Sunday, July 15, 2012
An Ethiopian court has jailed three opposition politicians for life and a journalist for 18 years. They were among 20 out of 24 defendants c
Journalist Eskinder Nega was jailed for 18 years, while opposition member Andualem Arage was given life. Both were in court to hear their sentences. Of the 22 others, 16 were convicted in absentia, having fled into exile.
They were accused of links to the US-based group Ginbot 7, considered a terrorist group under Ethiopian law, and pronounced guilty of terrorism charges at the end of June.
Andualem Arage was given a life sentence, purportedly because of the "heaviness of the case." He was also found guilty of serving as a "leader or decision maker of a terrorist organisation."
Ethiopia passed an anti-terror law in 2009 which gives the security apparatus carte blanche in suppressing dissent.
Eskinder Nega was detained after the rigged elections in 2005, but continued to post material critical of the government on the internet.
According to Laetitia Bader, who is following the case from Nairobi for Human Rights Watch, the Ethiopian government is "using every imaginable means to muzzle independent media and curb freedom of expression." According to her, it is therefore no coincidence that of the 24 charged under the anti-terror law, 11 are journalists. "This legislation is evidently one of the most effective instruments for nipping independent reporting and criticism in the bud," she says.
The two faces of Ethiopia
Ethiopia, seen by the West as a strategic partner, is presenting two very different faces to the outside world and never before has the contrast between the two been so vivid. There is Ethiopia the "African tiger" with two digit economic growth. In the capital Addis Ababa, new office tower blocks and hotels spring up at almost weekly intervals. And at the recent Rio+20 summit, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was able to present himself as one of Africa's most accomplished and articulate speakers.
Posted by Fikre Anara at 14:30