I had posted last week a brief expose on the Tigrigna program of VOA, which would be more proper to identify as Voice of Woyane (Dimtsi Woyane). Their sorry coverage last week of the TPLF regimeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s brutal suppression of peaceful student protest rally in Africa will live as a week of infamy in the history of Voice of America broadcast to Ethiopia. Several readers have written me in private to share their disgust and tell me that they too have written to the VOA chief to register their complaints.
At first VOA Tigrigna staff tried to cover (or rather cover up) this sad and tragically brutal response by the Woyane thugs against the youth and the general population of Ethiopia as if it was a normal event. When events later caught up with them and the whole wide world was awake to the brutal nature of the TPLF mafia, the VOA Tigrigna staff were caught with their pants down and tried to scramble to cover up their naked pro-Woyane propaganda by including some of the Ethiopian oppositionÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s point of view.
Here is a day-by-day breakdown of the VOA (or, more appropriately, VOW) Tigrigna programming from last week. I will start with Tuesday, as I am unable to access the archive for Monday June 6, but from what I listened at that time, Monday was a normal workday for these Woyane propagandists, and they gave scarce attention to the most newsworthy event of the day in Addis Ababa. So, here below I will give a detailed monitoring account of VOA Tigrigna broadcast from Tuesday, June 7 to Friday June 9, 2005.
-- Tuesday June 7, 2005, broadcast:
Well, Bereket Tecle, the VOA reporter from Addis Ababa, had a report, but it would be more appropriate to call it acting as "stenographer to power" as he was merely spouting what TPLF officials and security people told him. He was right there at the gate of Kotebe School, one of the sites of student demonstration, but he failed to see the massacre right under his nose. Bereket Tecle could have taken a few pointers from the urgency of the reporting of the Amharic reporters, Helen Mohammed and the other reporter whose name I canÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t remember, who did an outstanding job in informing the Ethiopian people and the rest of the world of the brutal suppression of the studentsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ demonstration. Why the Woyane propaganda minister, Ayte Bereket Simon, revoked Bereket TecleÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s reporterÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s license is beyond me -- he was just doing a fine job for them.
-- Wednesday June 8, 2005, broadcast:
Well, by far this day would be the lowest point of broadcast journalism in VOAÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s history. The husband-and-wife duo, Betre Siltan and Minya Afeworki, tag teamed to do an outstanding job of Woyane propaganda in covering up the crimes in Addis Ababa. Betre Siltan did the reportage translation of a VOAÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s English reporterÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s interview with Woyane propaganda minister, Bereket Simon. No context or background was provided and the Woyane minister was given a free hand to disseminate lies and defamation against the peaceful student protestors (calling them hooligans) and opposition members who defeated him fair and square at the polls (referring to them as criminals). You may blame the English interviewer for not asking tough questions in the original interview, but the presenter Betre Siltan could have given relevant background information to listeners to make up for that deficiency. Already by Wednesday the whole wide world was screaming bloody murder and the death toll of murdered student protesters had reached well over 20, but from the presentation of Ayte Betre Siltan you would think that this was another normal event about a few rowdy demonstrators being checked by security forces.
Then, to add insult to injury, the next segment was hosted by Ayte Btre SiltanÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s spouse, Weizero Minya Afeworki (known for her hostile interview of EritreaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s ambassador to the US, Mr. Girma Asmerom, a few monthÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s ago) steps up the whitewash job by interviewing two Tigrayans from Addis Ababa on the prevailing situation in the Ethiopian capital. What these two Tigrayans said about the situation of Addis was so brazenly shameful that one hopes other non-Tigrayan Ethiopians havenÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t had the chance to listen to it. It was cruelly disturbing to listen to both Tigrayan guests of VOA Tigrigna interview, speaking in a tone so relaxed and nonchalant, as if nothing happened and that life was going on as normal with very little disturbance and minor inconveniences. Both were clearly from the elite Tigrayan ruling class, and enjoyed such amenities as having their own private cars and were not concerned the least about the taxi and public transport boycott. They spoke about facts on the ground quoting "official sources" and referred to the massive student demonstration as "minor disturbances here and there which were quickly checked". You had the eerie feeling that these fellows were in cahoots with Meles Zenawi and Bereket Simon and cheering the militia tags who were murdering innocent Addis Ababa students. On the worst day of brutal massacre of peaceful student protesters, both claimed life was going on as usual and that the situation was under control. They obviously didnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t lose anybody from their friends and relatives. What a shame for Tigrayan people to be represented by these two insensitive souls who expressed no concern and remorse about the violence and brutality being visited upon their fellow Ethiopian citizens! And what a shame for VOA Tigrigna service to be represented by Minya Afeworki who seemed to enjoy the conversation (as if she was chatting with long-lost friends) and failed to ask the difficult but obvious questions of the day that were on every Ethiopian listenerÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s mind.
Overall, WednesdayÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s husband-and-wife tag team duo of Betre Siltan and Minya Afewroki on VOA Tigrigna special report will be remembered as one of the lowest points to which journalism of the free world has sunk by being used as outright propaganda tool for dictatorship and murderer us thugs in Ethiopia!
