Wednesday, July 29, 2015

#EthiopiansMessageToObama is storming the internet while the government and its supporters kept quiet

The idea of this hashtag was discussed as matter-of-factly by like-minded friends on Twitter, just a few days after the Ethiopian government suddenly 'freed' some members of Zone 9 bloggers and journalists at the beginning of July. One of them was suggesting to exploit this opportunity to urge President Obama to press its Ethiopian counterparts to release the prisoners of conscience and to respect the rule of law. The other suggested this seemingly harsh hashtag.

This same guy posted on twitter conversation in Amharic (Ethiopian official language) “The hustle is getting harder, I wonder when exactly this guy [President Obama] is coming.

On July 20th 2015, an Ethiopian Muslim activist Facebooker revealed the plan inviting Ethiopians at home and abroad to use #EthiopiansMessageToObama hashtag in the social media from July 21st – July 24th 2015 between 9-10 GMT Ethiopian local time. In this the fifth of its kind social-media campaign, thousands of tweets were flooded the internet from all corners of the world.
According to Vocactiv, an online media, twitter users leveraged President Obama's final appearance on Daily Show last Tuesday (July 21, 2015) to highlight the injustices. Hundreds of tweets were posted with a hashtag '#EthiopiansMessageToObama' before, during and after the broadcast to draw attention to Ethiopia’s crackdown on dissent.
But, who are these twittering people trending the hashtag #EthiopiansMessageToObama on the social media? Many of them are Ethiopians who accuse their government
which they say is not respecting its own constitution and using its infamous anti-terrorism law as an excuse to infringe political, religious and freedom of expression rights in the country. These messages however are not homogenous; some have an ethnic undertone while others religious and the remaining have been using the platform for to demand for the release of political prisoners, express their grievances against corruption and the abuse of the power in Ethiopia.
One user demands the govt to stop using taxpayers and aid money to spy on citizens

While the other user posted a cartoon how Ethiopian leaders hear selectively not about democracy

Another user appreciated and pleased with Mr. Obama's presence to his the historic country, he however expressed his dismay and condemns America's cooperation with 'tyranny'

A person by name Eric Schreyer, one of the few foreigners who is actively tweeting for the release of Ethiopian prisoners of conscience, said in one of his tweets that Obama needs to send blunt message on freedom rights in #Ethiopia and on the politicization of courts.

Yet another twitter user say Ethiopians need freedom more than food.

The following user posted in Amharic “ there won't be image building by repressing human-rights!
የሰብዓዊ መብት ረገጣን በማስፈን የሚኖር የ‹ገፅታ ግንባታ› የለም!!! #Ethiopia #Humanrights #EthiopiansMessageToObama @POTUS

This one user is different from the rest of other twitters, he speculated that Obama is more likely talk about LGBT rights in Ethiopia

Some of the users have been using this twitter campaign to demand the release of people from their ethnic group who were arbitrarily detained.

But, if one looks on statistics of this twitter campaign, there is one group which stands out- Ethiopian Muslims - who accuse the Ethiopian government interfering in their religious matters and jailing their representatives unfairly.

On this tweeter campaign, users from Ethiopian Muslim group have the lion's share in tweeting, re-tweeting and posting graphic images which depict an alleged abuse by the Ethiopian government against their fellow compatriots. They demand the government to release the Ethiopian Muslim Committee members and respect the right freedom of the religion.

The tweet analytic reveals that between July 21-25/2015, a total of 701 tweets with the hashtag #EthiopiansMessageToObama were posted by 164 users which reached over 155 thousands users and made over 377 thousand impressions. Ethiopia, is where the highest number of tweets were coming and 74% of the tweets were by male while women accounted for 26% of the remaining tweets for the campaign which lasted for four days.
If one scrutinize the statistics closely, it clearly shows which users were the ones who were posting the highest number of tweets and their influence. The top 3 teetering people for example were @salman, @kemanoda and @abdelfetahkamel who tweeted 98, 31, 26 respectively only on the last day ( July 24, 2015) of the tweeter campaign.
Strangely, the Ethiopian government and its supporters kept a low-profile with this campaign. There were however some tweeter users who posted somehow neutral and one even a funny doctored image of Mr. Obama dancing and playing Ethiopian traditional instrument. 

President Barack Obama will be the first sitting president to visit Ethiopia, which he will stop in after heading to his fatherland Kenya this week. However, human right activists questioned Washington’s commitment to supporting rights and rule of law in Africa.
Ethiopian-Americans protested outside the White House earlier this month,with signs that read: “President Obama don’t bankroll dictatorship and injustice” and “No to wining and dining with a tyrant.”

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