It’s Ethiopian Review’s annual tradition to choose Person of the Year at the last day of the year. Person of the Year is some one who made significant contributions to improve conditions in Ethiopia during the past 12 months. The final selection is made by the editor-in-chief after consultations with readers and advisers.
Ethiopian Review’s choice for 2011 Person of the Year is the Ethiopian journalists. In 2011, the Ethiopian journalists kept the torch of freedom burning and paid tremendous sacrifices. Currently, Woubshet Taye, Reeyot Alemu and Eskender Nega are languishing in Woyanne jail charged with terrorism. Woubshet lost hearing on one of his ears as a result of savage beatings in the hands of Meles Zenawi’s henchmen. Sisay Agena, Dawit Kebede, Abe Tokichaw, Abiy Teklemariam and others were forced into exile, but they continued to give voice to the people of Ethiopia from foreign lands.
Dictators fear free press like vampires fear sun light. That is why Meles Zenawi’s Woyanne junta intensified its attack on the media in 2011, shutting down all independent newspapers, arresting journalists, and spending tens of millions of dollars to jam radio, TV, and web sites. As a result, Ethiopians today have less access to information than most countries in the world. There is a parallel between poverty and people’s access to information. Forbes Magazine has ranked Ethiopia the 3rd saddest country in the world where literacy is only 30% and undernourishment is a staggering 40%. And yet, the Meles regime spends over $100 million to buy equipment from China that jam the media.
Despite all the challenges, Ethiopian journalists have been tirelessly working to empower the people of Ethiopia with information. When change comes to Ethiopia, it will be due in large measure to the effort of Ethiopian journalists.
In 2011, there were other heroes as well who stood up for the cause of freedom in Ethiopia. They are too many to list, but the most prominent among them include:
* The people of Ogaden who refused to submit to the Woyanne junta’s apartheid rule.
* Abune Mekarios, Ethiopian Orthodox Church senior leader who has taken a strong stand against the Woyanne injustice and called for regime change.
* Yenesew Gebre, the teacher who burned himself to protest the injustice against himself, his students and the people of Ethiopia.
* Andualem Aragie, the young UDJ leader who is currently languishing in Woyanne jail for saying that the people of Ethiopia have the right to choose their government.
* Alula the bird, who took out 9 Woyanne thugs.