Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia
Dec. 20 2007
The New York Times reporter, Jeffrey Gettleman, had another piece on Ethiopia on December 14, 2007 under the Caption "In Rebel Region, Ethiopia Turns to Civilian Patrols". The article does not do justice to the credibility of the New York Times. The various strands of the narrative that the article conveys share one quality ---, they are all based on fictitious stories.
The major theme of the piece is suggested by the title of the article --- that the Ethiopian government is forcing civilians in the Somali regional State, including doctors, teachers, office clerks and employees of development programs financed by the World Bank and United Nations" to join the militia to fight "rebels".
Much could be said about motives and with respect to the probable malice behind the article. That would serve no purpose. This Press Release would rather focus on the easily verifiable facts. There is absolutely no truth to the claim made by the New York Times. There are no civil servants that have been coerced into joining the militia in the Somali region of Ethiopia. There is no such practice in any part of Ethiopia, not even at the height of the crisis and during preparation for a major military conflict with Eritrea.
This particular New York Times article is in fact rather odd. The fact that it is too careless with the facts is not all that new. What makes this latest article strange --- even coming from this specific reporter who is not known for having a high level of journalistic ethical standard --- is the total abandonment of efforts to make plausible claims even when they may be fabricated. What is one to make of the following claim.
" Other civilians who served in the militias said they were not given camouflage, and even had to buy their own rifles"
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to make it clear, without any reservation, that the claim made by the New York Times articles of December 14, 2007 about civilians and civil servants being forced into the militia in the Somali regional State of Ethiopia is a false claim and in all likelihood, a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts.
It should not be too difficult for those with the interest to do so to verify the allegation. They should count on the full cooperation of the regional State in this regard.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal
Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
20 December, 2007