The Zone9 bloggers were a collective of nine young Ethiopians who started blogging in Ethiopia in 2012 as blogging was the only they could use to express their opinions. The freedom of expression is very much restricted in Ethiopia with laws such as Terrorism Law and citizens are not able to exercise their freedom of expression that is enshrined in the country’s constitution.
Thus, these young Ethiopians took to the internet and started blogging in 2012 about issues that matter to the Ethiopians. They blogged on issues such human rights violations, lack of good governance and rule of law. However, after two years of blogging, the Zone 9 bloggers were jailed in April 2014 by the government accusing them of having links with the terrorists. During their time in jail, these bloggers were tortured, beaten up and kept in solitary confinement.
These bloggers were released a month ago after a huge pressure from the international community and international institutions such as Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and others. Two of the bloggers were released a week before Barck Obama visited Ethiopia in July and the remaining six bloggers were released after 18 months in jail last month after all the charges against them were dropped by the Ethiopian Kangaroo court.
It is funny to know that the government was sure at the beginning that these bloggers had connection with the terrorists, even the prime minister Hailemariam Dessalegn when asked by Aljazeera journalist in June 2014 said,” The moment you are a journalist, you become a blogger. We have concrete evidences that these journalists had links with the terrorists.” Okay, if they had evidences, why did they release them now? The answer is simple. They had no evidences at all and they jailed these bloggers because they are always afraid of dissidents.
On November 24, 2015 The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) presented 2015 International Press Freedom Award to Zone 9 bloggers of Ethiopia along with other journalists from Malaysia, Paraguay and Syria at CPJ’s annual award and benefit dinner in New York City
To know more about Zone 9 bloggers you can watch a documentary by CPJ @ http://yehabet.com/zone-9-bloggers-honored-with-cpjs-2015-international-press-freedom-award/