Video released of Swedes jailed in Ethiopia

An Ethiopian state-controlled website has published a half-hour long video of the two jailed Swedish journalists Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson.

Video released of Swedes jailed in Ethiopia

The film appears to show when the two Swedes, along with rebels from the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) Guerrilla, had just been arrested by the military in the turbulent Ogaden region.

The video has probably been released for propaganda purposes, and half of the materials appears to have been filmed by the military. The rest is made up of Swedes own material filmed before they were arrested.

“If there is a trial the footage could be used as evidence that they entered the country illegally, which they were forced to say on tape. It can also be used as evidence that they had received weapons training; they are also with the ONLF in a conflict situation,” Ethiopia expert Kjetil Tronvoll explained to Sveriges Radio’s Ekot news programme.

In the video on the site CakaaraNews, Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson are placed in front of military cameras. In the background is seen a dry, open landscape with plenty of shrubs. Both have visible injuries, which are shown in pictures.

They both tell an almost identical story to the military about how they broke into the country illegally, and Schibbye said that the ONLF advised them to do so. The purpose of the visit was, he says, to interview the rebels.

“At noon on July 1st, we sat down and ate together with the ONLF. We heard gunshots. And our plan from the beginning – because we are illegally in the region – was to hand ourselves over if we came across soldiers from the (Ethiopian) army.”

Schibbye told how he heard only rifle shots.

“We ran away from the bullets, to an open space like this and showed our white skin and gave ourselves up. And the Ethiopian army has taken good care of us,” he said.

The film also depicts their wounds being dressed and them receiving food.

In the Swedes’ own material, which the military uses in the beginning of the film, one can see their preparations to get into the Ogaden. There are interviews with refugees and one of the Swedes fires a weapon. This is followed by fragments of a car drive and walking in arid terrain along with armed men, presumably ONLF rebels.

Around 16 minutes into the movie gunfire is heard suddenly and it is then shown how Ethiopian troops disarm several of the men, stretching up her arms in the air as a sign of surrender.

On the ground a man is seen lying, presumably dead. Thereafter, only the Ethiopian military’s own images of Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson.

Kent Öberg at the Swedish foreign ministry press office saw the video with the Swedes at 10pm on Sunday.

“I have seen it, but did not understand what they said.”

“I have sent it to Addis Ababa, the embassy there, so they can have a look at what is being said.”

The foreign ministry had no additional comments on the video, but said that the media is being continuously monitored.

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Fashion retailer H&M plans Ethiopia expansion

Swedish fashion retailer Hennes and Mauritz (H&M) said Friday it would expand its network of suppliers to Ethiopia, after concentrating 80 percent of its production in Asian countries.

Fashion retailer H&M plans Ethiopia expansion

“We are an expansive company and are constantly looking at new potential purchasing markets to guarantee that we have capacity to deliver products to all stores in our expansive markets,” H&M spokeswoman Camilla Emilsson-Falk told AFP.

“We do that by increasing the productivity on the existing production markets as well as looking at new markets,” she added.

Test orders have been placed with Ethiopian suppliers and new factories will be built this autumn, but it is too early to say how many suppliers will be used and when the factories will be ready for production, according to Emilsson-Falk.

The East African country has had a long history in textile, leather and shoe production since its Italian occupation in 1939. Other apparel retailers have already begun sourcing products in the country, including Tesco and Chinese shoe-manufacturer Huajian, providing footwear to Guess and Tommy Hilfiger.

“Ethiopia is a country with strong development and we trust that we can sustain economic growth and job opportunities there,” said Emilsson-Falk.

Despite strong economic growth, 9.9 percent on yearly average since 2004 according to the World Bank, the sub-Saharan nation remains one of the world’s

poorest. And one year after the death of prime minister Meles Zenawi, the country is still criticised for its lack of human rights by watchdog organisations.

“We did an extensive risk analysis for Ethiopia, looking at human rights and environmental issues in the country,” said Emilsson-Falk.

“We have worked with improvement of working conditions in our production countries for many years and will apply our experience when establishing relationships with the Ethiopian suppliers.”

H&M, which has stores in Egypt and Morocco, has no concrete plans for further expansion in Africa.

Two Swedish journalists who were kept in jail for 14 months in the country were released in September 2012.

TT/AFP/The Local/pvs

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