Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 September 2014, 12:56 GMT

Attacks on the Press in 1996 - Ethiopia

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date February 1997
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 1996 - Ethiopia, February 1997, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/47c5650123.html [accessed 18 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

January 10
Binyam Tadesse, Agere, IMPRISONED

Binyam, publisher and manager of Agere, was arrested and detained in connection with a Jan. 6 jailbreak from the Addis Ababa Central Prison. He was released on unspecified bail on July 8.

February
Terefe Mengesha, Roha, IMPRISONED, LEGAL ACTION

In early February, Terefe, the former editor in chief of the Amharic-language weekly Roha, was sentenced by the Central High Court to an additional one-year prison term just as he completed a one-year sentence for "publishing and distributing false information" and for "inciting the public to anxiety and insecurity." Terefe was leaving the prison grounds when policemen re-arrested him and transported him to Ma'ekelawi Central Prison in Addis Abba. Terefe's original conviction cited two articles, published in the October and December 1994 issues of Roha, entitled "Colonel Mengistu on the Offensive in Gambella" and "Woyane Combatants Suffered Heavy Defeats in South, West, and East Ethiopia."

March 1
Iskinder Nega, Habesha, IMPRISONED

Iskinder, the editor in chief of the popular independent English-language weekly Habesha, was abducted. Iskinder's mother reported that armed plainclothes police broke into their home in Addis Ababa, apprehended him and pushed him into a police van. He is reportedly being kept incommunicado. Police have denied arresting him, although his mother recorded the licence plate number of the van, which was also marked "police." On March 26, Iskinder appeared in court. He was charged with "writing derogatory statements against the government and government officials" and with "depicting officials erroneously in a manner that could abuse their very person." The charges brought against Iskinder cite a cartoon published in Habesha in late 1995, which depicted someone under President Bill Clinton's foot. Government officials claimed the person under Clinton's foot was Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zanawi. Iskinder was initially denied bail, even though he was legally entitled to produce a guarantor or surety, and was remanded into custody at Ma'ekelawi. On March 28, Iskinder appeared before court and was granted bail of 5, 000 birr (US$ 1, 000).

March 4
Aklilu Tadesse, Andebet, IMPRISONED

Aklilu, owner and editor in chief of Andebet and former editor in chief of Maebel, was detained for failing to appear in court. He was released during the first week of April.

March 7
Solomon Lemma, Wolafen, IMPRISONED, LEGAL ACTION

Solomon, editor of the independent Amharic-language weekly newspaper Wolafen, was sentenced to an 18-month prison term for "publishing false reports in order to incite war and unrest." The reports in question, a series of articles published in 1995, were about an insurgency group fighting in three provinces in western Ethiopia. Solomon had just completed a one-year sentence without parole.

March 25
Tesfaye Tegen, Beza, IMPRISONED

Tesfaye, the editor in chief of the Amharic weekly Beza, was summoned to appear at Ma'ekelawi Central Prison in Addis Ababa where he was asked to present a personal guarantor for 10, 000 birr (US$2, 000). When Tesfaye failed to do so, he was transported to Central State Prison where he is currently being held incommunicado. The summons cited a cartoon, published in Beza in late 1995, portraying Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and other government officials as members of a soccer team. Meles was depicted as much larger than his colleagues.

March 26
Dereje Haile, Ethiop, IMPRISONED
Five editors, reporters and clerical workers, Tekwami and Ethiop, HARASSED
Tekwami and Ethiop, CENSORED

State Security police arrested Dereje, a journalist with the newspaper Ethiop, and five other editors, reporters and clerical employees with Ethiop and the newspaper Tekwami. The arrests were made as the papers were being printed in the city of Bole. Police seized the newspapers' galleys and transported the journalists and clerical workers to Ma'ekelawi Central Prison. Everyone was released later that day except Dereje, who was released on April 5. The newspapers' galleys were not returned.

April
Bekele Dissassa, IMPRISONED

Bekele, a distributor of publications, including the newspaper Urji and a magazine of the same name, in the Welega Province town of Nekemte, was detained. He was released from prison during the first week of June.

April 3
Alemayehu Kifle, Genanaw, IMPRISONED, LEGAL ACTION

Alemayehu, the editor in chief of the newspaper Genanaw, was arrested without charge as he was leaving a court in Nazareth, about 100 kilometers east of Addis Ababa, the capital. Just prior to his arrest, Alemayehu had been released from prison, where he had served time in connection with an article comparing Nazareth prisons to Nazi death camps. Cpl. Kassa Wayessa, director of prisons in Nazareth, ordered Alemayehu's rearrest. The editor was transferred to a prison in Addis Ababa and then released on May 6 on bail of 5, 000 birr (US$800).

April 17
Tamrat Gemeda, Seife Nebelbal, IMPRISONED

Tamrat, acting editor in chief of the independent Amharic weekly newspaper Seife Nebelbal, was detained at the Central Criminal Investigation Office prison. He was released on June 5 on bail of an unspecified amount.

