Ethiopia expels journalist for reporting on Tigray atrocities – POLITICO
The Ethiopian government in the wee hours of Friday morning expelled Simon Marks, reporter for the New York Times, POLITICO and other media, who recently reported on the atrocities allegedly committed by the Ethiopian military and its allies in the northern Tigray region.
Ethiopia, led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, gave no explanation for the sudden expulsion of Marks, a dual British and Irish citizen, who had worked in the country for nearly two years.
The move was immediately denounced by press freedom advocates, who cited a troubling authoritarian turn in the country, especially since Abiy launched a military offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, sparking a civil war. . Marks had reported on alleged atrocities in Tigray, including rape and mass shootings.
Marks – who has reported to POLITICO from countries across Africa – was called to a meeting with government officials Thursday in the capital, Addis Ababa. Officials then transported him to the airport where he was held until he boarded a flight to Brussels, where he had lived before settling in Africa.
The Ethiopian government revoked Marks’ credentials in March, shortly after returning to Addis Ababa from a reporting trip to Tigray, but his residence permit in the country was valid until October. An appeal against the revocation was dismissed earlier this month.
“I am terribly disappointed with the decision that the Ethiopian government has taken after having been hopeful for so long,” Marks said in an interview on Friday. “This government has promised to create an environment in which a free press can thrive and this incident proves that it is under threat.”
Abiy won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for his role in ending a conflict with neighboring Eritrea, but his government has come under heavy criticism for the military offensive in Tigray and for sometimes blocking access to the region for humanitarian organizations, international diplomats and journalists. .
Last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a statement expressing grave concern at “credible reports of acts of violence committed by armed forces in Tigray against civilians, including gender-based violence and ‘other human rights violations and atrocities’.
John Harris, founding editor of POLITICO, said the expulsion of Marks raised a worrying sign and was part of a package of efforts to hamper independent media.
“Simon has been a colleague and collaborator with us at POLITICO, so we are monitoring this situation with particular concern,” said Harris. “It is clear that his case is one more arena in a permanent struggle between the values of freedom and transparency against oppression and the suffocation of the truth. Anyone who believes in press freedom will want to join us in calling attention to this disturbing development. “
Ethiopia will hold parliamentary elections next month that are expected to tighten Abiy’s grip on power.
Marks said the upcoming vote only underscores the importance of media scrutiny. “With elections coming next month, widespread instability in many areas, a free press is essential to hold those in power or who challenge the government with armed means to account,” he said. declared.
Michael Slackman, International Associate Editor at The New York Times, decried the government’s treatment de Marks, who said he was not even allowed to go home to say goodbye to his two-year-old son.
“It is alarming that the Ethiopian government has treated journalist Simon Marks like a criminal, expelling him from the country without even letting him go home to change his clothes or his passport,” Slackman said.