The Perils of Reporting in Sudan

IWPR Comment

The Perils of Reporting in Sudan

Detention of journalist underlines the grave risks Sudanese media face in trying to maintain their independence.

Katy Glassborrow

Katy Glassborrow
IWPR reporter

As I kiss my baby before he falls asleep every night, my thoughts always return to Abdelrahman. My colleague has a boy the same age as mine, and a girl of two years old. But he hasn’t kissed them goodnight for two weeks now.

Abdelrahman was arrested on October 30 by the security services in Khartoum. No-one knows where he is being held. As a consequence of operating as an independent journalist, he has been accused of crimes against the state - an extremely serious offence in Sudan. His wife is worried. His kids want to see their dad.

I met Abdelrahman a few years ago whilst he was being trained by Radio Dabanga - a project run by Press Now and supported by IWPR – which is dedicated to bringing impartial news to information-starved Darfur. I ran sessions on international justice reporting, and have been lucky enough to work with the Radio Dabanga team ever since, producing a weekly radio show called Fi al Mizan about justice in Darfur.

I approached one session, on reporting on sexual violence, with particular trepidation. How would an all-male group respond to talking openly about such a taboo subject, which had undoubtedly affected their friends and families?

Their professionalism and empathy was overwhelming. In role-play interviews, I was humbled by their sensitivity, compassion and objectivity.

Abdelrahman came to me afterwards. “This is really very serious,” he said quietly. “We must make programmes about this issue.”

Since then, the Radio Dabanga journalists, who drink sugary tea together and greet each other enthusiastically every morning, have worked tirelessly to bring the highest-quality news to Darfur. They are forced to operate out of a newsroom in Holland because censorship and the ever-present security services in Sudan make it virtually impossible to publish or broadcast the truth without being punished.

I've been to the National Press Council offices in Khartoum where newspapers are censored. I've talked to the censors themselves, who explained the need for journalists to respect “red lines” and protect Sudanese traditions. I've spoken to the head of the journalists’ union who showed me a lengthy list of journalists employed by the state and who told me that the government rewards them with homes.

I’ve driven past the infamous “ghost houses” in Khartoum, rumoured to hold journalists who overstep the red lines, and who are whisked away by the security services without charge or explanation before being subjected to torture.

Meanwhile in Darfur and across the border in eastern Chad, the number of listeners who tune in to Radio Dabanga has mushroomed, causing a rush for radios in markets across the region.

One day, a woman called the newsroom in tears. For the first time ever, she had heard the news in her own language of Zaghawa. As well as broadcasting in Darfur Arabic, the Radio Dabanga team translates their programmes into the local languages of Fur, Zaghawa and Masalit. The woman knew what she was hearing was impartial news, the truth unaltered by the government.

Suffice to say the government does not welcome such broadcasts. It continues to try and block the signal, even taking the state-run Radio Omdurman off the air while Radio Dabanga is on, and using it's transmitter to interfere with Dabanga's shortwave frequency.

In the face of such pressure, the mood at Radio Dabanga is always upbeat. The journalists - buoyed by floods of encouraging phone calls from listeners in Darfur, and opinion makers across the world - meet for hours around the central desk, thrashing out details of stories to ensure accuracy and balance, checking facts and seeking corroboration from a variety of sources.

“Look after yourself, twice,” Assadig Musa, with whom I produce the weekly Fi al Mizan radio show, used to say as I left for home each evening in the height of my pregnancy.

“Take care of the king,” Abdelrahman would add, pointing to my belly, an ever-present grin spread warmly across his face.

At work, Abdelrahman and I sometimes sat together on the sofa and he’d talk of home. It was clear that he longed to be with his family. He was driven by an ambition to bring change to his homeland through unbiased reporting, but he longed to be home with his pregnant wife.

A few weeks after giving birth I spoke to Abdelrahman, who was then back in Sudan. He congratulated me warmly, and spoke of his own newborn baby. I could hear the unbridled joy in his voice. Even though he was working as a journalist inside Sudan, with all the stress and tension this involves, he sounded relaxed and happy.

Since Abdelrahman's arrest two weeks ago, the mood in the Radio Dabanga newsroom has changed. The journalists still greet each other enthusiastically every morning. They still drink sugary tea together and share news of their families. They still work tirelessly to produce top-notch programmes.

But all this is tinged with grave concern about their colleague, Abdelrahman, and a network of other Darfuri human rights activists who have also been arrested by the security services in this current crackdown on freedom of speech.

Human rights groups say the government wants an information blackout over what is happening in Darfur. International Criminal Court, ICC, prosecutors say the only conclusion they can draw is that the government has something to hide regarding the humanitarian situation.

Meanwhile, the state-run Sudanese media centre reports that the detainees were working to “cause embarrassment to the government [by] weakening its position [in the] international community, distorting its image before world public opinion through supporting [the] International Criminal Court and maximising the role of foreign organisations”.

This of course is nonsense - though easy for me to say from a distance. Easy to say with no fear of the security services threatening my family, or snatching me and torturing me. Easy for me to say, as I kiss my son to sleep once more.

Katy Glassborow is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.

IWPR's On the Scale, or Fi al Mizan radio programme is available in four languages at http://iwpr.net/programme/scale-darfur

The views expressed in this article are not necessarily the views of IWPR.


'Jordan jammed Al Jazeera signal'

'Jordan jammed Al Jazeera signal'

A British newspaper found evidence tracing the jamming of World Cup games in the Middle East to a source in Jordan.
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2010 14:28 GMT

Fresh allegations have emerged over the jamming of Al Jazeera Sport's signal during the South Africa World Cup in June.

The Guardian has reported on Thursday that it has obtained evidence showing that Jordan is the party behind the jamming, which frustrated thousands of Al Jazeera subscribers last June.

