Nine journalists and bloggers arrested in Ethiopia ahead of Kerry visit

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The Ethiopian authorities have arrested nine journalists and bloggers on allegations that they worked for foreign human rights groups or used social media to incite violence.

According to sources cited by the International Press Institute, some of the people arrested were among a group that met with the IPI’s representatives during a press freedom mission to the country in November 2013.

Three of the nine worked for Amharic and English newspapers. The others wrote for the dissident Zone 9 blog. All were reportedly arraigned in an Addis Ababa court on Sunday (27 April), the day after their arrest.

One of the arrested, the editor of a weekly, said they are all being held at the central police station in Addis Ababa and have been denied access to lawyers, family and colleagues.

According to the Zone 9 blog, the nine were charged with “working with foreign human right activist organisations… and inciting violence through social media to create instability in the country”.

IPI’s press freedom manager Barbara Trionfi said: “The Ethiopian authorities seem determined to crush any independent source of information, be it in print or online, and local, regional and international press freedom groups have so far failed to halt the ongoing harassment.”

“There needs to be concerted international pressure from Ethiopia’s donors and partners, including the European Union and the United States, to end the abuse and to pressure the Ethiopian leaders to respect their constitutional and international obligations to respect fundamental rights of media freedom.”

US secretary of state John Kerry arrived in Ethiopia yesterday “to advance peace and democracy”. His visit prompted Pen America to write a letter urging him to take up the case of the nine arrested journalists and bloggers.

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Eritrean opposition forces create new military front

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Eight Eritrean political organizations have formed a joint military front that will enable them to launch a massive and well coordinated military attacks as a strategy to depose president Issayas Afeworki’s government. The new joint military front will replace the unsuccessful and independent attacks, says a joint statement of the groups received today by Sudan Tribune. Kornelious Osman Agar is chairman of DMLEK, Democratic Movement for the Liberation of Eritrean (KUNAMA), one among the eight organizations militarily jointed. He says the formation of the front is a major step forward to the whole struggle and a big blow to Asmara, where it’s only legal party the people’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) doesn’t recognize the existence of other political forces. “This is a good will and successful achievement to the ongoing struggle and creation of the joint front by those organizations with military wings grants the political leadership a road map on to how to topple the Eritrean regime,” Kornelious Osman Agar told Sudan Tribune. “Now Eritrean political organizations have gone beyond managing their political differences and we are witnessing a conversion to a united military joint force.” “This Converged political military force belongs to eight different political groups; the nature of the military wing by itself demonstrates a big blow to Issayas government who undermines our existence and united struggle,” He stressed. Currently, There are some 50, 000 Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia who fled home in protest to oppression. One-third of these refugees are government soldiers, According to Administration for Refugees and Returnees Affairs (ARRA). The opposition leader said that the attacks against Eritrean government will involve these refuges residing in Ethiopia. “We have invited Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia to join us in the struggle to overthrow regime. We are ready to accommodate them but that will fully be based on their consent;” Kornelious said further hinting time being approaching for the launch of the massive strikes. “We all political organizations assume very efficient and effective unity and when we are ready to scarifies together with same principle and for same line then we will start to jointly strike, but I believe time to strike is now.” Following the 1998-2000 border war which claimed some 70,000 people, Addis Ababa and Asmara have routinely trade accusation of encouraging instability by supporting each other’s rebels. Addis Ababa describes Ogaden and Oromo rebels as anti peace agents supports by Eritrea, While Asmara presents the Afar and other members of the opposition Eritrean Democratic Alliance (EDA),coalition of 13 Eritrean political groups, as trouble makers employed by Addis Ababa in its proxy war against Eritrea.