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Ethiopia's World / የኢትዮጵያ ዓለም

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Archive for the ‘Media & Journalism’ Category

I Was a War Reporter in Ethiopia. Then I Became The Enemy | ኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ የጦር ዘጋቢ ነበርኩ። ከዚያም ጠላት ሆንኩኝ!

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on June 24, 2022

💭 የኢኮኖሚስት ዘጋቢው ቶም ጋርድነር በእርሱ ላይ ጥላሸት ያለው የኢንተርኔት ዘመቻ ከተካሄደበት በኋላ ተባረረ

💭 “እ.ኤ.አ. በ2016 ዓ.ም በኢትዮጵያ የኢኖሚስት መጽሔት ዘጋቢ ሆንኩ፣ ሀገሪቱ በሰላማዊና በመን-ተሻጋሪ በሆነ ለውጥ ውስጥ ያለች ትመስላለች። ጥልቅ ለሆነው የሀገሪቷ ታሪክ ፍቅር ያዘኝ፣ ለ 3,000 ዓመታቱ ብሔራዊ ትርክቷ፣ ለውበቱ እና ለዋና ከተማዋ ጉልበት።”

“ከጦርነቱ በስተጀርባ ያለውን ተንኮል ማጤን ቀጠልኩ። ኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ በአንድ የምዕራባውያን ምሁር የተደረገ ጥናት፣ ረሃብን በትግራይ ላይ የጦር መሣሪያ አድርጎ መጠቀምን ጨምሮ መንግሥት የጦር ወንጀልን ለመደበቅ የሚችለው እንዴት እንደሆነ ለማወቅ ፈልጌ ነበር።”

“ዛሬ ኢትዮጵያ ራሷን የምትበታትን/የምታፈራረስ ትመስላለች፣ ትዊት በትዊት፣ የፌስቡክ ጽሑፍ በፌስቡክ ጽሑፍ።”

💭 The Economist’s correspondent was expelled after a shadowy online campaign against him

💭 “I became a correspondent for The Economist in Ethiopia in 2016, the country seemed to be in the midst of a peaceful, epochal transformation. I was beguiled by its deep sense of history – the national myth stretches back 3,000 years – by its beauty and by the energy of its capital.”

I continued to look into the machinations behind the war. I was interested in how research conducted in Ethiopia by a Western scholar seemed to be enabling the government to whitewash war crimes, which included the use of hunger as a weapon against Tigray.

“Today, Ethiopia seemed to be tearing itself apart, tweet by tweet, Facebook post by Facebook post.”

👉 By Tom Gardner, The Economist

Last July I travelled to Amhara hoping to interview soldiers wounded in Ethiopia’s civil war with Tigrayan rebels. I was accompanied by a young Ethiopian journalist, who was also translating for me. A group of federal police officers stopped us outside a hospital and threw us in the back of an open-top jeep. While the vehicle wound its way towards a police station, four or five officers stood over us as we knelt or sat on our haunches. Bystanders jeered from both sides of the street. The man driving the car behind us stared at me, then made a gesture of slitting his throat. When the police started beating us, my Ethiopian colleague got the worst of it: his mouth filled with blood from the blows. I was hit in the head at least twice with a rifle butt. I made a pleading motion for the officers to stop; they laughed. That was a turning point for me. In the grips of civil war, an already brutal authoritarian regime was taking a darker turn. Anyone could become the enemy. Including me.

I did not expect to become a war correspondent. Like many people, my early associations with Ethiopia were news stories about famine. I got a more nuanced view when I studied African politics as a Masters student. In the few years before I became a correspondent for The Economist in Ethiopia in 2016, the country seemed to be in the midst of a peaceful, epochal transformation. I was beguiled by its deep sense of history – the national myth stretches back 3,000 years – by its beauty and by the energy of its capital. The state remained rigid and authoritarian; protests against it were gathering momentum. But, from afar, Ethiopia still seemed to be a land full of ambition and possibility.

In an already brutal authoritarian regime, anyone could become the enemy. Including me

At first I wrote about urbanisation and infrastructure – railways, new housing projects, industrial parks and mega-dams that had been supercharged by Chinese investment and a Chinese model of state-led growth. Many welcomed the ascension of Abiy Ahmed as prime minister in 2018 and the advent of “Abiymania”. Pop songs with titles like “He Awakens Us” lauded his rise; people wore t-shirts bearing his image; a book comparing Abiy to Moses became a bestseller. Abiy offered a glimmer of hope for an opening of political and press freedom, too; he was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 2019 for negotiating a peace deal with neighbouring Eritrea. Stepping aboard the first commercial flight between the two countries in 20 years, watching tearful families reunite, I felt like a witness to history.

Yet there were darker cross-currents. The brief unity brought by Abiy belied a more contested, painful reality. Decades of dictatorship and the long-simmering border conflict with Eritrea had obscured fractious rivalries within Ethiopia, particularly between the country’s three most powerful ethnic groups, the Oromo people, the Amharas and the Tigrayans, the smallest of the three, who comprised just 6% of the population but until recently held outsized power. Those fissures started to widen.

The Eritrean regime and Abiy shared a common adversary in the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which started as a band of guerrillas in 1975, toppled Ethiopia’s military dictatorship in 1991, then dominated the regime that ran the country for more than a quarter-century. Abiy ousted the TPLF amid public protests against the party’s imperious reign, and repeatedly blamed it for Ethiopia’s woes. But after Abiy made peace with Eritrea, TPLF leaders feared that Eritrea’s and Ethiopia’s armies would combine forces to crush Tigray, the TPLF’s homeland in the north.

When I visited Tigray in late October 2020, mobile communications were shut down for four hours amid rising tensions, a precursor of a much longer blackout to come for the region. Days later war broke out, after Tigrayan forces attacked a federal army barracks. War fever quickly took hold in Addis Ababa, with blood drives and rallies in support of government troops. Tigrayan militiamen committed a massacre of Amharas in a border town just inside Tigray. (Tigrayan civilians were killed or chased from their homes in tit-for-tat attacks.) Videos emerged of piles of corpses; bodies were carried through the streets as their relatives wailed. Abiy’s regime seized on these images, pointing to them as a retrospective justification for the conflict. The propaganda battle was on.

Suddenly I was covering a war. To some partisans in Abiy’s government, I was fulfilling a secret purpose: on social media, members of the Ethiopian diaspora labelled me an agent of the cia (later I would also be called an agent of mi6). Along with other journalists, I was accused of siding with the TPLF. At first, I laughed off such conspiratorial accusations. At the time there was little sign that the government would take such talk seriously. Independent Ethiopian journalists, however, were already under pressure. Always constrained in their reporting, after the war began some were detained for daring to contradict the official government line. A number were physically assaulted.

I was labelled an agent of the CIA, then of MI6

Soon the regime escalated its attacks against me and other foreign journalists, human-rights workers and employees of the United Nations and other international institutions. In December 2020, a local magazine ran a cover story which accused me, along with a preposterously long list of foreign and local journalists, of being part of a grand British conspiracy to overthrow Abiy’s government.

That an established journalist could spread such lies, and in a publication that many thought was respectable, marked a disturbing shift. Government officials seemed to approve of the story. One even recommended it to another member of the foreign press corps.

Pro-government activists and trolls were making similar attacks against me and others online. On Facebook a post began circulating: a collection of mug shots of foreign and Ethiopian journalists and academics – my photo among them – presented as though we were criminals and supported the TPLF. The post popped up whenever a story appeared in the Western press that cast Abiy’s regime in a negative light. That happened often, as government troops blockaded the region; human-rights groups accused the forces of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, including mass murder, forced hunger and rape. I reported on these atrocities, as did other journalists, and tweeted about them. A Facebook post appeared with images of 12 foreign correspondents, including me: “Please follow these people on Twitter and expose their lies”, the post said, calling us “TPLF sympathisers”.

Twitter and Facebook have served different functions during the war. Twitter has been a forum for international, English-language discourse, where members of the diaspora and people inside Ethiopia waged a propaganda war that was, at least in part, intended for a foreign audience. On Facebook, Ethiopians increasingly spread hate speech and disinformation in local languages that could sometimes incite real-world violence.

Abiy himself poured fuel on the fire of the propaganda war. In April 2021 he urged Ethiopians not to “bow” to Western media “campaigns”. In August, he called for a mass social-media campaign to counter “lies” in the Western media. That same month, state media accused me, along with journalists from the bbc, cnn and New York Times, of working for the TPLF. The state was now openly encouraging hostility against Western media as well as the human-rights groups and international institutions that were monitoring the regime’s war crimes.

Tigrayans and other Ethiopians suffered the most. By August 2021 foreign media and Amnesty International had documented the systematic rape and sexual enslavement of Tigrayan women by Eritrean and Ethiopian soldiers. (Tigrayan forces were also found to have committed mass rapes against women in the Amhara and Afar regions.) On social media, government officials and their supporters engaged in a cruel campaign to cast doubt on Tigrayan accusers. They argued that victims’ testimonials were false or exaggerated, that rape was endemic in Tigray and that many such assaults had actually been committed by Tigrayan criminals who had been released from prison. They also smeared Tigrayan refugees in Sudan as perpetrators of a massacre, to cast suspicion on Tigrayans’ own claims of war crimes. Regime apologists downplayed horrific acts and denounced as lies even some documented incidents, such as a video of security forces burning a man alive. Ethiopia seemed to be tearing itself apart, tweet by tweet, Facebook post by Facebook post.

Ethiopia seemed to be tearing itself apart, tweet by tweet

Attacks were gathering against foreign interests of any kind. A campaign under the hashtag #NoMore – that is, “no more” Western intervention, colonialism and lies – started trending on Twitter and Facebook in late 2021. The social-media posts showing my face seemed increasingly ubiquitous. Previously I had felt safe in Addis Ababa. Now I started to worry about being recognised in public and subjected to abuse, or that I might return home one day to discover my landlord had changed the locks.

