News: Security forces shot dead Tigray TV journalist, his friend in Mekelle; officials decline to comment

Dawit Kebede Araya. Picture: Obtained from sources in Mekelle

By Medihane Ekubamichael @Medihane 

Addis Abeba, January 21/2020 – Dawit Kebede Araya, a journalist working for the regional Tigray TV, currently being administered by the federally appointed Interim Government, was shot dead in his car on Wednesday, January 20, 2021.

According to two sources who spoke to Addis Standard on condition of anonymity for fear of their lives, Dawit was shot dead by “security forces” along with his friend Bereket Berhe, near an area known as Adi Hausi in Mekelle city. They were shot and killed at approximately 8:10 PM local time.

Dawit was detained on Saturday January 17 and was released shortly after. No explanation was given for his detention, according to his colleagues, but he was told to report back to the police on Monday January 18, which was the last time he spoke to security forces. Two others who were in the car when Dawit and Bereket were shot were arrested, but their identities have not been established as of yet.

The BBC Tigrigna reported that Red Cross workers had removed the bodies of Dawit and Bereket, who is a brother of one of Dawit’s colleagues, and informed the staff at Tigray Television.

Addis Standard’s repeated attempts since yesterday to get further information from multiple officials in the regional city were all to no avail. Atakilti Hailesilasie, interim mayor of Mekelle referred the question to Amdom Gebresilasie, Tigray interim administration’s deputy head of communication. Amdom on his part said the police were responsible to give further details on the killing but when contacted by phone, officials at Tigray region interim administration police bureau were not available for comment. Similarly, the phone number of Lilay Hailemariam, head of the interim administration’s communication bureau, is out of service area.   

When asked by BBC journalists about the shooting death of Dawit, Walta Haregot, head of security at the interim administration, said he had no information, and promised to collect and compile the necessary information.

Dawit Kebede Araya, reportedly left his job in November amid escalating military conflict in Tigray region which started on November 04. He returned to work after the interim government returned the television program, which had been suspended off air before that, back to broadcasting, and called for its journalists and other employees to return to work.

In January last year, Dawit was one of the two journalists from the regional media who were arrested in Assosa, the capital of Belishangul Gumuz regional state, and subsequently released.

According the short biography on the BBC, Dawit worked for the national broadcaster ETV for several years. After leaving ETV, he started his own Tigrigna magazine called “Dehai” and published articles for many years. He later worked at the Tigray Television branch in Addis Abeba until its closure last year, after which he returned to the main station in Mekelle to work for the station.

Journalist Dawit was laid to rest at Abune Aregawi Church on January 20, 2021. AS

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