By Teshome Debalke
Establishing the Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT), the first and only independent mass-media history of the country is the best thing that happened to Ethiopians since the late Emperor Menlik mobilized Ethiopians to defeat Fascist Italy in the Battle of Adwa. Unfortunately, ESAT should have been setup in side the country but because of the paranoid regime it was not meant to be.
One may ask, what has a media like ESAT has to do with the Battle of Adwa? The simple answer is the ability to mobilize the people of Ethiopia in defeating the invading Fascist army was the genius of the Emperor. Equally, the genius of the leaders that set up ESAT is to mobilize Ethiopians to defeat tyranny. Therefore, ESAT should expect the worst from the ruling regime, like the Emperor endured the worst of Fascist’s propaganda to undermine his leadership. The goal of any tyranny is to undermine the leaders of freedom fighters to continue its rule. Noting can scares totalitarian regimes better than mobilizing the people for cause.
Though, we Ethiopians failed to come together to setup multiple independents Mass-Medias since the technology was invented decades ago, ESAT could not come at a better time when the very coexistence of the people of Ethiopia is challenged by the rogue regime of Woyane.
Yes, Ethiopians are unfortunate people to endure tyranny and underdevelopment for too long as we continue to straggle to make ends. As successive regimes obsession to rule indefinitely, the Woyane regime continued the same tradition. But, what makes Woyane different from the familiar depot is, it manufactures propaganda to make sure we never see eye-to-eye with each other.
According to Wikipedia, ‘Ten radio broadcast stations, eight AM and two shortwave, are licensed to operate in Ethiopia. The major radio broadcasting stations include Radio Ethiopia, Radio Fana (or “Torch”) a private station, Radio Voice of One Free Ethiopia, and the Voice of the Revolution of Tigray. The single television broadcast network is Ethiopian Television, with 24 hours of broadcast and three regional stations, namely Addis TV, TV Oromiyaa (with two live studios), and Dire TV. In keeping with government policy, radio broadcasts occur in a variety of languages.
Out of the ten radio stations only two shortwaveradios reach the entire population of Ethiopia. Ethiopia Radio, a government controlled station and Radio Fana, TPLF owned, paused as a private station. The rest of the stations not only are controlled by the regime’s operatives they are misused and abused in the regime’s policy of ethnic fragmentation in the name of Federalism. The sole Television Station, Ethiopia Television (ETV) is also under the regime’s control and used to tranquilize the population.
When that is not enough, the only two News Agencies in the country, The Ethiopian News Agency (government owned) and Walta Information Center (TPLF owned) manufacture propaganda and are both controlled by TPLF. Therefore, the source of any Ethiopian news inside the country and for the world consumption is under the control of the Woyane regime.
The print mediums that circulate in the few urban centers of the country, mainly in Addis Ababa are what the regime fools the world free press exist in the country. With a few independent print Medias left, the regime’s merciless treatment made it one of the top enemies of press freedom in the world. To improve its image the regime created front print Medias paused as independent pushing the same misinformation.
To make matter worst, the head of propaganda, Berket Simon has been on-the-job for 20 years and counting. The mastermind of the Woyane regime’s propaganda representing the ‘Amhara’ Regional State is an Eritrean parentage, defying his own regime’s Ethnic Federalism. There is no explanation why the Woyane regime’s ethnic federalism does not apply to its officials. If it did, Berket Simon would have been deported to his home country or remain as an Eritrean refugee in the country.
Birket Simon is not only Ethiopian, and ‘elected’ from Amhara region but he controls the source and the infrastructure of Media in Ethiopia. That includes the only one television station under him, broadcasting misinformation in North America and Europe, thanks to his Woyane operatives and the public money the regime controls.
The biggest causality of the Berket’s Media strategy is the people of Tigray. They are isolated and sealed-off from any other source of media. They are fed daily doses of propaganda through the Voice of the Revolution of Tigray in addition what the rest of the population is fed under the leadership of Berket. Unlike other Regions where independent info trickles down from many outside sources, the region is the exclusive domain of TPLF under complete lockdown. The open-air prison (Region) that resembles more like the nation of Eretria has more prisons than media outlets.
With not a single independent media in existence, the people of the Region that supposedly ‘benefited’ on the expenses of the rest of Ethiopia is misused and abused to fragment Ethiopia since TPLF’s birth as a liberation front of the people of Tigray and Eritrea. Melse Zenawi that represented the region for the last 20 years was ‘reelected overwhelmingly’ in May 2010 for another term without a single independent media and barley one opposition party running in the entire region.
Ethiopian Satellite Television establishment is not only important but, necessary to free the people of Ethiopia from the daily propaganda of the regime. The fact it frightened the regime and its operatives that had a stronghold o
n the media good reason enough. Since ESAT came on-air the regime operatives have been scrambling to knock it down by all means. Other Medias, like Voice of America and German Radio has also been the target of the regime’s camping to shut off any media outside its control.
Supporting ESAT and other independent Medias is not a choice; it is the duty of every freedom loving Ethiopian that wants to see the truth to come out. The measure of free society is not wealth or development told by the self-serving regime but the free flow of information in telling the truth to protect the public’s interest. In Ethiopia it is the other way around, Medias are under the regime to protect the regime and its cronies’ interest.
Therefore, Ethiopians should shutdown any media controlled by the ruling regime and affiliates immediately. They should clean their system from toxic propaganda of the last 20 years. It is interfering with their judgment to decide for themselves and their country. The Berket propaganda must go to a trash can where it belongs. People must demand independent information from other sources.
The struggle to get-rid of tyranny cannot be carried out without independent Medias like ESAT doing their job. The genius of ESAT’s leadership opened the way to break the regime’s monopoly. Everyone is duty bound to make it a vibrant Media.
ESAT is the way for Ethiopia. Woyane regime’s officials would be advised not be cowards, hiding behind Medias they control to spew scripted propaganda. If they have any legs to stand on they should come on ESAT and Face the Nation by answering the hard questions they have been avoiding behind hired cadres with prepared questions.