Tuesday, May 22

Viewing of Evidence Begins

On Saturday afternoon the political prisoners were not in good spirits. They still had not been given access to the transcripts and documents necessary for defense, or provided the opportunity to review the videotaped evidence as ordered by the court.

They have since been shown 2 of the videotapes, although there doesn't seem time enough to prepare for the upcoming court date.

Why the delay?

Monday, May 14

"Because I said so”: Ethiopia demands UN action against Eritrea

Hostages, terrorists, student protests…and then?
A resounding silence.

After last month’s dramatic exit, things seem eerily calm now. I had expected a flurry of press releases, public statements--even a possible escalation in protest action--but so far there has been only silence (the latter, I suspect, due largely to the armed federal forces now stationed indefinitely on campus).

The kidnappers were neatly proclaimed to be agents of the Eritrean government by the appropriate ministers, and the ONLF terrorists, we were told, were similarly aligned. The end. (This apparently should suffice, no further information or evidence required…..And certainly no mention made of the 100 Ethiopian soldiers that died unreported along with the 74 civilians that day, or the numerous ONLF members that have since been hunted down and killed by Ethiopian forces).

Though the lack of public accountability honestly comes as no surprise, I find it darkly amusing that the EPRDF also tried this same approach with the UN Security Council during Thursday’s Parliament session, demanding immediate action against the Eritrean government for these “recent terrorist acts in Ethiopia”.

Now, I understand all too well that Meles runs the show in this country and withholds, regulates and fabricates public information at will, but it is astounding to me that the EPRDF seems to actually expect actors on the world stage to play by their rules as well—and meekly accept the exaggerated charges intended to justify Meles’ latest craving for war. Amazing!

Tuesday, May 8

Saying Goodbye to Anthony Mitchell

The world has lost a talented and courageous journalist. Ethiopia has lost a friend.

My deepest condolences to his family. His personal integrity and dedication to
this region will not be forgotten.

Saturday, May 5

Plane Crash in Cameroon

AP correspondent and local hero Anthony Mitchell was believed to be on board the Kenya Airways jet that crashed in southern Cameroon early this morning. So far there is no word on survivors.

Our thoughts are with him and his family at this time. We are hoping for good news.

Wednesday, May 2

Trial Update: May 2, 2007

After a two hour delay in the sweltering courtroom (during which the defendants were thankfully allowed to mingle and converse), the judge announced the somewhat unexpectedly lenient rulings.

1. The defendants’ requests to obtain personal property seized by police was rejected.

2. The request for copies of the verdict (currently being transcribed), testimonies of all witnesses for the prosecution, and relevant audio/video evidence was granted. (The prosecution was ordered to prepare and provide the above within 5 days.)

The prison administration was ordered to set up the requisite facilities and show two cassettes per day to the defendants (which would be divided into groups for the viewing).

3. The defendants would be granted half a day to meet and discuss their defense, following the review of all cassettes/videos.

4. Daniel and Netsanet were given permission to access their personal computers and print the required documents under supervision.

It was then ordered that all other requests must be submitted through the office of the judge.

Court was adjourned until June 1, 2007

Ethiopia Tops CPJ’s Dishonor Roll

CPJ has issued a special report just in time for tomorrow’s celebrations. It comes as no surprise that Ethiopia tops the list of countries in which press freedom has most greatly deteriorated over the past year.

What does continue to surprise, however, is the government’s opinion that the credibility of such reports can be tarnished by a simple ‘official’ denial of evidence. I mean, certainly they must know that international press organizations are not subject to the same censorship pressures as our persecuted national reporters...

So, I wonder what brilliant rebuttal they will come up with in their press statement today? Will it be the same boring old report condemnation, or perhaps they will even find a way to hold Eritrea accountable for this one too…? Come on, boys—I think it’s time for a little more creativity, don’t you think? After all, they must be paying you for something…

(Oh, and for the record—I don’t take kindly to being silenced. My days of sporadic blogging have come to an end and I will be back in full force. Bring it on!)
Unless it is just a temporary glitch, it seems that the EPRDF has gone one step further in their attempts to silence all of us here. In response to the OpenNet report detailing their regular practice of blocking websites in this country, Zemedkun immediately denied the allegations in an official statement to the press.

If this isn’t unfathomable enough, it seems that the blogger homepage has now been blocked! This is a new low, in my experience here, and a major inconvenience.

I am generally under the impression that nothing can shock me here anymore, but Meles and co have managed to do it again. Their complete lack of accountability and transparency is nothing less than appalling!


Tomorrow is "World Press Freedom Day." How ironic.