Some of this was paranoia. During this time thousands of Ethiopians, usually ethnic Tigrayans, were rounded up and thrown into internment camps. Even when I was roughed up in Amhara, my Ethiopian colleague suffered the brunt of the abuse. Foreigners were sheltered by comparison. But I felt a creeping sense of the nastiness online bleeding into my real life. In mid-2021 billboards had been put up in parts of Addis Ababa calling for “white demons” to leave the country. They were the handiwork of a fire-and-brimstone preacher advertising his YouTube channel. It seemed telling, though, that the government let them stay up.

I was ever more conscious of my status as an outsider – distrusted, unwelcome. I was on a trip with friends in the eastern town of Harar when, one night, the owner of a bar told me that because I was British I must be a journalist – and because I was a British journalist, I must be in the pay of the TPLF. Rattled, I slipped out into the night. When the regime declared a state of emergency late last year, police began conducting house raids and arrests throughout the capital. I slept uneasily for weeks, expecting a loud knock at the door.

In March this year the government agreed a truce with the TPLF. The situation was calmer and relations between Abiy’s regime and the West were improving. I continued to look into the machinations behind the war. I was interested in how research conducted in Ethiopia by a Western scholar seemed to be enabling the government to whitewash war crimes, which included the use of hunger as a weapon against Tigray. A polite email I sent on May 1st to a Western think-tank sparked yet another online campaign, this time against me personally, lasting two weeks. My email to the think-tank was made public on Twitter, where pro-government figures (yet again) spread wild accusations that I was operating on behalf of the TPLF. One thing had changed: there were also calls for my journalist accreditation to be revoked.

Some social-media posts came from the Ethiopian diaspora, others from Western apologists for Abiy. State media republished claims of my “despicable behaviour”, along with the suggestion that I be “given the boot home and fired”. On May 13th, the government’s media authority summoned me to its office and handed me a letter: my press accreditation had been revoked. The next day an immigration official called to tell me I had 48 hours to leave the country. Just like that, my life in Ethiopia was over.

In the short time since I left in May, many more Ethiopian journalists and activists have been detained. One of those arrested was the author of the magazine story that attacked me and other journalists early in the war. Even he had not kept faithfully enough to the government line. (His family says he was beaten in custody.) He joins scores of other writers, commentators and photographers who have been jailed since 2020. Last year two journalists were murdered. Others have been hounded out of the country. Several other foreign journalists have been banished or barred from reporting. Ethiopia’s own human-rights commissioner has called the situation a “new low” for the country.

I started to worry about being recognised in public or that I might return home one day to discover my landlord had changed the locks

Friends in Addis Ababa sent me a video posted just days after I was expelled. An Ethiopian commentator, Seyoum Teshome, was celebrating my departure on a YouTube talk show. A fiery, Tucker Carlson-like figure, he wrote the word “journalists” in sneering inverted commas in tweets. Now he was making explicit his charge that I and others worked for the TPLF. “Tom Gardner has been expelled, hasn’t he? Why?” he said, speaking Amharic. “I’ve proved 30 or 40 times that he is a criminal. Before he was expelled, I came here and told you, ‘Look at him’, didn’t I?” He said he “proved 1,000 times” that I was part of the TPLF.

This televised tirade, since viewed on YouTube more than 100,000 times, was the coda to the long digital campaign against me. Modern digital warfare, designed to sow confusion, is now being waged everywhere from Ukraine and Syria to China and beyond. The experience was a painful reminder to me that China was a model not just for Ethiopia’s state-directed economic development. The government had also taken more disturbing lessons from China and other authoritarian states. It was learning how to become a modern, digital autocracy.

Source

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An American Politician Tells British Journalist: Go Back to Your Country

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on June 24, 2022

💭 አሜሪካዊቷ ፖለቲከኛ ለብሪታኒያዋ ጋዜጠኛ፤ “ሂጂ፤ ወደ ሀገርሽ ተመለሽ!” አለቻት።

ስለ አሜሪካ የጦር መሣሪያን በተመለከተ ለማሻሻል በታሰበው ሕግ ጉዳይ ላይ ብሪታኒያዊቷ ጋዜጠኛ፤ የትምህርት ቤት ልጆች ወደ ክፍል መሄድን እንደሚፈሩ እና በእንግሊዝ ውስጥ በጦር መሣሪያዎች በኩል የጅምላ ጭፍጨፋዎች እንደማይከሰቱ ባወሳችበት ወቅት ነበር የተወካዮች ምክር ቤት አባሏ ግሪን በቁጣ፤

“እመቤት ሆይ፤ በሀገርሽ በብሪታኒያ በቢላ የጅምላ ግድያዎች ይፈጸማሉ፤ ሁሉም ዓይነት ግድያ ይፈጸማል እና ይህን የሚከለክል ህግ አላችሁ፣ ሂጂ፤ ወደ ብሪታኒያ ሀገርሽ ተመለሽ።” አለቻት።

አስገራሚ ነው፤ እንግሊዛውያን፣ አየርላንዳውያንና ስኮትላንዳውያን በሚቆጣጠሯት አሜሪካ ሰዎች በታሪክ/በተለምዶ ፀረ ብሪታኒያዊ የሆነ አቋም ሲኖራቸው አይታይም። የአሜሪካ ነጮች በብዛት የጀርመን ዝርያ ያላቸው ቢሆንም ቅሉ በቋንቋቸው አማካኝነት የበላይነቱን የያዙት ግን ብሪታኒያውያኑ ናቸው።

ለብሪታናውያኑ፤ አሜሪካም፣ ካናዳም፣ አውስትራሊያም፣ ኒው ዚላንድም፣ ደቡብ አፍሪቃም፣ ፎክላንድ ደሴቶችም፣ ጅብራልታርም… “ሀገሮቻችን ናቸው…መላዋ ዓለም ‘ኬኛ’” የተለመደባቸው ስሜት ነው። እኛን ግን በእኛው ድክመትና ስንፍና እርስበርስ እያባሉ ሚጢጢዋን ሃገራችንን እንኳን ሊያሳጡን እየሞከሩ ነው።

ሉሲፈራውያኑ ለእኛ፤ “የሁልጊዜ ወዳጅ ወይም የሁልጊዜ ጠላት የለም” ይሉናል፤ ለአሜሪካ ግን ብሪታኒያ የዘላለም ወዳጅ ሆና ትታያላቸ። ታዲያ አሁን እርስበርስ መጠዛጠዝና መነቋቆር ይጀምሩ ይሆን? በመጨረሻው ዘመን ወንድም በወንድሙ ላይ ይጨክናል የሚባለው ዘመን እንደደረሰ ይኸው እያየነው ነው።

💭 British journalist told to ‘go back to your country’ by Republican firebrand Marjorie Taylor Greene in clash about American gun laws is a Washington correspondent for a major UK network who has won awards for her 9/11 coverage.

  • ☆ Marjorie Taylor Green, 48, told a British journalist to ‘go back to your country’ in a heated debate over tighter gun laws
  • ☆ The journalist questioned that schoolchildren are afraid of going to class and that mass shootings don’t happen in the UK when Greene snapped at her
  • ☆ ‘You have mass stabbings, lady. You have all kinds of murder and you’ve got laws against that,’ Greene snapped at her before telling her to go back the UK
  • ☆ She also claimed ‘We like our [guns] here,’ despite a recent poll suggesting the majority of voters actually support tighter gun laws
  • ☆ According to a Morning Consult/Politico poll, 65 percent of voters support gun reform after the Uvalde, Texas, massacre
  • ☆ The journalist has since been identified as Siobhan Kennedy, who works as a Washington correspondent for Channel 4 – one of the UK’s most prominent news stations.
  • ☆ Greene, a leading figure in the GOP, was one of several to speak at the assembly – which was held a day after the US Senate took steps to pass a federal gun safety law following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary in Texas, last month.

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Posted in Curiosity, Ethiopia, Media & Journalism, News/ዜና | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Genocider Abiy Ahmed Ali Makes List of Time’s 100 Most Influential People

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on May 24, 2022

💭 The Time Person of The Year is ‘The Person Who Most Affected The News and Our Lives, for Good or Ill.’

😈 This is why Abiy Ahmed is one of the 100 most influential people of 2022:

👉 From Time Magazine

In 2019, the Nobel Committee awarded the Peace Prize to Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for his efforts to end his country’s decades-long conflict with neighboring Eritrea. Abiy’s peace treaty with Eritrean dictator Isaias Afwerki inspired hopes for a transformed region, but also planted the seeds for an Ethiopian civil war. In November 2020, Abiy, with Afwerki’s support, launched a military campaign against their shared enemy: leaders of the rebellious northern Tigray region that borders Eritrea.

The civil war, now in its 19th month, has become a byword for atrocities against Tigrayans: Abiy’s forces have been accused of massacres, sexual assault, and ethnic cleansing. Famine looms with millions impacted. In March, he declared a truce to allow humanitarian access to the region, which had been blocked for months. But like a previous “humanitarian truce” in June 2021, it appears to be largely strategic, and little real aid has arrived. Abiy has started calling Tigrayan rebels “weeds” in a rise in hate speech. African civil-­society groups are now pleading with the U.N. to act, lest Ethiopia devolve into ethnic cleansing reminiscent of Rwanda. In January, the Norwegian Nobel Committee in a rare move criticized Abiy, noting he has “a special responsibility to end the conflict and contribute to peace.”

Source

💭 TIME MAGAZINE’S Genocider Persons of The Year

In late 1927, editors at Time magazine collectively facepalmed over the fact they hadn’t yet devoted a cover to Charles Lindbergh, the pilot who’d become a global sensation earlier that year by flying solo cross the Atlantic. As they’d missed the boat on the original news story, Time needed an excuse to belatedly put Lindbergh on the cover. So, they came up with the concept of the ‘Man of the Year’, beginning an annual tradition – since re-named Person of the Year – that still triggers discussion and debate to this day.

