December 27, 2011

The unjust prison sentence of Swedish Journalists, Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson is an evidence of the nature of Addis Ababa regime as a terror regime, which do not respect Human Rights, and freedom of press. By sentencing these innocent two journalists the Ethiopian regime headed by Meles Zenawi has blatantly violated article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,  which states that  ”Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers”. Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson are prisoners of conscience and must be supported by the international community. Journalists all over the world cross frontiers in order to report all sides of a story. The journalists went there without the permission of Addis Ababa due to the illegal blockade of Ogaden.

This sentencing is intended to divert attention from the blunder committed against the reporters by shooting them and then keeping them in illegal detention for more than six months. Furthermore, It is meant to dissuade journalists to ever try visiting the Ogaden, without stage-managed visited by the regime. This ruling has finally closed the door of any hope of freedom of press and expression in Ethiopia. It is indicative of the totalitarian nature of the Meles regime and its abhorrence of the right to freedom of expression and freedom of press. It further shows to what extent the regime is willing to go in order to hide the crimes it has committed against the Ogaden civilian population. If the regime deals with neutral journalist in this way, the world can understand now the conditions that people in Ogaden and Ethiopia are subjected to, and the nature of the legal system in Ethiopia. The autocratic ruler of Ethiopia already prejudged the journalists, by stating in Norway that the journalists were at ‘at best the messenger boys of terrorists’. That is the cue the judged based his ruling, since in such systems the leader’s word is sacrosanct.

The Ethiopian regime, as a totalitarian regime denies the local and international media to visit Ogaden unless they are stage-managed. Contrary to what has happened in Ogaden, journalists often enter conflict zones without visas, and the worst these governments do is to expel them. Most authoritarian governments are reluctant to give access to international reporters, especially in conflict zones unless they are stage-managing it. Ethiopia is the first government to persecute reporters who have done nothing but to search the truth. The autocratic ruler of Ethiopia already condemned the journalist by stating that at best they were the messenger boys of terrorists, while in Norway and the judge simply followed that order. Hence this act would establish a dangerous precedent all over the world regarding freedom of press unless the international community stand up to this challenge and make those governments that engage in such practices pay dearly for trying to  gag the of press.

Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) condemns the Ethiopian Regime for violating the Human Rights of the Swedish Journalist and Appeals to all Journalists in the World to stand up for Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson and:

1. Expose the human rights violations the regime is committing in Ogaden and its undemocratic and authoritarian nature

2. Boycott the regime’s propaganda and news outlets

3. Carry on the work started by Schibbye and Persson in Ogaden and show the Ethiopian regime that no one can stop the international community to report genocide and Human rights abuses

4. Expose those governments that support and protect the pariah government of Meles Zenawi despite its Human Right violations record


Ogaden National Liberation Front

Press contact +447940624477


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