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Jailed Swedes on the way to Ethiopian capital

TT/The Local/cg · 7 Jul 2011, 15:38

Published: 07 Jul 2011 15:38 GMT+02:00

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The Swedish embassy has demanded to see the Swedes when they arrive to the city, which should happen Thursday evening.

Foreign minister Carl Bildt believes the first visit from the ambassador may have saved the Swedes' lives.

"I think it's thanks to the Swedish ambassador's quick intervention that they're still alive. The others in the group aren't," he said, referring to rebels from ONLF.

Bildt does not want to reveal what he or the Foreign Ministry are doing for the Swedes, as the situation is highly sensitive.

Every year Sweden gives large sums of financial aid to Ethiopia. This, however, is not likely to be used as leverage in order to get the arrested and injured Swedish journalists released.

Sweden has a "long history and strong commitment with the Ethiopian people," said development aid minister Gunilla Carlsson to the TT news agency.

She was unwilling to speculate about whether Swedish aid would be of any significance in contact with Ethiopian authorities.

"I don't think one can bargain with aid," she said.

"Now we're hoping that this will really get a good solution. We're doing everything we can on location."

Swedish aid to Ethiopia was roughly 280 million kronor ($44 million) in 2010, according to international development agency SIDA. In the past couple of years, this aid has chiefly gone in directions other than governmental.

The development agency writes on their web page that "the cooperation with Ethiopia has many aspects. Flexible humanitarian efforts are combined with long-term strategies in the fight against poverty. Now we're focusing our efforts on democratic and economic development as well as education and health."

SIDA notes that the political climate in Ethiopia has had an effect on their work in the country.

"The government's lack of respect for democratic principles has led to the financial support being stopped."

The Swedish journalists Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson were arrested and injured in the closed border area Ogaden, on July 1st, when caught in a battle between Ethiopian government forces and the ONLF guerilla.

The journalists entered Ethiopia illegally together with the rebels, who are classed as terrorists by the regime. Following their arrest, the pair were taken to an arrest in the city Jijiga, where they were permitted to meet briefly with Swedish ambassador Jens Odlander.

Events after this are unclear. Both the Swedish Foreign Ministry and several media outlets have been given incorrect, unclear, conflicting or nonexistent information about the Swedes' whereabouts, how long they can be held, or what they are accused of.

Since their arrest, Sweden has refrained from open criticism of Ethiopia. Considering the sensitive situation, critical comments are obviously considered to risk causing more damage than good.

On Thursday, however, the Foreign Ministry published their first report in three years on the human rights situation in 188 countries. The chapter on Ethiopia does not make for pretty reading.

Story continues below…

"Over the past four years a deterioration of respect for human rights has occurred," states the report.

Several journalist organisations are now joining the protests against the Swedes' situation. The Swedish Union of Journalists (Svenska journalistförbundet - SJF) and Swedish Union of Photographers (Svenska Fotografers Förbund) are demanding their release.

"They were arrested while carrying out journalistic work, and ought therefore never to have been arrested or captured at all," commented Jonas Nordling, SJF's chairman, in a statement.

The International Federation of Journalists condemn the arrests "in the strongest possible terms" and demand that the Swedes be given access to healthcare.

The United States-based international journalist organisation CPJ, and Reporters without Borders (Reportrar utan gränser) have previously made similar demands.

TT/The Local/cg (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:29 July 7, 2011 by h2m
The Minister is wrong in this regard, Aid should be inter connected with human right records of the recipient nations. You consider them human right abuser then how should you give them millions of dollars when you know the evil of diverting aid from its purpose is common among human rihgt abusers.
16:34 July 7, 2011 by J. L. Belmar
I want to ask Bildt, Julin, The Local, Expressen, Aftonbladet and the Swedish media in general: Who gave them the task to go there? They were going to report to whom? SVT, SR. which media?

I do consider that they should be treated properly and it does not matter if they were in the right place, for them, for in the wrong one, for Ehiopia.

