According to officials the two were arrested after an attack on 15 members of the ONLF, in the course of which both reporters were injured.

However, the ONLF has denied these claims, countering that the reporters had not yet reached ONLF forces and that the four guides accompanying the journalists may have been executed in the process of the arrest.

The future of the journalists is currently uncertain. While it was initially stated that they would attend court on Tuesday, officials have since backtracked; the foreign ministry has suggested that they are being held without charge, and therefore will not be attending court until further notice.

The arrest of the journalists is just the latest in a number of arrests that are the result of Ethiopia’s strangling control of information from the Ogaden region. There are a number of journalists in detention in Ethiopia and according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Ethiopia has the second worst record in sub-Saharan Africa on journalist detainment.
The most recent arrest shows the government’s desire to keep continued human rights violations by the Ethiopian military in the region from being exposed. In particular, the brutal counterinsurgency campaign against the ONLF, which was initiated in 2007, has been characterised by an indiscriminate policy of terrorising the people of the Ogaden.

According to numerous sources, including Human Rights Watch, the military stands accused of severe human rights violations in the region including executions, torture and rape of non-combatant civilians. Other reports have suggested that entire villages have been burned to the ground. There is also a continued economic blockade which restricts access to basic commodities and resources including water, exacerbating the effects of the country’s worst drought in years.
UNPO calls for the immediate release of the journalists, Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye. UNPO also condemns the current information blockade and strongly urges the Ethiopian government to allow entry of reporters, human rights advocates and humanitarian aid to the Ogaden region.

ONA.

 

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