The Jordanian government has flatly dismissed the accusation that it jammed the football transmission.

“The Jordanian government categorically denies allegations made by unnamed sources to the Guardian newspaper that it was behind the jamming of Al Jazeera broadcast of the World Cup," a government official told AFP.

"These allegations are absolutely baseless and unacceptable," the official said on condition of anonymity.

“The government is ready to cooperate with any team of independent experts to examine the facts, and is certain that any such examination will prove these allegations false."

Britain's Guardian daily reported that the jamming was "traced to Jordan, which appears to have retaliated angrily after the collapse of a deal that would have allowed football fans there free access to the matches."

"Secret documents seen exclusively by the Guardian trace five episodes of jamming definitively to a location near Salt in Jordan, northeast of the capital Amman, confirmed by technical teams using geolocation technology," the newspaper wrote.

The Jordanian official rejected "speculations" about a deal with Al Jazeera.

"Four days before the kick off of the matches, Al Jazeera made an offer, demanding eight million dollars for the broadcast rights of 20 games of its choosing, and over 50,000 dollars for the broadcast on each screen that would have been placed in underprivileged areas," he said.

"The government did not accept the offer because it believed it was made too late and the matches offered by Al Jazeera did not justify the cost."

Al Jazeera had exclusive pay-TV rights to broadcast World Cup matches across the Middle East from North Africa to Iran.

The jamming has infuriated millions of Al Jazeera’s subscribers, when transmission suddenly turned to blank screens, pixelated images or commentary in the wrong languages during the opening match.

Al-Jazeera has revolutionised the Arabic-language media and reporting on the Middle East since its foundation in 1996, but often at the expense of angering many Arab governments, including that of Jordan.

Al Jazee


Mugabe regime resumes jamming SW Radio Africa broadcasts

SW Radio Africa news - The Independent Voice of Zimbabwe

Mugabe regime resumes jamming SW Radio Africa broadcasts

By Lance Guma
02 September 2010

Robert Mugabe’s regime has resumed jamming news broadcasts from SW Radio Africa, despite the existence of the coalition government with the MDC, that is supposed to guarantee freedom of expression. On Wednesday evening the first half hour of our broadcast featuring Newsreel was drowned out by a heavy noise, sounding like a slow playing record.

SW Radio Africa listeners told us that soon after the news ended the jamming noise stopped and the rest of the broadcast featuring current affairs programming could be heard clearly.

Information Communication Technology Minister Nelson Chamisa told Newsreel he was not aware of the jamming. He said; ‘We will have to start gathering our facts on the matter before coming up with our position.’ Deputy Information Minister Murisi Zwizwai’s phone went unanswered the whole day. But a source told us the Central Intelligence Organisation, which falls under the President’s Office, is running the operation.

In 2005 Mugabe’s regime began jamming SW Radio Africa frequencies just before the controversial Operation Murambatsvina. It was reported that the jamming equipment and expertise was provided by China and at the time we spoke to a soldier who says he was sent to China to be trained in jamming techniques. The jamming was then extended to include signals from Voice of America’s Studio 7, in clear violation of international laws.

In March 2007 then Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga admitted they were jamming our broadcasts. Speaking in parliament Matonga boasted that the government was generating electronic interference to prevent reception of the broadcasts. "We cannot allow foreigners to invade our airwaves without our authority. We will continue to do it. We need to protect our sovereignty. If you go to England you will not receive any foreign radio station."

SW Radio Africa is run by exiled Zimbabweans who, because of repressive media legislation, were not allowed to broadcast from home. In 2000 the station, then called Capital Radio, challenged government’s broadcasting monopoly and won its case in the Supreme Court. But after just 6 days of broadcasting from a local hotel the station was shut down by Mugabe using his presidential powers.
While the initial jamming in 2005 was done when Zimbabwe was under the sole rule of Mugabe and ZANU PF, the situation is now different and, in theory, we have a unity government where responsibility must be shared by the MDC.

The national chairman of the Zimbabwe chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa Loughty Dube said; ‘It’s quite surprising because this inclusive government has made a commitment to promote a diversity of views and a diversity of media. It is imperative that they do not select which voice they want in this diversity.’
As for the MDC not knowing about the jamming Dube said; ‘It clearly tells us they are junior partners in the government’.

In a related issue it was also this week that co-Home Affairs Minister, Theresa Makone, said she was unaware of an order issued by her Permanent Secretary banning paintings done by Bulawayo based artist Owen Maseko depicting the Gukurahundi era.


Ethiopia : Meles Zenawi Threatens to Jam VOA, U.S fires back

By Oromsis Adula*

Last month, the Voice of America, a "multimedia broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors", complained that its Amharic broadcats were jammed in Ethiopia. Speaking to reporters in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian tyrant Meles Zenawi, threatens to jam the broadcast completely while comparing it to Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM). RTLM is a radio station best known for inciting and excerbating the Rwandan Genocide.

Meles Zenawi likes to use Rwandan Genocide as a scare tactic. During the 2005, he used Interahamwe referring to opposition protesters. Interahamwe was the government backed Hutu militia mobilized to massacre their Tutsi counterparts.

Apparently, although this could just be a war of words, the State Department is fighting back. Clearly, the sun is shining on Meles Zenawi's repressive rule. It is up to the United States and other donor countries to take note and stop financing a dictatorial regime.

It is also to be remembered that following the contested 2005 Ethiopian election, the minority regime in Ethiopia effectively muzzled out independent press in the country. Many of the journalists who were instrumental in bringing to light the brutality of Ethiopian government were either in prison or forced to flee the country.

For the last eighteen years, despite the rhetoric of democratization, the Voice of America Radio and Germany's International Broadcasting Station, the Deutsche Welle Radio, served the people of Ethiopia as the only media outlets not controlled by government.

