Ethiopian security forces have arrested 19 media professionals since last Monday as part of a security campaign launched by the authorities in the Amhara region that has resulted in more than 4,500 arrests, according to the official balance sheet.
The latest arrested has been Meaza Mohammed, co-founder and presenter of the media Roha TV, which is broadcasted on YouTube, as reported by her husband, Robel Tesfaye, to the newspaper ‘Addis Standard’. The journalist was arrested at her home and her whereabouts are currently unknown.
The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission has again denounced the action of the security forces and demanded the immediate release of the detainees.
“We reiterate that Ethiopia’s media law clearly prohibits pre-trial detention for any alleged crime committed through the media, and all detained media personnel must be released,” insisted the group’s director, Daniel Bekele.
It should be recalled that at least a dozen journalists were arrested last week in Bahir Dar, the capital of the Amhara region, and the country’s capital, Addis Ababa, for “inciting unrest and creating mistrust between the Amhara region and the federal government”.
The Amhara region has been rocked by the conflict that erupted in November 2020 between the Army and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). The group, the former main party of power in Ethiopia, extended the offensive to Amhara and Afar, while militias and security forces from this region took part in the fighting on the side of the central government.
The TPLF accuses Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of whipping up tensions since coming to power in April 2018. Until then, the TPLF had been the dominant force within Ethiopia’s ruling coalition since 1991, the ethnically-supported Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). The group opposed Abiy’s reforms, which it saw as an attempt to undermine its influence.
His arrest today brings to 19 the number of journalists, commentators, and well-known media professionals arrested in a week.