Archive for the ‘Ethiopian News’ Category

Emperor Tewodros and Ato Meles

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

By Yilma Bekele I watched a video of an interview Ato Meles gave to a woman journalist. The edited version on You Tube and our Independent Diaspora sites starts without introduction and ends abruptly. We have no idea who the questioner is and why she is granted a one to one interview. The role she [...]

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Civil resistance = to remove + to replace the tyrant

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

BUSINESS COMMUNITY, by providing people with goods and services that the government does not supply, and by playing an important role even in most centralized societies, business communities are frequently recognized as a very important pillar of support… [read more] [Read the rest]

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ESAT analysis on the VOA demonstration (video)

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Ethiopians held a protest rally on Monday against the attempt by some to restrict VOA’s Amharic broadcast after a high-level VOA delegation went to Ethiopia recently and met with Woyanne junta leaders. The following is an analysis and report on Monday’s protest. [Read the rest]

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Ethiopia: Dictator With a Conscience?

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Alemayehu G. Mariam Ethiopia, Famine and the Oxford Dictionary Oxymorons (figures of speech that combine contradictory terms) can sometimes provide unique  insights into the cognitive process. Consider, for instance, the phrase “honest politician”. Is there such a thing? It sounds so comical to talk about “efficient government”? How about an “emerging democracy”? That’s like saying a [...]

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Hands off VOA! Protest rally against censorship

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

Ethiopians in residing in the Washington DC Metro Area will hold a rally at the VOA on Monday morning, July 25 starting at 9 AM to protest against recent attempts by the khat-addicted dictator in Ethiopia and his paid ($50,000 per month) lobbyists in the U.S. to censor news broadcasts to Ethiopia. The protesters also [...]

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Voice of America: Do Not Censor the Voiceless!

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

Alemayehu G. Mariam The record will show that I have been an unapologetic defender of the Voice of America. A couple of weeks ago, I defended the VOA as the Voice of the Voiceless. When Zenawi lambasted the VOA for being the flipside of the VOI (Voice of Interhamwe-Rwanda), I rose to its defense. When [...]

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A question to Kuma Demeksa and Dula Aba Gemeda

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Kuma Demeksa, Dula Aba Gemeda, and Alemayehu Atomsa are the most favorite puppets of Ethiopia’s khat-addicted tyrant Meles Zenawi. They have been appointed by Meles as top officials of Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) to represent Oromia Region in his government. Alemayehu Atomsa is the current president of Oromia. The question to these three pigs [...]

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VOA and its problems

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

By Yilma Bekele There is an Amharic saying that comes to mind when you think of the current revelations regarding VOA and its dealings with Ethiopia and Ethiopians. Thanks to Ato Abebe Gelaw’s investigative work we are able to see the inside workings of the independent News Organization. Its credibility is under a magnifying glass [...]

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Tinsae Ethiopia launches diplomatic campaign

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

To counter the ongoing attempt by the Woyanne fascist junta in Ethiopia to label Ethiopian opposition groups, human rights activists and journalists as terrorists, and also to highlight the worsening economic and political crises in the country, Tinsae Ethiopia has launched a new diplomatic campaign. [read more] [Read the rest]

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Common Factors Uniting Ethiopians

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

The Tigreans had Aksum, but what could that mean to the Gurage? The Agew had Lalibela, but what could that mean to the Oromo? The Gonderes had castles, but what could that mean to the Wolayita?” – Meles Zenawi When I read the above statement made by the head Ethiopia’s ruling party, Ato Meles Zenawi, [...]

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Tyrant’s Key Pillar of Support – THE MEDIA

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Effective nonviolent movements must have the means to communicate their messages to a wider audience. This is why authoritarians in many countries attempt to limit or deny movements access to this pillar of the support. They also frequently invest substantial resources in state-run media. [read more] [Read the rest]

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CORRECTION: The person behind recent VOA censorship

Monday, July 18th, 2011

CORRECTION: We have been informed by reliable sources that Gwen Dillard has not been involved in the VOA censorship controversy. We apologize to Ms. Gwen Dillard and our readers for the following incorrect report. ===================== By Abebe Gellaw Washington DC—In response to a recent Addis Voice investigative report, VOA embroiled in fresh censorship row, Voice [...]

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Ethiopia: Unfreedom of Information

Monday, July 18th, 2011

By Alemayehu G. Mariam Life and Times of Democracy in Africa The long march of democracy in West Africa seems to be well underway. In July 2009, I wrote a weekly commentary marveling about Ghana’s multiparty democracy. Wistfully, I asked the rhetorical question: “Why is democracy in motion in Ghana, and on life-support in Ethiopia?” In [...]

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N. America Ethiopian Heritage Festival – official report

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

PRESS RELEASE The Ethiopian Heritage Society of North America (EHSNA) held its First Annual Ethiopian Heritage Festival “Celebrate and Discover Ethiopia.” at Georgetown University starting the evening of Friday July 1, 2011 at the Lucille M. Spagnuolo Gallery. The first day was attended by hundreds of Ethiopians representing the young and elderly, including this year’s [...]

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ESAT special event in Toronto – July 30

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

Ethiopians in Toronto will hold a special event marking Ethiopian Satellite Television’s (ESAT) 1st anniversary on July 30, 2011. See the poster below for more info: [Read the rest]

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Arrival of the Ethiopian Spring

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

By Yilma Bekele No one likes a whiner. Why complain insistently when it is of no use. We used to be good at that. Whining was our domain. Did I just say ‘was’? Yes I did. It seems that we are coming out of our shell. The Arab Spring has arrived. The Diaspora is infected [...]

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Ginbot 7, OLF, ALEJE historic meeting in DC

Friday, July 15th, 2011

A historic town hall meeting was held jointly by Alliance Liberty, Equality, and Justice in Ethiopia (ALEJE) and Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at the Sheraton National Hotel in Arlington, VA. During the meeting, Dr. Berhanu Nega, Chairman of Ginbot 7 and ALEJE, Dr. Nuro Dedefo, Executive Committee member and Head [...]

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Mengistu Hailemariam moving to South Sudan

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Former president Mengistu Hailemariam is planning to move to South Sudan, according to Reporter. The government of South Sudan has finished building a new house for the former president who is currently living in Zimbawe, Reporter added quoting informed sources. Southern Sudanese are apparently grateful to Mengistu Hailemariam for providing them with invaluable assistance during [...]

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Al Amoudi testifies about his daughter Sarah

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Woyanne/Saudi businessman Mohammed Al Amoudi, who is looting and plundering Ethiopia, has submitted a testimony for his lawsuit against Ethiopian Review editor. His testimony is full of real funny stuff such as he doesn’t fund terrorists and that he keeps his personal life private. Read the full text of his 8-page testimony here. Al Amoudi’s [...]

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Tyrant’s Key Pillar of Support – THE YOUTH

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Teachers and students can become the catalyst for political change and can enlist support of other pillars of support in many societies. [read more] [Read the rest]

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VOA reinstates Horn of Africa director

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

By Abebe Gellaw The Voice of America (VOA) has reversed its decision to suspend its Horn of Africa chief, David Arnold. After Addis Voice published a disturbing story on censorship and questionable actions taken against Mr. Arnold for comments he made recently in a June 23rd VOA report, VOA bosses held a series of crisis [...]

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Ethiopia: Apocalypse Now or in 40 Years?

Monday, July 11th, 2011

By Alemayehu G. Mariam In October, 2009, I wrote a weekly commentary titled, “Famine and the Noisome Beast in Ethiopia”: It is hard to talk about Ethiopia these days in non-apocalyptic terms. Millions of Ethiopians are facing their old enemy again for the third time in nearly forty years. The Black Horseman of famine is [...]

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Al Amoudi’s servants feasting in Atlanta

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

Woyanne money-man Al Amoudi has sent his chief servant Abinet Gebremeskel to Atlanta this week to reassert control over the Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America, and so far it seems that he is succeeding by bullying the timid board members. At one point on Thursday, a fight broke out between the vice-president of ESFNA [...]

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40 teachers and employees of Adama University arrested

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

Over 40 teachers and employees of Adama University, 100 kms south of Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, have been arrested during the past few days, according to Ethiopian Review’s correspondent in Addis Ababa. The reason for rounding up and throwing in jail these number of teachers is not clear, but a teacher who escaped arrest told [...]

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Lowest ever attendance at ESFNA Atlanta 2011 (video)

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Most Ethiopians are staying away from the ESFNA event this year to protest its continued association with the Woyanne junta and its agent Al Amoudi who are looting and plundering Ethiopia. ESFNA has a clear choice to make: cleanse itself of all Woyannes and their lackeys, or fall apart. The video below shows a soccer [...]

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Boycott ESFNA’s Atlanta event

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

The Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America (ESFNA) is holding its annual event this week. This year’s event is being held in Atlanta. When ESFNA was formed about 28 years ago, it had a lofty goal of bringing Ethiopians in North America together around sports and cultural activities. Since 2005, however, the organization has been [...]

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Tyrant’s Key Pillar of Support – THE BUREAUCRACY

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Civil servants make this huge administrative monster called the state bureaucracy. Slow, inefficient and corrupt bureaucracies are trade mark of 90% of non-democratic countries. [read more] [Read the rest]

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Ethiopiawinet in North America is reborn

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

By Elias Kifle This past weekend (July 1st – 3rd) the Ethiopian Heritage Society in North America (EHSNA) held a highly successful Ethiopian festival in Washington DC. During the same period, on July 2nd, members and friends of Ethiopian Review gathered to celebrate the journal’s 20th anniversary. I participated in both events and left with [...]

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Woyanne arrests two Swedish journalists

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

EDITOR’S NOTE: Didn’t Bereket Simon say that security situation “in Ogaden is improving by the day”? (CPJ) — Two Swedish journalists reporting on the activities of armed separatists operating in an oil-rich province of eastern Ethiopia have been detained without charge since Thursday in the Horn of Africa nation, according to news reports and government [...]

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Ethiopia: Educating a Dictator

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Alemayehu G. Mariam Voice of America is the Voice of the Voiceless The Voice of America’s (VOA) Journalist Standards & Practices (document 11-023 and 11-024), under the section captioned “WHAT DO VOA’S AUDIENCES HAVE A RIGHT TO EXPECT? Audiences ‘ Bill of Journalism Rights” provides that VOA’s audiences have the: right to expect that journalists [...]

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Ethiopia’s regime views journalists are terrorists

Friday, July 1st, 2011

By Abebe Gellaw Two young Ethiopian journalists, Woubishet Taye, Deputy Editor of Awramba Times, and Reyot Alemu, a columnist of Fetih newspaper, have been facing terrorism charges under the controversial “Anti-Terrorism Proclamation No.652/2009”. Coincidentally, it was only last week that the 547-seat Ethiopian Parliament, where the ruling party occupies all but two seats, officially named [...]

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Woyanne accuses jailed journalists of terror plot – CPJ

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

CPJ — The Ethiopian government Woyanne regime today publicly accused an editor and a columnist of involvement in a terrorism plot, according to news reports and local journalists. Woubshet Taye, deputy editor of the leading Awramba Times newspaper and Reeyot Alemu, columnist for the weekly Feteh, have been held incommunicado under Ethiopia’s far-reaching anti-terrorism law [...]

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On the Democratization Process

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

By Messay Kebede This is not a response to the numerous reactions generated by my previous article titled “The fallacy of TPLF’s developmental state” Some of the reactions raised serious and legitimate questions; others emanated from misunderstandings of the actual contents of the article; still others drifted more toward acrimony and malicious insinuations than a [...]

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Disintegrating Tyrant’s Key Pillar of Support – THE POLICE

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

The police are almost always an important source of power in society. They maintain law and order, they carry out the government’s laws, and they insure that the system remains stable. Within the police one can identify all of the different sources of power… [read more] [Read the rest]

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Radio interviews on Ethiopian Review Anniversary

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Addis Dimts Radio and Netsanet LeEthiopia Radio have discussed Ethiopian Review’s 20th anniversary on their weekend programs. Listen below. Nesanet LeEthiopia [forward to 28:00:01] Addis Dimts [forward to 1:25:38] [Read the rest]

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Awramba Times editor tortured

Monday, June 27th, 2011

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — The deputy editor of Awramba Times, Woubshet Taye, who was arrested a week ago, June 19, may have been tortured by the interrogators at Maekelawi Prison, according to a family member. It’s been 8 days since Woubshet has been picked up by heavily armed security forces and thrown in jail. So [...]

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ICC issues arrest warrants for Gaddafi

Monday, June 27th, 2011

The International Criminal Court (ICC) Monday issued arrest warrants against Libyan leader Mummar Gaddafi and two of his high-ranking officials. The Pre-Trial Chamber I issued warrantsfor Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the “de facto Prime Minister,” and his brother-in-law Abdullah al-Sanussi, the head of intelligence, for alleged crimes against the people of Libya to [...]

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U.S. Africa Policy: Empty Words, Emptier Promises

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Alemayehu G. Mariam (This is the second installment in a series of commentaries I pledged to offer on U.S. policy in Africa under the heading “The Moral Hazard of U.S. Policy in Africa”. In Part I,  I argued that democracy and human rights in Africa cannot be subordinated to the expediency of “engaging” incorrigible African [...]

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CPJ speaks out on recent detention of journalists in Ethiopia

Friday, June 24th, 2011

New York (CPJ) — Ethiopian authorities have been holding a newspaper columnist incommunicado since Tuesday, local journalists told the Committee to Protect Journalists. Reeyot Alemu, a regular contributor to the independent weekly Feteh, was expected to spend the next four weeks in preventive detention under what appears to be Ethiopian regime’s sweeping anti-terrorism law. Alemu, [...]

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2011 Failed States Index

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

  Ethiopia under the Woyanne tribal junta and its khat-addicted dictator continues to rank high in all failed state indicators. Click here to read the complete report. [Read the rest]

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Ethiopian journalist illegally detained since Sunday – CPJ

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on Ethiopian authorities today to immediately release journalist Woubshet Taye, who has been held since Sunday. Police picked up Taye, deputy editor of the leading independent weekly Awramba Times, at his home in the capital, Addis Ababa, at 3 p.m. and confiscated several documents, cameras, CDs, and selected [...]

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Ethiopia’s ruling junta ramps up the fear machine

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

By Yilma Bekele … within an established totalitarian regime the purpose of propaganda is not to persuade, much less to inform, but to humiliate. From this point of view, propaganda should not approximate to the truth as closely as possible: on the contrary it should do as much violence to it as possible. For by [...]

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Disintegrating Tyrant’s Key Pillar of Support – The WORKERS

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

The ABCs of Toppling a Tyrant: A. UNITY! B. PLANNING! C. DISCIPLINE! Read more [Read the rest]

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Ethiopia: The Fakeonomics of Meles Zenawi

Monday, June 20th, 2011

There is the economics of Adam Smith, the intellectual father of capitalism. There is Levitt & Dubner’s freakonomics of weird stuff. Then there is the fakeonomics (economics by gimmickry) of  Meles Zenawi, the dictator in Ethiopia and author of the five-year “Growth and Transformation Plan” (GTP). Zenawi forecasts a “not unimaginable” 14.9 percent economic growth for [...]

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Woyanne soccer team’s defeat brings joy to Addis residents

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa residents had some thing to be cheerful about Saturday after Buna defeated the Woyanne-affiliated football team Dedebit 2-1. In a typical Woyanne fashion, the game was full of controversy and intrigue, but Buna were able to overpower the better financed and trained Dedebit to victory. The stadium was full of Buna [...]

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Ethiopian man arrested near Pentagon on suspicion of terrorism

Friday, June 17th, 2011

ABC News is reporting that a man with uniquely Ethiopian name, Yonathan Melaku, was arrested Friday morning near the Pentagon carrying what are thought to be bomb making items. There are two possibilities: 1) the guy is mentally sick, or 2) it is the work of the desperate Woyanne junta in Ethiopia that is trying [...]

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China helps Ethiopia’s tyrant jam broadcast signals

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

A worldwide boycott of Chinese products may need to be organized to let China know that it needs to stop helping brutal dictators in the third world silence independent media. The following is a press release from ESAT. ESAT accuses China of complicity in jamming signals The Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT), which resumed transmissions to [...]

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Mind the Jump: A Brief Response to Prof. Messay Kebede

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Abiye Teklemariam Megenta Professor Messay Kebede’s challenging essay, “The fallacy of TPLF’s developmental state,” makes a lot of fresh arguments and suggestions. Some of them are deeply unsettling to many of us who consider ourselves to be part of a pro-democracy struggle in Ethiopia. To the extent that we believe Messay himself is a member [...]

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Tyrant’s Pillar of Suppot – The RELIGIOUS ORGANIZAIONS

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Though usually recognized as a “conservative pillar of support,” organized religion sometimes plays a very dynamic role during processes of political change… [read more] [Read the rest]

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The fallacy of TPLF’s developmental state

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

By Messay Kebede This paper can be taken as a manifesto of an individual who has pondered on the tragedy of Ethiopia for many years and whose specific features is that he is passionate about the country, has no political ambition or affiliation, even though he is firmly anchored in the opposition camp, and feels [...]

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Volcanic ash cloud heading toward Addis Ababa

Monday, June 13th, 2011

ADDIS ABABA (AP) – Airlines that travel through East Africa said Monday they are keeping an eye on an ash cloud after a volcano eruption in Eritrea, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the eruption is forcing her to cut short a three-nation African tour. Clinton was to have spent Monday night in [...]

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Internet in a suitcase

Monday, June 13th, 2011

U.S. Department of State is financing efforts by activists to circumvent Internet blockade by dictators such as Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, according to a New York Times report: By JAMES GLANZ and JOHN MARKOFF | The New York Times The Obama administration is leading a global effort to deploy “shadow” Internet and mobile phone systems [...]

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George Ayittey’s War on African Dictatorships

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Alemayehu G. Mariam George Ayittey, the distinguished Ghanaian economist, and arguably one of the “Top 100 Public Intellectuals” (a person of ideas who stands for things far larger than one’s academic discipline) worldwide who “are shaping the tenor of our time” has been at war with Africa’s tin pot dictators and their lackeys for at [...]

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Syria braces for more anti-regime protests

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Syria plunged deeper into chaos and bloodshed Friday as adamant pro-democracy protesters took to the streets across the country in cities and towns including Homs, Lattakia, Amouda, Izram, Dara, Der Ezzor and Qamishli in mass protests that mark what protestors have called “Friday of Tribes.” The theme of Friday’s protests means, “The clan is with [...]

