China, Ethiopia curtailing freedom of expression: Obama

Obama4 May 2010, WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama has alleged that countries like China and Iran are curtailing freedom of expression by “limiting full access” to use of connective technologies like internet and cell phones.

“Last year was a bad one for the freedom of the press worldwide,” Obama said yesterday in his statement on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day.

“While people gained greater access than ever before to information through the internet, cell phones and other forms of connective technologies, governments like China, Ethiopia, Iran, and Venezuela curtailed freedom of expression by limiting full access to and use of these technologies,” he said.

More media workers were killed for their work last year any in recent history, the US president said.

It was primarily due to election-related killings of more than 30 journalists in the Philippine province of Maguindanao, the deadliest single event for the press in history, along with murders of journalists in Russia, Somalia, Mexico and Honduras, he said.

In this year, like in other years, nearly three out of four of the journalists killed were local news-gatherers who were murdered in their own nations, he added.

Obama said more journalists and bloggers find themselves imprisoned in nations around the world.

“Iran, following its crackdown on dissent after the last elections, now has more journalists behind bars than any other nation. Governments in Belarus, Burma, China, Cuba, Eritrea, North Korea, Tunisia, Uzbekistan, and Venezuela imprisoned journalists who wrote articles critical of government leaders and their policies,” he said.

The World Press Freedom Day (on May 3) allows the world to celebrate the invaluable role played by the media in challenging abuses of power, identifying corruption and informing citizens about the important issues, Obama said.

“It is also a day for us to sound the alarm about restrictions on the media as well as the threats, violence or imprisonment of many of its members and their families because of their work,” he added.


VOA Addresses Ethiopia on World Press Freedom Day

On World Press Freedom Day, the Director of the Voice of America reaches out directly to VOA’s Ethiopian audience in an open letter. In it, Director Danforth W. Austin expresses VOA’s deep concern about efforts to interfere with the free flow of news and information. He cites actions that have been taken to jam VOA’s shortwave broadcasts in Afaan Oromoo, Amharic, and Tigrigna, and to block access to VOA web sites.

Mr. Austin also promotes VOA’s new daily audio transmissions on Arabsat at VOA 24, airing during VOA’s regular shortwave broadcast hours in all three languages. He invites listeners to subscribe to VOA’s electronic newsletter, or communicate with the Service by e-mail at horn@voanews.com, or by making a collect call and leaving a message.

“The Voice of America values its audience in Ethiopia,” Austin writes. “On behalf of our Horn of Africa reporters in the region and all of our writers, editors, and technicians in Washington, D.C., I assure you we will do all we can to bring you news you can trust, news you have relied on for almost 30 years.”

Read Mr. Austin’s letter in its entirety at http://bit.ly/VOAEthiopiaStatement on our website,

www.VOANews.com.

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