The Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT), which resumed transmissions to Ethiopia last week after nearly two months of interruption, has urged the government of the People’s Republic of China to desist from providing technology, training and technical assistance to the regime in Ethiopia to enable it to jam shortwave radio and satellite transmissions to Ethiopia.
The Meles regime is currently blocking independent news websites and jamming the Amharic services of the Voice of America, Deutsche Welle, and the Ethiopian Satellite Television, among others, with the help of technology and technical assistance provided by the Chinese government.
Since its launch in April 2010, ESAT has faced intense and persistent signal interference that has disrupted its transmissions six times in its short span of life. ESAT’s management has investigated the matter thoroughly and confirmed from reliable sources inside Ethiopia that the government of China has been actively working with the Meles regime to jam ESAT’s transmissions.
Mr. Kilfe Mulat, the exiled President of the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists Association, has said that China’s complicity in stifling freedom of expression and undermining efforts to spread democratic values in Ethiopia is shameful and sets a bad precedence in the whole of Africa. “Ethiopia is not only the seat of the AU but also a historic symbol of freedom in Africa as the only African nation that has never been colonized. Aiding tyrants to stifle their people and block the free flow of information is tantamount to committing unwarranted crimes against the freedom-loving people of Africa that are making sacrifices to exercise their inalienable rights and free themselves from corrupt tyrants that are hampering progress in the continent.”
The President of EFPJA also urged organizations and nations promoting freedom and democracy to provide resources and support to the Ethiopian Satellite Television to overcome the China-backed jamming challenge that has seriously threatened the survival of ESAT, a grassroots media project totally funded by the Ethiopian Diaspora.
Mr. Mulat further noted that the government of China must realize the fact that collaborating with African tyrants and exporting tools of repressions to countries like Ethiopia is an inexcusable act that will further tarnish the image of China as a sponsor of tyranny and oppression.
ESAT, which was set up by a group of Ethiopian exiled journalists and pro-democracy activists to fend off Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s war every avenue of freedom, has been facing attacks and interference by the Meles regime.
“In addition to building Internet firewalls for the regime, China has emerged as one of the most formidable enemies of freedom in Ethiopia and the entire continent of Africa. China should realize the fact that the Meles regime is violating its own constitution that guarantees freedom of expression to citizens. By assisting the Meles regime in jamming ESAT and other reputable broadcasters illegally, China can only earn the condemnation of freedom-loving Ethiopians who do not wish to see their liberty trampled upon by internal and external powers,” ESAT’s management said.
Article 29 of the current Ethiopian constitution stipulates: “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression without any interference. This right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any media of his choice.” But the Meles regime is widely known for violating basic rights with impunity.
ESAT has been forced to change satellite service providers at least four times in the last one year. It started broadcasting its programs to Ethiopia on Arabsat but was forced off air due to intense signal interference and diplomatic pressure. Similarly, an effort to continue broadcasting on Thaicon was interrupted after a few months, once again, due to intense diplomatic pressure. But ESAT’s tenacious management team continued transmissions on Intelsat, an American satellite company. While a diplomatic effort to disrupt ESAT transmissions failed, the Meles regime managed to jam ESAT’s signals using the jamming equipment provided by the Chinese government.
ESAT, the first independent TV station viewed by millions of Ethiopians, has reiterated its commitment to making every effort to continue its transmissions and find ways of overcoming the Sino-Ethiopia jamming and censorship project.
ESAT, which has studios in Amsterdam, Washington DC and London, is currently transmitting 24/7 on ABS1 Satellite, C-Band at 75 East Downlink: 3.480 GHz Vertical (3480), Symbol: 1.852 Msps (1852), FEC 2/3. It has plans to transmit on a Ku-Band and shortwave radio with a view to reaching wider audience in Ethiopia. ESAT also webcasts its transmissions on http://www.ethsat.com.
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