In a country of seventy plus million people, there is not a single free press to speak of. Afan Oromo, the lingua-franca of Ethiopia and the third most widely spoken language in Africa, is relegated to a limited propoganda service. Jamming the VOA broadcats will leave the whole country with vitually no voice or an alternative news source apart from the government controlled agitprop.

One can only wonder, what good does writing annual human rights reports and complaining about jammed radio broadcats do for the American government that continues to support the authoritarian regime in Addis Ababa. A powerful nation such as the United States, has the power to tell Ethiopian authorities, "they are on the wrong side of history" and also they have a stated will to stand "with those who seek justice, freedom and liberty"

Related Stories:


「広島に原爆」川越から傍受 通信社分室が政府に報告

「広島に原爆」川越から傍受 通信社分室が政府に報告(1/2ページ)




 終戦直前に広島へ投下された兵器の正体を、国内でいち早く「原子爆弾」と訳し、政府に報告したのは、埼玉県川越市で海外放送を傍受した通信社だった ――。戦後65年の今年、そんな裏面史を検証する調査が進んでいる。大本営は結局、しばらくは「新型爆弾」としか発表せず、放射能の脅威が知らされないま ま2次被爆の拡大につながったと指摘する専門家もいる。


 財団法人通信社史刊行会(現・新聞通信調査会)から1958年に発行された「通信社史」によると、こんな海外放送を傍受したのは、共同通信社や時事通信 社の前身だった同盟通信社の川越分室。45年8月7日午前1時半ごろだった。前日の広島の惨禍に関する重大情報で、日本語に訳され、直ちに東郷茂徳外相ら に伝達されたという。


 外電の傍受活動について調べている元共同通信記者の鳥居英晴氏(61)と、郷土史を探究する市内の作家龍神由美さん(52)が別々に検証作業を始めたと ころ、昨年から今年にかけて、市内の同じ「生き証人」にたどり着いた。分室の記者だった故・杉山市平氏の妻昭子(てるこ)さん(83)だ。



両記者の上司だった木下秀夫氏は、文芸春秋71年12月号への寄稿で、分室開設について「すべて極秘のうちに行われた」と記し、こう述懐している。 「トルーマン大統領の原爆投下声明も、ポツダム宣言も、日本の降伏受諾が先方に届いたことの確認も、その第一報はすべてここでキャッチされた」


 核開発の歴史に詳しい山崎正勝・東工大名誉教授(科学史)は、通信社からの情報が生かされなかったことも、2次被爆の拡大の一因とみる。「日本で戦時中 にウランの軍事利用を研究していた専門家は、残留放射能の危険性を知っていたが、軍や政府から知らされずに原爆投下直後の広島、長崎に入り、命を失った人 たちがたくさんいる」



Earlier, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said Ethiopia had been testing jamming equipment, but there had been no formal decision to block the US station.

The Amharic Service has experienced interference since late February.
Mr Meles also compared the VOA's transmissions to broadcasts in Rwanda in the mid-1990s that incited genocide.

"We have for some time now been trying to beef up our capacity to deal with this, including... jamming," Mr Meles replied

Ethiopia: Message from VOAIn a statement, VOA director Danforth Austin said that any comparison of VOA programming to Rwandan broadcasts inciting genocide in the 1990s was "incorrect and unfortunate".
"The VOA deplores jamming as a form of media censorship wherever it may occur," he said, adding that the station's Amharic Service was required by law to provide accurate and objective information.

The VOA and other foreign media organizations say broadcasts in Amharic - the country's most widely spoken language - have been jammed around elections in the past.

According to 2nd August 2010 message from VOA.

Greetings from Voice of America!

Over recent months we’ve appreciated hearing from you about our Horn of Africa broadcasts to our Ethiopian and Eritrean audiences. For 28 years Voice of America has broadcast uncensored news to both countries, but that service has been recently interrupted by the Ethiopian government. And they have blocked access to our Horn of Africa web site for all who live in Ethiopia.

We value your views and during a crucial time in Ethiopian domestic affairs, we wanted to offer you by e-mail a new way to receive our news and feature programs.

Our broadcasters continue to work diligently to reach many parts of the world with news in Amharic, Afaan Oromoo and Tigrigna, but most listeners in Ethiopia cannot get that news now.

So, we invite you to receive the Horn of Africa news Monday through Friday.

You can subscribe at http://www1.voanews.com/amharic/email/

If you cannot access our site, click on http://www.melkamzena.com. You will be able to hear a recent broadcast in any of our three languages. Or, click on “newsletter” and enter your e-mail address and Monday through Friday you’ll receive links to our top stories of the day about Ethiopia.

Your subscription to our Horn newsletter is one of many ways VOA is reaching out to our loyal listeners during this communications crisis.

We invite you to forward this e-mail to anyone in Ethiopia or anywhere else in the world who would like to receive our Horn of Africa newsletter.


