Zenawi Denies Independent Newspaper Licenses – By Peter Heinlein,VOA

January 2nd, 2008 Print Print Email Email

Ethiopia has denied licenses to three independent newspaper publishers who were jailed for 17 months in connection with media coverage of the country’s 2005 post-election unrest. (more…)

Ethiopia has denied licenses to three independent newspaper publishers who were jailed for 17 months in connection with media coverage of the country’s 2005 post-election unrest.

Listen to Heinlein report audio clip

Listen to Heinlein report audio clip

VOA’s Peter Heinlein has details from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Journalists and newspaper publishers Eskinder Nega, Serkalim Fasil, and Sisay Agena say they were notified by an Ethiopian information ministry official Monday that their applications for permits to practice journalism were denied. No reasons for the rejections were given.

The three were among 15 journalists jailed for their coverage of the anti-government uprisings that left nearly 200 demonstrators dead following the disputed 2005 elections. They were initially charged with outrage against the constitution, which is tantamount to treason, and carries a maximum sentence of death. They were released last April, after the charges were dropped.

Several of those freed later went into exile, but Eskinder Nega and Serkalim Fasil, who are husband and wife, along with Sisay, applied in September for permission to re-open their papers.

Eskinder says he and Serkalim, who gave birth to their son while in prison, are unfazed by the rejection, and plan to fight on.

“We will remain here and fight for freedom of expression to the very last,” he said. “We will not leave. I am sure the Ethiopian government would be happy to see us leave, to see us go into exile like the rest, but that is exactly what we will not do.”

Several current and former Ethiopian Information Ministry officials contacted by VOA Tuesday said they were not in a position to comment on the government’s action.

Journalist Eskinder Nega expressed surprise that he had been notified of the denial. He says in other similar cases, the ministry leaves applications pending indefinitely. He told VOA the denial appears intended as a message to journalists and others preparing for local elections scheduled throughout Ethiopia later this year.

“There are no legal reasons for denying us the license,” he said. “So this is a political decision, so they want the public, and the world to know that we have been denied registration for political reasons. So they are delivering a message. For whom? Our guess is they are delivering a message for the opposition.”

International press watchdog groups have sharply criticized Ethiopia’s media restrictions. The Committee to Protect Journalists last year named Ethiopia ‘the world’s worst backslider on press freedom’, saying it had banned eight newspapers, expelled two foreign reporters and blocked critical websites.

Ethiopian government spokesman Zemedkun Tekle rejected that criticism at the time, saying press freedom is getting stronger. He told a reporter the government must sometimes take newspapers to court because of their threat to constitutional order.

  1. dinka
    | #1

    Zenawi is keeping up stronger with his narrow vision with no remorse becasue he has got Hailu Shawel,Taye…licking him all over.Yasazenal.

  2. BOBO
    | #2


    please stop badmouthing people who are excellent patriots! Who fought Woyane in the 90’s while today’s “yedil atibya arbegnoch” were winning with Zenawi?

  3. | #3

    you guys hailu’s fun go to hell with him. Steal you keep saying like him ( denkorowoch).After this pleas for the sake of ethiopian people leave this nonesense,ignorance and stupid hialu and other people.LET Suport those realy strong & outrageous leader they are in ethiopia right now . One thing I want to say Hailu shawel pleas leave us alone and keep treat ur (BESHETA) nomore KINIJIT leader ( you and your stupid friends call you president) but you were a leader not a president. And for the BOBO’s this is not 90′s THIS is 2008(2000). You think those people” yedil atbia arbegnoch” Let me tell you something THEY ARE HEROS. Let me tell you another thing I was in ethiopia since before the election. I heard all parties debate bu TV youknow what this hailu he didn’t say nothing so and so THINK BEFORE YOU RIGHT OR SPEAK>

  4. | #4

    I forgot you know someobdy he think about ETHIOPIA or ETHIOPIAWINET he has to be listen the people and he has to do everything people ask him to do. But he is ignorant ignor the people. And dont say like him. example when people oppose his idea he say weyane or some like this.Hay you guys out there please we have big enemy he distoye ethiopia LET US BE ONE & FIGHT THIS AGASES & his hodam buchiloch.LONG LIVE ETHIOPIA & ETHIOPIAWINET>

  5. mossese
    | #5

    It serves them good; they were not established to serve the public as free press but to serve the amoeba kinijit.

    They unlashed the only thing they know DERG propaganda and brought confusion and mayhem to the public letting children die on the street of Ethiopia for the second time. Ethiopia dose not need subservient democracy in the name of free press.

    Bravo Ministry of press keep on the good work. First let them prove themselves that they only stand for true free press. CPJ ( what ever the organization may be) should not be deciding body to whom free press shall be awarded or not. If CPJ wants to be the deciding body, first it should teach his children of mayhem some good manner

  6. yikerbelen
    | #6

    HAILU IS A DEAD FISH. HAILU HAS NO MORAL GROUND TO TALK ABOUT DEMOCRACY WITH HIS DECAYED FEUDALIS’S MENTALITY. hIS ADVISOR EYASSU”S TROJAN horse CAN GO TO HELL. Ethiopia had invested it’s money to give a free education, but saddly enough eyassu’s trojan horse has learnt nothing.He has an empty mind with full of jealosity.

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