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Press Release on: The 2nd Online Campaign against Censorship

“Freedom of Expression to All, Now!”

Zone9 is an informal group of young Ethiopian bloggers and activists working together to create an alternative independent narration of the socio-political issues in Ethiopia and thereby foster public discourse that will result in emergence of vibrant, well informed and proactive community of readers for the betterment of the Nation.
In an effort to meet our objectives, we have identified holding online campaigns as one of the effective ways of motivating interest, sharing information and initiating public discourse. Consequently, we have made plans to hold four online campaigns in the year 2005 (Ethiopian Calendar) and held one under the motto “Respect the Constitution” from December 6th-8th, 2012 which can be said fairly successful in terms of informing the online Ethiopian community about their rights enshrined in the Ethiopian constitution
Here we come again with the second online campaign, this time under the motto “Freedom of Expression to All, Now!”. This campaign coincides with the blocking of our blog and, recently, our Blog’s Facebook page for Facebook users without Secured Socket Layer (https://) connection. The main Blog, like several other Blogs, has been blocked from being accessed in Ethiopia for more than eight months now.
The general aim of this campaign is to express concern on the danger paused by the ever growing media censorship in Ethiopia. The censorship has taken different formats from self-imposed in fear of repercussions to well-intended blocking of websites and Blogs in addition to banning of publications. Some of this censorship is committed in an expressed intent of guardianship of maintaining a harmonious society; the rest is not given any explanation. We have come to the understanding that this practice endangers ideas plurality and it leaves the government without adequate accountability. It is in this presumption that The Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia in its article 29 clearly states;
1. Everyone has the right to hold opinions without interference.
2. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression without any interference. This right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any media of his or her choice.
3. Freedom of the press and other media and freedom of artistic creativity is guaranteed. Freedom of the press shall specifically include the following elements:
(a) Prohibition of any form of censorship. (b) Access to information of public interest.
4. In the interest of the free flow of information, ideas and opinions which are essential to the functioning of a democratic order, the press shall, as an institution, enjoy legal protection to ensure its autonomy and diversity.
5. All media financed by, or under the control of the State, shall be regulated in order to ensure diversity in the expression of opinion.
6. These rights can be limited only through laws which are guided by the principle that freedom of expression and information cannot be limited on account of the content or effect of the point of view expressed. Legal limitations can be laid down in order to protect youth, and the honor and reputation of individuals. War propaganda as well as the public expression of opinion intended to injure human dignity shall be forbidden by law.
7. Any person in violation of legal limitations on the exercise of these rights is accountable under the law.
From Feb. 21 through 23, 2013, during the campaigning term, articles that show the hardship being experienced by Ethiopians who want to exercise their constitutional right of self-expression and the danger censorship pauses on the country’s effort to alleviate itself from poverty, its number one enemy, will be published on Zone9’s Blog and Facebook Page including the page created for this specific purpose.
The campaign’s main mediums will be Twitter and Facebook. Articles will be published on our Blog, mini articles will be shared on individual’s Facebook pages and tweets will be made with hash tag ‘#StopCensorship’. There will also be a banner prepared for the campaign which will be used as a profile and cover picture of all participants which will be public to all freedom loving online community to join
As usual, we call up on the online community to actively take part in this campaign and show the concern is shared among all Ethiopians.

We blog because we care!!!


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