Archive for the ‘Ethiopian News’ Category

The bin Laden manhunt: An inside look

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

(New York Times) — For years, the agonizing search for Osama bin Laden kept coming up empty. Then last July, Pakistanis working for the Central Intelligence Agency drove up behind a white Suzuki navigating the bustling streets near Peshawar, Pakistan, and wrote down the car’s license plate. The man in the car was Bin Laden’s most trusted courier, and over the next month C.I.A. operatives would track him throughout central Pakistan.

Ultimately, administration officials said, he led them to a sprawling compound at the end of a long dirt road and surrounded by tall security fences in a wealthy hamlet 35 miles from the Pakistani capital. On a moonless night eight months later, 79 American commandos in four helicopters descended on the compound, the officials said. Shots rang out. A helicopter stalled and would not take off. Pakistani authorities, kept in the dark by their allies in Washington, scrambled forces as the American commandos rushed to finish their mission and leave before a confrontation. Of the five dead, one was a tall, bearded man with a bloodied face and a bullet in his head. A member of the Navy Seals snapped his picture with a camera and uploaded it to analysts who fed it into a facial recognition program. And just like that, history’s most expansive, expensive and exasperating manhunt was over.

The inert frame of Osama bin Laden, America’s enemy No. 1, was placed in a helicopter for burial at sea, never to be seen or feared again. A nation that spent a decade tormented by its failure to catch the man responsible for nearly 3,000 fiery deaths in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001, at long last had its sense of finality, at least in this one difficult chapter.

For an intelligence community that had endured searing criticism for a string of intelligence failures over the past decade, Bin Laden’s killing brought a measure of redemption. For a military that has slogged through two, and now three vexing wars in Muslim countries, it provided an unalloyed success. And for a president whose national security leadership has come under question, it proved an affirming moment that will enter the history books.

The raid was the culmination of years of painstaking intelligence work, including the interrogation of C.I.A. detainees in secret prisons in Eastern Europe, where sometimes what was not said was as useful as what was. Intelligence agencies eavesdropped on telephone calls and e-mails of the courier’s Arab family in a Persian Gulf state and pored over satellite images of the compound in Abbottabad to determine a “pattern of life” that might decide whether the operation would be worth the risk. As more than a dozen White House, intelligence and Pentagon officials described the operation on Monday, the past few weeks were a nerve-racking amalgamation of what-ifs and negative scenarios. “There wasn’t a meeting when someone didn’t mention ‘Black Hawk Down,’ ” a senior administration official said, referring to the disastrous 1993 battle in Somalia in which two American helicopters were shot down and some of their crew killed in action. The failed mission to rescue hostages in Iran in 1980 also loomed large.

Administration officials split over whether to launch the operation, whether to wait and continue monitoring until they were more sure that Bin Laden was really there, or whether to go for a less risky bombing assault. In the end, President Obama opted against a bombing that could do so much damage it might be uncertain whether Bin Laden was really hit and chose to send in commandos.

A “fight your way out” option was built into the plan, with two helicopters following the two main assault copters as backup in case of trouble. On Sunday afternoon, as the helicopters raced over Pakistani territory, the president and his advisers gathered in the Situation Room of the White House to monitor the operation as it unfolded. Much of the time was spent in silence. Mr. Obama looked “stone faced,” one aide said. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. fingered his rosary beads.

“The minutes passed like days,” recalled John O. Brennan, the White House counterterrorism chief. The code name for Bin Laden was “Geronimo.” The president and his advisers watched Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A. director, on a video screen, narrating from his agency’s headquarters across the Potomac River what was happening in faraway Pakistan. “They’ve reached the target,” he said. Minutes passed. “We have a visual on Geronimo,” he said. A few minutes later: “Geronimo EKIA.” Enemy Killed In Action.

There was silence in the Situation Room. Finally, the president spoke up. “We got him.”

Filling in the Gaps Years before the Sept. 11 attacks transformed Bin Laden into the world’s most feared terrorist, the C.I.A. had begun compiling a detailed dossier about the major players inside his global terror network. It wasn’t until after 2002, when the agency began rounding up Qaeda operatives — and subjecting them to hours of brutal interrogation sessions in secret overseas prisons — that they finally began filling in the gaps about the foot soldiers, couriers and money men Bin Laden relied on. Prisoners in American custody told stories of a trusted courier. When the Americans ran the man’s pseudonym past two top-level detainees — the chief planner of the Sept. 11 attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed; and Al Qaeda’s operational chief, Abu Faraj al-Libi — the men claimed never to have heard his name. That raised suspicions among interrogators that the two detainees were lying and that the courier probably was an important figure. As the hunt for Bin Laden continued, the spy agency was being buffeted on other fronts: the botched intelligence assessments about weapons of mass destruction leading up to the Iraq War, and the intense criticism for using waterboarding and other extreme interrogation methods that critics said amounted to torture.

By 2005, many inside the C.I.A. had reached the conclusion that the Bin Laden hunt had grown cold, and the agency’s top clandestine officer ordered an overhaul of the agency’s counterterrorism operations. The result was Operation Cannonball, a bureaucratic reshuffling that placed more C.I.A. case officers on the ground in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

With more agents in the field, the C.I.A. finally got the courier’s family name. With that, they turned to one of their greatest investigative tools — the National Security Agency began intercepting telephone calls and e-mail messages between the man’s family and anyone inside Pakistan. From there they got his full name.

Last July, Pakistani agents working for the C.I.A. spotted him driving his vehicle near Peshawar. When, after weeks of surveillance, he drove to the sprawling compound in Abbottabad, American intelligence operatives felt they were onto something big, perhaps even Bin Laden himself. It was hardly the spartan cave in the mountains that many had envisioned as his hiding place. Rather, it was a three-story house ringed by 12-foot-high concrete walls, topped with barbed wire and protected by two security fences. He was, said Mr. Brennan, the White House official, “hiding in plain sight.”

Back in Washington, Mr. Panetta met with Mr. Obama and his most senior national security aides, including Mr. Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. The meeting was considered so secret that White House officials didn’t even list the topic in their alerts to each other. That day, Mr. Panetta spoke at length about Bin Laden and his presumed hiding place. “It was electric,” an administration official who attended the meeting said. “For so long, we’d been trying to get a handle on this guy. And all of a sudden, it was like, wow, there he is.”

There was guesswork about whether Bin Laden was indeed inside the house. What followed was weeks of tense meetings between Mr. Panetta and his subordinates about what to do next. While Mr. Panetta advocated an aggressive strategy to confirm Bin Laden’s presence, some C.I.A. clandestine officers worried that the most promising lead in years might be blown if bodyguards suspected the compound was being watched and spirited the Qaeda leader out of the area. For weeks last fall, spy satellites took detailed photographs, and the N.S.A. worked to scoop up any communications coming from the house. It wasn’t easy: the compound had neither a phone line nor Internet access. Those inside were so concerned about security that they burned their trash rather than put it on the street for collection.

In February, Mr. Panetta called Vice Adm. William H. McRaven, commander of the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command, to C.I.A. headquarters in Langley, Va., to give him details about the compound and to begin planning a military strike. Admiral McRaven, a veteran of the covert world who had written a book on American Special Operations, spent weeks working with the C.I.A. on the operation, and came up with three options: a helicopter assault using American commandos, a strike with B-2 bombers that would obliterate the compound, or a joint raid with Pakistani intelligence operatives who would be told about the mission hours before the launch.

Weighing the Options On March 14, Mr. Panetta took the options to the White House. C.I.A. officials had been taking satellite photos, establishing what Mr. Panetta described as the habits of people living at the compound.

By now evidence was mounting that Bin Laden was there. The discussions about what to do took place as American relations with Pakistan were severely strained over the arrest of Raymond A. Davis, the C.I.A. contractor imprisoned for shooting two Pakistanis on a crowded street in Lahore in January. Some of Mr. Obama’s top aides worried that any military assault to capture or kill Bin Laden might provoke an angry response from Pakistan’s government, and that Mr. Davis could end up dead in his jail cell. Mr. Davis was ultimately released on March 16, giving a freer hand to his colleagues.

On March 22, the president asked his advisers their opinions on the options. Mr. Gates was skeptical about a helicopter assault, calling it risky, and instructed military officials to look into aerial bombardment using smart bombs. But a few days later, the officials returned with the news that it would take some 32 bombs of 2,000 pounds each. And how could the American officials be certain that they had killed Bin Laden? “It would have created a giant crater, and it wouldn’t have given us a body,” said one American intelligence official.

A helicopter assault emerged as the favored option. The Navy Seals team that would hit the ground began holding dry runs at training facilities on both American coasts, which were made up to resemble the compound. But they were not told who their target might be until later.

Last Thursday, the day after the president released his long-form birth certificate — such “silliness,” he told reporters, was distracting the country from more important things — Mr. Obama met again with his top national security officials. Mr. Panetta told the group that the C.I.A. had “red-teamed” the case — shared their intelligence with other analysts who weren’t involved to see if they agreed that Bin Laden was probably in Abbottabad. They did.

It was time to decide. Around the table, the group went over and over the negative scenarios. There were long periods of silence, one aide said. And then, finally, Mr. Obama spoke: “I’m not going to tell you what my decision is now — I’m going to go back and think about it some more.” But he added, “I’m going to make a decision soon.”

Sixteen hours later, he had made up his mind. Early the next morning, four top aides were summoned to the White House Diplomatic Room. Before they could brief the president, he cut them off. “It’s a go,” he said. The earliest the operation could take place was Saturday, but officials cautioned that cloud cover in the area meant that Sunday was much more likely.

The next day, Mr. Obama took a break from rehearsing for the White House Correspondents Dinner that night to call Admiral McRaven, to wish him luck.

On Sunday, White House officials canceled all West Wing tours so unsuspecting tourists and visiting celebrities wouldn’t accidentally run into all the high-level national security officials holed up in the Situation Room all afternoon monitoring the feeds they were getting from Mr. Panetta. A staffer went to Costco and came back with a mix of provisions — turkey pita wraps, cold shrimp, potato chips, soda.

At 2:05 p.m., Mr. Panetta sketched out the operation to the group for a final time. Within an hour, the C.I.A. director began his narration, via video from Langley. “They’ve crossed into Pakistan,” he said.

Across the Border, The commando team had raced into the Pakistani night from a base in Jalalabad, just across the border in Afghanistan. The goal was to get in and get out before Pakistani authorities detected the breach of their territory by what were to them unknown forces and reacted with possibly violent results.

In Pakistan, it was just past midnight on Monday morning, and the Americans were counting on the element of surprise. As the first of the helicopters swooped in at low altitudes, neighbors heard a loud blast and gunshots. A woman who lives two miles away said she thought it was a terrorist attack on a Pakistani military installation. Her husband said no one had any clue Bin Laden was hiding in the quiet, affluent area. “It’s the closest you can be to Britain,” he said of their neighborhood.

The Seal team stormed into the compound — the raid awakened the group inside, one American intelligence official said — and a firefight broke out. One man held an unidentified woman living there as a shield while firing at the Americans. Both were killed. Two more men died as well, and two women were wounded. American authorities later determined that one of the slain men was Bin Laden’s son, Hamza, and the other two were the courier and his brother.

The commandos found Bin Laden on the third floor, wearing the local loose-fitting tunic and pants known as a shalwar kameez, and officials said he resisted before he was shot above the left eye near the end of the 40-minute raid.

The American government gave few details about his final moments. “Whether or not he got off any rounds, I frankly don’t know,” said Mr. Brennan, the White House counterterrorism chief. But a senior Pentagon official, briefing on the condition of anonymity, said it was clear Bin Laden “was killed by U.S. bullets.”

American officials insisted they would have taken Bin Laden into custody if he did not resist, although they considered that likelihood remote. “If we had the opportunity to take Bin Laden alive, if he didn’t present any threat, the individuals involved were able and prepared to do that,” Mr. Brennan said.

One of Bin Laden’s wives identified his body, American officials said. A picture taken by a Seals commando and processed through facial recognition software suggested a 95 percent certainty that it was Bin Laden. Later, DNA tests comparing samples with relatives found a 99.9 percent match.

But the Americans faced other problems. One of their helicopters stalled and could not take off. Rather than let it fall into the wrong hands, the commandos moved the women and children to a secure area and blew up the malfunctioning helicopter.

By that point, though, the Pakistani military was scrambling forces in response to the incursion into Pakistani territory. “They had no idea about who might have been on there,” Mr. Brennan said. “Thankfully, there was no engagement with Pakistani forces.”

As they took off at 1:10 a.m. local time, taking a trove of documents and computer hard drives from the house, the Americans left behind the women and children. A Pakistani official said nine children, from 2 to 12 years old, are now in Pakistani custody.

The Obama administration had already determined it would follow Islamic tradition of burial within 24 hours to avoid offending devout Muslims, yet concluded Bin Laden would have to be buried at sea, since no country would be willing to take the body. Moreover, they did not want to create a shrine for his followers. So the Qaeda leader’s body was washed and placed in a white sheet in keeping with tradition. On the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, it was placed in a weighted bag as an officer read prepared religious remarks, which were translated into Arabic by a native speaker, according to the senior Pentagon official. The body then was placed on a prepared flat board and eased into the sea. Only a small group of people watching from one of the large elevator platforms that move aircraft up to the flight deck were witness to the end of America’s most wanted fugitive.

(Reporting by By MARK MAZZETTI, HELENE COOPER and PETER BAKER WASHINGTON. Contributing to the story: Elisabeth Bumiller, Charlie Savage and Steven Lee Myers from Washington, Adam Ellick from New York, and Ismail Khan from Peshawar, Pakistan.)

Digital censorship is tyrant’s tool in Ethiopia – CPJ

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

The 10 Tools of Online Oppressors

Digital censorship threatens press freedom, new report shows

New York, May 2, 2011—As journalists increasingly use social media to report breaking news and the number of people with Internet access explodes worldwide, governments are employing sophisticated new tactics to suppress information, according to a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists, issued today to mark World Press Freedom Day.

CPJ’s assessment of the 10 prevailing strategies for online oppression and the leading countries utilizing such tactics shows that traditional mechanisms of repression have evolved into pervasive digital censorship. The tools utilized include state-supported email designed to take over journalists’ personal computers in China, the shutting down of anti-censorship technology in Iran, monopolistic control of the Net in Ethiopia, as well as synchronized cyber-attacks in Belarus.

“These techniques go well beyond Web censorship,” said Danny O’Brien, CPJ Internet Advocacy Coordinator and author of the report. “The Internet is being used to spy on writers and sabotage independent news sites where press freedom is most threatened. The aim is not only to censor but to block or disrupt the reporting process and the dissemination of news and information.”

The digital offensive is often coupled with physical intimidation of online journalists. In 2010, CPJ research shows that 69 journalists whose work appeared primarily online were jailed as of December 1, constituting nearly half of all those in prison.

“These sophisticated, often invisible, attacks constitute a new front in the fight for press freedom,” said O’Brien. “Bypassing censorship is important but basic protection of source data and identities should take priority as well. Combined, these digital attacks undermine our universal right to seek information.”

 

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CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide

 

Note to Editors: The full report is available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

 

CPJ monitors Internet freedom and online press freedom violations, working to promote tools and techniques for a free press on the Web. In 2008, CPJ joined the Global Network Initiative, a coalition to ensure companies uphold freedom of expression in their policies and operations. Danny O’Brien tracks developments on a dedicated blog called the Internet Channel.

 

Media contacts:

 

Gypsy Guillén Kaiser

Advocacy and Communications Director

Tel. +1.212.300.9029

E-mail: ggkaiser@cpj.org

 

Magnus Ag

Advocacy and Communications Associate

Tel. +1.212.300.9007

E-mail: mag@cpj.org

Details of the operation to kill Osama bin Laden

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

(Reuters) –The operation that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was carried out by a team of about 15 special forces operatives — most, if not all, U.S. Navy Seals, according to U.S. officials familiar with the details. They indicated the team was based in Afghanistan.

“This was a kill operation,” one of the officials said. “If he had waved a white flag of surrender, he would have been taken alive,” the official added. But the operating assumption among the U.S. raiders was that bin Laden would put up a fight — which he did.

Bin Laden “participated” in a firefight between the U.S. commandos and residents of the fortified mansion near the Pakistani capital Islamabad where he had been hiding, the official said.

The official would not explicitly say whether bin Laden fired on the Americans, but confirmed that during the course of the 40-minute operation the U.S. team shot bin Laden in the head.
U.S. officials said the key information that eventually led to bin Laden’s trail came from questioning of militants detained by U.S. forces following the Sept 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

Captured militants, including some held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, told intelligence officials of a particular al Qaeda “courier” whom they had heard was close to bin Laden.

They also mentioned two captured al Qaeda operations chiefs, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, widely believed to have masterminded the attacks.

Initially U.S. intelligence did not know either the name or whereabouts of the courier. But officials said that about four years ago, U.S. agencies learned the individual’s name.

Two years ago, U.S. intelligence received credible information indicating that the courier and his brother, another suspected militant operative, were operating somewhere near Islamabad.

Then, last August, the U.S. pinpointed the compound in Abbotabad where intelligence indicated the two brothers, their families, and a third large family were living.

It was located in a ritzy neighborhood at the end of a dirt road, not far from one of Pakistan’s principal military academy. Other residents of the area included retired Pakistani military officers.

Working with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), which analyzes pictures from spy satellites and aircraft, and the National Security Agency, which conducts electronic eavesdropping, the CIA concluded that the compound was built with unusual security features — including high-walls topped with barbed-wire — and that its inhabitants appeared to take unusual security precautions.

By earlier this year, the CIA believed that it had “high confidence” that a “high-value” al Qaeda target was at the Abbotabad compound, and a strong probability that this target was bin Laden.

But one official said the agency was never “100 percent certain” that bin Laden was the one who was hiding out.

(ABC News) — The Navy SEAL team of military operatives who killed Osama bin Laden in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan on Sunday night was made up of some of the best-trained troops in the world. SEAL Team Six, the “Naval Special Warfare Development Group,” was the main force involved in Sunday’s firefight.

The daring operation began when two U.S. helicopters flew in low from Afghanistan and swept into the compound where Osama bin Laden was thought to be hiding late Sunday night Pakistan time, or Sunday afternoon Washington time. Twenty to 25 U.S. Navy SEALs disembarked from the helicopters as soon as they were in position and stormed the compound. The White House says they killed bin Laden and at least four others with him. The team was on the ground for only 40 minutes, most of that was time spent scrubbing the compound for information about al Qaeda and its plans.

The Navy SEAL team on this mission was supported by helicopter pilots from the 160th Special Ops Air Regiment, part of the Joint Special Operations Command. The CIA was the operational commander of the mission, but it was tasked to Special Forces.

(Los Angeles Times) — CIA Director Leon Panetta gave the go-order about midday Sunday, after President Obama had signed off on it.

Panetta and other CIA officials monitored the raid via live video on the 7th floor of CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. When an operator was overheard confirming that bin Laden was killed, cheers erupted.

An option to bomb the compound was rejected in favor of a surgical raid, in part to make sure there was proof Bin Laden was there, and in part to spare the lives of more than a dozen non-combatants living in the compound.

The CIA and other agencies had been watching the compound since August, so they knew a lot about it, the official said. Mock-ups had been constructed and rehearsals of the raid held while senior officials watched.

The town is not in the area where U.S. Predator drones regularly fly over the tribal areas of Pakistan, so other methods had to be used to gather intelligence on the layout, the official said. The National Security Agency, which has satellites that can eavesdrop on conversations, and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, which can map buildings and terrain via satellite and other technology, were both involved. The technology is such that the CIA was aware of where people were in the compound during the early morning hours when the raid occurred, the official said.

A tense moment during the raid came when one of the helicopters malfunctioned, but no one was injured and the copter was destroyed.

The official would not say where the body was buried at sea, but said, “We treated him with more respect than he treated a lot of Americans.”

(National Journal) — MH-60 helicopters made their way to Abbottabad, about 70 miles from the center of Islamabad, Pakistan. Aboard were Navy SEALs, flown across the border from Afghanistan, along with tactical signals, intelligence collectors, and navigators using highly classified hyperspectral imagers.

After bursts of fire over 40 minutes, 22 people were killed or captured. One of the dead was Osama bin Laden, with gun shots to the left side of his face. His body was aboard the choppers that made the trip back. One had experienced mechanical failure and was destroyed by U.S. forces, military and White House officials tell National Journal.

Were it not for this high-value target, it might have been a routine mission for the specially trained and highly mythologized SEAL Team Six, officially called the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, but known even to the locals at their home base Dam Neck in Virginia as just DevGru.

This HVT was special, and the raids required practice, so they replicated the one-acre compound. Trial runs were held in early April.

How did the helicopters elude the Pakistani air defense network? Did they spoof transponder codes? Were they painted and tricked out with Pakistan Air Force equipment? If so — and we may never know — two other JSOC units, the Technical Application Programs Office and the Aviation Technology Evaluation Group, were responsible. These truly are the silent squirrels — never getting public credit and not caring one whit. Since 9/11, the JSOC units and their task forces have become the U.S. government’s most effective and lethal weapon against terrorists and their networks, drawing plenty of unwanted, and occasionally unflattering, attention to themselves in the process.