情報機関が『地下放送』 脱北者関与 反政府勢力装う

情報機関が『地下放送』 脱北者関与 反政府勢力装う

2010年6月23日 07時08分



 韓国軍哨戒艦の沈没事件が国連安全保障理事会で協議される中、五百万人近くが死傷した朝鮮戦争(一九五〇~五三年)勃発(ぼっぱつ)から二十五日 で六十年を迎える。韓国政府は沈没事件の制裁措置として、軍事境界線付近で宣伝放送を開始。その水面下にある非軍事的戦術「心理戦」の実態が明らかになっ た。 (ソウル・城内康伸、写真も)

 六月初めの未明、ソウルで短波ラジオをある周波数に合わせると、激しい雑音とともに「朝鮮語」による 男性のアナウンスが聞こえてきた。


  この日の放送の話題は哨戒艦沈没事件だ。北朝鮮の朝鮮労働党党員の夫妻が対話する形で「沈没の原因はわが軍の攻撃だ。それなのに(北朝鮮の)上層部は南 (韓国)の捏造(ねつぞう)としている」と伝えた。続いて金正日(キムジョンイル)政権を非難。放送は北朝鮮内の反政府勢力が流しているように聞こえた。

  その送信施設がソウル近郊の田園地帯にあるのを見つけた。広大な敷地に巨大なアンテナ塔が十六本。施設の外にはフェンスが張り巡らされ、監視所もある。近 くでラジオの電源を入れると、放送には雑音もなく普通に受信できた。電波は毎日十八時間、北朝鮮に向かって飛んでいる。

 「人民の声は、実 は国家情報院(韓国の情報機関=国情院)が運営している」。“怪電波”の正体を、情報当局筋が明かした。

 三十年余の短波ラジオ受信歴があ るアジア放送研究会の山下透代表は「八六年六月二十五日に開局し、かつては平壌が発信地と放送していた」と説明。

 放送にかかわった男性は 「放送原稿の執筆やアナウンスは、主に国情院が選抜した脱北者が携わっている」と証言する。別の関係者は「盧武鉉(ノムヒョン)前政権では金正日と呼び捨 てにしないよう上部から指示があった。李明博(イミョンバク)政権誕生後、激しい批判が復活した」と指摘した。

 だが、国情院は「対北放送 はしていない」と否定しており「人民の声」の運営は、極秘事項なのだ。

 こうした放送は地下放送と呼ばれ、敵対勢力や相手国内の動揺や反乱 の扇動を目的とする。放送にかぶさる雑音は、北朝鮮が住民に聞かせないようにする妨害電波だった。



Iran Jams Satellite Signal

Iran Jams Satellite Signal

The Iranian government has continued to increase its jamming of satellite television signals in Iran, thereby prohibiting access protected by international treaties

Photo: photos.com

Satellite Dishes

"Suppressing ideas does not succeed in making them go away."
In the run-up to the one year anniversary of last June's disputed presidential election, the Iranian government has continued to increase its jamming of satellite television signals in Iran, thereby prohibiting access protected by international treaties.

According to complaints by Iranian citizens, the electronic interference was evident when the Voice of America's Persian News Network recently broadcast an HBO documentary on the life of Neda Agha Soltan, the young woman killed during peaceful protests following the election last year. Her death was captured on video, and she has become a symbol of the aspirations of the Iranian people for freedom and justice.

Earlier this year, the Iranian government also jammed VOA and other international broadcasts when Iran's leadership sought to suppress opposition protests on the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. At that time, VOA, Deutsche Welle, and the BBC issued a joint statement condemning the jamming, saying "it contravenes international agreements and is interfering with the free and open flow of international transmissions that are protected by international treaties."

In addition, the broadcasters noted, the Iranian authorities "are using the same satellite services to broadcast freely around the world including broadcasts in English and Arabic; at the same time they are denying their own people programs coming from the same satellites from the rest of the world."

Iranian authorities have attempted to keep information from the citizens of Iran through tactics such as jamming signals or closing newspapers or filtering the internet. They also continue their arrests and detentions of citizens with any association to the political opposition.

Despite the attempts of the leadership in Iran to deny outside information to its citizens, those in Iran who are trying to exercise their universal rights should know that the world is watching. As President Barack Obama has said, "Suppressing ideas does not succeed in making them go away. . . . History will be on the side of those who seek justice."

voice of america


Jamming of DW is part of Ethiopia's campaign against press freedom

Press Freedom | 28.05.2010

Jamming of DW is part of Ethiopia's campaign against press freedom

Coinciding with Ethiopia's parliamentary election last Sunday, DW's Amharic service in the country was deliberately jammed. It is part of the government's strategy to silence independent media.

"These methods are a violation of international law and -- what is even more important -- they are a violation of human rights, particularly the right to freedom of information for people all over the world," Deutsche Welle's director general Erik Betterman said following the news of the intentional disruption of Deutsche Welle broadcasting during the election by the Ethiopian government.

Just as in 2007 and 2008, Deutsche Welle's Amharic radio broadcasts were subjected to jamming, i.e. the deliberate interference of Deutsche Welle's short wave signal.

Two and three years ago it was the invasion of Ethiopian soldiers into Somalia and increasing border tensions with Eritrea that led the government in Addis Abeba to disrupt transmission of Deutsche Welle. Germany's international broadcaster has been transmitting in Ethiopia's official language, Amharic, since 1965.

DW Director  General Erik BettermannBildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: DW Director General Erik Bettermann protested against the jamming efforts Bettermann has called the renewed interference of DW's frequencies a drastic attack against "Germany's voice for human rights."

Jamming linked to elections

According to Ambroise Pierre, director for Africa at Reporters without Borders in Paris, the government's latest jamming efforts are linked to parliamentary elections in Ethiopia.

"The jamming of Deutsche Welle in Ethiopia must obviously and directly be viewed in a political context. The election on May 23 was an important milestone for Meles Zenawi and his government. This government made it impossible for domestic and international media to inform the Ethiopians independently," Pierre said.

On the world stage Prime Minister Meles, a Marxist and former guerilla fighter who has led the country for 19 years, presents himself as Africa's negotiator on climate issues and the G-20. But at home in Addis Abebba, the seat for the African Union, human rights groups say he bullies the opposition, journalists and civil society activists.

Freedom of press not respected

In May after the jamming of the Amharic broadcasts of Voice of America became public, Reporters without Borders sent an open letter to Meles, urging him to uphold the freedom of the press during the election. That demand was ignored, said Pierre:

"With our letter we wanted to appeal to the prime minister to not interfere with the work of the media. But he obviously didn't heed our demand, since Deutsche Welle is being jammed now as well."

