Target: Mulatu Teshome, President of Ethiopia
Goal: Drop false terrorism charges against journalists.
Nine members of a journalism collective have been held in jail for almost a year after being arrested on trumped-up charges of association with terrorists. The six bloggers and three journalists have had their trial pushed back 27 times without a valid reason, prolonging their confinement without cause. All were members of Zone 9, a group of writers who cover a number of social and political matters of concern to Ethiopians. One of the journalists, the owner of an independent newspaper, was forced to close his operation due to constant threats and surveillance by government officials.
The Zone 9 journalists are not the only ones under attack by the Ethiopian government. In the past four years, at least 11 members of the media have been convicted of terrorism-related crimes simply for doing their jobs, and at least 19 are currently incarcerated on similar charges. Past years have seen a mass exodus of journalists who have fled the country out of fear, as well as widespread closure of independent media outlets due to government harassment and intimidation.
This deliberate persecution of journalists is in direct breach of the Ethiopian constitution, which guarantees freedom of the press from censorship and harassment. An unrestricted press, which cannot function properly under fear of government retaliation, is an integral part of a free and democratic society. Sign the petition below to demand that the Zone 9 writers are freed and that Ethiopia stop its backward assault on press freedoms.
Dear President Mulatu Teshome,
Nine journalists, members of the Zone 9 collective, have been incarcerated for over a year as they wait for their trial, which has been delayed 27 times. The writers, who cover politics and issues important to the Ethiopian youth, were arrested on false charges of terrorism and have since been detained in poor conditions. Several members of the media are currently serving sentences for doing their jobs, while others face constant government harassment and intimidation. Currently, Ethiopia is in the bottom three countries for press freedoms in Africa.
This assault on journalism is a breach of Ethiopian and international law, which guarantees that no government official shall censor, intimidate, or attempt to hinder the actions of the media. We, the undersigned, demand that the Zone 9 journalists are freed, and that Ethiopia work to uphold freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: IvY88 via Public Domain