Ethiopia: The Silence of Lying Lips

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Alemayehu G. Mariam

Lies, Junk and Cut-and-Paste

Meles Zenawi, the dictator-in-chief in Ethiopia, says he does not want to talk about the 2010 U.S. State Department Country Reports on Human Rights [Report] in Ethiopia. But speaking through his parrot Hailemariam Desalegn, Zenawi said the Report is a meaningless “cut and paste” exercise and will be treated with “the contempt it deserves”:

The last two years we have engaged ourselves with the authorities of the United States and discussed several meetings on the human rights situation in Ethiopia. We thought we had convinced each other on many of the issues…  If this is not considered at all, then there is no need to accept this report as something that can help us.  So that’s why we dismissed the report totally because it is based on unfounded allegations which are baseless… We said this is a methodology failure. So if the United States is worried about the human rights challenge, then it should be critically evaluated. So if it is ‘cut and paste,’ then it doesn’t give any meaning to anyone. So we said, if it continues like this, it has nothing to do with changing and improving the human rights situation in Ethiopia.

Desalegn said the Report would not affect the “cordial relationship” between Addis Ababa and Washington. With snooty sarcasm he emphasized, “we dismiss the report, we have not dismissed the United States.” Translation: We will gladly pickpocket  American Joe and Jane Taxpayer to the tune of USD$1 billion a year, but they can take their human rights report and shove it.

Last year Zenawi blasted the 2009 human rights Report as “lies, lies and implausible lies.” He even ridiculed the U.S. State Department for not preparing a report based on true lies:

The least one could expect from this report, even if there are lies is that they would be plausible ones. But that is not the case. It is very easy to ridicule it [report], because it is so full of loopholes (sic). They could very easily have closed the loopholes and still continued to lie.”

Zenawi’s consigliere, Bereket Simon, called the 2009 Report “the same old junk” released “to punish the image (sic) of Ethiopia and try if possible to derail the peaceful and democratic election process.”

Defending against unfavorable or critical reports of international human rights and other organizations by delivering a barrage of scorn, sarcasm and derision is standard operating procedure for Zenawi’s regime. In November 2010, Zenawi blitzkrieged the European Union Election Observer Report on the May 2010 election in Ethiopia as “trash that deserves to be thrown in the garbage“.

The State Department human rights report does not “deserve” condemnation in barnyard language, but diplomatic praise for its rigorous analysis and reporting of human rights abuses. The Report is an important policy instrument  submitted by the U.S. Secretary of State to the Speaker of the House of the U.S. Congress annually pursuant to amended sections 116(d) and 502 B (b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and 504 of the Trade Act of 1974.  Using the Report, Congress aims to hold U.S. aid recipient “governments accountable to their obligations under international human rights instruments” and promote the rule of law, expressive freedoms,  women’s, children’s and minority rights in recipient countries. The U.S. State Department says it uses the findings and conclusions of the Report in “shaping policy, conducting diplomacy, and making assistance, training, and other resource allocations” and in determining “U.S. Government’s cooperation with private groups to promote the observance of internationally recognized human rights.” But the annual Report has broader significance in the global struggle for human rights. As Secretary of State Hilary Clinton explained, the human rights

reports are an essential tool – for activists who courageously struggle to protect rights in communities around the world; for journalists and scholars who document rights violations and who report on the work of those who champion the vulnerable; and for governments, including our own, as they work to craft strategies to encourage protection of human rights of more individuals in more places.

Taking cheap shots at the Report by calling it “lies”, “junk” and “cut and paste” is to put on public display one’s abysmal ignorance of the American policy and legal process. To be sure, submitting any document to Congress containing “any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry” (i.e. “lies, lies and implausible lies”) is a serious crime subject to a five-year prison sentence under Title 18, section 1001 (a) (3) (c) (1) (2). If there are any statements in the Report that fall under the foregoing section of Title 18, it is incumbent upon anyone with evidence of such statements to lodge a complaint and request a formal investigation with the Office of the Speaker of the U.S. House, among other federal law enforcement authorities. Launching a tirade against the U.S. is no defense against the naked truth that Zenawi’s regime is a notorious violator of human rights, nor is it a substitute for substantial and credible evidence to support a claim of false statement.

Failure of Methodology?

Desalegn parrots his boss when he says there is “a methodology failure” that consigns the Report to the ash-heap of “contempt”. Over the years, Zenawi has used similar vague and unsubstantiated accusations of  “methodological” flaws in a futile attempt to discredit unfavorable human rights reports on his regime. In 2008, Zenawi alleged that methodological flaws in a Human Rights Watch report on the Ogaden region of eastern Ethiopia amounted to manufactured lies. It is a fact that Zenawi’s regime has thwarted and frustrated every effort by human rights organizations to conduct open and independent investigations of human rights abuses in Ethiopia. By labeling the truth a lie, Zenawi seems to believe that he can indeed change the truth into a lie.

There is nothing secret or sinister about the “methodology” and data collection procedures of the U.S. State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. The Report is based on a compilation of information from a variety of sources. U.S. embassies collect “information throughout the year from a variety of sources across the political spectrum, including government officials, jurists, armed forces sources, journalists, human rights monitors, academics, and labor activists.” U.S. Foreign Service Officers undertake investigations of human rights abuses under difficult and not infrequently under “dangerous conditions”. They “monitor elections, and come to the aid of individuals at risk, such as political dissidents and human rights defenders whose rights are threatened by their governments.” The initial drafts of the Reports are completed at the embassies and submitted for review to the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor in the State Department. Information collected by other sources including “US and other human rights groups, foreign government officials, representatives from the United Nations and other international and regional organizations and institutions and academic, media experts” and other sources are also evaluated and included to ensure accuracy, balance and corroboration.

The Reports reflect the work of hundreds of highly experienced and knowledgeable employees in the State Department and other branches of the U.S. Government. For the Report to be “lies, lies and implausible lies”, there must be a grand criminal conspiracy of hundreds of officials in the U.S. Government, including Secretary of State Clinton.

What’s in the “Contemptible”  2010 Human Rights Report on Ethiopia?

Here are some of the “lies, lies and implausible lies” in the 56-page Report:

There was no proof that the government and its agents committed any politically motivated killings during the year… [but] there were credible reports of involvement of security forces in the killings…in the Somali region…” (p.2.)

There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances; however, there were innumerable reports of local police, militia members, and the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) seizing… opposition political activists. (p.4.)

On September 10, the federal government and Amhara and Oromia regional governments granted pardons to more than 9,000 prisoners, in keeping with a longstanding tradition for celebration of the new year on September 11. (p. 10.)

The UN Committee Against Torture noted in a November 19 report that it was ‘deeply concerned’ about ‘numerous, ongoing, and consistent allegations’ concerning “the routine use of torture” by the police, prison officers and others. (p.4.)

The country has three federal and 120 regional prisons. There also are many unofficial detention centers throughout the country… Most are located at military camps… Prison and pretrial detention center conditions remained harsh and in some cases life threatening. Severe overcrowding was common… Many prisoners had serious health problems in detention but received little treatment.  (p. 6.)

Authorities regularly detained persons without warrants and denied access to counsel and family members, particularly in outlying regions. (p. 8.)

The Ethiopian government and regional governments began to put in place “villagization” plans in the Gambella and Benishangul-Gumuz regions… The plan involves the resettlement of 45,000 households… [T]here were reports of local skepticism and resentment… because much of the land was or was to be leased to foreign companies (pp. 14-15.)

The government used a widespread system of paid informants to report on the activities of particular individuals… Security forces continued to detain family members of persons sought for questioning by the government. (p. 15.)

While the constitution and law provide for freedom of speech and of the press, the government did not respect these rights in practice. The government continued to arrest, harass, and prosecute journalists, publishers, and editors. (p. 19.)

The government restricted academic freedom during the year. Authorities did not permit teachers at any level to deviate from official lesson plans and actively prohibited partisan political activity and association of any kind on university campuses. (p. 25.)

Although the law provides for freedom of association and the right to engage in unrestricted peaceful political activity, the government limited this right in practice. (p. 27.)

The constitution and law provide citizens the right to change their government peacefully. In practice the country has never had a peaceful change of government, and the ruling EPRDF and its allies dominated the government. In May [2010] elections, the EPRDF … won more than 99 percent of all legislative seats…. [T]here was ample evidence that unfair government tactics–including intimidation of opposition candidates and supporters–influenced the extent of that victory. (p.32.)

The constitution provides citizens the right to freely join political organizations of their choice; however, in practice these rights were restricted through bureaucratic obstacles and government and ruling party intimidation, harassment, and arrests, with physical threats and violence used by local officials and EPRDF operatives, local police, and shadowy local militias under the control of local EPRDF operatives. (p. 33.)

The World Bank’s 2009 Worldwide Governance Indicators made it clear that corruption remained a serious problem… [S]ome government officials appeared to manipulate the privatization process, and state- and party-owned businesses received preferential access to land leases and credit. (p. 37.)

The law provides for public access to government information, but access was largely restricted in practice. (p. 38.)

The government harassed individuals who worked for domestic human rights organizations. (p. 40)

The government denied NGOs access to federal prisons, police stations, and political prisoners. There were credible reports that security officials continued to intimidate or detain local individuals to prevent them from meeting with NGOs and foreign government officials investigating allegations of abuse. (p. 41.)

There were no further developments in the July 2009 case of the 444 staff members, including high-ranking officials, fired by the Addis Ababa Police Commission for involvement in serious crimes, including armed robbery, rape, and theft. (p.8.)

Women and girls experienced gender-based violence daily, but it was underreported due to cultural acceptance, shame, fear, or a victim’s ignorance of legal protections… Domestic violence, including spousal abuse, was a pervasive social problem. The 2005 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) found that 81 percent of women believed a husband had a right to beat his wife. (p. 42.)

Sexual harassment was widespread. The penal code prescribes 18 to 24 months’ imprisonment; however, harassment-related laws were not enforced. (p. 43.)

Child abuse was widespread. Unlike in previous years there was no training of police officers on procedures for handling cases of child abuse. (p. 45.)

There were an estimated 5.4 million orphans in the country, according to the report of Central Statistics Authority. Government-run orphanages were overcrowded, and conditions were often unsanitary. Due to severe resource constraints, hospitals and orphanages often overlooked or neglected abandoned infants. (p. 47.)

There were approximately seven million persons with disabilities, according to the Ethiopian Federation of Persons with Disabilities. There was one mental hospital and an estimated 10 psychiatrists in the country [of 80 million people.] (p. 48.)

If the foregoing facts are “lies, lies and implausible lies”, the U.S. State Department must be held accountable for issuing false, misleading and deceptive reports and those involved in its preparation should be prosecuted. But if it is the truth that keeps the human rights abusers in Ethiopia closemouthed, then as Scriptures counsel, “Let the lying lips be put to silence.”

 

 

 

Osama bin Laden is killed

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

President Barack Obama has announced Sunday night that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has been killed, according to U.S. officials.

Information released by White House sources to news agencies, including the Associated Press, suggested that Osama bin Laden, nominal head of the al-Qaida terrorist organization worldwide, has been killed in U.S. military action and his body is in American custody.

It is reported that Bin Laden was killed a week ago in Islamabad, Pakistan.

NATO air strike kills Gaddafi’s son

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim announced that 29-year-old Saif al-Arab Gadhafi and the grandchildren were killed during what he called a direct attempt to assassinate the Libyan leader… [read more]

Beka conference in Toronto

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

A conference will be held in Toronto, Canada, on May 7, to discuss the current situation in Ethiopia, including the struggle to bring an end to the brutal dictatorship.

Guest speakers

Obang Metho (SMNE Director)
Jawar Mohamed (Activist and Political Analyst)
Abebe Belew (Addis Dimts Radio Host)
Mohamed Hassan (Researcher and Founder of Canadian Center for Ogaden Researcher and
Advocacy)
Allo Aydahis (From the Afar community)

Date/Time: Saturday, May 7, at 2:00 PM
Address: 40 Donlands, Toronto

More info: Email beqahaakaanu@gmail.com

Uganda protests intensify; Riots break out in Kampala

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

By David Smith | Guardian.co.uk

Riots have swept across the Ugandan capital, Kampala, as protesters called for an Egyptian-style uprising against their autocratic president.

At least two people were killed and more than 100 wounded after soldiers fired live bullets and tear gas and beat demonstrators with sticks. Civilians fought back, blocking roads with burning tyres and pelting vehicles with rocks.

The growing unrest – sparked by rising food and fuel prices – gained fresh impetus after the brutal arrest of opposition leader Kizza Besigye on Thursday.

But President Yoweri Museveni, who was been in control for a quarter of a century, has met the protests with a show of force.

His military police were accused of attacking innocent spectators on Friday. One victim could be seen lying in a pool of blood, apparently after being shot in the head at a local market.

In the Karwerwe neighbourhood, police chased a teenager, Andrew Kibwka, with heavy wooden sticks and rained blows on him.

“I thought the police were going to kill me,” he said minutes later, his arm bruised and a finger bleeding. “I was telling them I’m harmless, but they just carried on. I did nothing to provoke them. They beat me because I was running away.”

The 18-year-old added: “I’m in pain all over my body. The police are being too brutal. I think Uganda will get worse if the president does not resign.”

A minibus, a taxi and other vehicles that tried to travel up the street were pelted with stones. Then soldiers in armoured vehicles appeared and fired tear gas to disperse the crowd, and people ran away in panic.

Standing at a market, Robert Mayanja, who described himself as an activist, said: “What they are doing now shows that Museveni rigged the last election.

“If you look at Uganda, why should we vote for him after 25 years? We have high prices, we have hospitals without medicine. Is there anything to vote for?”

Mayanja, 31, said a repeat of the revolts in Egypt and Tunisia was “definitely” possible. “What we are seeing here are people who are not armed but are taking a stand against armed forces,” he added. “People are ready. It’s just a question of time.

“We know they are going to arrest many people and put them in torture chambers. We know this regime has expired. These are the signs.”

Eric Mbiro, a 20-year-old student, agreed: “We are tired of this government because of the price of commodities,” he said. “There is no presidency in Uganda. The president rules the country like his own home. He is a dictator. We need change.”

But he was more sceptical about the prospects for an uprising, saying: “We will not manage to do what they did in Egypt because people here are poor. There is too much poverty in Uganda.”

Military police fired live rounds, rubber bullets and tear gas at numerous burning barricades blocking the main road out of Kampala to the international airport in Entebbe and sprayed adjacent residential areas with bullets.

Shell casings littered the main road, tear gas hung in the air and security forces beat local residents.

In Ntinda, angry youths shouted and hurled stones and chunks of concrete at passing cars. On one corner, a man ran up to a council vehicle as it drove by and smashed the driver’s window with a rock, raising cheers from onlookers.

A coded sign language is already in place. Motorists who hold two fingers aloft in a “v for victory” symbol, showing they support the rebellion, are allowed to pass unharmed, but a single raised thumb is interpreted as a pro-Museveni gesture.

Roads were blocked by rocks, cones, debris and burning tyres. A bare-chested man lay face down on the grass, his head being bandaged by Red Cross medics.

An eyewitness said the man had been the victim of an unprovoked attack. “The military police were making people clear the road, and this boy worked for 30 minutes,” Timothy Ssenfuma, a 35-year-old electrical engineer, said. “He said he wanted to go, but they beat him on the head and back until he collapsed. They were also beating up even women and young ladies just to clear the road.

“They are killing innocent Ugandans who are not even involved in the uprising. We appeal to the rest of the world to help Ugandans as they have in Libya and elsewhere.”

A teacher, who gave his name only as Nixon, claimed the security forces had launched an indiscriminate attack, saying: “The military police came and started beating up people.

“Some had to run away and others had to fight back to defend their friends. People have terrible anger at the way they were treated.”

The 32-year-old said he could not imagine an Egypt-like revolt in the short term. “But in the long term, I believe it can happen,” he added. “The military is still strong and many of the soldiers are unwilling to turn to the side of the people. But, in time, they might get tired of beating the people.

“I really look forward to it. As your friends are beaten and arrested, the professionals need to come out and organise the people.”

Red Cross official Richard Nataka said more than 100 injured people had been taken to five centres, including 78 , of whom 10 had gunshot wounds, at the Mulago Hospital.

He said one person had died and a pickup truck brought in a second body shortly afterwards. Red Cross vehicles were arriving at the Mulago Hospital every few minutes with more casualties.

Besigye has held five “walk to work” demonstrations against rising prices and what he calls a corrupt government. On Friday, demonstrators carried posters praising Besigye, and asked why police needed to use violence to arrest him.

Besigye has been released on bail, but is said to be in poor health and still unable to see after pepper spray was fired into his eyes.

Meles Zenawi fails to attend Ali Mirah’s funeral

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Funeral services for Biwoded Sultan Ali Mirah Hanfere, one of the most prominent Ethiopians, was held on Tuesday in the eastern Ethiopian town of Assaita in the presence of family members, friends and supporters from different parts of the country, religious figures, and political leaders, including the prime minister of Djibouti.

Conspicuously, but not surprisingly, absent from the funeral was the khat-addicted tin-pot dictator Meles Zenawi.

Although Ali Mirah, 95, is a bitter opponent of Meles Zenawi’s politics, he is more than a politician. He is a spiritual leader of Ethiopia’s Afar community, and held in high esteem by millions of Ethiopians as a great patriot. His influence extends beyond Ethiopia’s borders. That’s why Djibouti’s prime minister came to Assaita to pay his respect.

A senior Ethiopian church leader endorses “beka” (interview)

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Abune Mekarios, one of the most senior leaders of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, has called on Ethiopians to unite and say “BEKA” (enough) to Meles Zenawi’s dictatorship. Abune Mekarios sent out his message during an interview with ESAT. Watch parts 1-3 below:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 4

Sultan Ali Mirah Hanfere passed away

Monday, April 25th, 2011

sultan ali mirahEthiopia has lost one of its best sons, Sultan Ali Mirah Hanfere, yesterday. Sultan Ali Mirah, 95, is a great Ethiopian patriot, a staunch advocate of Ethiopia’s unity, and a leader of the Afar ethnic community in eastern Ethiopia.

The Sultan is remembered and honored among patriotic Ethiopians for his famous quote: “Even our camels salute the Ethiopian flag.” He reportedly made that comment in response to Meles Zenawi’s description of Ethiopia’s flag as “just a piece of rag.”

In a 1992 interview with Dr Fikre Tolossa, Ali Mirah said:

The people of Afar like other Ethiopians are proud of their heritage and history. We are one with all Ethiopians. No one can make excuses and take this identity from the Afar people. Only the forces who are anti-Afar people will make claims of separation. We will not hesitate to expose them for what they are. This must be done for the unity of our Ethiopian people.”

Sultan Ali Mirah’s political activities have been brutally suppressed for that past 20 years by the anti-Ethiopia ethnic apartheid junta that is currently ruling the country.

Ali Mirah will be buried in the town of Assaita tomorrow.

Will US and UK help Zenawi to supress popular uprising?

Monday, April 25th, 2011

By Shannon Filed | The New Age

Ethiopia is one of the largest recipients of development aid, receiving over US$3.3bn (R22.6bn) annually. Ethiopia is perceived by Western leaders as a largely Christian country bordering two unstable Islamic states, Sudan and Somalia, and viewed as a crucial ally in the “war on terror”.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister dictator Meles Zenawi has charmed Western leaders so successfully that he has seen foreign aid more than double in the past six years, while his regime has become increasingly repressive.

Zenawi presided over what were regarded as fraudulent elections in both 2005 and 2010, and in an attempt to maintain his regime’s grip on power, detained tens of thousands of opposition supporters, imprisoned opposition leaders and executed demonstrators. The US State Department acknowledged in its human rights reports the “numerous credible reports of unlawful detention of opposition candidates in Ethiopia, and the politically motivated killings committed by the security forces”. Despite this, Ethiopia remains a top US client state in the East African region and has not been subjected to official public criticism for the ruthlessness with which it deals with its detractors.

Ethiopia’s geo-strategic importance to the US has become the overriding issue, eclipsing the government’s growing political repression. With escalating calls from within Ethiopian society for a people’s uprising, the US finds itself again propping up a dictatorial regime, at US$1bn (R6.8bn) a year, in addition to the provision of military training and weaponry.

The collaborative relationship between the US and Ethiopia has been developing for years, with the common purpose being the rooting out of Islamic radicalism, particularly inside Somalia. The Pentagon has trained Ethiopian troops for counterterrorism operations in camps near the Somali border, and the US believes these efforts have disrupted terrorist networks in Somalia.

The US backed the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in 2006, and has shared its intelligence on the positions of Islamic militants with the Ethiopian military. The US has gone as far as using a base in Ethiopia to capture al-Qaeda leaders, and to use an airstrip in eastern Ethiopia to launch air strikes against Islamic militants in Somalia. Ethiopia’s geo-strategic importance is not only its proximity to Somalia, a known breeding ground for al-Qaeda, but as a backdoor to the Middle East.

This close relationship with Ethiopia is coming under the spotlight as the wave of people power in North Africa and the Middle East has inspired Ethiopian opposition movements to follow suit. In March, the Ethiopian Americans Council wrote to US President Barak Obama about the political situation in Ethiopia and the growing political suppression by the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). They claim the punitive legislation such as the Civil Society Law, Anti-Terror Law and Press Law hamper the ability to organise public meetings and rallies, and to raise funds. They have warned that Ethiopians are organising strikes and demonstrations for the coming months, and claim that an uprising has already begun in the southern region. It is alleged that security forces used deadly force against peaceful protestors on March 7 and 9 in the Gamgofa zone. The Council is seeking US support for the opposition’s campaign.