Group  picture with journalists from the Amharic department at Deutsche Welle  in Bonn, Germany.Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: The Amharic department at Deutsche Welle in Bonn, GermanySince the election of 2005 which was marred by 200 deaths and charges of massive fraud, the Ethiopian government has been engaged in an aggressive lobbying campaign against the Amharic service of Deutsche Welle. These efforts culminated in a complaint to the German parliament alleging that DW's reporting was biased. While this accusation could be invalidated after broadcast manuscripts were re-translated into German, the jamming was only stopped after the intervention of Chancellor Angela Merkel in Addis Abbeba in 2008.

According to Bettermann the continued attacks by the Ethiopian government and the blocking of unpopular Internet sites through the aid of Chinese software and hardware is a confirmation that Germany's broadcaster is on the right track.

"Since this isn't the first time that we are being jammed, this shows that what we transmit to Ethiopia must be considered as very serious," he said and added that the government in Addis Abbeba must be "thin-skinned" to block media access. Information educates the people and governments must be able to withstand criticism, he stressed.

Ethiopian authorities could not officially be reached for comment. However, confronted with the alleged jamming, Prime Minister Meles denied any interference with DW's signal in a conversation with the head of the EU's election observer mission (EU-EOM) in Ethiopia.

Listeners from all over the world have protested against the jamming during the election weekend. In Ethiopia people have begun calling in to the Deutsche Welle to express their frustration and regret that the international broadcaster could not be heard reporting on the country's election.

Author: Ludger Schadomsky (mik)
Editor: Kristin Zeier


Ethiopia jams Deutsche Welle before and during elections

Ethiopia jams Deutsche Welle before and during elections

Text of press release by German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle on 26 May

Deutsche Welle [DW] director-general Erik Bettermann has condemned the jamming of DW’s radio programming in Ethiopia. Before and during the parliamentary elections in Ethiopia on Sunday, May 23, Deutsche Welle’s shortwave broadcasts of its Amharic programme was blocked several times.

“This blatant violation of international law and against the basic rights related to the freedom of information is not acceptable,” said Bettermann. “People must be able to form an opinion based on independent and uncensored information - especially in the run-up to elections. Without international sources of media, the censored, national media remains the only choice.”

Deutsche Welle has informed the German Embassy in Addis Ababa and the head of the EU’s Election Observation Mission.

International broadcasters have been affected by jamming several times in the last few months in Ethiopia. Bettermann sees Deutsche Welle as the “German voice of human rights”. He went on to say that DW, along with other independent international broadcasters “factor greatly into the effort to foster human rights in even more countries around the world and shouldn’t be underestimated”.

DW’s radio service for Ethiopia has been broadcast since 1965 and has been affected by jamming time and time again. Although the administration in Addis Ababa denied using jamming techniques in the past, they have recently officially admitted to blocking international media.

Amharic programming from Deutsche Welle and Voice of America are heard daily by millions of Ethiopians - something the local government disagrees with.

The German government has intervened in the past. In 2007, they contacted Prime Minister Meles Zenawi after the DW’s radio service was blocked for months and the source of the jamming in Ethiopia had been identified.

At the beginning of May, Deutsche Welle, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, BBC, Radio France Internationale and Voice of America made a joint declaration on World Press Freedom Day, specifically addressing the free flow of uncensored information. There is an increasing number of countries that are experiencing jamming with regards to satellite and shortwave transmissions as well as the blocking of websites.

(Source: Deutsche Welle press release in English 26 May 10 via BBC Monitoring)


Broadcasting body calls on Iran to stop jamming

Broadcasting body calls on Iran to stop jamming

Fri Mar 26, 10:44 AM

GENEVA (AFP) - The UN's telecommunications agency called on Iran Friday to stop jamming foreign radio and television broadcasts, following European complaints.

ecommunications Union spokesman Sanjay Acharya said that "interference emanating from the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran... appear to be of a nature which is forbidden under radio regulations."

The ITU's radio regulation board "urged the administration of Iran to continue its efforts in locating the source of interference and to eliminate it as a matter of the highest priority." he added.

The regulation board issued its call following a complaint lodged by France on behalf of the management of the Eutelsat telecommunications satellite whose emissions to Iran were being jammed.

Acharya acknowledged that the ITU could not impose any sanctions against Tehran before its next world congress in some two years' time.

"What we can do at this moment is to add pressure on the government of Iran," he said.

EU foreign ministers on Monday vowed to "act" against the Iranian state's unacceptable jamming of satellite broadcasts and Internet controls, showing the bloc's increasing impatience with Tehran.

Nearly 70 foreign radio and television stations that transmit via the Eutelsat satellite to Iran were jammed on February 11, the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, they said.

Iranian authorities have cracked down on the media and arrested scores of journalists since anti-government protests erupted after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election last June.

The Islamic regime has been targeting the BBC's Persian-language broadcasts in particular.

EU sources said that Iranians' text messages were also being intercepted by the authorities in Tehran.

The bloc's foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said she was "extremely concerned" about Iran's jamming tactics, without saying what precisely Europe would, or could, do to counter Tehran's tactics.

Meles Vows to Authorize Jamming VOA Amharic Broadcasts

Meles Vows to Authorize Jamming VOA Amharic Broadcasts


The Ethiopian leader denies having authorized the interference VOA Amharic listeners have been experiencing since February 22. But speaking to reporters Thursday, he acknowledged ordering preparations for jamming, and said as soon as the equipment is working properly, he would give the go-ahead.

