RAN 07/10: Akram Ezedin


November 16, 2010
Update #1 to RAN 07/10
ETHIOPIA: Editor released; his son jailed

PEN Center USA and the Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International (WiPC) protests the detention without charge of 17-year-old Akram Ezedin, acting editor of the privately owned Islamic weekly newspaper Al-Quds. Ezedin was arrested on September 11, 2010 following the release of his father, Ezedin Mohamed, editor of Al-Quds, who was jailed in January for criticizing statements made by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. The WiPC believes that Ezedin’s arrest and imprisonment are in violation of his right to freedom of expression and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.
Akram Ezedin took over the running of the Addis Ababa-based Al-Quds in January 2010 when his father Ezedin Mohamed, the newspaper’s publisher and editor, was sentenced to one year in prison. Mohamed was convicted for a 2008 column criticizing statements made by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi during an interview with the British newspaper The Guardian.

On September 11, 2010, Mohamed was released and Ezedin arrested, reportedly on the basis of articles critical of the performance of the Islamic Council or Mejilis of Afar region, published by Al-Quds in July. Ezedin is being held in a prison in Asaita, the regional capital of Afar. He has reportedly appeared in Afar's court four times but has yet to be charged.

Pre-trial detention is illegal under Ethiopia’s Mass Media and Freedom of Information Proclamation. Moreover, as Al-Quds is a national newspaper, any case against it should be heard in a federal not a state court. With five journalists behind bars, Ethiopia is currently Africa's second-leading jailer of journalists, only trailing neighboring Eritrea.

For more information, please see WiPC's RAN 07/10 or read the Committee to Protect Journalists October 29 report.


Dear Ministers:

As an organization that endeavors to create a world in which freedom of expression is guaranteed for all writers, and where friendship and intellectual cooperation thrive among writers and readers worldwide, PEN USA strongly protests the arrest and detention without charge of Akram Ezedin. The 17-year-old Akram Ezedin was arrested on 11 September 2010 following the release from prison of his father Ezedin Mohamed, editor of the privately owned Islamic weekly newspaper Al-Quds.

Ezedin’s detention is in violation of his right to freedom of expression protected under international human rights treaties to which Ethiopia is a party, including the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights;

We hereby call for the immediate and unconditional release of Akram Ezedin.


The Undersigned

These Appeals will be sent to:

Minister of Justice
Berhanu Hailu
Ministry of Justice
P.O. Box 1370
Addis Ababa
Fax: +251 11 551 7775/ 7755
Email: justice@telecom.net.et 
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Mr Seyoum Mesfin
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
PO Box 393
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251 11 551 43 00 
Email: mfa.addis@telecom.net.et

We also welcome all individual appeals to be sent directly to these offices, as well as your local diplomatic representative.


The period for signing this petition is now over.