo, NTV. I politely urge other media to follow NTV and expose the plight of Ethiopians under the Ethiopian dictatorial regime. CNN, BBC and other international media , please, throw your eyes to Ethiopia, and you will see ample untold stories that baffle the world.

It is very unethical to supress any Free press and at the same time it is unethical to promote an issue that can brings ethinc cleansing or tribalism.The problem of Ethiopia is very complex and the souution too serious that wise steps and reconcilliation be taken.The coloial boundary divided our people in may parts like the Somalis divided in to Brtis Somalia,Frenc Somalia and Italian Somalia.Oromos live in most part of East Africa as major ethinic gropu but I do not agree a state by Oromo or by Kukuyu or by Kalanjeni or by Tigre or by Amahara etc

The freedom of speech by every ethinic group should be respected and special care must be given to those people born of more than one ethinc group.
In view of thsese facts there must be forums in diaspora and at home on how to bring recocilliation and mutual respect among our peopel and the regimes there especially in Ethiopia should stop supressing the Free press.

These people in Ethiopia try their best to zip the mouth of independent individuals. They wanted to lead Kenya a country proud of its independent and have this and other independent Media owned by private firms. Tigre and Amhara need to learn a lot from these proud Africans. Never dare to shut our mouth off. You will end in your destinations one day.

The Meles regime in Ethiopia is one of the brutal dictators of the world today. Anyone with a little common sense can easily imagine how the dictator is abusing and jailing and silencing journalists in Ethiopia by simply looking at its behavior to try to silence Kenya's media.

In Ethiopia today there is no free press and no one would dare to speak their mind freely. It is an absolute dictatorship. Ethiopia today has become a police state under a brutal dictatorship with no private internet service, no private radio, no private TV, no independent media etc.

We have to expose the Meles regime for what it is! One of the worst dictatorships found on the planet today!


the problems of the Ethiopians is not only luck of freedom speech and free press,there is a discrimination and Ethnic cleansing, the malez regime restricted all the humanitarian organization to access the Ogaden region like ICRC, MSF and USAID,still there is a blockade and no business activity going on in the region, the so-called government troops burning and looting villagers, we have more than 2600 rape cases during January up to July 2009, where is the African scholars while the European and western human rights focusing the massacre going on the in the region, in side the Kenya parliamentary there is more than 12 MP half of them are Ogaden why don’t they advocate to their people.

Pleasure to NTV go ahead you gave a good lesson African media.

Very Good!..and Good job NTV I,m one of Ethiopian journalist who detained for no reasion and finally they force me to leave my loving country and my loving people. Ethiopia/EPRDF/TPLF as well as their supporters must know Kenya is a free country, they respect freedom of speech and free press.Not like them who tortured and killing innocent people. However, EPRDF/TPLF you must learn..learn and leard! Give power to people of Ethiopia.
Long Live NTV!!..Long Live NTV.

Former Radio Ethiopia Journalist

To me, I could say that Ethiopian government has no business to go to other country as Kenya to intimidate it's media on what to broadcast.Ethiopian leader has been eliminating it opponents as terrorists because he wants to make an linkage on this subject.But there will a time that people will find out about this false accusation.If everybody who is fighting for his freedom is happened to be a terrorist,Mr.Meless could be one too,because he onced time fought for his people to liberate them from Ethiopian communism's regime.If he can continue to use this dirty game, he will be a shame some day.People who have been oppressed under his regime are not bad people.These oppressed groups will fight for thier rights and land despite all false accusation. The Oromo,Gambellans,Ogaden and other oppressed people are frredom fighters.
And thanks,
Ojulu Ajak

Well done NTV Kenya!!!!!!!!

You have done very good job. I’m very much happy to the remaining part of documentary. The Ethiopian brutal regime has done it's best to muzzle the opposition and freedom of press even by crossing its border.

It is shameful for Kenya to listen to Meles Zenwi's gangsters.

This is what journalism and journalist mean!
It be able to open the minds of Melese and his underdogs like "Mr. Disasa" in Nairobi to the world once more. The useless people like Disasa has no mind to think but stomach to eat in. That is why he was crying for Zenawi. If Zenawi is gone by OLF, which brings majority rule, such people who can not follow their mind but their stomach has no place.
Disasa it is time for you to use your mind.

Galtuun Gala Hin Toltu Gurbaa!

Galtummaa Dhisi Fira Keetti Gali!

Bravo NTV!

I politely happy for what you have done. Good job and weldone NTV. It is very hard to judge on Ethiopia leaders. This is because some one who don't have any knowledge about freedom of speech, freedom of human right and freedom of working in good manner could put his people in big problems. Ethiopia government should learn from the pass what they have done to lat Eritirian people split off and became a country. What I have learned from the Ethiopian leaders is this. They like to over control every country ner by. However,it's difficult to corss the border and blame another country for their job. I'm assure that Ethiopa leaders have no business with Kenya. What I think, Meles's government want to creat war between Kenya like what they did in the pass with Somalia, Eritiria and Sudan. In addition to that, Ethiopia leaders need Kenya government to dismiss their private medias like what they are doing in their country right now. It's very ashamed for Ehtiopia to attempt to control anothre country.
Please, Ehtiopian leader, give right,respect and freedm to Ehiopian people. Moreover, you the leaders of Ehiopia, you need to learn more from the neighbouring countries like Kenya, Uganda, Eriteria and etc. Please brothers, don't embarrassed our country name.
Jammi bateer

My focus is on the girl in the interview telling about her difficulty to attend school in Addis Ababa

Anyone with sane mind and have awareness of the situation in Ethiopia will simply look at it and pass it to the trash while some less informed ones might be caught up, my message for you is please don't, go and visit any Addis school and you will see that this girl is simply lying

This interview was biased and doesn't contribute to anything but glorifying those limited individuals that have dedicated their life for such disastrous cause

As one of the least developing countries, Ethiopia is faced with many social and economical problems. Ethiopians are suffering from the lack of basic needs.

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