[insert caption  here]
[Meles Zenawi]
"We have to know before we make the decision to jam, whether we have the capacity to do it," the prime minister says. "But I assure you if they assure me at some future date that they have the capacity to jam it, I will give them the clear guideline to jam it. But so far there has not been that formal decision to jam."

Mr. Meles said what listeners may have been experiencing for the past four weeks is testing of the jamming equipment.

In justifying his decision to order jamming, the prime minister compared VOA's Amharic Service to the infamous Radio Mille Collines, which broadcast hate messages blamed for inciting the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

"We have been convinced for many years that in many respects, the VOA Amharic Service has copied the worst practices of radio stations such as Radio Mille Collines of Rwanda in its wanton disregard of minimum ethics of journalism and engaging in destabilizing propaganda," Meles said.

Voice of America Director Danforth Austin issued a statement Thursday saying, "any comparison of VOA programming to the genocidal broadcasts of Rwanda's Radio Mille Collines is incorrect and unfortunate."

He added, "The VOA deplores jamming as a form of media censorship wherever it may occur.

"The statement said VOA's Amharic Service is required by law to provide accurate, objective and comprehensive news and information and abide by the highest journalistic standards."

Austin also noted that "while VOA is always ready to address responsible complaints about programming, the Government of Ethiopia has not initiated any official communication in more than two years."

VOA language service broadcasts to Ethiopia have been jammed in the past around election times. The next election for parliament is just over two months away. But in past instances, the government denied being responsible for the jamming.

Monitors say the recent jamming has only been aimed at Amharic broadcasts, and has not affected other Horn of Africa transmissions to Ethiopia in Afan Oromo and Tigrigna. They are heard on the same frequencies before and after the Amharic broadcast.

The Voice of America is a multi-media international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. Government. VOA broadcasts more than 1500 hours of news and other programming every week in 45 languages to an audience of more than 125 million people.

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VOA Amharic Broadcasts Jammed in Ethiopia

VOA Amharic Broadcasts Jammed in Ethiopia

International shortwave radio monitors have confirmed that VOA broadcasts in the Amharic language are being jammed. Amharic is the main official language and the language of commerce in Ethiopia.

VOA representatives in Ethiopia have been received complaints from listeners about noise drowning out its Amharic Service broadcasts. People trying to tune in can hear occasional snippets of the VOA broadcast covered by a loud crackle.

The static began February 22 on all five VOA shortwave frequencies aimed at East Africa in the 25 and 31-meter shortwave bands.

The other foreign broadcast heard in Ethiopia, the German government's Deutsche Welle Amharic language program, also reports experiencing some interference, in the past few days.

Monitors say VOA transmissions in two other Ethiopian languages, Afan Oromo and Tigrinya, are being heard normally. They are broadcast on the same frequencies, before and after the hour-long Amharic program.

VOA and Deutsche Welle were jammed around the time of the last parliament election in 2005, and again before the 2008 nationwide local elections. The next crucial parliament vote is scheduled for May 23.

In 2008, the authoritative BBC monitoring service reported it was able to determine that the jamming signals originated from within Ethiopia. This time, however, no such determination has been made.

In a telephone interview, Ethiopian Communications Office spokesman Shimelis Kemal denied any government involvement in the jamming. "This is a baseless allegation. The government doesn't espouse a policy of restricting media outlets from disseminating their messages to Ethiopian audiences," he said.

Ethiopian officials have often described VOA's Amharic Service as the 'voice of the opposition', saying its broadcasts reveal an anti-government bias. Meleskachew Ameha, an Amharic Service reporter in Addis Ababa, was detained for two weeks, last year, in a case involving alleged possession of illegal broadcast equipment. He was released without charge.

Audience research in 2008 suggested about 11 percent of adult Ethiopians regularly tune in to VOA language service broadcasts.

Voice of America Director Danforth Austin issued a statement Wednesday saying, 'VOA deplores jamming and any other form of censorship of the media'.

The Voice of America is a multi-media international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. Government. VOA broadcasts more than 1,500 hours of news and other programming every week in 49 languages to an audience of more than 125 million people.


International broadcasters condemn illegal Iranian jamming of radio and television channels

International broadcasters condemn illegal Iranian jamming of radio and television channels

International broadcasters – BBC, Deutsche Welle, and Voice Of America - today issued a strong message of condemnation following a new wave of deliberate electronic interference by the Iranian authorities which is affecting their broadcasts. BBC World News – the English language channel - was the latest channel to be jammed this week.

The new wave of jamming occurred as Iranians marked the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution.

The jamming is affecting services on the Hotbird satellite which covers audiences across Europe and the Middle East. These include BBC Persian television, the Voice Of America television channel in Persian, the Radio Farda service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and Deutsche Welle's television and radio services.

In a joint statement: Peter Horrocks, Director of BBC World Service, Erik Bettermann, Director of Deutsche Welle and Dan Austin, Director of Voice Of America said: "We condemn any jamming of these channels. It contravenes international agreements and is interfering with the free and open flow of international transmissions that are protected by international treaties.

"We call upon satellite operators and those who regulate them to take urgent action to put pressure on Iran to stop this activity. The Iranian authorities are using the same satellite services to broadcast freely around the world including broadcasts in English and Arabic; at the same time they are denying their own people programmes coming from the same satellites from the rest of the world.

"We will not stop broadcasting accurate and impartial news and current affairs into Iran. We will try every avenue to give our large audiences in Iran the television news services that they want.

"The jamming violates article 45 of the Constitution of the International Telecommunication Union that prohibits signal interference and we look to the international regulatory community to take a firmer stance on this deliberate act of jamming.

"Formal complaints have been submitted to the International Telecommunication Union, and other channels are being vigorously pursued to stop further jamming."