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ESAT is back on air

Friday, June 10th, 2011

ESAT (Ethiopian Satellite TV) has announced that is once again back on air and transmitting direct to Ethiopia for the 7th time starting yesterday. The new satellite parameters are: ABS1 Satellite 75 degree East C Band Downlink: 3.480 GHz Vertical (3480) Symbol Rate: 1.852 Msps (1852) FEC : 2/3 The regime in Ethiopia has been [...]

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Ethiopia’s dictator clings to power: CBS

Friday, June 10th, 2011

By Joshua Norman | CBS This is an installment in the CBS WorldWatch series, “The world’s enduring dictators,” inspired by events in Tunisia and Egypt, in which CBSNews.com takes a look at the men who continue to rule their lands unimpeded by law. See a complete explanation of the series and a list of others [...]

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Do the people of Ethiopia need more tanks?

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Ethiopia’s khat-addicted, bleached skin Yemeni dictator Meles Zenawi has ordered 200 tanks from Ukraine at the cost of USD$100 million, according to a Ukraine newspaper (read here). Who are the tanks going to protect? The answer is obvious. They are being purchased to protect Meles and his vampire Woyanne junta from the people of Ethiopia. [...]

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Meles blames the Ethiopian people

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

By Yilma Bekele I am not making this up You can follow the link below and watch the four part video of the leader for life meeting with Ethiopian business leaders. It is a very interesting video. The video is edited and posted on You Tube by Ethiopian TV. I am very grateful. They should [...]

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‘Zenawi told me that he is Yemeni’ – Gaddafi

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

In televised speech 20 years ago this month (June 1991), Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi told a cheering audience that Ethiopia is an Arab country and that the new leader, Meles Zenawi, is a Yemeni: Apart from the the royal family, and with the exception of a few black groups, all the rest of Ethiopians are [...]

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Notorious criminal Col. Tesfaye WoldeSelassie died

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Col. Tesfaye Woldeselassie, the Derg regime’s security chief who is responsible for the torture and death of thousands of Ethiopians, has died in prison. Suspicions have risen after the fall of the Derg regime that during his last years as Minister of National and Public Security, Col. Tesfaye had been secretly working for Woyanne, and [...]

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10 Ethiopians on their way to Yemen suffocated to death

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

YEMEN (UPI) — At least 14 refugees died at the hands of smugglers as they traveled from Somalia to Yemen, the United Nations said Tuesday.

The U.N. refugee agency said in a release issued in New York that 10 Ethiopians suffocated when the smugglers crammed them and about 15 others in the boat’s engine room with no ventilation. Survivors claimed the bodies of the dead were tossed into the sea.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said there were reports the boat carried as many as 115 passengers as it set out early Sunday from Bossaso in northern Somalia.

Concerned the Yemeni navy would spot them, the smugglers allegedly forced the rest of the passengers to get out of the boat too far from land and four more people drowned before they could reach shore, the U.N. release said. Two of the bodies had been recovered.

“We condemn the unscrupulous and inhuman treatment of refugees and others who are desperately seeking to flee the violence, human rights abuses and seriously debilitating life options in the Horn of Africa,” said Erika Feller, assistant high commissioner for protection.

EHSNA invites you to its first annual Ethiopian festival in DC

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

ETHIOPIAN HERITAGE SOCIETY OF NORTH AMERICA
Invites you to the First Annual Ethiopian Heritage Festival (JULY 1-3/2011)

The first annual Ethiopian Heritage Festival will be held in Washington D.C. from July 1, 2011 to July 3, 2011. The Festival will be held at the immaculate and majestic George Town University multi-sport facility conveniently located in the heart of D.C. located at 3700 O St. in Georgetown with free parking.

This first annual Ethiopian Heritage festival themed “CELBRATE & DISCOVER” Ethiopia is one of a kind celebration and is organized by the Ethiopian Heritage Society of North America (ESHNA). The society requests the attendance and participation of all in the Festival. The Festival intends to proudly display Ethiopia’s rich heritage and diversity through its various three days event. The Festival includes historical exhibition, cultural shows, delicious food, contests, music, sports, symposiums, and workshops focusing on Ethiopia. What’s more, the Festival is family friendly and encompasses various events for children in our Children Amba. Simply put, the Board of the Ethiopian Heritage Society has worked tirelessly to make this Festival one that lives up to its name and is expected to be a memorable occasion for all.

From its inception to the successful ‘Kick-Off’ party on May 14, 2011 held in Washington D.C., the Society has made every effort to make the Festival an appealing and glamorous experience to all. The Festival and the formation of the Society is an answer to the public’s long, repeated and frequent call to have an Ethiopian Festival where Ethiopians from all different background, ethnicity, religions, beliefs, values, and political opinion gather and celebrate our common heritage and home – Ethiopiawent. Washington D.C. is selected because it’s a city where hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians reside, and is home to the largest number of Ethiopians outside of Ethiopia.

While the Society invites you to the Festival and hope it will be an unforgettable fiesta, the Society strongly believes that there is more work to be done in the coming years to make the Festival even more inclusive, more representative, and more closer to the goal and mission it set out to achieve. Accordingly, the Society invites all with skills, knowledge, or talent to join us in making a more perfect festival in the coming years. The Society, therefore, renews and reiterates its call to all Ethiopians with ideas and thoughts on how to better and improve the Society or the upcoming festivals to be a part of us.

The Society also wishes to extend its invitation to the business community to partner with us in promoting your businesses, take advantage of our limited vendor spaces, and showcase your products to the many Ethiopians who will be in attendance at the Festival. Further, historians, religious leaders from all religions and denominations, professionals, and community leaders are invited to share their vast expertise, experience, and skills in making the Festival and the society more effective.

Therefore, the emphasis of the first Ethiopian Heritage Festival is our common heritage, culture, tradition, and, celebration of our uniqueness. This Festival will be the first and major historical event and celebration designed to promote Ethiopia and Ethiopians the aim being to connect the past with the present and to pass it on to the future generation. Consequently, all roads should lead to Washington D.C., Georgetown University, beginning July 1 to July 3, 2011 to be a part of an invigorating and historical Festival.

For more information please visit our website www.ethiopianheritagesociety.org or contact us at info@ethiopianheritagesociety.org

Tel# 202-466-1677

The SEEDs of Hope in the Ethiopian Diaspora

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Alemayehu G. Mariam

[This commentary is an expanded version of remarks I gave at the annual SEED Award Dinner (Society of Ethiopians Established in Diaspora)[1] held at the Georgetown University Conference Center, Washington, D.C. on May 29, 2011.]

I thank the Executive Board of SEED and its chairman Prof. Melaku Lakew for selecting me as one of the 2011 honorees.

The very acronym of the organization is inspiring. Seeds germinate, become seedlings, develop roots and grow. In time, they bloom and blossom into beautiful flowers and drop new seeds for the next generation. For the last 19 years, SEED has been growing and blossoming, and this evening we see the seeds of SEED in the faces of these extraordinarily accomplished young men and women we are honoring.

I am proud there is an organization such as SEED to recognize Ethiopians who have aspired to make their own small contributions to the cause of Ethiopianity and humanity. For that, we should all celebrate SEED and congratulate its Board and members for having the foresight to establish and sustain for nearly two decades a non-partisan civic organization dedicated to recognizing the contributions of Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia regardless of ideology, political affiliation, ethnicity, nationality, religion or race. SEED is a shining example of what individuals can accomplish by acting collectively through civic society institutions.

I am proud and deeply humbled in being selected to be among a group of honorees that has made extraordinary contributions in the service of all Ethiopians. W/o Abebech Gobena has been called by many as “Africa’s Mother Teresa” for her life-saving humanitarian work with orphaned and abandoned children and abused women. Dr. Woldemeskel Kostre trained generations of Ethiopian Olympic gold medalists and other athletes who have set numerous world records. Professor Redda Tekle Haimanot has made singular contributions to the eradication of polio and helped improve health care access in one of the most medically underserved parts of Ethiopia. Ato Ezra Teshome is widely recognized for his extraordinary contributions to the eradication of polio and helping to empower poor women and children in Ethiopia.

There are two Ethiopians who are being honored tonight posthumously. Professor Hussein Ahmed was an outstanding scholar whose original research illuminated the role of Islam as a cohesive factor in Ethiopia. Dr. Melaku E. Bayen was the first Ethiopian physician to graduate from an American university. He coordinated a Pan-Africanist campaign against Italian aggression in Ethiopia in the 1930s.

When I find myself standing among these towering and heroic figures, I remind myself, in the words of the poet Robert Frost, that I “have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep”.

These individuals are great role models for me, all of us here tonight and the next generation of young Ethiopians.

Speaking about young Ethiopians, I am especially proud to share this stage and event with the high school and college graduates honored this evening. The academic achievements of these young people are among the absolute best in America. Their community service and extra-curricular activities are inspiring to all of us. I am so proud of these young people that my “cup runneth over.”

I am not only proud this evening but also blessed. I share this stage with my daughter Abigail who is being honored in her own right for extraordinary academic achievements and community service. What took decades for me to learn, she mastered in her teen years: True democratic citizenship involves taking individual responsibility to help one’s community and those less fortunate than oneself with a sense of duty, obligation, commitment and honor. I have learned from her that when young people look beyond themselves and their daily distractions and frustrations, they become a mighty force for good and humanity.

This evening I want to say a few words to you from the heart. Many of you know me for the things I have said and written from the mind. Every week in my commentaries, I speak in the language of facts, statistics and evidence. I try as best I can to weave facts through a fabric of persuasive analysis and argumentation to convey my message. But speaking from the heart is more difficult because one has to penetrate the inner crust of facts and statistics and speak from the bedrock of truth.

The truth is Ethiopia’s young people are Ethiopia’s future. Nearly 70 percent of the Ethiopian population of 80 million is estimated to be young people (50 percent of them under age 15). An old Ethiopian proverb reminds us:  “Our youth are today’s seeds and tomorrow’s flowers. (Ye zare frewoch, ye’nege abebawoch).”  For me, the most important question today revolves around these future flowers in Ethiopia and in the Diaspora.

We in the older generation often ask the question, “What can we teach and do for our young people to prepare them for the future? How can we guide them to a better future?”

The right question in my view is: “What can we learn from young Ethiopians today?”

I believe the vast majority of young people everywhere share one common virtue: Idealism. They believe they can change the world and make it a better place despite the endless wars, communal and sectarian conflict and human rights abuses. Young people want freedom, peace and equal opportunity. They are deeply offended by unfairness and injustice. They have little tolerance for dishonesty and hypocrisy, the principal reasons for their disengagement from politics which they think is all about lying, money and corruption. They despise those who abuse their powers. They have contempt for double-talkers. They are turned off by the older generation’s attitude of “do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do.” They are disappointed when they see us lacking in courage and integrity and selling out for a few pieces of silver.

When I look across the proverbial “generation gap,” I see a gap in thinking, attitude and perspective, not age.

The young people have a “can-do” attitude; for most of us in the older generation, it is “no can do”. They find reasons to do things, we find excuses not to. When churn over old and tired ideas, they come up with innovative ones. When we wallow in despair over what could have been, they bubble with hope and excitement over what could be. We hesitate, they act. We brood, they think. We see the darkness in the tunnel, they see the light at the end. We drive looking through the rear view mirror; they cruise along looking through the windshield. Some of us in the older generation want things to happen. Many of us sit around and wish it to happen. Our young people make it happen! Such is the nature of the gap we need to bridge.

A long time ago, we in the older generation started out on the road to idealism, but somewhere along the way we took a detour to a destination called realism. There we began to worship at the altar of greed, power, wealth, fame and the rest of it. When our realism ultimately proved disappointing, we became cynical and concluded that in a dog-eat-dog world, only the strong survive. We became self-centered and indifferent to the suffering of the weak and defenseless, turned a blind eye to their plight, a deaf ear to their pained cries and muted our lips to the injustices inflicted upon them by the powerful.

We must now return to our idealist roots. George Carlin, the irreverent satirist, said “Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.” Maybe you have seen a glimpse of that disappointed idealist in yourself. But there is nothing shameful in being an idealist. The greatest political and moral leaders of the world over the past century have been idealists. They were great visionaries because, like young people, they could imagine and envision a much better future. Gandhi told the British colonial masters: “In the end you will leave India because 100,000 Englishmen simply cannot control 350 million Indians if those Indians refuse to cooperate.” Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. “dreamt that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.” Nelson Mandela pledged, “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another…”  These idealists were laughing-stocks in their day, but in the end they won and the world is a much better place because of their struggle, leadership and principles.

To be idealistic also means to be ready, willing and able to unlearn and change outdated attitudes, beliefs and fears. It took me a long while to appreciate Gandhi’s teaching, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Today I think in terms of humanity and not ethnicity or even nationality. I replaced my ideological rigidity with intellectual flexibility. I once kept silence in the face of brutality, today I champion accountability. I watched others relate on the basis of enmity, today I seek to promote cordiality. My ultimate hope is to mobilize global unity against inhumanity.

In 2005, I broke out of my hardened cocoon of realism into the mushy soft world of idealism. Following the May elections in Ethiopia that year, 193 unarmed protesters were massacred by government troops in the streets, and 763 shot and wounded. Over thirty thousand people were rounded up and imprisoned. The post-election events of 2005 plunged millions of Ethiopians into the abyss of cynicism and despair.  It had the opposite effect on me.

My conscience was seared by the sheer brutality and inhumanity of that bestial and barbaric massacre. I thought of the Sharpeville Massacre in South Africa in March 1960 where apartheid policemen killed 69 unarmed black South African protesters. I was too young to speak out for the Sharpeville victims, but not too old now to speak for the 193 Ethiopians and the thousands of other victims of crimes against humanity.

That is how I became idealistic. I came to believe that it is possible to have an Ethiopia where citizens can peacefully protest the actions of their government and not be massacred for it. No person should become a political prisoner or a target of government persecution because s/he dissents with those in power. I believe those who hold the reins of power in Ethiopia must bow their heads before the law and not sit on the throne as the deities of the law. In other words, they are not the gods of law but the law’s humble and faithful servants. I began to imagine that no person in Ethiopia should be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. I even had the audacity to imagine that there must be an independent free press in Ethiopia to stand as a watchdog over government and expose corruption. There must be an independent judiciary to administer justice and hold accountable those who abuse their powers. Elections must be free and fair, and young people should be allowed to play a central role in the country’s future. Long story made short, I became, as some might say, a hopeless idealist.

When you become an idealist, you stand up for your convictions. You preach and teach what you believe in. So I do my best to promote democracy, human rights and freedom in Ethiopia and Africa and elsewhere. I try to be the voice of the voiceless, though some may think I am just a voice in the wilderness.

It is true that I am a relentless critic of oppression, injustice and dictatorship. No doubt, some will laugh and call me naïve for my efforts. Surely, I must know that a few idealists cannot possibly change the world. That may be true, but I am persuaded by Margaret Mead who observed, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Idealism also means using ones misfortunes to help others in daily life. Several years ago, my wife developed breast cancer which was discovered in its earliest stages through an annual routine mammogram and successfully treated.  Though my wife had an excellent outcome, so many Ethiopian women die needlessly by not doing regular mammograms and hiding the fact of that disease from their loved ones and friends once diagnosed. She decided to come out in public and write a “letter to my Ethiopian sisters” to raise awareness about breast cancer and how to prevent it from taking so many lives. Some well-intentioned people advised her not to make her condition public implying that there is something embarrassing about having the disease. She is an incorrigible idealist in her own right and believed that if more Ethiopian women knew the truth about early detection and treatment, they will be able to beat breast cancer every time. Silence about breast cancer kills more of our sisters and mothers than breast cancer itself. Let us all be whistleblowers against breast cancer!

We need to bridge the generation gap I spoke of earlier. We can do that if we speak the same language as our young people. We bridge the gap when we learn from each other. They can teach us about the future and the great things they can accomplish; and we teach them about the past, how to avoid the mistakes we made and the things we did right.

Some may think my bridge-building ideas are impractical, unattainable, fanciful and the stuff of dreamers. In my own defense, I will answer them with a question: After all, what do expect from a utopian Ethiopian?!?

In the struggle of all idealistic people, the outcome is always the same as Gandhi taught: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

We will assuredly win if we are on the side of our young people. If you don’t believe me, talk to the young people in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya… I say, let’s join the Youthvolution in Africa.

If I have one message for all of you, and particularly the young people here tonight, it is that we all need to be the voices of the voiceless and stand up and be counted. In the words of the great Bob Marley, I say: Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights (and their rights too)! Don’t give up the fight! Make change happen one person at a time.

Thank you SEED and all of you who have come to honor us tonight!

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” Barack Obama

[1] SEED is a non-partisan civic organization established in 1993 dedicated to the recognition of Ethiopians and Ethiopian friends who have demonstrated outstanding achievements as educators, scientists, artists, religious leaders, high school and university students and community leaders. http://www.ethioseed.org

Previous commentaries by the author are available at: www.huffingtonpost.com/alemayehu-g-mariam/ and http://open.salon.com/blog/almariam/

 

U.S. says Yemen president should resign

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

The Obama administration, anxious to deny al-Qaida’s most dangerous offshoot more space in which to flourish, urged Yemen’s wounded president on Monday to immediately step aside and clear the way for a transfer of power aimed at averting all-out civil war.

The administration’s call came as U.S. diplomats worked with Saudi Arabian and European officials to revive a plan to replace Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh with a national unity government and end violence that has killed scores of people and splintered the regime, the Yemeni military and the country’s powerful tribes.

There was no sign that Saleh, who was in Saudi Arabia being treated for a wound he sustained Friday in a rocket attack, was ready to step down. Vice President Abed Rabbo Masour Hadi told European diplomats that Saleh’s “health is improving greatly and he will return to the country in the coming days,” according to the state-run news agency.

The return of Saleh, 68, who has held power since 1978, could lead to further bloodshed, something the Obama administration is anxious to avoid. U.S. officials have soured on their onetime ally after a tumultuous four months in which pro-Saleh gunmen attacked anti-regime protesters, top military officials and diplomats defected, and street battles erupted in the capital, Sanaa, between Saleh’s forces and those of a rival tribal sheikh.