Politicians, business titans, activists and religious leaders are among those who’ve been declared Time’s Person of the Year. Some choices may seem surprising or even shocking at first glance, but that’s because the designation isn’t necessarily supposed to mark someone out as worthy of praise. Instead, the Person of the Year is any individual who’s had the biggest impact, for better or for worse. Here are some of the most striking examples from across the past century.

😈 Adolf Hitler – 1938

The fact that Hitler was named Man of the Year in 1938 has long provoked disbelief among those who aren’t aware of Time magazine’s morally neutral criteria for selection. In Hitler’s case, he was selected because of his malign influence in Europe, and the magazine was absolutely vehement in its condemnation. The cover of the issue depicted the dictator playing a gothic organ draped with dead bodies, while the article poured scorn on the ‘horrified and apparently impotent world’ for allowing Hitler to re-establish Germany as a military power. It also powerfully and accurately described the Nazi leader as ‘the greatest threatening force that the democratic, freedom-loving world faces today.’

😈 Joseph Stalin – 1939 and 1942

Hitler’s closest rival in the pantheon of 20th Century despots, Joseph Stalin was twice ‘awarded’ the title Man of the Year. The first time, it was for doing the unthinkable by signing a non-aggression pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. As Time put it, at one stroke Stalin had ‘not only sacrificed the good will of thousands of people the world over sympathetic to the ideals of Socialism, he matched himself with Adolf Hitler as the world’s most hated man.’ In 1942, however, the turmoil of the war led Time to take a very different tone. This time round, it praised the Soviet dictator for standing resolute against Hitler in what the magazine described as the ‘year of blood and strength’.

😈 Henry Kissinger – 1972

Serving as National Security Advisor and US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger was one of the dominant figures of the Cold War, helping to forge closer relations with the USSR and – significantly – China. In 1972, he and President Richard Nixon were named Men of the Year for ‘accomplishing the most profound arrangement of the Earth’s political powers since the beginning of the Cold War.’ However, many have long regarded Kissinger as a ruthless Machiavellian strategist and war criminal, citing his involvement in the secret American carpet-bombing of Cambodia, among other things. There was certainly a collective raising of eyebrows when he was awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end the Vietnam war. Singer Tom Lehrer famously commented that ‘Political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel peace prize.’

😈 Ayatollah Khomeini – 1979

One of Time’s most controversial picks for Man of the Year was the Ayatollah Khomeini. The Islamic cleric had become the Supreme Leader of Iran in 1979, following the overthrow of the pro-Western Shah. The same year, Iranian students stormed the US Embassy in Tehran, taking dozens of staffers hostage. Time magazine slammed Khomeini as a glorified terrorist, saying ‘the revolution that he led to triumph threatens to upset the world balance of power more than any other political event since Hitler’s conquest of Europe.’ While this was obviously a highly critical take, the magazine’s decision to ‘award” Khomeini the Man of the Year title nevertheless triggered backlash in the US, largely because the embassy siege was still going on (and would in fact not end until 1981).

😈 George W. Bush – 2000 and 2004

The 2000 US presidential election was one of the most polarising political debacles in the nation’s history, with George W. Bush just scraping to victory after a recount. Those who believed Al Gore should really have become president may well have been incensed by Bush being named Person of the Year, even though Time did acknowledge that ‘the candidate with the perfect bloodlines comes to office amid charges that his is a bastard presidency.’ Perhaps even more controversial was Bush’s 2004 citation as Man of the Year. In the midst of the bitterly contentious Iraq War, Time dubbed Bush an ‘American revolutionary’ who had reshaped politics to ‘fit his 10-gallon-hat leadership style’.

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Timnit Gebru: The #TigrayGenocide With 500,000 People Dead Should Have Made Front-Page News

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on May 7, 2022

💭 ትምኒት ገብሩ፤ 500,000 ሰዎች የሞቱበት የትግራይ የዘር ማጥፋት ወንጀል ሰፊ ትኩረት አግኝቶ የፊት ገጽ ዜና መስራት ነበረበት

💭 Timnit Gebru Founder and Executive Director of the Distributed Artificial Intelligence Research Institute (DAIR) at UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day Global Conference 2022.

500,000 Tigrayan Christians were Massacred or Starved to death under 500 days by The Fascist Oromo Regime of Ethiopia – but, the world is still ignoring this devastating tragedy. The coverage of Ukraine has revealed a pretty radical disparity in how human Ukrainians look and feel to western and international – including African media compared to black Ethiopians Christians. 😠😠😠 😢😢😢

💭 Timnit Gebru, a widely respected leader in AI ethics research, is known for coauthoring a groundbreaking paper that showed facial recognition to be less accurate at identifying women and people of color, which means its use can end up discriminating against them. She also cofounded the Black in AI affinity group, and champions diversity in the tech industry. The team she helped build at Google is one of the most diverse in AI and includes many leading experts in their own right. Peers in the field envied it for producing critical work that often challenged mainstream AI practices.

A series of tweets, leaked emails, and media articles showed that Gebru’s exit was the culmination of a conflict over another paper she coauthored. Jeff Dean, the head of Google AI, told colleagues in an internal email (which he has since put online) that the paper “didn’t meet our bar for publication” and that Gebru had said she would resign unless Google met a number of conditions, which it was unwilling to meet. Gebru tweeted that she had asked to negotiate “a last date” for her employment after she got back from vacation. She was cut off from her corporate email account before her return.

Online, many other leaders in the field of AI ethics are arguing that the company pushed her out because of the inconvenient truths that she was uncovering about a core line of its research—and perhaps its bottom line. More than 1,400 Google staff members and 1,900 other supporters have also signed a letter of protest.

💭 Another Firing Among Google’s A.I. Brain Trust, and More Discord

The researchers are considered a key to the company’s future. But they have had a hard time shaking infighting and controversy over a variety of issues.

Less than two years after Google dismissed two researchers who criticized the biases built into artificial intelligence systems, the company has fired a researcher who questioned a paper it published on the abilities of a specialized type of artificial intelligence used in making computer chips.

Dr. Chatterjee’s dismissal was the latest example of discord in and around Google Brain, an A.I. research group considered to be a key to the company’s future. After spending billions of dollars to hire top researchers and create new kinds of computer automation, Google has struggled with a wide variety of complaints about how it builds, uses and portrays those technologies.

Tension among Google’s A.I. researchers reflects much larger struggles across the tech industry, which faces myriad questions over new A.I. technologies and the thorny social issues that have entangled these technologies and the people who build them.

But even as Google has promoted the technology’s potential, it has encountered resistance from employees about its application. In 2018, Google employees protested a contract with the Department of Defense, concerned that the company’s A.I. could end up killing people. Google eventually pulled out of the project.

In December 2020, Google fired one of the leaders of its Ethical A.I. team, Timnit Gebru, after she criticized the company’s approach to minority hiring and pushed to publish a research paper that pointed out flaws in a new type of A.I. system for learning languages.

Before she was fired, Dr. Gebru was seeking permission to publish a research paper about how A.I.-based language systems, including technology built by Google, may end up using the biased and hateful language they learn from text in books and on websites. Dr. Gebru said she had grown exasperated over Google’s response to such complaints, including its refusal to publish the paper.

A few months later, the company fired the other head of the team, Margaret Mitchell, who publicly denounced Google’s handling of the situation with Dr. Gebru. The company said Dr. Mitchell had violated its code of conduct.

The paper in Nature, published last June, promoted a technology called reinforcement learning, which the paper said could improve the design of computer chips. The technology was hailed as a breakthrough for artificial intelligence and a vast improvement to existing approaches to chip design. Google said it used this technique to develop its own chips for artificial intelligence computing.

Source: NYtimes

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Lucy Kassa on The Dangers Journalists Face for Uncovering Truths in War

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on May 5, 2022

👉 ገብርኤል 👉 ማርያም 👉 ኡራኤል 👉 ጊዮርጊስ 👉 ተክለ ሐይማኖት 👉 ዮሴፍ 😇 መድኃኔ ዓለም

💭 The Ethiopian reporter lives in exile because of her articles from Tigray

👉 From The Economist

I was attacked at my home in Ethiopia in February 2021. Three security agents raided my home and threatened to kill me if I continued to dig into the war.

Foreign governments should put pressure on Ethiopia to allow independent international investigation, lift the communication blackout and, crucially, to allow journalists to do their job

MORE THAN a year has passed since I first uncovered evidence of war crimes in the continuing conflict in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia. Civilians have endured atrocities including sexual violence, ethnic cleansing, systematic massacres, unspeakable torture and starvation. The horror stories are endless. Yet Ethiopia’s government denies them.

All sides of the conflict have committed war crimes. A mound of evidence gathered by investigative journalists and rights groups suggests that Ethiopian government troops, allied soldiers from Eritrea and local Amhara forces have committed terrible atrocities against ethnic Tigrayans. These acts could potentially amount to genocide, as defined in international law. But troops affiliated to the Tigray forces have also committed shocking acts, including sexual violence and the extra-judicial killing of civilians, as they advanced in the neighbouring regions of Afar and Amhara.

The Ethiopian government blocks all communications and bars journalists from the conflict zones. This makes it extremely difficult to grasp the scale of the crimes and the gravity of the humanitarian crisis. Stories of atrocities often emerge two or three months after they have been committed. The communications blackout is exhausting. A story that would normally take me two weeks to research now takes a month.

It works as follows. When an allegation of an atrocity emerges, I find sources on the ground. I communicate from one person to another until I find the actual victims. My network helps bring them to somewhere in the area with internet, such as the offices of certain NGOs. (There is little petrol in Tigray so even finding transport can be extremely difficult.) I use the connection to interview them via secure messaging services. I ask the survivors to send me any footage or photographic evidence they have. To ensure consistency, I then check their testimonies against those given by other witnesses. I also work with experts to analyse satellite imagery.

