On April 25, 2014, nine bloggers and journalists were arrested in Ethiopia on accusations of “inciting public disorder via social media” and “receiving support from a foreign government.” The detainees had all worked with Zone9, a collective blog that covered social and political issues in Ethiopia and promoted human rights and government accountability.
The Zone9ers were working to foster political debate and discussion in a country where most media outlets fall under heavy control by government authorities. They wanted to help fellow citizens better understand their rights, as guaranteed by the constitution. This is plain to see from the contents of their writings and the nature of their research.
After spending eleven weeks behind bars, these nine men and women were charged on July 17, 2014 under the Terrorism Proclamation of 2009, a counter-terrorism measure developed with the support of the United States government. This is one of many laws around the world that was written after Sept. 11, 2001 to target large-scale violent extremist groups. From Bahrain, to Nigeria, to the United States, governments across the globe have used such laws to silence journalists and people advocating for human rights in an entirely peaceful manner.
We need help to spread the word via Twitter and so on.
Update: Authorities in Addis Ababa are trying to hack our social media accounts.
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