Open letter to US State Department
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
In her remark at the release of the US State Department 35th Annual Report to Congress on the State of Human Rights around the World, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, said: “The struggle for human rights begins by telling the truth over and over again.”
The Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) completely agrees with Mrs. Clinton as it has been discharging its duty of telling the truth over and over again regardless of the relentless and incessant efforts of the Ethiopian government to silence ESAT through jamming and illegal interference abusing its financial and diplomatic leverages.
ESAT commends the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor for its annual report on human rights practice around the world. The researchers and writers of the latest report have done an excellent job in detailing and exposing gross human rights violations being committed by the Meles regime. Nonetheless, we have found it necessary to correct a misstatement contained in the same report that only amplified the propaganda of the Meles regime.
While ESAT appreciates the reporting of the challenges it has faced as a result of the persistent jamming efforts by the rogue regime, the reference in the same report to ESAT as being supported by the “Ginbot 7 group” is not only wrong but totally misleading. Such a statement not only undermines the truth but also diminishes the extraordinary popular support that has been the foundation of ESAT.
ESAT was launched in May 2010 with a mission of telling the truth and creating an independent media platform that serves the people of Ethiopia, who have been denied their fundamental rights. ESAT has been established by a group of courageous exiled journalists and pro-democracy activists that have vowed to make sacrifices for the sake of telling the truth as accurately as possible in a country where the Meles regime has crushed practically all independent media outlets. It is this unacceptable oppression and tyranny that has caused so many Ethiopian journalists to flee their country to escape unjust imprisonment, assault, torture and violations of basic rights.
ESAT is totally independent of any political parties despite the fact that it welcomes any forms of unconditional assistance from anyone that supports its missions and objectives. One of the pro-democracy organizations that have enthusiastically welcomed the emergence of ESAT was Ginbot 7, some of whose members have openly provided assistance like any other ordinary Ethiopians. But it must be emphasized that the true supporters of ESAT are ordinary Ethiopians in and outside of Ethiopia who have been contributing financial, moral and material assistance.
What makes ESAT so unique is the very fact that it is neither owned nor patented by any one group or party. It belongs to all freedom loving Ethiopians. This is further attested by the fact that ESAT is totally funded by ordinary Ethiopians dispersed in all corners of the world.
It should be noted that ESAT has been making every effort to serve all Ethiopians irrespective of their political, religious, ethnic or other differences. It is a grassroots initiative that has made a great difference and impact since it was launched a year ago.
Realizing the positive impact of ESAT, the oppressive regime has been doing its level best to disrupt the transmissions and operations of this emergent media organization. In fact, ESAT is not the only media outlet that has been affected by the jamming efforts of the Meles regime. The Voice of America, which the regime has accused of instigating genocide in Ethiopia, Deutsche Welle Amharic services and other radio and TV transmissions are being jammed with technical and other forms of assistance provided by the Chinese government.
ESAT believes that as an ally of the Meles regime, the United States of America should not directly and indirectly condone the tyranny of the regime at the expense of the freedom and rights of the people of Ethiopia. In his famous speech in Accra, Ghana, in July 2009, President Obama said so eloquently that tyranny has to give way to democracy. “Africa does not need strong men, it needs strong institution,” he said.
In our country, there is no strong institution but a vicious tyrant who has left no stone unturned to sustain his oppressive and corrupt regime. To our dismay, the United States has continued to provide support to a man who has been abusing and silencing everyone and oppressing 80 million people. It is ironic that the Meles regime, which receives substantial amount of aid annually from the pockets of every American taxpayer, has also been jamming all media outlets that are committed to reporting the truth including the Voice of America.
ESAT avails itself of this opportunity, to appeal to the US State Department to intervene in trying to use its leverages to stop Meles Zenawi from illegally jamming radio and TV broadcasts that have been independently and objectively reporting the truth and amplifying the reality in Ethiopia. It is an open secret that the regime routinely closes down newspapers, blocks critical websites and jams radio and TV broadcasts. We believe that the conduct of the Meles regime contradicts almost all the founding values of the United States.
We would, therefore, like to urge the State Department not only to correct the mistake in question but also press the Meles regime to desist from jamming ESAT and other broadcasts in violation of its own constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that forbid censorship and interference in the free flow of information.
Should the US State Department or any agencies of the US government wish to know more about the first grassroots TV station for Ethiopia, please do not hesitate to contact us at your earliest convenience.
US Secretary of Hillary R. Clinton
Committee to Protect Journalists
Reporters without Border
International Press Institute
International Federation of Journalists
Broadcasting Board of Governors
Ethiopian Free Press Journalists in Exile
International Freedom of Expression Exchange
Human Rights Watch
Concerned media outlets
For further information on ESAT or this press release contact: Abebe Gellaw, Washington DC, email: firstname.lastname@example.org , tel. +1 650 387 4940| Kinfu Asefa, Amsterdam, email: email@example.com, tel. +31 652006062