Jawar Mohammed, an influential Oromo activist charged with terrorism by the Ethiopian prosecutor has mocked the charges of treason and terrorism.
He described the ruling Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in a tweet that said, ‘‘TPLF has finally put on its honor roll by charging me at its kangaroo court. The charge is said to include treason and terrorism.’‘
Mohammed, who is the Executive Director of Oromia Media Network, was on Thursday charged along with the leader of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), Dr Merera Gudina and Dr Berhanu Nega – leader of the opposition Patriotic G7.
TPLF has finally put on its honor roll by charging me at its kangaroo court. The charge is said to include treason and terrorism.
The charge for Mohammed was largely based on the fact that his outlet had served as a conduit through which the OFC and Patriotic G7 had fuelled wide spreading protests in the Amhara and Oromia regions of the country. The two groups are banned by the country’s parliament.
His charge comes despite being at his base in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the US. All three accused are said to be involved in “creating pressure against the government, threatening society through the means of violence” and attempting to “disrupt constitutional order.”
The Oromia Media Network (OMN) which he heads describes itself as ‘‘an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit news enterprise whose mission is to produce original and citizen-driven reporting on Oromia, the largest and most populous state in Ethiopia.’‘
According to its website, the necessity to establish such an outlet was because of the totalitarian state control over print and electronic media in the country. It says the state’s suppression of independent media continued to adversely affect people of Oromo whose population is around 40 million.
Under Ethiopia’s current state of emergency rules, there are some media channels that have been banned by the government. There is restriction on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which are seen as the driving force behind calls for protests which have often been met by heavy security clampdown.
He however sounded a warning to the government in a later tweet that the people of Oromo will soon rise against the ‘‘mercenary paramilitary force.’‘