Ethiopian Government vs. Blogspot.com: Why Freedom Loses

Scott A. Morgan
May 24, 2006
There is an unwritten rule in an autocratic society that the news and other information disseminated must be sanitized to paint the government in a positive light. Furthermore other sources of information have to either be reduced to being a non-factor or being banned all together.
Since the 17th of May websites that have been critical of the Ethiopian Government have not been accessible to their readers in Ethiopia. This includes the sites that are hosted on blogspot.com. Despite the fact that there has been no official word from the authorities in Addis Ababa it is widely accepted that this is an effort at censorship and not a technical glitch.
There have been some major internal problems in Ethiopia in Recent months. A highly controversial election has had two major results. First there were violent street protests that left dozens of people killed and the other and potentially the most damning is the treason trial of members of the Opposition that sit in Parliament that refused to take their duly elected seats after the results of the election.
The Group, Reporters Without Borders, recently sent a letter to the Ethiopian Minister of Information seeking clarification into this Matter. It stated in the letter that “Preventing debate and controlling news and information circulating online will only aggravate an already very tense political climate.”
The letter also made the statement that blocking access to the server has the effect of censoring all of the publications hosted on the site. Most of these sites do not deal with either Politics or Ethiopia in that matter. But the Government feels that it needs to take this action to control the flow of information.
This is not the only country in Africa where there are concerted efforts to limit the flow of information. There are serious efforts to limit the flow of information on the web notably this occurs in Zimbabwe and the DRC. But the efforts in Zimbabwe may be the proper comparison into the effort to limit the free flow of Information. Once again Freedom has taken a shot. But will its defenders rise to the task of defending it?
The Author comments on US Policy and Human Rights in Africa. He can be contacted at scott_morgan_23220@yahoo.com

posted by Ethiounited Moderator at12:06 PM

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