Fifth Anniversary of the Suppression of the Free Press
(Eskinder Nega, Addis Ababa)
November 01 2010 marks half a decade since Ethiopia’s long-anticipated backslide to a long enduring norm of intellectual repression and inertia. But, alas, even the short respite—twelve years— from the historical norm was distinguished by the resistance of the powers that be to a budding intellectual renaissance spearheaded by a fiercely independent print media.
The trials and tribulation of Ethiopia’s journalists as they were imprisoned, tortured, beaten and exiled became, next to the permanent fixture of hunger, one of the most recurrent stories to come out of Ethiopia. No government as that of Ethiopia has more frequently and wantonly clampdown against journalists and still ended up with a far more militant press than before. Nowhere in the world have journalists demonstrated more courage and commitment for freedom of the press.
Little surprise then that, finally, dropping all democratic pretenses, the government was to throw in the towel on November 01 2005 and shut down the entirety of the free press. It was time for the EPRDF to conceded defeat. One more time in history, the moral fortitude of the pen prevailed over the might of the gun.
Finally, the EPRDF stood unmasked before the world: Patently Autocratic!!
And five years later, EVERY SINGLE ONE of the NEWSPAPERS shut down and EVERY SINGLE JOURNALSIT that worked for them remain barred.
The tally of these historic weekly newspapers runs:
1. Addis Zena
1. Seyfe Nebelbal
2. Lisane Hizb
What makes this fifth marking of the suppression of the press is the conviction of most banned journalists that the most difficult days are now behind us. We look forward with a renewed sense of optimism. No repression lasts indefinitely. Truth and time are on our side. We will be vindicated. And we shall never give up!!
We shall return! This is a promise!!!