ESAT: A Dilemma of Independent Media in Free Society By Ewnetu Sime

December 29th, 2013 Print Print Email Email

I have been watching on 12/11/13 the brutal dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam, who repressed Ethiopians for nearly two decades and became a symbol of notorious human rights abuse, making comments about Nelson Mandela’s legacy on Ethiopia Satellite Television (ESAT). The SBS radio also conducted similar interview with Mengistu. As it is well known, under Mengistu’s Red Terror killings campaign, disappearances and kilings, beatings, mutilations, drowning, electrocutions etc. were a daily horror. In short period, the death toll was estimated as high as 500, 000 people. It is the worst act of state-sponsored terrorism in history of Ethiopia.

With full knowledge of the above facts, ESAT and other media outlets should have known interviewing and displaying his image on TV screen of this condemned man is disrespectful for his victims. A free press is all good but free for whom? It should be done based on genuine journalism principle, trust, moral responsibility and passion for general public’s concern. In light of this, I am expressing my dissatisfaction to ESAT’s producers and SBS radio owner. They failed in self-regulating of the free press media principle. ESAT expected to be credible, newsworthy and to be a voice to the Ethiopian people who had none on past or the present. We cannot forget that his victims were innocent peasants, ordinary workers, opposition groups, students etc. It is bad enough he was not brought to justice for his crimes to this date. It is worse when ESAT invited him in the name of free press. Allowing a tyrant a comfort zone on free media to spin his bad history into “good news” is very troubling. This could not be taken as educating the public or new information. There is no important lesson learned from his interview. It is just reminder of painful era for many of us.

As the current regime forces advanced to Addis Ababa, Mengistu fled the country and he now lives in luxurious place in Zimbabwe. From his luxurious location he wrote a book with full of lies and deceptions. In his book, he never regrets or takes responsibility for damage he has done as a result of his dictatorial rule. Fair-minded people are always demanding seeking his extradition to international court to stand trial on charges of Red Terror campaign and human rights violations.

I considered ESAT is public owned entity. It is well known fact that ESAT’s artist and human rights activist Tamagne Beyene and others travelling in various parts of the world in fund raising campaign and raised significant amount of money from the Ethiopian Diaspora. The response to support ESAT has been successful. The irony is most of the Diaspora whom ESAT requesting support is wounded generation by Mengistu’s regime. Our neighbors, relatives were killed in the streets of the Addis Ababa and other cities by Mengistu’s thugs. I urged ESAT and SBS radio always to put the interests/feeling of the public.

  1. Tassew Belay
    | #1

    100% I agree with this writer.My thinking is is this interviewer may be very young at that time.

  2. aha!
    | #2

    ESAT is public media to entertain ideas by way of interviews from dignitaries of the Derg regime, the tplf/eprdf regime, OPDF/Medrek/EFDF/fdre, a mirror image of TPLF/eprdf regime, KAEUP, EPRP, Ginbot- 7/AFD2 and others with Ethnic nationalism and secessionist agenda to reflect their view points as being with the disintegrative forces of TPLF/eprdf regime, or with those for the national agenda for unity, territorial integrity, sovereignty of Ethiopia and Ethiopians.

    The struggle in Ethiopia in the last 23 years is between Ethiopian Nationalism and Ethnic Federalism on the one hand and Ethiopian Naitionalism and Ethnic Nationalism on the other hand, which are engaged with the TPLF/eprdf regime, which granted the right to secede up to self determination in the Article 39 (1), contrary to those with the national agenda stipulated above to engage the silent majority of Ethiopians in a non violent uprising for individual freedom, liberty and equality to have precedence over ethnic and secessionist rights to form a truly democratic government with the individual freedom as the center piece of the constitution with an independent branches of Government of Ethiopia. What the TPLF/eprdf regime have in common are human right violations, while the Derg regime does not lack the attribute for adhering to the national agenda, than ethnic agenda and creating a crony capitalism by TPLF/political, TPLF/EFFORT, TPLF affiliated enterprises, cadres and foreign corporations, particularly foreign corporations in terms of large scale farming and the absence of private ownership of land to the silent majority Ethiopians.

    Let me sum up by saying, let free float ideas from the dignitaries involved in the past and present administrations rather than demand restriction of free flow of ideas in order for the audience to make up their mind to one side or the other. Having made those distinctive ideological differences between the negative forces of disintegration, directly and indirectly, what call for is for those in the opposition with ethnic agenda to coalesce with those with national agenda to save first and fore most from disintegration into ethnic enclaves and latter into ethnic independent states with subsequent boundary disputes among the major ethnic groups, let alone the prevalence of ethnic cleansing in these ethnic regions.

  3. ewnwtu
    | #3

    The writer says, “I considered ESAT is public owned entity”.This is wrong. ESAT belongs mainly to Ginbot 7 and it is therfore a political party media outlet.
    Yes Tamagn and others do raise fund from the public. but again, there is no denaying that ESAT is run by high officuials of G7.
    This is truth the relaity we need to accept.

