Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor and political cartoonist, Carlos Latuff, who shares the following guest post:
Carlos Latuff at Catacumba Park in Rio de Janeiro, monitoring Ethiopian broadcasts.
ETHIOPIA: A WAR THROUGH RADIO
by Carlos Latuff, special for The SWLing Post
We just entered 2022 and the civil war in Ethiopia has already completed 1 year. On the one hand we have the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) guerrillas from northern Ethiopia and its allies, and on the other hand we have the armed forces of Ethiopian government and its allies. The dead are piling up, accusations of war crimes from both sides, local and international political interests at stake, and no perspective for a peaceful solution. Without going into the reasons for this new war in Ethiopian territory, I’d like to focus on the use of radio waves by both parties of this conflict.
I monitored shortwave broadcasts from Ethiopia and to Ethiopia between October 21, 2021 and January 4, 2022. The receivers were Tecsun PL-606 and XHDATA D-808, using both the telescopic antenna and a long wire. In all cases, listening was carried out in Brazilian cities.
Carlos at Catacumba Park monitoring and recording clandestine Ethiopian broadcasts.
Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ed, who shares the following story about Radio Biafra from the LA Times:
Every evening as 5 o’clock approaches, the clogged, perpetually dusty streets of this industrial city in southeastern Nigeria begin to empty.
Groups of men just off work go inside, shut their doors and tune their radios to 102.1 FM.
Then an anthem begins to play, and a voice says “Kedu” “how are you” in the Igbo language to welcome listeners to the daily broadcast of Radio Biafra.
For the next 90 minutes, hosts and various guests proselytize for the revival of an old dream: the creation of an independent state called Biafra.
The broadcasts, conducted live from an undisclosed location in Nigeria, are illegal, and the group behind them the Indigenous People of Biafra, or IPOB has been classified by the government as a terrorist organization since 2017. Its leaders say they eschew violence and want a peaceful settlement of the issue through a national referendum.
Activists say people caught listening to the station have been arrested or beaten. But many residents here say they are willing to take the risk.
Radio Biafra is a daily reminder of the bloody civil war that ravaged Nigeria between 1967 and 1970. The conflict started when a Nigerian military general, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, declared an independent state of Biafra. It ended after more than a million deaths, mostly from starvation after the government imposed a food blockade on the region.
Ultimately, the rebels surrendered and the area was reintegrated into Nigeria under the government motto “No victor, no vanquished.”
But the memory of the brutal war looms large in Aba, feeding enthusiasm for the broadcasts despite extremely long odds that Biafra will ever come to be.[…]
Radio South Atlantic was a short-lived clandestine radio station started by the UK Ministry of Defence with programmes aimed at Argentine troops on the Falkland islands. This programme was broadcast from a transmitter on Ascension Island which was temporarily taken away from BBC World Service.
The Falklands War (Spanish: Guerra de las Malvinas), also known as the Falklands Conflict, Falklands Crisis and the Guerra del Atlántico Sur (Spanish for “South Atlantic War”), was a ten-week war between Argentina and the United Kingdom over two British overseas territories in the South Atlantic: the Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. It began on Friday 2 April 1982 when Argentina invaded and occupied the Falkland Islands (and, the following day, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands) in an attempt to establish the sovereignty it had long claimed over them.
On 5 April, the British government dispatched a naval task force to engage the Argentine Navy and Air Force before making an amphibious assault on the islands. The conflict lasted 74 days and ended with the Argentine surrender on 14 June 1982, returning the islands to British control. In total, 649 Argentine military personnel, 255 British military personnel and three Falkland Islanders died during the hostilities.
This is a studio copy of Radio South Atlantic. In May 1982, the British government decided to set up a Spanish language radio station targeting Argentine troops. This was probably in response to an Argentine radio station (nicknamed Argentine Annie by the UK press) which appeared on shortwave some weeks earlier using the Beatles theme “Yesterday” as a signature tune.
I was editing the Media Network programme at the time. We could hear Radio South Atlantic in Hilversum – but the signal was very weak. So I rang the British embassy in the Hague and asked if it would be possible to get a studio copy of the programme to use in a documentary feature we were making. A few days later, a courier riding a large motorbike arrived at RN’s reception and asked for me. I went down to the front-desk to sign for the tape. “But you can’t keep this tape. You can only listen to it” was the message from guy in the helmet. “I have to take it back to the Hague in about half an hour”. I said I’d look for an empty studio, gave the guy a large coffee and wandered casually round the corner. Then I made a mad dash to the fast copy-room used to make tape copies of RNW transcription programmes for other radio stations. It had a machine that could copy tapes at around 8 times faster than normal. Luckily, Jos, the guy in charge, saw my challenge, set up the machine immediately and 15 minutes later I was back in reception to return the tape to the messanger. And I had a copy.