July 9
Mulugeta Lule, Tobia, LEGAL ACTION
Tobia, LEGAL ACTION

Mulugeta, manager of the independent monthly magazine Tobia and a weekly newspaper of the same name, was summoned to the Central Criminal Investigation Department at Ma'ekelawi Prison for questioning. Both he and Tobia were charged with violating Ethiopia's press law by not having a deputy editor in chief on staff. Mulugeta was also informed that he was under investigation in connection with an article published in December 1995, about a doctor who had unsuccessfully performed surgery on Maj. Admassie Zeleke, the former head of parliament. No charge has yet been filed in relation to that article. Mulugeta had to produce a surety bond of 10, 000 birr (US$1, 600) for each accusation. He has now given the authorities a total of 16 surety bonds, at 10, 000 birr each, in connection with all the cases launched against him to date. Mulugeta, who is also vice chairman of the Ethiopian Free Journalists Association (EFJA), was released after four hours and is awaiting notification of a court date for a hearing.

November 22
Taye Belachew, Tobia , IMPRISONED

Taye, editor in chief of the privately owned weekly magazine Tobia and the monthly magazine of the same name, was arrested without charge by plainclothes security police officers at the publication's editorial offices. He is being detained at Ma'ekelawi Central Criminal Investigation Office. Police interrogated Taye about an article titled "A Strategy to Reunite Eritrea With Ethiopia," written by University of California at Davis Professor Tilahun Yilma and published in the November issue of Tobia. On Dec. 9, Taye appeared in Addis Ababa District Court, where Ma'ekelawi police, claiming they had lost their files, requested that Taye be detained for an additional 14 days. The court granted the request.

November 25
Anteneh Merid, Tobia, IMPRISONED

Anteneh, the deputy editor in chief of the weekly magazine Tobia and the monthly magazine of the same name, was arrested without charge and detained at Ma'ekelawi Central Criminal Investigation Office. Police interrogated Anteneh about an article published in the November issue of Tobia titled "A Strategy to Reunite Eritrea With Ethiopia." On Dec. 9, Anteneh appeared in the Addis Ababa District Court. The court granted a police request to detain him for an additional 14 days because they had lost their files. He remains in prison.

December 5
Sintayehu Abate, Remet, IMPRISONED

Sintayehu, editor in chief of the privately owned Amharic weekly magazine Remet, was rearrested on the day he should have been released after completing a one-year sentence. The new arrest came after his magazine published articles and a photograph that the public prosecutor deemed pornographic. Sintayehu remains in Addis Ababa Central Prison.

December 8
Tefera Kitila, Tikuret, IMPRISONED

During the week of Dec. 8, Tefera, editor in chief of the privately owned Ahmaric weekly Tikuret, was arrested and detained without charge. Authorities have not provided any reasons for his detention.

December 11
Aklilu Tadesse, Ma'ebel, IMPRISONED

Aklilu, editor in chief of the Amharic weekly Ma'ebel, was arrested and detained without charge at Ma'ekelawi Central Criminal Investigation Office. Officials gave no reason for the arrest.

December 11
Dawit Kebede, Fyameta, IMPRISONED

Dawit, publisher of the Amharic weekly Fyameta, was arrested and detained in the Woreta Ten police station, in the district of Woreta. Observers believe his arrest is in connection with Fyameta's Dec. 4 story titled "Police College Has Trained a Thief."

December 11
Daniel Dershe, Kitab, IMPRISONED, LEGAL ACTION

The High Court found Daniel, editor in chief of the now-defunct Amharic-language weekly Kitab, guilty of an unspecified charge and immediately remanded him into police custody. Officials have not released information about the length of his sentence.

December 12
Goshu Moges, AKPAC, IMPRISONED

Security officers arrested Goshu, acting manager of AKPAC, which publishes the weekly magazine Tobia and the monthly magazine of the same name, without charge. The arrest was in connection with an article about the November hijacking of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961. Goshu is being held at Ma'ekelawi Central Criminal Investigation Office.

December 12
Wesson Seged Mersha, Kitab, IMPRISONED, LEGAL ACTION

Wesson, publisher of the Amharic weekly Kitab, was sentenced to a six-month prison term and immediately jailed. Officials have not provided any reasons for his incarceration.

December 13
Kassahun Seboqa, Amharic, HARASSED

Kassahun, editor in chief of the independent weekly Amharic, fled to Kenya after being harassed and interrogated by Ethiopian security personnel. The interrogation, ordered by the attorney general, focused on Kassahun's interview with a relative of the late emperor, Haile Selassie. The article covered repressive laws, harassment of opposition leaders, and the eviction of citizens from their houses.

December 18
Tilahun Bekele, Ruhama, IMPRISONED

Tilahun, editor in chief of the privately owned Amharic weekly Ruhama, was arrested and detained without charge. Authorities refused to provide reasons for his detention.

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