Ogaden Online editorial:

The Qatari-based Aljazeera News Network has recently reported that Ethiopian authorities are blocking its services in Ethiopia. According to Aljazeera, the Ethiopian regime resorted to this measure after the Network begun airing, in July last year, the ongoing Ethiopian Muslim protest movement.

The blocking of news media sites by the Ethiopian regime is not something new since it blocks whenever it can)media organizations that expose its criminal activities inside Ethiopia and the Ogaden for example. The late Ethiopian dictator Mr. Meles Zenawi brazenly announced in March 2010 that his government was planning to ‘Jam’ VOA Amharic Service if they had the capability to do so. He posited at the time thatf “We have to know before we make the decision to jam, whether we have the capacity to do it. But I assure you if they assure me at some future date that they have the capacity to jam it, I will give them the clear guideline to jam it.”

Aided by jamming equipment purchased from China and other countries, the regime unleashed a jamming campaign that targeted local, regional, and international media networks which it considered as being a threat in potentially revealing the atrocities the regime is hiding behind its
closed doors.

Associated Press (AP) has recently reported that the Ethiopian regime procured high-tech spy software hacking system from FinFisher, which is program distributed by British company Gamma International, and was using it against Ethiopian opposition activists.

Currently, there are no independent local media inEthiopia– the few that existed were shut-down and their editors arrested or they have since fled the country. Ethiopian opposition websites, radio and TV stations, which are based outside the country, cannot easily be accessed in Ethiopia although savvy website administrators such as the Ogaden Online news network have found stealth proxies to allow their readers to bypass the country based IP blocking used by the regime. Even Skype, Internet-based telephony, has been banned inEthiopia. Such is the paranoia of the regime.

This is not the first time the Aljazeera Network had ‘problems’ with the Ethiopian regime. In 2008 Aljazeera Arabic’s Jama Nur sneaked into the Ogaden and reported about the widespread human rights violations the Ethiopian government was committing in the region. That hard-hitting report caused a diplomatic spat betweenEthiopiaandQatarand strained their relations.

“Daddy change that!”

The Ethiopian regime’s outmoded attempt to block media organizations it doesn’t like reminds the Ogaden Online Editorial Board of a funny story between a boy and his father.

As the story goes, there was a devout father who used to control what his son was watching on TV. Whenever he saw people kissing and cajoling each other on the TV screen, he instructed his son to “change it.

One day, the father took the son out for a shopping trip in town. As they were walking in the town center, the little boy suddenly saw a couple who were deeply kissing each other on the side of the road. The boy stopped, pointed to the couple, and asked his father: “Daddy change that!”

Of course daddy “couldn’t change that”. At that moment the man must have realized the futility of his actions and the huge tide he was attempting to swim against. We don’t know what became of the man or whether he went back to the drawing board to improvise his strategy vis-a-vis his son.

The moral of this story is to highlight the ineffectiveness of the Ethiopian regime’s archaic method of attempting to silence the media in a digital world. The world is in the 21st century and the Ethiopian regime is behaving as if it was still in the antediluvian age.

At a time of globalized age and a time when a camel herder in some remote corner of the earth knows what is happening around the world through the device on the palm of his or her hand; At an epoc of Twitter, Facebook and social media, it is quite clear that the Ethiopian regime cannot simply ‘block’ (like the boy’s daddy) whatever sores its eyes and prevent the people of Ethiopia and those in the Ogaden from watching and following what is happening inside and outside. Our only advice is for the regime to quit its blocking party as a strategy.

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