Open letter to Jerome McDonnell, Chicago Public Radio

By Mulu GS
June 03 2010

I have listened to your May 26 interview with Birhanu Nega, a leader of a terrorist group called Ginbot 7, who lives in exile here in the US . I am disappointed by your journalistic ethic and professionalism. The least your listeners expect from you is deceit through hiding certain facts and providing unbalanced opinions.

I believe that you have deceived and misinformed your listeners by deliberately misstating facts and by presenting one sided and very biased opinions. I will list some of these to support my argument.

1. You introduced Birhanu Nega as just a Professor at Becknell university while he is a leader of an armed struggle which is classified as a terrorist group and is on arrest warrant by the Ethiopian Government.

2. In your question about the opposition in Ethiopia , you said “I know they have no space to operate”, while there are more than 60 opposition parties operating in Ethiopia . In fact, all these parties contested in the recent May 23 election. More over, there have been more than 100 opposition members of parliament since 2005?

3. Your nod to Birhanu’s description of Meles Zenawi to your listeners as one of the most dictatorships in the world is disturbingly misleading. Meles Zenawi is a statesman who has been serving the interest of his people and the international community. He has been invited to the G7 and G20 meetings more than any leader in Africa including the one hosted by President Obama in 2010 and the one to be hosted by Canada next month. He is selected by Banki Moon as the co-chair of the Climate Commission and he is the African spokes person for climate change issues. He has been an invited speaker at the Clinton Global Foundation. I doubt if Gordon Brown or other leaders of the West would be willing to seat next to a dictator.

4. You portrayal of Ethiopia as a country which is on war footing is baseless. Ethiopia has had prevailing peace for the last 19 years and has been developing and democratizing year after year since then. It has gone through 4 national elections. It has contributed to regional and international peace missions through diplomacy and through it military personnel contribution to the UN force. All independent observers have witnessed that Ethiopia has been registering a double digit economic growth for the last 6 years.

5. While you clearly know that Birhanu is leader of an armed group called G7, you asked him whether he was affiliated with a political movement called Ginbot 7. It is funny that you buy into Birhanu’s claim that there is a fight against tyranny which is going to happen and that Ethiopia is a country that is going to disintegrate.

5. You stated as a fact that Birhanu was elected Mayor of Addis Ababa in 2005 and that he spent his time in prison. While both facts are true, the imprisonment was not a consequence of his being elected as Mayor as your interview seems to suggest. He was imprisoned for a crime he admitted of trying to topple a constitutional order by force and was released through a pardon process.

6. Your views and points about the role of the Ethiopian Diaspora and the basis of the multifaceted relationship between the US and Ethiopian Governments are not reflective of the facts on the ground. The Ethiopian Diaspora is investing in Ethiopia and the relationship with the US and EU has been at its best.

In conclusion, it is very sad that public contributed money and resources are used to air motives and agenda that promote instability and war in an ally of the US which is struggling to come out of poverty and backwardness. Very sad in deed! No contributions for public radio programs that cater to such very biased stories.