The Ethiopian regime, the third worst jailer of journalists in the world, continue to detain bloggers and journalists under trumped up charges of terrorism on this World Press Freedom.

While democracies celebrate the day, dictatorships like Ethiopia locked their young and bright minds behind bars, putting freedom of speech and of the press under a constant threat. The regime, which has no tolerance for critics and alternative views, is ranked 150 out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index.

“Freedom of speech requires a free country. Ethiopians need to free their country so they can enjoy a free press,” says Kifle Mulat, former president of the Ethiopian Free Press Association, which has long been disbanded by the regime.

Mulat said the Ethiopian regime, an enemy of the press, does not have the moral ground to celebrate the day. Reeyot Alemu, imprisoned by the regime for two years for merely exercising her profession, says the Day is about respecting the right to “think freely.”

“It is about respecting humanity and human rights. It is about respecting the right to free thinking and free expression of ideas. Journalists are suffering in jail in Ethiopia for the respect of these ideals,” says Reeyot, who now works for ESAT.

The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres has called for an end to the crackdown on journalists. He said journalists are ‘‘voice of the voiceless.’‘ This year, the theme adopted by the UN on World Press Freedom Day is: “Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media’s Role in Advancing Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies.”

 

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