Robert Slattery is a writer living in Western North Carolina. He enjoys music and all sorts of other things.
Free Speech On Trial
Civil Rights – Human Rights Watch has identified the recent conviction of five people under an anti-terrorism law in Ethiopia as a violation of freedom of speech and due process rights. The five people include three journalists, an opposition leader, and a woman. All are being persecuted for their opposition to the state.
The three journalists, Woubshet Taye Abebe, Reeyot Alemu Gobebo, and Elias Kifle, as well as the opposition leader, Zerihun Gebre-Egziabher Tadesse, and Hirut Kifle Woldeyesus, whose role is currently unclear, have been convicted of “conspiracy to commit terrorist acts.” The sentence can range from 15 years to life imprisonment or death.
All represent resistance to the current Ethiopian government’s state and press control. The majority of the evidence against the journalists is a series of online articles, critical of the regime in power. Recordings of telephone conversations have also been provided as proof of their dissent. According to eyewitness accounts, the facts that have been given show no connection to the support or condonation of terrorist activities.
The sentence is expected to come on January 26. Two months ago, two Swedish journalists who sneaked into the country to investigate accounts of government abuse were similarly charged with supporting terrorism. The oppression continues beyond their case as well, including a total of 26 other people charged or convicted since mid 2011.
Read more at Human Rights Watch.