28 June 2012

Eritrea: Amanuel Ghirmai, Eritrean Refugee Journalist in France - 'I Was Threatened for Refusing to Collaborate With the Government's Censorship.'

After finishing his studies and doing military service, Amanuel Ghirmai began working for the information ministry and was assigned to the country's only radio and TV broadcaster, which is state-owned.

In 2003, his superiors began to censor his work and insist that he follow orders to the letter. He did as he was told for many years but finally refused to submit to their propaganda demands. His superiors reacted badly. "They began sidelining me and I did not want to end up in prison or worse, as some of my friends had."

He fled across the border into Ethiopia. At first he went to a refugee camp, then he shared a makeshift shelter with other Eritreans. "The biggest relief for me was managing to get in touch with Reporters Without Borders, which requested an urgent visa for me on the grounds that I had work plans in France, that I was going to work for Radio Erena in Paris."

Amanuel Ghirmai flew to France in January 2010 and since then has worked as a journalist with Biniam Simon for Radio Erena, the first independent radio station to be broadcast in Eritrea.

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