BBC Journalist Quits To Join Militia

The journalist, Desta Gebremedhin Asefa, was no longer part of the company and BBC advised its employees against being in contact with him.

BBC Journalist Quits To Join Militia

A BBC journalist based in its East African bureau in Nairobi has resigned to join the armed struggle in Tigray, Ethiopia.

In a memo sent to staff on Friday, May 28, BBC confirmed that the journalist, Desta Gebremedhin Asefa, was no longer part of the company and advised its employees against being in contact with him.

“This is to inform you that BBC Tigrinya’s Desta Gebremedhin Asefa has left the BBC with immediate effect. We advise that Desta should not be contacted or used in any BBC programmes.

BBC journalist Desta Gebremedhin Asefa who resigned to join the armed struggle in Tigray, Ethiopia on May 28, 2021. /TWITTER

“If you have any questions about this matter please contact me or Beletu.bulbula@bbc.co.uk. And should you receive any external enquiries, kindly refer them to BBC’s press office via press.office@bbc.co.uk,” the memo read in part.

Asefa was a journalist at BBC’s Tigrinya but opted to ditch the newsroom for the battlefield. Many reports had surfaced on social media on Friday that he had joined the armed struggle in Tigray.

"Desta Gebremedhin @Desta_Geb, a BBC journalist, resigned from BBC and joins armed struggle in Tigray," Million Haileselasie, a correspondent for DW Amharic, tweeted.

Asafa's ouster comes three days after the British media house was blocked by the High Court in Kenya from firing two employees whom it suspended pending disciplinary proceedings.

Justice Monica Mbaru, in a report by Nation, directed BBC East Africa Bureau to suspend the disciplinary proceedings against Mohamud Ali Mohammed and Bashir Mohammed, pending hearing of a case filed by the Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ).

Judge Mbaru directed KUJ to serve BBC with court papers ahead of the hearing on Monday, May 31. The union had moved to court, arguing that the broadcaster had set the dates of the disciplinary hearing without giving them enough time to prepare.

KUJ secretary-general Eric Oduor stated in an affidavit that the duo were only given two working days to prepare themselves and the company failed to furnish them and the union with evidence which form the basis of the claim against them.

“That the time and information given to the grievants are insufficient for them to prepare any meaningful defense against the allegations,” Oduor said.

Ali revealed that he was employed in August 2017 while his colleague was employed by BBC in April 2018. The duo were handed suspension letters on Tuesday, April 13 and a notice to show-cause, containing allegations against them.

Meanwhile, it is now six months since the conflict erupted in the Tigray region. Reports dictate that the war began after the Ethiopian government moved to remove the region’s then ruling party, the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).

According to a BBC report, TPLF had a fallout with Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed over political changes to the country’s ethnically based federal system leading to the conflict.

In addition, TPLF’s capture of federal military bases in Tigray is believed to have worsened the situation.

To date, reports indicate that thousands of people have been killed while approximately 1.7 million have been forced to move away their homes.

An overview of Umm Rakouba refugee camp, which is housing people who fled the conflict in the Tigray, located in Qadarif, eastern Sudan. /VOX.COM