By Debirhan.Com May 14, 2014
One of the the recent accusations of the Ethiopian regime is that the recently detained members of the bloggers collective, Zone 9, had connections/taken a training outside Ethiopia such as in Kenya and another European country. One of these organisations mentioned is Article 19.
On its official website, Article 19 claims that it is is a London- based human rights organization with a specific mandate and focus on the defense and promotion of freedom of expression and freedom of information worldwide. The first accusation does explicitly state that they had a connection with a “foreign based human rights organisation.” After detaining the young bloggers in the last weeks of April, the regime began looking for evidences; the cart before the horse as they say.
It changed the accusations not ‘charges’ mind you, once. The contacts or perhaps the training of some of the members of the collective is being used as a means of justifying the detention. Although the Ethiopian regime is trying to make any form of relation or training with Article 19 a sin and an escape goat of detaining the young bloggers, it has now emerged that just four years ago in 2010, senior Ethiopian government officials, prosecutors and judges had taken part in a training workshop on “Media Law and Freedom of Expression” in Kenya that was organised and offered by the same organisation, Article 19. The News still available on Article 19′s Website reads, ARTICLE 19 has delivered a training workshop in Kenya on media law and freedom of expression for 30 lawyers, judges, prosecutors and state officials from Ethiopia and Kenya.
This is especially relevant at a time when increasingly restrictive laws are being passed in Ethiopia to control civil society organisations and there are concerns about the Ethiopian Government’s commitment to freedom of expression in the country. Credible sources have also now divulged to us that one of the trainees then was the the current Minister d’État of Government Communication Bureau and previously a government prosecutor, Shimeles Kemal. Why is it then wrong when others, not affiliated with regime, take a training and right when affiliates of the government are trained?, we can ask!