Target: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Goal: End prejudice against journalistic freedom in Ethiopia.
Government repression of the independent media and its journalists in Ethiopia is on the rise. Since the most recent election in the country, limits to the rights of freedom of expression and access to information have crippled journalistic freedom and caused some media workers to flee the country, while others waste away in prison.
The government, also known as the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), has shut down countless publications, increased control of most television and radio outlets and removed all access to independent information and domestic political issues for a majority of its population. The annihilation of private media, independent reporting and critical analysis of the government’s ruling party has made Ethiopia a leading country in the world for exiled journalists, following Iran.
Journalists have suffered threats, intimidation and, worse, physical abuse for simply doing their jobs: informing the public of the facts. Some have even endured politically influenced prosecutions where they’ve been charged as criminals or terrorists. Despite global outcry over the country’s most publicized cases of prejudice against journalistic freedom, the EPRDF shows no signs of slowing down the incrimination of the country’s journalists and media workers.
As a result of the government’s rampant obliteration of free speech, the few working Ethiopian journalists left must self-censor their coverage of pertinent news in the country to promote the EPRDF’s agenda or risk putting themselves and their families in danger for reporting or providing commentary that is deemed slanderous, incriminating, or terroristic by the country’s government.
Sign the petition to encourage UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, to address the issue of journalistic freedom in Ethiopia and encourage the country to stop treating their journalists like criminals.
Dear Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,
The situation for journalists in Ethiopia is dire. The country currently has the most journalists in exile of any country in the world, other than Iran. The current ruling party has unlawfully jailed journalists, issued threats, intimidated and even physically abused media workers for simply doing their jobs: bringing the important facts of the latest happenings to the country’s interested population.
Publications have been shut down, radio and television has been rigged to keep the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Fund in the spotlight, and journalists, bloggers and other media workers have been treated like terrorists. The country’s leaders have even gone so far as to burn all copies of newspapers on newsstands that they believe to be criticizing leadership.
Ethiopia’s leaders and government officials must realize that independent media contributes to the country’s development. As people become armed with the information needed to make decisions that govern their livelihoods, they derive a sense of pride, independence and ultimate choice. If Ethiopia was truly as democratic as it claims to be, it would respect the job that journalists and media personnel do, and stop treating journalistic freedom as a terrorist or criminal agenda.
I urge you to encourage the country to release and drop charges against its convicted journalists, bloggers and the like, and start eradicating prejudice against journalistic freedom.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Jennifer Moo via Flickr