The journalist as terrorist: an Ethiopian story
The Ethiopian government led by prime minister Meles Zenawi uses charges of terrorism to silence and intimidate its domestic critics. The political technique is now being extended by accusing independent journalists of conspiracy. One of his targets, Abiye Teklemariam Megenta, responds.
I couldn't say that nothing prepared me for the morning of 8 November 2011. Over the past year, Ethiopians have become accustomed to our country's prime minister's ex-cathedra declarations that most of his opponents and dissidents are "terrorists" who belong in prison - and are saved from only by his benignity and patience. Meles Zenawi's declarations, to be fair to him, were also given a legal basis in 2009, when the Ethiopian parliament passed a law that criminalises almost all acts of dissent as terrorism. If that law had been implemented to its fullest extent, no critic of Zenawi would have been left standing. It is that stifling.
But even Zenawi's kindness has its limits. Since June 2011, terrorism trials have increased steadily. Human Rights Watch reports that in these five months, the Ethiopian government has charged at least thirty-three people under the 2009 proclamation. Even during the Ethiopian new year, which falls in September, Ethiopian dissidents were given no respite from these attacks...
Abiye is a former Reuters Fellow (2009-10)