Voice of America is not Voice of Ethiopia

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Truth can only be sought and told by those that gain noting for self but everything for our people
(By Teshome Debalke)

voa-amharicIt has been over a year since I tuned off the VOA Amharic program. It was unconscious decision that happened overtime. In the first place, I never expected to get the whole story from VOA knowing its mandate. I guess the information I was getting was not sufficient any longer. It is also because of ESAT Radio that provides me timely information on the situation of my people under Woyane and the activities of my people in Diaspora. If I need to know what Woyane is up to, there are the usual propaganda outlets to turn on. I guess VOA must have fallen on the sideline without me even knowing it. Don’t get me wrong, absence of alternative I enjoy many of VOA programs.

Since I stop listening to VOA many friends occasionally call me complaining how they were disappointed with one reporter or another or one news coverage or other that resembles the propaganda of the regime or water down report on important issues to our people. I always try to explain to them VOA is not a Free Press and it is not the voice of Ethiopia. It is the US Government Agency which by law promotes US interest overseas that we weren’t supposed to listen in the US if it wasn’t for internet technology. Nor, the reporters are Journalist but promoters of US interest overseas. VOA also has to put up with Woyane’s agents’ campaign of ethnic politics and seeking favorable coverage for the ethnic regime. From the top managements down to reporters’ level, formally and informally Woyane agents harass VOA to downplay the oppositions’ activities and to prop up the ethnic regime. Some of the reporters are also alleged to be sympathizer of TPLF.

Therefore, I urge my friends not to expect much from an agency mandated not to be a Free Press and the reporters that are not expected to be journalists. In fact, some of the brave reporters occasionally get in trouble when they act as independent journalist; exposing the Woyane regime atrocities and corruption and the policy of the US government towards the regime.

I sometimes agree with my friends when some of the reporters take the word of the regime’s officials without balancing the propaganda by counter point.  It should also be noted VOA have only a couple of reporters in the entire Ethiopia under the order of the Minster of the Government Communication Affair office led by the infamous Berket Simon and have no capacity to fact check Woyane’s propaganda.

The recent letter to ‘Tizita Belachew of VOA Do not Promote Ethnic Cleansers’ by Tedla Asfaw referring to Jawar Mohammed invited to analyze the Egyptian political crises prompt me to write about our dilemma of being deprived of Media outlets to tell our side of the story and our high expectation from Media outlets like VOA that never and will never be our voice.  Also, VOA reporters are paid to be biases towards Ethiopian’s interest. Just because they speak our languages and look like us they often delude themselves speaking on our behalf until they are faced with the reality otherwise.

When I listened to the said interview of July 4, 2013 Ms. Belachew conducted with Jawar Mohammed she didn’t fact check his background to introduce him appropriately so that the audience know where he is coming from as an “Oromo nationalist forced to be Ethiopian and speak the Amharic language” as he refer himself in many previous occasion while he contradict himself appearing in every Ethiopians events he get a chance to speak in Amharic language where no one forced him to do so. He was also recorded to make a statement ‘Ethiopians to leave Oromia’ reinforcing the separatist agenda and the genocide committed in the region when Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and the ruling Tigrian People Liberation Front (TPLF) worked together to establish Ethnic Region where both denied to be part of the ethnic cleansing of several thousand Ethiopians based on their ethnicity.

In fact, almost all Medias and Forums failed to introduce Jawar appropriately with his colorful background when they invite him for interview and as panelist of various forums.   Whether it is out of politeness or lack of professionalism it was disservice to the audience and allowed the fellow to get away with many double talks.

When that isn’t enough, the following interviewee on the same VOA program was Getachew Reda, the TPLF’s led regime’s Deputy Minster of Government Communication Affair Office. It made me realized why I unconsciously left VOA. I also made a mental note; the persistent campaign of the agents of Woyane must have paid off to make the propaganda Deputy Minster of Woyane to feel at home in the interview; sweet talking out of his double personalities. I particularly took offense when he played Ethiopians’ civility double talk for a Woyane official known to be belligerent in reflect Ethiopiawinet.

