by Betre Yacob
A prominent Ethiopian journalist, Million Shurube, died in Nairobi, Kenya, where he had been in exile since September 2014.
Million, father of a son, passed away on 13, October 2014 at Kenyata hospital at the age of 33. The cause of his death is still unclear.
Million was one of a dozen of Ethiopian journalists forced in to exile recently having been harassed, threatened, accused, and charged with fabricated terrorism offenses. He fled from Ethiopia on September 2014 to escape from imprisonment.
Affectionately known as “Milli”, Million Shurube served as a journalist for more than 10 years. He was the founder and managing editor of a weekly magazine “Maraki”, and had worked for different publications including the now-defunct Abay, Ethiop, and Google newspapers.
Million was also the author of a book discussing the deep rooted social problems in Ethiopia.
Reports indicate that the journalist got sick 20 days after he left his country, and finally died having suffered for more than 20 days. Some weeks ago, he was told to have got Taifoid at a clinic and used to receive medical treatment.
“Starting from September 24, he was not feeling healthy; he had headache”, his room partner said yesterday in her commentary on his death.
“Recalling memories of his son and his country, he used to cry. So that we would advice him to not be worried too much believing stress was the cause to his headache. But, we later took him to a nearby clinic when we saw no improvement in his health and he was given medication”, she explained.
According to sources, the health of the journalist got much worst over the past weekend. Fallen unconscious he was taken to Kenyata hospital on 11 October midnight and died after two days.
Million was known for his exciting writings on issues including art, religion, and tradition. He was also known for his out spoken and inspiring articles on the political and human right crisis in Ethiopia.
Plight of Ethiopian Journalists
Ethiopia is one of the leading repressive nations in Africa. With at least 17 journalists in jail, the country is now the second leading jailer of journalists and bloggers in the continent.
Despite the growing condemnation from the west, the country has continued to intensify its crackdown on the private press aiming to silence independent voices ahead of the 2015 national election. In the past few months only, more than 9 publications have been closed, of them 1 newspaper and 5 magazines were shutdown having faced fabricated accusations and charges.
The country has also sentenced 3 publishers in abstain to more than three years in prison few weeks ago. All of the journalists were convicted on charges of “inciting violent revolts, printing and distributing unfounded rumours, and conspiring to unlawfully abolish the constitutional system of the country.”
In other latest case, the Federal High Court in the capital Addis Ababa also convicted the prominent journalist Temesghen Desalegn. Early this year, a group of vibrant bloggers along with 3 other journalists had been arrested on charges of “terrorism” offenses. A journalist association called Ethiopian Journalists Forum (EJF) was also being accused and later banned, and many of its leaders were eventually forced to flee the country.
As the crackdown continues to intensify, the number of journalists fleeing Ethiopia is rising dramatically. According to recent reports, in recent months only more than 25 journalists and bloggers have fled the country in order to escape from imprisonment. In the face of complicated problems, many of them are currently struggling to survive. The death of Million highlights the plight of these journalists.
Betre Yacob is an Ethiopian Journalist and blogger. He graduated in Journalism and Communication from Bahir Dar University. He is currently working for ASSAMAN, and writes for different print and online medias. He is also the co-author of a book entitled Nipo, nipo tu, a collection of short stories illustrating socio-economic problems in Ethiopia. Betre Yacob is the president of Ethiopian Journalists Forum(EJF), an independent journalists association in Ethiopia working for freedom of speech and of the press.