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.’
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’.
READ MORE on: Thebureauinvestigates.com