Samstag, 7. März 2009

Ethiopia’s Civil Society and the Current Media Environment

Ahead of next years' federal elections in Ethiopia, democratic voice is being increasingly choked by the autocratic regime of Meles Zenawi. Last December IRIN reported on the new law passed to restrict Ethiopian NGOs from addressing human rights and democracy issues. The news item ran as "ETHIOPIA: Do they know it's (il)legal?" and provided background and analysis of this effort to keep political disourse under tight control of the Government. (see: )

In a more recent article, "Ethiopia’s Civil Society and the Current Media Environment" by Lourdes Margarita Caballero, the issue is kept alive and explored in greater detail. ( full article in MAZI by the Communication for Social Change Consortium: ) The author reports that

"The biggest losers in this situation are the 75 million Ethiopians, including those in political exile and in the Diaspora, whose desire to participate in the public sphere have intensified. Fortunately, alternative modes of participation, for example, blogs, the U.S.-based Ethiopian TV network, discussion forums in social networking sites and YouTube videos showing social problems have mushroomed as powerful testaments of people's desire to be heard and to be part of decision-making."
It comes as no surprise to human rights, media freedom and democracy advocates, that the regime is keen on restricting access to the Internet, and with the help of Chinese technologies and censors, continues to block Ethiopians' access to critical views and non-Government sanctioned information. It will prove to be a futile endeavour as such repression only serves to increase Ethiopians' alienation from an unaccounatble regime and its backers. (Glen Brigaldino)

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