The Ethiopian regime is concerned about the power and influence of its massive diaspora, and their ability to stage demonstrations in cities around the world. This concern is well placed given that the diaspora is becoming more mobilised and determined to expose the draconian nature of the regime.

The regime is so concerned about the inevitability of a mass uprising at home that any gathering of more than three people in all urban centres has been banned, and there is a heavy military presence in the capital Addis Ababa. Prime Minister Zenawi has articulated his concern about the political turmoil in Yemen, just 150km from Ethiopia’s northern border, and has claimed that some domestic opposition groups are trying to incite a similar uprising.

The regime has taken immediate measures to counter any potential uprising by arresting more than 200 members of the opposition during March to prevent the organisation of demonstrations. The regime has also resumed its jamming of the US-financed Voice of America (VOA) language service broadcasts to Ethiopia. The VOA is the only international radio service broadcasting in the three main Ethiopian languages – Amharic, Afan Oromo and Tigrayan. Any political broadcasts by the VOA are now disrupted, as they provide the opposition with a voice.

An immediate mass uprising may not materialise given the collective memory of the harsh crackdown following public demonstrations in 2005, where 200 peaceful demonstrators were killed by security forces, 765 were wounded, and 30000 detained. At the time the opposition had protested against what they termed fraudulent elections, where the manipulation of election results gave the opposition far fewer seats than they believe they won. Thousands were arrested, the independent media silenced and 131 opposition politicians and journalists were put on trial for treason, outrages against the constitution and genocide. While the Ethiopian Parliamentary Commission report said the security forces did not use excessive force, the commission leaders claim their findings were altered by the government prior to the report’s release.

The 2010 elections were arguably worse, with higher levels of intimidation and coercion used. In the 2005 elections the opposition had won all the national and regional council seats of Addis Ababa, but in 2010 the government claimed to have won them all back. The regime claims to have won an overall 99.6% in the poll.

Prior to the 2010 elections, the government also denied food aid to opposition supporters, using it to reward its political allies – a tactic employed in successive elections. In a country where 3 million people experience hunger every year, this was a gross politicisation of humanitarian assistance. Human Rights Watch has painstakingly documented the regime’s multilayered oppressive strategies in its 105-page report Development Without Freedom: How Aid Underwrites Repression in Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian public know any uprising would be dealt a swift and brutal response by the regime. Unless there is reason to believe that segments of the Ethiopian military and Western powers would support their calls for regime change, it may be too much of a calculated risk.

Compared to Egypt and Tunisia, Ethiopia has a much smaller, less educated middle class, with less access to the internet. Internet connection in Ethiopia is 0.5% compared to 21.2% in Egypt. Somalia, which has not had a stable government for more than 20 years, has a higher internet connection rate than Ethiopia.

For any uprising to succeed in Ethiopia a critical mass of support is needed , particularly among the youth, with clear objectives, a well-defined strategy, determination and at least some support from the armed forces. Nationally no political organisation has the influence or credibility to lead a popular revolt, but as in Egypt, a cohesive political leadership is not necessary for an uprising to succeed.

What would be pivotal is the support of the US to opposition forces in the face of a brutal government crackdown.

It is this solidarity with democratic forces that cannot be relied upon given the close relations with the Zenawi government nurtured over time to ensure a virtual US proxy in the region.

(Shannon Field is a independent political analyst)

We Went, We Saw, We Got Chased Out…

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Alemayehu G. Mariam

Following the Battle of Zela in 47 B.C. (present day Zile, Turkey), Julius Caesar claimed victory by declaring: “I came; I saw; I conquered.” In 2011, Caesar Meles Zenawi, the dictator-in-chief in Ethiopia, scattered his top henchmen throughout the U.S. and Europe to declare victory in the propaganda war on Diaspora Ethiopians. But there was no victory to be had, only ignominious defeat at the hands of Zenawi’s tenacious, resolute and dogged opponents. No victory dances; only a speedy shuffle back to the capo di tutti capi (boss of all bosses) to deliver the message: “We went; We saw; We got chased the hell out of Dodge!”

The purpose of the recent official travelling circus was to introduce and generate support among Diaspora Ethiopians for Zenawi’s five-year economic program pretentiously labeled “Growth and Transformation Plan”. In city after city in North America and Europe, Zenawi’s crew received defiant and pugnacious reception. Ethiopians made the various meeting venues and sites virtual mini-Tahrir Squares (Egypt). Ethiopian men and women, Christians and Muslims, young and old, professionals and service workers, students and teachers and members of various political groups and parties showed up in a united front to confront and challenge Zenawi’s henchmen. One need only view any one of the numerous videotapes online to appreciate the intensity, depth and strength of Diaspora Ethiopian opposition to Zenawi’s regime.

In Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Dallas, Seattle, New York, Toronto, London and various other cities, Ethiopians came out in full force and tried to gain admission into the meetings.  Many were singled out and turned back. In a widely-disseminated and cogently argued “open letter”,Fekade Shewakena, a former professor at Addis Ababa University, wrote Girma Birru, Zenawi’s official representative in the U.S., complaining about his discriminatory treatment in being refused admission at the meeting held on the campus of Howard University:

I was formally invited by an [Ethiopian] embassy staffer… I faced the wrath of the protestors as I was crossing their picket lines [to attend the meeting]. Then I met the people who were deployed by the [Ethiopian] embassy to man the gate, and do the sad job of screening participants and deciding what type of Ethiopian should be let in and what type should be kept out. I was told I was ineligible to enter and saw many people being returned from entering. One screener told me… “ante Tigre titela yelem ende min litisera metah” [Tr. Do you not hate Tigreans? What business do you have here?...]

The ethnic stripe test was the last straw for many of the protesters who denounced Zenawi and his crew as “murderers”, “thieves” (leba) and “opportunists” (hodams). Inside the meeting halls, those who asked tough questions were singled out and ejected by the organizers, often violently. Some were physically assaulted requiring emergency medical assistance. Nearly all of the meetings were disrupted, cancelled, stopped or delayed. To sum it up, those who made peaceful dialogue impossible, made angry verbal exchanges inevitable.

Zenawi in September, His Troops in April?

It will be recalled that in September 2010 when Zenawi came to the U.S. to speak at the World Leader’s Conference at Columbia University, he set off a firestorm of opposition among Ethiopians in the U.S. Busloads of Ethiopian activists descended on New York City to confront Zenawi, but they were kept away from the campus. A massive campaign (reminiscent of the anti-war protest days at Columbia in the late 1960s) was undertaken to mobilize Columbia students, faculty and staff to put pressure on the university administration to disinvite Zenawi.

Zenawi’s invitation also provoked strong reaction among non-Ethiopians. Prof. Ted Vestal, the distinguished and respected scholar on Ethiopia, outraged by Zenawi’s invitation wrote Columbia President Lee Bollinger: “The only way you can redeem the damaged reputation of the World Leaders Forum is by publicly making known the shortcomings of Prime Minister Meles and his government in your introductory remarks–a refutation similar to what you did in introducing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran in 2007.”

World-renowned Columbia economist Prof. Jagdish Bagwati wrote in disgust: “It seems probable that the President’s [Bollinger] office was merely reproducing uncritically the rubbish that was supplied by one of these Columbia entrepreneurs [Columbia Professors Joseph Stiglitz (Zenawi’s sponsor) and  Jeffrey Sachs] whose objective is to ingratiate himself with influential African leaders regardless of their democratic and human-rights record, to get PR and ‘goodies’ for themselves at African summits, at the UN where these leaders have a vote, etc.”

I vigorously defended Zenawi’s right to speak at Columbia because I believed the opportunity could offer him a teachable moment in the ways of free people:

I realize that this may not be a popular view to hold, but I am reminded of the painful truth in Prof. Noam Chomsky’s admonition: ‘If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.’ On a personal level, it would be hypocritical of me to argue for free speech and press freedoms in Ethiopia and justify censorship or muzzling of Zenawi stateside. If censorship is bad for the good citizens of Ethiopia, it is also bad for the dictators of Ethiopia.

Following the Columbia episode, one has to wonder why Zenawi would send hordes of his top officials to the U.S. and elsewhere to evangelize on behalf of his regime. It is logical to assume that Zenawi conducted a “vulnerability analysis” of Diaspora Ethiopians before sending out his crew. It is likely that he studied Diaspora attitudes and perceptions toward his regime and the current situation in the country, the ethnic and political divisions and tensions in the Diaspora, the strength of Diaspora elite cooperation and intensity of conflict among them, etc. and decided to make his move. He likely concluded that any potential opposition to the meetings could be handled by utilizing an “ethnic filter” at the door of the meeting halls.

But what are Zenawi’s real reasons for sending his top cadre of officials to North America and Europe? There could be several answers to this deceptively simple question.

Zenawi’s Arsenal of Weapons of Mass Distraction

Careful evaluation of Zenawi’s propaganda strategy shows that the dispatch of officials to the to the U.S. and Europe is part of a broader integrated campaign to undermine opposition in the Diaspora, energize supporters and reinforce favorable perception and action by  foreign donors and banks. Manifestly, the mission of the crew sent to “dialogue” with the Ethiopian Diaspora was to divert attention from the extreme domestic economic, political and social problems in the country and to exude public confidence in the fact that the upheavals in North Africa are of no consequence in Ethiopia. The other elements in this propaganda campaign of mass distraction include belligerent talk of regime change in Eritrea, inflammatory water war-talk with Egypt, wild allegations of terrorist attacks, wholesale jailing and intimidation of opponents, proposals for the construction of an imaginary dam, attacks on international human rights organizations that have published critical reports on the regime (just a day ago, Zenawi’s deputy said he “dismisses” the 2010 U.S. Human Rights Report as “baseless”) and so on.  The hope is that the more Diasporans talk about the manufactured issues, the less they will talk about the real issues of stratospheric inflation, food shortages, skyrocketing fuel costs, massive repression, information and media suppression, etc. in Ethiopia.

By alternating propaganda topics from day today, Zenawi hopes to keep his opponents and critics talking reflexively about his issues and off-balance. The more outrageous his claims, the more reaction he is likely to elicit from his opponents and critics, and be able to better control the debate and the minds of those engaged in it. To be sure, by sending his travelling circus to the U.S., Zenawi has succeeded in angering, inflaming and riling up his Diaspora opponents. He knows just how to “get their goat”. He manipulates that outpouring of anger, rage and frustration to keep his opponents’ eyes off the prize.

The Propaganda Value of “In-Yo’-Diaspora-Face” Confrontation

By sending a large delegation into the Ethiopian Diaspora, Zenawi is also sending an unmistakable message: “In yo’ face, Ethiopian Diaspora! I can do what I am doing in Ethiopia just as easily in your neck of the woods.” It is a confrontational propaganda strategy tinged with a tad of arrogance. Zenawi seems to believe that the Ethiopian Diaspora is so divided against itself and inherently dysfunctional that it is incapable of mounting an effective opposition to his regime or even his crew’s visit. By unleashing swarms of regime officials in the Diaspora, Zenawi likely intended to further degrade the Diaspora’s ability to conduct or sustain opposition activities, demoralize and disconcert them and confuse their leadership. On the other hand, if he can muster a successful foray with his crew, he could establish his invincibility and spread pessimism and despair in the Diaspora. But the whole affair proved to be a total failure as have all previous efforts to stage “in yo’ face” confrontation with Diaspora Ethiopians. The Diaspora may be divided but not when it comes to Zenawi’s regime.

Effective Propaganda Tool Against the “Extreme Diaspora”

The other less apparent side of “in yo’ face” confrontation is to make a record of the “extreme Diaspora”. Zenawi will no doubt use this episode to show American and European  policy makers that he is reasonable and statesman-like while the opposition, particularly in the Diaspora, consist of an assortment of wild-eyed, hysterical, fanatical, intolerant, irrational, hateful and mean-spirited extremists. He will argue to American policy makers that he sent his top leaders to engage Diasporan Ethiopians in civil dialogue only to be attacked, insulted and berated. He will hand them copies of  well-edited videotapes of agitated protesters titled: “Behold the Ethiopian Diaspora!” In short, Zenawi will use the protest videos as Exhibit A to demonize, discredit, dehumanize, marginalize, categorize and sermonize about the Evil Extreme Ethiopian Diaspora. At the end, he will offer American policy makers a simple choice: “I am your man! It’s me or these raving lunatics.” Based on historical experience and empirical observations, some American policy makers may actually buy his argument.

Pandering to the U.S., IMF, E.U.

A third objective of the dog and pony show about the “Growth and Transformational Plan” is to please (hoodwink) the U.S., the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and others. It is an elaborately staged drama for this audience to show that Zenawi has a real economic plan for Ethiopia that exceeds the “Millennium Goals” (e.g. eradicate extreme poverty, reduce child mortality, fight AIDS, form global partnership, etc. by 2015). By making gestures of engagement with the Ethiopian Diaspora, Zenawi is trying to build credibility for his “economic plan” and that it has broad support within and outside the country. He deserves billions more in in loans and economic aid. Zenawi knows exactly what buttons to push to get the attention and approval of donors and loaners.

The “economic plan” itself floats on a sea of catchphrases, clichés, slogans, buzzwords, platitudes, truisms and bombast. Zenawi says his plan will produce “food sufficiency in five years.” But he cautions it is a “high-case scenario which is clearly very, very ambitious.” He says  the “base-case” scenario of “11 percent average economic growth over the next five years is  doable” and the “high-case” scenario of 14.9 percent is “not unimaginable”. The hype of super economic growth rate is manifestly detached from reality. The Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative Multidimensional Poverty Index 2010 (formerly annual U.N.D.P. Human Poverty Index) ranks Ethiopia as second poorest (ahead of famine-ravaged Mali) country on the planet. Six million Ethiopians needed emergency food aid last year and many millions will need food aid this year. An annual growth rate of 15 percent for the second poorest country on the planet for the next five years goes beyond the realm of imagination to pure fantasy. The IMF predicts a growth rate of 7 percent for 2011, but talking about economic statistics on Ethiopia is like talking about the art of voodoo.

Dialogue, Like Charity, Begins at Home

Like charity, dialogue begins at home. Zenawi should allow free and unfettered discussion of his economic plan as well as human rights record within Ethiopia first before sending his troupe into the Diaspora.  Conversation is a two-way street. If Zenawi wants to talk about his economic plan to Diaspora Ethiopians, he must be prepared to listen to their human rights concerns.

There is not a single Ethiopian who will oppose food sufficiency in that hungry country by 2015 or decline to contribute to the prosperity and development of Ethiopia. Reasonable people could disagree on Zenawi’s “growth and transformation plan”. History shows that similar schemes based on foreign agricultural investments in Latin America have produced Banana Republics. Whether Zenawi’s economic plan will produce a Barley or Rice Republic in Ethiopia is an arguable question. But there can be no development without freedom. There can be no development in a climate of fear, loathing and intimidation, and one-party, one-man domination. Most certainly, there can be no development without respect for fundamental human rights and the rule of law. Though it is very possible to pull the wool over the eyes of people who have very little access to information, it is impossible to fool a politically conscious, active and energized Ethiopian Diaspora community by putting on a dog and pony show.

 

 

Uganda police killed five protesters

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

(Amnesty International) — The Ugandan government must immediately end the excessive use of force against protesters, Amnesty International said today, after police fired live rounds at crowds of protesters in different parts of the country reportedly killing a child.

Five people have been killed in Uganda since the protests, sparked by a rise in fuel prices and the cost of living, began on 11 April.

“The police have a duty to protect themselves and uphold the law, but it is completely unacceptable to fire live ammunition at peaceful protesters,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Africa Deputy Director.

“They must now investigate these deaths immediately in a thorough, independent and effective manner.”

One child was killed and two protesters injured by bullets during protests in the town of Masaka today, a local journalist told Amnesty International. Two police officers were reportedly badly beaten by protesters during the disturbances.

Kizza Besigye, leader of the opposition party, Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), was today arrested for the third time since the protests began. He has been charged with unlawful assembly and will appear in court on 27 April.

Two men were shot dead by security forces in the northern town of Gulu on 14 April. Adoni Mugisu, a market vendor, and Charles Otula, a mechanic died after police fired into crowds of unarmed protesters. The government expressed regret over the deaths and blamed the deaths on the opposition leaders and protesters.

During the protests in Gulu one other person was reportedly lynched by protesters for wearing a T-shirt with a photograph of President Museveni.

On Monday 18 April, dozens of people were arrested and charged with offences ranging from inciting violence to participating in unlawful assemblies. Among them was Democratic Party leader Norbert Mao, who refused to apply for bail and is scheduled to appear in court next month.

“Uganda must immediately drop all charges against Kizza Besigye and all other opposition politicians, activists and supporters,” said Michelle Kagari.

“Criminal charges must not be used against those taking part in peaceful protests and those detained must be released.

“The government must also launch an independent investigation into all human rights violations alleged to have been committed during the recent events. All those suspected of carrying out acts of unlawful violence must be held to account,” she said.

Since the conclusion of the February 2011 general elections, the Ugandan police have maintained a blanket ban against all forms of public assemblies and demonstrations, on grounds of ensuring public security.

“The ban on public rallies violates the right to freedom of expression provided for under Uganda’s Constitution and international law. It must be lifted immediately, “said Michelle Kagari.

“The Ugandan government argues that the ban is in the interest of public security. But in fact it is having the opposite effect, causing widespread disruption,” she said.

“The Lion of Judah in the New World” – Book Review

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

By Messay Kebede

The latest book of Professor Theodore M. Vestal, The Lion of Judah in the New World: Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia and the Shaping of Americans’ Attitudes toward Africa (Praeger, 2011) presents an insightful, focused, and scholarly portrait of HaileSelassie. Revolving around the central issue of knowing how Haile Selassie became the subject of a wide American adulation, this book of a great friend of Ethiopia gives fresh insights into US policy in Africa since World War II and a penetrating analysis of the emperor’s rise and fall.

To begin with, Vestal avoids the too common path of a one-sided portrait of Haile Selassie. He does not describe the emperor as “a demoniac despot administering large doses of cruelty” (xiii). Nor does he follow the path of mystification, of “lofty, lyrical language of praise” (xiii). Instead, Vestal presents a balanced account in which merits and flaws are spelled out. More importantly, the account is such that it forces us to face the enigmatic disjunction of HaileSelassie’s reign, namely, his international fame and importance and his disappointing internal performances and final disgrace. As Vestal aptly puts it: “it is perhaps difficult to understand how a ruler so reviled in his homeland for more than 35 years by successor governments could have been such an international celebrity and be so royally received abroad” (xi).

In his analysis of the rise of Haile Selassie to absolute power, Vestal gives a proper place to his consummate political skills, notably his shrewdness, which helped him “outsmart, outmaneuver, and outwait the xenophobic, isolationist conservatives who stood in his way” (21). Yet to reduce his triumph to shrewdness would be one-sided: the full impact of his personality appears only when shrewdness is coupled with charismatic traits. HaileSelassie shrouded his political skills with a thick cover of charm that seduced not only many Ethiopians for a long time, but also the international audience, in particular the American public.

Vestal speaks of “a perplexing figure,” of “elusive” character (190) and provides pertinent examples of the complexity of Haile Selassie’s personality. The purpose of this psychological analysis is obvious: the question why this shrewd politician missed the necessity of reforms cannot be answered without some access into his deeper soul. Likewise, Ethiopia became a major beneficiary of US aid thanks to the impressive personality of Haile Selassie over and above its strategic interest, which was essentially confined to the American policy of Soviet containment and the use of the Kagnew communication facilities in Eritrea. Americans were fascinated with the dignity and august figure of the emperor. For instance, Time magazine named Haile Selassie “Man of the Year” twice.

In light of the limited interest of Ethiopia to the US, Haile Selassie’s offensive of charm, Vestal convincingly argues, was instrumental in the forging of close ties. Ethiopia’s participation in the Korean War and several state visits to the US further strengthened the ties. In addition to appreciable economic and military aids, the combination of diplomacy with charm secured US support for the federation of Eritrea with Ethiopia.

The domestic usage of external policy is another facet of Haile Selassie’s political acumen. His attempt to gain international fame through an offensive of charm was a component part of his strategy to overshadow and defeat his internal opponents. Doubtless, Haile Selassie succeeded in imposing his absolute rule on Ethiopia by means of fame gained abroad. His internal opponents looked mean and petty in the face of his international grandeur.

Among the insightful contributions of Vestal’s book is a realistic analysis of US policy in Ethiopia. Though ties were close enough for Ethiopia to become a major beneficiary of American economic and military aid, they were fraught with ambiguity and constant misunderstandings. In particular, unable to understand how democratic governments work, Haile Selassie was constantly unhappy with the amount of US military and economic aids. From his exchanges with American presidents, he expected immediate and generous assistance, and so overlooked the fact that they are limited by “congressional control of spending” (101) and other domestic factors.

The US government, in its turn, was dealing with an outdated regime and an obstinate monarch whose ambition exceeded by far the status of the country he was representing. To make matters worse, in the face of mounting domestic dissatisfaction, Haile Selassie proved reluctant to effect reforms, convinced as he was that his regime “would continue as it had for almost 40 years under his enlightened rule” (160). At a time when growing Somali threat and insurgency in Eritrea compelled Haile Selassie to ask for more military aid, the prevailing view in the American government was that Ethiopia needed “faster paced change and reform” (173) rather than more arms. To crown it all, the operations at Kagnew Station ceased in 1974, depriving Ethiopia of its strategic interest (183). In other words, “at the advent of the 1970s the relationship between the United States and Ethiopia was in decline” (173).