Washington is worried that al-Qaida’s local branch, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, could exploit the growing unrest to expand a sanctuary in Yemen from which to launch attacks on neighboring Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil producer, and U.S. targets.

“We are calling for a peaceful and orderly transition, a non-violent transition that is consistent with Yemen’s own constitution,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday. “We think an immediate transition is in the best interests of the Yemeni people.”

Members of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, an amalgam of Yemenis, Saudis and others, including Americans, were behind the 2000 USS Cole attack, as well as the failed 2009 Christmas attempt to bomb an airliner over Detroit and a failed 2010 plot to ship bombs disguised as printer cartridges to the U.S.

A leading member of the group is Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical cleric born in New Mexico to Yemeni parents, who has been linked to the bomb plots and who allegedly helped radicalize a U.S. Army major accused of killing 12 people and wounding 31 others in a 2009 shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas.

Some experts think that the danger posed by the group has been overblown, especially by Saleh, who they contend used it to squeeze out U.S. financial assistance – which rose to $217 million in 2010 from $102 million 2009 – and to bolster his image as a strongman indispensible to the U.S.-led fight against terrorism.

In his latest use of that tactic, several experts said, Saleh withdrew security forces from several areas in recent weeks, including the south-central coastal town of Zinjibar, allowing Islamic extremists to seize them.

“He’s willing to do anything to stay in power,” said Princeton University professor Bernard Haykel, who pointed out that Saleh employed Islamic radicals in the past to fight political threats.

Many experts, however, agreed that al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula would benefit from a prolonged civil war that splintered Yemen, which was already embroiled in a northern tribal insurgency and a separatist movement in the south when massive protests demanding Saleh’s ouster began in February.

“They have the capacity to mount attacks against American interests. They’ve said they’ll do it again and the bigger the space that (the group) has to plan and mount operations against international targets, the more dangerous they become,” said Christopher Boucek of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“A failed state right next to the world’s biggest oil producer is bad.”

Until recently, the U.S. closely cooperated with Saleh. It dramatically increased U.S. aid and training for Yemen’s security forces in a bid to stabilize the impoverished country of 24 million at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. Nearly 40 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day.

But in the face of ever-widening popular protests, U.S. officials threw their weight behind an Arab-drafted transition plan that called for Saleh to turn power over to Hadi, the vice president, within 30 days, in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Hadi would lead a government comprising ruling party and opposition members until elections were held within two weeks.

Saleh refused three times to sign the plan, and the White House last week dispatched John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser, to the region for consultations.

On Saturday, however, Saleh was evacuated to Saudi Arabia for treatment for a wound he suffered in a rocket attack on his palace, allowing the U.S., Saudi Arabia and European countries to revive the power transfer scheme.

Experts warned that even if he were to agree to the plan, the country’s dire economic straits could derail any chances for political stability.

“Yemen’s collapsing economy, that’s the big story,” Boucek said. “That is the source of all instability in Yemen.”

(By By JONATHAN S. LANDAY, McClatchy Newspapers. Special correspondent Adam Baron contributed reporting from Sanaa, Yemen.)

Disintegrating Tyrant’s Key Pillar of Support – THE MILITARY

Monday, June 6th, 2011

Military force is viewed as the “trump card” by authoritarian regimes. Unlike police personnel, military units are often separated from civilian society. This separation from the public hinder the development of personal relationships between military and civilian families. [read more]

BEKA spreads in western Ethiopia

Monday, June 6th, 2011

Tinsae Ethiopia members sent this photo from the western Ethiopian town of Assosa. (read more at Tinsae.org)

Woyanne calls economic sabotage report a ‘hoax”

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Bloombeg has reported today that Shimeles Kemal, the communication state minister for Ethiopia’s ruling tribal junta, said that Tinsae Ethiopia Patriots Union’s report on attacking Woyanne’s infrastructure is a hoax and that “we have not heard of such group.” Shimeles (aka Shiwushet) is a certified liar who says that Woyanne won the last election with 99 percent of the votes in a free and fair election. Read the full report here at Tinsae.org

Fiber optics communication line cut off in southern Ethiopia

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Government offices, banks, and Woyanne-affiliated businesses in a large part of southern Ethiopia are currently without broadband internet connection after Tinsae Ethiopia members and supporters cut off the fiber optics communication line that is routed through southern Ethiopia to Kenya. [read more at Tinsae.org]

Aiming at the Tyrant’s Power

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

The state’s power is heavily dependent on the cooperation of certain key institutions and organizations. We call these supporting organizations pillars of support because they support the power structure in society… [read more]

Tinsae Ethiopia cut off power in northern Addis Ababa

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Members of Tinsae Ethiopia Patriots Union have cut off electrical power lines in Sululta area yesterday and today, causing power outage in some parts of northern Addis Ababa. [read more at Tinsae.org]

Hope Springs Eternal in Africa

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Alemayehu G. Mariam

Saving Africa From Thugtators

Two historic events are unfolding before our eyes in Africa today. The new president of Cote d’Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara, is asking the International Criminal Court (ICC) to conduct an investigation into gross human rights violations in his country. In a letter to ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Ouattara wrote: “It appears the Ivorian justice system, at the moment, is not best placed to consider the most serious crimes committed over the recent months, and that any attempts to bring to justice those who are most responsible would risk running into all kinds of difficulties.” He emphatically urged the prosecutor to bring the “people who bear the greatest responsibility for the most serious crimes before the International Criminal Court.”

Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s iron-fisted dictator for three decades, and his sons are expected to stand trial in an Egyptian court for human rights violations. The Egyptian Attorney General announced that Mubarak & Sons will face charges of “intentional murder, attempted murder of demonstrators, abuse of power to intentionally waste public funds and unlawfully profiting from public funds for themselves and others.”

Bernard Munyagishari, one of the most notorious leaders of the genocidal Rwandan Interahamwe, was apprehended last week (along with, in a separate incident, Ratko Mladic, the Butcher of Srebrenica (Bosnia)) of  the Democratic Republic of Congo after nearly 16 years on the lam. According to a 2005 ICC indictment, Munyagishari “masterminded a virulent hate campaign against the Tutsis” and trained and distributed weapons to Interahamwe groups to enable them “more efficiently to attack and kill the Tutsis and Hutu opponents.”

Omar al-Bashir of the Sudan remains a fugitive from justice following his ICC indictment for genocide and crimes against humanity. Bashir is accused of “masterminding with absolute control” a criminal plan “to destroy in substantial part the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups” and causing the deaths of 35,000 people “outright” in the Darfur region since 2003.

A number of former Kenyan officials including the deputy prime minister and two other ministers, the cabinet secretary, police chief and others stand accused of murder, rape and persecution by the ICC. They are suspected of orchestrating the post-election violence that resulted in the deaths of some 1,500 Kenyans and displacement of over 600,000.

There is no question that Moammar Gadhafi & Sons will soon be indicted by the ICC for crimes against humanity and war crimes in connection with the massive atrocities that are taking place in Libya today. In his ICC application for an arrest warrant, Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampos argued: “The evidence shows that Moammar Gadhafi personally ordered attacks on unarmed Libyan civilians. His forces attacked Libyan civilians in their homes and in the public space, shot demonstrators with live ammunition, used heavy weaponry against participants in funeral processions and placed snipers to kill those leaving mosques after prayers.”

The trial of the ruthless Liberian warlord Charles Taylor before the ICC on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes recently concluded in The Hague after three and one-half years of litigation. A verdict is expected in the foreseeable future.

Africa’s dictators who once sneered at the very notion of legal accountability for their flagrant  human rights abuses are now waking up at night in cold sweat. They keep interrogating themselves in the middle of the night: First it was Bashir. Now it is Mubarak. Next is Gadhafi and after him… Ben Ali, Ali Saleh and then…?

Lady Justice “is like a train that is nearly always late”, but she has finally arrived at her African destination with a scale in one hand and a sword in the other, and without her blindfold to see the atrocities that continue to be committed by Africa’s thugtators.  A new dawn is rising over the darkness of dictatorship that envelopes Africa.

The Beginning of Africa’s Second Independence?

For much of the six decades of independence, much of Africa has been under the thumbs and boots of ruthless military and civilian thugs palming themselves off as leaders while sucking the continent dry as their private estate. There have been over 80 military coups in Africa and hundreds of attempted, plotted and alleged coups. A 2002 African Union study estimated that corruption cost the continent US$150 billion a year. Last week, a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) commissioned report from Global Financial Integrity (GFI) on “illicit financial flows” (money stolen by government officials and their cronies and stashed away in foreign banks) from the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) revealed the theft of US$ 8.4 billion from Ethiopia, the second poorest country on the planet.

Could the election of Alassane Ouattara signal the beginning of Africa’s second independence?   Is there hope for the end of thugtatorship in Africa and the beginning of a new era of democratic governance, openness and political accountability?

Ouattara’s letter to Moreno-Ocampo is in itself an extraordinary act of leadership, courage, audacity and supreme self-confidence. It is a monumental event in Africa’s modern political history. No African leader has ever asked or invited the ICC to investigate human rights abuses and prosecute the violators. In fact, in August 2010, the African Union (AU) thumbed its nose at the ICC stating: “The AU Member States shall not cooperate pursuant to the provisions of Article 98 of the Rome Statute of the ICC relating to immunities, for the arrest and surrender of President Omar El Bashir of the Sudan”. In other words, Africa’s leaders will shelter the Butcher of Darfur from facing justice.

Against the backdrop of the AU denunciation, Ouattra’s invitation for an ICC investigation is refreshing and reassuring. Manifestly, Ouattra is aware of the fact that an ICC investigation is a double-edged sword that could cut him and his supporters just as easily as Gbagbo and his crew. To be sure, there are serious allegations of human rights abuses by Ouattara’s current prime minister, Guillaume Soro.  An ICC investigation could potentially implicate Ouattara himself, possibly casting a long dark shadow over the remainder of his presidency. Regardless, Ouattara says full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes. Let the chips fall where they may!

Why is Ouattra doing this? Does he have something up his sleeve? I am still reeling from the fact that an African leader is actually upholding human rights instead of trashing them, calling for an independent investigation instead of putting out a whitewash. Could it be that Ouattara is a truly new breed of African leader?  Is it possible that he genuinely believes in the rule of law, human rights and full legal accountability? Maybe he wants to end the culture of impunity in his country and set a shining example of a new culture of respect for human rights for the continent. Just maybe Ouattra’s leadership role model is Nelson Mandela.

On May 21, the day of Ouattara’s formal inauguration, the ICC Prosecutor lodged an application with the ICC to investigate “crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court that have been committed in the Ivory Coast since 28 November 2010.”

Nature of Human Rights Violations in the Cote d’Ivoire

The human rights violations alleged in Cote d’Ivoire are of the most egregious types. According to a January 2011 Human Rights Watch Report, security forces and militia under the control of Laurent Gbagbo have allegedly committed extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, torture, and rape. Gbagbo’s supporters are accused of undertaking an “organized campaign of violence targeting members of opposition political parties, ethnic groups from northern Côte d’Ivoire, Muslims, and immigrants from neighboring West African countries.” Seven women supporters of Ouattara engaged in peaceful demonstration were gunned down before the cameras by Gbagbo’s forces in February 2011.

According to an April 2011 Human Rights Watch Report, “forces loyal to President-elect Alassane Ouattara killed hundreds of civilians, raped more than 20 alleged supporters of his rival, Laurent Gbagbo, and burned at least 10 villages in Côte d’Ivoire’s far western region.” The report alleged “in one particularly horrific incident, hundreds of ethnic Guéré civilians perceived as supporting Gbagbo were massacred in the western town of Duékoué by a mixture of pro-Ouattara groups.” Credible reports by charity groups who visited the location put the number at over one thousand.

The Ivorian human rights violators will likely face war crimes and crimes against humanity charges similar to those lodged against the former Liberian warlord Charles Taylor.  For purposes of war crimes (Convention III, Article 3 Geneva Convention (1949) and of Additional Protocol II), charges will likely include unlawful killings, terrorizing the civilian population, physical violence, sexual violence, abductions and pillage, among others. Other particularized charges may include ill-treatment or deportation of civilian residents, the killing of prisoners and  wanton destruction of cities, towns and villages. Charges of crimes against humanity (Article 7, Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court) will likely include murder, rape, abductions, political or religious persecution and other inhumane acts and practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government or a de facto authority. There is substantial evidence to show the occurrence of widespread and systematic practices of atrocity by both sides of the Ivorian conflict in the post-election period to justify vigorous prosecutions.

No Truth, No Reconciliation. No Justice, No Peace.

What Ouattra has done in Cote d’Ivoire could be the most significant act in the cause of the freedom, democracy and human rights in Africa’s modern history. By the stroke of his pen,  Ouattra has the raised the bar for legal accountability and may have begun a new era and tradition of the rule of law in the continent. By letting justice take its course, Ouattara has taken the first decisive step to heal the wounds and divisions of Ivorian society.

There are many lessons to be learned from Ouattara’s heroic act. First, without revealing the truth about human rights abuses, there can be no reconciliation in Cote d’Ivoire or any other society victimized by massive human rights violations. The South Africans managed to make an effective transition to democracy and heal a society torn apart by the vile and inhuman ideology of apartheid in their Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

Second, if Africa’s dictators believe they will face justice for their criminal actions regardless of how long it takes, they will think a hundred times before ordering massacres of peaceful unarmed demonstrators in the streets, jailing of  thousands of innocent people and indiscriminate  bombing of civilians. Third, legal accountability under international human rights standards means Africa’s dictators will have no place to run to or hide and enjoy their billions in stolen loot. The world will be their prison.

When the rule of law is deep-rooted in Africa, the tables will finally turn. The people will no longer fear their leaders and governments. Rather, the leaders and government institutions will fear the people. That will mark Africa’s long overdue transition from thugtatorship (“the highest stage of African dictatorship”) to democracy.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Justice has yet to arrive for 193 unarmed Ethiopian protesters massacred in the streets in 2005 and 763 shot and wounded. These victims are not some nameless individuals buried in shallow graves. Their identities are well known to all and shall never be forgotten. The identities of the 237 policemen who committed the massacre are also well known.  There is overwhelming evidence of gross human rights abuses in Gambella in western Ethiopia and in the Ogaden region in the east as well as many other parts of the country.  There are thousands of political prisoners languishing in secret prisons in Ethiopia today.

The monstrous crimes committed against these victims will not remain forever shrouded in the fog of history because the arc of the moral universe is long and it bends towards justice. That is why I believe justice delayed in Ethiopia is NOT justice denied. Paraphrasing the great African American poet Langston Hughes, justice delayed in Ethiopia is a “sore that festers and runs, and sags” like a heavy load ready to explode.

Keep Hope Alive in Ethiopia!

Previous commentaries by the author are available at: www.huffingtonpost.com/alemayehu-g-mariam and http://open.salon.com/blog/almariam

 

 

Tension in Ethiopia’s capital

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa is swarmed with security forces today as the ruling Woyanne tribal junta prepares to celebrate its 20th year in power. Youth groups are also attempting to stage protests to demand an end to the 20-year-old dictatorship, but every gathering is immediately dispersed by the Federal Police, Meles Zenawi’s death squads.

Meles Zenawi's death squad harass and disperse young Ethiopians in Addis Ababa

In the morning, the Woyanne regime staged its own rally in support of its recently announced plan to build hydroelectric dam along the Nile River. It has bussed thousands of government employees to Melskel Square to listen to a speech by the khat-addicted dictator. A short while later, the crowd dispersed without incident.

Woyanne rally at Meskel Square – 28 May 2011

Grand Strategy for BEKA! Awakening

Friday, May 27th, 2011

The broadest conception of how an objective is to be attained in a conflict by a chosen course of action. The grand strategy serves to coordinate and direct all appropriate and available resources (human, political, economic, moral, etc.) of the group to attain its objectives in a conflict… [read more]

Internet is down through out Ethiopia – update

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

UPDATE (7:00 PM Addis Ababa time)

Internet is now working in Ethiopia. Broadband connection to eastern Ethiopia is still down.

———-

This morning Internet seems to be down all over Ethiopia.

Ethiopian Review has tried to communicate with its contacts in several cities and all of them have confirmed that they are unable to access their emails or read web sites. It is not clear who or what caused the shut down.

Banks and other organization that depend and Internet are also closed today, according to an Ethiopian Review correspondent in Addis Ababa.

Heavily armed troops and machine gun-mounted truck are patrolling the city.

Yesterday we have reported that an unknown group has sabotaged fiber optics lines to eastern Ethiopia shutting down broadband internet connection to government offices and Woyanne-affiliated companies.

Next Saturday, May 28, the ruling Woyanne junta will celebrate its 20th years of misrule. On the same day, the junta is preparing for a large rally at the Addis Ababa Stadium in support of its Nile Dam scheme. Students and government workers have been ordered to show up at the rally.

Less than 2 percent of Ethiopians have access to the Internet (see here). This was done purposely by the Meles regime to keep the people of Ethiopia in the dark age.

Internet lines to eastern Ethiopia are down

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Woyanne telecom minister and TPLF politburo member DebreTsion GebreMichael was shocked to learn today that an unknown group has cut off the fiber optics Internet lines that connect the ruling junta to its military and government agencies in eastern Ethiopia up to Jijiga.

The regime is now using satellite service for Internet connection in eastern Ethiopia, which has a limited capacity.

Broadband Internet connection through the fiber optics lines are available only to the Woyanne regime and businesses that are affiliated with the ruling junta. Broadband service is not available to average citizens.

Last Friday, Tinsae Ethiopia Patriots Union cut off power lines in Western Ethiopia causing power and telephone outage in several towns for four days.

Only 13 percent of Ethiopians have access to electricity, according to the World Bank.

