EMF (16 July 2010) Meles Zenawi called emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss on extended resumption of ESAT, reliable sources said. After the meeting, Zenawi ordered a panic attack on ESAT signals, which resulted in a brief interruption of ESAT, its own ETV and Eritrea’s ERITV on Thursday, 15 July.
Sources say, Zenawi was not pleased with the interruption of it’s only propaganda channel, ETV, and again ordered his technical people to stop the interference.
Since Wednesday, ESAT has introduced a powerful channel frequency (Arabsat – Frequency: 11976. Polarization: Vertical, Symbol rate: 27.5.) to Africa, the middle east and Europe, which is in the same bouquet (transponder) lists of ETV and all East African channels.
The attack on ESAT affects all the channels under the same bouquet.
According to sources close to Zenaw, the regime is under intense anxiety as it is not successful to carryout the attack on ESAT.
Esat’s management says, it’s broadcasts and transmissions in Ethiopia have been disrupted For the past 24 days by external interference to its satellite signals from sources that are still under investigation. This occurrence has triggered considerable not only public outrage among our viewers in Ethiopia but also internationally.
Speculations have spread so wide around Ethiopia and elsewhere about the interruption of the newly launched Ethiopian satellite broadcaster (ESAT) over the last four weeks. In mean time, however, Addis Neger online broke the news that ESAT has successfully been jammed by Ethiopia’s Information Network Security Agency(INSA) by technical and technical assistance from the Chinese government.
There are lots of reactions from readers and technical persons with deep knowledge of how things work in the satellite business. A certain Tegegne Z Werku gainsay the news appeared on Addis Neger by arguing with technical details on the issue. “I wish to inform you with a 101% precision that the problem is with the repeaters station.” Says Tegegne.
He further argues by saying the signal has not reached Arabsat. Arabsat assigns HF and waits for the video/audio to come. If no problem with the repeaters, then ESAT is unable to pay whatever is due to Arabsat and blocked by Arabsat itself. “The theory that a Chinese gadget from Sar Bett jammed ESAT doesn’t hold water and it is rubbish, to say the least.”
Is it possible to Jam a satellite channel?
Both arguments contain half truth. In theory, it is very hard to jam a satellite communication even for economically strong Nations, let alone for dependent country like Ethiopia. Real satellite jamming can be done from another (mini) satellites placed in space and it costs from 100 to 200 million USD per target. So far only USA, Russia and China can do this.
To prevent such jamming, military satellites communications use encryption methods.
Jamming is possible but highly unlikely and the Meles Zenawi regime wouldn’t be able to do it. However, it is possible to cause interfere in a satellite broadcast by radio frequencies or some other electronic transmitters. They overpower their frequency at the satellite or the ground receiver level with a stronger microwave noise signal.
ESAT was not jammed. It has nevertheless been sporadically interrupted by undetermined electronic interference from it’s uplink service (a 700MW Chinese manufactured equipment brought to Ethiopia, Addis Neger). The electronic interferences affect all the channels which are in the same bouquet of ESAT, that compel the uplink service provider to cut ESAT off from Arabsat (Tegegne Z. Werku).
There are variety of ways to interfere with a satellite’s broadcast. The one in question is to broadcast a stronger signal from the ground to disrupt TV signals. They require special equipment which send a strong signal at the uplink transponder on the satellite and overwhelming the broadcasters signals or simply to utilize the band edges of the transponder for transmissions. Sending a strong signal for 24 hrs also costs millions of dollars.
Jamming/disruption of satellites has become a key concern among big powers. It contravenes international agreements of free and open flow of information as the rights of international transmissions are protected by international treaties.
The rouge regime in Ethiopia is denying it’s own people of the right to know. The draconian steps by the Zenawi government in an effort to communications blackouts, more often in recent years to suppress the people of Ethiopia.
Western aid subsidizes repression in Ethiopia
Meles’ government has received U.S. $26 billion in development aid from the West. This big amount of money was supposed to be for the betterment of life, good health and better educated for Ethiopia.
Some Economists argue that U.S. $10 billion could lift up Africa from the existing economic crisis. Meles receives an amount three times bigger than that, but he reduced the nation to absolute destitution and made the country more dependent on foreign food aid.
Helen Epstein, author of The Invisible Cure, has a stunning piece on aid to Ethiopia published in this year’s New York Review of Books. Epstein argues that the main cause of fertile Ethiopia’s chronic food shortages—the so-called “green famine” —is Ethiopia’s toxic and repressive political system, presided over since 1991 by Meles Zenawi.
While Meles placates donors and Western governments with speeches about fighting poverty and terrorism, he has committed gross human rights violations at home, rigged elections, killed political opponents, and imprisoned journalists and human rights activists.
Helen says Melse received more aid than any other sub-Saharan country in 2008. But the aid subsidizes repression, she adds.
Billions of tax payers money is being used by Ethiopia’s dictator to jam independent radios and satellite transmissions.
According to Helen, “The government uses Chinese spy technology to bug phone lines and Internet communications, and countless journalists, editors, judges, academics, and human rights defenders have fled the country or languish behind bars, at risk of torture.