Ethiopian Army jails BBC reporter in Mekele

Source BBC


Girmay Gebru, BBC Tigrinya reporter based in Mekele, has been taken in by Ethiopian forces this evening.

Girmay was in a Mekele tea room when he was suddenly approached by four people dressed in the Federal government uniform. Four others were taken in at the same time

According to eye witnesses, all of them were taken to a military camp in the city.

Until now no one knows why the five people, including Girmay Gebru, have been picked up by Ethiopian soldiers.  The BBC has been informed that its journalist has been arrested in Mekele.

The region of Tigray has been under military rule since last November. It is to be remembered that towards the end of November.  Federal forces, aided by Eritrean Forces from the north, took Mekele and then misleadingly declared that the conflict ‘against the TPLF’ (the Tigrayan ruling party) was over without any civilian casualties.

Dr Abiy Ahmed, the Ethiopian Prime Minister himself, proclaimed victory by withholding the role Eritrean forces played in the conflict.  What’s more, he said the conflict was over rather repeatedly in spite of the fact the conflict is still going on in many parts of Tigray. 

The conflict was ignited, according to Abiy Ahmed, when TPLF forces attacked a base of the Federal forces in Tigray on 3 Nov 2020.

The international media has been reporting that, contrary to what the prime minister has been saying, thousands of civilians were killed and the conflict is still raging in many parts of the Tigray region.  Moreover, many atrocities have been committed according to various news agencies.

Eritrean troops are still aiding the Federal troops according to many observers. In fact, US Secretary of State Blinken demanded the withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Tigray the “first step” to end atrocities. He also stated that the Amhara militia should pull out from Tigray immediately.

The conflict has pushed tens of thousands of Tigrayans to cross the border to the Sudan for refuge.  Many more are displaced from their towns and villages.

A few days ago PM Abiy allowed western journalists to visit Tigray to ‘witness peaceful transition’ that is taking place in Tigray. Instead, the foreign journalists uncovered atrocities perpetrated by the Federal forces in the region.

Two local journalists, who assist AFP and the Financial Times in guiding and translating, have been taken in recently. And now the BBC Tig reporter has been put under arrest in front of eye-witnesses.

Furthermore, an Ethiopian journalist by the name of Tamrat Yemane was picked up by security forces a few days ago. Ethiopia is quickly going down a slippery slope.

It is to be remembered that an official from the Prosperity Party, the prime minister’s party, warned against those who are ‘feeding false information to the international media’.

AFP and the Financial Times were given permission by Broadcasting Ethiopia Corporation to visit Tigray and ‘see things for themselves’.

“No one has informed us about the charges against Fetsum Berhane. We demand that he should be released right away” said the person in charge of AFP World affairs.

Financial Times officials also stated that they are taking necessary steps to have their translators released.

It has been six months to date since the PM, contradicting himself, has declared state of emergency in the Tigray region.