World Service Publicity

International broadcasters condemn Iran over 'jamming'

International broadcasters condemn Iran over 'jamming'

BBC Persian TV (file)
BBC Persian Television is one of the channels being jammed by Iran

Three major international broadcasters have strongly condemned Iran for its "deliberate electronic interference" in their broadcasts.

The BBC, Deutsche Welle and Voice of America said the jamming began on Thursday as Iran marked the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

They said Iran was broadcasting freely around the world while denying its own people programmes coming from outside.

Earlier, the US accused Iran of using a "near-total information blockade".

A state department spokesman said there were strong indications that the telephone network had been taken down, SMS messages blocked, and internet communication "throttled".

"Iran has attempted a near total information blockade," PJ Crowley said.

We will not stop broadcasting accurate and impartial news and current affairs into Iran
Joint statement by the BBC, Deutsche Welle and Voice of America

"It is clear that the Iranian government fears its own people."

White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs meanwhile said that the web giant, Google, and other internet service providers had been "unplugged" in Iran.

Reporters Without Borders says the blocking of Google's Gmail e-mail system takes the drive to control cyber-space to a new stage.

But the organisation claims that most Iranian internet users know how to sidestep censorship and access blocked websites.

Correspondents say a number of governments - notably China and Burma, as well as Iran - make strenuous efforts to block modern internet communications among their opponents.

'Accurate and impartial'

The BBC, Deutsche Welle and Voice of America said the Iranian authorities' jamming was affecting services on the Hotbird satellite, which covers audiences across Europe and the Middle East.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Tehran rally on 11 February 2010
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a rally Iran was now a "nuclear state"

These include BBC Persian Television, the Voice of America Television Channel in Persian and Radio Farda; and Deutsche Welle's Television and Radio services. BBC World News - the English-language channel - was also jammed.

"We condemn any jamming of these channels. It contravenes international agreements and is interfering with the free and open flow of international transmissions that are protected by international treaties," the broadcasters said in a joint statement.

"The Iranian authorities are using the same satellite services to broadcast freely around the world including broadcasts in English and Arabic; at the same time they are denying their own people programmes coming from the same satellites from the rest of the world," they added.

Footage said to show a policeman beating a protester

On Thursday, a day-long security clampdown in the Iranian capital Tehran succeeded in preventing large-scale opposition protests as the nation commemorated the Islamic Revolution.

The opposition turnout was dwarfed by huge crowds at the state-run celebrations in the centre of Tehran.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed the rally, saying Iran was now a "nuclear state" and had produced its first stock of 20% enriched uranium.

But the White House said the assertion was based more on politics than science.


France Seeks ITU Help To Halt Satellite Signal Jamming by Iran

01/8/10 05:34 PM ET

France Seeks ITU Help To Halt Satellite Signal Jamming by Iran

By Peter B. de Selding

PARIS — French regulators have asked the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to intervene with the Iranian government to persuade Tehran to stop jamming satellite signals from the BBC World Service’s Persian-language broadcasts into Iran, according to the director of France’s National Frequencies Agency (ANF).

ANF Director Francois Rancy said the appeal to the ITU was made the first week of January only after numerous French requests to Iran to stop the interference went unanswered over the past seven months.

Rancy, a veteran international-frequency regulator who chaired the ITU’s World Radiocommunication Conference in late 2007, said that while he hoped ITU pressure would affect Iran’s behavior, he was not counting on an immediate stop to the practice.

“The ITU is really a gentlemen’s club,” Rancy said in a Jan. 5 interview. “It depends on the goodwill of its members. There is no mechanism for forcing an administration into compliance with the rules.”

The Geneva-based ITU is a United Nations affiliate that regulates satellite and other wireless communications frequencies and satellite orbital slots. In recent years it has regularly tried, without success, to get the U.S. government to stop jamming legal radio and television broadcasts from Cuba, which the ITU says is done with low-flying aircraft operating in international airspace.

In another example, Slovenian television broadcasters and the ITU have sought to stop Italian broadcasters from overstepping their frequency assignments with signal transmissions that interfere with Slovenian broadcasts. According to ITU documents, Slovenian regulators sent more than 200 reports to Italy citing interference, saying Italy was using frequencies that had not been coordinated with its neighbors.

In both these cases, the alleged offending administrations — the United States and Italy — have all but refused to acknowledge the ITU requests.

The BBC Persian programming carried on the Eutelsat Hot Bird 6 satellite stationed at 13 degrees east was jammed starting last spring during Iran’s elections, and it has continued intermittently ever since, particularly during the broadcaster’s coverage of the death of a reformist Iranian cleric.

An official with Paris-based Eutelsat acknowledged that locating the source of frequency interference is often difficult. But in this case, Eutelsat contacted other satellite operators to compare notes about broadcasts in the region and performed tests over an extended period of time, and concluded that the jamming signals were coming from Iranian territory.

The Eutelsat official said one way of determining whether interference is intentional or accidental is to move the affected programming to another transponder on the satellite to see whether the jamming then stops.

Once it is determined beyond a reasonable doubt that the interference was coming from Iran, Eutelsat contacted ANF, which then contacted Iran in multiple letters sent since mid-2009, Rancy said.

For the BBC, a solution to the problem is likely to involve using replacement capacity on Eutelsat satellites whose beams make it impossible for Iranian authorities to uplink interference to the satellite. The BBC in recent months has shifted its programming to Eutelsat capacity on the Telstar 12 satellite at 15 degrees west, a location that relieves the jamming but also makes it difficult for the BBC’s Iranian audience to capture the satellite’s downlink.

The British broadcaster has also used Eutelsat’s W2M satellite at 3.1 degrees west, which offers a better signal-reception angle for Iranian dish antennas but features a narrow beam whose uplink cannot be accessed from Iranian soil, the Eutelsat official said.

