The following is a press release by German news agency Deutsche Welle (DW) on 26 May:
Deutsche Welle (DW) director-general Erik Bettermann has condemned the jamming of DW’s radio programming in Ethiopia. Before and during the parliamentary elections in Ethiopia on Sunday, May 23, Deutsche Welle’s shortwave broadcasts of its Amharic programme was blocked several times.
“This blatant violation of international law and against the basic rights related to the freedom of information is not acceptable,” said Bettermann. “People must be able to form an opinion based on independent and uncensored information – especially in the run-up to elections. Without international sources of media, the censored, national media remains the only choice.”
Deutsche Welle has informed the German Embassy in Addis Ababa and the head of the EU’s Election Observation Mission.
International broadcasters have been affected by jamming several times in the last few months in Ethiopia. Bettermann sees Deutsche Welle as the “German voice of human rights”. He went on to say that DW, along with other independent international broadcasters “factor greatly into the effort to foster human rights in even more countries around the world and shouldn’t be underestimated”.
DW’s radio service for Ethiopia has been broadcast since 1965 and has been affected by jamming time and time again. Although the administration in Addis Ababa denied using jamming techniques in the past, they have recently officially admitted to blocking international media.
Amharic programming from Deutsche Welle and Voice of America are heard daily by millions of Ethiopians – something the local government disagrees with.
The German government has intervened in the past. In 2007, they contacted Prime Minister Meles Zenawi after the DW’s radio service was blocked for months and the source of the jamming in Ethiopia had been identified.
At the beginning of May, Deutsche Welle, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, BBC, Radio France Internationale and Voice of America made a joint declaration on World Press Freedom Day, specifically addressing the free flow of uncensored information. There is an increasing number of countries that are experiencing jamming with regards to satellite and shortwave transmissions as well as the blocking of websites.