My reports since the blackout have so far been limited to Mekelle, the Tigrayan capital, and its outskirts. Nobody really knows what is happening in rural areas. Whenever I uncover crimes committed by government forces, or report stories that don’t suit the government’s narrative, I fall victim to co-ordinated attacks, involving threats and online hate campaigns. Such efforts are designed to stop the atrocities from coming to light.

This harassment continued even after I was attacked at my home in Ethiopia in February 2021. Three security agents raided my home and threatened to kill me if I continued to dig into the war. They took evidence that I had gathered for an investigation into weaponised sexual violence involving Eritrean troops, in which a mother had been gang-raped and tortured by 15 Eritrean soldiers in a military camp.

I decided to carry on with the investigation because I couldn’t ignore the terrible stories I had heard. Days after my home was raided I published my investigation in the Los Angeles Times. Within hours officials released a statement saying I was not a legitimate journalist. The Ethiopian state’s media outlets and supporters tried to present me as a criminal. I was forced to flee the country.

I continue my investigations from exile. Two months ago I uncovered the massacre of 278 ethnic-Tigrayan civilians. Eritrean troops and local Afar forces who are allied to the Ethiopian army went from house to house shooting. Pregnant women and children were among the victims. More than two dozen girls reported sexual violence, too. Sometimes I feel a terrible sense of déjà vu in my work; patterns and repetition appear in the killing methods. All the more reason why journalists must continue to expose such horrors.

Foreign governments should put pressure on Ethiopia to allow independent international investigation, lift the communication blackout and, crucially, to allow journalists to do their job. The point of the hate campaigns against me and other journalists who defy the government’s narrative has been to keep these kinds of atrocities and other horrendous war crimes in the dark. The intention is to tire us through relentless bullying. The aim is for state propaganda to saturate news networks and social-media platforms to drown out the truth. But the truth can only come to light if journalists are allowed to do their work without harassment.

Source

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YouTube & Co Block Russia-backed Channels But Not Those Openly Inciting Genocide against Tigrayans of Ethiopia

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on April 7, 2022

💭 It took just one day for YouTube & Co to block Russia-backed Channels like “RT”, “SPUTNIK” – yet, hundreds of Ethiopia-backed and government affiliated Channels inciting hatred and genocide are untouched. These criminal channels continue to enable evil Abiy Ahmed Ali and his fascist Oromo regime to commit barbaric acts against Tigrayans. YouTube & Co don’t care!

👉 The following are some of the Joseph Goebbels of Ethiopia today:

  • ☆ ETV (Ethiopian Television Channel)
  • ☆ Fana Television Channel
  • ☆ Walta TV
  • ☆ ESATtv Ethiopia
  • ☆ OBN Oromiyaa [Oromia Broadcasting Network]
  • ☆ Amhara Media Corporation
  • ☆ Ethio 360
  • ☆ Adebabay Media
  • ☆ Ethio-Beteseb Media
  • ☆ Haq Ena Saq
  • ☆ Mehal Meda
  • ☆ Fidak Tube
  • ☆ Addis Times
  • ☆ Haq & Saq
  • ☆ Menelik Television 2
  • ☆ Abebe Belew
  • ☆ Dere News
  • ☆ Zehabesha Original
  • ☆ Terara Tube
  • ☆ Ahmedin Jebel- አሕመዲን ጀበል
  • ☆ Kegne Tube ቀኘ ቱዩብ
  • ☆ ጽዋዕ Tsewa’e

🛑 Disclaimer: this article contains examples of hate speech.

💭 Since the start of the genocidal war against Tigray, Ethiopia in November 2020, social media has been awash with calls for violence against specific ethnic groups. Words such as “terrorist,” “killers,” “cancer,” and “weeds” have been used to describe Tigrayans.

In response to a recent proliferation of hate speech on social media platforms, Twitter announced on November 5, 2021 that it had disabled its trends list for Ethiopia to “reduce the risks of coordination that could incite violence or cause harm.” Facebook, meanwhile, published an update of its security protocols for protecting people in-country and curbing the spread of hate speech on November 9. This came in the wake of Facebook removing a post by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for violating the platform’s policies against inciting violence. The post called on citizens to take up arms and “organise and march through [any] legal manner with every weapon and power… to prevent, reverse and bury the terrorist TPLF.”

According to Facebook’s current policies regarding violence and incitement, the platform removes content containing language that “incites or facilitates serious violence.” Additionally, users are not permitted to post “threats that could lead to death (and other forms of high-severity violence) targeting people or places.” This includes “aspirational or conditional statements to commit high-severity violence.”

Despite these policies, Facebook has received repeated criticism for failing to take down violent posts in local Ethiopian languages, including Tigrinya and Amharic, as noted in Washington Post coverage of internal Facebook documents leaked by whistleblower Frances Haugen. Information from the leaked document suggested that Facebook teams had flagged a network of accounts promoting disinformation about the conflict and inciting people to take up arms. The network was linked with the Amhara militia Fano group, which has been accused of human rights abuses during the current conflict.

Facebook ultimately de-platformed Fano-linked assets in early December for violating its Violent Non-State Actor (VNSA) policy. According to a spokesperson for Meta, Facebook’s parent company:

The designation of any organization as a VNSA will result in a removal of content that supports or represents the organization or its members as well as the removal of their presence from our family of apps. Under this policy, praise for the group will be allowed except for content that praises violence, which will be considered violating.

Meanwhile, on December 14, the Oversight Board ruled on a post that was automatically flagged by Facebook’s Amharic language systems. The post, which made unverified claims that the TPLF and Tigray an citizens committed atrocities in an Amhara village, was restored despite being labeled as hate speech by two of the company’s Amharic-language content moderators. The Board ruled that Facebook should remove the post again, saying “rumors alleging that an ethnic group is complicit in mass atrocities, as found in this post, are dangerous and significantly increase the risk of imminent violence.” According to the ruling, the user who created the post did not “even provide circumstantial evidence to support his allegations.”

This is not the first time Facebook in particular has come under fire for allowing hate speech to fester; in 2020, a dedicated disinformation campaign was used to vilify prominent Ethiopian musician Hachalu Hundessa, who was later assassinated. Following his death, rampant hate speech and incitement to violence sparked mobs that led to hundreds of deaths. Since then, Facebook has released community standards guidelines in both Oromo and Amharic.

The DFRLab identified 27 examples of possible hate speech and incitement to violence and shared them with Facebook. After an internal assessment, Facebook removed 15 of them for violating policies on inciting violence. According to a statement released to the DFRLab by Meta:

A number of the posts that were flagged by DFRLab and included as examples in the article had already been actioned, and removed by Meta over the last few months. We have taken additional steps and will continue to leverage our proactive tools to find any duplicates of violating content which we will remove. Of the separate 27 pieces of content shared by DFRLab and reviewed by Meta, 15 were actioned and deleted for Violence & Incitement violations. The remaining 12 were found to be non violating as some were shared in condemnation or in an awareness raising context, whilst others either targeted institutions and/or had no obvious threat. Our Community Standards make clear what is and isn’t allowed on Facebook, and as soon as we become aware of violating content, we will remove it.

Additionally, Meta noted some of the actions it has recently taken in response to the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia and in the lead-up to the general election last June. These include expanding its capacity to review content in Amharic, Oromo, Somali, and Tigrinya; developing technology to automatically identify hate speech and ethnic slurs, resulting in more than 92,000 pieces of content being taken down between May and October 2021; removing coordinated inauthentic behavior in Ethiopia; releasing political transparency tools; and running a media literacy billboard campaign across 43 locations in Addis Ababa, “the first of its kind for Facebook across Africa.”

Online violence in Ethiopia

In March 2020, Ethiopia enacted the Hate Speech and Disinformation Prevention and Suppression Proclamation, which gave the government recourse to fine and imprison citizens for comments made on social media. Civil society groups, including Human Rights Watch, criticized the proclamation for its violation of the freedom of speech and its broad-sweeping definition of hate speech. Under the legislation, if the offense of hate speech or disinformation offense has been committed through a social media account having more than 5,000 followers or through a broadcast service or print media, the person responsible for the act could be punished with imprisonment not exceeding three years or a fine up to 100,000 birr (approximately USD $2,120).

However, the DFRLab has identified multiple accounts on both Twitter and Facebook with over 5,000 followers that recently posted hate speech without repercussion from the government. Some of these accounts are themselves operated by government employees or are government-aligned organizations. It is unknown whether the lack of prosecution of these accounts is a sign of selective enforcement or a general lack of resources to pursue those in violation.

A post that received severe backlash online was created by pro-government activist Dejene Assefa, whose Facebook account has over 121,000 followers and whose posts regularly receive thousands of likes and hundreds of shares. In late October 2021, Dejene published a Facebook post stating, “the war is with those you grew up with, your neighbor,” and calling on people to act against the “traitors” even if they do not want to do it.

The post was called out by social media users, including by algorithmic bias expert Timnit Gebru, and subsequently removed by Facebook. However, the DFRLab identified an additional ten pages, with a combined following of over 382,000 followers, that had reposted copied version of the text. According to Facebook, the company is working to remove duplicates and prevent further sharing.

Example of tweet demanding that Facebook remove a post by Dejene Assefa. The post was subsequently removed. (Source: sirarwa/archive)

In another post that was shared nearly 1,400 times, Dejene stated there was still time to cut the necks of the “traitors” and sing victory songs on their graves. The post was flagged by the DFRLab and removed by Facebook for inciting violence.

Violent rhetoric has also been documented from TPLF leaders and supporters. On November 12, Getachew Reda, advisor to TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael, tweeted an official press statement from the Tigray regional government on “nefarious foreign actors.” The post referred to Abiy’s government as “parasitic” and “predatory,” language similar to Abiy’s July 2021 claims that the TPLF were a “cancer” and an invasive “weed.” The press release also said, “The Government of Tigray and Tigray Armed Forces are not liable for any harm that foreign citizens knee-deep in Abiy Ahmed’s criminal enterprise suffer as we exercise our legitimate right of self-defense by taking proportional measures to ensure our people’s safety and security.” At the time of writing, the original tweet remained active on the platform.