Declaration against the TPLF tyranny

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

GLOBAL CIVIC MOVEMENT FOR CHANGE IN ETHIOPIA

A Call for Unity of Action and Purpose

RECOGNIZING the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all Ethiopians, indeed all people, regardless of ethnicity, faith, political opinion, age, gender, race or financial status, is the foundation for democracy, freedom, justice, peace and unity in Ethiopia;

NOTING with dismay that the TPLF/EPRDF government has implemented apartheid type divide and rule political programs over the past twenty years, and hence not only revoked the civil and political rights of 80 million people, but has turned the age old country into one of the sixteen failed states in the world;

NOTING with dismay that Ethiopia is at the bottom of world good governance standards, as evidenced by the World Bank, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, the African Peer Review Mechanism and other similar ratings;

CONCERNED that the TPLF/EPRDF continues to administer sham elections; where in May 2005 it killed 193 unarmed protestors, wounded 800 innocent civilians and kept close to 50,000 pro-democracy activists in concentration camps; and in May 2010 it unashamedly claimed to have won 99.6% of the seats of the House of Peoples Representatives;

NOTING that Ethiopia is ranked lower than all but 4 nations in Africa in human development, access to clean water, press freedom, internet use and pervasive corruption in spite of the deceptive propaganda of double digit real economic growth reported by TPLF/EPRDF;

CONCERNED that the misguided economic policy that was implemented over the last twenty years, that was characterized by crony capitalism, opaque privatization, discrimination, an unprecedented land eviction, corruption, monopolization of the economy by party owned companies; has led to employment discrimination, hyperinflation, abject rural and urban poverty and forced migration;

CONCERNED that access to higher education and employment in public enterprises and government departments are restricted to TPLF/EPRDF members, and hence violating one of the cornerstones of civil and political rights of citizens;

CONCERNED that the education system implemented during the last ten years has not been able to prepare the youth for decent higher education, innovation, self employment and entrepreneurship, thus making the future of the youth more uncertain;

ALARMED that the perpetrators of various crimes against humanity, including but not limited to the massacres of 2005, are living with impunity, and Meles Zenawi continues to protect suspects that should most certainly face national and international justice;

DEEPLY CONCERNED that the TPLF/EPRDF continues to deny the existence of armed conflicts and clandestine political organizations, hence the absence of national dialogue and reconciliation is exacerbating the further disintegration of the country;

CONVINCED that ethno nationalist movements are increasingly becoming significant political and military forces in Ethiopia and time has vividly shown that TPLF’s bankrupt policy has not resolved the root causes of these movements, indicating that the reality on the ground requires a new vision for Ethiopia;

NOTING WITH INTEREST the ethno-nationalist movements’ recent effort to break the ethnic wall, we encourage members and supporters of ethno nationalist movements and all political and social forces to welcome the overture, and urge all to join a process that leads to building a critical mass and the required leadership that aims at the eventual replacement of the minority dictatorship with a transitional government;

COMPELLED to emphasize and underscore once again the need for nationalist and ethno-nationalist political and social forces to work towards the removal of the minority dictatorship with the clear understanding that the destiny of post-TPLF/EPRDF Ethiopia shall be determined by all the citizens of the age old nation, after an unfettered free and fair election;

KEENLY AWARE that TPLF/EPRDF’s misguided foreign policy, reckless diplomacy and gross incompetence in foreign policy have led to several scandalous international agreements, including but not limited to the stalled Algiers Agreement, the creation of a land locked country that is inhabited by 80 million people, the ceding of territories to the Sudan without the knowledge of the people of Ethiopia, the 1993 Egyptian-Ethiopian Water Agreement which has ended up in the rubbish bin, and the recent foolish-man’s game with the River Nile (Abbay), cannot lead to a sustained peace and development in the region;

AWARE of the power of mass uprisings in removing age old dictatorships, including but not limited to the 1974 revolution in Ethiopia, the 1989 revolution in Eastern Europe and now in the Middle East and North Africa;

CONSISTENT with the previous declarations of Ethiopian civic organizations, including but not limited to the CHARTER that was issued at the turn of the Ethiopian Millennium, the Chicago Resolution of the Ethiopian National Priorities Consultative Process (ENPCP), the Virginia Declaration on Good Governance, Peace and Development in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa; the various Statements of the Solidarity Movement for New Ethiopia (SMNE), the call by the Ketet network of activists, and the recently issued 8 point demands of the Oromo National Youth Movement for Freedom and Democracy, we in the Global Civic Movement for Change in Ethiopia join the chorus in demanding the removal of the minority dictatorship from the yoke of 80 million people. We have resolved to engage in peaceful resistance to end tyranny so that a broad based transitional government is established.

The primary functions of the transitional government are to prepare the country for an unfettered free and fair election, protect and defend the territorial integrity of the country, maintain law and order, and perform other duties of transitional nature. The civil resistance is a country wide action that will be spearheaded by the youth and supported by Ethiopians in the country and in the Diaspora. The Movement rejects all forms of violence and extremism. It advocates for democracy, equality, justice, peace and unity. It is against the TPLF/EPRDF cabal. It is not against ordinary members of the TPLF/EPRDF or indeed the Ethiopian Defense Forces.

RECOGNIZING the incontrovertible fact that no single opposition party, be it nationalist or ethno-nationalist, on its own can successfully lead the masses into action in the present era, and fully cognizant of the truth that Ethiopians have significantly more in common than not, we urge all to clench our many fingers that are pointing at the TPLF/EPRDF cabal, and guarantee that no one ethnic group will ever again vanquish the people of Ethiopia;

NOW THEREFORE, WE have adopted the following actionable resolutions:-

1. We demand that the regime immediately stops the twenty years of continued military campaign against the people of Ethiopia. We demand that the International Red Cross (IRC) be given immediate access to all conflict areas. At present, the IRC has been kicked out of the Ogaden region. We ask for the United Nations to carry a full, independent, and unfettered investigation of both the recent UN staff killing and the mass murder of civilians in the Ogaden. We call upon the international community to continue to put pressure on the dictatorship so that international NGOs are allowed to deliver emergency aid to conflict and drought affected areas;
2. We demand the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience. We demand that especially the Maikelawi Prison (central investigation prison) and the underground prisons and concentration camps be immediately dismantled and closed for ever, and the perpetrators of all forms of human rights abuses be brought to justice;
3. We demand that the TPLF/EPRDF security forces immediately stop harassing, imprisoning and intimidating legal opposition forces and students;
4. We call for the immediate supply of basic goods such as sugar, cooking oil and bread for the people by the government at subsidized prices while the commodity market is allowed to stabilize;
5. We demand that all the so called private properties of Zenawi’s family and their close associates be administered by a branch of government until judicial enquiry about ill gotten assets is completed;
6. We demand that all the assets of the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigrai (EFFORT) be divested and distributed to the rightful owners, the Ethiopian people, through privatization by an Initial Public Offering system open to all the people of Ethiopia. The management can be restructured, by hiring professional managers and the proceeds from the sale of shares can be used for financing the construction of secure and economically, environmentally and technically feasible large and small dams, as appropriate;
7. We demand that the land grab policy that is being implemented by the TPLF/EPRDF regime be immediately stopped, and that international agreements that relate to the land grab be put on hold. All evictions of rural farmers and nomads from their ancestral lands must be stopped. We demand a judicial enquiry into the circumstances, and whether there was corruption in the sale/lease of virgin lands to foreign entities at unbelievably low prices;
8. We demand that the misguided urban land policy of TPLF/EPRDF which is creating unprecedented price bubbles and excessive speculation through credit channeling, distorted interest rates and corrupt land lease, be replaced by people centered and equitable urban development policy that will make housing more affordable and accessible to Ethiopian citizens The recent demolition of houses in cities such as Hawassa and Mekele must be stopped. We demand that those who sent the Federal Police, to prevent the protest demonstrations be brought to justice;
9. Consistent with the Virginia Declaration on Good Governance, Peace and Development in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa, and the 8 point demand of the Oromo National Youth Movement for Freedom and Democracy, We in the Global Civic Movement for Change in Ethiopia, unreservedly endorse the call for the immediate resignation of Meles Zenawi and his spouse Azeb Mesfin from all State and Party powers;
10. We demand that both chambers of parliament be immediately dissolved and the TPLF/EPRDF authored constitution be suspended. We call for the establishment of a transitional government that is constituted from Civil Society, all major ethno nationalist movements and all opposition political organizations, that works towards instituting genuine democracy, freedom and unity in Ethiopia and peace and stability in the Horn of Africa;
11. We shall struggle to make the primary work of the Transitional Government to focus on preparing the country for an unfettered free and fair election, maintain the rule of law, protect all Ethiopians, protect private and public property, and defend and protect the country’s sovereignty. We shall endeavor to influence policy so that all stakeholders of the Nile River System and other resource endowments are put to the benefit of all the people of the region. We shall advocate for peace and stability in the Horn of Africa and beyond;
12. Finally we call upon all Ethiopians to rise up in unison to end dictatorship in Ethiopia. We call upon the international community to avoid using double standards. We call upon the United Nations’ Security Council to adopt a Libyan type policy against all dictators who are killing their own people. We respectfully request the United Nations’ Secretary General to take contingency measures as the ruthless dictator’s track record shows that he is more than likely to follow his peers in Libya, Syria and Yemen by brutally suppressing popular uprising against 20 years of TPLF/EPRDF tyranny.

Beka ! Geye! Bes! Yiakel! Aloni! Ditah! Wetandem!
For more information contact: Ethiopians.say.beka@gmail.com

The following organizations have also issued statements calling for a civil resistance to bring change in Ethiopia:

ALJE (pdf)
Civic Movement
EPRP (pdf)
EYM (pdf)
Ginbot 7 (pdf)
OLF (pdf)

Media reports on western Ethiopia power outage

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

The action taken by Tinsae Ethiopia members that cut off power in western Ethiopia has received a wide media coverage, including this report (click here) by Bloomberg and the following video by ESAT.

Book Review: Pentecostalism and Orthodox Christianity

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Review of Tibebe Eshete’s Book, The Evangelical Movement in Ethiopia

By Messay Kebede

Published by Baylor University Press (2009), the book is a well-researched and abundantly documented account of the inception and spread of evangelical Christianity in Ethiopia. With special emphasis on Pentecostalism, the book goes beyond an eventful account of the evangelical movement; it provides a theoretical explanation for its rapid spread in a country reputed for its long-standing commitment to Orthodox Christianity. It must be said that the book is remarkably up to the challenging task of combining a descriptive account of important events with theoretical insights whose explanatory power is impressive, even for a skeptical reader.

The thorough appreciation of the book requires that the reader be fully cognizant of the various purposes of the book. Tibebe does not indulge in a laudatory discourse on the evangelical movement; nor does he present a disparaging portrait of Ethiopia’s Orthodox Church. Even if we find here and there praises and blames, the book remains a scholarly work intent on providing understanding rather than eulogy. This restraint to an objective account is all the more remarkable, given the personal dimension of the book to the author, who is himself a convert from Orthodox Christianity to evangelical faith.

The first purpose of the book is Tibebe’s intention to correct the dearth of scholarly studies on the evangelical movement in Ethiopia. Misinformation and bias explain the neglect: many Ethiopianists still consider the movement as marginal and foreign-inspired, which is typically summed up by the Amharic term of “mete haymanot.” The label of “imported religion” gave the justification for covert persecution during Haile Selassie’s reign and overt persecution after the establishment of the Derg and socialism. Through its cadres, the Derg used all means, including violence and coercion, to eradicate the movement. The tangible result of this systematic attempt to eradicate was, however, a phenomenal growth of the movement. From one percent of the population in the early 1960s, the movement grew to 6 million in 1994 (some estimates put the number at 12 million). Hence the main question of the book: what explains this remarkable expansion in a country fraught with adverse forces to the faith?

The other important purpose of the book is the removal of the bias against the evangelical faith in Ethiopia, which Tibebe wants to accomplish by forcefully displaying its native character. Without denying the role of foreign missionaries and the international support of evangelical churches, Tibebe argues that the movement has powerful native sources and has always followed one dominant motto, namely, “the Gospel for Ethiopians by Ethiopians.” His argument significantly weakens the “foreign paradigm” through the suggestion that, without the decisive impact of indigenous factors, the phenomenal growth of the movement is utterly incomprehensible.

One cannot but admire Tibebe’s attempt to show the native sources of Pentecostalism. Notably, his view that practices such as healing through prayers, exorcism, display of emotional expression, etc., are just reviving suppressed practices, allows him to speak of Pentecostalism as a renaissance of Ethiopian Christianity. To quote him, “viewed from a historical and analytical perspective, the evangelical faith as embraced by Ethiopians does not signify desertion or denial. Rather, it is an expression of the latent dimension of an already existing faith. Significantly, for those who tuned into the faith from the Orthodox background, Christianity simply took renewed emphasis and meaning” (p. 314). Some such approach definitely goes a long way in dismissing the accusation of foreign religion. Far from being desertion, Pentecostalism, Tibebe insists, is the expected, the longed-for revival of Ethiopian spirituality.

The depiction of the native sources of the movement introduces the third important purpose of the book, namely, the call for acceptance and mutual appreciation. Tibebe asks Ethiopian Evangelists to appreciate and inherit the rich tradition of Ethiopian Orthodox Church and its eminent national character and role both in defending Ethiopia against foreign invasions and in nurturing a home grown Christianity. In return, Orthodox Ethiopians should recognize the native roots of the evangelical movement in Ethiopia and engage in interface activities rather than animosity. Tibebe firmly believes that a change of this nature will be beneficial to both congregations and a significant contribution to the consolidation of democratic spirit in Ethiopia. Witness: the challenge of Pentecostalism has stimulated reformist activities within the Orthodox Church, as shown by the popularity of the revival movement known as “Amanuel Menfesawi Maheber.”

To fulfill these purposes, Tibebe adopts the appropriate method, to wit, the use of historical analysis by which he traces the major events marking the spread of the evangelical movement. The inquiry offers an ample documentation on the growth of the movement since the seventeen century. In particular, it gives a detailed account of the status of the movement during the reign of Haile Selassie and the tumultuous rule of the Derg. We learn that, even though persecutions were by no means absent, the reign of Haile Selassie was “the heyday of missionary activity in Ethiopia” (p. 75). As to the situation under the Derg, the account reveals how the use of systematic repression and brutality only strengthened the resolve of followers, which became a cause for an accelerated expansion of the movement.

To explain the resilience of the movement, Tibebe combines historical research with theoretical explanations. He thus advances the thesis that, in addition to the properly religious need, sociopolitical factors were active in making evangelism, especially in its Pentecostal form, attractive to many Ethiopians. A word of caution: one would totally misrepresent the content of the book if one loses sight of the primacy of the religious factor. Tibebe nowhere reduces the expansion of evangelism in Ethiopia to a political protest against the autocratic rule of Haile Selassie or the brutality of the Derg. Not that sociopolitical conditions were inconsequential; rather, they were only contributing factors to the principal need, which was religious.

The primacy of the religious need fully transpires when Tibebe explains why Pentecostalism seduced so many educated Ethiopians who came from firmly established Orthodox background. For him, the seduction has its roots in the failure of the Orthodox Church to reform itself in accordance with new needs arising from the exposure to Western education and the modern world. Indeed, modernity assumed for Ethiopians the form of an immense challenge to their legacy and became the cause of a deep cultural disorientation and existential anxiety. While many among the educated elite attempted to find answers in the then dominant ideology of Marxism-Leninism, others looked for a renewal of their religious faith, thereby increasingly paying attention to evangelism. In effect, those who went over to evangelism could listen to “qualified speakers on various subjects, like the relationship between science and faith, creation and evolution, or spirituality and rationalism and logic” (p. 138). These were topics that the Orthodox Church was not ready to tackle, as shown by the fact that demands from within the Church to renovate and modernize the faith—the most important being the movement known as Haymanote Abew—repeatedly fell on deaf ears.

Granted the primacy of the spiritual need, the fact remains that the tendency to look for answers to new needs outside the authority of Orthodox Christianity would not have gained momentum without the sociopolitical realities of Ethiopia under Haile Selassie and the Derg. Such is Tibebe’s sophisticated approach. It was already obvious that the success of evangelism in the southern part of the country, notably in Wollega and Wollaita, was a form of protest against the southern Neftegna Gebar system. As Tibebe puts it, “the new faith brought for the believers not only salvation, but also liberation from traditional oppressive structures, healing, and a sense of worth in a sociopolitical milieu that sustained social inequalities” (p.86). Clearly, what particularly hampered the missionary work of the Orthodox Church in the south, besides the use of inappropriate methods, was the close link of the church with the detested Ethiopian state. The lack of independence associated its teachings and missionary efforts with the oppressive structure of the imperial state or the Derg.

This same lack of independence explains why evangelism made such impressive inroads, especially Pentecostalism, in areas traditionally committed to the Orthodox Church. The evidence for this is that the expansion of evangelical movement was essentially an urban phenomenon that involved young educated Ethiopians coming from Orthodox background. To the question why many modern educated Orthodox Christians felt the need to convert to Pentecostalism, in conjunction with the primary reason of being unable to find in the traditional church the answers they needed to the challenges of modernity, one must refer to their inability to reform the faith, owing to its close tie with the Ethiopian state, and their increasing dissatisfaction over the sociopolitical realities of Ethiopia under Haile Selassie and, with greater reason, under the Derg.

While Tibebe does an excellent job in articulating major themes with relevant events and back them with sound arguments, questions pertaining to clarifications as well as to theoretical developments come to mind. Granted that one cannot but praise the attempt to remain as objective as possible, still one cannot avoid the feeling that Tibebe’s understanding of the Orthodox faith remains external in that it is viewed from an alien religious stand considered as normative or superior. He draws the explanation for the conversion of many educated Ethiopians to Pentecostalism from the disabilities of the Orthodox Church, thereby suggesting that evangelism is not only superior, but that it has also effective answers to the challenges of modernity to religious faith. One can reasonably contest the assertion if only because no religious doctrine is immune to the assaults of science, evolutionism, and the debunking of fideism. The commitment to a specific faith is more a matter of choice than doctrinal superiority.

The use of an alien normative stand, otherwise known as Eurocentrism, misses the particularity, the unique nature of the Orthodox faith. The lack of theological sophistication, the use of crude methods of conversion, the alliance with the Ethiopian state, etc., turn into defects only in the eyes of alienated Ethiopians who use Western religiosity as a prototype. To this approach, one can oppose the idea that Ethiopian religiosity should not be judged by the norms of doctrinal refinement and theological sophistication. Instead, one should bring out its cultural nature, which is such that Christianity in Ethiopia is like the air we breathe. In Ethiopia, God is everywhere; His presence is felt not only in churches and holy places, but in any personal or social manifestation. God is not so much conceptualized as felt like the immovable background of everything. Christianity in Ethiopia has never been an issue of doctrinal conversion, but a native attribute that one acquires for being member of a distinct and messianic polity, the very one flowing from the definition of Ethiopia as God’s favored nation. Accordingly, as an extension of divine election, missionary work is perceived as integration into a privileged, restricted polity, less so as a doctrinal allurement.

