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Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Tribute to a true journalist

Associated Press correspondent Anthony Mitchell was a true friend of Ethiopia. He lived and worked in Ethiopia for five years until he was expelled from the country by the Meles regime in January 2006. After his expulsion from Ethiopia, the Associated Press assigned him to Nairobi. It is a real tragedy that his post in Kenya led him to his death as one of the 114 passengers who were onboard the ill-fated Flight 507, which crashed in Cameroon on Saturday.
During the height of the post-election repressions, Anthony Mitchell wrote nothing but the truth, the whole truth. His courage to tell the world what was going on in Ethiopia under the tyranny of Meles Zenawi earned him respect and love among millions of Ethiopians in and outside of the country.
Desperate to hide its crimes, the tyrannical regime targeted true journalists like Anthony and all media outlets that exposed the dirty deeds of the regime. Any local journalists who had courageously told the truth were rounded up and thrown in harsh jails charged with "genocide and treason." Out of desperation, Meles and his cohorts went to the extent of trying to cross the Atlantic with a mission of silencing the Voice of America. To their dismay, that effort brought them ridicule and anger from the White House. Consequently, they were told by the American government to drop the frivolous charges against journalists of the VOA or face the music. Unashamedly, they had no choice but drop all the charges they concocted against the VOA further exposing the feebleness of Zenawi's courtroom dramas.
Anthony Mitchell was not kind enough to do a cover up job for the tyrannical regime as they would have liked him to. With a great sense of journalistic duty, he continued to tell stories with incision what Meles and his cohorts never wished the rest of the world to hear; human rights violations, extrajudicial killings, mass detentions and massive scale repressions.
In January 2006 Meles Zenawi's utter detest for the truth was very evident once again when he ordered the expulsion of Anthony Mitchell from Ethiopia, the tyrant's empire of injustice. According to the Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) the government decided to expel Mitchell for "tarnishing the image of the nation repeatedly, contravening journalism ethics" and "disseminating information far from the truth about Ethiopia." However, there has been no agent or power who has tarnished the image of any country other than tyrants who commit crimes against humanity, unleash destruction and starve their people. In fact they were only expressing their allergy to the truth that Anthony Mitchell told with professionalism and utmost integrity.
As Andrew Heavens, who happened to be a friend of the late journalist, wrote on his popular blog, "When a country kicks out a good journalist, the only real loser – in terms of reputation and coverage – is the country that did the kicking." As a result of the expulsion of Anthony, the Meles regime was once more exposed to a barrage of international criticism and condemnation that it has been addicted to. After all, it is a regime that has been committing all sorts of crimes and blames others for tarnishing its faceless image.
Death is unavoidable and inevitable to us all. However, one can surmise the fact that Anthony could not have been on the ill-fated flight had he been allowed to continue telling the truth with passion and honesty from Ethiopia where all true journalists have either been expelled, exiled or jailed.
Addis Voice would like to express its deep sadness over the loss of one true journalist who fearlessly told the truth at the expense of his personal comfort. Anthony’s death is a tremendous loss not only to Ethiopia but also to Africa where so many untold stories cry for true journalists.
May he rest in peace.
Addis Voice