On Facebook, Getachew, who has almost 174,000 followers, regularly posts updates corresponding to the Tigray defense forces capturing of different cities. These posts often contain demands for opposing forces to give up or face retribution.

Calls to arms

Posts similar to Prime Minister Abiy’s November 2021 call to arms, which Facebook removed for inciting violence, have appeared on the platform. Many of these posts, however, were less overtly violent. While Abiy called for citizens to arm themselves in order to “bury” the TPLF, other prominent users were more subtle in their calls to arms.

On September 15, 2021, Taye Bogale Arega, an historian who has been vocal in his support of the Ethiopian government, called for the TPLF and supporters to be “eradicated.” The following day, he posted two images of himself holding a rifle. While his post on eradicating TPLF supporters has been removed, the images of him posing with a rifle remain on Facebook at the time of publishing. Taye has over 263,000 followers on the platform.

Screencap of photos posted by historian Taye Bogale Arega of himself holding a rifle a day after calling for the “eradication” of the TPLF. (Source: Taye Bogale Arega/archive)

Another profile posted a blurry image of Amhara militants on November 2 asking for supporters from abroad to donate weapons, saying “give us at least one weapon.” The post, which Facebook has now deleted, was created the same day Abiy announced a six-month state of emergency and authorities in Addis Ababa called on citizens to ready themselves to defend the capital by registering their own firearms. The state of emergency requires citizens to carry identification at all times, allows for random raids by security forces, and gives police the ability to detain without a warrant anyone suspected to have connections to the “terrorist group” — i.e., the TPLF.

A post flagged by the DFRLab and deleted by Facebook called for foreign nationals to donate weapons to Amhara fighters. (Source: Facebook)

Following the implementation of the state of emergency, Addis Ababa Mayor Adanech Abiebie congratulated residents of the capital for taking the initiative to patrol the streets. She said the “Junta” would be buried as a result and encouraged citizens to continue acting as police and peace guards.”

Screencap of photos posted by the mayor of Addis Ababa alongside text encouraging citizens to patrol the streets after the implementation of a state of emergency that allows for arrests without warrants. (Source: Adanech Abiebie- አዳነች አቤቤ/archive)

Since the state of emergency was announced, the BBC reported that thousands of Tigrayans in Addis Ababa have been arrested under “suspicion” of supporting the TPLF, raising concerns among human rights groups.

Influence from abroad

The DFRLab also found significant amounts of online hate speech originating in diaspora communities located outside of Ethiopia.

Zehabesha, an influential Minnesota-based broadcasting company with over 1.5 million Facebook followers, posted an image of a devil and the Tigray flag alongside text calling the TPLF derogatory names. The post remained active at the time of publishing. In early November, Zehabesha also published a video interview with a Fano leader that called for all Tigray ans to be placed in concentration camps. Facebook removed the videos, though copies of it shared in the context of condemning the remarks remain on the platform.

Tweet referencing concentration camp remarks by a Fano militia leader as hate speech. (Source: TranslateET/archive)

Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT), based in Washington, DC, has also been accused of spreading hate speech against Tigray ans as far back as 2016. In late October, digital rights activist Berhan Taye reported a Facebook post by ESAT broadcaster Mesay Mekonen that also called for all Tigray ans to be placed in concentration camps. Facebook initially told Taye that the content did not violate its community standards policy. The post was eventually taken down, although it had been shared over 6,000 times and the same text has been copy and pasted elsewhere on the platform.

(Source: btayeg/archive)

Multiple videos posted by Mekonnen Kebede, a US citizen with 69,000 followers on Facebook, were removed for hate speech and inciting violence after being flagged by the DFRLab. In one video, Mekonnen, who has close links with the Fano militia and has posted photos and videos from the front lines, called for the death of 7 million Tigray ans. Before being removed, the video had received over 182,000 views. Another now-deleted video promoting the removal of the Oromia region from Ethiopia’s map and inciting violence against members of the Oromo ethnic group was viewed more than 91,000 times. A video used to raise funds prior to Mekonnen joining the war effort was also removed, although it is unknown whether the requested funds were directed specifically to the Fano militia.

On November 2, the verified Twitter account for Kenyan writer Dikembe Disembe, which has over 330,000 followers, tweeted in English, “Ethiopia must annihilate Tigray just like Rwanda humbled the Hutus.” The post was reported and quickly removed, to which Disembe tweeted the response, “TPLF bots. TPLF is a terror group Ethiopia must rid.”

According to the BBC, posts written in local languages other than Amharic, the most widely spoken language in Ethiopia, “are less vulnerable to being reported and blocked.” This has allowed social media users across the board to demonize war refugees and call for genocide against ethnic minorities. Although recent media attention has focused on Amharic content, violent rhetoric has persisted on social media since the war broke out in 2020, and continues to spread across multiple platforms.

Source

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Posted in Ethiopia, Media & Journalism, News/ዜና, War & Crisis | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

😈 መጀመሪያ ESAT ቀጥሎ Ethio 360 እና ሌሎች መቶ ሜዲያዎች ለጽዮናውያን ጄነሳይድ ተጠያቂዎች ናቸው

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on March 24, 2022

💭ይህን ቪዲዮ አምና ላይ ነበር ባዘጉብን ቻነላችን ላይ አቅርበነው የነበረው። በአክሱም ጽዮናውያን ላይ ጦርነቱ ገና ከመጀመሩ ከብዙ ዓመታት ለአንዳንድ ሜዲያዎች ማስጠንቀቂያዎችን ስንሰጥ ቆይተናል። ይገርማል! በኢሳት የሜዲያ ታሪክ ከዚህ መልዕክት ውጭ አንዴም እንኳን ፕሮግራማቸውን አዳምጬ/አይቼ አላውቅም! አምስተርዳም ላይ እንዴት እንደተመሠረቱና ማን እንደመሠረታቸው ስለማውቅ ይመስለኛል። ምን ዓይነት አጀንዳ እንደሚኖራቸው አስቀድመን ለማወቅ ስለቻለንም ይህን ጂኒያማ የኦሮሞጉራጌ ፋሺስቶች ሜዲያ መከታተሉ ጊዜ ማባከን ብቻ ሊሆን ስለሚችል ነውና፤ ምንም የሚስብ ነገር የላቸውምና።

ለማንኛውም አምና ላይ ለኢትዮ 360 ለፍላፊዎችና ለአንዳንድ ሌሎች የሜዲያ ሰዎች እስካለፈው የጌታችን ስቅለት ዕለት ድረስ ተመልሰው ንሰሐ እንዲገቡ ወንድማዊ ጥሪ አድርገንላቸው ነበር። ከእነዚህም አንዱ ጽዮናውያን ጠል የነበሩት “የኢትዮጵያ አንድነት ራዲዮ ስዊድን” መስራች አቶ ተኮላ ተኮላ ወርቁ ይገኙበታል። ነፍሳቸውን ይማርላቸውና፤ ይቅርታ ሳይሉ ምናልባትም ንሰሐ ሳይገቡ አርፈው ከሆነ በጣም ያሳዝናል። እኝህ ሰው ከተዋሕዶ ትግራዋይ ይልቅ ለእስላም አማራ በይበልጥ የሚቆረቆሩ ግብዝ ነበሩ። ይህ ባሕርይ የብዙዎችን አማራ/ኦሮማራ አክቲቪስቶች አቋም ይገልጻል። በዚህ በዘመን ፍጻሜ ሌሎቹም ባፋጣኝ ጽዮናውያንን ይቅርታ እየጠየቁ ከሠሩት ከባድ ኃጢዓት ካልተመለሱ የኤርታ አሌ የገሃንም እሳት መግቢያ ነው የሚጠብቃቸው።

እነ ሃብታሙ አያሌውን፣ ኤርሚያስ ለገስን፣ ብሩክ ይባስን፣ ጋንኤል ክስረትን፣ ‘Nahoo TV’ ኤልያስ አወቀ + ‘ጽዋዕ’ + ኢትዮ-ቤተሰብ ሜዲያ + አደባባይ ሜዲያ + ዘመድኩን በቀለን እና ሌሎችብዙዎችን የኦሮሞዎችን፣ አማራዎችንና ሙስሊም ሜዲያዎችን/ቀስቃሾቹን ይመለከታል።

💭 “Drain the Sea”: The Genocidal Call Broadcast by ESAT |የኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ የትግራይን ህዝብ እንድያጠፋ በኢሳት የተላለፈው ጥሪ

💭 የኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ የትግራይን ህዝብና እንድያጠፋ ጥሪው የሚያነበው ኦሮማራው መሳይ መኮነን

This is an English translation of the genocidal call that was broadcast by the Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) on August 6, 2016.

Urgent call to the people of Ethiopia from the Entire Amhara people in Gondar

To the Ethiopian Satellite Television and Radio Washington DC, USA; Amsterdam, Netherlands, Oromia Media Network Washington DC, USA

Re: A call to reclaim our freedom, which we have been unable to regain peacefully, through whatever forceful measure necessary

On August 5, The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) which the Ethiopian people have been struggling against for the past 25 years in the hopes that they would learn from their mistakes and injustices have on August 5, 2016, have deployed their usual ploy and crossed Soreka and Sanja passes at night, assigned their own cadres as guards, and launched a campaign to massacre and exterminate us.

The campaign aimed to frighten the people of Gondar, who have become a headache to them, and stop the struggle that is gaining momentum in the country. However, the heroic people of Gondar came out en masse to encircle the cadres and protect the people and their surroundings. We thank our region’s riot police and militia, who stood by our side by ignoring the orders of this brutal, oppressive minority group; it was a great source of strength for us.

Dear people of Ethiopia,

As you can see, our struggle is not like the typical struggle between a so-called oppressive government and oppressed people as occurs across the world. The struggle is between those who wish to destroy our race and rule over us and the rest of us Ethiopians whose misery has been unending. This is evidenced by the war waged against the people of Gonder by Tigray an soldiers.

