Secret document reveals regime’s intolerance to critical views
By Abebe Gellaw
In Ethiopia freedom of expression was declared 20 years ago, when the military junta of Mengistu Hailemariam crumbled and Meles Zenewi came to power singing and preaching about liberty and democracy. After two decades in power, Meles Zenawi does not even tolerate the opinion of others including those he has forced into exile. He wants to be the only person in the country to speak his mind with arrogance and impunity.
Only within the last 5 years, so many newspapers have been closed down, a number of journalists and critics have been jailed and many faced treason and terrorism charges for telling the inconvenient truth that tyranny must come to an end. The Voice of America (VOA), as an independent broadcaster, has also been a target of the tyrannical regime that jams VOA and other broadcasts to Ethiopia using Chinese technology.
Meles Zenawi’s VOA blacklist provides fresh evidence that clearly shows the intolerance, ignorance and arrogance of the dictator and his cronies who are determined to silence every little voice of dissent. Article 29 (2) of the Ethiopian constitution declares: “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression without any interference. This right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any media of his choice.” But in practice, freedom of expression has been criminalized and outspoken critics are being hunted down and forced into exile by the regime.
The following is only a partial list of critics and dissidents whose views are labeled “hostile” and “unacceptable”. Meles wants VOA to ban his critics from appearing on its programs. It is an open secret that anyone who expresses views contrary to those of dictator Meles Zenawi and his cronies is considered to be an enemy of the state. It should noted that the majority of people targeted by the Meles regime in the last 20 years are outspoken critics, commentators, political leaders, human rights activists and journalists.
The names below only those mentioned in a 42-page document submitted by the Meles regime to VOA and Board of Broadcasting Governors (BBG) officials as “evidence” to support its complaints against VOA Amharic service.
Addis Voice is making efforts to secure other documents that contain Meles Zenawi’s litany of complaints and grievances against VOA broadcasters and anyone who expresses critical views.