We all know what happened next and Vestal’s book goes a long way in showing the premises of the little effort of the US government to intervene and save the imperial regime from the assault of revolutionary forces. Together with the dissatisfaction and rebellious mood of an increasing number of Ethiopians, the international opinion and the American public were liberated from the spell of Haile Selassie’s myth. Thus, Haile Selassie’s obsession with absolute power had finally defeated his uncommon political acumen.

Unfortunately, Ethiopia’s tragedy will not end with Haile Selassie, since the same obsession for absolute power defines his successors to the point of obstructing their political acuity, to which they owe their ascent to power. Blinded by his early victories, his first successor, Mengistu Hailemariam, lost power because he could not reverse the infirmities induced by his dictatorial rule. The second successor, Meles, is stuck with the same fixation, which leads him to pursue the destructive policy of “after me the deluge” characteristic of all dictators.

Prof. Messay Kebede can be reached at Messay.Kebede@notes.udayton.edu
Prof. Theodore Vestal can be reached at vestal65@hotmail.com

Exporting Kilil to America

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

By Yilma Bekele

Being an Ethiopian has always been difficult. The bad news is, it is not going to get any easier. Two weeks ago I found out it can be taken away too. It has come to a point where names and looks plus attitude can determine who is and who is not an Ethiopian. Welcome to Kilil in America.

The Ethiopian government reps. held a town hall meeting in a city not far from where I live. There were over a hundred of us protesting outside and two hundred plus were inside listening to the marketing. It was an out of this world experience. San Jose and other cities where the salesmen went were transformed in a new and positive manner. The intervention was definitely divine. Ethiopia stretched her hands to God and it was answered.

They came with their ethnic baggage in hand; we waited for them as one. They came to divide, we ended up together. They came to saw hate and discord but they made us see how beautiful our diversity is. They are programmed to think as one while we celebrate the many voices that enrich our discussion. It was obvious we were like oil and water. Woyane and Ethiopia don’t mix. Mengistu and Ethiopia did not mesh either. Too bad we ended up where we started.

The government is perfectly aware that there was no chance of holding a fund raising or any event in any western city. None. Why do it then? Why does a snake bite? It is embedded in its DNA. Hate and violence are imbedded in Woyane’s nature. They came specifically to stir the pot of hate and ethnic division. They knew they were going to set up a single ethnic group against all others. If it serves their purpose and they did not care for the consequences. They are cold blooded.

San Jose was one such place where this tragic theatre was played. It was financed by all but directed, stared by and played by a single ethnic group. It started late, sound and video were not set up and things never got any better. When it did start the presentation made you wonder why a meeting was called for. The presenter who later on the program introduced himself as Minster of Internet just read the power point presentation word for word. That was the whole shpeel. The question and answer were a wholesale situation where nothing of significance was asked or answered. It was a depressing display of weakness.

Looking at the officials made me think how much we all contributed to this madness. I thought of my cousins starving, their children not learning, the graduates not working and the mothers and fathers watching their kids wasting their productive years. Here we have a 35 people strong delegation visiting 10 US cites to stir trouble. It is not a cheap trip. Here is a very conservative budget for building a bridge to nowhere.

Round trip ticket 35*4500 157,500.00
Hotel 35*15*350 183,750.00
Per Diem 35*15*250 131,250.00
Hall rental 10*4500 45,000.00
Security 10*2500 25,000.00
US transportation 35*1500 52,500.00
Auto rental 15*750 11,250.00
Entertainment 10*5000 50,000.00

Total in US dollars $656,250.00
Total in Eth. Bir $11,812,500.00

Do you think the investment is worth the return? Or should the question be what exactly was the regime expecting from such an investment. I believe it was meant to deflect attention away from the current peoples uprisings in North Africa. It is also to cover up the ongoing economic melt down. As far as the regime is concerned both are very troubling issues currently eating up scarce resources to safeguard the status quo. The whole country is employee of the Ethiopian government. There is no branch of activity the government either directly or thru its proxies such as EFFORT is not involved in. Land, Communication, banking, insurance, import export, are all under the control of the TPLF party. It requires a lot of resources to run an illegal enterprise.

It requires constant injection of new capital. The economic downturn in the west and the Middle East is having a negative impact on the regime. The remittance cash is drying up. Expenses are going up. As usual the government is throwing up all kinds of solutions hoping one works. We have seen this before. You remember when growing for bio-fuels was the salvation or was it flowers? How does that compare to railway line to Port Sudan or was it to Mombassa? I believe even Hargessa was in the running. I do not think it was as dramatic as fiber optics wiring for good old Ethiopia and that was five years ago. A few weeks ago the PM was speculating about streetcars for Addis, hope he was dreaming of solar powered, you don’t want all those trolleys stuck in the middle of the road for lack of electricity do you? Menged be fereka.

The new scam to expropriate cash from the citizen is the millennium dam on the mighty Nile. The idea is so beautiful it takes your breath away. It is a very bold proposition that stirs the soul. Imagine a big dam holding our water just for us. As usual as far as TPLF is concerned the dam is done. The computer-generated design is awe-inspiring. You can almost touch it. That is all it is, pie in the sky. They will collect a few dollars and let it die a natural death. Just like the railway line to Kenya, the great highway to Sudan, broadband Internet all over Ethiopia the Millennium Dam will be allowed to evaporate. But, what a warm feeling it created in all of us. Thank you for the wonderful trip Woyane.

While the regime is in such a generous mood to modernize Ethiopia we have a few suggestions if we are allowed. It does not require a single penny from the government. Let us start with education. It is the key. Knowledge is what makes the world go round. Knowledge is what is needed in Ethiopia. Can we allow the privatization of the communication sector and unleash the power of the Internet to spread knowledge free of charge? The rewards are beyond our dreams. It will create thousands of jobs (service providers, web designers, programmers, sales and advertising) not to mention a smarter generation.

Let us also allow the private press to flourish. Private television, radio, newspaper and magazines inform and nurture our people. The government will collect revenues from all this enterprises while the citizen creates jobs and wealth. The San Jose participants were freely given beautifully printed brochures full of pictures, graphs and marketing all done by government-confiscated presses. How sad due to the artificial price of paper, ink and Communications department sanctioned use of violence, threat and other illegal acts the free press in Ethiopia is withering away as we watch. Today our country is the last in Africa in newspaper distribution, variety and freedom scale. Darkness is the friend of the totalitarian system. Knowledge and freedom go hand in hand.

The Ethiopian government means to keep the population in ignorance. Our country is the worst wired and the least digitized on the planet. The government is afraid of the citizen getting unbiased opinion. Independent Web sites are blocked, our satellite TV transmission is jammed (www.esat.com) even VOA and Deutsche Welle are victims of TPLF madness. How could such a government be trusted to do anything good? Why would such a system that degrades human beings be allowed to exist?

It exists because we allow it. It exists because we feed it. It exists because some of us have decided our personal interest is bigger than our love for country and fellow human being. It exists because we have knowingly decided to turn our face away. There are no two sides to dying of hunger. There is nothing to be said about being exiled from your homeland and finding yourself wondering in the deserts of Libya, the Jungles of Malawi, the ghettos of Rome or Frankfort the projects of America. But our silence makes all this happen. If not for us telling the world the trials and tribulations of our people who else?

Since the uprisings in the Moslem world the Ethiopian government has been experimenting with various responses to hold this tsunami of freedom at bay. I believe we are on response #5. It is good to notice that there has never been this flurry of activity in past crisis situations. This one is different. It seems to have a life of its own. No one has found the right combination of response. The one that has come close is Ben Ali of Tunisia. He left early, he left clean. The others, like patients on AID medicine are trying different combinations.

Ato Meles is trying hard. There is no margin for error here. If history is any indication his neck is on line. To his credit he sent Berket, gave a press conference, used the speech at the kangaroo Parliament, sent his delegates to Europe and America and created the Millennium Dam fiction. That is five different responses in two months time. For a person whose contract specifies eight hours a day this uprising business is creating over time situation. It is lonely at the top. He does not have any good will left with anybody. His old friends are more than happy to be called as witnesses for the prosecution, his Kilil servants will even the score at a drop of a hat, his foreign benefactors will send Ambassadors to meet the new guys in town and the reliability of family and close friends is not certain. This is not a happy Easter.

Protest march in Mekele (photos)

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

MEKELE, ETHIOPIA — Hundreds of residents in the northern Ethiopian city of Mekele (Tigray Province) held a protest march yesterday, April 20, to voice their opposition to the order by the city administration to vacate their homes, according to Ethiopian Review Intelligence Unit sources.
protest in Mekele, northern Ethiopia
The residents built their homes on the land that the City allocated to them four years ago. Now the City wants the land back.

As the residents peacefully marched to the office of Abay Wolde, President of Tigray, they were intercepted by the Federal Police who ordered them to disperse. After a brief standoff, the police asked the protesters to send their representatives to meet with Abay Woldu. They dispersed after Abay told the representatives that he will let them know his decision on Friday.
protest in Mekele, northern Ethiopia

Ethiopia ranks at the bottom in technology growth

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Ethiopian under the Woyanne junta continues to rank at the bottom among other nations in every development scale. After 20 years of Meles Zenawi’s dictatorship, most Ethiopians live under obscene poverty where children in some areas scavenge for food in trash dumps. In this information age, only 1 percent of Ethiopians have access to computer, and Ethiopia ranks 135th out of 138 countries in Internet usage, 129th in freedom of the press, 138th in mobile phone subscription, 132nd in electricity production, and 133rd in adult literacy rate, according to a recent report by the World Economic Forum (read the report here). That is why Ethiopians are saying Beka (enough) to Meles Zenawi’s 20 years of misrule, repression, and corruption.

ESAT meeting in Ottawa

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Ethiopian Satellite TV (ESAT) will hold a public meeting and fund raising in Ottawa, Canada, on Saturday, April 30, 2011 at 1:00 PM.

Guest speakers: Dr Berhanu Nega and Artist Tamagne Beyene
Address: Ottawa Public Library, 120 Metcalf, Ottawa

For more info: Tel 613 600 6616 or 613 762 2934
Email: esatottawa@yahoo.ca

Confrontation breaks out among Woyanne delegates

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Two weeks ago, Ethiopia’s khat-addicted tyrant Meles Zenawi sent a 35-member high level delegation to North America to promote his new gimmick, “Growth and Transformation Plan” “Grand Theft Plan” (GTP). The dictator who cannot stay one week in power without foreign aid has spent close to a million dollars for the 14-city tour in the U.S. and Canada involving 35 government officials and the 10 “journalists” who accompanied. In every city they visited, the delegates were confronted by protesters, and in Washington DC and Los Angeles, they were forced to cancel their meetings. The tour was a major public relations disaster for the decayed regime.

The two senior TPLF members, Berhane Gebrekirstos and Arkebe Equbai, who led the delegation were particularly shaken by the intensity of the protests and accused Girma Birru and other non-TPLF diplomats of not doing enough preparations. It is now rumored that Girma’s days as Woyanne ambassador to the U.S. are numbered.

Girma and the other puppet diplomats are in a quandary since they have little say to begin with. It is the TPLF cadres at the embassies who are the decision makers. In Girma’s case, he reports to Wahde Belay, a TPLF cadre whose official position is head of public relations, but in reality he is the real ambassador who gives orders to Girma and every one at the embassy.

More evidence that Nile dam is a propaganda stunt

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Just a few months ago and for 20 years before that, Meles Zenawi and his ethnic apartheid junta have been taking the side of Egypt when it comes to Abay (Nile River). In fact, shortly after Meles came to power in 1991 with the help of Egypt, he flew to Cairo to sign a secret agreement with Mubarak (see here) that strips Ethiopia’s claim.

(Updated with some corrections)

1) As of August 22, 2010, 7 months ago, EEPCO’s 5-year-plan did not include Nile River, according to an EEPCO official (read here).

2) When the north Africa and Middle East popular uprisings broke out, the state-run Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPC) revised its 5-year plan to include Nile basin projects as part of the Woyanne so-called “Growth and Transformation Plan” (GTP). (see here)

This is one more proof that Meles and his propaganda chief Bereket Simon concocted the Abay dam idea in a desperate attempt to divert the public attention from saying BEKA (enough) to 20 years of dictatorship and misrule. The people of Ethiopia have had enough of Meles-Bereket’s lies for the past 20 years. What we Ethiopians need is freedom, not fake plans by a gang of proven thieves, rapists and murderers. For Ethiopians trusting the Nile issue with Meles is like some one trusting his daughter with a rapist. (see EEPC’s five-year-plan here. It doesn’t mention Abay.)

Joint Ginbot 7, OLF, and Ogaden public meeting in Atlanta

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Ginbot 7 chairman Dr Berhanu Nega, OLF Atlanta representative Jemal Gelchu, and Ogaden Atlanta community representative Abdul Hakim will hold a public meeting in Atlanta to discuss current Ethiopian issues.

Date: Saturday, April 23, 2011
Time: 1:30 PM
Place: Dekalb County Library, 215 Sycamore Street, Decatur GA 30030

For more info: Tel 770 880 1757

Countering Woyanne Abay propaganda onslaught

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

In a debate with a Woyanne cadre on VOA, Tamagne Beyene does an effective job of countering Meles Zenawi’s new propaganda campaign that is centered around a plan to build a massive dam along the Nile River. Except for some gullible individuals and fence-sitters, most Ethiopians understand that Meles is talking about building a dam not for the good of Ethiopia, but in order to divert the public’s attention from his regime’s 20 years of disastrous rule. Listen the debate below:

Lawlessness in Ethiopia under Woyanne rule – one man’s story

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

The following is a story of one Ethiopian man who went to Ethiopia from Canada to visit his family and ended up in jail. This is one of the many horror stories we hear ever day about the lawlessness in Ethiopia under the Woyanne rule.

By Carol Sanders

(Winnipeg Free Press) — A Winnipeg man who has helped rescue hundreds of people from violence in Ethiopia fears he can’t save his own son, who was jailed there shortly after arriving from Canada two weeks ago.

“I’m very worried,” Juhar Hargaaya said Monday.

His 26-year-old son, Fewaz, left their home in Transcona to visit family in Ethiopia, but was arrested for carrying walkie-talkies and jailed at Dire Dawa in the notorious Ethiopian prison system.

“It’s very bad,” said his father, who arrived in Canada as a refugee in 1990.

Hargaaya, a forklift driver who works seven days a week with a part-time job on weekends, has helped to sponsor hundreds of refugees from Ethiopia over the last 20 years, said Tom Denton at Hospitality House.

Sponsorship documents from the Winnipeg refugee ministry were found among Fewaz’s things after he was arrested in Ethiopia. The forms, critical of the Ethiopian government’s treatment of its people, were for four Ethiopians who’d fled to neighbouring Djibouti, waiting to come to Canada.

Now, Fewaz is in trouble for criticizing the government, said his younger sister, Iftu.

“The conditions in Ethiopian prisons aren’t the best,” said the 24-year-old University of Manitoba student.

“We don’t know if he has access to food and water.”

Her brother hasn’t been able to contact his family or get a lawyer, Iftu said, adding “there’s a guard working in the prison letting our family know.”

What they know so far isn’t good.

“He got sick, so they took him to a hospital,” his sister said. “They said he should undergo an operation.”

Terrified at the prospect of being given anesthetics in an Ethiopian prison hospital, Fewaz refused and asked to go home to Canada for treatment.

“They brought him back to the prison,” Iftu said.

Desperate, he climbed onto a roof to yell for help and was shot at by prison guards. Though he wasn’t hit, he was grabbed, beaten and hauled down to an underground cell, she said.

The Hargaaya family contacted the Canadian government to have someone at the Embassy there check on Fewaz in Dire Dawa, she said.

Iftu fears her brother was jailed because he was trying to help people get out of the country and because their family is Oromo, a community struggling for self-determination in Ethiopia.

Fewaz was arrested after he refused to sell electronics he brought from Canada to a man, said Iftu. The irate buyer was angry and called the police, who found Fewaz with his Canadian “walkie-talkies.”

Police searched the home he was staying at and found sponsorship documents from Hospitality House for two more adults and kids Fewaz’s father in Winnipeg was trying to help come to Canada.

Hargaaya is one of Hospitality House’s most supportive clients, said Denton.

“It’s remarkable what he’s accomplished,” said Denton.

Hargaaya works two jobs and enlists the assistance of people he’s helped settle in Canada over the years. He’s got them paying it forward with financial support for more new refugees, said Denton.

“An organization like ours has the legal capacity to sponsor but doesn’t have the financial wherewithal to support these people when they get here so we enter into arrangements with family links who look after them when the people get here,” Denton said

“He has a network of people across the country and it’s probably people he brought here with our assistance. We’re very supportive of him and what he does.”

Now, his son is stuck in an Ethiopian jail and Denton hopes Canadian diplomats will check on his well-being and help him get home safely.

“I think anyone who is confined to a prison in the Horn of Africa is in serious danger,” Denton said.

Woyanne Desperate Measures

Monday, April 18th, 2011

By Yohannes Kifle

For the past 13 years, the Woyanes have become so predictable when they are in a political quagmire. The recent political uprising in the Middle East and in the Northern part of Africa has Zenawi’s regime so concerned creating political diversion that is further from the reality was crucial in an attempt to engross mainly the people of Ethiopia and, if anyone is listening, the rest of the world.

Of course, Zenawi’s regime has no respect for what his own citizens think. The latest political stint is pretty much staged for the donors he can’t afford to upset since his survival is depending on what these donors think of him. One must keep in mind that the regime is so terrified of the potential up rise and measures to squash it must be justified ahead of time. One must also keep in mind that the regime is pretty good at taking survival measures since it has no principle of fundamental politics to lean on. It is that lack of core of principle the regime is suffering from that will ultimately facilitate its demise. The lack of principle of fundamental politics is a recipe for disaster as it has been witnessed in the past. The regime in Ethiopia is no different than the others with same deficiencies; however, what makes this regime unique is the fact that it receives unwavering support from the West for its unique ability of providing what the West needs. Perhaps, the West deserves share of the blame. In addition, the West needs to evaluate its policy towards the regime in Ethiopia and be on the right side of history, which ultimately benefits the West.

As mentioned above, the latest political stints by the regime were targeting two main elements: national security and economic growth. These two elements were brought to the surface with the assumption that they would create the type of political distraction the regime was hoping for. Unfortunately for the regime, any political stint comes with its own price.

National security:

In the name of national security, the regime was forced to bring Eritrea in this equation with the assumption that any mention of “a threat from Eritrea” will galvanize the nation. This may be true in 1998 -2000. Today, Ethiopians are more educated of what had transpired since the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea broke out. Moreover, Ethiopians are aware of the fact that legally, Eritrea had won the border issue fair and square. The 2002 decision by Hague took the air out of those who were beating the war drum to recover access to the sea. Though the regime in Ethiopia is not officially advocating the return of Assab, the thought process is that by creating the possibility of waging war with Eritrea, potential political capital could be gained, and will ultimately conciliate the anticipated potential threat from civil disobedience that is similar to what had transpired in the Middle East and North Africa. To the regime’s disappointment, the reaction from the vast majority of Ethiopians, including those in Diaspora was extremely negative of the war monger attitude of the regime.

Every time the regime in Ethiopia chooses to show its arrogance about its military superiority it admits its weakness ignorantly. Back in 2000 after the war was over and crowning itself as a winner, the regime couldn’t manage to hide how terrified it was of the strength of Eritrea’s military capacity. It was for that valid reason the regime asked guarantee from the West and the institutions that were involved in bringing peace between these two countries. The latest military bravado, from the regime’s Prime Minister, to invade Eritrea was also a message to the opposition groups who are currently waging internal war with the regime. This message was spawned out of fear.

The Grand Millennium Dam:

The regime’s infatuation to building a dam has been a discussion for quite a while. However, the magnitude of this project is so humongous some doubt the project would be feasible anytime soon due to financial reasons. The regime is banking on the west to assume the bulk of the financial responsibility. In addition, the regime is also taking advantage of this thrill-seeking project as way of communicating with the Diaspora and enticing them with potential investment opportunity hoping to gain political capital. Again, this also failed miserably as it became evident all over the United States where the regime tried to hold these meetings with the Diaspora this past weekend.

Given the regime’s past record, major projects such as the grand millennium dam were used to divert the political attention of the people of Ethiopia from war, economic and political crisis. In 1999, the regime boasted that “merkato” was supposedly to be bought by a Malaysian company for Six billion dollars. During that period of time, the regime also bragged about a 1.7 billion dollars investment on gas pipeline project connecting Ethiopia and Sudan. Of course, no one forgets the empty promises the regime was making about exporting power to Africa while the city of Addis Ababa was suffering from power shortage just about every other day.

Last,

As mentioned above, the political reverberation the regime in Ethiopia has created in the name of “national security” and “Economic growth” has produced no political dividend. Oddly, the regime bankrupted politically on both elements. The war drum against Eritrea was rejected by Ethiopians, which exposed the regime’s vulnerability should these two countries confront each other militarily. Furthermore, the regime credibility in front of the International community (those who matter) will further be damaged. The “economic growth” fiasco that was supposedly to be used as a conduit to establish a relationship with Diaspora with the hope to capitalize politically proved to be a disaster. If anything, this political miscalculation by the regime gives the Diaspora the energy it was looking for. One doesn’t anticipate the regime to try to coddling again with the Diaspora any time soon; however, one will not rule out this regime’s possible war adventure against Eritrea as desperate times call for desperate measures. The Weyanes are indeed desperate.

