Foreign Correspondents’ Association of East Africa (FCAEA): FCAEA Statement on journalists arrested and killed in Ethiopia (02.03.2021)

Ethiopia: The authorities arrests translators as the international media gets “access” to Tigray

Since the 4th November 2021 there have been little to no eyes on the conflict in the Tigray Region. The Federal Government have blocked access to both humanitarian organizations and media houses. This week they have allowed humanitarian access to the region, but also 7 international media houses.

So, to keep in line with the black-out the state is continuing that. Even as the international media is trying to set their feet in their region. The Law Enforcement Operation is persisting and the military is still using force on civilians to gain control of the region. They have allies in the Eritrean army and Amhara Para-Military Group called Fano. Therefore, the unknown atrocities, massacres and violations of the Geneva convention is only mere speculation. As there are only small glimpses of the actions made in Tigray.

Just like the state constantly debunks and dismiss the little articles and reports that comes out. As it never them or allies who are doing the war-crimes, but always TPLF. Even if the TPLF was supposed to be practically “dead” at the end of November 2020. We are supposed to forget that fact as the conflict is on its 4th Month.

We know the Prosperity Party and the regime wants to keep things at bay and only have their propaganda to the world. As the ones that could help the foreign reports to get stories and fix things for them was arrested yesterday.

These are:

Fitsum Berhane (working for AFP) and Alula Akalu (working for Financial Times) professional translators arrested in Mekell. 

Tamirat Yemane (contributor to Aiga Forum), local journalist arrested in Mekelle.

These three was picked up by soldiers, beaten and taken to a unknown location.

Two friends of Akalu was arrested as well: Biniam Abraha and Yohannes Haftom. All of them has beaten and arrested by the soldiers. Also, taken to unknown location and without warrants.

We don’t know what charges the state has for all of these gentlemen, but we know the reason why they were arrested. As the state is “preparing” for the “access” so that they can ensure favourable reporting and only the one the state wants out from the warfare.

If they really believed in free press and have “access”. These folks wouldn’t be arrested for no other reason. That they are connected to media and could help the foreigners to get a deep cover, insights and understanding of everything that’s happening. Instead of eating of the hands of the government and peddling their narrative. Which is easier to do, when they are in the hands of the authorities and not getting outsider help.

This is deliberate and done with purpose. They allow them in and doing so as long as they print what the government likes. Only to ensure that the foreign journalists doesn’t get proper stories or ability to translate interviews. They are doing this with purpose and done to silence the media still.

It’s like you allow someone to enter, but they will not get whole context or situation, because no one locally will be able to tell or translate for them. They only have to go by the words of public officials and state agents, which in the end has an agenda and interests to serve. Not civilians who just got an eye-witness account, which will differ with the interests of the state. The state which happens to have soldiers on the ground and using force to take total control. Peace.