Doubtless, as Tibebe convincingly argues, when Ethiopians became exposed to Western education, the need for a rationalized faith transpired, which need started to paint the traditional religion in negative terms, that is, as not being as doctrinal and speculative as Western religions. Equally true that the Orthodox Church proved unable or reluctant to satisfy the doctrinal needs of the educated elite. Still, it makes little sense to put the blame on the faith, since it amounts to saying that it should be other than what it became as a result of a protracted and native historical development. The religion had a long history and resisted the powerful assaults of Islam and colonial incursions, not because of its doctrinal power or purity, but because of the powerful sentiments agitated by the sense of divine favoritism as enshrined, for instance, in the popular belief that Ethiopia is the guardian of the Arch of the Covenant.

Tibebe is absolutely right to say that the Orthodox Church failed to address the concerns of modern educated Ethiopians. Unfortunately, as he himself admits, the latter were alienated people and, as such, little able to make sound judgments or choices. A culturally disoriented generation is certainly unfit to provide norms by which Orthodox Christianity should be criticized or to select the religion by which it should be replaced, especially in light of its glorious accomplishments in preserving the independence and identity of a polity in a hostile environment and for such a long time. Since the assumption is that the religious response was healthier than the political radicalism imparted by the adoption of Marxist-Leninist ideology, Tibebe is hereby asked to provide the reasons for the beneficial effects of evangelical spiritualism.

All the more reason for asking the question is that Tibebe does not hesitate to conceptualize the attraction of Ethiopian students to Marxism-Leninism and Pentecostalism in the late 60s and early 70s as different responses to cultural disorientation and political frustration. Even though disagreements and clashes soon irrupted between the two movements—the radical students accusing Pentecostal students of being CIA agents conspiring to politically demobilize the youth by luring it into religious ecstasy—there is no doubt that both movements shared the character of being extreme. The question is then: why extremism, be it in the form of political radicalism or religious fundamentalism? Whether it was a counter-response to the spread of Marxist atheism among the students and educated elite or the expression of frustration over the socialism of the Derg, since religious fundamentalism clings to the faith by intensifying it, the dissonance between the response and the premises of modernity stands out.

To be sure, it is not clear how religious intensification can be construed as a modern response. In particular, rationality goes in the direction of accommodating faith with the scientific spirit, not in the direction of introducing into the faith beliefs and practices that clash with science. What all this means is clear enough: the attempt to rank one religion above the others in the name of modernity is a risky business since in the eyes of science all religions without distinction belong to the sphere of the irrational. Let us admit it, the development of modern ideas and the diffusion of the scientific spirit have turned religious conversions into obsolete practices.

Similarly, while the great value of the book lies in the linkage it establishes between religious conversion and sociopolitical concerns, it is not clear in what sense Pentecostalism can be classified as a protest. For the pioneers of the movement, the conversion must be explained in purely religious terms, that is, as expression of God’s revelation, and not as an outcome of impersonal forces resulting from economic or political hindrances. Tibebe rightly objects that the purely religious account cannot explain why the movement expanded at a particular time and with such a rapid pace. In thus saying that social conditions favored the expansion of evangelism, Tibebe posits the movement as a component part of social protests. Some such assumption goes against the prevailing view describing the movement as apolitical or, according to the radical students of the 60s, as frankly reactionary. People saw the movement as an incitement to withdraw from politics through an all-consuming pursuit of otherworldly goals. In other words, Tibebe has yet to convince us why this type of religious fundamentalism is not a reaction, a flight from the harsh reality of politics, just as he has to show us how it encourages modern and democratic forms of thinking.

One critical issue conspicuously absent from the book is the standing of the evangelical movement in relation to the other important and established religion, namely, Islam. Tibebe exhaustively analyzes the inroads of evangelism in the southern part of Ethiopia where primal religions mostly prevailed and in regions traditionally populated by Orthodox Christians. But he nowhere deals with the legitimate question of the status of evangelism in Muslim-dominated regions. Is evangelism making any progress in these regions as well? If yes, why? If no, why not? Being able to answer these questions certainly helps provide a more general and specified account of the progress of evangelism in Ethiopia.

Lastly, one issue that needs further clarification is Tibebe’s analysis of the attitude of Haile Selassie. He advances the view that Haile Selassie wanted to reform and modernize the Orthodox Church despite its resistance. Yet, he also maintains that he blocked reformist movements within the Church: for instance, the movement of reform initiated by Haymanot Abew failed because it was ultimately controlled by him, which control deprived it of dynamism and autonomy. Was Haile Selassie’s policy an attempt to subdue the Church or a genuine desire to modernize it? A more rigorous analysis of Haile Selassie’s attitude would be helpful to understand the impediments of the traditional religion. Moreover, Tibebe asserts that Haile Selassie was tolerant to the evangelical movement while at the same time viewing the tolerance as a component of his strategy to bolster his international image. Our understanding of the situation would acquire greater clarity if these imperial contradictions, which were real, were conceptualized in specific terms.

To conclude, Tibebe’s book is highly informative and enlightening, in addition to inviting new reflections on issues that most people either misconstrue, ignore, or find baffling. The questions that I have raised in no way diminish the value of the book; on the contrary, they are appeals for Tibebe to further expand his inquiry in the direction of finding some answers. The truth about the book is that it is a must-read for all those who want to understand the changing face of Ethiopia.

(Dr Messay Kebede can be reached at Messay.Kebede@notes.udayton.edu)

Woyanne Diaspora campaign debated on German Radio

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Deutsche Welle (German Radio) on its Sunday, 22 May 2011, program interviewed Ato Neamin Zeleke, Dr Messay Kebede and Woyanne ambassador Dina Mufti on Woyanne regime’s failed attempt to get the support of Ethiopians in the Diaspora. Listen below or click here [forward to 8:00 minute mark].

Africa: Cause Looking for Rebels

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

[This commentary is based on talk I gave at the first annual University of California, Los Angeles Habesha Student Association[1] Networking Night event held at Ackerman Union on May 14, 2011.]

I have been asked to comment on youth political apathy and how to transform apathy into constructive action. That is a very tall order, but I am glad to be able to share with you my views on a subject that has defied and puzzled political scientists and pundits for generations.

The general allegation is that young people are uninterested, unconcerned and indifferent about matters of politics and government. Political apathy (crudely defined as lack of interest and involvement in the political process and general passivity and indifference to political and social phenomena in one’s environment) among youth is said to be the product of many factors including lack of political awareness and knowledge, absence of civic institutions that cultivate youth political action and involvement and the prevailing cultural imperatives of consumerism and the media. Simply stated, young people are said to be self-absorbed, short attention-spanned and preoccupied and distracted by popular culture, social networking, leisurely activities and the ordinary demands of daily life to pay serious attention to politics.

Longitudinal studies of youth political apathy in the U.S. suggest that many young people are politically disengaged because they believe politics is about “money and lying and they don’t want to involve themselves in it.” Many young Americans complain that politicians ignore young people and have little youth-oriented communication. They accuse politicians of being in the back pockets of big money and that their votes are inconsequential in determining the outcome of any significant issues in society. Feeling powerless, they retreat to cynicism and apathy.

In contrast, in the 1960s, young Americans led the “counter-culture revolution” and were the tips of the spear of the Civil Rights Movement. The Free Speech Movement which began at the University of California, Berkeley was transformed from student protests for expressive and academic freedom on campus to a powerful nationwide anti-war movement on American college campuses and in the streets. Young African Americans advanced the cause of the Civil Rights Movement by employing the powerful tools and techniques of civil disobedience staging sit-ins and boycotts to desegregate lunch counters and other public accommodations.  On May 4, 1961, fifty years to the month today, young inter-racial Freedom Riders set out to challenge local laws and customs that enforced segregation in public transportation in the American South, and succeeded in eliminating racial segregation in public transportation at considerable personal risk.  Young people in the Black Power Movement in the late 1960s demanded racial equality dignity, economic and political self-sufficiency and advocated black nationalism.

A similar pattern of youth activism is evident for African youths. In many African countries, students and other young people have been in the vanguard of social forces demanding political changes. University students in Ethiopia agitated and mobilized for the revolution that overthrew the monarchy in 1974. It is ironic that the very individuals who hold the reins of power in Ethiopia today were among those university students who fought and died for democracy and human rights in the early 1970s. In 2005, these former university students ordered a massacre which resulted in the killing of at least 193 unarmed largely youth protesters and the wounding of 763 others. In 1976 in South Africa, 176 students and other young people protesting apartheid were killed in Soweto. In recent months we have seen young people leading nonviolent uprising in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and other countries to remove decades-old dictatorships. In Uganda today, the young followers of Kizza Besigye, (Museveni’s challenger in the recent elections) are at the center of the Walk to Work civil disobedience campaign protesting economic hardships and a quarter century of Museveni’s dictatorship.

The African Youth Charter

Africa has been described as the “youngest region of the world”. The African youth population is estimated to be 70 percent of the total population (nearly 50 percent of them under age 15).   Virtually 100 percent of the top political leadership in Africa belongs to the “over-the-hill” gang. Robert Mugabe still clings to power in Zimbabwe at age 86. It is manifestly hard to demand higher levels of political participation and involvement among African youths when they come of age in societies controlled and stifled by dictators long in the tooth. But there is no question that youth apathy is the greatest threat to the institution and consolidation of democracy in Africa.

There may be a glimmer of hope for African youths in the African Union’s “Youth Charter”, which provides comprehensive protections for Africa’s young people. Article 11 (“Youth Participation”) is of special significance. It requires signatory states to ensure “every young person” has the “right to participate in all spheres of society.” This requires state parties to “guarantee the participation of youth in parliament and other decision-making bodies”, access to “decision-making at local, national, regional, and continental levels of governance” and requires “youth advocacy and volunteerism” and peer-to-peer programmes for marginalised youth”. States are required to “provide access to information such that young people become aware of their rights and of opportunities to participate in decision-making and civic life”.  Africa’s youths should hold their doddering dictators accountable under the Charter.

Transforming Youth Apathy Into Youth Action?

I have no ready prescriptions to convert youth apathy into youth action. My view of the issue is very simple. The word apathy has roots in a Greek word “apathea” denoting lack of emotion. Young people in America, Africa or elsewhere are apathetic because they are “not fired up and raring to go.” They lack that “fire in the belly”. They find themselves in a state of political paralysis unable to act. So, how can African youth escape the political doldrums of apathy on a sea of cynicism, pessimism, negativism and disillusionment? The short answer is that they need to find the issues in society they care about and pursue them passionately. The long answer revolves around a few basic principles:

Be idealistic. Robert Kennedy said, “There are those who look at things and ask why. I dream of things and ask why not.” Nelson Mandela said, “I dream of an Africa at peace with itself.” Bob Marley said, there will be no peace until “the philosophy which hold one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned”, “there no longer are first class and second class citizens of any nation” and “basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all.” Young Africas should dream of an Africa free from the bondage of ethnic politics, scourge of dictatorship, debilitating poverty and flagrant human rights violations. Why are these youthful dreams not possible? As Gandhi said, when you are idealistic, “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.”

Examine your lives. When Socrates was put on trial for encouraging his young students to question authority and accepted beliefs, he said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” It is important for Africa’s young people to question their beliefs and actions. If they are indifferent to the suffering of their people, they should question themselves. Part of that self-examination is knowing if one is doing the right or wrong thing, and making corrections when mistakes are made. Unless we question our values and actions, we end up doing things mechanically, impulsively and blindly.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Gandhi said these simple but powerful words. The revolution we want to see in the world begins with us when we strive to relate to others on the basis of high moral and ethical standards. If we want to see a just, fair and compassionate world, we must begin by practicing those values ourselves. I want to congratulate the UCLA Habesha Student Association for bringing together young Ethiopians and Eritreans in one organizational setting to work cooperatively and harmoniously on issues of common interest and concern. Such collaboration sets an extraordinary example for all young people in the Horn of Africa to follow because the UCLA students have been able to relate with each other at the most fundamental human level instead of as members of opposing camps nursing historical enmities. It is a great mindset to be able to see beyond ethnicity and national boundaries; and most importantly not to be sucked into the vortex of historical grievances kept alive by the older generation.

Be independent thinkers and empower yourselves. Always ask questions and follow-up questions. One of the things those of us in the older generation do not do well is ask the right questions. Often we do not base our opinions on facts. Africa’s young people should think for themselves and creatively. The Buddha said, “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.” It is easy and comfortable for others to do the thinking for us. The alternative is for the older generation to do the thinking for the youth. Do Africa’s youths want that? To think independently means to keep an open mind and tolerate opposing viewpoints. Africa’s dictators fear young independent thinkers because  the young trumpet the truth.

Stand for Something. Rosa Parks, the great icon of the American Civil Rights Movement, is credited for modifying the old adage by saying: “Stand for something or you will fall for anything. Today’s mighty oak is yesterday’s nut that held its ground.” Young people of courage, character and determination today are the seeds of great leaders tomorrow. Africa’s young people need to take a stand for human rights, democracy, freedom and peace. They also need to take a stand against all forms of violence, ethnic politics and the politics of intolerance, hate and fear.

Network with other young people and learn techniques of grassroots organizing. The UCLA HSA is committed to self-help through networking. That is important and very useful. But networking can be used for political activism and advocacy as well. Using technology and social media, young people can create effective virtual and actual communities to enhance their political participation and be more actively engaged in the political process. Grassroots organizing is the most elementary and one of the most effective methods of youth political action. Youth grassroots organizing won the day during the Civil Rights Movement fifty years ago, and it won the day in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria.

Become a voice for the voiceless. There are hundreds of millions of Africans whose voices are stolen at the ballot box every year and remain forgotten as political prisoners in the jails of Africa’s dictators. Corruption, abuse of power, lack of accountability and transparency are the hallmarks of many contemporary  African states. Young Africans must raise their voices and be heard on these issues. The great international human rights organizations are today the voices of the voiceless in Africa. They investigate the criminality of African regimes and present their findings to the world. Africa’s youths must take over part of the heavy lifting from these organizations. It is not fair to expect international human rights organizations to be the voice boxes of Africa’s masses.

Never give up. It is important for young people to appreciate and practice the virtues of tenacity, courage, determination and perseverance. In 1941, Winston Churchill speaking to young people at a school inspired them with these timeless words: “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” Churchill’s words ring true for every generation of young people everywhere. For Africa’s youth, the message is simple: “Never yield to force.”

Cause looking for Rebels

If I have any words of wisdom, it is that young Africans must rebel against apathy itself through a process of self-examination. I believe a successful rebellion against one’s own apathy will be the defining moment in the pursuit of the greatest cause of this generation, the struggle for human rights. The cause of human rights in Africa and elsewhere needs armies of young rebels to stand up in defense of human dignity, the rule of law and liberty and  against tyranny and despotism. To stand up for free and fair elections is to stand up for human rights. To fight for women’s rights is to fight for human rights. To defend children’s rights is to defend human rights. To uphold human rights is to uphold ethnic rights, religious rights, linguistic rights, free press rights, individual rights….

Ralph Nader, the implacable American consumer advocate warned: “To the youth of America, I say, beware of being trivialized by the commercial culture that tempts you daily. I hear you saying often that you’re not turned on to politics. If you do not turn on to politics, politics will turn on you.” That can be said equally of African youths. I say defend human rights, speak truth to power!

Think global, act local. Think local, act global.

[1] The HSA “aims to bring together people of Ethiopian and Eritrean descent (a/k/a Habeshas) at UCLA “by jointly organizing and sponsoring “cultural events, college workshops and community activities that promote the success of Habeshas at UCLA and the surrounding community.”  It also aims to provide a “forum to discuss issues, share ideas and simply connect on a peer-to-peer level.” I thank the UCLA-HSA for the opportunity to dialogue with them.]

Previous commentaries by the author are available at: www.huffingtonpost.com/alemayehu-g-mariam/ and http://open.salon.com/blog/almariam/

Over 70 percent of western Ethiopia is without power (photos)

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Ethiopian opposition group Tinsae Ethiopian Patriots Union has posted photos of the power lines that its members cut off on Friday. According to the group’s web site, over 70 percent of western Ethiopia continues to be without power today. The Ethiopian Electric and Power Authority (EEPCo) issued a news release yesterday saying that it is trying to restore power in the area. … [see photos and read more at Tinsae.org]

Opposition group cut power in western Ethiopia

Friday, May 20th, 2011

A large part of western Ethiopia is currently without power after Tinsae Ethiopia Patriots Union has cut electric power lines in Awi Zone last night. Mobile and landline phones have also stopped working due to the power outage. … (read more at Tinsae.org)

Organizing BEKA

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

A successful nonviolent struggle requires ongoing organizational efforts in the following areas:

THE PUBLIC:
▪ Publicizing facts and grievances.
▪ Promoting sympathy.
VOLUNTEERS:
▪ Recruiting.
▪ Training, incorporating into actions.
Promoting commitment.
LEADERSHIP:
▪ Developing leadership skills among the members.
▪ Preparing advance replacements for arrested leaders.
MOVEMENT IN GENERAL:
▪ Preparing training manuals.
▪ Preparing participants to act without leaders when necessary.
▪ Maintaining communications. … (read more)

Interview with Prof. Getachew Begashaw (video)

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

ESAT interviews prominent economist Prof. Getachew Begashaw on Ethiopian economy. Watch below:

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Encounter with gilgel Woyannes

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

By Yilma Bekele

It is only four weeks ago when a few of us drove down from Oakland to San Jose to attend the public meeting called by the Ethiopian regime. We don’t really recognize the current Ethiopian regime as a democratically elected representative of the people, thus one of the reasons for our trip was to peacefully protest this illegal event and at the same time teach our own people and the American citizen regarding the nature of the TPLF regime and cry loudly for the voiceless, the silenced ones.

It was a sad event. Protesting against ones own people is never easy. It feels like washing one’s dirty linen in public. But it has to be done. Silence is our number one enemy. I agree with Elie Wiesel who wrote ‘Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.’ They tried to silence us by calling the police. The police told them ‘it is a free country and we can protest to our hearts content as long as we don’t infringe upon the freedom of others.’ They picked and choose who can attend and refused entry to some they defined as un-desirable. During question and answer time they decided who gets the microphone. We watched them in amazement. It was a choreographed event with no soul, no love and no life. It was a cadre convention. The blind leading the blind is what we saw.