(The writer can be reached at ycry98@yahoo.com)

Aba Diabilos orders churches to buy government bond

Monday, April 18th, 2011

The Woyanne-installed fake patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Aba Gebremedhin (formerly Abune Paulos) has sent out a directive to 200 churches in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa ordering them to buy 200,000 birr worth of government bonds each to help pay for the recently announced Nile River dam project. Most of the church refused to comply. Read more in the Amharic section here.

Except for some gullible individuals, most Ethiopians believe that Meles Zenawi came up with the plan to build dam along the Nile River in order to divert attention from the mounting domestic problems. Another politically motivated project, the Tekeze River dam, was built at the cost of over $350 million, and inaugurated almost 2 years ago, but it has not yet started producing power.

Langano says BEKA!

Monday, April 18th, 2011

BEKA has now spread to outside of Addis Ababa. Ethiopian Review has received the following photo that was taken at the Langano Wabishebele Hotel today (see below). The slogan is also written on hotel room and bathroom walls at multiple locaitons. BEKA (enough) is a slogan that calls for the end of Meles Zenawi’s 20 years of dictatorship and misrule. Langano is a resort Ethiopian town about 200 km south of Addis Ababa.

The End Game of African Dictators

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Alemayehu G. Mariam

End Game

Laurent Gbagbo of Cote d’Ivoire arrested! Hosni Mubarak of Egypt in intensive care! Moamar Gadhafi of Libya under siege! Omar al-Bashir of the Sudan, a fugitive from justice. Ben Ali of Tunisia out of Africa! Meles Zenawi, sleepless in Ethiopia.

These are heady days on the African continent. These are days of joy. Africa’s thugdoms are crumbling like clumps of dirt underfoot. These are days of grief and tribulation. After one-half century of independence, Africa continues to sink deeper into a quagmire of dictatorship, corruption and extreme violence.

It was a crying shame to see the video footages of Laurent Gbagbo, the leader of one of Africa’s economic powerhouses, being collared, manhandled and dragged away with his wife like a common criminal thug. The last such shocking video came out of Africa in 1990  showing the gruesome torture and execution of Samuel Doe, the president of Liberia. (Doe had himself staged a televised torture and execution of his predecessor William Tolbert.)

Gbagbo’s arrest footage played straight into the stereotypical cartoonish image of the defiantly erratic African dictator often crudely portrayed in the media. Gbagbo looked pathetic as his captors surrounded him and barked out orders. He looked so helpless, defenseless, friendless and hopeless.  His forlorn eyes told the whole story. The man who had thumbed his nose at the world for the past 5 months while his country burned was visibly hyperventilating and drenched in sweat. He could hardly put on his shirt. It was a totally humiliating experience for Gbagbo. It was devastating, depressing and dispiriting to any African who values self-dignity.

Gbagbo was not a run-of-the-mill African dictator. He did not bulldoze or shoot his way to power. For decades, he used the democratic process to struggle for change in his country. Unlike other African dictators who graduated with high honors from the university of intrigue, corruption, human rights violation, double-dealing, deception and skullduggery, Gbagbo graduated with a doctorate from the University of Paris at the Sorbonne, one of the greatest higher learning institutions in Europe. He was a learned and energetic professor and researcher at the University of Abidjan who used his knowledge to become the leading voice of resistance and dissent against dictatorship in his country. He was a union activist who organized teachers’ strikes and ardently worked to establish multiparty democracy. He was a lawmaker in the Ivorian National Assembly. He founded the Ivorian Popular Front, a center-left socialist party. He was a bold dissident who suffered imprisonment on various occasions for his political views and activities. He spent the 1980s in exile in France.

By all measures, Gbagbo was among the best and brightest of Africa’s democratically-leaning leaders.  But as he completed his first term of office, he was afflicted by “cling-to-power-at-any-cost syndrome”, a political disease more commonly known as “I want to be president-for-life (PFL)” syndrome. Every African civilian or military leader since Kwame Nkrumah in the early 1960s has suffered from PFL. Gbagbo sacrificed the lives of thousands of his compatriots so that he could become president-for-life.

In the end, none of it mattered. Gbagbo proved to be no different or better than any of the other  benighted and villainous African dictators who cling to power by killing, jailing, torturing and stealing from their citizens. He may now end up serving a life sentence for crimes against humanity.

The Ivorian president-turned-power-fiend could have had a dignified exit from power. He could have left office with the respect and appreciation of his people, and honored by the international community as an elder African statesman. He could have found different ways of remaining active in Ivorian politics. Many wanted to facilitate a dignified exit for him. Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said, “I gave him [Gbagbo] an offer which had been given by the United States that he had an option to come into exile in the United States and that he would be allowed to be a lecturer at the University of Boston.” He could have cut a deal for a”golden exile” right after the November elections and lived out his life without fear of prosecution. He had been offered asylum in Angola, South Africa, Malawi, Nigeria and the U.S., but he turned down all of them. Like many of his predecessors, Gbagbo chose the path of self-humiliation and ignominy.

Gbagbo’s End Game

Gbagbo’s end game is to face justice for his crimes in an Ivorian court, a special court for Cote d’Ivoire or before the International Criminal Court (ICC). There is substantial evidence to show that as a direct result of Gbagbo’s refusal to concede the presidential election in November 2010, thousands of people lost their lives in officially sanctioned extra-judicial killings. In excess of one million Ivorians have been forced to leave the country to avoid the violence. Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, took the extraordinary step of notifying Gbagbo and his henchmen that they will be held personally responsible and accountable for human rights violations in connection with the discovery of two mass graves. But there is also substantial evidence of extra-judicial or arbitrary executions, sexual violence, enforced or involuntary disappearances, arbitrary detentions and torture against Gbagbo and his regime dating back several years.

Allasane Ouattara, the new president, says Gbagbo will be brought to justice and a truth and reconciliation-style process instituted to address the causes and effects of the decade-long political crises in the country. ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said he would like ECOWAS to request an ICC investigation into the massive human rights violations in Cote d’Ivoire, a preliminary step to Gbagbo’s prosecution. It is unlikely that any African organization will cooperate in such an investigation.  In July 2009, the African Union refused to cooperate in the prosecution of al-Bashir of the Sudan: “The AU member states shall not co-operate… relating to immunities for the arrest and surrender of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to the ICC.”

There is no question Gbagbo must be put on trial.  If there are concerns about his prosecution in Cote d’Ivoire, his trial could be moved to The Hague as was done for former Liberian president Charles Taylor. Gbagbo’s trial will likely involve a protracted legal process. (Taylor’s trial concluded a few weeks ago after three and one-half years of litigation in the ICC, and a verdict is expected in the foreseeable future.)

Gbagbo is entitled to full due process and given ample opportunity to vigorously contest every allegation brought against him. His right to a fair trial must be observed meticulously. Prosecution must not be limited to Gbagbo and members of his regime. All suspects, including Ouattra’s supporters allegedly involved in human rights violations, must be investigated and brought to justice. There is compelling evidence that forces loyal to Ouattara have been involved in gross human rights violations, including extra-judicial killings, rapes and burning of villages.

Lessons of a Gbagbo Prosecution

Most African dictators will pretend a Gbagbo prosecution will have no effect on them. They will convince themselves and try to convince others that what happened to Gbagbo could not happen to them because they are smarter, shrewder, cleverer and more iron-fisted than anybody else. They will laugh until their belly aches at anyone who suggests that they too will one day stand dazed and with forlorn eyes before the bars of justice and held accountable for their crimes against humanity. Once upon a time, Mubarak, Bashir, Gbagbo, Ben Ali and Gadhafi also laughed at the very suggestion of being held accountable in a court of law. Are they laughing now?

We must all say no to dictatorship and human rights violations anywhere in Africa, in the world.    On the question of human rights, we must take sides. When thousands are massacred and dumped in mass graves in Cote d’Ivoire, we cannot turn a blind eye.  When we have proof that thousands of innocent demonstrators have been killed, wounded and imprisoned in Ethiopia, we must never cease to demand justice.

Human rights abusers learn from each other. When one dictator gets away with crimes against humanity, the others get emboldened to commit atrocities on humanity. If the international community had taken vigorous action in Ethiopia and brought to justice those who massacred   hundreds of innocent demonstrators following the 2005 elections, the bloodbath and carnage in Cote d’Ivoire might have been avoided altogether.

Albert Einstein said, “The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” It could be equally said that Africa has been made a dangerous place to live not because of the evil dictators alone, but more importantly because not enough good African people (and friends of Africa) are willing to stand up, speak out and do something about gross human rights violations on the continent. It has been said that “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Laurent Gbagbo is now wholly within the radius of that arc.  The other African dictators need only contemplate a paraphrased question from a popular song: “Bad boys, bad boys, what you gonna do when the ICC comes for you?” GAME OVER!

More BEKA slogans in Addis Ababa (photos)

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

Tinsae Ethiopia and various other groups are intensifying preparations for anti-Woyanne actions next month, May 2011, with Beka (Enough) as their lead slogan. On Sunday morning, more BEKA slogans appeared in Addis Ababa around Abune Petros Statue and Teklehaimanot area. Meles Zenawi’s Woyanne junta is also preparing to throw lavish parties to celebrate their 20th year in power next months.

London remains Woyanne-free zone (photos)

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

Update:

* Ethiopian patriots chased Woyannes out of the Imperial College in London
* London Police arrested one Woyanne thug who attacked ESAT cameraman

Brave Ethiopians in London deliver big time today. They turned out in large numbers and stopped the Woyanne meeting that was planned to be held at the Imperial College. The police had no choice but to tell the Woyanne thugs to leave. They went to their hiding place, the embassy, humiliated and defeated. London is indeed a Woyanne Free Zone.

The police seem to outnumber the meeting participants.

Below: A Woyanne thug is arrested after he attacked ESAT cameraman.

Below: Woyanne thugs argue with the police for allowing the protesters to get close to them

London police surround the Woyanne-occupied Ethiopian embassy where Meles Zenawi’s thugs and cadres came after being chased away from the Imperial College

BEKA! message in Addis Ababa (updated)

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

Youth groups who are organized by Tinsae Ethiopia continue to spread BEKA! message through out Addis Ababa. BEKA! slogans have been painted on walls and fences, and pamphlets have been distributed at several locations in Addis Ababa. We have also received reports that BEKA! slogans are appearing in Ambo and Dessie. See more photos at Tinsae.org

Ethiopians vs. Woyanne confrontation in Las Vegas (video)

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Brave Ethiopians in Las Vegas confronted Woyanne delegates on Wednesday, shouting Leboch! (thieves!) Beka! (Enough!). Watch the video below:

Uganda opposition to continue protests

Friday, April 15th, 2011

By Joshua Kyalimpa

Opposition leader Kizza Besigye is led away from protest in Kampala. / IPS

Opposition leader Kizza Besigye is led away from protest in Kampala. / IPS

KAMPALA, Apr 15 (IPS) – The Ugandan opposition has announced it will continue protests against rising prices for fuel, food and other essential commodities, undeterred by violent police repression of the previous two days of action.

Across Kampala on Thursday, the air was filled with tear gas and the sharp crackling of volleys of rubber bullets as police broke up demonstrations. The city was braced for a repeat today, with protests against a tuition hike also breaking out at Makerere University.

The “Walk to Work” protests against inflation are an ingenious twist on the protest march: the leaders of Ugandan opposition parties and civil society, united in a loose coalition called “Action 4 Change” announced they would be walking to work on Tuesday and Thursday, joining the hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens who must already walk to work – unable to afford other transport in an economy in the grip of fierce inflation. The pump price for petrol has risen by 50 percent since January, to 4,000 Uganda shillings per litre – about two U.S. dollars.

Protesters – who came out across the capital Kampala, as well as in the towns of Jinja, Mukono, Gulu and beyond – want the state to step in to control rising prices, but the government argues that the inflation are due to a global crisis beyond its control.

“How much are they spending on buying tear gas?” cried demonstrator Isa Kirunda a who bakes pans at a road side kiosk near Kampala and supporter of the opposition Democratic Party “Can’t that money be used to subsidise fuel? This government must go. We are fed up.”

Clashes with police

“We are fed up by this government,” shouted youth walking with the Forum for Democratic Change leader, just before they were confronted by police at Kasangati, not far from the residence of opposition leader Dr Kizza Besigye, who finished as runner up to long-standing incumbent Yoweri Museveni in presidential elections in February.

Forty eight people were injured in clashes with police deployed against the protest, according to Uganda Red Cross spokesperson Catherine Ntabadde. Media reports said a four-month-old baby died after being exposed to tear gas,and an unidentified woman was badly wounded when she was hit directly by a tear gas canister, tearing her stomach open.

Besigye, who lost presidential elections to the long-standing incumbent, Yoweri Museveni in February, was told by stone-faced officers that orders from above were that he would not be allowed to proceed. He refused to yield, and sat down on the edge of the gutter by the roadside.

The opposition leader enjoys passionate support in his home district, and he was quickly surrounded by supporters to prevent his arrest. An eight-hour standoff began, which ended only with when police fired rubber bullets to break up the crowd; Besigye was among those injured, taken to the hospital after a shot struck him on his right hand.

Police spokeswoman Judith Nabakoba denied police were responsible for the opposition leader’s injury. “Besigye could have been injured him self with a sharp object during the confusion.”

Doctors who attended Besigye at Kololo hospital said the third finger of his right hand was shattered by a rubber bullet.

The protest and heavy police response shut down the city, with vehicles arriving from upcountry unable to enter the city for much of the day. The army was called in to reinforce police as large numbers of people joined the protests.

Activists critical

Human rights activist Dr Livingstone Sewanyana told IPS that government action against peaceful demonstrators was illegal and in contravention of the constitution.

“What is wrong with people walking to work? Does it call for army deployment and the mayhem that has wrecked the city?” asked Sewanyana, executive director of the Kampala-based Foundation for Human Rights Initiatives.

Lieutenant Dennis Omara, spokesperson for the military police a battle hardened army unit usually deployed to quell riots if the police are over powered says regular police asked them for reinforcements after rowdy protesters began barricading roads and lighting fires.

“We were only a backup for police because the security situation was running out of hands. The roads are now clear and people can move in and out of the city the situation is under control,” Omara told a press conference Thursday afternoon.

Dr Aaron Mukwaya, a lecturer in the social sciences department at Makerere University, says the demonstrations show a growing determination to push for change, and even larger protests should be expected.

He cautioned that the Ugandan government is most likely to respond with an iron hand to break the protests, with the recent events in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and elsewhere in mind.

(END/2011)

Azeb Mesfin partners facing hard times

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Addis Ababa is abuzz with rumor that Samuel Tafesse, construction mogul and the multimillionaire business partners of Meles Zenawi’s wife Azeb Mesfin, has been arrested in Ethiopia. The rumor started when he disappeared for several days starting early this month and his colleagues began to ask questions.

After transferring the day-to-day operations of his company to his deputy Yitbarek Getahun in February, Samuel quietly came to the U.S. where he recently confided to his friends that Azeb — who is commonly known us “the mother of corruption” — is giving him a hard time and that he might close every thing down in Ethiopia and move to the U.S.

Samuel recently finished building a $5 million house for himself in Alexandria, Virginia, a suburb of Washington DC.

The reason he is having troubles with the ravenous Azeb Mesfin is not clear, but Samuel is not the only business partner of Azeb Mesfin who is facing hard times. Almost every major business in Ethiopia, from flower export to real estate, must make Azeb a partner in order to have any chance of making profit. One of these businessmen who have fallen hard times recently is founder of Zemen Bank, Ermias Amelga who has been forced out of the bank’s chairmanship for an unknown reason, as reported here.

Ethiopians in London, we are counting on you

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

After suffering a humiliating defeat in N. America, the Woyanne thugs are now heading to London licking their wounds. Fortunately, London is full of brave Ethiopians who consistently fought back and scored victories against Woyanne. As a result, London is a Woyanne-free zone. This coming Saturday there is another opportunity for London Ethiopians to shine, although they will have a hard time to outshine DC and Los Angeles Ethiopians.

Place: Imperial College, Sherfield Building, South Kensington Campus
Address: Exhibition Road, London Sw7 2AZ
Time 1:00 PM

Watch the following video for inspiration:

The debilitating effect of silence in Ethiopia

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

By Natnael F. Alemayehu

Silence in the face of evil is a venomous, traitorous, debilitating disease to which we Ethiopians have fallen. The battle for the sovereignty of a nation is between those who oppress free men and those who seek to set free those same men. In Ethiopia’s case, one side has been missing for years. Our recent history has been convenient for those who choose a weapon rather than those who seek knowledge, for those with the genuine knowledge and understanding of democratic process have been silent.

To be educated is to ask and question. It is to speak for the oppressed and the weak. It is not to side with the oppressor for momentary gain or selfish interests. Silence is deadly, like all internal disease; it eats you slowly, eventually leading to an emotionally dreadful and psychologically agonizing death. Silence mutes all your senses until you can no longer even think of the intellectual slavery to which you have become a victim. This is Ethiopia’s great plague, particularly amongst the educated and those who live outside the country: a plague of silence.

“Evil prevails when good men fail to act.” – Edmund Burke

In times of great oppression, we must pick sides; indecision will only help the oppressors while silencing the victims. Ethiopia is not short of intellectuals, thinkers or patriots; our predicament is silence. We have chosen not to see the atrocities being committed against the poor and helpless of our nation by our own brothers and sisters. We have chosen not to listen to the call of our brother and sister farmers as multinational corporations, invited by our own government and in cooperation are evicting them from their ancestral homes. The minority of Ethiopians in power have been successful at destroying the sovereignty of this nation because the majority chooses to do nothing.

o Before we shout down the treacherous dealings of dictators …
o Prior to condemning the current regime for total failure…
o Ahead of the inevitable revolution…
o Prior to questioning other Ethiopians’ true grit and patriotism…
o Before going back to the over-debated history and indictment of our ancestors for their flaws…

We must first question ourselves and ask, “What have I done for my country lately?” The silence of those who are good and understand freedom is what has kept us oppressed and trapped in a downward social spiral. When a person’s birthright to be free is taken by the barrel of a gun, it is those who understand the injustice who must stand up and be heard. When an act of evil is done, against the will of the innocent and the sovereignty of the nation, we must not only question those who committed the crime but also those who did nothing and remained silent. They have chosen to put their individual wealth and greed above the lives of millions of homeless children and hungry majority of the nation. All this poverty exists despite the country’s wealth, a country we all call home. So, what have you done for your country lately?

“Do not hesitate or you will be left in between doing something, having something and being nothing”. Ethiopian Proverb

Our ancestors were brilliant, beyond our imagination. They defended what was theirs not for reasons of pride, but National identity. They understood the strength of a sovereign state and they defended her resources. They stood and fought for the country, not for a tribe, group or individual. Those who choose not to see the atrocities and travesties of our nation through foreign influence. I ask you to look no farther than or ancestors. Why didn’t they ever trust foreigners? Why is it they died defending the nation? They not only understood patriotism but also believed they were Ethiopia, with out sovereignty and national values a country cannot prosper or function as a state.

In their “sayings” our ancestors left us coded message of wisdom and understanding of life, community and Nation. Their understanding of state and the individual was far more advanced than that of Europeans. While Europe evolved and adapted with the time and affecting changes, we chose to stand still. All the saying of the past on the wisdom of silence, do not apply when silence becomes the venom to our agonizing downfall. Silence is harmful, when those who see the injustice continue to ignore, what they see and understand to be inhumane. More often than not the voices of the poor and oppressed do not make it in to the history books. History will not record your silence in history, but they will tell of the atrocities of those currently in power, while we watched.

“When money speaks, the truth is silent.” – Russian Proverb

Freedom is expensive and painful. Taking into consideration the true future awaiting this country, my brothers and sisters, the time to take action is now. We must stop using Western models of development, as they are designed to benefit Western nations and corporations. When it comes to the West’s efforts in helping to develop Africa, words like “White Guilt” are used as a double standard to distract us from the atrocities and theft that continue to take place in Ethiopia and the continent.

The partnership of Ethiopian politicians and Western corporations is an international crime ring. Western politicians continue to preach, “Africa is not ready for democracy.” This quote is the mantra behind the looting of the continent for the benefit of the West. For capitalism and consumerism to benefit the West, they must rob the resources from the weak and innocent. Ethiopia is at the center of a global fight between the powerful and the powerless. We must not let this opportunity pass us by without leaving a mark on history and changing the course of our nation.

Democracy Is Taken, Not Given!

I say, “Freedom is taken, not given!” Change must resonate within each individual before the community, city, and nation can ignite to form a blazing resistance, capable of standing any opposition. Ethiopians must first be free before applying democracy to social and political structures. Regardless of background, education, profession, occupation, or gender, this is the time to be heard. Stand up! Be heard. Live with dignity.

“The sin by silence, when they should protest makes cowards of men.” – Abraham Lincoln

Education is a tool to protect the innocent from the flaws of the past and to help them create an appropriate future. Have we become so selfish and self-indulgent that we have forgotten the good in our hearts and are willing to sell out our own brothers and sisters?

