VOA and its problems. By Yilma Bekele

July 22nd, 2011 Print Print Email Email

There is an Amharic saying that comes to mind when you think of the current revealations regarding VOA and its delaings with Ethiopia and Ethiopians. Thanks to Ato Abebe Gellaw’s investigative work we are able to see the inside workings of the independent News Organization. Its crediibility is under a magnifying glass and it does not look good. What good is the news if it is filtered? Here is an excript from VOA’s Charter and Journalistic code:

The Voice of America pursues its mission today in a world conflict-ridden and unstable in the post-Cold War era. Broadcasting accurate, balanced and complete information to the people of the world, and particularly to those who are denied access to accurate news, serves the national interest and is a powerful source of inspiration and hope for all those who believe in freedom and democracy.

The question becomes is VOA abiding by its code? The fact of the matter is abiding by the code is the only currency VOA got. Its credibility should never be brought into question. The report shows biased attitude and impartiality. That is not acceptable from an Organization set up by the taxpayer to tell the truth, inspire and give hope.

The Ethiopian People inside and the Diaspora all over the world is not asking for special favors. We abhor censorship. We do not exclude anyone. We welcome the inclusion of Ethiopian Government Officials being interviewed by your able reporters. We look forward to see the Prime Minster sitting with VOA and Independent Ethiopian Journalists for an in depth interview.

We are dismayed by the actions of the African Division Director. The Ethiopian people are denied access to accurate and independent news. Ethiopian Independent news outlets have been systematically destroyed. VOA itself was the recipient of the Ethiopian dictatorial regime’s wrath when its reporters were accused of genocide after the 2005 stolen ballot. What does the Director not get here? Has the VOA appealed to other agencies to thwart the jamming devices of the rogue regime? Why is VOA open to such outrageous demands by a regime seen as the enemy of free and independent media?

President Obama when nominating a candidate to be Supreme Court Justice said “I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.” That kind of mind set up is what we expect of VOA directors. That reflects the best of America. Dancing with the current abuser is not a winning strategy.

It is not a good feeling to think VOA can be pushed around at the whims of the Directors or the demands of a Warlord. There is nothing sacred anymore? As we have questioned their level of integrity I hope they take measures to reflect upon their inner workings and its adherence to their code.

There was a time when VOA, DW were the only independent voices informing the Ethiopian people. We are always grateful of that. But as things go we have figured that it is always good to have your own too. Who else can speak better about you than yourself? Thus we created ESAT. We know we can compete with the best of them for the ears of the Ethiopian people. Of course we do not have a rich uncle that can give us billions of dollars and satellites galore and digital sound at our disposal. Sorry ESAT. I see the directors salivating with the prospect of High Altitude satellite broadcasting in Dolby digital sound. No more ESAT meta ESAT hede.

We are getting there. Now this business of VOA directors not allowing the professionals to do their job is as I said not acceptable. We have different avenues of showing our outrage and demand equal treatment in different ways that I know of:
• Go to the July 25 rally in DC.
• Send an email to VOA director gdillard@bb.gov
• Donate to ESAT and help build our own alternative media. http://www.ethsat.com/

It is a free country. If VOA does not change its ways of dancing with criminals we will start organizing to meet representative of Congress that hold the purse strings of VOA. That is our right. I don’t think we will go there. You know why? My pessimism is rooted in an old Amharic saying.
ጨው ለራስህ ስትል ጣፍጥ ያለዚያ ድንጋይ ነው ብለው ይጥሉሃል

If VOA goes the way of Radio Ethiopia it is not difficult to predict its future. I doubt it has al queda type death wish, do you?


  1. Sheger
    | #1

    Dear Yilma, don’t for get that America is still the land of Imigrants. It can be any body at this point. But you are wright
    We have to fight this people though we don’t want to put them in danger either.

  2. The Eritrean one!
    | #2

    Mr. Yilma, what every Ethiopian or Ethiopian friend should say and do is: Meles and his boss Bereket Simon must be brought to the courts of law in Ethiopia-by-Ethiopians as they are the architects of all destructions in Ethiopia and the whole horn of Africa. The 200 tanks that are bought to protect the two of them (100 tanks to protect Meles and other 100 tanks to protect Bereket) should never stop the Ethiopian people from these thugs and modern slaves of the horn of Africa!!

  3. Abel
    | #3

    So much for freedom of speech in America.

  4. DRAMA
    | #4

    VOA IS A JOKE!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Sam
    | #5

    Yilma wrote “if VOA does not change its way of dancing with criminals we will start organizing to meet representatives of Congress that hold the purse strings of VOA.” The underlying message is the director of VOA should be scared of what we are going to do. Well, I do not see him being scared. True, Congress alocates the money. But it is hard to imagine the diaspora prevails over the director of VOA on the upcoming fight. The diaspora community might have political preferences in Ethiopian politics, but the director of VOA does not. He is the neutral regarding Ethiopian politics. To go to Congress and say the VOA director is “dancing with criminals” might make sense to the diaspora audience, but not to Congress. One of the problem with the diaspora is its inability to see deeeper how the American politics works. Congress has to address a fraction of issues out of several thousands every two years of its working time. When the two years elapse those issues which were not addressed will quitely die down. True, those issues could be forwarded to the next congress if the people who tabled them insisted and bring them up again, but they would be new and treated as new. Imagine Congress being spending time to adress the Ethiopian diaspora issue while they had million of issues the people who elected them wanted them to address here at home. The chances that it comes out of Subcommitee meeting is slim to none. Why then Yilma brags about dragging the VOA director to Congress to face the Congress’s scolding? It works in giving false hope to the larger diaspora community who has no any clue how Congress is functioning. Remember this is not the first time we keep hearing about Congress being expected to work on behalf of the diaspora’s interest. Well, not exactly. The diaspora’s interest is 100 percent of the interest of Ethiopia. I should have known this considering I have lived for long in North America.

