The global network of media activists and associations, IFEX, expelled an Ethiopian association from membership and rejected the Free Eskinder Nega campaign proposed by CPJ.
The decisions were taken at the general meeting of IFEX held this month in Cambodia, according to sources present in the meeting.
IFEX members voted to terminate the membership of the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists’ Association (EFJA) in the meeting held this month, according to sources of this blog who spoke on condition of anonymity.
EFJA is an association established by some Ethiopian opposition journalists almost two decades ago.
Despite the recognition accorded to EFJA by some western lobby groups and embassies, the organization has been criticized for being highly involved in party politics. The association’s influence dwindled with the rise of a number of journalists associations in the last decade and as its chairperson Kifele Mulat made his residence in United States.
However, Kefele Mulat unsuccessfully pleaded against the expulsion claiming that efforts are underway to resurrect the association.
Kefele Mulat told IFEX’s meeting that he is trying to re-organize EFJA with the support of the United States Embassy in Addis Ababa, the sources disclosed to this blog.
Representatives of (Committee to Protect Journalists) asked the meeting to keep EFJA as a member claiming that they are assisting its activities.
However, the meeting voted to expel EFJA noting that keeping defunct associations as members undermines the stature of IFEX.
Free Eskinder Nega campaign
IFEX’s meeting rejected a proposal to launch “Free Eskinder Nega campaign”.
The proposal was presented by CPJ with the aim of launching a global advocacy campaign on Eskinder Nega.
Eskinder Nega is an Ethiopian opposition activist detained in the second half of 2011 on suspicion that he was plotting an Egyptian-style revolution and related acts of violence in coordination with the pro-Eritrean groups Ginbot 7, OLF and ONLF – which are designated terrorist under Ethiopian laws.
The Federal High Court found Eskinder guilty of crimes of terrorism, high treason and espionage in mid-2012 and sentenced him with 18 years imprisonments.The Federal Supreme Court upheld the decision last month.
The Free Eskinder Nega campaign proposal, however, faced challenges from several IFEX members in the meeting.
The meeting pressed CPJ to clarify the status of Eskinder Nega rather than presenting him “both as journalist and blogger”, according to the summary of the meeting the sources confided to this blog.
Participants criticized CPJ for failing to indicate the media house to which Eskinder Nega belongs if any.
The meeting was not convinced by the claim that Eskinder Nega is a blogger. It was further noted that even if he was a blogger, the case would have to be treated in the context of IFEX’s advocacy works on social media.
IFEX’s general meeting also noted that there is no logic to focus on this individual issue, while hundreds of journalists languish in Turkish and Iranian prisons, according to our sources.
The meeting accused CPJ of misleading IFEX into endorsing a pro-Nazi and holocaust glorifier individual citing materials available on the internet.
It is to be recalled that this blog revealed the genocide preaching writings on Eskinder Nega’s now defunct newspapers by publishing both the original and translated versions last October and November. However, lobby groups such as CPJ and Human Rights Watch chose to ignore it.
IFEX’s general meeting dismissed CPJ’s “Free Eskinder Nega campaign” proposal by an overwhelming vote, the sources disclosed.
CPJ attempted to reverse the decision by lobbying members individually on tea-break arguing “what would it hurt you if we endorse this campaign”, “how can we let a dictatorial regime keep a journalist in prison” and “if we all take a united stand Addis Ababa will be forced to release him”.
CPJ’s representatives went as far as accusing the meeting of allying with Ethiopia.
However, the participants underlined that launching a global campaign for a terror convict with uncertain media status is making a mockery of IFEX.
IFEX is a network of 80 freedom of expression organizations from 60 countries around the globe.
It was learnt that CPJ didn’t make similar motions about Eritrean journalists arrested for more than a decade in undisclosed locations without a single day in a court room.
CPJ is determined to continue its lobbying effort against Ethiopia despite the setbacks this month, it was learnt.
Our sources, who are no fan of CPJ or Addis Ababa, advise the Ethiopian government to tone down its anti neoliberalism rhetoric and treat delegates from international NGOs with respect and stroke their ego as much as possible.
Check the Eskinder Nega archive for related posts.