Jawar Mohammed: They thought that he was inviting them for that purpose.

Some have been circulating a picture of OMN journalists sitting with and talking to Abba Duulaa Gamada, and making a premature judgement by questioning the credibility of the journalists and the stations. In extended discussion available in the attached video, the journalists have clarified what actually transpired. The short summary is that when they went to report on the event, they were denied entry. Later they were able to sneak in without their camera. In the meeting they asked questions and were able to film some of the event using cellphones. At the end of the meeting, they were told that Abba Duulaa would like to meet with them in private. Given they have been trying for days to arrange an interview with him, they thought that he was inviting them for that purpose. They were led to a room that was set up for dinner and told to seat next to Abbaa Duulaa and were told they cannot record any thing. In the brief conversation they had they asked him various question. Realizing that there is no hope to interview him on the record, they departed the event.

Its now clear that the whole invitation for private meeting after the main event was a set up to take the pictures of the journalists with Abbaa Duulaa then sending it out as way of defaming the journalists and the station. It worked for one days social media cycle until it was debunked when the journalists presented a full report that tells the whole story.

Contrary to what the regime wanted to portray, the action taken by the young OMN journalists demonstrates their professionalism. First by doing all they can to gain access to highly restricted meeting, they showed how determined they are and how far they are willing go to bring out critical information for their audience. Second, the regime often accuses these journalists and the station of waging propaganda against it. They debunked this claim by offering open and unfiltered interview to representatives of the regime which was declined. Third, by meeting the officials face to face and treating them without hostility, the journalists proved that they do not let their personal feelings towards a certain person or group interfere with their professional duty.

These young journalists who began 10 months ago with little or no prior experience in television have shown incredible personal and institutional growth through their dedication and commitment. They have been exposing the regime’s abuse of rights and corruption in Oromia and beyond. They have been doing so based on verifiable facts, without exaggeration or fabrication. Hence t is not surprising that the regime targets such effective media for jamming and defamation. However the credibility of these dedicated journalists and their station does not depend on a photo with a misleading caption. Their credibility has been hard earned through their daily broadcast which reaches millions. I am proud of what they have been able to accomplish so far and have full confidence they will do even more in the future! All they need is our support and constructive feedback!