We have also received information that there is an arrogant and contemptful plan to use Tigray an only forces to take control of Amhara, the vast Oromo, and Southern Ethiopia by controlling two roads:

  1. starting from the Arassa Lasta through Belesa to the South Gondar and then West and East Gojjam using the Temben-Sekota-Lalibela road,
  2. from Muketuri to Selalie using the Temben-Sekota-Lalibela road
  3. North Shoa using the Dessie-Addis Ababa road

Dear people of Ethiopia,

This deadly plot is aimed at 95 million people by 5 million by using unconscionable villains and political sell-outs such as Hailemariam Desalegn and his likes. It is also unfortunate that the 5 million are serving and being used by ten or so leaders at the top and those close to 10,000 around them.

Ethiopians have been begging in various ways for these well-to-do Tigray ans to join the struggle and fight for peace. If that is not possible, we have been urging Tigray ans to distance themselves and show those at the top that they are on their own. However, instead of heeding our request, they have demonstrated their allegiance to them and engaged in psychological warfare to ridicule and humiliate us. What we have gained so far from this is death and humiliation.

Our 25 years of peaceful protests have not resulted in anything. So, what are we waiting for? Are we waiting for them to finish us off one by one? From now on, it is foolish and naive to expect any solutions through dialogue.

Whether we like it or not, there is only one option: pay them back in their own coin and use force to restore our freedom. One way of getting rid of rotten fish is to drain the sea.

Dear people of Ethiopia,

There is no doubt that pent-up frustration after patiently waiting for the right thing can only result in remarkable things. Therefore, we call on all of you, wherever you are – without any hesitation, – to start taking action as follows:

  1. To all Ethiopians in the Amhara Region: You must block roads to Tigray to stop TPLF’s movements. First, Tigray to Addis Ababa road via Dessie. Second, from Woldiya to Wereta; from Shire to Gondar; from Humera to Gondar; and from Metema to Gondar, just like the now blocked roads around Gonder. All of you must come out and block every road to Tigray using stones and tree trunks to stop TPLF’s movement.
  2. To our people in Afar: You must block the roads to Tigray , such as the Wiiha-Shekhit-Afdera road, as well as the roads that take to Asayita using stones and tree trunks to stop TPLF’s movements
  3. To all Ethiopians serving in the army: We do not need to tell you that you did not join the military to serve ten or so tyrannical Tigray an leaders, a few traitors from our region, to ensure Tigray an hegemony. Therefore, if possible, take military action against those on the top of the command serving as your superiors. If not, stay at home until you’ve understood the truth because when you do so, we want you alive and to join us because you are our brothers and sisters. We understand your agony and dilemma.
  4. To all Ethiopians: What we have gained through our peaceful struggle has been arrest, beating, death, and losing our race. Therefore, we have to collectively say ‘enough’ and decide that this should stop. Thus, the measures we take to protect ourselves are natural and legal. Therefore, we request Ethiopians to accept our call and stand with us.

Victory for Ethiopians and Ethiopia,

With best regards,

Source

💭 ያልተዳቀሉ አክሱም ጽዮናውያን እኅቶች፤ ዛሬ ለሚታየው አሰቃቂ ግፍ ቍ. ፩ ተጠያቂው የፋሺስቱ ኦሮሞ አገዛዝ ነው

___________

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Facebook Accused of Letting Activists Incite Ethnic Massacres With Hate & Misinformation In Ethiopia

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on February 20, 2022

💭 የዋቄዮ-አላህ ልጆች ቢጠሉን፣ ቢያሳድዱንና ቢገድሉን እምብዛም ላያስገርመን ይችላል፤ ፍቅር በጣም ይጎድላቸዋልና፤ “ግን ክርስቲያን ነኝ፣ ኢትዮጵያዊ ነኝ!” የሚለው ወገን ስድስት ሺህ ዓመት ከዘመን ቃኤል በኋላ በሃያ አንደኛው ክፍለ ዘመን እንዴት ይህን ያህል ተግቶ ሊጠላና ሊገድል ቻለ?

እንደው ጃል፤ ኦሮማራዎች ኢትዮጵያን በዓለም ፊት አዋረዷት፣ ልጆቿን እርስበርስ አባሉባት፣ ኢትዮጵያ አስለቀሷት፣ ኢትዮጲያዊያንን እንደገና የአለም መሣቂያዎች አደረጓቸው እኮ!

🐸 እንቁራሪት በድንገት በፈላ ውሃ ውስጥ ከተከተተች ትዘላለች፤ ነገር ግን እንቁራሪቷ ሞቅ ባለ ውሃ ውስጥ ከተከተተች እና ውሃው ቀስ በቀስ እየፈላ ከመጣባት አደጋውን ስለማትገነዘብ ተቀቅላ ትሞታለች።

❖ እሺ ብትሉ በረከቴን ረድኤቴን ትበላላችሁ፤ 🔥 እምቢ ብትሉ ግን ሠይፍ ይበላችኋል!

❖❖❖[፩ኛ የዮሐንስ መልእክት ምዕራፍ ፫፥፲፬፡፲፭]❖❖❖

እኛ ወንድሞችን የምንወድ ስለ ሆንን ከሞት ወደ ሕይወት እንደ ተሻገርን እናውቃለን፤ ወንድሙን የማይወድ በሞት ይኖራል። ወንድሙን የሚጠላ ሁሉ ነፍሰ ገዳይ ነው፥ ነፍሰ ገዳይም የሆነ ሁሉ የዘላለም ሕይወት በእርሱ እንዳይኖር ታውቃላችሁ።”

On the afternoon of November 2 last year, Gebremichael Teweldmedhin, a Tigrayan jeweller and father of nine, headed to work in Gonder, a city in the Amhara region of northern Ethiopia where he had lived for more than three decades.

When Gebremichael arrived in the city, he found a mob looting his nephew’s workshop. Gebremichael begged them to stop. Instead, they turned on him.

One relative, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals, told the Bureau: “The looters took them, Gebremichael along with another 10 or 11 people who worked in that area – by vehicle. We tried to follow them but we were not able to get their whereabouts.

“Then other people told us they were killed. They are buried in a mass grave.”

Gebremichael was not political, his relative said. He was not educated, and did not engage with the hatred and misinformation that swamps Ethiopian social media. Yet his relative claimed online hate campaigns and calls for violence – particularly on Facebook – played a key role in not only his killing, but many others.

“The worst thing that contributed to their killing are the so-called activists who have been spreading hate on social media,” he told the Bureau. Some posts, he claimed, would name individuals or even post photos helping create an atmosphere “inciting attacks, killings and displacements”.

Thousands have died and millions more have been displaced since fighting broke out between government forces and armed opposition groups from the country’s Tigray region in November 2020. The government has also been fighting an armed group from the Oromia region, and the UN secretary general António Guterres said last November that “the stability of Ethiopia and the wider region is at stake”.

On November 9, Mercy Ndegwa, Facebook’s public policy director for East Africa, and Mark Smith, its global content management director, used a blog post to offer reassurances that Ethiopia “has been one of our highest priorities” and that their company “will remain in close communication with people on the ground”.

But the Bureau’s investigation has uncovered a litany of failures. The company has known for years that it was helping to directly fuel the growing tensions in the country. Many of those fighting misinformation and hate on the ground – fact checkers, journalists, civil society organisations and human rights activists – say Facebook’s support is still far less than it could and should be.

A senior member of Ethiopia’s media accused Facebook of “just standing by and watching this country fall apart”. Others told the Bureau that they felt requests for assistance had been ignored and that meetings failed to materialise. These failures, they said, were helping to fuel a conflict that has already led to reports of ethnic cleansing and mass rape. Amnesty International has accused both sides in the conflict of carrying out atrocities against civilians.

All the while posts inciting violence or making false claims designed to encourage hate between ethnic groups in Ethiopia have been allowed to circulate freely. The Bureau has identified and spoken with relatives of people allegedly killed in multiple different attacks, but has not been able to cross-check specific details on the ground because of the ongoing violence.

Facebook said it had worked for two years on a comprehensive strategy to keep people in Ethiopia safe on their platforms, including engaging with civil society groups, fact checking organisations, and forming a special policy unit.

Gebremichael’s family cited one Facebook user in particular: Solomon Bogale, an online activist with more than 86,000 followers on Facebook. Though listed on Facebook as living in London, Bogale’s social media indicates that he has been in Ethiopia since August 2021, with posts of him in fatigues and carrying an assault rifle often accompanied by statements praising the Fano, an Amharan nationalist vigilante group.

In the opinion of one of Gebremichael’s family members, Bogale’s “inciteful posts” had resulted in many attacks on Tigrayans in Gonder.

In the weeks before Gebremichael’s killing, Bogale called for people to “cleanse” the Amhara territories of the “junta”, a term often used by government supporters to refer to the Tigrayan forces fighting the government and Tigrayans more generally. The post continued: “We need to cleanse the region of the junta lineage present prior to the war!!”

On October 31, two days before Gebremichael’s disappearance, Bogale posted an image of an elderly woman holding grenades, with the caption: “#Dear people of Amhara, there are mothers like these who are fighting to destroy Amhara and destroy Ethiopia! The main solution to save the #Amhara people and to protect Ethiopia is we Amharas have to rise up!! Get together Amhara.”

The Bureau has verified that both posts remained up on Facebook almost four months later, along with many others from various sources containing hate speech, calls for violence and false claims. Throughout the conflict misinformation and hate have been deployed on Facebook and other social media, inflaming tensions and influencing the outcome of military operations.

Contacted over Facebook, Bogale denied that any Tigrayans were killed in Gonder in early November, saying all Tigrayans in the city were safe. He also claimed that Tigrayan forces had killed ethnic Amharans in the region.

He also said he would delete the posts cited by the Bureau.