  6. Tadias
    | #6

    My trip to ETHIOPIA

    By Misraq » Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:10 am

    My reason for a the trip was for my cousin wedding. but, i took the opportunity to assess on my future aim of relocating back home by conversing with fellow relatives who are there and successful in business. as you all know, i am Tigrayan but happen to live in the west for a while. my political support for meles priviously based on kinship than quality of leadership. my trip to Ethiopia had changed my perspective completely and i will reaterate it below the best i could.

    First of all, i would like to apologize to minilik. I used to call him Budaw. I hope Minilik won’t take my past biased attitude towards him. But now i have learnt a big deal thanks to my trip that showed me the true picture on why Many Ethiopians have reservation on the current administration and the party it holds. My trip thought me to tolerate those who oppose Meles and his leadership. I was sickened to realize that what i was told about how marvelous Meles is including the brothers who are ruling the nation are not really what i assumed and expected. I have realized that Meles + the Sheik + greedy Tigrayans are pushing the nation to the edge of eminent danger. I have seen millions of destitute people. The double digit the regime talks about is now where to be seen. unemployment is very high. prostitution also become rampant. There is a total news blackout about the starvation. most people in major towns haven’t heard it. There is no effort to contain the famine from the government side.

    I was also surprised that my father offered to connect me with top TPLF leadership members who are the sole kings of that land incase i chose to relocate back home and think about doing business. Most of my extended cousines are millionairs already. I do not know how they get it but surely, they are wealthy since i was invited to those family members through out my stay over there. But people who i grew up walk with two( Oromo and One Amhara) a near useless shoe and torn t-shirts. they struggle to put the food on the table for their families. I was sickened to realize that the weyanne revolution didn’t bring social and economic justice. rather, it brought inequalities since i myself was offered many business if i can afford it. …. for the first time, i was ashamed to call myself as a tigrayan. .

    …. Napoleon once said about China like this..”When China wakes up, the whole world will be shaken.” He was true when he predicted that china will sit on the front seat of world powers some day. it was an excellent and accurate prediction of the sleeping gaint CHINA. I raised this to warn members of the current ruling system that the rest of Ethiopia sleeping as it may seem to be now, will wake up. Just like the Chinease found it very hard to reconcile with Japanease till this day, the ruling class in ethiopia is making it irreconcilable for any future relationship between Tigray and the rest of Ethiopia. I went down on the streets of addis in cafes and chatted with any one about politics. most wouldn’t open the first time, but a few minutes and hours after they get to know you, they tell their non-stop grievances.. The system effectively sidelined the majority endangering their livelyhood and survival. One individual told me that his sister left to Metemma, Gondar in transit to Juba (South Sudan) in search of maid job. He told me that they have few aging family who need to eat 3 times a day and need urgent medical care. The girl sacrificed herself by paying 15,000 ethiopian birr just to get to Metemma and then to the Sudan. It shows how the girl sacrificed her womanhood to save the life of her immidiate aging family and her diabetic brother whom i was talking to.

    The man also explained to me that i should go to the immigration office next to Tikur Anbessa hospital to witness myself on the amount of female citezens trying to make similar risky journeys. i went to the place the other day just to witness myself and i have seen lines of more than 1000 girls waiting for the door to open so that they can get the necessary document to leave the country. almost all of the girls have covered their face similar to the muslim tradition but a good majority of them are not muslims. women with the name of Lidya change their name to something like kedija etc. It was shamefull for me to see fellow country women whom i went to school at early child hood forced to leave their respected way of life and opt to this dangerous way of life. I didn’t blame them. similar to the girl who left to metemma to rescue her family, all this thousands lining in the immigration office have their own very reason to risk themselves. it was visible for me to see that the leadership i used to admire here is nowhere near to understand, manage and safegaurd a nation as large as Ethiopia. In short, the group that is leading the nation is not capable of leading and managing one small Awraga. One thing the Meles leadership good at it is invoking nationalism amongst unsuspecting and often ridiculously stuupid people. I was in that category once. but thanks to my own eyes, i have made a good use of my judgment to decide and share my experience with you.

    One of the most disturbing thing that i saw is on my travel outside Addis Ababa on route through small towns and villages. most people still walk barefooted. women carrying woods on their back walking miles after miles on scorching sun is visible. It was this people the Meles regime call Neftegna/Timkehtegna or oromo Ashebari/Terrorists. The ETV has virtually no audiences except the entertainment part. it is full of propoganda about small industries while it was visible that there is no employment opportunities at all. the harsh living condition also encouraged greedy merchants to punish the population in a very cruel way. For instance it is common that “Berbere” merchents to sell it mixing with clay or red soil. It is also the same for Butter sellers sell it mixing it with other substances like banana in which you would have no way of knowing it. it is very hard to scribe the social catestroph that is happening right now. the contempt within the population will explode one day and the display will be very ugly. The current ignorant leadership has no way of telling the future like Napoleon and it would be too late by then. ……………………to be continued

  7. Hamid
    | #7

    tadias and ur trip
    first u are not tigrian, if u were u will see that if there is any wrongding by EPRDF, IT IS FROM ALL ETHNIC GROUPS.

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