March 21st, 2014 Print Print Email Email

As the most educated Ethiopian immigrants migrate to North America looking for economical opportunities, it has been suggested, and most will end up being stalwart of customer service jobs such as driving taxis and ultimately shutter an Ethiopian dream of being useful to their home countries. In Ethiopia, like in North America, where the most inspiring, patriotic and educated citizens are located is not in the important institutions of the country being part of the affairs of the country, but like in North America, in the wrong places, inside the brutal and deadly Kaliti prison.

Early this month, a milestone was reached in Kaliti prison, one of Africa’s worst prisons, as one of its celebrated political prisoners, Reeymot Alemu, marked her 1000th day of being a political prisoner. The award winning journalist of the prestigious UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Prize and the Hellman/Hammett Press Freedom Prize, Reeymot is fast becoming the face of Ethiopia and how wrong the country’s progress and priority has been.

The now 35 year old Alemu, was an English teacher and an occasional journalist when she was noticed by the Ethiopian government. She was one of Ethiopia’s eloquent voices in the then rare independent print media –Feteh – and wrote on government shortcomings and policies. In a country that still views constructive criticism as treason; the paper she wrote for was closed down by government officials and most of its journalists fled the country.

Alemu stayed behind and in a bold and daring move, started her own monthly publication – Change – and focused on long investigative reporting.

As she became a noted voice, the Ethiopian government closed her new publication and charged the young journalist with treason under Ethiopia’s 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation. The Anti-Terror Proclamation was, according to Amnesty International, is intended to “restrict freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and the right to fair trial with serious implications”.

She was tried and convicted in secret with no substantive evidence and was sent to prison for 14 years and a monetary fine of $1500 – a hefty fine in Ethiopia. The government wanted to use her as an example to surpass other journalists, much like the respected Eskender Nega, and have them endorse government propaganda’s instead.

Since her arrest, She has been denied due medical care, been confined to darkness and been denied basic necessities of life in anticipation of her sharing information on her former journalist colleagues. She has refused as her suffering has continued.

Ethiopia has continued to arrest and imprison journalists while embracing its reputation of being an oppressor of press freedom and dissent in Ethiopia. Alemu once reflected how she believes that she “must contribute something to bring a better future (to Ethiopia).”Since there are a lot of injustices and oppressions in Ethiopia, I must reveal and oppose them in my articles,” and that her “principles” is “to stand for the truth, whether it is risky or not.”

As Ethiopia refuses to acknowledge the brutal treatment of its better citizens such as Nega and Alemu and many other political prisoners – what is fast becoming is the reality that Ethiopia is still a broken system that rewards bad while punishes good as it transitions to a better country in name only.

  1. slamta
    | #1

    THERE you go, finally a ferenji is telling you that the better Ethiopians are in jail and the rest of them are just dumb and idiots, wow, how low will you guys go to just get yourselves insulted .what a shame

  2. Abegaz
    | #2

    Thank, Sir. Well written article!!

    Ethiopian leaders are senseless greedy animals that hardly finished college education or some are graduates with the lowest GPA. The country is being led by weak brain. The most fertile minds, as you stated it correctly, are either in jail or overseas. The government prints money, build bridges and buildings and call that development. On the other hand this foolish economic policy has brought rampant inflation and related corruption. People are now reducing the amount of food they eat by the day as this foolish act of printing money and building showcase buildings continue to stifle the countries economy.

  3. Freedom 4 all
    | #3

    Mr. Jonas Clinton,
    Thank you for being the voice for the voiceless Ethiopian victims. Please keep on what you are doing and let the world know what is happening in Ethiopia. There are other 75 to 100 thousands innocent Ethiopian prisoners like Reeyot Alemu in Ethiopia that are being abused and tortured as we speak. Additionally, the majority of Ethiopians are struggling to make ends meet and millions Ethiopians are expected to die of starvation, while the members of the ruling party are becoming multimillionaires and billionaires. Please do every thing you can in your power to expose the brutal TPLF regime.
    In behalf of the oppressed Ethiopians, I thank your from the bottom of my heart. God bless you and the people you hold dear to your heart!

