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Letter from exiled journalist Belete Kassa – March 15, 2024


Letter from exiled journalist Belete Kassa – March 15, 2024 (Megabit 6, 2016 EC)

Translated from Amharic to English


At this time it would not be a bold claim to say freedom of expression has died and been buried in our country Ethiopia. Let alone, freedom of expression it has been years since the right to life has been jeopardized. The right to life and safety is now under threat for any Ethiopian.


Over the last three years we established an online media called Ethio-News which we actively worked on. We were able to produce independent news reporting despite a precarious war and updates directly from the war front despite dangerous circumstances. As ethical professionals, we went to great lengths for the protection of basic and fundamental human rights. For this reason we received many thanks. Various medias and information organizations both within and outside the country including various embassies would cite Ethio-News as their source for reliable information which they communicated to us on various occasions. The testimonies of many corroborate this truth. During the devastating Northern Ethiopia war (between TPLF and the central government) we fulfilled our professional duty to establish reliable documentation for historical records and the generations of tomorrow.


Following the outbreak of war in the so-called Amhara “region” in July 2023 (Hamle 2015 EC), we documented and exposed the ground and air massacres of innocents by taking the side of humanity which caused us to pay a heavy price.


Starting on November 13, 2023 (Hedar 3, 2016 EC), journalist Belay Manaye (my brother and colleague) was taken to Awash military detention site. He was exposed to severe physical injury. After being exposed to a desert storm during which he sustained injuries, he did not receive adequate medical attention. Over the past four months he has not been brought before a court. For this reason, our popular channel was forced to stop working. I too became a fugitive facing persecution. After one month I attempted to continue our work by using a new channel called Ethio News Channel 2. This too was unsuccessful and starting on January 12, 2024 (Tir 3, 2016 EC) an arrest warrant was issued against me which presented a significant threat to my safety. I will describe the difficult situation I have faced over the past few months on another occasion.


Eventually I lost all hope that circumstances would improve, my colleague would be released from detention and our popular media could resume normal services. Outside of this, there is really no better evidence of how difficult and unsafe it is to work in media in Ethiopia with freedom of expression.


As a result I have been forced into the cruel circumstances of seeking asylum. All those who have passed through this process can attest to how difficult and painful it can be, down to one’s very bones. The pain of leaving behind a colleague who is in a desert detention facility, one’s family and country to seek asylum is immense.

Not being able to be a voice for those massacred by drones and tanks on a daily basis is an even greater pain. In order to continue my media work, I have been forced into asylum as a temporary solution!



Summarized remarks in English

Despite facing constant danger and threats to my life, I chose to continue reporting on the suffering in the war-torn Amhara region & other parts of Ethiopia. However, in November 2023, the Abiy regime arrested my co-founder at Ethio News, and I, too, became a target.


To escape the tyranny of this regime, I had to flee the country and now live in exile. Although the journey has been difficult, I remain committed to advocating for a better future for Ethiopia and its people.


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