26 April 2014

Ethiopia Detains Several Bloggers, a Journalist

Photo: Zone9/Facebook
A graphic from Zone9's Facebook page.

Authorities in Ethiopia have in the last 24 hours detained several bloggers and a freelance journalist , social media sources have said.

Detainees include a group of young bloggers who created the blog Zone9, a namesake for different numbered zones in Ethiopia's notorious jail Kality, where several other journalists are serving jail sentences.

Seasoned journalist Tesfalem Waldyes is also among the detainees. After Addis Neger, the newspaper Tsefalem was writing for, was shut and its editors exiled, Tesfalem fled to Uganda where he became a freelance journalist writing for a leading Ethiopian local newspaper Fortune. Tesfalem came to Ethiopia two years ago and continued freelancing including for Addis Standard. His article on the woes of the textile industry in Ethiopia will be published in the May edition of Addis Standard.

Zone9 bloggers are young Ethiopians comprising, among others, of lawyers and economists. They are: Befeqadu Hailu, Mahlet Fantahun, Atnaf Berahane, Natnael Feleke, Zelalem Kiberet and Abel Wabela. Two weeks ago Abel Wabela was beaten by a group of unidentified people. According to the blog, Horn Affairs, the police have served court warrants to the employees of "at least two of the detainees: To the managers of the Construction and Business bank in the case of Natnael Feleke and to the vice President of Ambo University in the case of Zelalem Kiberet."

After what the members said was a threat against the blog, Zone9 blog has ceased operating for the last several months and has just re-started blogging last week. Following the news, Ethiopian social media participants have changed their profile pictures to the one seen here as many have continued expressing their angers and frustrations. Addis Standard's attempts to reach authorities were to no avail.

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