(PEN International)―In 2015, PEN International spoke to Ethiopian journalist Betre Yacob Getahun for World Refugee Day. At the time, he was living in exile in Nairobi, Kenya. He is now in the US with his wife and young child, where he continues to write. In this interview, PEN talks to him about his experience living as a displaced writer and his perspective on the current situation in Ethiopia in regards to freedom of expression.

Despite releasing thousands of political prisoners in early 2018, including journalist Eskinder Nega, one of PEN’s Main Cases, hopes for meaningful reform were tempered when the Ethiopian authorities declared a state of emergency in February 2018. The state of emergency contains provisions, which restrict the rights to freedom of expression. In early March 2018, a prominent blogger was arrested and on 25 March 2018, Nega was re-arrested alongside other bloggers and opposition members.

1) In 2015, we interviewed you for World Refugee Day. Tell us about what has happened since we last spoke; how has your situation changed?

Betre Yacob Getahun: The challenges I faced were enormous and hard to imagine. The journey was brutal. Close to two years later, the memory is still fresh and I still feel the pain it left in me. In Kenya, I was living an uncertain life; I was in a state of fear, confusion, and sadness. The security problem was huge. [Many exiled Ethiopian journalists living in Nairobi fear being kidnapped or otherwise formally extradited – it is well known that Ethiopian agents operate in Nairobi, intimidating and threatening Ethiopians living in exile.]

Continue reading Living in Exile: An Interview with Ethiopian Journalist Betre Yacob Getahun at PEN International
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