Ethiopian journalist on fear of returning to prison (BBC)


Tesfalem Waldyes
“I’m still scared that I might go back to prison” says journalist Tesfalem Waldyes

It’s never an easy decision: Should I interview someone who wants to talk in public, but who knows that a word out of line could mean arrest and imprisonment?

I’ve wrestled with the issue before in Myanmar, also known as Burma, Zimbabwe, Iraq and elsewhere.

Ethiopian journalist Tesfalem Waldyes sat in a hotel in Addis Ababa last weekend, and decided it was necessary to speak out.

“I’m afraid. I’m still scared that I might go back to prison… Maybe today, maybe this afternoon.

“[Journalism here] is a very dangerous job, because there’s this red line that was marked by the government, and we don’t know when we crossed that red line,” he said.
‘Totally absurd’
Last week Mr Tesfalem was unexpectedly released from a remand prison outside the capital, along with four colleagues.

He and eight other bloggers and journalists had been imprisoned for well over a year, facing trial under Ethiopian anti-terrorism legislation – accused of working with forces seeking to overthrow the state.

“It’s totally absurd…. Our work has appeared in newspapers, magazines.

Four journalists are still in prison in Ethiopia

“We are only doing our jobs,” he said, declining to speculate on whether the timing of his release was linked to a big UN development summit being hosted in Ethiopia this week, or President Barack Obama’s visit later in the month.

Mr Tesfalem said he did not want to talk about prison conditions, for fear of provoking Ethiopia’s government, but he was motivated to speak out on behalf of the four journalists still in detention.

“I beg all the international community, all concerned people… to push, to keep pushing… for the release of our friends.

“The charges are very similar. There is no difference between me and those guys who are still languishing in prison,” he said.

Ethiopia is a de facto one party state, after the governing EPRDF won every parliamentary seat in May’s election.

Although it has presided over extraordinary economic growth, and a rapid reduction in extreme poverty and child mortality in the past decade, it is regularly criticised for human rights abuses, and is often ranked as one the world’s “most censored” countries.

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Posted by on July 14, 2015. Filed under NEWS. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to Ethiopian journalist on fear of returning to prison (BBC)

  1. ቶክእችው

    July 16, 2015 at 3:23 PM

    I heared ELIAS KEFLE ON A RADIO INTERVIEW. THERE IS NO WORSE WATER THAN STANDING WATER. He spoke a lot, but it is contradictort, self agrandisemet, fallacous it can’t be understood to a mad unqualified so called journalists. These are not political opposition leaders, they have no proffesional ethics to speak truth that is why the Ethiopian people reject them because the people read the WORLD BANK, THE IMF, WHO CAN’T BE BOUGHT AND sold and AFRICAN leaders AND OTHERs WORLD famous intelectuals speak of Ethiopia as AN EXAMPLE OF AFRICAN STAR OF DEMOCRATIC DEVELOPMENT. This Royal parasite,DERGE EXCUTIONAIRES WHO ARE GOING TO ERITREA AND TAKE a bath in the blood of Ethiopian martyres. HE FREELY SPEAK WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO THE SPOILED CHILDREN OF THE CHILDREN OF THE PAST CRUEL RULERS IF HE IS REINSTATED AS A JOURNALIST. HERE IN America NO COMMUNIST AND EVEN JUVENILE DELINQUENTS WHO SHOP LIFTED AND WENT TO JAIL. THEY ARE BLACK LISTED AND NEVER GET EMPLOYMENT THAT IS WHY THEY SELL DRUG ANDIS A BLESSING IN DISGUISE TO GO BACK TO PRISON.