Friday, January 10, 2014

Ethiopian Authorites Use Prison System To Torture Journalist Woubshet Taye

Bernhane and son Fiteh (Pic. CPJ)


In its post on October 17, this blog highlighted the plight of three Ethiopian journalists – Malaku Desmisse, Woubshet Taye and Eskinder Nega – among many who are behind bars for exposing the country’s brutal government.

On October 13, Taye had been awarded the Press Freedom Award at the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards 2013. But he was not there to receive it. He was serving the second year of a 14-year jail term after he was falsely charged under the country’s counterterrorism laws. His wife, Bernhane Tesfaye and five-year-old son picked up the award instead.

In a recent interview with Tom Rhodes, the East Africa representative of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Tesfaye described the inhumanity of Ethiopia’s prison system and the vindictiveness of its government.

A common form of punishment that authoritarian regimes, which adapt the prison system to persecute inmates more than by confining them, is by frequent transfers from prison facility to prison facility. Taye’s experiences are a perfect example.

“It is at Ziway, an isolated facility roughly 83 miles southeast of the capital, where heat, dust, and contaminated water have likely led to a severe kidney infection in Woubshet. The award-winning journalist was meant to receive medical treatment while at Kality Prison in Addis Ababa, Woubshet's wife, Berhane Tesfaye, told me, but it never took place. Suffering in such pain in his ribs and hip that he cannot sleep, Woubshet has not even received painkillers, according to local journalists who visited him,” writes Rhodes.

As Rhodes goes on to say, “While debates over the reasons for Woubshet's arrest may persist, there is one point on which all sides should agree: Woubshet must be allowed access to medical treatment.”

Click here to read the full story.

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