“Eat when the food is ready. Speak when the time is right.” – Ethiopian Proverb

Sadly, we are heading towards the phase of governance that every oppressive government goes through: the people’s revolt. The sadness comes not from the act but from the innocent lives that must be lost and the destruction the nation must incur because a few individuals choose not to adapt and evolve with the changing world.

“Unless you call out, who will open the door?” – Ethiopian Proverb

What is it we are leaving for the next generation, politically and socially? A centralized ethnic government with undemocratically elected bureaucrats who stole elections and traded political offices? The small minority of political and social elitists owned the country’s economy and wealth while looting the central bank. They saved their money overseas in the banks of the same institutions that they begged for handouts in the name of Ethiopia. We divided the nation into tribal states and then used ethnic tension as a tool of oppression and control. What is the legacy of this generation?

The central government—the perfect blend of totalitarian and socialist rule—loaned out fertile land to foreign entities, thereby loaning a big portion of the economy. The rulers sided with multilateral corporations for momentary gain and political protection.

A leader who was jack-of-all-trades, master of none. A man who knighted himself a man of the people, an expert on the need of the average person, while investing in Western organizations and selling out national interests for political gain.

The heartbreaking truth is MOST OF US STOOD AND WATCHED.

“The cruelest lies are told trough silence.” – Robert L. Stevenson

(The writer can be reached at mail@eskemeche.com)

Woyanne dogs left N. America with their tails between their legs

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

By Yonas G. Mideksa

The unity of Ethiopians from all walks of life, has once again, demonstrated its discipline and determination to face off delegates of one of the most brutal regimes in Africa. The politically motivated and hastily organized trip and meeting by the delegates with the Ethiopian Diaspora community in Washington DC, Howard University, woke up a sleeping giant – and indeed the giant gave them what they deserved.

Boston anti-Woyanne protest

This is not the first time the brave and gallant Ethiopian protesters have stood for justice, human rights, and respect for the rule of law. Something special about yesterday’s demonstration was that the unity among its diverse ethnic groups, the zeal and the unwavering determination of the Ethiopian youth for social justice, and the shock and awe that it gave to the delegates.

The Woyanne regime’s rent-a-crowd, and rent-a-thug policy did not work to deter the voices of the demonstrators, who were chanting and shouting in unison that reverberated over “Howard Square”. At the end of the day, the auditorium inside Howard University, the delegates, and their selfish opportunists were not able to sustain the thunderous voices and rants of justices that were echoing. Well, the result was that the officials of Howard and Police had to cancel the meeting.

During the last few weeks, the Woyanne regime has been giving us agenda after agenda in such a short period of time. At one time they engaged everybody by raising the issue of Eritrea. Meles was openly discussing about the overthrowing of his onetime patrons in Eritrea, and then he shifted gears and came up with building a Mega Dam over the Nile River – and to facilitate the construction, the brutal regime came up with fund raising through issuance of government bonds.

It is no-brainer why the regime in Addis is doing all these things at this crucial moment, and in a very hasty way. Ethiopians, especially the youth, have been following the political tsunami that has engulfed North Africa and the Middle East with interest and enthusiasm. The conditions that forced the youth in Tunisia and Egypt to overthrow their dictatorial leaders were not worst compared to what Ethiopians are facing day in and day out. The unemployment rate is beyond description; the inflation rate could not be controlled; the religious and inter and intra-ethnic conflicts due to the regime’s policy of divide and rule is endangering the very existence of the country; the corruption and nepotism are unprecedented; the economic condition of the country is driven by charity and western aid donors, despite Ethiopia’s abundant natural resources; the people get beaten and thrown to jail for voicing their concern; the massacre of innocent citizens of Gambela, Oromo, Ogadeni, Amhara, and etc by the Agazi kill squad continues as we speak.

It is because of all these injustices that the Ethiopian people are saying enough is enough – BEKA! GAYE! YIAKEL! BASS! and have been preparing for a grand demonstrations in Ethiopia. The regime knows full well that there is no stopping in the concerted voices of the people who have suffered for the last twenty years under its brutal yoke.

The first shock and awe of the Woyanne regime was in the election of 2005. The interahamwe rhetoric and the regime’s rent-a-crowd moment, before the eve of the election, gave it a false hope of winning Addis. Well, everybody knows what the results were in Addis – the false crowds did not vote for the regime, and the whole parliamentarian seats went to the opposition. To frustrate the otherwise peaceful election, the regime unleashed its notorious rent-a-thug policy to create chaos and blame the opposition party.

I would like to congratulate all the organizers of the peaceful protesters all over the US and Canada for a job well done. There is no doubt in my mind that Woyanne came to our turf to test us and we will show them again in our beloved Ethiopia.

Ethnic-apartheid meeting in Las Vegas

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

On Wednesday, Woyanne delegation headed by Arkebe Ekubay held another meeting, this time in Las Vegas where mostly Tigreans were allowed to attend the meeting. The meeting organizers, with the help of the police, removed Ethiopians from other ethnic groups. It short, it was an ethnic apartheid meeting.

Many of the 300 people who in attendance appear to be family members of the Woyanne top leadership, a large number of whom have settled in Las Vegas, Denver, and San Diego, buying expensive homes with the money they looted from Ethiopia. If these Woyannes think that their ruling party is doing a good job of running the country, what are they doing in the U.S.?

(We will try to post videos and photos of the Las Vegas meeting shortly. Until then, watch the following video of Ethiopians confronting Woyanne thugs in Toronto.)

Woyane Dallas meeting ended in fiasco

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

PRESS RELEASE

The net result of Woyane’s attempt to meet with the Ethiopian Diaspora in Dallas can be summed up as having two fold results. Firstly, the meeting confirmed and highlighted one more time that Woyane is nothing but a minority ethnic-based regime masquerading as Ethiopian. Secondly, the Woyane attempt to divide the Diaspora galvanized the opposition so much that the newly broad-based unified opposition to TPLF now includes political groups who until now were operating in their own political domain. Here is how these realities materialized in yesterday’ meeting.

Believing that Meles’s rule in Ethiopia is secured through vote rigging that culminated in a 99.6% parliamentary power; believing the free-loaders propaganda that the Diaspora is susceptible to support TPLF in exchange for individual economic enticement; most of all believing that the weaknesses of the opposition were permanent and fatal; this week-end, the Meles regime fired its opening salvo against the Ethiopian Diaspora after almost a full year and multi-million dollar preparation. As part of this fiasco, Meles’s handpicked messengers were sent to Dallas, Texas to talk to the community about the phantom five year “transformation” plan of Ethiopia. This was supposed to be a meeting where Ethiopians in Dallas were to pack the Marriott Quorum Hotel near the Galleria; be mesmerized by the dazzling economic performance of the TPLF regime and in the end align their politics with the “transformation” plan and even fund it with their hard earned dollar by buying the $500 bonds on spot. Instead what transpired is basically the reverse.

Here is how the process leading to the April 9th meeting was played by a handful of free-loaders under the guidance and funding of the Woyane Embassy in DC and their local and regional Tigrean masters on one hand and the newly unified opposition activists on the other. The free-loaders started out handing out invitation letters from the Embassy and announced on the local radio that this will be a meeting open for all Ethiopians. They even boasted that all Ethiopians in the DFW area will be welcome to challenge Meles’s stooges with Q&A sessions. Based on this announcement and the information and invitation letters they received from inside the free loaders camp, the opposition activists were ready to challenge them. (Remember getting such info from this camp is not hard. Free-loaders by definition work for the highest bidder: this character of the free-loaders is personified by non-other than their head in Dallas, the phony “captain” and empty-pocket “investor” Abey Mekonnon. Everybody knows Abey is a 24/7 hassler who struggles to feed himself and his family let alone invest).

If the meeting was open to all Ethiopians the activists planned to participate in the meeting, be civil and ask very hard questions on behalf of the Ethiopian people, who have been denied their God given right to gather, demonstrate or make peaceful protest. The peaceful activists were ready to challenge the so called “delegation “about the smokescreen Ethiopian “transformation” and “investment” plan, and have a civilized discussion about the burning issues of the Ethiopian people: litigate the 20 years of TPLF`s dictatorial rule and its failed policy towards democratization of the country.

Instead of allowing everyone who came to attend the meeting, the activists were met with a brute force from the local police and were pinpointed by the local servants of the regime and were not allowed to attend the meeting. These group of servants, who are serving the TPLF regime are Abiye Mekonnen (Main Organizer), Zeraye G. Berhe, Tadesse Tsehaye, Tekola Mekonnen, Tsehaye-Tsidik Bete-Mariam (Former Derg criminal), Mulaw(Mulugeta) Worash, Daniel Bayu (Mamush), Shimeles Gena,Abdulhamid, Halay Woldu, Melaku Abozene ,Abebe and many others who were not resident of the Dallas metro area. Most of the people who were deprived of attending the meeting were law abiding citizens, prodemocracy supporters and local respected elders. The presence of about sixty police officers outside and inside the hotel with drug snuffing dogs makes the event like there was already an explosion. Generally the area resembles like a war zone in the Middle East. It is very sad to see the amount of money spent for such bogus program for propaganda purposes. Most of all, it was unfortunate that the Addison Police was misinformed about the opposition and the peaceful activists in general and used unnecessary force and intimidation to arrest one of our activist Ato Betru Geberegziabher. Ato Betru was later released posting a Bail. The patriotic Ethiopians, who were excluded from their meeting, came all the way from Houston, Austin and Oklahoma State. Our warm-hearted appreciation goes to those true sons and daughters of Ethiopia.

The opposition activists knew very well that the criminal gangs can`t afford a free and open discussion with Ethiopians neither at home nor abroad. The so called “Growth and Transformation” organizers failed miserably, because the meeting was not to discuss with the Ethiopian Diaspora at large, but for selected TDA members and other innocent people, who attend the meeting simply to ask, challenge them and also to express their anger, frustration and grievances about the bureaucratic nature of the regime. Secondly this meeting helped the opposition to identify who our enemies are, and solidify different opposition groups to come together and fight our number one enemy TPLF/EPRDF under Meles. Please visit the Dallas Radio Program for an audio report about the fiasco in detail at www.maaecdallas.org broadcasted on April, 10, 2011.

In a parallel tack, the activists also moved to contact the Marriott hotel management and probe it for action by educating the management personnel through independent and documented accounts of the crimes committed by the regime on the Ethiopian people and by creating parallels with ousted rulers in North African and Middle East. We believe, the hotel management would have canceled the meeting had it not been for the legal advice it received on the consequences of contract breach.

Sure enough, the Saturday April 9th meeting was unlike any other meeting in the history of Ethiopian Diaspora in Dallas. Nobody in Dallas would fail to compare this meeting with that of Kinijit leaders when they came to Dallas. Kinjit leaders were welcomed at DFW Airport with masses of Ethiopians who dominated the airport with the Ethiopian flag and traditional welcome songs. The leaders were paraded on the roads of the city with Limousines as their arrival was broadcast in real time across the Internet. Last but not least, the crowed size and the festive atmosphere in the Kinijit meeting were there to show, that the gathering involved a real Ethiopian event. In contrast, the Woyane emissaries of April 9th entered and exited the city in secret, the organizers of the meeting were forced to open the meeting only to invited guests and the meeting had to be conducted in an environment of security siege. The overwhelming presence of the police, private security personnel, and the hotel staff from A-Z makes April 9 the meeting like a circus with a lot of alarm and disappointment for the organizers. Most of all, it is obvious even to the speakers and the meeting participants themselves that the audience in the auditorium was staffed with the majority of Tigreans from and around Texas.

The final message from Dallas to Woyanes and Meles is clear: you can’t buy our allegiance by showing off roads and buildings. Remember, we are sons and daughters of people who never give up the fight for freedom against Italian fascists who constructed longer and better quality roads in the first half of the past century in five years than you do in 20 years in this century. To some extent, the Italians used money from their own pocket as down payment unlike you who used the after-corruption borrowed and begged money in our name. Most of all, you and us know very well, in every US and European cities you go, Ethiopia has more people who are better educated and more experienced than the political cadres you send who can construct and transform Ethiopia. Freedom, democracy and end of minority Tigrean domination are our issues with you. Leave the Nile, the construction and the transformation for all Ethiopians.

Beka! Gaye
Freedom and Democracy now!

Ethiopian pro-democracy activists in Dallas

Lessons Ethiopians can draw from Tunisia and Egypt uprisings

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

The following excerpts are taken from Dr Aklog Birara’s upcoming new book.

The Egyptian revolt showed that there is no script for avoiding the reengineering tactics of a repressive regime. The opposition must be flexible and far superior in its tactics and strategy than the regime. Resolve, persistence, organization and a common national purpose are fundamental. Ability to imagine that the future will be better than the past was most helpful. Egyptian protesters proved their ability to change a repressive system through unity of purpose. How did they do it? Activists figured out a new way of changing repressive regimes. They used information technology and raised social networking to a new level. These tools empowered ordinary people and took away the power of the regime and its media. Activists focused on police brutality. They exposed atrocities that galvanized people. Individual activists such as Wael Ghonim, the Google executive, broke the conventional way of communication through traditional media that is always government controlled. Social media became prominent. Some call these depictions and mobilization techniques “the Internet revolution.” Such a revolution is, however, immaterial unless it injects fresh thinking and organization that permeates the entire society. In Egypt this is exactly what happened. Ordinary people owned the revolution and changed a regime.

In Ethiopia and other countries, we saw that regime changes were never peaceful and never led to democracy. In 2005, Ethiopia came close; but did not gain support from the outside world. Democratization was not sustained internally either. [...] The West repeated policy blunders by not defending the people‟s demands for fundamental political freedoms, civil liberties, human rights and the rule of law; and by not supporting the notion that Ethiopians can choose the form of government that will address their social and economic problems. Given this pattern, democratic activists and opposition groups in Ethiopia face a monumental task ahead of them.

For Ethiopian democrats to earn the respect and empathy of the international community, they must prove that they are capable of stimulating a paradigm shift in political culture and in establishing democratic institutions. First, they need to practice what they preach and then produce capable and respected leaders who empower youth and civil society. Blaming foreign governments for internal weaknesses makes no sense. Opposition groups must accept responsibility for their own mistakes and failures. Singular focus on regime change without solid organization and leadership undermines credibility.

Egypt has alternative leaders in the wings ready to take responsibility. In the transition, they possess a nationalist and capable military establishment that will ensure security and stability. In contrast to Ethiopia, the country is not sitting on an ethnic time bomb or plots from terrorist groups. The country is endowed with a talent pool from which it can draw. It has an established tradition of embracing new civic and professional leaders. These potential leaders have organic links to the population. It is the people and not individuals who seem to be at the center of the shift in political thinking. It is this organic link that makes the Egyptian uprising formidable and potentially enduring.

I often find myself arguing with compatriots concerning the distinction between a single leader such as Meles Zenawi–the Ethiopian Prime Minster for close to 21 years–and the institutions his party built from scratch. These new institutions are not national. They are largely ethnic-based. By and large, they replaced national entities including the armed forces. Post Emperor HaileSelassie, regimes did not attach value to enduring national institutions. The Military Dictatorship institutionalized socialism and the current one ethnicity. In the event of a popular revolt in Ethiopia, opposition groups ought to learn from past mistakes and manage transitions more effectively and prudently. They need to do this far in advance. Reaction is never a substitute for planning. Change must have the popular support of all ethnic and religious groups who want freedom. Otherwise, it will fail.

There are two things that those who support the current Ethiopian regime fear most. First is ethnic revenge. Opposition groups must diffuse this fear.

Second, those who benefited from the current regime must know that their properties and assets will be guaranteed. They must know that corruption, nepotism and cronyism will be investigated and persecuted through the legal system or through neutral and independent commissions.

The world witnesses that transitions to a democratic order are always messy. Members and supporters of the old regime fear the future and resist it. Those who want change are not always sure what the future will be like. Most Ethiopians are apathetic. In the Diaspora, those who are detached from the political process constitute the “silent majority.” It is here where wise and flexible leadership that can attract this middle can play a vital role. In a country like Egypt, “An urgent priority is to rewrite the rules so that free and fair elections are possible.” The Egyptian Supreme Military Command vowed that this will be done. In the third week of March, 2011, Egyptians went to the polls; and 77 percent voted in favor of constitutional and other reforms. Among the major changes is term limit of four years for presidents, renewable only once. The task of institution building has begun in Egypt. The same prioritization applies to Ethiopia. What would be the ground rules? Who will provide oversight? Will the military play a constructive and bridging role or will it side with the regime?

Regime change in Ethiopia would require the rewriting of the current constitution. Here, the South African process model will be appropriate. Studies must begin now. A quick fix won‟t do. “In 1997, South Africa enacted an interim constitution to govern the country while it undertook an ambitious constitution-writing process with wide popular consultation–which is the ideal arrangement.”

Unlike Egypt and Tunisia, Ethiopia faces the hurdle of ethnic federalism in general and Article 39 in particular. The article permits secession. The speculation of civil uprising that may lead to Ethiopia‟s disintegration may be far fetched but should not be dismissed. Will any democratic transition retain this provision or will it put the matter to a national referendum for all Ethiopians to consider and decide. My view is that all of the Ethiopian people and not ethnic elites should voice their views and decide. It is in part this provision that makes foreign governments weary of regime change. The current regime believes that transition to democracy will lead to further fragmentation. For this reason, ethnic-based liberation movements harm the democratization process for the people they claim to represent. The best contribution they can make is to renounce secession and work for democratic unity firmed on unfettered equality. Secessionist tendencies strengthen the regime and weaken unified struggle. Even those who prefer democracy over tyranny feel obliged to defend the current regime. They contend that at least, it provides stability and keeps the country intact.

Political elites in Ethiopia are hardly the country‟s greatest assets. Their dysfunctional behaviors and actions are among the reasons why the country is still in a mess. Power must reside in the Ethiopian people, especially youth.

Democracy emanates from the people. We see this to be the case in the United States where civic associations led by ordinary people impact the political process each and every day. “Government of the people; by the people and for the people” is not an empty phrase. The American Revolution benefitted from social networking. At the time, publications proved effective. Unlike democratization of the past, today‟s revolutions will be instigated and led by youth. Traditional politicians must grasp this phenomenal change and work within it. This social group is the most idealistic and boldest in shaping the future. The young people who changed history in Egypt and Tunisia and are now fighting in almost every country in the Middle East and North Africa lived under one leader. They only knew one form of governance. The same is true in Ethiopia. Combine the duration of two successive repressive and oppressive regimes; you find that the country‟s youth knows either one or two dictators. Repressive conditions in Ethiopia disallow participation in the political process. This does not mean that youth is totally apathetic and detached from the plight of the society. In light of this, the Ethiopian Diaspora can‟t assume that it will serve as a substitute for internally generated and led popular uprising. In my assessment, its role should be to provide tools, intellectual guidance, direction, policy options, knowledge and funding. It can fill a void in communication by strengthening social media. It can educate the public to disavow violence against any group. It can diffuse ethnic animosity and tensions. It can stop opportunistic signals that say that secession is acceptable. It can raise awareness that uprising does not mean revenge or destruction of private or public property. It can vow to uphold decency, civility, commitment for the sanctity of life and protection of property. Modeling democratic behavior is one of the most powerful weapons in pursuing a democratic path.

“In Egypt and Tunisia, the young people who planned, organized and implemented the protests were educated, Internet-savvy activists with no political affiliation.” They rejected suffocating and corrupt systems. “They were enthusiastically joined by secular as much as by Islamist voices. After watching the fervor unleashed in the in January, 2011, young Syrians, Bahrainis, Algerians and even the quiescent Libyans are turning to Facebook and Twitter to call for their own “day of rage.” The “outrage” that beamed in Tunisia spread to Egypt. No one knows where the ripple effect will spread next and how soon. It is always critical that we connect outrage to social, economic and political causes and not to personalities. The Gallop Poll and other organizations show similar patterns in the region as well as the rest of the Middle East. These include denial of “political rights and civil liberties, high incidence of corruption, low levels of well being and high unemployment. “Social change in the Middle East, particularly the growing number of educated youth who struggle to find jobs and are determined to live in dignity, is not unique to Tunisia and Egypt. Across the region, leaders are finding out that economic liberalization in political systems that lack accountability cannot protect against popular upheaval.” I would add endemic corruption to the list. “Unlike Tunisia where power and corruption were tightly centralized in the ruling family, the tentacles of the of Egypt‟s regime stretch from the army to the internal security forces and the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP). Every element of the regime, including a military with significant business interests, has too much at stake to relinquish power easily.”

The spread of corruption and exclusion comes close to Ethiopia‟s. The Egyptian situation was like the TPLF/EPRDF‟s in terms of repression and brutality but different in terms of merger of ethnicity, party and state. Ethiopia is more like Libya and Yemen than Tunisia or Egypt. Ethiopia and Libya are among the least urbanized countries in Africa. Colonel Gaddafi ruled Libya with an iron fist for more than 42 years. Mr. Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia did the same thing for almost 21 years. It won‟t surprise me if he wishes to match Colonel Gaddafi in terms of reacting to a popular revolt. Remember, his party vowed to govern Ethiopia for 100 years. Both deny fundamental freedoms and are brutal in dealing with dissent. Both restrict press and civic freedoms. They control and rely on state owned media in propagating their ideologies and in conveying to the outside world that their peoples are doing well. Both preach revolutionary democracy through decentralization. In reality, it is they who dictate policies and investments. Power emanates and ends with them and not with ordinary citizens. Libya does better in dealing with its restive population because of immense oil wealth. Ethiopia does not have the same luxury and flexibility. In contrast, Libya does not face a serious prospect of ethnic-based disintegration in the event of regime change. Ethiopia does. Libya‟s military is national and Ethiopia‟s is not. Despite some of these differences, Libyans and Ethiopians suffer from similar oppressive systems.

