Befeqadu Hailu, Abel Wabela, Atnaf Berahane, Mahlet Fantahun, Zelalem Kibret, and Natnael Feleke (all members of the Zone 9 blogging collective) and journalists Asmamaw Hailegeorgis, Tesfalem Waldyes and Edom Kassaye were arrested on April 25 and 26, 2014 in Addis Ababa. We are particularly saddened that four Global Voices translators — Hailu, Wabela, Kassaye and Kibret — are among those detained.
Since 2012, the Zone 9 blogging collective has worked to foster civic engagement and critical commentary about social and political issues in Ethiopia. Despite difficult conditions, they have exercised their right to free expression in the interest of promoting peaceful dialogue and debate.
Global Voices is a community bloggers, activists, writers, and translators from 137 countries. The universal human right to free expression is fundamental to our mission: to tell underreported stories from around the world and defend the rights of everyone to speak freely and without fear. We are outraged by this flagrant violation of our friends’ rights to free expression and deeply concerned for their safety. We cannot remain silent.
Blogging is not a crime. On May 3 — World Press Freedom Day — we as a community demand that Ethiopian authorities release our blogger colleagues and friends, and all other jailed journalists in Ethiopia.