We drove down to San Jose one more time this weekend. You can tell this trip was different. Everybody was in a festive mood. It was a bright beautiful Saturday and the gathering of all this Ethiopians to do good made it brighter. We drove fast. We shouted and we argued in good nature and San Jose got a lot closer this time around. This time we were attending a fundraising event for ESAT. Dr. Berhanu and Ato Tamagne were the invited guests. We were driving mad to help support the voice of freedom. As Dr. Berhanu said ‘our own Aljazeera.’

When people work with passion they do miracles. The mother of all Ethiopian flags was brought out and computer, projector and sound were weaved out of thin air. Ethiopians showed up on time. Some showed up early. I believe we are onto something. You can tell this meeting was different. No one was impatient. They just kept arriving. We kept adding more chairs.

And thenTamagne showed up on the stage. He does not have to do anything. His presence was enough. You can feel over three hundred brains working in harmony. They all show heightened sense of happiness and this uncontrollable urge to scream with delight. I was standing in the back and I saw them being electrified. People sat up straight. They were all smiling. To frown would have been totally rude and out of place. Tamagne exudes Ethiopia. Tamagne knows how to work that. What is fact and what is fiction gets blurred. The joke becomes a ‘Eureka’ moment and you start to see what is right in front you. He gets you totally immersed in the story the message sips in by osmosis. I told you he is good. He had the place in perfect sync. You know what? You can’t get enough of Tamagne.

I was worried. Dr. Berhanu is next and how do you follow Tamagne. That is the Ethiopian in me, always anxious. Well, it was all for nothing. Our Dr. has this rare ability to relate. Dr. Berhanu has perfected the art of reducing stuff into their simplest form. That must be the teacher in him. When he speaks he talks to you. He connects the dots and one start to see the picture. Please don’t ask him to finish it for you. He will send you to remedial class. Ask Meles he will tell you. Dr. Berhanu deals with facts not rumors. He tells you as it is not as the way you would like to see it. He does not evade question but meets it head on. You get to see why he is loved and respected by so many while he brings out the hate in some. The professor does not suffer fools gladly.

ESAT was celebrated as never before. The whole house was in such euphoric mood and the Ying and the Yang were in perfect harmony. Contributions for ESAT came like tis esat falls. It was raining money. Guess who shows up to prove the need for a free and independent press in Ethiopia? None other than our unfriendly neighborhood Woyane that is who. It was a perfect picture. The same folks that were standing outside and pointing out Ethiopians that are not allowed to attend their meeting four weeks earlier and the person that was on the podium with the TPLF officials as chairman were sitting comfortably in our festival. We were happy to see them. Not a soul asked them to leave. We saw it as a teachable moment.

Our Woyanes were in a hostile mood. They were ready for question and answer moment. They assumed we would deny them the microphone. They were taken by surprise. Our microphone was awarded on first come basis. You raise your hand first and you are the first to ask. When their turn came they were given the microphone. Their first questioner decided ‘insulting’ the house was the best strategy. Poor Abbay was the foil. Our grand father looking Woyane told the house to be thankful because in his own words ‘before Meles showed up we were not even aware of Abay’! Yes he said that and he was allowed to say it. You can feel the tension in the assembly but not a soul moved to object to such verbal aggression. He was provoking us. He was in search of chaos. We were more irritated than angry.

A few questioners later the second Woyane decided to change tactics. First he complained the way Dr. Berhanu answered his friend’s question and said ‘I found your answer condescending’ and went on and on some tirade. Since he was not asking but rather making a long statement he was asked to please hurry up since others were waiting for their turn. He was not interested in a dialogue but went on to hurl more insults in a loud manner. That was the feather that broke the camels back. Our friend was hauled out unceremoniously. His comrades tried to intervene but it was futile. The door was closed and the meeting continued as if nothing happened. TPLF cadres do not seem to understand that being allowed to ask a question is a privilege not a right.

The fact we are raising money for independent media for our motherland speaks a lot. We are not investors looking for profit. We do not have any agenda of our own that we are trying to pursue. Out two guests traveled across the continent for free. We are doing all this because independent media is not allowed in Ethiopia. Our country is only one of a handful on this planet where the government deicide what the citizen hears, watches and views. The regime controls all media. That was why we got together to raise money for ESAT. That is Ethiopian Satellite Television. ESAT is the fruit of some patriotic Ethiopians that donated their time and money to this noble cause. ESAT is not affiliated with any party or ideology but the truth.

ESAT has been under siege since birth. Meles Zenawi vowed in public to cripple ESAT. Based on his own admission his salary is not enough to wage a war against ESAT. He was vowing to use the taxpayer’s money to wage his private war. Believe me a country is a formidable enemy. Poor ESAT has been tossed around like a boat in stormy seas. First it was ArabSat but Meles and company checkmated with our beloved Sheik, then onto Thailand and AsiaSat, crap the Chinese probably launched the Satellite and the orbit requires a special gizmo on the dish. Well that is not good is it? It is like announcing ‘here Mr. Woyane look at me.’ ESAT is on the third or forth satellite. You know what ESAT is still alive because so many wish it to succeed. ESAT defines our common dream of Independence. ESAT is the voice of freedom.

Our gathering was to raise funds for ESAT. Because the Meles regime denies the citizen to be informed by independent media we are compelled to use our limited resources to combat censorship. Today we have millions of people starving, millions of kids with out vaccination, millions without adequate schools, teachers or books but the regime is spending millions to block ESAT and our independent Web sites.

The Meles regime does that because we let them. There is no victimizer without a victim. History shows victimizer will not relent without the victim demanding it. Some enable the victimizer by their silence while a few due to lack of the moral strength to stand up to bullies. Meles and a few of his friends decide the fate of eighty million people. We make all kinds of excuses for our failure to stand up for what is right. We make the argument for him to cover our fear and cowardice. We allow less than a thousand cadres lord it over eighty million souls. It is a shame.

The gelgel Woyanes that showed up at our fund raising were doing what comes naturally to cadres following orders. Their job is to show up and create chaos. Their aim is to insult, degrade and intimidate us. If it was in Ethiopia they will be armed.

ESAT will help us regain our self worth. Our Saturday afternoon festival was to enable our people get different perspective unfiltered by Woyane censors. Those that gathered that Saturday afternoon came to collect money so ESAT will do its job. There is a bright cloud of change coming to our country. That it is coming is not the question, the gist of the matter is, are we ready? I believe ESAT is one of the tools that will help create a well-informed and smart citizen. A conscious citizen is the best defense against tyrants and dictators. That is why the Ethiopian regime is hell bent in blocking ESAT and that is why we freedom lovers have vowed to make ESAT strong enough to penetrate their flimsy weak curtain. Go to http://www.ethsat.com/ and donate. Organize ESAT support group in your neighborhood and help ESAT. TPLF owns the Internet, television transmission, radio and newspaper and we got ESAT.

Legendary Ethiopian singer Yirga Dubale passed away

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

We are sad to report that popular Ethiopian singer Yirga Dubale has passed away yesterday at the age of 81. The legendary musician has been entertaining Ethiopians for the past 6 decades. He is well known for his traditional and patriotic songs. The following is one of his most popular songs.

$8 billion secretly taken out of Ethiopia – UN report

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Is there any question about who is taking the money out of the country? The Meles crime family has has been looting Ethiopia’s treasure for the past 20 years.

By TAMRAT G. GIORGIS

(Addis Fortune) — Ethiopia may be touted at international conferences on development agendas as one of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world, but it is also one of the top 10 out of the 45 least developed countries (LDCs) where foreign currency flows out in an illicit manner, worse than countries such as Sudan, Djibouti and Eritrea, a new study found.

Over 8.3 billion dollars left Ethiopia in 18 years after 1990, an amount comprising an average 3.6pc of its GDP, a damning and first of its kind study, conducted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), revealed last week.

This is part of the one trillion dollars that is believed to have left LDCs over the years covered by the study, an amount estimated to be 10 times larger than what these countries receive from rich countries in the form of official development assistance (ODA).

Ethiopia’s loss of over eight billion dollars in the past nearly two decades represents an average of 3.6pc of the amount it has received from its development partners during the same period, the study revealed.

The worst period was in 2006, when illicit funds representing 9.2pc of foreign assistance for the year, amounting to 1.4 billion Br, was believed to have left the country.

Bangladesh stands above any of these countries found to be victims of the illicit outflow of foreign currency; it has lost 34.7 billion dollars (equal to 3.4pc of its GDP) to illicit money transfers, followed by Angola, which lost 34 billion dollars, 10.9pc of its GDP.

“This money could be used for the countries’ development efforts,” Helen Clark, UNDP administrator, said at a panel discussion held in Istanbul, Turkey, on the side of the UN’s fourth conference on LDCs.

The 63-page report by the UNDP was released on the afternoon of Wednesday, May 11, 2011, where Abdella Hamdok, an expert on the issue from the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), was one of the panellists.

“It is an excellent report that has managed to capture the extent of the problem,” she said.

Although there are 49 countries listed as LDCs, and 45 of them were covered under the study, 70pc of the illicit outflows of funds as “any money that is illegally gained, transferred, or received” originated from Africa, according to Hamdok.

Another finding of the report that raised eyebrows among panellists was the revelation that the usual suspects of African dictators and their cronies do not have as much part in the money laundering scheme as members of the private sector. A staggering 79pc of money laundering out of these countries was funnelled through what the studies described as the “mispricing of trade.”

The mispricing of trade involves businesses under or over invoicing of their merchandise, according to Clark.

“When a ton of bananas is sold for a dollar, but the invoice says 50 dollar cents, the other half is slashed to be sent to an offshore account,” said Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, a former senior official from South Africa who now serves UNDP as director of Democratic Governance Group.

The source of illicit money is tax evasion and an attempt to launder the gains through the international financial system, according to the UNDP study.

“That there is a lack of adequate global tax monitoring and the absence of information sharing has contributed to the outflow,” said Moleketi.

Macroeconomic problems such as high inflation, structural characteristics of an economy including non-inclusiveness of growth, and overall governance issues such as political instability were blamed by the UNDP experts as the reasons behind money laundering from poor countries.

Ethiopia, sharing all or some of these factors, lost an annual average of 491 million dollars over 18 years, the study disclosed. The highest amount to have fled the country, 2.1 billion dollars, was recorded in 2008.

It claims nearly eight per cent of the country’s GDP registered that year, according to the UNDP study.

Ethiopia’s loss of foreign currency to money laundering between 1990 and 2008 was 1.2 points below the 4.8pc average recorded for all the countries covered in the study, while 27 of these countries are above this average which bleeds their economy. Chad is the biggest prey with a loss of 15.4 billion dollars (27.3pc of its GDP).

Government representatives at the discussion were advised by the UNDP officials to modernise their customs systems and undertake public administration reforms to provide expertise to fight money laundering. No Ethiopian government delegate was present; while over 30 had arrived in Istanbul, they left the day before.

Apart from an Ethiopian working for the UN and stationed in New York, there were two other Ethiopians in the room where the discussion took place. Among them was a shareholder of a prominent importing company in Ethiopia, Garad Plc. They had also left before the recommendations of the UNDP were read out.

Statement of solidarity with striking taxi drivers in Ethiopia

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

PRESS RELEASE

The Global Civic Movement for Change in Ethiopia welcomes the strike that has just been started by taxi drivers in Addis Ababa. We support it because it reflects the grievances of the people of Ethiopia, and it is peaceful. It is part of the resistance against the minority regime that has been in power for 20 years through brute force and fraudulent elections.

In 1974 the Imperial regime was removed from power through the peaceful protest of all Ethiopians. During the election related crisis of 2005, taxi drivers supported the pro-democracy movement. Today, they are reminding us that change is possible. We, therefore, fully support the strike, the first of its kind since the brutal suppression of mass uprising in 2005 by Zenawi’s security forces. We call upon all Ethiopians to conquer their fear, stand together and support the demands of the taxi drivers. Their demands are as much political as they are economic.

The brutal regime has already started to suppress the peaceful protest. It has confiscated some taxis, and imprisoned drivers. We condemn this lawless act in the strongest possible terms. We call upon all sectors of Ethiopian society, –the youth, students, workers, merchants, civil servants, farmers — to stand in solidarity with the Taxi drivers, wage a sustained and all inclusive civil resistance and withdraw all forms of cooperation from the dictatorial regime of Meles Zenawi.

Freedom, Justice and Democracy for the people of Ethiopia!

Beka! Geye! Yiakel! Bass! Wetandem! Aloni, Diiteh! Gides!

Freedom, justice, equality for the People of Ethiopia! Victory to the people of Ethiopia!

For more information contact: Ethiopians.say.beka@gmail.com

Youth group express solidarity with the taxi drivers in Ethiopia

Monday, May 16th, 2011

PRESS RELEASE

The Ethiopian Youth Movement expresses its solidarity with Ethiopian taxi drivers who went out on strike on Monday to protest the unbearable working conditions that have been imposed on them by the regime in Ethiopia.

We believe that now is the time to bring about change and democracy to our country. We are fully aware that our destiny is in our hands. We are also inspired by our peers in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere.

During the 1974 revolution, Ethiopian taxi drivers played a key role in pressuring the government and soon their protest spread to other sectors of the society. Paired with mass demonstrations and general expression of dissatisfaction by the people, the taxi strike helped the Ethiopian youth to overthrow the regime. Unfortunately, the revolution was then hijacked by power hungry dictators.

This time we can and we will change the faith of our country for the better. Strikes in various sectors of Ethiopia are a necessary tool for defeating the corrupt regime and propelling the movement forward.

This time the taxi drivers of Addis Ababa are taking the lead by withholding their crucial services in the city. The Ethiopian Youth Movement fully supports the taxi drivers’ strike in Addis Ababa and we have already asked all our members in Ethiopia to support it as well.

The first massive demonstration against Meles Zenawi’s regime will be taking place on May 28th (20th anniversary of Meles Zenawi’s dictatorial rule in Ethiopia) in Addis Ababa. It will be the largest demonstration that our country has yet seen. We also call upon all Ethiopians to support the taxi drivers’ strike and begin the cascade of strikes in other sectors of our society as well.

We call upon Ethiopian students, farmers, workers, civil servants, businessmen and women, professionals, political organizations, civic organizations, religious leaders, and men and women in uniform to join the youth movement to remove the dictatorship.

In unity we shall find freedom and a brighter future for our Ethiopia.
Ethiopian Youth Movement
E-mail: ethiorevolution@gmail.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=107472902664461

Ghaddafi arrest requested by ICC; Zenawi next?

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Libya: ICC prosecutor seek warrant for Gaddafi

(BBC) — International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo (4 May 2011) Mr Moreno-Ocampo’s office reviewed more than 1,200 documents and 50 interviews.

The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor is seeking the arrest of Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi and two others for crimes against humanity.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo said Col Gaddafi, his son Seif al-Islam, and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanusi bore the greatest responsibility for “widespread and systematic attacks” on civilians.

ICC judges must still decide whether or not to issue warrants for their arrest.

The Libyan government has already said it will ignore the announcement.

Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid Kaim said the court was a “baby of the European Union designed for African politicians and leaders” and its practices were “questionable”.

Libya did not recognise its jurisdiction, like most African countries and the United States, and would ignore any announcement, he added.
‘Greatest criminal responsibility’

Earlier, Mr Moreno-Ocampo’s office said that after reviewing more than 1,200 documents and 50 interviews with key insiders and eyewitnesses, he would request later on Monday that the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber issue three arrest warrants.

The men are suspected of committing two categories of crimes against humanity – murder and persecution – under the Rome Statute which established the court.

The charges cover the days following the start of anti-government protests on 15 February.
Protester in Tobruk (24 February 2011) The application is expected to focus on the initial clampdown against protesters in February

“The evidence shows that Libyan security forces conducted widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population and led to the identification of those who bear the greatest criminal responsibility for such crimes,” a statement from the prosecutor’s office said.

“Additionally, there is relevant information on alleged commission of war crimes once the situation developed into an armed conflict. The office will evaluate these crimes with the same standards, in particular allegations of rape and attacks against sub-Saharan Africans wrongly perceived to be mercenaries.”

An inquiry set up by the UN Human Rights Council is expected to submit its report on the alleged war crimes to the UN Security Council on 7 June.

The application for warrants is expected to focus on the initial clampdown against protesters by Col Gaddafi’s government. Between 500 and 700 people are believed to have been killed in February alone.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo said he was acting in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 1970, which referred the situation in Libya to the ICC, and stressed the need to hold to account those responsible for attacks on civilians.

The Pre-Trial Chamber’s judges may decide to accept the prosecutor’s application, reject it, or ask him for additional information.

If Col Gaddafi is named, it would only be the second time the ICC has sought a warrant for a sitting head of state. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has been indicted for crimes including genocide in Darfur.
Nato ‘abuses’

Meanwhile, the Libyan government has condemned British calls for Nato to bomb a wider range of infrastructure targets to put pressure on Col Gaddafi.
Continue reading the main story

If we do not up the ante now there is a risk that the conflict could result in Gaddafi clinging to power”

Gen David Richards UK Chief of the Defence Staff

Benghazi: ‘We’re all volunteers now’

A spokesman said the comments by the Chief of the Defence Staff, Gen Sir David Richards, was a threat “aimed at terrorising civilians”.

Gen Richards told the Sunday Telegraph: “The vise is closing on Gaddafi, but we need to increase the pressure further through more intense military action”.

“The military campaign to date has been a significant success for NATO and our Arab allies. But we need to do more. If we do not up the ante now there is a risk that the conflict could result in Gaddafi clinging to power.”

UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox said he agreed with Gen Richards, telling the BBC: “It’s legitimate to degrade the command and control and intelligence networks of the regime which are used to control those forces and provide that threat.”

Libyan Prime Minister al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi later told the UN’s special envoy, Abdul Ilah al-Khatib, that his country wanted “an immediate ceasefire to coincide with a halt to the Nato bombardment and the acceptance of international observers”, according to the Jana state news agency.

Libya, he added, was committed to the unity of its territory and people and that Libyans had the right to “decide on their internal affairs and political system through democratic dialogue away from the bombing threat”.