We shall see what we shall see.
17:10 July 7, 2011 by eddie123
"They were arrested while carrying out journalistic work, and ought therefore never to have been arrested or captured at all," commented Jonas Nordling, SJF's chairman, in a statement.

what a ridiculous statement. it appears this man and the union he represents have no regard for laws. the journalists illegally entered Ethiopia in the company of terrorists. they broke Ethiopia's immigration laws and were conniving with terrorists against the Ethiopian state.

Do journalists from abroad (exception of EU states) just show up to work in Sweden without first receiving a permit from the Swedish Migration Board? If that was the case, Julian Assange won't have applied for a residence and work permit talk less of having his application denied by the migrations board.

It saddens me when people in position of authority make such ignorant statements. the idea that Ethiopia is a poor country that receives aid and thus must accommodate the excesses of overzealous donor country citizens is misplaced.
17:22 July 7, 2011 by onewhodoesntexist
They were not arrested while carrying out "journalistic work"

They were arrested while travelling with terrorists into a warzone ,

(called rebels and freedom fighters by swedish media) acting as human shields to aid the terroristgroup enter their target.

Both are confirmed leftists, one of them is a die hard socialist as well.

There is something called objectivity, just how were they going to acheive that by being buddies with a terrorist-organisation, wearing their colors?

And Yes, any group who deliberately targets civilians to kill in order to impose powerare terrorists!

Trying to sweet-talk the issue and confuse the facts with "freedom fighters" and "class-struggle" is doing nothing but helping these groups achieve their goals.

Thank god there are alternative sources of information thanks to the internet, if people in sweden were to be forced to rely on swedish journalists socialist whims like in the past we would be the most duped people in the world since soviet russians.

just a hint: TT is not an unbiased organisation.

neither is svt, sr or any of the papers..

they all have the same shareholders, the same names pop up whenever the socialist -68 movement is discussed..

Just a tidbit, take it or leave it.
17:39 July 7, 2011 by J. L. Belmar
I am stubborn. I want to ask Bildt, Julin, The Local, Expressen, Aftonbladet and the Swedish media in general: Who gave them the task to go there? They were going to report to whom? SVT, SR. which media? Will they be the next Dawit Issak for the Swedish daily papers? I hope not, because they did nothing for him and will never do anything for him. Isaak was just a banner for selling more copies.
18:19 July 7, 2011 by Truth liberates
The Arrogance of this people is clearly demonstrated in these comments. The First thing they will do is mention the Obole incidence side of their story claiming that ONLF Has killed Chinese and others. They then convenient omit the thousands of women, children and the elderly killed by the Ethiopian Army and the subsequent outcry by the international community- the UN, Human Rights watch and the EU and the American State department. Then they will jump to Al-Shabab, Somalia and Terrorism and try to link those with ONLF.

Their abhorrence of the truth is phenomenal.

On the one hand, they want aid and support from the West on the pretext of fighting terrorism and on the other hand, they cry foul when a Westerner points out their crimes against humanity and inhuman abuses against Innocent civilians in the Ogaden.

What they cannot comprehend is that a democratic country do not shot journalists in broad daylight and judge them with terrorism, just because of trying to find out the truth. If what Ethiopia is saying is right, why not allow these journalists freedom to report on what is going on in the Ogaden.

What you people want is to kill and suppress the people in the Ogaden, rape their women, embargo trade and Aid in the Ogaden and then silence those who stand up for their rights and seek haven in Humane, democratic countries and even try to gag international press. What a demoniacal and paranoid attitude.

You may suppress and destroy the lives of the poor Ogaden civilians under your control, but you will not be able to force democracies in West to forgo their democratic principles. By the way, how about the 200 civilians killed under the shadow of the AU headquarters in broad-daylight or sentences a poor women lawyer to life imprisonment and calling all opposition terrorist, while claiming you won 99.7% of an election!- who is the terrorist?

