12 journalists, media personalities arrested in Bahir Dar, Addis Abeba in just Three days

By Mahlet Fasil

About a dozen journalists and media personalities were arrested in a span of three days, reports said. The arrests were made in Bahir Dar, the capital of the Amhara region, and Addis Abeba according to information acquired from the media houses and families of the detainees.

10 journos 2The crackdown was first reported on May 19 when the digital media, Ashara media, and the foreign-based broadcast TV channel Nisir International Broadcasting Corporation announced the arrest of their staff members.

Ashara media announced the arrest of 5 members of its staff on May 19, 2022. The media house listed the names of its staffers, Kelemu Gelagay Akene, Daniel Mesfin, its cameramen and editors as well as its journalists Gashaye Nigussie Ferede, Getenet Yalew and Habtamu Melese. Addis Standard learned that they had not appeared in court until the publication of this news.

Similarly, Nisir Media has also notified its social media followers that on the 19th of May, at approximately 4:45 PM local, security forces along with Amhara regional police ‘illegally’ encircled its studio and arrested 3 of its journalists and confiscated electronic materials.

The next day, Solomon Shumiye, a host of the Youtube channel Gebeyanu was also arrested on May 20, 2022. His arrest occurred after he went to the police station in search of his sister who was also arrested there. She has since been freed, but Solomon remains in custody.

Tigist Shumiye, Solomon’s sister, told Reuters that Solomon has appeared in court following his arrest along with three other suspects and that the court granted 14 days to the police to remand and investigate him.

Speaking to Addis Standard, Tigist stated that Solomon has been detained at the Third Division Police Station, commonly called Sostegna, in Addis Abeba and said his next court appearance will be on May 30.

In continuation of such arrests, Meskerem Abera, a university lecturer and political commentator was arrested by security forces at Bole International Addis Ababa Airport after touching down in Addis Abeba from a Bahir Dar outbound flight on May 21. She appeared in the Arada Division of the Federal Court of First Instance in Addis Abeba yesterday.

At the hearing, the investigative police told the court that it is investigating Meskerem on the suspicion of  “inciting riots and creating mistrust between the Amhara region and the Federal government” and requested 14 days to remand until it arrests her collaborators.

The defendant’s attorneys, on their part, argued that the police’s request, while detaining their client, was in violation of media freedom and was inappropriate. They argued that the suspects had been working on the media publicly. Explaining that if their client had committed a crime, she would not have been able to operate in public and be arrested at Bole airport, her lawyers said. They also requested the court to grant her bail stating she was breastfeeding a 7-month-old baby and had a permanent place of residence.

The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) voiced its concerns over what it called ‘unlawful arrests’ in a statement released on Sunday.  Commissioner Daniel Bekele (P.h.D) said, “Federal and regional security forces should refrain from arresting suspects before criminal investigations and imprisoning journalists because of their work and arresting people irrespective of a court warrant and notify family members when individuals are arrested as well bring them before a court.”

AS 

 

3 Comments

  1. Daniel Bekele says :

    “Federal and regional security forces should refrain from arresting suspects before criminal investigations and imprisoning journalists because of their work and arresting people irrespective of a court warrant and notify family members when individuals are arrested as well bring them before a court.”

    This is not the first time Daniel B. tells the government to refrain from violation the constitution and other laws, but the government does not “refrain” from any of its illegal activities. Let alone refrain, t’s not even responding to his statements; it simply ignores him.

    If the government does not listen to its human rights officer, what the hell is Daniel B. doing as head of human rights institution? Isn’t his repeated empty cry of foul simply enabing the government to do what it wants more? If he keeps as the top human rights officerwho make statement with no consequences, how is he different from the arresting and torturing agents and judges that cooperate with the agents? At some stage, he should say enough.

    I feel that Daniel B. should resign from his position. He might claim that he better stay in his postion to further expose the illegal activites of the governemt. That argument might have made sense when he was appointed for the positon to verify verify the allegedly improving human rights situation in the country. Two years after, it’s more than clear that the government is the worst violater of human rights the country has ever known.

    Daniel is supposed to know what to do under the prevailing situatio: RESIGN.

  2. First it was Debre and the bloody conflict against and associated with his group. It was Shane and the on-going bloody mayhem still raging in various parts of Oromia. And now the destructive issue surrounding Fano is added to the savagery milieu. What else is going to add up to the misery of those unfortunate but eternally upright people? Tens of thousands possibly millions have fallen victims to the barbarity unleashed by demonic bigots over there. When is the last time we stood in silence to remember those innocent victims? No, we don’t do that. What we have been rather enthusiastic for is to jump on podiums fanning the flames of war from our safe and comfy homes here in the West and Oceania. When will we have the courage to say ‘the group I support is wrong’ or tell our favorite group ‘you are wrong this time around’?

  3. Having said that this current intimidation and jailing of journalist is wrong and their right to defend themselves without being incarcerated must be respected. If this is an attempt to duplicate the method practiced by the former PM of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew from the 1960’s thru 80’s, I’m not how it is going to work in this day and age. Let these journalists go!!!

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