Mr Mahmoudi accused Nato of “abuses and violations”, including “political assassinations, the unjust maritime siege, bombing of civilian sites and destruction of infrastructure”.

Overnight, Libyan state television reported said Nato aircraft had bombed an oil terminal in the eastern port of Ras Lanuf.

The alleged strike came after rebel fighters said they had taken full control of the western city of Misrata and said the situation was now “static”.

Ethiopian Review 20th Anniversary Celebrations – DC

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Ethiopia
This year, Ethiopian Review is celebrating its 20th year of service and commitment to the global Ethiopian community by organizing various informational, educational and fund-raising activities. The anniversary events will be launched at a special event to be held on July 2, 2011, in Washington DC.

In its first decade of service, Ethiopian Review has been a source of information and critical analysis for all Ethiopians and provided a readily available print outlet for Ethiopian scholars and commentators. Over the past decade, Ethiopian Review has been the global cyber gathering place for all Ethiopians seeking critical analysis and investigative reporting.

Ethiopian Review is grateful for the financial and moral support it has received from all Ethiopians and others as it evolved to become a strong voice for human rights, democracy and accountability in Ethiopia. We are most grateful to our friends and supporters for making Ethiopian Review the foremost information source on Ethiopia for many years running.

Ethiopian Review has clear vision and sense of purpose. First and foremost, we recognize the struggle of the Ethiopian people for freedom is just and sacred. Ethiopian Review will continue to support the struggle in no uncertain terms, as we have done so for the last 20 years. We have come this far through the undying love and support of our readers and our dedicated staff who work day and night.

As we celebrate our 20th anniversary and achievements, we are also deeply mindful of the enormous tasks that face all Ethiopians in bringing about a democratic and just society based on the rule of law. We hope to renew and reaffirm our commitment to the struggle for democracy, freedom and accountability in Ethiopia and provide an open forum for all to join the debate and articulate competing ideas and perspectives towards those ends.

Ethiopian Review continues to believe that its contribution to the causes of political pluralism, civil liberties, fundamental human rights and the rule of law in our country depends on an organic link with the forces of democracy at home and others around the globe. Ethiopian Review will mobilize intellectual, technical, managerial, financial and material resources for this just and right cause.

We ask all friends and supporters of Ethiopian Review to join us at a special event launching our 20th anniversary on July 2, 2011.

Place: Washington Ethical Society
Address: 7750 16th Street NW, Washington DC 20012
Ticket: $50 (tickets can be purchased online. Please click on the button below, or click here.

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For those who are unable to attend the anniversary event in Washington D.C., we ask for your participation and support by purchasing one or more tickets. Ticket sales will be used to pay the costs of setting the anniversary events and support Ethiopian Review’s 2011 Expansion Plan.

Taxi drivers in Ethiopia go on strike

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa is hit with a work stoppage by taxi drivers today. Most taxi drivers have stayed home this morning, causing a massive transportation disruption in the city. Many residents are observed walking to work. The taxi drivers are protesting the unbearable cost of living and a recent regulation that limits them to certain areas of the city.

German Radio Amharic Service has this report (listen here – Amharic).

Addis Ababa taxi strike
[Photo: Awramba Times]

Africa: Is the World Growing Honest?

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Alemayehu G. Mariam

Is the World Growing Honest or Doomsday Near?

I encountered the tantalizing headline unexpectedly: “Bold Words From British Government Representative”. Britain’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, Norman Ling, said:

We should not be giving aid to African dictators, but there is a lot of public support in Britain for spending money on people who are demonstrably poor.

“African dictators? No aid?” Do my eyes deceive me?

For a fleeting moment, I recalled some lines from Shakespeare.

Hamlet: “What news?”

Rosencrantz: “None my Lord, but that the world’s grown honest.”

Hamlet: “Then is doomsday near, but your news is not true?”

Diplomats are famous for double-talk, gobbledygook and twaddle, not straight talk. Bluntly honest and sincere words from a living, breathing diplomat?

Is the world growing honest or doomsday near?

It was Sir Henry Wooton, another English ambassador centuries ago, who said, “An ambassador is an honest gentleman sent to lie abroad for the good of his country.”

Not so for Ambassador Ling! He told the truth on behalf of his country and Ethiopia:

Under our new programme, we will be adding a new element called ‘wealth creation,’ which is designed to particularly support the private sector (in Ethiopia)…. That sends a signal that most of our money, which has been channeled through government channels, will now be channeled through private channels.

Bravo! Ambassador Ling. “Way to go!”, as the Yanks would say!

I just love straight talk, no bull. Ambassador Ling’s words were music to my ears:

I do not know how long it [aid] will continue. What I can say is that we are not entirely happy with political governance here; that is an issue for us. We believe it is also an issue for Ethiopians. As we see elsewhere in the world, sustainable development is achieved only if you have good political governance. Ethiopia’s political governance needs to improve.

We do not have a fully functioning democracy here. What we have is, as the ruling party has made clear, a dominant party model.

Elections should be free, fair, and transparent. The opposition should be given more space. The media should be given more space to report and more protection when it does so.

We would like to see greater freedoms enshrined in the laws of this country so that people know if they went to court if a case was brought against them, the courts will be truly free and fair [in their rulings]. There are many areas where we believe the political, legal, and judicial systems need to improve…

Ambassador Ling did not mince his words when it came to the Ethiopian opposition:

One reason why we have not seen the political diversity that Ethiopia requires is the weakness of the opposition parties since 2005. That is regrettable. Every government needs an effective opposition. While they do not always welcome it, they need it. That is holding back Ethiopia’s broader development. Economic and social development does not happen in isolation. It needs a challenge that a democratic system provides. I hope that will happen.

In other words, a divided, disunited, disorganized, disassembled and discombobulated opposition is not part of the solution in Ethiopia.

Touché!

How I Wish to Hear a Little Straight Talk From U.S. Ambassador Donald Booth

The U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, Donald Booth, has been soft-pedaling his way straight to  Zenawi’s palace. Just before  the publication of the latest U.S. State Department Country Human Rights Reports (April 8, 2011), Booth said: “The Ethiopian people have accepted the outcome of this election. It is not our job to challenge their wisdom in that.”

Excuse me?!?

Either Mr. Booth does not read or agrees with Zenawi’s characterization of the U.S. Human Rights Country Reports on Ethiopia as “lies, lies and implausible lies”. The recent report on Ethiopia documented, among other things, “significant increases in arbitrary arrest and detention in the pre-election period”, abuse of “humanitarian assistance as incentives to secure support for the ruling coalition”, obstruction of “independent observation of elections, including restrictions of accredited diplomats to the capital and barring them from proximity to polling places,” the existence of “ample evidence that unfair government tactics–including intimidation of opposition candidates and supporters–influenced the extent of [the 99.6 percent may election] victory, the absence of a “a level playing field for opposition parties” and the prevalence of a “climate of apprehension and insecurity” in the country.

Mr. Booth seems conveniently oblivious of the fact that his own embassy drafted the recent human rights report which “challenges” both the “wisdom” and claims in the “outcome of that election”.

Anyway, on which planet did they say Mr. Booth is an ambassador?!?

Since his arrival in Ethiopia last year, Mr. Booth has been pontificating on all sorts of things. Recently, he said that in East and the Horn of Africa the “military can play an important role in supporting positive change and stability”, and stressed the “need for the U.S. to build a strong and mutually beneficial partnership with African countries.” During his confirmation hearing last year, Mr. Booth promised Africa Subcommittee Chair Senator Russ Feingold he would look into  allegations of human rights abuses in the Ogaden region of eastern Ethiopia.  In December 2010,  he journeyed to Dire Dawa in the Ogaden region to deliver books, inspect drilling projects and celebrate the renovation of the Teferi Mekonnen Palace in Harar. He did not have time to stop by and chat about war crimes and crimes against humanitywith the Ogadenis. What a shame!

A few years ago when we undertook a broad advocacy effort to help pass H.R. 2003 (Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act), the idea was to leverage U.S. aid to promote respect for human rights, institutionalize the rule of law and strengthen democratic institutions and processes in Ethiopia, very much the types of things Ambassador Ling was talking about. Among the key provisions of H.R. 2003 included:

Release and/or speedy trial of all political prisoners in the country.

Prosecution of persons who have committed gross human rights violations.

Provision of financial support to strengthen human rights and civil society groups.

Support for the creation of an independent judiciary and growth of an independent media.

Facilitation of access to the Ogaden region by humanitarian organizations.

Strengthening of local, regional, and national legislative bodies.

Support for dialogue and negotiated settlement of political disputes.

Support for civil society groups and election comission.

Spring in North Africa, Still Winter in Sub-Sahara Africa

The events in North Africa may have taught the U.S. and the West a few lessons. First, their “expert analysis” could be terribly wrong. It is perfectly possible for a peaceful, popular uprising to overthrow decades-old dictatorships. Second, the West cannot afford to blindly support African dictators in the name of “stability”. A powder keg is stable until the fuse is ignited. It took the self-immolation of Mohammed Bouazizi to trigger the explosion of the Tunisian powder keg. Dormant political volcanoes do erupt unpredictably, and it did in Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria. Countries like Ethiopia may seem peaceful and dormant but they remain firmly within the North African “ring of fire”. The compressed powder keg of ethnic grievances, seething anger over injustices and accumulated resentment and bitterness will explode without warning. What is happening in North Africa and the Middle East today is a bellwether of what is likely to happen in the Horn and the rest of Africa.

U.S. policy has been consistent in supporting African dictators come hell or high water. The challenge for U.S. policy in Africa will be how it should respond to youth cynicism and disillusionment with dictatorship. Young Africans are sick of the corruption, cronyism, patronage, favoritism and abuse of power of the self-absorbed dictators. Sooner or later Africa’s youth “bulge” will burst and sweep away the decaying African dictatorships. Can African youths  rely on President Obama’s promise who, in reassuring Egyptian youth said: “A new generation, your generation who want their voices to be heard, and so going forward we want those young people and all Egyptians to know America will continue to do everything we can to support an orderly and genuine transition to democracy in Egypt.” Will America support an orderly and genuine transition to democracy in Ethiopia, Kenya, Ivory Coast, the Sudan… ? Listening to Mr. Booth, the answer is a resounding “Hell, No!”

When the Americans issued their Declaration of Independence from England in 1776, they protested the “absolute tyranny and despotism” of the “present King of Great Britain” in the American colonies. It is refreshing to hear an English ambassador protest absolute tyranny and despotism in Ethiopia in 2011 and speak boldly about ending aid to it and all other tyrannical African regimes.

Money Talks and Everything Else Walks

Few Africans have illusions about Western condemnation of African dictators and promises of support for democracy, freedom and human rights. Perhaps the “doomsday” in North Africa is giving the West a new perspective on blindly supporting dictators. Regardless, it is refreshing to hear straight diplomatic talk like Ambassador Ling’s (though honest diplomatic talk may be an oxymoron). The Yanks are actually very good when it comes to straight talk. They say, “Talk is cheap.” When they really want to drive the point home, they say “Put your money where your mouth is.”  Ambassador Ling says, “No money for African dictators!” I say, right on! “Now, put your money where your mouth is!”

Previous commentaries by the author are available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alemayehu-g-mariam/ and http://open.salon.com/blog/almariam/

 

 

Ethiopians overwhelm Mozambique refuge camps

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

Thousands of Ethiopian and Somali asylum seekers trying to make their way to South Africa have been marooned in overcrowded camps in northern Mozambique since the government introduced measures limiting their movements.

The Maratane Refugee Camp in Nampula Province, which normally accommodates around 5,500 long-term residents from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Rwanda, now has a population of over 10,000, while an additional 1,000 asylum seekers are staying at a temporary site in the coastal town of Palma, near the border with Tanzania.

“We did our best to expand facilities – building additional shelters, [drilling] boreholes, and by procuring food and non-food items, but given the sheer volume of the numbers, we’re obviously overwhelmed,” said Girma Gebre-Kristos, country representative of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Mozambique.

A steady stream of Ethiopians and Somalis started arriving in Mozambique in 2010, mostly by boat, but as long as the number of new arrivals at the Maratane Camp roughly equalled the number of departures, authorities were able to cope, Gebre-Kristos told IRIN.

However, this changed unexpectedly at the beginning of 2011, when the number of new arrivals increased significantly and the government of Mozambique put in place strict measures controlling the movements of asylum seekers outside the camp.

Gebre-Kristos said groups of Somalis and Ethiopians making their way south towards the border with South Africa had been picked up by police and returned to Maratane.

Aderito Matangala, acting head of the National Institute for Refugee Assistance (INAR), the local government counterpart of UNHCR, explained that while the law in Mozambique allowed asylum seekers freedom of movement, they first had to complete a registration process at the camp, which took three months.

“The existing law gives [asylum seekers] freedom of movement even before being granted refugee status,” Matangala told IRIN, and many Somali and Ethiopian asylum seekers chose to come to Mozambique because of its reputation for treating refugees well.

“My personal view is that not all of them want to go to South Africa,” he said, noting that some of the new arrivals were economic migrants rather than genuine asylum seekers.

Reports in recent weeks that the local police commander in Palma had deported about 150 Somali and Ethiopian asylum seekers to Tanzania, and that four Somali asylum-seekers were shot dead by border police on 29 April in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique’s most northerly province, suggest that police and immigration officials are not always aware of their country’s obligations to asylum seekers. The government is investigating the shooting and the deportations.

UNHCR and INAR are appealing for help to deal with the food, shelter, water and sanitation needs of the new arrivals in Maratane and Palma. So far the World Food Programme and the Mozambique Red Cross have stepped in with contributions of tents and food.

However, the situation in Palma remains dire. The camp is located next to a swampy, mosquito-infested area with no potable water, but Gebre-Kristos said an alternative location had been identified and would be ready soon.

Besides a lack of infrastructure, the Maratane Camp is struggling to balance the needs of the new arrivals with those of more established residents from the Great Lakes region, many of whom are involved in self-reliance projects and no longer need food assistance.

By contrast, said Gebre-Kristos, the newer residents were often “frustrated and angry young men who think their journey to South Africa has been interrupted”.

(Source: IRIN)

The four factors that must concide for toppling a Dictator

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Broad-based popular mobilization is difficult to achieve because it requires bridging the disparate interests of the urban and rural poor, the middle class, students, professionals, and different ethnic or religious groups… [read more]

In memory of Ethiopian patriot, Sultan Alimirah

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

By Amb. Kadafo Mohamed Hanfare

Sultan Ali Mirah Hanfare (1921 – 2011) was born in Awsa, Ethiopia in a village called Fursee. He was born to father, Hanfare Aydahis and mother Hawy Omar In the early 1920s. His grandfather Mohammed Hanfare Illalta was a famous king of Afar who participated in the Adwa battle with the Emperor Minilik against the Italians. He also defeated the invading Egyptian army led by Ismail Basha to conquer Ethiopian lands. Sultan Alimirah himself, as a young man in Awsa, joined the group of young Ethiopians who resisted the Italian occupation of Ethiopia. After the defeat of Italy by the Ethiopians, Sultan Alimirah together with his brother in law Yayo Hamadu were amongst the Afar people who welcomed the victorious return of the Emperor HaileSelassie in Addis Ababa.

At that time Mohamed Yayo, the uncle of Sultan Alimirah, was the Sultan of Awsa. The Afar elders, however, including Yayo Hamadu, suggested that the young Alimirah replace his uncle as Amoyta (Sultan). Emperor HaileSelassie accepted their recommendation and gave the title of Dajazmach to Sultan Alimirah and the title of Fitawrare to his brother-in-law Yayo Hamadu. He also gave them a well trained brigade from his bodyguard army, headed by a general in case Sultan Mohamed resisted to handover power to his nephew. After several days of journeying, they arrived in Aysaita in the dark of the night. They spent the night in Aysaita while Sultan Alimirah stayed behind. Fitawrari Yayo Hamadu and his followers together with the trained military officers who accompanied them, left for Hinale, where the palace of Sultan Mohamed was located. The next morning, however, the resistance they were faced with was not as expected. They found Sultan Mohamed sick on his bed. So the military officers who accompanied Sultan Alimirah took Sultan Mohammed to Addis Ababa while Hamadu stayed behind.

In 1945, Sultan Alimirah officially became the Amoyta (Sultan) of the Afar people. What happened to Sultan Mohamed Yayo, however, is a story that will be discussed some other time.

After becoming the Sultan, Alimirah was faced with several challenges. His aim was to create a peaceful and united environment for all Ethiopians everywhere, and for the Afar people, in particular. He worked to bring modern education, agricultural and economical development to the towns in Awsa. Towards the end of the 1960s Awsa became a prosperous area in Ethiopia. A lot of Afars became cotton farmers and settled in Aysaita, Dubti, Baadu and Daat Bahari. Many Ethiopians from the other regions also became farmers and settled in several areas of the Afar region. The sultan established The Awsa Farmers Association and borrowed money from the Addis Ababa bank, whose general manager, Ato Debebe Yohanes, was the his personal friend. Together they invested a lot of money in Awsa and the Baadu areas, also distributing money amongst farmers. At that time, Awsa was known as the “little Kuwait” because of its prosperity.

In 1974 when the Derg took power in Addis Ababa and invaded Awsa in June of that year, the sultan left behind over 60 tractors, 8 bulldozers and 3 Cessna planes. One of the three Cessna planes was piloted by the Sultan’s cousin, a trained Afar pilot by the name of Hanfare Ali Gaz.

Seventeen years later when Derg was defeated and the sultan returned to Ethiopia none of those things existed anymore, several people had been killed and many things destroyed. The sultan tried to start from scratch but things were very tough.

In 1972, Sultan Alimirah was invited to visit the USA by the USAID through the State Department visitors program. I was one of the 3 Afars who was fortunate to accompany his highness the Sultan. Myself, his personal assistant Ali Ibrahim Yusef, his personal advisor, Hashim Jamal Ashami, interpreter, the sultan himself and the state department escort all visited 15 states during our stay.

One of the 15 states we visited was Chicago, Illinois, were the sultan visited operation push, later called the Rainbow coalition which was led by Jesse Jackson, a well known African American activist at that time. When the Sultan arrived there, he was given a standing ovation as he talked about the Ethiopian history and his admiration of the leadership of Emperor HaileSelassie. The sultan was extremely impressed by this. The Sultan also visited, Elijah Mohamed, leader of “The Black Muslims” at that time and also met several state department officials. On our visit to Lubbock, Texas, we were given Honorary American citizenship by the mayor of the city.

