The Ethiopian government, once again, found itself embarrassed in front of the whole world after the unedited raw video material it staged to use as evidence against two Swedish journalists with terrorism charges has landed at the hands of a Swedish Television Network – SVT.
Journalists Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye risked to enter the Oganden region of Ethiopia without proper documentation to film and expose the untold atrocities and genocide committed by the Ethiopian military after it successfully sealed it off from access by independent media.
They were convicted for 11 year in prison for charges of like supporting an illegal terrorist group and crossing the border without proper documentation.
The Ethiopian government, gripped with constant state of fear and uncertainty following the sudden death of its long time ruler, Meles Zenawi, hurriedly set the two journalists free yesterday in the hope that their release would save itself from further embarrassment and a call for scrutiny of similar staged evidences the regime used to accuse its nemesis.
Abdulahi Hussein, the person who provided the raw video material to SVT, explained that after the arrest of Journalists Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye, the military kept them in the forest for two days until the Ethiopian TV crews, a body of a dead Ogaden rebel and soldiers disguised as special border police force are all arrive to the scene. After the film was prepared, the Swedes were taken to the capital Addis Ababa so that their embassy could meet them.
During their subsequent trial, the edited version of this video was presented by the prosecutor as evidence by giving it the impression that they committe a grave crime against the state and asked the jury nothing less than their heads.
On the video, it was staged as if there was heavy fighting before their arrest that led to the death of a couple of ONLF rebels, which shown laying dead on the ground and some 10-12 others surrender.
However, the original video shows that before the start of the shooting, the alleged rebels and soldiers were all sitting together and waiting for the action to start. Once they got the signal, a staged shooting drama starts with some are running as if trying to flee and others chasing, some seen fallen dead as if hit during the crossfire. The video later shows the presumed freshly dead ONLF rebels slowly got up, dust off their dirt from their behind, pick their rifles that they had put in the shade. The dead, the surrendered and those who chased are all laughing and walking together, holding their rifles back.
This is disgusting and tells a lot more about the type and nature of the minority regime that ruled Ethiopia.
In recent past, it staged similar movies and present them as evidence on its allegations for the series of bombings and high profile assassinations it carried out in the country that it later blamed on the opposition or its arch rival Eritrea. The people of the region do agree that the Ethiopian regime indeed is capable of bombing its own people and blame it on phantom ‘terrorists’ for mere two purposes:
To crackdown on legitimate opposition groups, critiques and dissidents; as well as to make a case for UN sanctions against Eritrea by make use of the favor he garner from the west by posturing itself as an ally on the “war on terror”.
However, US diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks detailed widespread systemic and wanton human rights abuses in Ethiopia over the last 20 years. It also exposes how its security forces planted three bombs that went off in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on September 16, 2006 and then turn the blame on Eritrea and the Oromo resistance.
The report from a 2006 US Embassy cable reference id: #06ADDISABABA2708, said:
“An embassy source, as well as clandestine reporting, suggests that the bombing may have in fact been the work of the Government of Ethiopia (GOE) security forces.”
The Wikileaks report goes on,
“A typically reliable information source contacted Post to report that” the bodies of three men found at the bomb sites were “men [who] had been picked up by police a week prior, kept in detention and tortured. He said police then left the men in a house and detonated explosives nearby, killing 3 of them.”
Despite such kinds of consistent and irrefutable revelations, the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea, with tacit diplomatic and political cover from the U.S. dared to incorporate similar staged video footage provided by Ethiopia as solid evidence to frame and slap a series of sanctions against Eritrea.
The case of these Swede journalists can be a blessing in disguise for Eritrea to further discredit the Monitoring groups accusations, presented evidences and its fact finding methodologies.