EMF | 13 October 2010 Tsegaye Tiku, a journalist who has been working in the Ethiopian radio and television agency for the last four years defected to USA last week. The journalist told to EMF that the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is making the country living hell for journalists to practice their profession. “Especially Government journalists, who refuse to obey the ruling party’s membership quest would face every castigator measure ranging from harassment to imprisonment,”
Tsegaye also claims that “Officials of the Ethiopian radio and television agency’s insist journalists to misinform the public about the status quo in the country, especially during elections period.”
He told to EMF that using Developmental journalism as a weapon the officials compels journalists at ERTA to produce falsified information about the so called development progress of the nation.
In fact the agency has hire hundreds of EPRDF supporter’s and members illegally to accomplish its aim, he added.
The officials also intimidate him not to reveal information that he finds out about the misuse of an international money grant to halt HIV/AIDS in the country he said.
He has explained his seeking asylum by claiming there is “unprecedented terror directed towards to him and to free press” in Ethiopia.
According to him the government has never stopped harassment and threats against private and government journalists aiming to warn them not to transmit critical reports.
The Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) government enacted harsh legislation that criminalized coverage of vaguely defined “terrorist” activities, and used administrative restrictions, criminal prosecutions, and imprisonments to induce self-censorship.
The government has also jammed many international broadcasters and websites like VOA, Deutsch Welle and ESAT. The Ethiopian government is wildly known for its brutality and outrages handling of both governmental and free press journalists. It is believed that more than a hundred free press and 50 government Ethiopian journalists are known to have been exiled in the last 4 years for fear of persecutions.