In Egypt, military institutions permeate and dominate life. Business interests and military officers have cordial relationships. Some experts estimate that 60 percent of the Egyptian economy is dominated by or affiliated with military folks. Close to 60 years of domination by military leaders and institutions incentivized high officers to defend the system. Parallel to this and by design the Ethiopian regime strengthened the stakes of key officials and institutions including the military by vesting them with political and economic powers. Wealth and asset concentration in a small group provides strong incentives in maintaining the status quo. Not only does narrow group interest thrive on corruption; it has high tolerance for inequality and high unemployment. Khalaf quotes recent Gallop research findings on Tunisia and Egypt that show that the population does not feel that it is thriving. “The percentage of people who felt they were “thriving” has been on the decline even as gross domestic product has increased.” At the same time, the rich get richer. A recent estimate puts Mubarak‟s personal assets at $7.2 billion. Il-gotten wealth from the system is estimated at more than $70 billion. Three ministers were barred from traveling out of the country. The US government froze assets of Colonel Gaddafi and his family. The same is true in Ethiopia. Global Financial Integrity estimated that in 2010 illicit outflow of funds amounted to $11 billion and is rising. The bizarre story of 10 thousand tons of Ethiopian coffee–amounting to 25,000 truckloads, “disappearing” without a trace is telling. On February, 2011, Ethiopian Review posted a piece under the appropriate title “Who stole ten thousand tons of Ethiopian coffee?” It is a symptom of corruption and erosion of ethics in the society. Prime Minister Meles called business people and announced the incident. He said two things that I found remarkable. Someone must be “held accountable.” Fair enough. How does a regime hold anyone else accountable when it is the source of the problem? The second thing he said was “All of us are implicated in this incident. We know but pay a blind eye.” There is a wise Chinese saying that “fish rots from the head.” Corruption begins from the top and spreads like cancer. Thousands of truckloads can‟t just disappear from a warehouse without facilitators and partners. Those with connections to the regime have a better chance of making this kind of heist. He did not mention that the regime will go after the thieves. It may be a family affair. No matter the growth rate, a regime with a high tolerance for corruption can‟s claim that its development policy is pro-poor. Similar to Ethiopia, gains from growth and increase in the domestic product did not filter down to the poor and youth in Egypt or Tunisia. This condition demystifies the Ethiopian regime‟s argument that growth improved the lives of people. Forty-six percent of Ethiopians want to leave their country. This preference is due to lack of opportunities at home. Same thing happens in Egypt. In the case of Egypt, “Only 20 percent of Egyptians surveyed said their well being has improved since 2009.” Even in oil revenue rich Saudi Arabia, its “young population has not felt the benefits of oil wealth.” The facades of democracy apparent in these countries and in Ethiopia are simply a joke. In 2010, the governing party won 99.6 percent of the votes. Just think of it. This is the reason why the façade of democracy is a joke. “It is in Arab countries that have erected facades of democracy that citizens are most likely to rise up against their rulers.”

Whether the façade of democracy refers to Arab countries or Ethiopia, the fact remains that fundamental political freedoms, civil liberties and human rights have been squashed.

The world can no longer afford to ignore this condition. The human and economic costs are too high. We saw in Tunisia and Egypt that it is for compelling reasons that youth and poor people rose and sacrificed their lives. In both cases, they won. I do not believe that hatred drove youth to rebel and take matters into their own hands. It is passion and commitment for justice, freedom, the rule of law and a better future that did. Those of us on the outside should recognize that the struggle was about them and not about elites or foreign powers. It wasn’t about the military. Because it is internally generated and led, no one but those on the ground controlled events. This is why popular revolutions are unstoppable. They happened in France, the United States, Eastern Europe , Indonesia and other places.“This is certainly the view in Cairo, where protesters and analysts say the uprising is not about the United States, not about Israel and not about Egyptian foreign policy. There are 80 million Egyptians.” The struggle is “about them.”

The above diagnosis leads me to one major conclusion concerning Ethiopia. Future struggle of the Ethiopian people is about them and their country. It is not about the Diaspora or about political elites who seek power. It is not about the West or the East. Ethiopian elites of all persuasions must grasp the importance of this paradigm shift from elites to ordinary citizens. When millions of people rise in unison, no regime can stop them. Ethiopians can‟t rely solely on the small middle class to sustain change; or on the peasantry that has to work hard to survive. Elites can‟t self select and dictate democracy to ordinary citizens. If they do, they will continue to be perceived as being part of the problem. For this reason, I would argue that the Diaspora must play a catalytic role that is anchored in an organic link with the Ethiopian people, especially youth. The most important tools they could provide youth and others in Ethiopia are to break regime control of the media and financial aid. They could do this by promoting widespread and strategic use of the information revolution. They can provide the tools and strengthen social-network users such as Face book and information enablers such as Twitter to circumvent state media and to incapacitate it. The internet revolution, satellite television and social media proved that repressive regimes can no longer rely on traditional media to dictate the future. Tunisians and Egyptians taught us that the future belongs to those who share Wael Ghonim‟s thesis that “Freedom is a bless that deserves fighting for.”

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

Woyanne-style economic growth in Ethiopia (video)

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

The chigaram (beggar) dictator in Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, and his regime led by Woyanne thugs have taken the country’s economy down to a new level of poverty where Ethiopians are forced to rent newspapers to get information, as the video by CNN below shows. That’s why Ethiopians are rising up to say BEKA! (enough) to the 20-year-old vampire regime.

CPJ calls on Ethiopia’s dictator to stop jamming radio broadcasts

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

The New York-based press right group, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on Ethiopia’s dictator Meles Zenawi to stop jamming German Radio broadcasts. Read the CPJ statement below:

New York (CPJ) — New York, April 11, 2011–The Committee to Protect Journalists is calling on authorities in Ethiopia to ensure that broadcasts of the German state-funded station Deutsche Welle, which had been jammed, be allowed to air freely. Local journalists confirmed a report by the Berlin-based international broadcaster that its programs were inaudible in Ethiopia last week until Friday.

The management of Deutsche Welle told CPJ that the International Broadcasting Bureau, which provides non-military broadcasters with transmission and technical support, confirmed interference on the station’s shortwave signal to Ethiopia on April 3, 6 and 7. In a press statement, the station’s management accused Ethiopian authorities of involvement in the jamming in response to Amharic-language news and coverage critical of the government. No other foreign broadcasters were believed to have been disrupted.

On April 3, for instance, the station aired a popular discussion program in which participants claimed the Ethiopian government feared a popular uprising similar to those witnessed in North Africa, the station’s management said. The station also covered a Human Rights Watch statement criticizing the government for the arrests of more than 200 ethnic Oromo opposition members. Local journalists told CPJ that they believed Deutsche Welle signals would be blocked again during a planned civil society protest on May 28 called Beka, meaning “enough.” 

Government spokesman Bereket Simon told Reuters that the government had not jammed the Deutsche Welle service. The station had a very low listenership, Simon said, and would not be worth jamming. The management of Deutche Welle disputed this and cited a 2009 study that said the station has the highest foreign radio listenership in the country, reaching 3 million to 4 million people a day.

“Ethiopian authorities have jammed international broadcasters in the past during politically sensitive moments,” said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. “We call on them now to ensure that all foreign broadcasts can be heard.”

Individual broadcasters were jammed in Ethiopia during the May 2010 elections, according to CPJ research. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi ordered the jamming of the U.S.-backed broadcaster Voice of America two months before the elections last year.

TPLF’s Propaganda Tour in North America Foiled by Ethiopians

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Global Civic Movement for Change in Ethiopia
PRESS RELEASE

The Ethiopian Diaspora protected its home turf by successfully foiling TPLF’s disinformation campaign to divert the attention of the people of Ethiopia from the impending uprising that is brewing against tyranny at home.

Boston anti-Woyanne protest

The April 9th and 10th road show of the so-called Growth and Transformation Plan of Meles Zenawi, has just ended up in a total failure. In almost all of the 13 cities the delegations were received with noisy protest rallies.

The actual meetings had a number of difficulties. There were cancellations, disruptions and interruptions. On the average, the meetings started about 2 hours late. Less than one percent of the Ethiopian Diaspora in North America attended these sham meetings. The auditoriums were not filled to their capacities. Even though it was billed as a public meeting, it turned out more like a private meeting with the apparatchiks of the Tigrai People’s Liberation Front.

Community leaders, scholars, activists and supporters of Ethiopian pro-democracy opposition forces were refused entrance to the meeting halls on account of not having an “invitation paper.” Even those who presented the “invitation letter” were refused entrance. Those who managed to get in and ask questions were verbally abused and in the case of Washington D.C and Los Angeles physically assaulted by Meles Zenawi’s thugs.

In every city security was very tight. The organizers were confrontational and nervous. Those who requested meeting orders were thrown out of the halls by hired security agents. The propaganda video that was shown contained no new information. The PowerPoint presentations were boring, contained voodoo statistics, and the presenters were incompetent to speak on the contents of the PowerPoint documents. The question and answer sessions were carefully controlled and stager-managed. The responses given were embarrassing even to the TPLF’s supporters.

Nevertheless, some individuals who got the opportunity to ask questions managed to raise the hot button political, economic and human rights issues. The rosy picture the delegates tried to paint was, of course, a direct opposite of the reality on the ground.

The amount of money spent on this propaganda tour is outrageous while millions of our people are starving. We have learned today that the price of petrol increased by 3.00 Birr just yesterday. Ethiopians are now paying 21.00 Birr for a liter of benzene causing unbearable economic hardship on the society.

The TPLF propaganda tour has backfired as the Ethiopian Diaspora is now more determined to work in unison for regime change in Ethiopia. All in all, the amazing performance of courageous Ethiopians in all the 13 cities has been Beka’s rehearsal for the Ethiopian Diaspora uprising!

Beka!Geye! Yeakel! Bass! Aloni! Diiteh! Gides! Wetandem! Enough to TPLF tyranny!
Freedom, justice, equality for the People of Ethiopia! Victory to the people of Ethiopia!

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

Radio and TV coverage of BEKA actions

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

German Radio, which is listened by over 20 million people in Ethiopia, has a great coverage of the anti-Woyanne activities in North America on Saturday and Sundy. Listen below (or click here) the interview with Ato Neamin Zeleke who articulated the purpose of the protest rallies in 13 cities over the weekend.

Seattle’s main TV station has the following report, which includes an interview with Dr Shakespeare Feyissa, one of the organizers of the anti-Woyanne protest rally in Seattle Sunday.

ESAT Report

Addis Dimts
Posted in Ethiopian News | No Comments »

Arkebe Equbay faced angry Ethiopians in Los Angeles (audio)

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Arkebe Equbay, head of the Woyanne delegation that is sent by dictator Meles Zenawi to N. America on a disinformation campaign, faced angry Ethiopians in Los Angeles. The meeting yesterday was forced to stop 2 hours early due to the constant and loud voices of protest by the Ethiopians who gathered outside the hall. Watch the video below:

BEKA! slogan taking hold in Ethiopia

Monday, April 11th, 2011

BEKA! slogan has started to spread like a wildfire in Ethiopia. Read more and see photo here by Tinsae Ethiopia.

Ethiopia: The Art of War by Mass Distraction

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Alemayehu G. Mariam

The Common People Don’t Want War

At the Nuremberg Trials in 1945, Hermann Goering, Hitler’s right-hand man, told his interrogator:

Naturally the common people don’t want war. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along… Voice or no voice [democratic or non-democratic government], the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

Lately, Meles Zenawi, the dictator-in-chief in Ethiopia, has been beating the drums of war. He charged:

Recently, Eritrea is training and deploying Al Shabab and locally grown destructive forces to terrorize our country. But Egypt is the direct force behind these destructive elements that back them. Until now, our strategy has been defending our sovereignty by speeding up our development. Now, we found that we could not go any longer with passive defense. It’s not possible to take passive defense as the only alternative. Therefore, we have to facilitate ways for Eritrean people to remove their dictatorial regime. We have no intention to jump into their country but we need to extend our influence there. If the Eritrean government tries to attack us, we will also respond proportionally.

In December 2006,  Zenawi used the exact same logique de guerre (war logic) at the onset of his unsuccessful  843-day war to dislodge the Islamic Courts Union and crush the Al Shabab in Somalia.  He said:

With regard to physical attacks or physical acts of the invasion, what has happened since last summer is that the Islamic courts have been training, equipping and smuggling armed opposition elements into Ethiopia. These elements have been engaged in activities of destabilization in Ethiopia. Hundreds of these have been smuggled and they have been involved in clashes with security forces in Ethiopia. To the extent that the Islamic Courts have trained them, equipped them, given them shelter and transported them to the border for smuggling. To that extent, they are directly involved in an act of aggression on Ethiopia. And that has been going since summer. It is still continuing.

Zenawi asserted the legal doctrine of pre-emptive self-defense (the right to use force in anticipation of an attack, Art. 51, U.N. Charter) to clothe his naked aggression against Somalia:

Ethiopian defense forces were forced to enter into war to protect the sovereignty of the nation. We are not trying to set up a government for Somalia, nor do we have an intention to meddle in Somalia’s internal affairs. We have only been forced by the circumstances.

In 2009, a humbled Zenawi waxed philosophical and struck a grudgingly conciliatory tone as he ordered his defeated troops out of Somalia:

If the people of Somalia have a government, even one not positively inclined to Ethiopia, it would be better than the current situation. Having a stable government in place in Somalia is in our national interests.

Zenawi now bangs the drums of war and says there will no longer be “passive defense” against the “dictatorial regime” in Eritrea and its Egyptian “puppet masters” who are working in collusion to “destabilize” and “terrorize” Ethiopia.

Since “stability” is the hallmark of Pax Zenawi, one could reasonably ask whether “a stable government in place in Eritrea is in our national interest”. The undeniable fact is that Zenawi invaded Somalia to pander to the Bush Administration’s reflexive obsession with terrorism and to deflect criticism for his theft of the 2005 election and the post-election massacre of innocent demonstrators and mass imprisonment of opposition leaders.   Zenawi’s three-year occupation of Somalia created more instability in that country, and the so-called transitional government remains weaker than ever. The very elements Zenawi sought to vanquish in Somalia, including Al Shabab, are today stronger than ever. Somali pirates have become a maritime scourge on the Indian Ocean. Somalia is considerably worse off today than it was before Zenawi’s invasion in 2006.  That invasion created the worst global humanitarian crisis in the first decade of the Twenty-First Century. In the end, Zenawi did not save the Horn from Al Shabab, Al Queida, the Islamic Courts or whatever phantom enemies he was chasing after over there. If Zenawi could not dislodge a ragtag army of “terrorists” from Somalia after three years of an all-out war, it is illogical to expect a different result against a well-entrenched “dictatorial regime” in Eritrea.

The fact to keep in mind is that Zenawi today is recycling the exact same slick set of arguments he used to justify his invasion of Somalia.  But hidden deep in his casus belli (justification for war) against the “dictatorial regime” in Eritrea and Egypt are a complex set of geopolitical and domestic issues. At the geopolitical level, Zenawi is floating a trial baloon to see if the Americans will fall for a second-coming of the Savior of the Horn from the plague of global terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism, regional instability and the rest of it. The U.S. will not fall for that old boogey-man-in-the-Horn trick, again. Obama is neither shopping for war in the Horn nor is he willing to bankroll one. So, there will be no war for regime change in Eritrea or a water war with Egypt.

Patriotism, the Last Refuge of the Scoundrel

So, what is the real reason for all the talk about regime change in Eritrea and a looming water war with Egypt?  It is all political theater, part of a three-ring propaganda circus intended to distract the Ethiopian population and Diaspora critics from talking about the winds of change that will surely blow southward from North Africa. All the talk of war and regime change is bravado intended to cover something that is deeply troubling  Zenawi and his ruling class. It is part of a strategy intended to project invincibility and outward confidence that Zenawi still runs the show in Ethiopia and the upheavals taking place in North Africa will not occur under his watch. But all of  the pretentious war talk betrays Zenawi’s obvious preoccupation with loss of control and power as a result of a spontaneous popular uprising. Careful analysis of his public statements reveal the deep anxieties and profound political angst of a delusionally isolated man trapped in a siege mentality.

There is substantial psychological literature which suggests that dictators often resort to bombast and self-glorification to cover up their paranoid obsessions. For instance, dictators who are morbidly fearful of losing power will project that fear on their opponents as a way of reducing their own anxiety. More to the point, a dictator fearful of regime change will threaten others with regime change just to deal with his own anxieties.  The wind-bagging about war is intended to conceal Zenawi’s vulnerabilities from public view and enable him to  suppress the psychological discomfort of consciously admitting that he could realistically become a victim of regime change in a popular uprising. Metaphorically speaking, the constant fear and nightmare of dictators who ride the back of the proverbial tiger is what the tiger will do to them if they stop riding it.  As President Kennedy observed, “In the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding on the back of the tiger ended up inside.” Ending up inside the tiger’s belly is what keeps dictators from sleeping at night and war talk during the day.  Suffice it to say that the winds of change blowing over the Horn from North Africa must be spreading sheer panic about a lurking hungry and angry tiger in the land of “thirteen months of sunshine”!

Professor Jerrold Post’s research in leadership trait analysis is particularly instructive in understanding the techniques dictators use to project false confidence, conceal their anxieties about losing power and delusionally reassure themselves that they are omnipotent, invincible and untouchable.  Typically, they begin by making grandiose public statements about war and enemies hoping to boost popular support. They magically discover love of country and wrap themselves in the flag and become jingoistic (super-patriotic). They even become  revanchist (propose to reverse territorial losses incurred by their country) in an attempt to open the floodgates of popular patriotic emotion. They brazenly pander to the population using nationalistic and chauvinistic sensationalism and try to mobilize public support with cheap sentimentality by manufacturing hysteria about imminent attacks, invisible enemies, lurking terrorists, loss of sovereignty and the rest of it.  Every chance they get, they try to trigger paroxysms of public anger against the enemy and inflame public opinion with provocative and outrageously concocted stories designed to make themselves look patriotic and all  others unpatriotic. When all else fails, they openly incite fear and hysteria to distract public attention from their crimes and dictatorial rule.

By “facilitating ways for Eritrean people to remove their dictatorial regime”, Zenawi hopes to lay a credible groundwork for a just, moral and humanitarian intervention in Eritrea. But he is only pandering to the Eritrean people by promising to free them from a “dictatorship” just as he pledged the Somali people four years ago liberation from the clutches of Al Shabab and Al Qaeda terrorists and the Islamic Courts Union. By proposing “to extend our influence there”, he is pandering to revanchist elements in Ethiopia who still chafe at the secession of Eritrea and generate war hysteria to punish a “historic” enemy.

There is nothing new in this war propaganda game. From the time of the Roman emperors to the present day, the lords of war have played the “war card” and stirred up patriotic fever in the population to cling to power. Over the millennia, the technology of war may have changed but the deceit, ploys, chicanery, treachery and modus operandi of war-makers has remained the same. Dictators, like schoolyard bullies, are experts in the art of taunting, intimidation, bluffing and teasing. They start a war of words and flood their population with lies, fabrications and half-truths. More often than not, the war of words will not amount to much more than declarations of bravado and hyperbolic accusations and recriminations.

Time will show if there will be war or intervention in Eritrea, and a water war with Egypt. We will monitor the rumors of war over the coming weeks and months. We shall listen to the oratory of war and why it is necessary for two of the poorest countries on the planet to slaughter each other twice in less than fifteen years. Isn’t the 100,000 deaths of the 1998-2000  Ethio-Eritrea war enough? We shall read the dramatic propaganda narratives to be written to create war fever and observe the war hysteria that will be drummed up to bring more misery and suffering to the unfortunate people of the Horn of Africa. We will watch out for the sparks of war, the fabricated lures and lies that will be used as bait for an attack and intervention. If there is war, we shall see the masses of poor people marching to war they do not want. But for now, no one needs to lose sleep over that prospect. The only war being waged today by Zenawi is a war of mass distraction.

Holier-Than-Thou Dictators

It is the scholarly duty of historians, political scientists, journalists, lawyers and others to throw light on repeated historical patterns of war deception to enhance public understanding, and to debunk and unravel the tangled webs of lies and deceit of the war-makers. Herr Goering said, “Voice or no voice  the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.” Herr Goering is wrong. The people of North Africa are refusing the “bidding of their leaders.” Is it unreasonable to suppose that the people of the Horn of Africa will also refuse the “bidding of their leaders” to become cannon fodder for their dictators?

The common people of Ethiopia do not want war. If there is war, it will be Zenawi’s War. Zenawi has done one “fantastic Somalia job“ . Another fantastic job in Eritrea is not needed. In any case, there needs to be some serious accounting for the war in Somalia in 2006 and the 1998-2000 war with Eritrea and that arbitration matter before starting a new war in 2011.