Facebook said it had reviewed the posts flagged by the Bureau and had removed any content that violated its policies. The Bureau found one post had been removed. At the time of publication, the post of the woman holding grenades remained online.

Criticism of Facebook’s failings is made more damning by the extensive evidence that the company has known of the risk of such problems for years, according to disclosures made to the Securities and Exchange Commission and provided to Congress in redacted form by the legal counsel of Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen. The redacted versions received by Congress were reviewed by a consortium of news organisations, including the Bureau.

As early as January 2019 an internal report into various countries’ “On-FB Badness” – a measure of harmful content on the platform, including hate and graphic violence – rated the situation in Ethiopia as “severe”, its second-highest category.

By June 2020, Facebook had become even more starkly aware of the problem. An internal document discussing measures used to assess the level of harmful content said it had “found significant gaps in our coverage (especially in Myanmar and Ethiopia)”.

Six months later, Ethiopia had risen to the top of Facebook’s list of countries where it needed to take action. In a presentation circulated on December 10 2020, the risk of societal violence in Ethiopia was ranked as “dire” – Facebook’s highest threat warning. It was the only country to be given that ranking.

More than a year on, the Bureau’s investigation has found that Facebook is said to have frequently ignored requests for support from fact checkers based in the country and some civil society organisations say they have not met with the company in 18 months. The Bureau has learned from multiple sources that Facebook only appointed its first senior policy executive from Ethiopia to work on East Africa in September.

Facebook does run a third-party fact-checking programme, providing partners with access to internal tools and payment for fact checks. As its website states: “We rely on independent fact checkers to review and rate the accuracy of stories through original reporting.” But it has not partnered with a single organisation based in Ethiopia to tackle the misinformation spread by all sides in the country’s conflict.

Abel Wabella, founder of the Ethiopian fact-checking initiative HaqCheck said Facebook had failed to support his organisation since he first approached executives more than a year ago.

“They told me, ‘OK, we can help you, just write to us, our email.’ They gave me their cards. And I wrote to them,” he told the Bureau. But he heard nothing back. “At that time, our initiative was very small, so I thought they didn’t find something good in our platform, so they wanted to keep silent because of that.”

Wabella sent two further emails over the next few months, the second to the new Facebook executive from Ethiopia he had heard had been appointed. Despite assuring him that she would take action in September, he said he had heard nothing from the company since.

Rehobot Ayalew, HaqCheck’s lead fact checker, said the lack of support had severely hampered her team’s work. “Most of the people have low media literacy, so Facebook is considered to be credible … So working with Facebook, and also checking and verifying Facebook content, is the major way to counter this disinformation.” Wabella added: “The problem is not specific to Tigray. Ethiopian citizens from every corner across ethnic groups were severely affected by hateful content circulating online, specifically Facebook.”

The other major independent fact-checking organisation based in Ethiopia, Ethiopia Check, is also not part of Facebook’s partner programme.

Facebook said it had constantly engaged with civil society organisations and human rights groups on the ground, but did not partner with HaqCheck and Ethiopia Check because neither was certified by the International Fact-Checking Network.

Facebook does work with two fact-checking organisations on content from Ethiopia – PesaCheck, which runs a small team in Nairobi, and Agence France-Presse (AFP) – but both of them are based outside the country. We understand that AFP has just one fact checker in the country but in response to our story Facebook told the Bureau that “both PesaCheck and AFP have teams based in Ethiopia for fact-checking”. While misinformation flagged by PesaCheck and AFP has often been labelled as false or removed by Facebook, content investigated and debunked by HaqCheck has largely remained unaltered and free to spread.

This has included false declarations of military victories on both sides, false allegations of attacks on civilians and false claims of captured infiltrators. On November 25 last year, the Ethiopian government banned all unofficial reporting of battles, further enforcing an information vacuum in which misinformation spreads easily.

“As far as I know, support for fact checkers in Ethiopia by Facebook is almost non-existent,” said the senior person working in Ethiopian media, who asked to remain anonymous. “Facebook doesn’t pay the attention Ethiopia needs at this crucial moment, and that’s contributing to the ongoing crisis by inflaming hatred and spreading hate speech.”

A number of civil society groups have similar complaints of feeling ignored and sidelined. Facebook organised a meeting with several groups in June 2020, to discuss how the platform could best regulate content before scheduled elections. As of November, two of the organisations involved said they had heard nothing about any subsequent meetings.

“The recent development has been overwhelming. Facebook should have had a similar consultation,” said Yared Hailemariam, executive director of the Ethiopian Human Right Defenders Center. “Facebook also ought to have a working group, collaborating with human rights organisations and civil society groups.”

Haben Fecadu, a human rights activist who has worked in Ethiopia, said the hate speech issue was flagged to Facebook years ago but the company had still not provided adequate resources to deal with it

“There’s really no excuse and I wish someone had come down harder on them about it,” she said. “I’ve doubted they have invested enough in their Africa content moderation, and doubt that the Africa team has had enough resources to moderate content properly. They don’t have enough moderators … I suspect they didn’t have a Tigrinya-speaking moderator until very recently.”

Facebook’s owner Meta said in January that it would “assess the feasibility” of complying with a recommendation by its independent oversight board that it launch a human rights assessment of its activity in Ethiopia. The recommendation came after the board directed Facebook to remove a post that claimed Tigrayans were involved in atrocities in the Amhara region.

Ayalew, the HaqCheck fact checker, said the inadequate support from one of the world’s richest companies was demoralising. “We usually come across sensitive content, images that are horrifying and hateful content. It’s hard by itself,” she said. “And when you know that, even though you’re trying, you’re not getting the support from the platform itself, that is allowing this kind of content.

“You ask yourself why? Why am I doing this? Because you know that they can do more, and they can change the situation. They have a big role in this, and they’re not doing anything. You’re trying alone.”

Mercy Ndegwa, speaking on behalf of Facebook, said: “For more than two years, we’ve invested in safety and security measures in Ethiopia, adding more staff with local expertise and building our capacity to catch hateful and inflammatory content in the most widely spoken languages, including Amharic, Oromo, Somali and Tigrinya. As the situation has escalated, we’ve put additional measures in place and are continuing to monitor activity on our platform, identify issues as they emerge, and quickly remove any content that breaks our rules.”

Just over three weeks after Gebremichael’s murder, Hadush Gebrekirstos, a 45-year-old who lived in Addis Ababa, was arbitrarily detained by police who heard him speaking Tigrinya.

“After they knew he was a Tigrinya speaker, they said, ‘This one is mercenary!’ and took him to a nearby police station … They were beating him hard,” said a relative, who also wished to remain anonymous and who was told what happened by witnesses.

“Two days after – on November 26 – his body was found dead, about 200 to 150m from the police station. They threw his body out there.”

Again, Hadush’s relative said he had no political or social media engagement. Again, he believes that it was lies and hate on Facebook that played a key role in causing the killing.

“It really does. Irrespective of reality, because people do not have the ability to verify what was posted on Facebook. Like calling people to kill Tigrinya speaking residents – as a result of hatred and revenge feelings … You don’t even know who is killing you, who is detaining you and who is looting your property. It’s total lawlessness.”

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Posted in Ethiopia, Media & Journalism, War & Crisis | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Influential Ethiopian Social Media Accounts Stoke Violence Along Ethnic Lines

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on December 18, 2021

Proliferation of hate speech on social media has the capacity to cause real-world harm amidst an increasingly violent civil war.

Disclaimer: this article contains examples of hate speech.

In response to a recent proliferation of hate speech on social media platforms, Twitter announced on November 5, 2021 that it had disabled its trends list for Ethiopia to “reduce the risks of coordination that could incite violence or cause harm.” Facebook, meanwhile, published an update of its security protocols for protecting people in-country and curbing the spread of hate speech on November 9. This came in the wake of Facebook removing a post by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for violating the platform’s policies against inciting violence. The post called on citizens to take up arms and “organise and march through [any] legal manner with every weapon and power… to prevent, reverse and bury the terrorist TPLF.”

According to Facebook’s current policies regarding violence and incitement, the platform removes content containing language that “incites or facilitates serious violence.” Additionally, users are not permitted to post “threats that could lead to death (and other forms of high-severity violence) targeting people or places.” This includes “aspirational or conditional statements to commit high-severity violence.”

Despite these policies, Facebook has received repeated criticism for failing to take down violent posts in local Ethiopian languages, including Tigrinya and Amharic, as noted in Washington Post coverage of internal Facebook documents leaked by whistleblower Frances Haugen. Information from the leaked document suggested that Facebook teams had flagged a network of accounts promoting disinformation about the conflict and inciting people to take up arms. The network was linked with the Amhara militia Fano group, which has been accused of human rights abuses during the current conflict.

Facebook ultimately de-platformed Fano-linked assets in early December for violating its Violent Non-State Actor (VNSA) policy. According to a spokesperson for Meta, Facebook’s parent company:

The designation of any organization as a VNSA will result in a removal of content that supports or represents the organization or its members as well as the removal of their presence from our family of apps. Under this policy, praise for the group will be allowed except for content that praises violence, which will be considered violating.

Meanwhile, on December 14, the Oversight Board ruled on a post that was automatically flagged by Facebook’s Amharic language systems. The post, which made unverified claims that the TPLF and Tigrayan citizens committed atrocities in an Amhara village, was restored despite being labeled as hate speech by two of the company’s Amharic-language content moderators. The Board ruled that Facebook should remove the post again, saying “rumors alleging that an ethnic group is complicit in mass atrocities, as found in this post, are dangerous and significantly increase the risk of imminent violence.” According to the ruling, the user who created the post did not “even provide circumstantial evidence to support his allegations.”

This is not the first time Facebook in particular has come under fire for allowing hate speech to fester; in 2020, a dedicated disinformation campaign was used to vilify prominent Ethiopian musician Hachalu Hundessa, who was later assassinated. Following his death, rampant hate speech and incitement to violence sparked mobs that led to hundreds of deaths. Since then, Facebook has released community standards guidelines in both Oromo and Amharic.

