Tigray Genocide Crisis: Who is Abiy Ahmed?

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The eruption of fighting in Ethiopia’s Tigray region 100 days ago has pitted journalists wanting to report on the conflict against a government seeking to maintain total narrative control. The government-imposed lockdown of the northern region and communications blackout affecting the internet, mobile phones and landlines has made access and assessment for aid agencies dealing with the unfolding humanitarian crisis extremely difficult. It has also made it next to impossible for media seeking entry to investigate artillery attacks on populated areas, deliberate targeting and massacres of civilians, extrajudicial killings, widespread looting and rape, including by suspected Eritrean soldiers. At the same time, journalists in the country have been detained, faced threats and harassment – and even attacks. “This is the worst period in my 10-plus years of journalism,” said one Addis Ababa-based Ethiopian freelance journalist, who, like every journalist contacted for this article, insisted on anonymity due to fear of reprisals, both professional and physical. The journalist noted that even before Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered the November 4 offensive to remove the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) after attacks of federal army bases, the government was already using new anti-hate speech and fake news legislation against critical journalists. “The risk was mainly restricted to imprisonment and verbal harassment. Now, you have the extra risk of losing your life or having your house ransacked as well as vicious social media trolling.” The journalist said they have had to abandon several writing projects, including one on the plight of a small ethnic group caught up in the secretive Tigray conflict, due to fears about “plain old thuggery and intimidation of journalists”.
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