  4. Anonymous
  5. aha!
    | #5

    The TPLF/eprdf regime with a promise to democratize Ethiopia to the western democracies since 1993, while having instituted ethnic federalism, secessionism and totalitarianism/State capitalism in its constitution, contradictory to democracy and individual freedom, has Press freedom in its constitution. News papers flourished and were at their peaks in 2005, perhaps with wider circulation along with campaigns by CUD to challenge the TPLF/eprdf regime vigorously to the point of winning, but thwarted. CUD being a loose coalition could not merge as one party with a defined goals with national agenda, I presume, that made them vulnerable to subsequent attacks by the TPLF/eprdf regime albeit the Anti-terrorism Law, a reason for the arrest of political leaders and journalist criticizing the regime and reporting, respectively available in a democratic government with prevailing democracy and press freedom stipulated in the constitution. The question to pose is what does anti-terrorism law has to do with an individual or institutions democratic right, if at all there is a democratic government supper imposed on ethnic rule or ethnic dictatorship.

  6. the observer
    | #6

    so ato seelamta…who elsee is going to tell our story…perhaps you can tell it better than any body else…let’s hears ur side..well wait don’t tell me you are either the son or daughter of a woyane cadre or ….plz refrain from writing nonsense next time. bye..

  7. Getachew
    | #7

    Foreigner agent successfully penetrated the weaker link. I wonder who is paying his bills, could it be EGYPT or ? ? ?

  8. Dawi
    | #8

    Abegaz said:

    [[..Ethiopian leaders are senseless greedy animals ...lowest GPA. The country is being led by weak brain...]]

    Wow!Abegaz! Didn’t you read what Jonas said?

    He said “…most educated Ethiopian immigrants migrate to North America looking for economical opportunities…” nothing else.

    He called you and I “senseless greedy animals”; Didn’t he? I guess you haven’t seen yourself in the mirror lately.

    On the other hand, I will confidently say to you that HD do not fit you demeaning slander of a “weak brain” or his predecessor who had a brilliant mind second to none.

    Isn’t Jonas the same “international development expert” from Canada who worked in Asia and wrote about his “romantic” child hood attachments to the Ethiopian famine of the 1970th and who finally visited that country stayed in the capital city for a moment and returned back home; wrote about his disappointment and distress of the level of poverty and the corruption of the rich with nice villas and their love/taste for Johnny Walker he saw while being their guest of honor visiting them in their houses. This hypocrite never went to visit where the famine victims he fall in love with as a child resided and never stops amusing us.

    That write-up of his was very bad and this one is not any better for an outsider who studied “developmental theory” however, asking for the release of all political prisoners including Reyot Alemu and Eskinder Nega is a reasonable demand for anyone including Jonas Clinton.

    I also like to say the EPRDF officials have a choice to make here. … By doing so, they will show a clear gesture to all Ethiopians, that the democratic reforms start by releasing Eskinder Nega and others.

    Having said that, let us see the facts that CPJ reported and contrast that to EPRDF crimes and see where we stand. Never the less, I think the recent Addis Ababa Universtiy type of discussions on the Media is the right kind of forum to deal with the Media & other abuses in our country. Generally demeaning of officials is counter productive. It won’t do us any good.

    Let us see the following who are some of aha’s favorite “democratic” places:

    Brazil is a standout as a stable democracy where several journalists nonetheless have been killed for their work in recent years. In 2013, three were killed for their­ work—all of them provincial journalists murdered after reporting on local crime and corruption—compared with four in 2012 and another three in 2011. CPJ continues to investigate the motive for another five deaths during those three years.

    Three were killed in a single day, August 14, as they covered raids by Egyptian security forces on demonstrating supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. Since 1992, CPJ has documented the deaths of 10 journalists for their work in Egypt—nine of them since anti-government protests began in 2011.

    Seventy journalists were killed for their work in 2013, down from 74 in 2012, the Committee to Protect Journalists found in its annual analysis. CPJ is investigating the deaths of 25 more journalists in 2013 to establish whether they were work-related.

    Iraq and Egypt displaced Pakistan and Somalia, the second and third most deadly countries for journalists in 2012. Five journalists were killed in Pakistan in 2013, the lowest number since eight died for their work in 2010.

  9. Maleda
    | #9

    Who is this tourist ?

