CNN moderates a panel dismissing voices from Ethiopia


On Tuesday, Yale’s Macmillan Center hosted a panel on the situation in Northern Ethiopia, where Tigray People’s Liberation Front forces have taken over the Ethiopian government’s control of the Tigrayan region. The event has generated backlash on social media amid the revelation that Ann Fitz-Gerald, a professor and expert on Ethiopian affairs from the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Canada, was disinvited from speaking at the conference.

The talk, entitled “Responding to the Crisis in Northern Ethiopia,” was moderated by CNN award-winning reporter Nima Elbagir. While over 1,200 participants attended the virtual event, thousands more responded negatively on social media — accusing the conference of not including Ethiopian voices and of silencing objective sources, including Fitz-Gerald.

As an ethnic Tigrayan herself, Aregawi told the News she feels that international media has been propagandized into believing there is a genocide against ethnic Tigrayans by the Ethiopian government — while this may not necessarily be the case given that the TPLF is responsible for human rights abuses in the region, she said.

Nebiyu Asfaw, the co-founder of the Ethiopian American Development Council, similarly expressed his frustration over the “biased and one-sided” nature of Tuesday’s event.

“I had no objection to being asked to stand down from the event,” Fitz-Gerald said. “I understand that others did complain about the basis that Ethiopian voices were not represented at the event.”

Still, many groups expressed concerns that the panel was not representative of varying opinions.

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