An organisation devoted to journalists’ rights, Committee to Protect Journalists, has called for the release of a female Ethiopian journalist, Reeyot Alemu, who was jailed in 2012 for criticising her government.
The CPJ said the journalist is now bleeding from her breast, a development it said may be as a result of fibroids.
In an email sent by the West Africa Consultant, CPJ, Peter Nkanga, to SUNDAY PUNCH on Saturday, the organisation said Alemu had remained incarcerated, without access to her family.
The journalist is serving a 14-year prison term on vague terrorism charges, which was reduced in August 2012 to five years on appeal.
The CPJ stated that four Ethiopian journalists, Woubshet Taye, Eskinder Nega, Yusuf Getachew, Solomon Kebede and Alemu had been convicted for terrorism offences.
It stated that Ethiopia had refused to comply with a ruling by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in the case of Eskinder, and another decision by the U.N. special rapporteur on torture in the case of Alemu.
It further said the decision by authorities at the Kality Prison to impose visitor restrictions on imprisoned Alemu constituted harassment and runs contrary to the Ethiopian constitution.
The organisation called on people to register their displeasure over Reeyot’s arrest by visiting http://www.thunderclap.it/projects/8039-a-birthday-wish-for-reeyot.
Reeyot, a critical columnist of the banned private weekly Feteh, was said to have begun a hunger strike in 2013 to protest the visitor restriction.
In retaliation for the hunger strike, authorities had forbidden her from having any visitors, excluding her parents and priest.
Two days later, prison officials were said have allowed her to receive any visitors, except for her younger sister and her fiancé, Sileshi Hagos, who is also a journalist.
Sileshi was allegedly detained for four hours at the prison when he once attempted to visit Alemu.
She was said to have stopped the hunger strike four days after and decided not to receive any visitors until the restrictions on her fiancé and sister were lifted.
The organisation said the denial of Alemu’s rights ran counter to the Ethiopian Constitution, which states that, “All persons shall have the opportunity to communicate with, and to be visited by, their spouses or partners, relatives and friends, religious counsellors, lawyers and medical practitioners.”