Ethiopia government crackdown following aid investigation:BBC Video

by yeEthiopiaforums

A joint undercover investigation by BBC Newsnight and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism last month uncovered evidence that the Ethiopian government is using billions of dollars of development aid as a tool for political oppression.

The team travelled to the southern region of Ethiopia where they found villages in which whole communities are starving, having allegedly been denied basic food, seed and fertiliser for failing to support Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

Now Newsnight has heard from members of the Ethiopian diaspora that the government is accused of a renewed crack-down on opposition supporters, politicians and journalists.


Angus Stickler reports, then Jeremy Paxman hears from International Secretary Andrew Mitchell.

Evidence has emerged that the Ethiopian government has launched a renewed crackdown on opposition members, less than two months after a joint investigation by the Bureau and Newsnight revealed allegations of torture, repression and the political manipulation of foreign aid.

Our report was strongly denied by representatives of President Meles Zenawi.

But now the Bureau has gathered evidence of further repression and it appears many of those being targeted are the people believed to have cooperated with our investigation.

According to members of the Ethiopian community in the UK many people have been arrested, some have been questioned by security forces while others have fled the country in fear.


Zelalem Tessema, spokesman from Mass Advocacy of Communities, Ethiopia told the Bureau:  ’Yes, sadly there has been a crackdown by the security forces on people who have suspected to have cooperated with the programme. And certainly we’ve got reports that people have been arrested, some people have been questioned by security forces and some people have left the area in fear of what would follow.’

Further evidence
On the night of broadcast Assistant Ambassador to the UK, Abdirashid Dulane, told the Newsnight programme: ‘This is completely a report actually that lacks objectivity and also lacks evenhandedness.

‘The sources that it used are opponents of Ethiopia who have been rejected by the electorate and who have been time and again, have already shown that their allegations are unfounded.’

Related article: Ethiopia aid exposed – Voices of the tortured

The Embassy in London followed up these comments with an official statement, accusing the BBC of being unbalanced, and roundly rejecting the allegations made.

Yet just a few weeks later, at the end of August, a delegation from Amnesty was expelled from Ethiopia. They had been in the country for 12 days before their arrest, during which time Amnesty says they were under ‘constant surveillance’.


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1 comment

Selam M. September 28, 2011 - 8:43 pm

What the Ethiopian government is doing is ridiculous. I don’t understand when it is going to stop doing all this. When international agencies discover the truth as to how foreign aid is being misused, the government goes around arresting people. Right after BBC uncovered the political manipulation of foreign aid, opposition members, their supporters and journalists are being arrested. While the government is doing this, a huge number of citizens are dying of hunger. There has been systemic abuse of food aid. The government rewards people that support it, but punishes the rest by refusing them the food aid that they so desperately need. Farmers are being denied seeds and fertilizers based on party affiliations and political ideologies. This is an absolute nonsense that needs to stop. No matter what political ideologies people have, the government is to stop using food aid as a method of oppression.

What the Ethiopian government is doing is beyond human comprehension. This is simply dictatorship at its best. Not one citizen can have his/her voice heard. The government is exercising a clear pattern of arresting and detaining individuals that are critical of it. Where then is the right to freedom of expression? Everyone is terrified, particularly opposition politicians and journalists. Not only is the government punishing its own citizens that are in a dire need of food support, but it is continually traumatizing, abusing those that are against its ways. When journalists, human rights advocates, opposition party leaders speak up, they are arrested for plotting terrorist acts. This is utterly ridiculous.


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