News: AS explainer on re-detention of journalists Meaza Mohammed and Gobeze Sisay


Journalists Gobeze Sisay and Meaza Mohammed. Picture: Screengrab

By Getahun Tsegaye @GetahunTsegay12

Addis Abeba – On Wednesday September 08, government security forces have re-detained journalist Meaza Mohammed, owner and managing director of “Roha Media” , a YouTube based media channel.

Meaza’s detention came hours after security forces re-detained journalist Gobeze Sisay of “The Voice of Amhara“, another YouTube based media. Meaza is being detained for the third time while Gobeze’s detention is for the second time in as many months.

Below is Addis Standard’s explainer

Gobeze Sisay

Journalist Gobeze Sisay was re- detained by the federal police yesterday morning. His younger brother Kedir Sisay told Addis Standard that Gobeze was arrested by fedral uniformed and plainclothes security forces at 8 am local time yesterday and said he did not know where they were taking him to.

Gobeze Sisay, a digital journalist at Yegna TV  was released on May 9th of this year around 9 PM local time after he was reported missing in action for 9 days following his arrest on Sunday, May 1, 2022. 

On the eve of the Eid festival on 01 May this year, Gobeze was taken from his house located in Lemi Kura Sub-city, commonly known as Ayat, in Addis Abeba. He stated that nearly seven or eight security personnel in plain clothes, who initially were not willing to show their IDs nor liked to state who they were, stormed his house and told him that he was wanted for questioning. “They blindfolded me and took me to an unknown place in the city,” Gobeze told Addis Standard upon his release. He was released nine days later before appearing at a court of law.

Journalist Gobeze has recently traveled to the Amhara region after the ongoing militarized hostilities between the federal army along with Amhara region security forces and the Tigrayan forces resumed on 24 August. He has given interviews and wrote on his Facebook page criticizing the ruling Prosperity Party. On his personal Facebook page, Gobeze wrote that “The Amhara people, especially those who share administrative borders with the Tigray region, are tired of the war’s relapsing and causing death and displacement.” He claimed that there are farmers who are saying they don’t want the war, nor to be asked to take part in the fighting.

His critique in an interview with a YouTuber in which he asserted that the Amhara people were aspiring for peaceful days to come, the viral post on his Facebook echoing a similar view, drew fierce backlash and coded dog-whistle from ardent pro-government activists. “It’s not the government that’s suing you, it’s the people. The Ethiopian People and the Defense Army. Sorry for the word, but I have never seen or heard a “dirty” person like you in my life. I will personally hold you accountable in the name of Ethiopia,” reads one such viral post.

Meaza Mohammed

Roha Media, where Meaza features her critical views was one of the media that reported the detention of Gobeze. Meaza herself posted an update on her twitter page a few hours before her own detention.

Meaza’s coworker Misrak Tefera told Addis Standard that the police detained her on Wednesday “at around 5:00 PM local time” in the area commonly known as Shiro Meda, a traditional clothes open market area in the capital Addis Abeba. She was detained “while we were shopping,” Misrak added.

Describing the scene, Misrak told Addis Standard that a security forces dressed in plainclothes asked Meaza to show her ID. She, however, requested the security force the reason. “Two federal security forces who were in uniforms came toward us,” Misrak said, adding, “they then put Meaza on a pick up car and drove away.”

Misrak said the security forces told her that “they were taking her to the federal police station. Alhough I went to the said place, I wasn’t able to meet Meaza” because it was passed visitation time

The next day on 08 September Misrak said she was “at the Federal Police station, located in Mexico area waiting to speak to Meaza.”

Robel Mengesha, Meaza’s husband confirmed her arrest at the said place. “I am at the Federal Police Station waiting to speak to my wife,” he also told Addis Standard.

This is the third time for Meaza to be detained by security forces. She was first arrested while on her way to work by plain clothed security forces more in the first week of December 2021r. Meaza, who previously worked at Abbay media, was released on 18 January this year after having been detained for more than a month without appearing in court of law, leading to her defense team to file habeas corpus at the Federal First Instance court 2nd bench. She was detained while on her way to work by plain clothed security forces in the first week of December last year.

Meaza was rearrested for the second time on May 28 of this year on the suspicion of “enticing violence and riot” but she was released on a 10,000 birr bail after 20 days of detention and no charges. AS


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