Qeerransoo Biyyaa

September 19, 2008

Amidst the already rampant gross violations against media and media workers,

Ethiopia selectively removed the only Oromo language television broadcast off air on September 12, 2008. Sources from Finfinne (Addis Ababa), speaking on conditions of anonymity for fear of reprisal, said that police barred several dozens of journalists and staff from entering

the premises of Ethiopian Television and then took them into custody. The exact number

of journalists and staff under arrest is still unknown. However, one source said their number

can be 40 to 50, while another source said the number of those arrested and put under surveillance could reach 60. These journalists and staff were immediately told they were fired.

The government´s order to close down the 1 hour daily television program is said to have come as a verbal order from the prime minster himself. Ethiopia Television (ETV), a state-owned media, used to broadcast in Amharic, Afaan Oromoo, and Tigrigna languages before the Oromo program was just selectively targeted and removed off air on September 12.

Sources say the government expressed its disappointment with Oromo language educational and entertainment programs, all of which it believed will heighten the political consciousness of the Oromo people, if allowed to continue unchecked. “Dhangaa” (a weekend drama about the social and economic lives of the Oromos) and “Quba Qabduu” (Do you know this?) are some of the most popular TV programs in Afaan Oromoo. Ethiopia also believed that it is politically ´dangerous´ if the Oromo people are allowed the right to use television images in their language to showcase their culture and language to the outside world.

Some Oromo organizations and individuals have condemned this as saying that the action of the government represents its “apartheid” nature and views that the Oromo people are not part of Ethiopia yet or still are second class citizens. The systematic exclusion and segregation of Oromos on the basis of ethnicity and dissidence still continues unabated under the current regime.

The target audience for the program is the Oromo people. The Oromos constitute 40% of the country´s population. The media system in Ethiopia reflects the linguistic and cultural domination of the country´s tyrannical, minority ruling groups.