Ethiopia admits jamming VOA radio broadcasts in Amharic – BBC

March 20th, 2010 Print Print Email Email

Ethiopia has admitted it is jamming the Voice of America’s (VOA) broadcasts in Amharic, accusing the radio station of engaging in “destabilising propaganda”. (more…)

Ethiopia has admitted it is jamming the Voice of America’s (VOA) broadcasts in Amharic, accusing the radio station of engaging in “destabilising propaganda”.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said Ethiopia had been testing jamming equipment, although there had been no formal decision to bloc the US station.

The Amharic Service has experienced interference since late February.

Mr Meles also compared the VOA’s transmissions to broadcasts in Rwanda in the mid-1990s that incited genocide.

‘Unfortunate’ comments

“We have for some time now been trying to beef up our capacity to deal with this, including… jamming,” Mr Meles said on Thursday.

In a statement, VOA director Danforth Austin said that any comparison of VOA programming to Rwandan broadcasts inciting genocide in the 1990s was “incorrect and unfortunate”.

“The VOA deplores jamming as a form of media censorship wherever it may occur,” he said, adding that the station’s Amharic Service was required by law to provide accurate and objective information.

The VOA and other foreign media organisations say broadcasts in Amharic – the country’s most widely spoken language – have been jammed around elections in the past.

The next polls in Ethiopia are in May and human rights groups say there has been a crackdown on the press.

The last elections saw opposition accusations of widespread rigging.

Thousands of opposition supporters were arrested after protests and some western countries reduced aid to Ethiopia.

Mr Meles also rejected calls to free opposition leader Birtukan Medeksa from jail.

She was sentenced to life in prison in 2005 after the election protests, pardoned in 2007 and then re-imprisoned in 2008.

The prime minister said she would remain in prison “permanently” and that diplomats and journalists could not visit her – the same rules as for other prisoners in Ethiopia.

Separately, Mr Meles again denied claims in a recent BBC report that he had ordered the diversion of food aid money to buy arms to fight the government in the 1980s.

“We did not need to [do it]. We were not short of ammunition or arms. That was never our problem. Our main problem was that we were operating in an environmentally very fragile area unable to feed itself,” he said.

  1. visitor
    | #1

    it is 20 years and still we are counting since the rebel group led by melesse zenawi and his group
    took over power in ethiopia.the ethiopian people voted out melesse zenawi and his group from office in 2005 in wich closer to 200 peace ful protesters massacered by mellese zenawi security police in addis ababa and more than 40.000 ethiopians were arested and still suffering under the brbrutal regime of melesse zenawi.despite voted out from office in 2005 election in ethiopia the tigrai liberation front leader melesse zenawi stole the election and still running the de’facto regime in ethiopia.melesse zenawi said time and time again he is leaving and never did and he promised again to leave in 2010 may election we are eager to witness again what is going to happen in may 2010 election we hope the ethiopian people will elect their leaders with out any interfirance from the regime.victory to the ethiopian people god bless ethiopia and its people!!!!!!!!!!

  2. atuba dolla
    | #2

    Of course,Ethiopians will definitely vote for the candidates they trust their country with.Zinawi and his crimefamily has been crushed to defeat in 2005;Zinawi,out of anger and disklike,he sent out his cruil troupes and murdered a lot of Ethiopians.Ethiopians have said again and again that they will never vote for a man and his outlaw eletes whatsoever.

  3. አባቡ
    | #3

    The dictator is becoming more ‘courageous’ now! He admits jamming VOA?! We have a saying “ጌታዋን የተማመነች በግ ላቷን ደጅ ታሳድራለች”. መለስ የተማመነበት ጌታ ማን ይሆን?

    ታሪክ ራሱን መድገሙ አያስገርማችሁም? ደርግ ሬዲዮዎችን ሁሉ ለማፈን ሲጣጣር ኖሮ በመጨረሻ እንደምናውቀው ሆነ:: የመለስም መጨረሻ ያው ለመሆኑ ቅንጣት ጥርጥር አይግባን::

  4. Drogba
    | #4

    I hope it is for good.

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