Senegal: CPJ calls on Ethiopian government to release journalist

Dakar, Senegal (PANA) - The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on the authorities in Ethiopia to release journalist Fikadu Mirkana who was arrested after covering a protest.

In a statement made available to PANA in Dakar on Wednesday, CPJ said Mirkana, a news anchor working for the state-run broadcaster Oromia Radio and TV, was arrested at his Addis Ababa home on Saturday morning.

The press freedom body said it could not determine the reason for Mirkana's arrest but it came as Oromia Radio and TV in recent weeks covered protests against a plan to expand the Ethiopian capital, in a move that campaigners say would displace hundreds of thousands of farmers.

CPJ quoted a report by Human Rights Watch which stated that dozens of protesters have been killed during clashes with police during the unrest in the regional state of Oromia.

"Journalists have a vital role to play in ensuring the flow of information, both from the Ethiopian government and also, critically, from those who will be affected by its decisions," remarked CPJ Africa Program Coordinator, Sue Valentine. "We call on authorities to release Fikadu Mirkana immediately."

According to the statement, it is not clear where Mirkana is being held and neither his family nor his lawyers have been allowed access to him.

The Ethiopian authorities in Addis Ababa and the Ethiopian embassy in Nairobi did not immediately respond to CPJ's request for details about thearrest.

The press freedom body said in recent weeks, the Ethiopian government had used anti-terror rhetoric against campaigners, with the communications minister, Getachew Reda, branding them as "terrorists" and "demonic". Such language, it said, usually presaged a crackdown on dissenters.

"Protests in Oromia, a region that stretches across central Ethiopia and is home to one-third of the country's population, have affected at least 30 towns and prompted the arrest of more than 500 people since mid-November," the statement noted.

CPJ said Ethiopia was the third largest jailer of journalists on the African continent, with at least 10 behind bars on 1 December.
-0- PANA MLJ/MA 23Dec2015

23 december 2015 11:36:19

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