የኛ ኮከቦች የኛ መሪዎች
SALAT MAN' IS SYMBOL OF RESISTANCE FOR MUSLIMS IN ETHIOPIA
BBN Radio Amharic
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Without a free press in Addis Ababa, Africans are being locked out of the important decisions being made in their de facto capital
By Simon Allison
It’s not easy being a journalist in Ethiopia. In fact, it’s nearly impossible, according to a new 76-page Human Rights Watch report that documents the scale of the state’s censorship apparatus. As a journalist, it makes for highly disturbing reading. “Ethiopia’s government has systematically assaulted the country’s independent voices, treating the media as a threat rather than a valued source of information and analysis,” says Leslie Lefkow, the organisation’s deputy Africa director. “Ethiopia’s media should be playing a crucial role in the May elections, but instead many journalists fear that their next article could get them thrown in jail.”
The authors of the report spoke to 70 Ethiopian journalists, many in exile, who painted a dismal picture of the state of Ethiopian media. The government exerts control in many different ways – some subtle, some quite the opposite. Constant fear In November, a report from Reporters Without Borders said at least six publications had been forced to close in recent months and 30 journalists forced to flee abroad as the result of the biggest crackdown on privately-owned press since 2005. “Most print publications in Ethiopia are closely affiliated with the government and rarely stray from government perspectives on critical issues,” said the findings from HRW, which explain how publications critical of Ethiopia’s government are regularly shut down, and printers and distributors of critical publications closed.
Fact and Fiction
Most feudal societies disappeared quietly, sometime between the Renaissance and the French Revolution. Not so the one in Ethiopia. It was vanquished by a Marxist-Leninist revolution in 1974. There was no Worker’s State and certainly no Communist Paradise. To say the least, the suit of clothes did not fit the manikin. There was no bourgeoisie, no owners of the means of production, nor any means of production to speak of. There were feudal lords, countless peasants, artisans and crafts persons, shopkeepers, traders, landlords, latifundistas and clerics, both Christian and Muslim. And of course an army. Proletarians and Capitalists were very much in short supply. What came of all this could have been predicted: a half-mad, Marxist-Leninist tyrant. Between 1974 and 1991, Ethiopia stumbled through a hopeless and bloody attempt to create the accoutrements of a worker’s state. It was imperative to have a worker’s party, the fact that there were no class-conscious workers notwithstanding. It was important to have a worker’s state, a single national entity, despite the fact that there was no real state anywhere to be found. When none of this materialized (no pun intended), the Central Committee of the ruling party became little more than a glorified shooting gallery. Theory had outpaced practical reality by a wide margin.