Mr Belmar, It is not a crime to seek truth, besides, Martin and Johan are adults who have a right to decide where they want to go and follow their conscience. The task of the Swedish government is to secure their release first. All they need to know is that The Zenawi regime is very unreasonable and needs uneqiuvocal and strong signal, as they like to pose as toughie- the Only language a bully understands is a greater bullying!
21:06 July 7, 2011 by awash
To the editors of the Local and other Swedish Media:

you may wonder why you I attached the following search engine results below my message, well it's about Ethiopian columnist who happened to write critical commentarieson private newspaper called Fith (its literal meaning Justice in Amharic-the country's official language) and Wubshet Taye of another critical newspaper called Awrambatimes who were charged and jailed 2weeks ago for 'allegedly' conspiring to destroy infrastructures of the country with some 'terrorist groups'. What's mind boggling is that there's such an outcry of the Swedish media (minute by minute updates) ever since the 2 Swede journalists were arrested last week at the conflict zone of Ethiopia's region while trying to enter illegally to the country via Somalia with the help of the rebel group ONLF. I searched on websites of Swedish media about these 2 jailed Ethiopians, hmm I was shocked and surprised- they gave me 0 results even with advanced search. search engines don't lie:). My question to the Swedish journalists is Where's the impartiality, objectivity, proximity, neutrality,professionalism? At least you're not supposed to write 2 lines as a background to the 100s of your stories you have published about your kins in less than a week, about the deteriorating situation of government's suppression of freedom of Expression in general and these two jailed journalists in particular;!!! Is this something to do also with Swedish neutrality. Hmm who cares, after all they are.....you know what I mean

This's nothing but utter mediocre journalism.


Search Results: Reyot, Alemu

Your search returned no results. Try your search again with fewer or different keywords. http://www.thelocal.se/search.php?keywordSearch=reyot+alemu

Din sökning gav inga träffar i SvD:s sökmotor.
21:25 July 7, 2011 by Nuradin
Truth Liberates,

A big THANK YOU from an oppressed Ogaden citizen in Sweden. This comment section is invaded by agents of the regime in Ethiopia. They want to project the journalists as committing by doing their journalistic duty - by sneaking into the country - when they denied access through the proper channels.

Martin and Johan are two brave individuals and we Ogadens will never forget them.

Also, we are planning to send to Ogaden more Western journalist in every way possible. Why we do this? Because our report are dismissed as rebel propaganda while those of the Western journalists who happen to witness a slight preview of the atrocities in Ogaden are not doubted. That's the reason we take that route. We did the same with New York Times journalist Jefrey Gentleman who was aslo caught and tortured by the Ethiopian regime after he reported from the Ogaden.

If Western country want to continue to support - through aid - the regime that is killing our people, we will drag them into the through actions like this and make a mockery their claims for democraticy and peace in Ogaden.
21:53 July 7, 2011 by kynan
"Mr Nardin"

i fully support your comment
21:58 July 7, 2011 by J. L. Belmar

Please. I am not talking about what you are talking. If you have not learned to read properly, please do not make comments. I wrote

quite clearly the following: "I am stubborn. I want to ask Bildt, Julin, The Local, Expressen, Aftonbladet and the Swedish media in general: Who gave them the task to go there? They were going to report to whom? SVT, SR. which media?"

