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[liberationtech] Ethiopia's surveillance state

David Johnson David.Johnson at
Mon Apr 7 12:19:15 PDT 2014

Interesting piece on Ethiopia's surveillance state ...


Chinese- and European-made spyware is enabling Addis Ababa to silence dissent

April 7, 2014 9:00AM ET
by Felix Horne<> @FelixHorne1<>

I met Abdi (not his real name), a 32-year-old primary school teacher from Ethiopia’s Oromia region, last July while in Nairobi. Abdi had been arrested a year earlier in his hometown for organizing a protest against local government corruption. He was already under the eye of Ethiopian security officials because he refused to provide information on the activities of his students to local authorities.

Over the course of two weeks in detention, Abdi was repeatedly beaten and accused of belonging to the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), which originated in nationalist movements fighting for increased autonomy in the 1960s. The Ethiopian government considers the OLF a terrorist organization and uses the threat of an armed struggle to justify repression of ordinary Oromos, who constitute Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group.

The harassment continued after Abdi was released. Eventually, like thousands of other Ethiopians, he felt compelled to flee to Kenya, leaving behind his wife and two children. After some time in Kenya he called home and spoke to his wife, who told him that security officials had been harassing her since he left. That was the last time he spoke to her.

Abdi later learned from neighbors that security officials came to their house hours after his call, demanding to know who was calling her from Kenya and accusing her of being in contact with rebel operatives there. He no longer calls Ethiopia and does not know the whereabouts of his family.



David V. Johnson
Online Opinion Editor

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