March 3, 2015

Listen: Soundbites from Ethiopia

Young Ethiopians gathered at the epiphany celebration in Addis Ababa in January 2014. Timkat is one of the holiest days in the Ethiopian Orthodox calendar.

Young Ethiopians gathered at the epiphany celebration in Addis Ababa in January 2014. Timkat is one of the holiest days in the Ethiopian Orthodox calendar.

In January 2014, The Kojo Nnamdi Show reported on free speech from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, the U.S.’ strongest ally in East Africa and the second-largest aid recipient on the continent. To amplify voices that are not often heard, we turned to three bloggers from the website Zone 9 who oppose the Ethiopian government’s crackdown on an open press. Shortly after the segment aired, two of the bloggers we spoke to were arrested and charged under the nation’s sweeping anti-terrorism law. In anticipation of Ethiopia’s government election in May, we will discuss the state of free speech in the nation and get an update on the Zone 9 trial with Zone 9 blogger Soliyana Shimeles Wednesday, March 4 at 12:30 p.m. EST. Catch up on our previous content:

A modern building in downtown Addis. Photo by Michael Martinez.

A modern building in downtown Addis. Photo by Michael Martinez.

“…My fear is that everything will keep silent. And we might even have some other coming generation who’s really afraid of talking what’s wrong in the neighborhood and in the world.”

Soliyana Shimeles, blogger, Zone 9 tells Kojo Nnamdi her worst fear for Ethiopia on January 28, 2014.

Workers taking a break at a warehouse facility operated by the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange in Awassa, Ethiopia. The government mandates that all coffee growers sell their crops through the exchange. Photo by Michael Martinez.

“Ethiopian politics have always been ethnicized in one way or the other. But the unique form of this ethnic government was that it structured its economic benefits for its own elite.”

Tamrat Negara, former editor of Addis Neger newspaper, on the makeup of Ethiopia’s government and how it contributes to political tension on April 30, 2014.

A construction site in Addis Ababa, which is undergoing a massive urban transformation. Photo by Michael Martinez.

A construction site in Addis Ababa, which is undergoing a massive urban transformation. Photo by Michael Martinez.

“…When you muffle a society, that is a recipe for terrorism. … And we’re against terrorism as bloggers, as citizens of Ethiopia, as citizens of this globe. We are fighting terrorism as well. …The task of fighting terrorism is not only the duty of the government. It’s also the duty of the society.”

Endalk Chala, co-founder of Zone9 blog and doctoral student at University of Oregon on why he believes charging journalists on anti-terrorism charges is counterproductive on April 30, 2014.

Explore our entire archive of stories from Ethiopia.

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