The DFRLab identified 27 examples of possible hate speech and incitement to violence and shared them with Facebook. After an internal assessment, Facebook removed 15 of them for violating policies on inciting violence. According to a statement released to the DFRLab by Meta:

A number of the posts that were flagged by DFRLab and included as examples in the article had already been actioned, and removed by Meta over the last few months. We have taken additional steps and will continue to leverage our proactive tools to find any duplicates of violating content which we will remove. Of the separate 27 pieces of content shared by DFRLab and reviewed by Meta, 15 were actioned and deleted for Violence & Incitement violations. The remaining 12 were found to be non violating as some were shared in condemnation or in an awareness raising context, whilst others either targeted institutions and/or had no obvious threat. Our Community Standards make clear what is and isn’t allowed on Facebook, and as soon as we become aware of violating content, we will remove it.

Additionally, Meta noted some of the actions it has recently taken in response to the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia and in the lead-up to the general election last June. These include expanding its capacity to review content in Amharic, Oromo, Somali, and Tigrinya; developing technology to automatically identify hate speech and ethnic slurs, resulting in more than 92,000 pieces of content being taken down between May and October 2021; removing coordinated inauthentic behavior in Ethiopia; releasing political transparency tools; and running a media literacy billboard campaign across 43 locations in Addis Ababa, “the first of its kind for Facebook across Africa.”

Online violence in Ethiopia

In March 2020, Ethiopia enacted the Hate Speech and Disinformation Prevention and Suppression Proclamation, which gave the government recourse to fine and imprison citizens for comments made on social media. Civil society groups, including Human Rights Watch, criticized the proclamation for its violation of the freedom of speech and its broad-sweeping definition of hate speech. Under the legislation, if the offense of hate speech or disinformation offense has been committed through a social media account having more than 5,000 followers or through a broadcast service or print media, the person responsible for the act could be punished with imprisonment not exceeding three years or a fine up to 100,000 birr (approximately USD $2,120).

However, the DFRLab has identified multiple accounts on both Twitter and Facebook with over 5,000 followers that recently posted hate speech without repercussion from the government. Some of these accounts are themselves operated by government employees or are government-aligned organizations. It is unknown whether the lack of prosecution of these accounts is a sign of selective enforcement or a general lack of resources to pursue those in violation.

A post that received severe backlash online was created by pro-government activist Dejene Assefa, whose Facebook account has over 121,000 followers and whose posts regularly receive thousands of likes and hundreds of shares. In late October 2021, Dejene published a Facebook post stating, “the war is with those you grew up with, your neighbor,” and calling on people to act against the “traitors” even if they do not want to do it.

The post was called out by social media users, including by algorithmic bias expert Timnit Gebru, and subsequently removed by Facebook. However, the DFRLab identified an additional ten pages, with a combined following of over 382,000 followers, that had reposted copied version of the text. According to Facebook, the company is working to remove duplicates and prevent further sharing.

Example of tweet demanding that Facebook remove a post by Dejene Assefa. The post was subsequently removed. (Source: sirarwa/archive)

In another post that was shared nearly 1,400 times, Dejene stated there was still time to cut the necks of the “traitors” and sing victory songs on their graves. The post was flagged by the DFRLab and removed by Facebook for inciting violence.

Violent rhetoric has also been documented from TPLF leaders and supporters. On November 12, Getachew Reda, advisor to TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael, tweeted an official press statement from the Tigray regional government on “nefarious foreign actors.” The post referred to Abiy’s government as “parasitic” and “predatory,” language similar to Abiy’s July 2021 claims that the TPLF were a “cancer” and an invasive “weed.” The press release also said, “The Government of Tigray and Tigray Armed Forces are not liable for any harm that foreign citizens knee-deep in Abiy Ahmed’s criminal enterprise suffer as we exercise our legitimate right of self-defense by taking proportional measures to ensure our people’s safety and security.” At the time of writing, the original tweet remained active on the platform.

On Facebook, Getachew, who has almost 174,000 followers, regularly posts updates corresponding to the Tigray defense forces capturing of different cities. These posts often contain demands for opposing forces to give up or face retribution.

Calls to arms

Posts similar to Prime Minister Abiy’s November 2021 call to arms, which Facebook removed for inciting violence, have appeared on the platform. Many of these posts, however, were less overtly violent. While Abiy called for citizens to arm themselves in order to “bury” the TPLF, other prominent users were more subtle in their calls to arms.

On September 15, 2021, Taye Bogale Arega, an historian who has been vocal in his support of the Ethiopian government, called for the TPLF and supporters to be “eradicated.” The following day, he posted two images of himself holding a rifle. While his post on eradicating TPLF supporters has been removed, the images of him posing with a rifle remain on Facebook at the time of publishing. Taye has over 263,000 followers on the platform.

Screencap of photos posted by historian Taye Bogale Arega of himself holding a rifle a day after calling for the “eradication” of the TPLF. (Source: Taye Bogale Arega/archive)

Another profile posted a blurry image of Amhara militants on November 2 asking for supporters from abroad to donate weapons, saying “give us at least one weapon.” The post, which Facebook has now deleted, was created the same day Abiy announced a six-month state of emergency and authorities in Addis Ababa called on citizens to ready themselves to defend the capital by registering their own firearms. The state of emergency requires citizens to carry identification at all times, allows for random raids by security forces, and gives police the ability to detain without a warrant anyone suspected to have connections to the “terrorist group” — i.e., the TPLF.

A post flagged by the DFRLab and deleted by Facebook called for foreign nationals to donate weapons to Amhara fighters. (Source: Facebook)

Following the implementation of the state of emergency, Addis Ababa Mayor Adanech Abiebie congratulated residents of the capital for taking the initiative to patrol the streets. She said the “Junta” would be buried as a result and encouraged citizens to continue acting as police and peace guards.”

Screencap of photos posted by the mayor of Addis Ababa alongside text encouraging citizens to patrol the streets after the implementation of a state of emergency that allows for arrests without warrants. (Source: Adanech Abiebie- አዳነች አቤቤ/archive)

Since the state of emergency was announced, the BBC reported that thousands of Tigrayans in Addis Ababa have been arrested under “suspicion” of supporting the TPLF, raising concerns among human rights groups.

Influence from abroad

The DFRLab also found significant amounts of online hate speech originating in diaspora communities located outside of Ethiopia.

Zehabesha, an influential Minnesota-based broadcasting company with over 1.5 million Facebook followers, posted an image of a devil and the Tigray flag alongside text calling the TPLF derogatory names. The post remained active at the time of publishing. In early November, Zehabesha also published a video interview with a Fano leader that called for all Tigrayans to be placed in concentration camps. Facebook removed the videos, though copies of it shared in the context of condemning the remarks remain on the platform.

Tweet referencing concentration camp remarks by a Fano militia leader as hate speech. (Source: TranslateET/archive)

Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT), based in Washington, DC, has also been accused of spreading hate speech against Tigrayans as far back as 2016. In late October, digital rights activist Berhan Taye reported a Facebook post by ESAT broadcaster Mesay Mekonen that also called for all Tigrayans to be placed in concentration camps. Facebook initially told Taye that the content did not violate its community standards policy. The post was eventually taken down, although it had been shared over 6,000 times and the same text has been copy and pasted elsewhere on the platform. (Source: btayeg/archive)

Multiple videos posted by Mekonnen Kebede, a US citizen with 69,000 followers on Facebook, were removed for hate speech and inciting violence after being flagged by the DFRLab. In one video, Mekonnen, who has close links with the Fano militia and has posted photos and videos from the front lines, called for the death of 7 million Tigrayans. Before being removed, the video had received over 182,000 views. Another now-deleted video promoting the removal of the Oromia region from Ethiopia’s map and inciting violence against members of the Oromo ethnic group was viewed more than 91,000 times. A video used to raise funds prior to Mekonnen joining the war effort was also removed, although it is unknown whether the requested funds were directed specifically to the Fano militia.

On November 2, the verified Twitter account for Kenyan writer Dikembe Disembe, which has over 330,000 followers, tweeted in English, “Ethiopia must annihilate Tigray just like Rwanda humbled the Hutus.” The post was reported and quickly removed, to which Disembe tweeted the response, “TPLF bots. TPLF is a terror group Ethiopia must rid.”

According to the BBC, posts written in local languages other than Amharic, the most widely spoken language in Ethiopia, “are less vulnerable to being reported and blocked.” This has allowed social media users across the board to demonize war refugees and call for genocide against ethnic minorities. Although recent media attention has focused on Amharic content, violent rhetoric has persisted on social media since the war broke out in 2020, and continues to spread across multiple platforms.

Source

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Posted in Ethiopia, Media & Journalism, War & Crisis | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Ethiopian Journalist Wins Award for Tigray Reporting | ኢትዮጵያዊው ጋዜጠኛ ለትግራይ ዘገባው ሽልማት አሸነፈ

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on November 17, 2021

👏👏👏

ጋዜጠኛው (የካሜራ ሰው)እንደ ‘አሶሲየትድ ፕሬስ’ ላሉ የተለያዩ ዓለም ዓቀፋዊ የዜና አውታሮችና ሜዲያዎች የሚሠራው ሶላን ኮሊ ነው። እንኳን ደስ ያለህ፤ ወንድማችን! በርታ!

💭 የሮሪ ፔክ ሽልማት ህይወታቸውን አደጋ ላይ ጥለው ዜናዊ በሆኑ ክስተቶች ላይ ለዘገቡ ነፃ የካሜራ ኦፕሬተሮች የሚሰጥ ሽልማት ነው።

💭 Ethiopian journalist Solan Kolli on Tuesday won the Rory Peck prize for his coverage of the devastating conflict in the Tigray region of his home country.

💭The Rory Peck Award is an award given to freelance camera operators who have risked their lives to report on newsworthy events.

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Posted in Curiosity, Ethiopia, Media & Journalism, News/ዜና, War & Crisis | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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