In mid-July Ethiopian journalist and blogger Eskinder Nega was sentenced to eighteen years in prison under what EFF calls a “sweeping and overbroad Anti-Terrorism Proclamation” that has put “one hundred other Ethiopians, including nine journalists” into prison cells. The law was also used in December 2011 to convict two Swedish journalists on similar charges of supporting terrorism.
This, of course, is one of the outcomes of the absurd lengths governments will go for national security: using its power to crush dissidence.
Terrorist acts are broadly defined, according to Ethiopia’s 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, as a person or group “intending to advance a political, religious, or ideological cause by coercing the government, intimidating the public or section of the public, or destabilizing or destroying the fundamental political, constitutional or, economic or social institutions of the country.” Such individuals or groups can do so in a number of ways. Journalists such as Nega are being prosecuted for supposedly encouraging terrorism.
This gets right to the heart of a philosophical debate in modernity, in which anyone who criticizes the status quo, whether it be UK Uncut or Occupy Wall Street, could be accused to encouraging terrorism. The power structures are so frightened after answering for their actions, including corruption, that they simply label those with compelling voices as a terrorist or national security threat. It’s absurd and Orwellian but it is the world in which live.
Head over to EFF to see how to lend support to Nega’s cause.