Horrors never end in TPLF-occupied Ethiopia and in BBC reporting: BBC accuses Ethiopians of violence, while they are the very victims of state violence

1 Oct

By Keffyalew Gebremedhin The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

The BBC’s poorly-managed sympathy and admiration for dictators, such as the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) in Ethiopia is proving its Bay of Pigs moment. This is so, mostly for BBC’s repetition of its mistakes, deliberate misrepresentation of facts and, most of all, for its lack of impact.

This nth time attempt, some of which we openly criticized, is infused in and through the corporation’s Monitoring Service news report hereunder on the jamming by the TPLF of the Voice of American (VOA) shortwave broadcasts to Ethiopia.

In the Queen’s language, the BBC might simply reduce today’s fiasco to ‘a mistake’, i.e., if they admit, or to a gaffe. Owing to its persistence, however, we are compelled to think this is its effort to affect public opinion in favor of the dictatorial regime in Ethiopia. To the best of our knowledge, the BBC has failed in its lies and wrong reporting to shore up the TPLF.

What is disappointing about this BBC behavior is that this is not due to the enterprise’s lack of direction or its journalists being devoid of common sense and intelligence. Simply, the past is weighing heavy on their reporting.

All that we have tried to do of late is to catch BBC’s Ethiopia mistakes and draw its attention to them. We learned in the process that one problem the BBC has is that, if they correct a mistake this week, they go back to their default and repeat the same mistake(s) after days. This has repeatedly happened since the August 2016 wave of popular disobedience by Ethiopians in Amhara and Oromia regions, home for the country’s two largest ethnic groups and the main sources of its economy.

As the French would put it, this BBC repeated failure is Stupidté. Faux pas! We say this because we read into it a BBC and its funders’ motive, which aim to assure a sinking dictatorial regime of their hidden support.

For instance, the poison lurks in the lead paragraph in the story hereunder. It reads: “The deliberate interference seems to have resumed in August, coinciding with a period of violent anti-government protests by the country’s two main ethnic groups.”

The protests from place to place might have shown some angry reactions, when people acted in their self-defense and to protect their under 12 children, especially their brains from being blown off by the TPLF security, as it has happened repeatedly–means for deiberate terrorization of the population. Otherwise the protests have largely been peaceful; BBC’s characterization of it as “violent anti-government protests”, therefore, is either a terrible lie or a huge mistake for which apology to the people is in order!

Moreover, with the exception of the UK, some Western governments, including the United States, both as a government and individual congressmen, have accused the TPLF regime of being violent toward unarmed citizens. If not anything, we find it extremely troubling how and why the BBC missed latest US Senator Leahy‘s expression of the TPLF’s ‘crowd control tactics’ being described as extremely violent.

The only saving grace in this BBC story is that it does not accuse the Ethiopian people of doing the VOA jamming. Even there, through the months popular protests, the BBC has sparingly acknowledged that Ethiopians are angered by the regime, the corruption and ethnic minority nepotism in the country, because of which Ethiopians arose in unison to defend their human and civil rights.

In spite of such weaknesses and as a very important global British propaganda outfit, we would give the BBC a chance to learn from its mistakes, if it could try to pick up the right lessons in here.

    Lesson #1: The United Nations has since the August 6 & 7, 2016 peaceful public protests accused the regime through its Human Rights High Commissioner of using excessive force against peaceful protesters. Over a hundred people were massacred. If we agree on this, where did the BBC get from its version of “coinciding with a period of violent anti-government protests”?

    Lesson #2: The United Nations has repeatedly asked the TPLF regime to cooperate in the investigation by neutral international bodies the massacres of Oromos since November 2015 and of Amharas in the north and northwestern parts of the country.


The seriousness of this matter, while truth as it is and that the BBC has been trying to distort was restated at the opening of the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council by the United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner Zeid Al-Hussein’s, statement noted:

“…[W]e are deeply concerned about repeated allegations of excessive and lethal use of force against protestors, enforced disappearances, and mass detentions, including of children, as well as by worrying restrictions on civil society, the media and opposition. I have requested my Office be given access in order for it to conduct a human rights assessment, particularly to the Oromia and Amhara regions. In response, the Government has claimed the recent violence was inspired by outlaw and terrorist groups, and argued it will conduct its own national investigation into the killings of protestors. I welcome a national effort, but believe the Government should also consider the need for an independent, impartial and international effort to affirm or revise the allegations.

May I add that given our privileged relationship with Ethiopia, which hosts one of our regional offices, and our promising draft agreement with Turkey to set up a regional office there, I find it mystifying we are not being given access to areas where the expertise of my Office can so clearly be of immediate and sustained assistance.”

Might it be necessary for the BBC to add a very to-the-point remark by the high commissioner from his August 10, 2016 interview, when he toldReuters’ Stephanie Nebehay the following:

“The use of live ammunition against protesters in Oromiya and Amhara, the towns there of course would be a very serious concern for us”.

“So I do urge the government to allow access for international observers into the Amhara and Oromiya regions so that we can establish what has happened and that the security forces, if it is the case that they have been using excessive force, that they do not do so and promptly investigate of course these allegations.”

Should these official words by a responsible person from within the United Nations, by implication, accusing the TPLF of crime against humanity, be dismissed as empty air by the BBC for it to continue accusing the Ethiopian people of violence, when actually they are the victims of state violence by the TPLF?

BBC Monitoring
by BBC Monitoring

Broadcasts to Ethiopia by the US government’s Voice of America (VOA) radio are being jammed once again.

The deliberate interference seems to have resumed in August, coinciding with a period of violent anti-government protests by the country’s two main ethnic groups.

Programme boost

VOA broadcasts via shortwave in Amharic, Ethiopia’s national official language, as well as in Oromo (spoken by the largest ethnic group) and Tigrinya (used in the north and in neighbouring Eritrea).

The broadcaster has responded to the jamming by boosting its broadcasts. It has added an extra 30-minute daily programme in Amharic and is using two additional shortwave frequencies.

But VOA has not issued a public statement about the interference.

Previous incidents

It is not the first time that VOA broadcasts to Ethiopia have been disrupted. Previous incidents have also coincided with times of political tension.

The US broadcaster was jammed ahead of elections in 2010, 2008 and 2005.

And other opposition and foreign radio and TV broadcasters have also been subject to deliberate interference.

Satellite transmissions by ESAT, an opposition TV channel based in Amsterdam, have regularly been jammed.

In 2014, Saudi-based satellite operator Arabsat accused Ethiopia of “intentional jamming” which it said had affected many TV channels carried by its fleet.

It said its engineers had confirmed that the source of the interference originated from “Ethiopian territories”.

“Hate speech”

The government has acknowledged that some jamming takes place, and has even defended the practice.

In 2010, then dictator Meles Zenawi accused VOA’s Amharic service of engaging in hate speech and said his government was ready to jam it.

Germany’s external broadcasting service, Deutsche Welle (DW), also broadcasts in Amharic and has in the past been jammed, including in 2005 and 2007-08. At present, it does not appear to be suffering from interference.

The BBC has signalled that it will start shortwave broadcasts in local languages to Ethiopia and Eritrea.

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