Abebe Tolla, (better known as Abé Tokichaw) was a newspaper satirist for Feteh newspaper in Ethiopia. He fled the country in November 2011, fearing imprisonment in retaliation for his critical news commentaries. Ethiopia is one of the repressive states in the world: the government uses very broad anti-terrorism legislation to clamp down on the free press and on any kind of dissent. It has imprisoned numerous journalists for highly questionable terror-related offences that, in other countries, would not even be regarded as crimes.
In Ethiopia nowadays, journalists – especially those working for the free press – work in constant fear. Nobody knows how long he’ll stay in his job because the government can charge you with being a terrorist any time it likes.
Whenever anyone is arrested under anti-terrorism law now, people [automatically] ask: “Was he/she a journalist?” To be a journalist in Ethiopia is to risk your life.
But I don’t really describe myself as a journalist; I am best known as a columnist. Most of my writings are about the problems faced by the lower social classes and the bad governance of my country. I write because I want things to change.
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