It is terribly disconcerting, in fact terrifying, to witness an all-out campaign of harassment and cyber-bullying against young Ethiopian journalist Bethlehem Tafese for the tough interview she conducted with the chairman of NAMA (National Movement of Amhara), Dr Desalegn Chane last week. To make matter worse, yesterday the Ethiopian government’s Broadcasting Authority has issued a warning against LTV where Bety works.
The Broadcasting Authority’s action is not surprising, considering its ugly past. The Ethiopian government until recently has been one of the worse violators of press freedom in the world.
What is surprising and saddening is the attack on Bety and LTV by supporters of NAMA. If NAMA is to be taken as a serious political organization that strives to develop a democratic culture and governance in Ethiopia, it should educate its supporters that free press is one of the most important pillars of a democratic society.
We may or may not agree with Bety’s journalistic style or her interview methods. She might even make mistakes or seem to be unfair toward her interviewees sometimes. We may also disagree with her politics. But that does not give supporters of political parties the right to bully and threaten her.
Bety is a courageous journalist who asks everyone though questions. She is a rising star of Ethiopian journalism. Young journalists like her need to be supported and encouraged, not vilified for doing their work in a terribly intolerant culture.
For the sake of its own reputation, NAMA should come out and strongly condemn the shameful action of its supporters, and that of the Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority.
Ethiopia does not need a broadcasting authority. It needs to be disbanded. The Ethiopian constitution must be amended to include a provision that prohibits the government from making any law that impedes the free exercise of free speech, which is an extremely important ingredient for a free, prosperous society.
Bety’s interview with NAMA chairman: