The Netizen report of Global Voices Advocacy, which provides a snapshot of global challenges, victories and emerging trends in digital rights, this week turned its focus to arrest and political repression of journalists in Ethiopia.
On 25th and 26th of April, Addis Ababa police arrested six members of blogging group called the “Zone9” and three journalists for criticizing the government. The arrests were made two days after Zone9, which is known for its critiques of political repression and restrictive government policies, declared that they
would intensify their activism after laying low for some time because of government intimidation.
Various members of the blogging collective have worked with Global Voices Advocacy as authors as well as and translators. In 2012, Zone9 teamed up with Global Voices to offer Global Voices in Amharic.
Explaining the origin of Zone9 in an article about arrested journalists, blogging collective member Endalk, wrote, “In the suburbs of Addis Ababa, there is a large prison called Kality where many political prisoners are currently being held, among them journalists Eskinder Nega and Reeyot Alemu. Kality is divided into eight different zones . we decided to create a blog for the proverbial prison in which all Ethiopians live: this is Zone Nine.”
While the government claims that the journalists have been arrested for their links with foreign organizations finance them to incite public violence and unrest through social media; many human rights groups have severely criticized the arrests, saying it showed the government’s disregard for free speech.
Policies hurting the notion of free speech on the Web are being opposed in many other countries also. Thousands of Mexico City residents recently protested telecom law by linking arms to form a human chain. The opponents argue that the bill, which is being supported by President Enrique Pena Nieto, could jeopardize online speech