    Now are we taking political orders from tourists, could it this be the new ways of Ethiopian opposition political ignoble agenda ?

  10. Worku tesfaye
    | #10

    Undergraduate,low GPA,dull mind and etc.
    Our world currently advantage innovations innovators were mostly un graduated.
    Education is not knowledge.but it is ze way of how to use ur nature gift knowledge.
    If u considered Zimbabwe p,holder of many master and degree.
    Mandela,Gandhi,…were interuped zier education.
    I hv no info about ur education statu,but ur mind is under narrow tribal issue.
    Learning is not change ze stupid mind.
    Few Educated peoples in north American are suffered from tribal diseases.
    Even ze situation in Ethiopia whezer bad or not,we heard zeregninet from zos educated p.

  11. Kato
    | #11

    “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”
    Carl Sagan

  12. Amnyus
    | #12

    He is absolutely right and Ethiopian government is not tolerating any criticism, that is the worst part of living in Ethiopia because they are so coward to face the truth even if they were criticized they do not know how to handle it. simply they use force rather than face and tackle the issue, Whether it is true or not.

    Most of the stuff they are doing like GERD, I love to see in the final stage and at the same time I hate their cowardice because they could not be able to free Ethiopia instead they act like small desperate dictatorial regime.

    They build all these stuff why they bother to put any body in prison, Ethiopians will support them as long as they see, their country is in great strive to be economically viable country and they build the country in unprecedented scale. Why the TPLF worried?

    These individual who put them in jail cannot achieve anything because the Ethiopian government got all the tools in their disposal, so simply TPLF leadership is good on certain things but they are not trained about human right and other important human needs. And their contract will expire soon, then whether they like it or not they will be history like their leader Meles Z

  13. Amare
    | #13

    Whites pretend to love Africans, but they hate and discrminate against blacks in Europe and North America.

    It makes me laugh when a white person trying to tell us how to go about our business in our own country, because whites do not even give equal opportunities to those blacks who reside in white countries.

  14. Kato
    | #14


  15. Truth!
    | #15

    You, typical woyane, stop barking at the wrong tree! Generalizing is a form of racism. As you do not want all Tigrians to be generalized and seen as racists like your evil tyrant Meles and his TPLF puppets, every white person you meet shouldn’t be taken as racists. You are insulting the millions and millions of white people that work for Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Doctors without borders, Lawyers without borders, Journalists without borders, and thousands of other organizations that work hard to give voice for the voiceless Africans and expose the brutal dictators that torture, slaughter and loot their citizens.

  16. Why do you blame Eth gov;t ?
    | #16

    Eth gov’t does what the Europe and America required it to do.
    If you do not believe this then speak to your bosses Clare Short, Tony Blair, Clinton, Georger Bush, …Merkel….
    Ethionpians do not fool yourself. Woyane rules with the licence or franchise to rule from these countries- UK, Europe and USA.
    If you believe otherwise you are politically naive or stupid.
    So best way is shut up and be refugee.

  17. Truth!
    | #17

    Why do you blame Eth gov;t ?,
    Even though, the US govt., the European Union and the UN look the other way, while the TPLF regime loot the country, evicted Ethiopians and give and sell their land to the highest bidders, lock up, torture and massacre innocent Ethiopians — it doesn’t mean the brutal TPLF regime shouldn’t be blamed and get a passing grade!

  18. Zenebe
    | #18

    I agree with Mr.Amare,

    We Ethiopians do not trust foreigners to mingle in Ethiopias domestic political affairs ? ?

    No other country allows foreigners to involve in their domestic political affairs , why should we ??

  19. Lies & the Lying Liears
    | #19

    Zenebe, Amare and the rest of undercover TPLFs,
    Wow! You people bite the same hand that fed you. Your darling TPLF regime wouldn’t have become the ruling party without the help of foreign leaders. The late tyrant Meles and his cousin tyrant Essyas manipulated foreign leaders that they would bring democracy with freedom of speech, press, religion and treat every Ethiopian with the respect they deserve. Now, after 23 years, it is clear to see that the TPLF regime is indeed a brutal merciless regime that need to be removed from power with the help of foreign leaders and by every means of necessary!!!

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