The International Freedom Of Expression Exchange



Newspaper offices burnt down

January 20, 1998

Toronto(IFJ/IFEX) - On 16 January 1998 four editorial staff members of the
"Tobiya" newspaper, Biru Tsegaye, Goshu Mogas, Taye Belachew, and Anteneh Merid, were
arrested in Ethiopia. Several hours after the arrests, the offices of
"Tobiya" were burnt down.

The fire destroyed office equipment as well as valuable databases and
archive material. According to Aidan White, General Secretary of the International
Federation
of Journalists, "The burning down of offices is a new development in the
attacks
against the free press in Ethiopia. It has come at a time when the
international
community is waking up to the reality that Ethiopia does not protect freedom
of speech
or other fundamental human rights. We are horrified at this arson attack,"
White added,
"and we urge the government to fully investigate the events. We are,
unfortunately, not
surprised at the arrests of the editorial staff of "Tobiya" because that
type of action has
become routine on the part of the Ethiopian authorities."

The recent arrests are the latest in a series of detentions in Ethiopia,
which have
detained the staff of various independent newspapers. Both "Urji" and
"Tobiya" have
been stripped of their editorial and managerial staff and have shut down as
a result.
White noted that the IFJ has "names of nearly 20 journalists currently in
prison, and
others on bail awaiting trial." He concluded: "These arrests, we believe,
are related to
their professional activities and are an attempt on the part of the
authorities to silence
the press." The IFJ included Ethiopia in its statements to the United
Nations
Commission on Human Rights in 1997. This is the first time that an arson
attack of this
nature has been reported.

Issued 19 January 1998. SOURCE: International Federation of Journalists
(IFJ),
Brussels.

For further information, contact Cailin Mackenzie at the IFJ, Rue Royale,
266, B-1210
Brussels, Belgium, tel: +322 223 2265 or +322 219 7780, fax: +322 219 2976,
e-mail:
ifj.safety@pophost.eunet.be, Internet: http://www.ifj.org/

The information contained in this press release is the sole responsibility
of IFJ. In citing
this material for broadcast or publication, please credit IFJ.

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