On the eve of June 28th, 2011 Swedish journalists Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson put everything at stake by illegally crossing the border from Somalia into Ethiopia. After months of research, planning and failed attempts, they were finally on their way to report on how the ruthless hunt for oil effected the population of the isolated and conflict-ridden Ogaden region. Five days later they lay wounded in the desert sand, shot and captured by the Ethiopian army. But when their initial reportage died, another story began. A story about lawlessness, propaganda and global politics. After a Kafkaesque trial they were sentenced to eleven years in prison for terrorism. And they were far from alone. Their cellmates were journalists, writers and politicians persecuted for not bowing down to dictatorship. Their reportage about oil was transformed into a story about ink, and their daily lives turned into a fight for survival inside the notorious Kality prison in Addis Ababa. Exposed to deadly diseases, daily beatings and fierce repression – deprived of their shoelaces and their freedom of speech – they fought to preserve the most valuable thing of all: the freedom to determine who you are and what you believe. This is their story of 438 days of hell.
This is the epilogue from the book 438 Days: After resting up in Istanbul you were met by an enormous media scrummage at Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport. MARTIN: It was cloudy with a light rain, we were taken off the plane first and went through a VIP exit. I remember a damp red carpet, cordons, guards […] Read more
Satellite photo over Kality prison. In one of the roofs in the upper right corner of the picture you will see a white text. That was our zone, zone 6. In this hangar of corrugated steel we lived for more than a year. In the security zone, zone 1, the male Ethiopian journalists are held. […] Read more
A published op-ed in Huffington Post together with with Mohamed Keita, advocacy coordinator for CPJ’s Africa Program. “A free, vibrant independent press and the open dispensation of competing ideas are necessary to make the noble goals of the African Union a reality.” Read it here. Read more