Swedish journalists recount their horrific experience in Ethiopia

[Translated from Swedish]

“We thought we were going to die”

(SVT) — It was an emotional press conference where Swedish journalists Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson who talked about their experiences in Ethiopia. The atmosphere was charged and the two journalists were greeted as heroes with applause when they entered the hall, straight from the airport.

Martin Schibbye talked about how they were forced to stay in the desert to record the fake film about the arrest that was used as evidence in the trial – a film that SVT has previously shown.

Lost a lot of blood

“It was action-taking and so they ran around there. We did not think it was true. I thought: ‘Will they let us see these and then live?’ He talked about the film that orchestrated the arrest.

The journalists were terribly frightened. Johan Persson was injured during the arrest and lost a lot of blood.

“I thought that these people are not really wise. I was afraid that I would get blood poisoning,” says Johan Persson.

The Swedes were trying to negotiate with the ‘filmmakers’ to go to a hospital and also meet officials of the Sweden embassy.

“They wanted us to condemn ONLF but we did not. We agreed to say that we were Swedish journalists. We were terribly afraid that they would shoot us,” says Persson.

Martin Schibbye also tells the mock execution he was subjected to. A soldier pulls him out of the middle of the desert and ask him to walk in front of soldiers. He hears cocking of a rifle.

He says he is “no more mr nice guy” and now I’ll die if I do not tell the truth. I have several times thought why people go to mock execution just like that in front of the guns? Now I understand, you can not do anything else.

Johan Persson was told that Martin Schibbye have been killed and after he heard shots.

Will not give up the fight for freedom of expression

But the journalists said they will not give up his fight – now await further work to talk about their experiences in a book, continue to review and to fight for freedom of expression. When the Swedes left prison, a fellow prisoner threw himself toward them. He was hit with batons several times by the guards:

He said: “Tell the world what is happening here,” says Martin Schibbye.

“We must not allow journalists to be convicted as terrorists; it must never happen again,” says Martin Schibbye and raises his voice.

“We have become better journalists because of this,” says Persson.

“We have been afraid to speak, to write, to live in such a country that has given the concept of freedom of speech, democracy and freedom a new meaning,” says Martin Schibbye to SVT.

FORUM | AMHARIC