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
"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
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,