Perhaps you, Mr. Thruth Seeker knows the answer. Which media were they representing? The answer is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind.
22:10 July 7, 2011 by Grateful_Human
As a local person aware of what is going on in this region I hold the TPLF accountable for the ongoing conflict. Every attempt for mutual negotiation is rejected by TPLF. The only time they 'want' to talk about peace is when they are weakest (e.g. 2005's election which was later rigged by TPLF). As for ONLF their only condition has always been lets talk in the presence of an honest and neutral third party in a safe place.
00:03 July 8, 2011 by busuri
The Ethiopian regime does not allowed foreigners into the Ogaden region because they don't want to expose the atrocities the Ethiopian army is committing against the local civilians. Sooner or later these atrocities will be known to the world and hopefully the peace loving Europe and America will stop all aids to the Ethiopian government, which the regime uses for weapons instead of giving to the intended recipient. Once this aid is stop from the Ethiopian government or at least the west should ask for accountability from Melez's regime only then fight will be fair game because Melez will not have the money to buy the latest missiles, helicopters and tanks from aboard. If the west stops the aid that directly goes to the army lead by dictator Melez the civilian population would better off
00:50 July 8, 2011 by Nuradin
What is going on? Why can I not post comments?
01:19 July 8, 2011 by Mikael_Tigrai
Ethiopia is not your grandmother's living room where you can get in and out as you wish. Ethiopia is a sovereign country and anyone who wishes to enter our country needs to have the proper visa. If you have no documentation to show you are permitted to enter Ethiopia you will have to turn away or prevented from entering our country. If you try to get in to our country illegally, you will be brought to justice and punished according to the law.

Imagine a couple of Ethiopians journalists sneaking in to Sweden with a bunch of terrorist jihadists illegally, where the terrorists are planning to kill, bomb, and create mayhem in your country; what would you think your government would do to them?

Most of you are arrogant white Europeans who don't give it a rat's ass about other countries sovereignty. Wait twenty years and you will see what is going to happen to Europeans where you have no recourses and raw material for you factories and no fresh food for you people. You people are undermining our country that is why most of you are saying these so called journalists were doing journalistic work and they should not be arrested. Give me a break, as to your aid you can take it and shove it. We don't sell our sovereignty for wheat flour. We will defend our land at any cost; we have been defending it for thousands of years. These bastards will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Tigrai Online
03:00 July 8, 2011 by h2m
Woyane apologist Micheal tigray do not compare Sweden with open air prison Ethiopia. there is now GENOCIDE going on in Sweden period. closing a region which is one fifth of the country with 5 million population is crime let alone the reason for the closure which is the rape, killings, torture, forced relocation burning of villages as human right watch and amnesty international has documented. One big question for the Ethiopians, I know your so called 2000 years history but there is not a single incident where you solved your problems and internal disputes peaceful. That was the case for the Eritreans they fought for independence for 40 years. The art of negotiations and compromise is not yet written in The ETHIOPIAN DICTIONARY. can any one help them know these words before it is too late like the Eritrean case?
03:31 July 8, 2011 by Abdifatah
The Ethiopian regime has been doing this for far too long it is time that the international community stood up against this dictatorial regime and demand justice. The ongoing blockade in the Ogaden must end, enough is enough. Justice for the people of the Ogaden!! Long live ONLF
03:39 July 8, 2011 by Alii
" Imagine a couple of Somalis, Ethiopians or South Africans journalists sneaking in to Sweden with a bunch of terrorist jihadists illegally, where the terrorists are planning to kill, bomb, and create mayhem in your country; what would you think your government would do to them?

Give us a break, it doesn't matter whether a journalist or a President helps a terrorist organization they have to face justice. ONLF has been bombing children, women, civilians.

ONLF is a terrorist organization, the Swedish journalist are part of it!!
04:12 July 8, 2011 by kidan
I am an Ethiopian. I am not a supporter of the Ethiopian government. However, I am taken by surprise that the terrorists from Sweden are being called Journalists? Why is that? Is it because they are white? The Americans arrested one time a white American terrorist with Al-qeda? Right? These two swedes are bona fide terrorists. We do not care whether they are swedes white or green or yellow.
10:39 July 9, 2011 by Asharo
Wake up! u Swedes

This q is for whom who r blindly missjudging the rule of a soverign country. What would u do if u capture a group of journalists accompanying al-qaida's sucide bombers in ur country? Hopefully ur understanding gets better if u think this fairly. DON"T underestimate the rule of a country just because of its economical status
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