Two reporters were arrested and detained
When we first arrived in Addis Ababa in 2011 to get our feet on the ground and begin the final stages of adopting our son, I enjoyed watching people of all classes crowding around in public areas and coffee shops reading many different newspapers.
“I should just move here and get into the local news business,” I joked. “Newspapers are still number one in Ethiopia.”
Slowly but surely, as smart phones and internet cafes bring online access to more people, blogs and news outlets are making inroads in electronic publishing in Ethiopia just like they are in the western world.
Like many third world countries, freedom of the press is something they talk about, but you better not bet your life on it because you might lose that bet.
Publishers and writers might be jailed if they dare disagree with government policies or are associated with the wrong people.
In April, that idea became reality when a half dozen bloggers were arrested and jailed as terrorists because they “sought to destabilize the country.”
The Zone Nine bloggers destabilized the country through social and political commentary. Their 100-day detention and ongoing trials have created an outcry by journalists across the globe.
Watching that, any consideration I had of ever considering taking on a newspaper job in Dawit’s home country faded quickly. I’m not one to shy away from confrontation but I’m not a big fan of going to jail for an undetermined time with no rights.
I guess I may also have to avoid Missouri.
Satellite trucks were banned from Ferguson, Missouri to try to prevent the media from telling the story of the controversy surrounding a police officer shooting an unarmed black teen.
First, an unarmed teen was shot a half dozen times. Then the police refused to release the name of the officer or officers who shot the teen to protect him from violence. But police had no problem releasing mug shots of people who were arrested for looting the next day.
While taking photos and video of the protests and police response in Ferguson, two reporters were arrested and detained before being released and denied any information about which officers were responsible for their detention.
The police deny the reporters were arrested. However, they were cuffed and stuffed and taken to the police station. Either they were arrested or kidnapped because they were detained against their will.
The only difference will be whether that detention was legal or illegal.
Solving a problem is always more difficult for those who don’t realize what the problem really is. Rather than focusing on protecting the property and rights of the people in the suburb of St. Louis, the police there are more interested in quieting angry voices and protecting themselves and their reputations.
Unfortunately for my son, we brought him from Ethiopia, where I might have been in danger because of my profession, to America, where he is in danger because his skin pigment makes him appear more suspicious.
Hopefully, we can both stay out of the line of fire.
Kent Bush is the publisher of the Butler County Times Gazette and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org