An Ethiopian journalist who received an award at the White House in the United States last week, has sounded the alarm over press freedom in her country.
Meaza Mohammed was one of a group that was presented with an “International Women of Courage” award by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, on International Women’s Day,
Introducing her, the White House Press Secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, said that Meaza “shares stories of those who are often silenced”.
The US State Department said her reporting has included coverage of the survivors of gender-based violence, including sexual violence in the current conflict.
“This award is a big thing, not only for me, but for the women in my country. Because in my country, having a media (outlet) or working in (the) press is very dangerous, very difficult,” she said.
The veteran journalist and founder of the YouTube-based Roha TV said she was concerned about freedom of the media in Ethiopia.
“So, they imprisoned me three times in a year. They closed my media (outlet). They took everything from my office. Not only me, but a lot of journalists and media owners were faced with this problem.”
But despite the arrests and harassment, Meaza remains committed to advocating for victims of gender-based violence and ensuring accountability for the crimes committed against them.
“Sometimes it gives you confidence whenever you are in an international level or whenever you are listened to in this way. My government also listens, whether they like it or not. They cannot be out of the international agenda,” she said.
The presentation of the award came a week before Blinken was due in Ethiopia, with plans to encourage the peace process between the Ethiopian government and northern Tigray rebels.
Tigray was the scene of a two-year armed conflict between the rebels and the federal government, before they reached a peace agreement in November last year.