WE EXIST TO STRENGTHEN CIVIL SOCIETY AND CITIZEN ACTION
AROUND THE WORLD
Soliyana Gebremichael, founding member of the Zone9 bloggers collective and Coordinator of the Ethiopian Human Right Project, speaks to CIVICUS about the Ethiopian government's ongoing persecution of civil society and independent media in the run-up to general elections scheduled for May 2015.
1) Six members of the Zone9 Bloggers collective were imprisoned last April. Can you tell us why you believe they were arrested and share any recent developments in the case?
With nearly 20 journalists behind bars, Ethiopia maintains one of the most repressive environments in the world for freedom of expression. The arrest of six Zone9 Bloggers and three journalists in April 2014 is unquestionably symptomatic of the government’s growing intolerance of dissenting voices in the run-up to general elections scheduled for May 2015. Zone9, which was established nearly three years ago by a group of young, concerned activists in Ethiopia, was targeted in large part because we were mobilizing youth online to demand the rights endowed to us under the constitution.
During our first year, we operated largely unencumbered. However, the year preceding the arrest of the Zone9 bloggers was marked by routine harassment, including online surveillance and active monitoring and intimidation by security officers.
By Counterpart International Armenia
Download the report in English
Civic engagement, participation and individual and collective activism form one of the core components of civil society as this describes the formal and informal activities undertaken by individuals to advance shared interests at different levels, from shared associational and social activity to the advancement of political interests. The level of ‘active citizenship’, whether it takes place within or outside CSOs, is therefore a crucial defining factor of civil society. The Civil Society Index- Rapid Assessment (CSI-RA) in Armenia, conducted by Counterpart International Armenia, focuses on civic participation and activism as currently very important and under-researched aspects of Armenian civil society.
Counterpart International has also put together a policy action brief based on the results of the CSI-RA. Read the brief titled "Armenian Civil Society: Consolidated but Detached from Broader Public".
Since International Civil Society Week (2014) was such a big success with more than 40 partner-led workshops and more than 630 inspired participants, CIVICUS is excited to continue the conference's legacy by convening the next International Civil Society Week (2016) in Latin America. To begin planning the conference, CIVICUS is seeking a local host partner which can help organise this global affair.