Opinion: Abiy’s Anti-‘Medemer’ Law Approved

There are sometimes ironies in life. Today that comes from Addis Ababa and Ethiopia. Where Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali was supposed to reform things. However, with time that isn’t sincere and today the nail in coffin of that was with a disingenuous law. Laws like these aren’t to save the nations from certain speech, but to muffle critics and opposition.

The Prosperity Party and the Prime Minister are really showing that there is no difference in them compared to the previous regimes, which it came from. This is happening in the months ahead of elections. So, expect the leadership of opposition and journalists to be arrested because of this law. As there are easy steps to be hit by this sort of law. Because of this, I am first dropping the key news about the law, before a simple explanation of the “Medemer” and after that breaking it quickly down.

The State own report on it:
“Addis Ababa, February 13, 2020 (FBC) –Ethiopian parliament today approved a hate speech and disinformation prevention and suppression law. The law was approved with a majority vote, 23 against and 2 abstentions” (…) “It is also intended to control and suppress the dissemination and proliferation of hate speech, disinformation and other related false and misleading information.
The law prohibits disseminating hate speech by means of broadcasting, print or social media using text, image, audio or video” (Fana Broadcasting Company – ‘House approves hate speech and disinformation prevention law’ 13.02.2020).

What is Medemer:

Since reformist Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed came into office, his concept ‘Medemer’ has become a phrase of common currency within Ethiopia’s political landscape. ‘Medemer’ literally means ‘adding’ or ‘being added’ based on how its read, and contextually means to come together. According to the Prime Minister, ‘Medemer’ is a homegrown approach that aims to solve the country’s challenges by bringing together polar views, and finding compromise” (Ethiopian Press Agency – ‘Inside ‘Medemer’’ 13.01.2020).

This law is clearly aimed at the ones not speaking their language or their rhetoric, as they can charge and make their expression illegal. As they will control the media, the public online and elsewhere. That is why this is totally opposite of the ideals of ‘Medemer’, as that was to bring together polar views and find compromises.

Now, the state is instead made way to stifle the voices, instead of listening they can ban and make voices illegal. Even if there are ethnic hate-speech, if there is tribal sentiment growing. This law will be most likely hit the dissidents and opposition.

This is the opposite of finding compromise and it’s actually silencing them. If this would target Mohammad Jawar’s Oromo Media Network or Eskinder Nega for that matter. I wouldn’t shocked, if they got into trouble for something they wrote or stated online. Neither, if some media forums like Tigrai Online or Aiga Forum for that matter. Don’t be shocked, if these would be banned or seen as illegal by the authorities ahead of the elections. Because, they just need to write or state something online, which is deemed as disinformation, hate-speech and you got it cracking.

This wasn’t a move of reform, but of going back. They might renamed themselves the Prosperity Party, but this is the old-EPRDF oppressive style of move. Peace.