  4. Sam
    | #4

    Ewentu is mad at ESAT for inviting Mengistu for an interview. He should not be. For I and Ewentu Mengistu is a mass murderer. For some he is a hero. But that does not matter. Even if every Ethiopian living and dead despise Mengistu ESAT should not consider that fact whether to invite Mengistu or not. There is this dangerous belief in Ethiopian diaspora community: those who do not share our beliefs should be shut up for millennium. That is dangerous. It is not surprising if a dictator believes he only he was born with truth, but when those who cry loud about EPDRF shutting up Ethiopians by monopolizing the media be the censors it is frightening.

  5. Dawi
    | #5

    Mengistu’s stand on African Liberation movements is respected in Africa. Meles who overthrew him told African leaders that “Mengistu the butcher supported the African Liberation Movements”.

    As Mandela was the beneficiary of the “butcher’s” gesture at the time, the “free press” asking for his views of the time was timely to get some insights.

    I didn’t know the “butcher” wrote Mandela a $100,000 dollar check. Did you?.

    Having said that, I find it tricky and some times confusing of what some of us call “good” and others “evil”.

    If you feed a starving person say like mother Teresa is that “good”?

    Say, if the starving person lives to have several children and similar things happen to more people again because the conditions didn’t change. Didn’t you make things worse??? Is that “good” or “evil”?

    Is the Draconian measures by China of population control and economic development “good” or “evil”? If they don’t control population and grow the economy quickly millions would die. Won’t that be “evil”?

  6. Tagadalit Adahanoum
    | #6

    The writer sounds like a dye in the wool apologiest for TPLF. Ethiopia and Ethiopians were better off under Mengestou with the sovereignty of the country and the dignity of the people intact: all are now third-class citizens but Tigryan thugs, who are embezzling the country’s resources day and night. Ethiopia, as a nation is completely hopeless until the Woyannies, who have blood affliations with imperialiests go back to their country of orgin.Therefore, I perfer to hear Mengestou and less likely Issyias Afeworki than Sebehat/Azeb nor the puppet Hailemariam desalgne.

  7. Dawi
    | #7

    Tagadalit Adahanoum,

    Mengestu’s nationalism? What nationalism? He helped the “narrow nationalists” win the war. So it was more of an emotional thing for you and less on substance.

    How about Menelik then? His expansion must have been a “holy war” then? :-)

    There is no “holy war”; War kills people but, what was the better evil is the question?

    I consider Menelik saving as much of Africa as he can from the “scramble for Africa” by Europeans makes him a great hero of Africa for the era he existed. Some morons think Menelik should have declared a war on “Poverty” or something like that while the Colonialists were scrambling African land left and right?

    They must be out of their mind!!

  8. Have Mercy!
    | #8

    Your master, the late butcher dictator Meles was worse than the other butcher dictator Mengestu. At least, the bloodsucker Mengestu, didn’t rob the country and stashed the money in foreign banks around the world, live Ethiopia landlocked, give our land to Sudan and sell the rest of Ethiopia’s virgin land to foreign billionaires by chasing out and massacring over 4oo hundred Gambelans.

  9. Have Mercy!
    | #9

    Dawi, watch the video and learn the truth.
    Here is a true patriotic Ethiopian from Tigrea province telling the TRUTH about the mass murderer Dictator Meles and his banda family:

  10. Tagadlit Adahanoum
    | #10

    Please stop your dogma! Seldom do I replay to my nemesis TPLF. You have no underpinning to your “logic”, you are swinging your hands in the dark. plus, seriously you can not read without assistance my comment.You should find your true calling like your ill-ilk in Mekelle University as rudimentary rehetric instractor.

  11. Taye Negatu
    | #11

    Dear Ato Ewnetu Sima,
    I fully agree with your wondeful and correct statement. This man (MENGSTU) deserves only a prosecution.


  12. Dawi
    | #12

    Have Mercy,

    I do “HAVE A ROOM TO TALK” because I concentrate on present/past leaders strength not their weaknesses.

    On the other hand, your kinds ignore the strength of the immediate present and spend valuable time dwelling to fully or partially praise/denounce our past.

    There is a middle ground to all that if we leave it to historians however, present/past leaders strength do not divide us and may even take us to a better tomorrow.

  13. Have Mercy!
    | #13

    Obviously, your judgment is off. You blame everybody and everything under the sun and you try to come up with one excuse after anther for your dead brutal mass murderer dictator and your darling TPLF. Give up! You’ve lost your credibility long time ago! You’re just a mouth piece of TPLF, period!

    I suggest you watch this video repeatedly:

  14. Dawi
    | #14

    Have Mercy – It is your judgment that completely off my friend.

    I saw the video when you first sighted it. I was disappointed. It is a patch job where Meles’s former comrades talk about his “lack of bravery” on the battle field with other Ethiopians etc.

    Anyway, fighting battles and bravery is not Ethiopia’s weakness. If that was Meles’s weakness so be it. And so what if he didn’t kill another poor Ethiopian derg soldier? That was what those “brave” comrades of his are boosting about. Right? – good for them. :) but, I am not impressed.

    Our anti colonial struggle is a different story; it attests to “bravery” for a fact and “we would not have been what we are today” without those brave forefathers of ours.

  15. Have Mercy!
    | #15

    Typical paid agent! You are indeed a shameless, guiltless mouth piece of TPLF like Adolf Hitler supporters!
    Read more:

  16. Have Mercy!
    | #16

    Please read more of the same never ending crimes of TPLF:

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