-- Thursday June 8, 2005, broadcast:
Again, today too, the cover-up and whitewash of Woyane atrocities on Ethiopian people continued unabated. In the news report at the top of the hour, there was some balance with the presentation of Tewolde Woldegabriel, who highlighted the outrage of the world from various governmental and non-governmental corners. But just when you thought that VOA-Tigrigna service had finally begun to catch up to events and was on its way to factual reporting, it quickly reverted to old habits of propaganda by highlighting once again a Tigrigna interview with none other than the Woyane propaganda minister, Ayte Bereket Simon. Once again, the interviewer was the ever-fawning sorry excuse of a journalist, Ayte Betre Siltan. But then again, with a name like Betre Siltan (literally meaning "the club of power" in Tigrigna) one could expect nothing from this fellow other than being a "stenographer to power" -- monopoly of power by the Tigrayan minority elite in Ethiopia, in this case.
Betre Siltan was very deferential to propaganda minister Berket Simon and failed to ask him the obvious glaring questions that any journalist rookie would do under the circumstances. The Woyane propaganda minister, Mr. Bereket Simon, litrally got away with murder in this interview. VOA-Tigrigna program reporter Betre Siltan continued to throw softball questions in his direction, and Bereket Simon easily answered them all or managed to deflected attention away from the brutal massacre then under in Addis Ababa. One glaring fact that never got mentioned was that Bereket Simon, who was thoroughly trounced at the ballot box by Addis Ababa residents, had the temerity to accuse peaceful students who were protesting the outright theft of their votes as "hooligans" and the opposition politicians who defeated him fair and square at the polls as criminals whose arrest was justifiable! Incidentally, Bereket Simon, along with Dawit Yohannes, Teferra Walwa, Ghenet Zewde and the mayor of Addis Ababa, Arkebe Uqbay, along with scores of other Woyane officials were totally rejected by the population of the capital of Ethiopia and defeated by wide margins at the polls. A footnote here on post-election cover-up of WoyaneÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s shame is that the defeated Woyane mayor of Addis Ababa, Ayte Arkebe Uqbai, has been invited to head the Mekele Chamber of Commerce as a consolation prize, according to Ghirmai Ghebru, WoyaneÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s favorite VOA reporter from Mekele.
To add insult to injury, there was also reportage from Tigray about the shortage of water supply in the Tigrayan capital of Mekele. Ethiopia is bleeding and Addis Ababa mothers are mourning the death of their children, while in the Tigrayan capital of Mekele the main issue of the day is improving water supply of the city. This glaring divide between Tigray and the rest of Ethiopia apparently didnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t register with the Woyane propagandists, who could not for a moment reflect how this would badly reflect on them and shows their total lack of sympathy and sensitivity to the plight and pain of the rest of Ethiopia. Well, this has been the state of affairs for the past 14 years of Woyane misrule, but during the past painful week for Ethiopia you would at least expect the Woyane propagandists and their apologists to show some respect and decency and would refrain form outright show of disregard to tragic events in the rest of Ethiopia. What was surprising was also the VOA stringer for Tigray region, Ghirmai Ghebre, was enjoying full immunity from harassment and license revocation by the Woyane propaganda ministry!
-- Friday, June 9, 2005 broadcast:
Finally on Friday the VOA Tigrigna program brought Ato Lidetu Ayalewe, the chief spokesman of the main opposition party, Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), who was under house arrest for nearly two days. Even now the interview was not fair and balanced, Ato Lidetu Ayalew, who defeated Ghenet Zewede WoyaneÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Education Minister who was a candidate at the Addis Ababa polls, was not given as ample chance to explain his partyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s position as the loser Woyane candidate and propaganda minister, Bereket Simon. What the VOA-Tigrigna service did was to summarize his interview with VOA Amharic service instead of presenting it verbatim without any editorializing.
These are some of the glaring deficiencies that I have jotted down about VOA-Tigrigna coverage EthiopiaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Bloody Week of June 6-10, 2005. There are other numerous issues that I could have addressed at length, such as presenting the most important views and the agony of Addis AbabaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s non-Tigrigna residents to the Tigrigna speaking Ethiopians of Tigray region. Instead of doing a fair, accurate and balanced coverage, VOA Tigrigna program failed miserably in its task of reporting to the Ethiopian people in their hour of greatest need for fair, objective and uncensored information to the Ethiopian people. On the other hand, Ethiopians from all walks of life were well served by VOA Amharic and Afan Oromo programs (at least from what I could gather from an Oromo friendÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s perspective).
ItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s time that this kind of substandard service should cease from the VOA ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ Tgrigna service. Eritrean Americans should protest to the newly appointed VOA Horn of Africa Service chief, Mr. Timothy Spence, that the VOA Tigrigna program is promoting propaganda for dictatorship in Ethiopia instead of promoting democracy, and fomenting ethnic division and hatred instead of healing. The Woyane Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, at one time before the election accused the opposition of inciting ethnic hatred and leading Ethiopia towards "Interhamwization". Well, if we are to talk honestly about the Interhamwe genocidaires and their use of mass media to incite ethnic hate in Rwanda, itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s the Woyane/TPLF minority regime which has the monopoly of state media in Ethiopia that is using the media to incite hatred and fear among various ethnic groups in Ethiopia. VOA-Tigrigna service, unfortunately, is being highjacked by certain Tigrayan elements within its staff to assist the brutal minority regime of the TPLF in its media manipulation to achieve its agenda of ethnic division and hatred in Ethiopia.
Eritrean Americans, in particular, and Eritreans all over the world, in general, should not stand for the sordid propaganda of hate and division that is being practiced by VOA-Tigrigna service and should protest loud and clear that AmericaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s media should not unwittingly assist in sinister genocidal manipulations.
Write or call VOAÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Horn of Africa Chief to register your protest today:
Mr. Timothy Spence, VOA Horn of Africa program chief
Tel: (202) 203-4031