Ethiopia: Kebede’s fight for freedom continues
Friday, December 23, 2011 03:52 AM.
Dawit Kabede, an award winning journalist, is the latest to flee after receiving a tip off of his imminent arrest. ”I had less than four days to leave the country, to save my life or avoid imprisonment,” said Kebede who received an award a year ago for his work from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
“I only had a US visa at that time and the US appears to be a safe destination for me.” Kebede insists that despite his exile, he will not be deterred in his quest to achieve press freedom in Ethiopia.
“I will continue the struggle to bring about change to Ethiopia. I will write and actively participate in all peaceful means of struggle to make certain my country becomes democratic. I would like to see my country becoming safe for journalists, writers, and politicians,” he says.
I will write and actively participate in all peaceful means of struggle to make certain my country becomes democratic
Following his coverage of the 2005 elections criticising the government for their role in killing unarmed post election anti-government protesters, Kebede and other journalists were accused and convicted of attempting to overthrow the government using unconstitutional methods.
Sentenced to four years in prison, Kebede was conditionally pardoned by the government after pressure by donor countries, international human and civil rights groups and Ethiopians in the Diaspora.
According to Kebede, they signed a pardon stating that they will respect and adhere to the current constitution, will not engage in unlawful activities, and will take responsibility for the errors that occurred during the 2005 election.
Upon their release in 2007, many journalists fled, Kebede, however, remained and launched the independent daily, the Awramba Times, following the banning of his other newspaper, Hader by the government.
Recent editorials in the state-owned Addis Zemen have not only called for the government to revoke Kebede’s conditional pardon, but accuse him of working as an agent for the Eritrean government and other opposition groups, which the government labels as terrorist.
Having been in exile for a little over a month, prospects of Kebede’s return to Ethiopia look bleak.
“Certainly, one day I would love to go back home to live and work. I do hope and pray that day will be soon rather than later,” Kebede adds.