Reporters Without Borders condemns a violent attack on leading journalist Amare Aregawi on 31 October in Addis Ababa, in which he sustained serious head injuries. Aregawi edits The Reporter, a big-circulation newspaper published in Amharic and English-language versions.
“The Ethiopian police must investigate this attack thoroughly in order to identify both the perpetrators and the instigators,” Reporters Without Borders said. “A show of firmness will convince others who might be tempted to use physical violence to settle scores with the press that such behaviour would not go unpunished.”
Aregawi was dealt blows to the back of the head with a stone by one or several men as he was leaving his son’s school in the capital’s Bole district at about 4 p.m. on 31 October. He lost consciousness immediately and, bleeding heavily from his injuries, was rushed to Hayat hospital in a serious condition.
Journalists at The Reporter said one of his assailants was arrested, as was the driver of a taxi they were going to use to get away. The police are investigating.
The newspaper’s staff said the motive for the attack was not yet known. Aregawi had received threatening phone calls. He was arrested on 22 August after a large privately-owned brewery brought a libel complaint against the newspaper and was released five days later on payment of a small bail amount. The libel suit was withdrawn soon afterwards.
The Reporter is owned by Media & Communication Centre, a company created and run by Aregawi, who used to head Ethiopia’s public television broadcaster. He is one of the country’s best-known journalists.
Amare Aregawi, the 24 October 2008 (Photo: Reporters Without Borders)