“There are no easy and definitive solutions,” the Eutelsat official said. “But when we can, we can move programming to a satellite whose location makes it impossible for jammers in a given location to target the satellite.”

BBC World Service did not respond to requests for comment about whether the use of other satellites will provide a permanent solution to the problem or whether the broadcast audience will be sharply reduced as viewers need to repoint their rooftop antennas to the new satellites.

In a Dec. 21 statement following a fresh round of Hot Bird 6 jamming that started Dec. 20, the broadcaster said: “The BBC is looking at ways to increase the options for its Farsi-speaking audiences in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, which may include broadcasting on other satellites.”


Broadcasting Board of Governors' Statement on Interference with Broadcasts to Iran

Press Release

Broadcasting Board of Governors' Statement on Interference with Broadcasts to Iran

December 29, 2009 | Washington, DC« Back to Press Releases

The Broadcasting Board of Governors condemns the latest efforts of the Iranian Government and its associates to interfere and censor the free flow of objective news and information to the Iranian people. By monitoring satellite signals, BBG's technical experts have determined that on December 27, the Government of Iran engaged in the intentional jamming of satellite transmissions of the Voice of America's (VOA) Persian News Network and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's (RFE/RL) Radio Farda.

These efforts continue a pattern by the Iranian Government to block the broadcasting of objective and balanced news and information to the Iranian people, efforts which the Government of Iran has amplified since the June 12 Iranian elections. As Iranian citizens once again demonstrate against the current government, Iran has stepped up its measures to ensure that the Iranian people are deprived of the international reaction, as well as of accurate news about the protests taking place in various cities in Iran.

The latest actions of the Iranian government in jamming commercial satellites appear calculated to intimidate the commercial satellite providers that are targets of the jamming into complicity with the actions of the Government of Iran and deprive the Iranian people access to free press and information.

"Private industry is an essential partner in freedom of the press. We urge our satellite partners to stand united in the face of these authoritarian acts or risk even greater human rights losses," BBG Governor D. Jeffrey Hirschberg said after the Iranian Government's latest efforts to jam U.S. International Broadcasting signals.

"This type of intentional, harmful interference is not only a violation of the rules of the International Telecommunications Union to which the Government of Iran has subscribed, but is also a flagrant violation of the internationally recognized right of the people of Iran to receive news and information without government censorship."

Calls to the Iranian Mission to the UN for comment have not been returned.

The BBG condemns censorship in any form and vigorously affirms the right of all peoples of the world to receive news and information freely and without restriction. The BBG also strongly urges satellite owners and service providers not to allow themselves to become unwitting instruments of censorship of the free press under the guise of avoiding harmful interference. The people of Iran, like the peoples of all countries, have the right to know about their country and the world.

Deutsche Welle latest target of Iranian jamming

Deutsche Welle latest target of Iranian jamming

Following deliberate interference to Farsi broadcasts of the BBC, VOA and Radio Farda, Deutsche Welle (DW) is the latest international broadcaster to report deliberate jamming of its satellite signal in Iran, according to a report in news magazine Der Spiegel.

The report says that the French national radio regulatory agency Agence Nationale des Fréquences wrote to the Iranian Ministry of Communication saying that on December 7 and December 8 signals had been detected that looked like “deliberate interference” with the satellite used by DW.

The affected satellite was a Hotbird satellite belonging to Eutelsat. The satellite operator apparently reacted to the disturbance by increasing the broadcasting power, whereupon the disturbance signal was also strengthened, cutting out an Arabic language TV broadcast from DW.

The origin of the disturbance was traced to the area of Tehran. Similar disturbances coming from Iran were already detected by the French authority in May and June 2009.

(Source: The Local)

Iran jamming satellite signals from U.S. and British broadcasts

Iran jamming satellite signals from U.S. and British broadcasts

By Steven Zyan Kain Nickels.
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Dec 31, 2009 by Steven Zyan Kain Nickels - 23 votes, no comments
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A satellite dish garden in Salt Lake City
British and U.S. broadcasters say that Iran is jamming signals from a key communications satellite in an effort to keep news of opposition demonstrations from most Iranians.
U.S. and British broadcasters say that Iran is jamming signals from an international satellite that transmits signals into Iran from the British Broadcasting Corporation's (BBC's) Persian television service and the United States' Voice of America (VOA) radio broadcasts. The VOA is reporting that the jamming effort is affecting a satellite system known as "Hot Bird," and is blocking the transmission of broadcasts of the VOA's Persian Network and Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty's Radio Farda and Radio Sawa, an Arabic-language radio broadcast. Technicians believe the VOA broadcasts have been affected since December 27. The BBC's Persian television service first noticed "persistent interference" on December 20, according to a Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW) report. That was soon after the BBC network began extended coverage of the death of the reformist cleric Grand Ayatollah Hoseyn Ali Montazeri. The jamming efforts affected other channels on the satellite transponder as well, including R1 and Yes Italia. The jamming resulted in the signal being unwatchable due to "picture break-ups and sound drop-outs," according to RNW. To combat the jamming interference, RNW says the BBC began using an info card telling viewers to turn to Telstar 12 during the jamming. The BBC reports that now the jamming has appeared to have stopped for their broadcasts but they are looking at other satellites as a way to increase their broadcasts to Farsi-speaking Iranians. RNW said a statement issued by the U.S. government's Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) criticized the jamming and said,
As Iranian citizens once again demonstrate against the current government, Iran has stepped up its measures to ensure that the Iranian people are deprived of the international reaction, as well as of accurate news about the protests taking place in various cities in Iran.
It is widely accepted that Iran has the technical proficiency to disrupt a wide-range of communication networks, including broadcast, cell phone, satellite and Internet services within Iran.