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 are 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.
Dr. Getachew Metaferia, Professor of Political Science at Maryland University
Mr. Jawar Mohammed, Political commentator
Mr. Abebe Hailu, Representative of the Ethiopian American Council
Professor Beyene Petros, Member of Medrek’s leadership
Mr. Hamdi Ali Regae, Commentator
Professor Paolos Milkeas, Professor of Middle Eastern and African Politics, Concordia University Canada
Mr. Ali Abdo, Eritrean Minister of Information
Dr. Beyana Soba, OLF spokesperson
Mr. Eskinder Nega, Journalist and publisher, who has been banned from practicing journalism
Colonel Tsegeye Yimer, Former army and police trainer
Lieutenant Ayalsew Dessie, exiled former army officer
Dr. Negasso Gidada, former president and interim leader of Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ)
Dr. Hailu Araya, Spokesperson of UDJ
Dr. Kassa Ayalew, Representative of March for Freedom
Dr. Ahmed Mowen, Professor at Howard University, Washington DC
Mr. Neamin Zeleke, Political activist
Professor Getachew Haile, Coordinator of Hidafe Kitet
Mr. Seye Abraha, UDJ Party
Mr. Thilo Hoppe, Member of German Parliament (Bundestag)
Mr. Bekele Gerba, Vice Chair, Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM)
Dr. Merera Gudina, Member of Medrek’s leadership
Dr. Berhanu Nega, Chair of Ginbot 7
Mr. Girma Moges, Political commentator
Mr. Aklilu Tadesse, exiled journalist
Mr. Alebachew Desalegn, London-based activist
Ms. Asayesh Tamiru, Member of Human Rights Committee in Germany
Mr. Tamagn Beyene, activist and artiste
Mr. Dawit Kebede, Managing editor of Awaramba Times
Isaias Mekuria, journalist
Dr. Getachew Begashaw, Professor of Economics at Harper College, USA
Mr. Solomon Gebreselassie, Water development engineer in Los Angeles, California
Meles Zenawi VOA blacklist
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.