Posted by: africanpressorganization | 15 June 2009

Eritrea / Independent radio station for Eritreans begins broadcasting from Paris





Eritrea / Independent radio station for Eritreans begins broadcasting from Paris



PARIS, France, June 15, 2009/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Radio Erena (“Our Eritrea”), a Tigrinya-language station broadcasting by satellite to Eritrea, began operating today in Paris, five days ahead of World Refugee Day. The result of an initiative by Eritrean journalists based abroad and supported by Reporters Without Borders, the station is offering freely-reported, independent news and information to Eritreans in Eritrea.

“The glaring absence of independent news media in Eritrea convinced us to support this historic project,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard said. “Only a few countries such as Burma, Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea are subject to so much repression that there are absolutely no independent media.”

Julliard added: “We are delighted that Radio Erena’s launch will enable Eritrean journalists in exile to resume working and to broadcast news to their compatriots that is different from the news they get from the state media.”

The station’s editor in chief, Biniam Simon, said: “I have dedicated my life to the news media and information technology because I love people to be in touch with each other. Now I am happy because Radio Erena is going to link Eritrea with the outside world.” A former TV presenter, Simon fled Eritrea in early 2007 because he feared he would be arrested.

Independent of any political organisation or government, Radio Erena is offering news, cultural programmes, music and entertainment. A network of contributors based in the United States, Italy, Britain and the Netherlands is providing the Paris-based staff with Tigrinya-language programmes that are broadcast via Arabsat’s Badr-6 satellite. Eritreans can tune into Radio Erena on the 11,785 Mhz frequency with vertical polarisation (SR 27500, FEC 3/4).

The station’s programming will soon be broadcast on the Internet as well, so that the Eritrean diaspora will also be able to listen to it.

Eritrea has had no free press since September 2001, when the few Asmara-based independent newspapers were closed down and their publishers and editors were arrested as part of a wave of round-ups ordered by President Issaias Afeworki.

Since then, the only news available to Eritreans in their national language has been provided by the state media – Eri-TV, Radio Dimtsi Hafash and the government daily Hadas Eritrea – which are all closely supervised by the information ministry.

Africa’s biggest prison for journalists, Eritrea has for the past two years been ranked last in the Reporters Without Borders index that measures the degree of respect for press freedom in a total of 173 countries.

According to a Reporters Without Borders tally, there were at least 17 journalists imprisoned in Eritrea at the start of 2009. More than 20 other journalists have joined the list since a wave of arrests in February in Radio Bana and several other news media. In most cases, it is not known where they are being held.



Reporters without Borders (RSF)


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