Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism

Not intimidated

Journalists continue to cover protests in Ethiopia despite harassment and imprisonment.

Ethiopian authorities detained a reporter working for the U.S government-funded broadcaster Voice of America, as she was covering Ethiopia’s Muslim community.

Marthe Van Der Wolf, was following Muslim protesters demonstrating against alleged government interference in Islamic Council elections at the Anwar Mosque. Ethiopian Muslims represent around 35 percent of the country's 81 million dominantly Christian population, African news aggregate reported.

In her piece, Van Der Wolf gave more insights on the events:

“The anger behind the protest started earlier this year, as some Muslims accused the government of interfering with religious affairs by trying to promote a more liberal form of Islam from Lebanon, known as al-Abhash. More than 100 people were detained in previous protests and many of them are believed to still be behind bars.”

The police asked Van Der Wolf to delete recorded interviews and said they would then release her, according to local journalists sources who spoke with CPJ. She complied and was released without charges.

The Committee to Protect Journalists also reported the harassment and intimidation of Ethiopian citizens who were interviewed by Voice of America: “Police arrested two individuals who spoke to VOA on Thursday (Oct. 4) about a land dispute outside the capital, VOA reported. On Monday (Oct. 1), police harassed individuals who spoke to the station about a dispute over resources between ethnic communities, the outlet said.”

Similar incidents occurred earlier this year. Ethiopian authorities detained former Voice of America correspondent Peter Heinlein for “illegal reporting” last May. He was also covering protests by members of the Muslim community.

The Committee to Protect Journalists recalled that three Muslim-oriented papers were shut down in July after the police raided the outlets and arrested the editors: “Yusuf Getachew, editor of Ye Muslimoch Guday, has been imprisoned on charges of treason and incitement to violence for reporting on the grievances of the Muslim community, and at least two journalists, Senior Editor Akemel Negash and copy editor Isaac Eshetu, have fled into hiding, according to CPJ research.”

Six journalists are reportedly detained in Ethiopian jails, which ranks Ethiopia as the second leading jailer of journalists in Africa after Eritrea.

By Kevin Dubouis. 

Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism.
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