It seems the British dropped leaflets over the Falklands to try and spread the word that this shortwave radio station existed. And we later analysed the programme. It was classic Sefton Delmer (Black Propaganda), although rather poorly presented. Bit like calling up Vera Lynne if the British had a dispute with France.
This is an amazing recording, Jonathan. I’ll admit that I had never heard of Radio South Atlantic before and never knew a UK-supported clandestine station was on the air during The Falklands War/Guerra de las Malvinas.
Thanks for the excellent history lesson and your own (clandestine) recording!
At the end of October, the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) will stop producing its ethnic language radio program after 21 years of broadcasting, a decision revealed yesterday during a meeting of staff members from DVB’s Ethnic Groups’ Program.
“Because there are more and more magazines and journals [being distributed] in the country, the audience [listening through] short-wave radio has become smaller. We broadcast the news at six in the morning and nine in the evening, but at those times the audience has demonstrated a preference for newspapers and journals instead of waiting for us,” said DVB editor U Khin Maung Soe.
According to a US-based group which collects data on short-wave radio audiences in Burma, the DVB’s short-wave radio programs only attract 2% of the Burmese exile radio station audience, the smallest percentage among the four exile stations.
Due to such small audience numbers, DVB donors have suggested that the organization stop broadcasting radio programs and produce TV media programs instead. However, changing from radio to TV broadcasting may pose challenges and difficulties for those in charge of the DVB’s Ethnic Groups’ Program.
[…]The DVB’s current ethnic language radio program is broadcast in Kachin, Karenni, Karen, Chin, Mon, Rakhine, and Shan languages.
The National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) launched the DVB Burmese Program in Oslo, Norway and also broadcasts from Oslo. For its part, the DVB Ethnic Language Program was founded by ethnic armed groups on July 19, 1993 at the Karen Nation Union’s former Marnepalaw headquarters.
This is a fascinating video about how one Paris based clandestine radio station gets an independent voice into the only country in the world that rivals North Korea for a lack of press freedom: Eritrea. Radio Erena currently uses satellite to reach its audience, but would like funding to broadcast over shortwave:
AUGUST 11, 2013: Press release, Radio Free Sarawak back on air from Monday
Sarawak’s independent radio station Radio Free Sarawak is back on air Monday 12th August following its holiday recess.
The rural radio station, which broadcasts mainly in Iban, but also in Malay has received numerous enquiries from listeners eager for information about pressing issues in the state, including the on-going plans to dam key rivers and evict thousands of native people from their lands.
“The state government has moved swiftly to try and take advantage of its dubious election wins by tripling Ministers’ own salaries (back-dating the increase by a whole year and a half) and pushing through further land grabs in native territories, including the proposed Baram Dam region” points out the UK based station head, Clare Rewcastle Brown. “Ordinary folk want to be heard on these issues and it seems their opinions may often be different from the propaganda put out on the state controlled licensed media, which only promotes the narrow interests of the super-wealthy and politically powerful”.
Radio Free Sarawak is the 2013 winner of the prestigious Pioneer of Free Media Award by the International Press Institute, which applauded the station’s efforts to bring freedom of information and freedom of speech to the isolated communities in Malaysia’s Borneo rainforest state.
The station’s call-in facility also provides an opportunity for longhouse dwellers to express their own views and concerns about the effects of deforestation, oil palm plantation, rural poverty and endemic political corruption. The radio station is linked to the online portal, Sarawak Report, which shares the same agenda to shine light on these and related issues.
Radio Free Sarawak is transmitted from London and its familiar team of DJs will be broadcasting from Monday on Short Wave 15420kHz from 7pm-8.30pm local time Monday-Saturday.
It is also available via podcast online www.radiofreesarawak.org , from where it can be downloaded via smart phone for mobile listeners or onto UBS sticks for car radio.
The local call-in line is 082-237191 and listeners are invited to get in touch with their comments and issues.
The clandestine station Radio Free Sarawak—who we most recently mentioned in connection with the Malaysian elections–has announced that they are going off the air. There is a note of finality in their announcement (below), yet they do leave some ambiguity by declaring, “We will be taking a break until further notice.”
Listen to their final broadcast (studio copy) embedded below:
(Source: Radio Free Sarawak)
While most PR supporters are still reeling from the results of the GE13 amidst widespread rigging that are essentially acts of treason, activists and ordinary people alike are not giving up on booting out the BN government The have set their sights on the 11th state election that will have to be conducted latest by early 2016.
Meanwhile, take a listen to the analysis of Dr Mohd Faisal Syam Abdol Hazis from the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak of the results in the state.
Last but not least, we hear the sadness, anger, frustration and nevertheless, determination of RFS and PR supporters to realise the dream of changing the government in the near future.
p/s Today’s show will be our last. We will be taking a break until further notice. Thank you for your support. It will be a memorable 18 months! We hope you had enjoyed the experience as much as we did.
Spread the radio love
Please support this website by adding us to your whitelist in your ad blocker. Ads are what helps us bring you premium content! Thank you!