What is troubling is most of VOA reporters aren’t serving the American people they took an oath and mandated to serve. The fact the American taxpayers bankroll the Ethiopian regime is sufficient enough for VOA to demand the regime open the airwave and access to its reporters to cover on important issues that matter to the American people. Instead, the reporters increasingly sound more like Ethiopian Radio reporters than the employee of the American people. For example, US foreign assistant is the most abused expenditure in Ethiopia as documented by many international organizations. Corruption is rampant by the regime’s agencies and affiliated business that channel USAID funds. It would be one area among many VOA is mandated to investigate, follow up and report on the consistent basis to protect American people. Another area within the helm of VOA is Ethiopian Americans being taken for a ride by the regime operatives on empty promise of investment and the Millennium Bond sale. But yet, the reporters are sleeping on the driver wheel when it comes following up on important investment and sale of security instrument scum by the regime’s operatives out of the Ethiopian embassies. In the last 22 years of the regime rule VOA have not exposed any misgiving of the regime that changed the behavior of the regime’s atrocity and corruption worth speaking.

Instead of expecting to speak on behalf of Ethiopians, what Ethiopian Americans can demand VOA to do is investigate the regime in what is important to the American people. Just because the reporters’ birth place is Ethiopia doesn’t mean it is their job to work on behalf of Ethiopians.

It isn’t secret the politics of ethnicity TPLF instigated on the people of Ethiopians is being played out among VOA reporters as it does on the rest of the Diaspora.   Some of the reporters are employed because of their ethnicity when TPLF came to power 1991 and had its way within the VOA. Mimi Sebhatu, the former VOA reporter and the present Queen of Propaganda of Woyane in Addis Ababa is a good example. It isn’t a mystery the same issue lingers at present in the Amharic language program that seems to be the only program TPLF’s agents fear most alike Tigrigna and Oromigaff program that were established in the hay days of Woyane.

In all honesty, ethnic politics reached dead end to the embarrassment of those that were swept with it. Many well educated Ethiopians were taken for a ride and were used to accomplish Woyane’s agenda of divide and rule because of an extensive propaganda they were exposed. In the process the truth was sidelined by elaborate ethnic polarization of our people to the benefit of Woyane and at enormous cost to our people.   The attitude of a few ethnic peddlers i.e. ‘lets burn down the whole country’ because of the real and perceived ethnic victimization seems to comeback to hunt them in their own comfort zone. Some are finding it difficult to reconcile with their past behavior and the present day reality.

Whatever the future holds the role of independent Media to get to the truth and expose individuals and organizations responsible for the crises is undisputable. Exposing them to the world for their transgression and double talk would take us a long way towards seeking the truth thus, freedom and democracy for our people.

What we shouldn’t assume is there are no predators and loud groups with an agenda other than the freedom of the people of Ethiopians that destabilized our community. In fact, there are quite a few loud groups out there that took the stage if division. What is missing are Medias that follow up to put them in front of the world to explain who they are and what they want to do with the people they claim to represent and answer the public question.

As we celebrate the third anniversary of ESAT formation I can’t help seat in the corner of the fired up crowed thinking; predators running from the truth. The sooner everyone is befriended with the truth the better off our people and country would be.

If you ask me, truth seeking is the one thing that is missing in our society that kept us fighting and left us in poverty and divided. That said, it isn’t enough to leave the work of truth seeking for the few dedicated Ethiopians that made ESAT possible. Nor, it is sufficient to pay our monitory obligation and go on in our business. We must organize to help in seeking the truth and defend the truth from predators that are against our people’s interest. The moment is here to grab and victory is assured. The only thing left is, do we believe in ourselves and our people to do the right thing?  I say, yes we do and yes we can.

As I said few years back, ‘ESAT is the best thing that happened to Ethiopians since the Adwa victory. It wasn’t a slogan, I knew all along what Fascist did then and what Woyane does now. What I also know is those that tell me I am wrong are on the wrong side of the battle that denies our glories history then and now.  The last time I check they are the same remnant of the losers then as they are now. That my people, is the honest truth I can be proud of.  If I am wrong in telling the truth I am guilty as charged and willing to pay for it.

Truth can only be sought and told by those that gain noting for self but everything for our people

This article is dedicated for those Ethiopians that gathered to seek the truth. Their long search for the truth finally paid off.   There is no looking back but march forward to the promise land; leaving predators behind.