The American government, and the American people we visited with the late sultan were very welcoming and greeted us with great hospitality. The sultan expressed his extreme gratitude to the government of America and its people to the United States Ambassador in Addis Ababa at that time. Very impressed with his visit, he called America the land of “milk and healthy young people.”

As we went to the different states, the sultan was constantly asking if any Ethiopians lived there. In those days, however, not many Ethiopian lived in the States, but we met many students at the several universities we visited. Forty-five days later the sultan left to visit London while I stayed behind to continue my education at the American University in Washington D.C. After His visit to London the Sultan returned back home.

In 1974, when the Derg came to power, Sultan Ali Mirah, being the reasonable man that he was, tried to reach some kind of understanding with the Derg leaders. Briefly he did succeed in reaching an understanding with the Derg when General Amman Andom was the leader. Unexpectedly, however, the Derg killed General Amman Andom and over 60 Ethiopian officials overnight. After that it became clear to him that it was impossible for him to work with them. The Sultan left Ethiopia through Djibouti to settle in Saudi Arabia, where King Khalid welcomed him and fifty of his followers.

During his stay in Saudi Arabia, he established The Afar Liberation Front (ALF) that was fighting the Derg regime for 17 years alongside TPLF, OLF, ELF, EPLF and several other Ethnic groups fighting against the Derg dictatorship.

In 1991, after the fall of the Derg dictatorship, the sultan returned to Ethiopia and attended the July 1991 Conference together with his two sons Hanfare and Ahmed Alimirah as representatives of ALF and the rest of the Afar people. I attended the conference as an Observer.

At the opening of the conference, the Sultan discovered that the Eritrean leaders did not wish to participate in the conference as representatives but as observers. This he later understood was because of their wish to create a separate nation. This was new to the sultan as he believed that after fighting Derg for so long, that they all had the same intention of creating a peaceful, democratic, united country with equality for all, but he was alarmed to see that this wasn’t the case. To argue the point with the rest of the conference members, he raised his hand to be recognized and to state his opinion. When the chairman refused to recognize his presence and allow him to speak, the sultan grabbed a microphone from beside him and said:

In my opinion this conference was not to dismember Ethiopia but to unite Ethiopia. A conference that discusses how to achieve, equality,justice,democracy and good governance for all Ethiopians. The Ethiopian people expect us to come out of this conference with a new government and democracy not two different nations.”

Isaias Afwerki, then leader of Eritrean People’s Liberation Front, stormed out of the room in anger.

The sultan then continued by saying that, “if Eritreans were allowed a referendum for their future that Ethiopians should also be allowed to decide, voices of the Afar people should have particular significance, as a part of Afar land was part of the Eritrean province. He also claimed that he never wished to see Ethiopia landlocked.”

The sultan lived everyday for Ethiopian unity and his loss was mourned by all of Ethiopia and neighboring countries.

I would like to take this opportunity as a dear family member and a dear friend of the sultan to thank all of those who have expressed their condolences through various means. I would like to personally assure all Ethiopians that we, the family of the Sultan – The Afar people, will follow in his footsteps and work for the peace and unity of the Ethiopian People!

(The writer can be reached at Kadafoh@hotmail.com)

Distorted ethnic federalism in Ethiopia

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

By Mohamed Hassen

In 1991, as the result of military ruling collapsed, Ethiopia established a federal system creating largely ethnic-based territorial units, its framers claiming they have found a formula to achieve ethnic and regional autonomy, while maintaining the state as political unit. The initial process of federalization lasted four years, and was formalized in a new constitution in 1995. The Ethiopian ethnic federal system is significant in that it provides for secession of any ethnic unit.

The leading party EPRDF consisted of four parties; although, TPLF led the regime. TPLF working hand-and-gloves with Eritrea rebel at the time had deliberately designed a controversial article 39 so that EPLF should have created its own government and it succeeded to make Ethiopia a country without a port.

The secession clause is one of the most controversial issues in public discourse in Ethiopia and its Diasporas communities today. The TPLF and EPLF soldiers had disarmed Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and put them in jail; even though, the honey moon of TPLF and EPLF did last for a short period and we all knew that they had bloody war that claimed the lives of 70 thousands innocent people in 2000.

Opponents of ethnic federalism fear that it invites ethnic conflict and risks state disintegration. The Ethiopian state, they worry, may face the same fate as the USSR and Yugoslavia. Others, of an ethno nationalist persuasion, doubt the government’s real commitment to self-determination; they support the ethnic federal constitution per se, but claim that it has not been put into practice. To many critics, the federal state is a de facto one-party state in which ethnic organizations are mere satellites of one ethnic organization, the Tigray Peoples Liberationits Front (hereafter referred to as TPLF), the leading unit in the ruling coalition, the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (hereafter referred to as EPRDF). Finally, those who consider Ethiopia to be a colonial empire sees the federal exercise as yet another colonial trick, and advocate “decolonization.” Supporters of ethnic federalism point out that it has maintained the unity of the Ethiopian peoples and the territorial integrity of the state, while providing full recognition to the principle of ethnic equality. It is important to examine objectively whether ethnic federalism is a viable way of resolving conflict between ethno nationalism and state nationalism. Now that the ethnic federal experiment is more than two decades old, it is possible to make a tentative evaluation of its performance. According to a reliable data, the ethnic conflicts have been exacerbated in the last two decades and more conflicts have been emerged in Ethiopia. The main ones are Somalis against Oromo, Oromo against Harari, Afar against Somalis and within Somalis, etc. ,

I posed a key question, not only about the conflict but about whether the current liberation fronts be it OLF, or ONLF should have the controversial secession sentiment is valid: “The question has hovered over Ethiopia Federal System from the moment the Deg regime collapsed whether TPLF, EPLF, ONLF or ONLF join their cousins fighting in its zone: Was the battle for Ethiopian power the clash of a brutal dictator against democratic opposition fronts, or was it fundamentally a tribal civil war?” The brute answer was a tribal civil war and all the fronts have shown their ugly heads once they got a power seat.

This is the essential question because there are two kinds of school of thoughts in Ethiopia: “real united country approach” with long histories in its territory and strong national identities (Amhara, Tigray, Oromo, Somali, Afar, Gurague etc); and those that might be called “tribes with bullets approach,” or more artificial regions with boundaries drawn in sharp straight lines by TPLF’s pen. Those have been trapped inside their regional borders myriad tribes and sects who have volunteered to live together for centuries and have fully melded into a unified family of citizens if they are not organized along the nation and nationalities line.

They are Somali Region, Afar Region, Amhara Region, Trigray Region, and Oromo Region to name a few. The nations and nationalities and sects that make up these more artificial regions have long been held together by the iron fist of EPRDF, kings or military dictators. They are no real “citizens” in the modern sense. They have been asked to forcefully endorsed the identity of their nation origin aka balkanization of apartheid South Africa.

The balkanization disease has not only gone through the people in homeland, but Ethiopians who live in Diaspora. On April 9, and 10, Ethiopian officials visited 14 cities in North America and discussed the so-called Growth Transformation Plan. According to a reliable information that I got from Minnesota, clash of clans had surfaced among the Somalis.

The President of Somali Region Abdi Mohamud Omar had welcomed his own sub clan Ali Ysuuf of Ogadeni and did not want to see any other Somali clans who inhabited in Somali Region. These had a created a tension among the six other Somali clans had formed an organization to fight under the banner of unity of Ethiopia and distanced themselves from the ethnicization. On one occasion, the President of Somali Abdi Mohamudd Omar had insulted the counselors in Washington DC Embassy because they did give a preference to his own sub-clan during the conference. It seems that the Meles regime is doing deliberately to foment tribal conflict so that he elongated his Power. For instance, Somali Region President has spent 90, thousands dollars during his visit to North America, but two millions Ethiopian Somalis are on the brink of starvation in Somali Region. The same thing is going in Somali Region. Many Somali clans had sent a letters of complain to the Federal Government. This attested how much the introduction of article 39 and zoning had destroyed the fabric of Ethiopian society. The people of Ethiopia had lived for centuries, intermarried and fought together to make Ethiopia a land that had never colonized. Currently, ONLF, OLF and G7 political Organizations are meeting in North America and we urged them to focus on the unity of Ethiopia to dismantle the dictatorial regime of Meles Zenawi and to echo the uprising of Arab World.

Finally, sadly, we can’t afford to divide Ethiopia along nations and nationalities line. We have got to get to work on our own country. If the Diaspora is ready to take some big, hard, urgent, decisions, shouldn’t they be first about fighting for freedom, justice and rule of law in Ethiopia? Shouldn’t he first be forging a real unity that will go beyond nations narrow outlook that weakens all the the unity and true Ethiopian identity and a budget policy that secures the Ethiopian dream for another generation? Once those are in place, I will follow the Meles and his gang to be routed out from the power seat as Mubarek and Ben Ali had been relegated to the history bin.

(The writer can be reached at mohamedhassen91@yahoo.com)

Inflation rate in Ethiopia rose to 30 percent

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

ADIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s year-on-year inflation rate rose for a second straight month to 29.5 percent in April, from 25.0 percent a month earlier, driven by a sharp rise in food prices, the statistics agency said on Tuesday.

“The total price index of cereals in April 2011 has increased by 14.6 percent as compared to the same month last year, which significantly contributed to the rise in the indices of food and the general consumer price index,” the Central Statistical Agency said in a statement.

Ethiopia’s regime has imposed price ceilings on more than a dozen commodities including some essential foodstuffs. Food accounts for just over 57 percent of the basket used to measure the inflation rate.

Regime officials have accused traders of artificially inflating food prices on the back of higher global prices and a September devaluation of the birr currency ETB=.

Ethiopia is grappling with rising inflation like other countries in Africa, including Uganda where spiraling food and fuel prices have led to protests.

(Reporting by Aaron Masho; Editing by Richard Lough and Susan Fenton)

Ethiopia: An Imaginary Conversation with Nelson Mandela

Monday, May 9th, 2011

Alemayehu G. Mariam

The Triumphalism of African Dictators

There is nothing that is both amusing and annoying than the chest-beating triumphalism of Africa’s tin pot dictators. This past February, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda lectured a press conference: “There will be no Egyptian-like revolution here. … We would just lock them up. In the most humane manner possible, bang them into jails land that would be the end of the story.” That is to say, if you crack a few heads and kick a few behinds, Africans will bow down and fall in line. Museveni must have been a protégé of Meles Zenawi, the dictator-in-chief in Ethiopia. In 2005, troops under the direct control and command of Zenawi shot dead at least 193 unarmed demonstrators, wounded an additional 763 and jailed over 30 thousand following elections that year. That was the “end of the story” for Zenawi. Or was it?

In March of this year, Zenawi reaffirmed his 99.6 percent electoral victory in the May 2010 elections and ruled out an “Egyptian-like revolution” by proclaiming a contractual right (read birthright) to cling to power: “When the people gave us a five year contract, it was based on the understanding that if the EPDRF party (Zenawi’s party) does not perform the contract to expectations it would be kicked out of power. No need for hassles. The people can judge by withholding their ballots and chase EPDRF out of power. EPDRF knows it and the people know it too.” For Zenawi, electoral politics is a business deal sealed in contract. Every ballot dropped (and stuffed) in the box is the equivalent of an individual signature in blood on an iron clad five-year contract.

Following the recent uprisings, the delirious 42-year dictator of Libya jabbered, “Muammar Gaddafi is the leader of the revolution, I am not a president to step down… This is my country. Muammar is not a president to leave his post, Muammar is leader of the revolution until the end of time.” Simply stated: Muammar Gaddafi is president-for-life!

In 2003, Robert Mugabe, the self-proclaimed Hitler of Zimbabwe, shocked the world by declaring: “I am still the Hitler of the times. This Hitler has only one objective: Justice for his people. Sovereignty for his people. If that is Hitler, right, then let me be a Hitler ten-fold.” In Mein Kampf, the self-proclaimed leader (Der Fuhrer) of the “master race” wrote blacks are “monstrosities halfway between man and ape.” Africans have deep respect for their elders because they believe wisdom comes with age. Sadly, the 87 year-old Mugabe is living proof of the old saying, “There is no fool like an old fool.”

What makes African dictators so mindlessly arrogant, egotistically self-aggrandizing, delusionally contemptuous, hopelessly megalomaniacal and sociopathically homicidal? More simply: What the hell is wrong with African dictators?!?

Seeking to answer this question, I conducted an imaginary interview with Africa’s greatest, most respected and universally-loved leader, Nelson (Madiba) Rolihlahla Mandela. The answers below are quotations pieced together from President Mandela’s books, public statements, speeches, interviews, court proceedings and other publications and materials.

An Imaginary Conversation With President Nelson Mandela

Q. President Mandela, many African leaders believe they can cling to power forever by “locking up” their enemies and “banging” them in jail, shooting them in the streets and waging a sustained psychological campaign of fear and intimidation against their people. Is peaceful change possible in Africa?

A. “The government has interpreted the peacefulness of the movement as a weakness: the people’s non-violent policies have been taken as a green light for government violence. Refusal to resort to force has been interpreted by the government as an invitation to use armed force against the people without any fear of reprisals…

Neither should it ever happen that once more the avenues to peaceful change are blocked by usurpers who seek to take power away from the people, in pursuit of their own, ignoble purposes.

If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner. It always seems impossible until it is done.”

Q. Many African leaders “lead” by intimidating, arbitrarily  arresting, torturing and murdering their people. What are the leadership qualities Africa  needs?

A.  “I always remember the axiom: a leader is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind. Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front.

It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.

As a leader… I have always endeavored to listen to what each and every person in a discussion had to say before venturing my own opinion. Oftentimes, my own opinion will simply represent a consensus of what I heard in the discussion.

This [first democratic election for all South Africans] is one of the most important moments in the life of our country. I stand here before you filled with deep pride and joy – pride in the ordinary, humble people of this country. You have shown such calm, patient determination to reclaim this count. I stand here before you not as a prophet but as a humble servant of you, the people. Your tireless and heroic sacrifices have made it possible for me to be here today. I therefore place the remaining years of my life in your hands.”

Quitting is leading too.”

Q. Many African leaders today believe they are “supermen” who have a birthright to rule their people as they wish. Does this concern you?

A. “That was one of the things that worried me – to be raised to the position of a semi-god – because then you are no longer a human being. I wanted to be known as Mandela, a man with weaknesses, some of which are fundamental, and a man who is committed, but, nevertheless, sometimes fails to live up to expectations.”

Q. You have spent  many decades in prison. Do you have any regrets for all the sacrifices you have made?

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for. But, my Lord, if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Q. There are African leaders who say democracy and freedom must be delayed and rationed to the people in small portions to make way for development. Can freedom be rationed?

A. “There is no such thing as part freedom.”

Q. What is at the end of the rainbow of freedom?

A. “I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.”

Q. One African leader takes great pride in comparing himself to Adolf Hitler, the iconic symbol of hate in modern human history. Why are so many African leaders filled with so much hatred, malice and bitterness?

A.  “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Q. Do you believe an election is a contract between Africa’s iron-fisted rulers and the people?

A. “Only free men can negotiate, prisoners can’t enter in contracts.”

Q. What can Africans do to liberate themselves from the scourge of dictatorship?

A. “No single person can liberate a country. You can only liberate a country if you act as a collective.”

Q. Why are so many well-off Africans afraid to take a stand against dictatorship, human rights violations and  corruption on the continent?

A. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us: it’s in everyone. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Q. How can African intellectuals contribute to the struggle for democracy, human rights and accountability in the continent?

A: “A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.”

Q. What is the one important thing young Africans need to guarantee a bright future for themselves and the continent?

A. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that a son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farm workers can become the president…”

Q. What is you dream for Africa and humanity in general?

A.  “I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself. I dream of the realization of the unity of Africa, whereby its leaders combine in their efforts to solve the problems of this continent. I dream of our vast deserts, of our forests, of all our great wildernesses.

Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another. If there are dreams about a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to their goal. Two of these roads could be named Goodness and Forgiveness.

This must be a world of democracy and respect for human rights, a world freed from the horrors of poverty, hunger, deprivation and ignorance, relieved of the threat and the scourge of civil wars and external aggression and unburdened of the great tragedy of millions forced to become refugees.”

Q. What are the choices facing the people of Africa today?

A. “The time comes in the life of any nation when there remain only two choices: submit or fight. That time has now come to South Africa. We shall not submit and we have no choice but to hit back by all means within our power in defense of our people, our future and our freedom.”

Thank you, President Mandela. May you live for a thousand years!  Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika. (God Bless Africa.)

Previous commentaries by the author are available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alemayehu-g-mariam/ andhttp://open.salon.com/blog/almariam/

 

 

 

Allow Red Cross access to Ogaden

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

PRESS RELEASE

Reports coming out of Ethiopia indicate that the mass arrest of the Oromos has continued unabated. Meles is engaged in a witch-hunt strategy to destroy any form of opposition to his dictatorship. Like most desperate dictators in North Africa and the Middle East he unsuccessfully attempted to associate the emerging new pro democracy movement with foreign forces.

The naked truth is that the minority dictatorial regime that has been in power for 20 years through brute force and fraudulent elections is severely threatened by the uprising that is brewing all over Ethiopia. Civil resistance is slowly but surely spreading in almost every part of the country. Like the dictators in the Middle East and North Africa, Meles is trying to deflect public attention by preposterously linking the pro-democracy movement in side Ethiopia and in the Diaspora with foreign forces.

The Global Civic Movement for Change in Ethiopia (GCMCE) strongly condemns the latest political machination of the Zenawi regime, demands the immediate halt to the mass arrests, egregious human rights violations in the Ogaden, Oromia, and other regions, calls for the unconditional release of all political prisoners and the resignation of Meles Zenawi so that it paves the way for the formation of a Transitional Government.

We also call on the regime to allow the International Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations to resume their operations in the Ogaden and other drought affected areas of Ethiopia.

Beka! Enough! Geye! Yeakel! Bass! Aloni! Ditteh! Wetandeem! Gides!

Freedom, justice, equality for the People of Ethiopia! Victory to the people of Ethiopia!

For more information contact: Ethiopians.say.beka@gmail.com

Global Civic Movement for Change in Ethiopia