The holier-than-thou dictators ought to remind themselves that “The camel cannot see the crookedness of its own neck”. Before they go all out to remove other regimes, they should contemplate the simple wisdom of Scriptures: “You hypocrite! First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” In less sublime terms, “People who live in glass houses should not throw stones”.

On the other hand, is it possible that when two elephants fight, the grass could come out as the real winner?

Past commentaries of the author are available at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alemayehu-g-mariam/

Also at: http://open.salon.com/blog/almariam/

 

 

The Beka Moment in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Monday, April 11th, 2011

By Teodros Kiros

BOSTON — A supremely organized coterie of protesters rejected the mercenaries of Woyanne who came to beg for money to support a sham development without vision, without integrity.

Ethiopians celebrated resisting tyranny on March 9, 2011 in the historic city of Cambridge, home to Harvard University and MIT, the premier centers of higher education.

A mosaic of ethnic groups from metropolitan Boston and Cambridge defiantly challenged the regime. The banner of Ethiopianity united this group of Ethiopians. Tigreans, Oromos, Gurages, Amharas, Ogadenis and others chanted in unison:

Beka!
No to tyranny!
No to ethnic division!
Yes to unity!
Yes to Ethiopiawinet!

There was the Eros moment at work anchored on love, on care, on friendship and caring for one another. The outcome of the protest was so successful that a substantial number of us went to a local Ethiopian restaurant and celebrated our gains and strategized about our future plans, which are bound to be huge.

Parents brought their children with them to this momentous event. I was proud to be there with my brothers and sisters who stood for hours, when the tyrannical regime shamelessly sent them the Cambridge police, who had better things to do than keep an eye on a crowd that was conspicuously civil.

Sister protests in DC, in New York, Atlanta and other major cities also exhibited the Beka Movement, a movement that is being rapidly globalized as the distinctive mark of Ethiopian Uprising.

(Teodros Kiros, Ph.D., can be reached at kiros@fas.harvard.edu)

Woyanne N. America tour ending in disaster

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

LIVE UPDATE: WOYANNE N. AMERICA DISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN MEETINGS – 10 April 2011

UPDATE: 11:00 PM EST

Over the weekend, the 20-member Woyanne delegation that is sent by dictator Meles Zenawi for a disinformation campaign tried to hold public meetings in 13 North American cities: Washington DC,
New York, Columbus OH, Dallas, Ottawa, Boston, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Seattle, Toronto, San Jose, and Denver.

In Washington DC, the hometown of Ethiopians in N. America, the meeting was a public relations disaster as protesters forced it to disperse. The meeting organizers and Howard University, where the meeting was held, face lawsuits from at least one of the peaceful protesters who was attacked by the Woyanne thugs and had to be hospitalized.

In Los Angeles, Woyanne thugs savagely attacked two peaceful protesters who refused to leave the meeting hall. The meeting had to be stopped 2 hours early because of the growing agitation and risk of injuries.

In the other cities, the 20 Woyanne delegates were confronted by thousands of angry Ethiopians who demanded for an end to the Meles dictatorship.

Seattle TV’s station, King 5, reported:

A meeting at Seattle Center prompted a vocal protest outside the Exhibition Hall on Sunday… The demonstrators said thousands of people have died under Ethiopia’s prime minister. “These people are worse than Mubarak, Gadhafi… and they were supported by the United States government and they’re allowed to carry this kind of forum when they’d been killing kids, arresting people and committing genocide,” said Shakespear Feyissa, Ethiopians In Seattle For Justice.

VOA also reportedly extensively about the Woyanne tour and the opposition they faced by Ethiopians in N. America.

It’s estimated that Meles and his Woyanne junta will have spent well over $500,000 for the one-week propaganda stunt in the U.S. and Canada, while children in Ethiopia have no food to eat.

The Woyanne North America disinformation tour is ending in disaster. They have one more meeting in Las Vegas on Wednesday and will head to London. Las Vegas Ethiopians are known for their bitter opposition to Woyanne.

UPDATE: 8:50 PM EST

Police told the Woyanne thugs to end their meeting and leave the facility 2 hours early. The meeting was scheduled until 8 PM local time, but it ended at 6 PM.

UPDATE: 6:00 PM EST

Shambel Belaineh’s new song, Beka!, is being played by the protesters in Seattle.

UPDATE: 6:00 PM EST

Ethiopians in Toronto threw eggs at the Woyanne thugs and their hodam supporters as they concluded their meeting and started to exit the meeting hall. The Toronto Woyanne meeting is now over. It lasted only 2 hours.

UPDATE: 5:30 PM EST

Woyanne thugs in Los Angeles attacked some of the Ethiopians who entered the meeting hall. Two of them were seen covered with blood. Ambulance has been called. Police detained and released about 5 protesters.

The Los Angeles meeting has been delayed for over 2 hours. The hall is half empty.

Boston anti-Woyanne protest

UPDATE: 4:17 PM EST

San Jose: There are only 60 – 70 attendees, and over 90 percent of them are Woyannes, and most of them came from Sacramento and other cities, and are members of The Union of Tigreans in North America, an affiliate of the ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front (Woyanne).

Woyanne thugs upset at Atlanta police. They are angry that the police is not forcing the protesters to move farther from the meeting hall.

UPDATE: 3:50 PM EST

As usual, Seattle Ethiopians are amazing. They are turning out in large numbers to confront the Woyanne thugs who are trying to hold a disinformation meeting.

Boston anti-Woyanne protest

UPDATE: 3:50 PM EST

Toronto police arrested one protester who he refused to leave the meeting hall.

In Seattle, hundreds are holding a protest at the Seattle Center. They are chanting “BEKA to Dictatorship!”

UPDATE: 3:10 PM EST

Ethiopians as young as 10-year-old join the Toronto anti-Woyanne protest rally.
Boston anti-Woyanne protest

In Atlanta, Solomon Tekalign, surrounded by security guards, helps his Woyanne bosses identify and kick out of the meeting hall his former friends who are opponents of the tribal junta.

UPDATE: 2:30 PM EST

TORONTO: Ethiopians from all ethnic groups stand together in confronting the Woyanne junta.

MINNEAPOLIS: Protesters chant “Leba!” “Leba!” (thief) as the Woyanne thugs and hodams are entering the meeting hall at Hilton Hotel.

DENVER: Similar protests is about to start at the Red Lion Hotel.

Boston anti-Woyanne protest

UPDATE: 2:00 PM EST

TORONTO: Hundreds of Ethiopians are currently holding a protest rally at a meeting hall near the University of Toronto carrying BEKA! posters. Oromo, Ogaden and Somali communities are out in force.

Boston anti-Woyanne protest

UPDATE: 1:45 PM EST

ATLANTA: Ethiopians in Atlanta are confronting Woyanne thugs and hodams at the Deklb County Technical College. The meeting organizers are allowing only Woyanne members to enter the meeting hall. [more update shortly]

Egypt finds huge gold deposit in western Ethiopia

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

An Egyptian mining company, ASCOM, finds a large gold deposit in Beninshangul, a region in western Ethiopia, according to Reporter.

Ethiopia’s ethnic apartheid junta gave a massive plot of land (8,000 sq km) to ASCOM in 2008 after forming a partnership with a Woyanne-affiliated company named Ezana Mining, whose partners include Meles Zenawi’s wife Azeb Mesfin.

ASCOM found the gold deposit near the site of the newly announced Nile River dam project.

Meles has offered Egypt co-ownership of the Nile Dam.

Meles doublespeak

While signing lucrative business deals with Egypt and selling away Ethiopia’s land, Meles turns around and complains about Egypt — and there are many fools who believe him. The partnership between Meles and Egypt in looting Ethiopia is stronger than ever.

Woyanne exclusivism in glaring display

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

By Teodros Kiros

Old, young, men and women came to Cambridge, Massachusetts (a suburb of Boston), on a beautiful spring day to protest the stooges of Tyranny, when they dared to stage their mediocre five year plan. Tyrants are shameless beings. They speak with two ends of their mouth. On the one hand, they had a poster outside which said: “Let us resolve our differences through dialogue.”

At the same time, they converted the street into a combat zone with the unnecessary presence of armed Cambridge police and sought to criminalize the protesters outside.

Boston anti-Woyanne protest Woyannes failed on two counts. They obviously did not understand what they wrote on the poster that differences must be resolved by dialogue. Instead, consistent with Woyannes Ethnocracy, they developed a mysterious definition of Ethiopianity and decided to invite their Ethiopians to the capricious exclusion of the Ethiopians outside. Once again they proved their incompetence and miserably failed to criminalize the disciplined Ethiopians outside. Infact, they inadvertently criminalized themselves and performed their notorious obsession with ethnocracy. This is nothing new.

They failed even more at a deeper level. They thought that by criminalizing the sizable protesters outside that the protesters would be frustrated and enter into street fights. Instead the protesters remained cool and chose appropriate slogans aimed at some of the shameless participants, other than the usual cadres who are existentially rooted in the fate of the moribund tyranny, which in due time is going to be dismantled by the activities of the Ethiopian people through the spectacular model of protest- the people’s peaceful Uprising, which is being crafted patiently, smartly and appropriately at the right time, in the right place and to the right degree.

The Woyanne’s are so drunk with power that they think they will intimidate us with a military apparatus, and we the people are going to resist them with our sheer numbers, our moral intelligence and our discipline.

The protest against tyranny in Cambridge attended by an adequate number was disciplined, well organized and qualitatively impressive. For now the Ethiopian people’s yearning for freedom and dignity is not a function of numbers, as the Woyanne’s think, but a function of quality, discipline and determination.

In due time the peoples’ struggle will be expressed both in numbers and substance and will be guided by an inclusive Ethiopianity as opposed to an exclusive ethnocracy, in the spirit of Woyanne’s “ revolutionary democracy”

At Cambridge and many other places the Woyannes continue to expose their intellectual vacuity and managerial incompetence.

Their five year came as it left, preached to the usual quire but failed to attract the attention of the protesters outside, had they been invited to reflect and debate the content in the people’s agora. The ethnocratic program of tyranny is simply so incompetently organized that it did not even know how to invite opponents to a dialogue free of domination; instead of dialogue genuine Ethiopians were treated to the Cambridge police.

(Teodros Kiros, Ph.D., can be reached at kiros@fas.harvard.edu)

Ethiopians teach Woyanne thugs a lesson in DC (video)

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

Artist Tamagn Beyene lead Ethiopians against the Woyanne junta thugs in DC Saturday, April 9, 2011. Watch the videos below.

VIDEO 1

VIDEO 2

VIDEO 3

Ethiopians in DC celebrate their victory over Woyanne thugs

Saturday, April 9th, 2011

LIVE UPDATE OF WOYANNE NORTH AMERICA DISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN MEETINGS

UPDATE: 4:50 PM EST

Ethiopians in Washington DC celebrated their hard-won victory over the Woyanne thugs this afternoon. When Howard University officials and the DC Police announced that the meeting has been canceled, the protesters outside erupted in cheers.

Boston anti-Woyanne protest

 

UPDATE: 4:45 PM EST

The violence by Woyanne thugs was too much for the Howard University administration to tolerate. Around 4:30, the university told Woyanne donkey Girma Birru, who was hosting the meeting, to end it. This is a major victory for Ethiopians in the Washington DC area. Congratulations DC for a job well done!

Girma Biru told the Woyanne thugs that the meeting will resume at the Woyanne-occupied Ethiopian embassy in DC.

Boston anti-Woyanne protest

UPDATE: 4:05 PM EST

Dallas Police arrested a prominent Ethiopian businessman in Dallas, Ato Betru GebreEgziabiher, and 2 other Ethiopians who confronted Woyanne thugs at their meeting. All 3 have now been released. They were arrested because after the Woyanne thugs told the police to take them out of the meeting hall and they refused.

UPDATE: 3:50 PM EST

The Washington DC Police officers are ignoring the death threats that are being made by Woyanne thugs against the peaceful protesters. They were also nearby when Woyanne thugs savagely beaten up Tewodros Kabtyimer, who is now receiving treatment at the Howard University Hospital. The DC Police is a highly professional law enforcement agency, but today their action is shameful to say the least. Please call the DC Police to make complaints. It is against the law in the U.S. to make death threats. They need to enforce the law. DC Police: Tel (202) 715-7300

Because of all the chaos, the police is about to disperse meeting in DC.

UPDATE: 3:12 PM EST

WASHINGTON DC: Woyanne thugs beat up one Ethiopian protester who asked silent prayer for those who were killed by the Meles regime. He is taken to hospital by ambulance.

UPDATE: 2:50 PM EST

Washington DC Police arrested 3 Ethiopian protesters. The protesters are growing agitated. Woyannes are bringing their supporters by buses from as far as Canada.

UPDATE: 1:57 PM EST

Woyanne cadres in Dallas are bringing their supporters from other cities to fill the meeting hall at the Marriott Hotel. Several Ethiopians are confronting them with BEKA slogan. The Woyanne thugs prevented every one they suspected to be an opponent from entering the meeting hall. Over 200 Ethiopians have been turned away.

UPDATE: 1:20 PM EST

BOSTON: Nervous Woyannes asked Cambridge City authorities to bring in riot police. The police is now outnumbering the 30 Woyannes and hodams who have arrived for the meeting. One of the Woyanne thugs, a woman, tried attacked a photographer. The police took her away.

Boston anti-Woyanne protest

UPDATE: 1:15 PM EST

WASHINGTON DC: There are over 1,000 protesters outside the meeting hall. Inside, there are less then 80. The protesters are carrying placards with Beka (Enough) slogan. More Ethiopians from as far as Baltimore are arriving at Howard University where the Woyanne delegation is holding a meeting.

UPDATE: 12:50 PM EST

The Woyanne meeting in Boston was scheduled for 12 Noon. Now it’s almost 1 PM and there are more security guards and police officers than attendees at the venue. Ethiopians are carrying Beka! slogan outside the meeting hall.

Boston anti-Woyanne protest

In Washington, hundreds of pro-democracy Ethiopian have started to gather at Howard University to confront the Woyanne delegates. [more details shortly]

Federal police gun down 2 students in western Ethiopia

Saturday, April 9th, 2011

The Federal Police, dictator Meles Zenawi’s death squad, have killed two students and savagely beaten many others at Tepi University in Mizan Teferi, western Ethiopia (560 km from Addis Ababa) on Thursday night, according to Ethiopian Review sources.

Meles sent the Federal Police when Tepi University students protested the mistreatment of members of the Oromo ethnic group in the hands of ruling party cadres.

The heavily armed Federal Police troopers entered the campus and started shooting at the student. They also detained and took away several students, according to an eyewitness who spoke with Ethiopian Review sources.

The 2010 Ethiopian elections were not free – US Gov’t report

Saturday, April 9th, 2011

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor released its annual Country Report on Friday, April 8. Its report on Ethiopia include the following:

Although there are more than 90 ostensibly opposition parties, which carried 21 percent of the vote nationwide in May, the EPRDF and its affiliates, in a first-past-the-post electoral system, won more than 99 percent of all seats at all levels. Although the relatively few international officials that were allowed to observe the elections concluded that technical aspects of the vote were handled competently, some also noted that an environment conducive to free and fair elections was not in place prior to election day. Several laws, regulations, and procedures implemented since the 2005 national elections created a clear advantage for the EPRDF throughout the electoral process. Political parties were predominantly ethnically based, and opposition parties remained splintered. During the year fighting between government forces, including local militias, and the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), an ethnically based, violent insurgent movement operating in the Somali region, resulted in continued allegations of human rights abuses by all parties to the conflict. Security forces generally reported to civilian authorities; however, there were instances in which security forces, specifically special police and local militias, acted independently of civilian control.

Read the full report here.

The Ethiopian Diaspora uprising (updated)

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Tomorrow, Saturday, April 9, Woyanne heavy weights Berhane Gebrekristos and Arkebe Equbay, along with their puppets Redwan Hussien and Girma Birru, will launch a campaign of disinformation in North America. They have called public meetings in Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Ottawa, San Jose, Toronto, and Washington DC.

The Woyanne thugs have the audacity to call such public meetings in North America ignoring the fact that most of us Ethiopians came to North America because Woyanne made Ethiopia a hell on earth for most of us. Our preference is to live in our own beautiful country.

Using brute force, Meles, Berhane, and Arkebe, in collaboration with a gang of opportunists like Girma Birru and Tekeda Alemu, succeeded in silencing and humiliating 80 million Ethiopians for the time being. In North America, the free world, it is a different story. We are going to confront and chase away these murderous thugs this weekend, and give voice to the voiceless Ethiopians at home.

Stay tuned for updates here on Ethiopian Review. Also Addis Dimts Radio live broadcast starts today at 6 PM. Listen to Addis Dimts here: addisdimts.com

Washington DC: April 9, 10 AM, Howard University, Cramton Auditorium
New York: April 9 at 12 Noon, Adama Clayton Powell Plaza
Columbus OH: April 9 at 1 PM, Hyatt Regency, 350 N. High Street
Dallas: April 9, 1 PM, Marriott Hotel by the Galleria
Ottawa: April 9 at 1 PM, CENTURION CONFERENCE CENTER, 170 Colonnade Road South
Boston: April 09 at 12 Noon, 85 Bishop Richard Allen Drive, Cambridge, MA
Minneapolis: April 10 at 1 PM, Hilton, 1001 Marquette Ave.
Los Angeles: April 10 at 1 PM, LA Convention Center
Atlanta: April 10, Dekalb Technical College, 12:00 PM
Seattle: April 10 at 11 Noon, Seattle Center, 305 Harrison Street
Toronto: April 10, University of Toronto, 89 Chestnut Street, 12:30 PM
San Jose: April 10, 12:00 Noon, Masonic Center, 2500 Masonic Drive
Denver: April 10 at 1 PM, Red Lion Hotel, 4040 Quebec Street
Las Vegas: April 13

Also listen to this audio:

Beka

Ethiopians in Atlanta condemn Woyanne meeting

Friday, April 8th, 2011

PRESS RELEASE

Stop the Woyanne event to be held at DeKalb Technical College Auditorium
Clarkston, Georgia

On the 10th of April, 2011 at 12 pm EST.

It is with great indignation and profound sorrow that the Ethiopian community, in and around Atlanta received the shocking news about the up coming meeting called by the delegation of the brutal regime of Ethiopian to be held in the DeKalb Technical College auditorium on the 10th of April, 2011. The delegation is part and parcel of the totalitarian, blood stained, ethnocentric regime that masquerade its ugly face with the acronym ‘EPRDF’ (Ethiopian People’s Republic Democratic Federation).

The Tigray Liberation Front (TPLF) took over the regime of Ethiopia in 1991 with the power of the gun; secured its control over the military, security, and police forces; the legislator, judiciary and the executive bodies; all the economic pillars of the country, such as the land (no Ethiopian owns land but the regime), industries like mining, banking, agro-business, construction, insurance, communication, etc. and is ruling the country through terror. Because of its contempt to the integrity of the country and its people, the regime was the main actor for the cessation of Eritrea and the give away of its port to Eritrea, its land to the Sudan along the boarder, and contracted out its fertile lands to foreign investors in disregard to local investors, farmers, and the recurring hunger the population faces. To appear democratic to the outside world, the regime holds national elections periodically that concludes with election fraud, public outrage and demonstrations, followed by savagery activities like beatings, imprisonments and killings; denunciations from election observers, humanitarian agencies, and outrage from other democracies around the glob. The last 20 years of the Ethnocentric Regime with Mr. Melese Zenawi at the helm as a prime minister is very well known for its human right atrocities, the suppression of freedom of expression, mobility and individual liberties.

In the 2005 National election, the regime lost the election to the opposition by an overwhelming majority. However, the regime rejected the election results, killed over 193 peaceful demonstrators, injured over 800, threw about 30,000 in concentration camps and prisons, and imprisoned opposition leaders that actually won the election. These human right atrocities, suppression of rights and liberties are documented by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, European Union (EU), and other organizations that observe elections like the Cater center, and African groups. The 2010 National Election was not different to that of 2005, except this time election observers were not tolerated, and the totalitarian prime minister, Mr. Meles Zenawi declared that his ethnocentric party(TPLF) won 99.6% of the vote, there by, at last, officiating his one party system rule.

Ethiopia’s dictator Meles Zenawi is one of the most notorious leaders that Africa has today, preceded only by president Omar AL-Beshir of the Sudan who is wanted by the International Court of justice at the Haig. Among those wanted because of genocide, Mr. Zenawi ranks top in the list because of his human right atrocities all over Ethiopia, and war crimes he committed in the neighboring land of Somalia. In the letter to the United Nations, the High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), president of Genocide Watch, Dr. Gregory Stanton said, “The Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi and others in his government were probably aware that they too have been implicated in serious human right atrocities.” The President asserted that extensive documents that show violations by the prime minister are available and that the documents were compiled by independent investigators and completed by International Human Right Organizations.

Therefore, we unequivocally condemn and reject the meeting intended to take place in the premise of DeKalb Technical College on the 10th of April, 2011. We urge every body and specially Ethiopians to stop the activities of this delegate of the totalitarian and brutal regime that has no respect for life, human dignity, rights, and liberties.

Coordinating Task force for Ethiopians in and around Atlanta, Georgia.

atlantaethiopians@gmail.com
(641)715-3900 ext.691462#

Adwa Tigreans meet with Arkebe Equbay in California

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Woyanne politburo member Arkebe Equbay held a meeting exclusively with Adwa Tigreans last night in California. The meeting was arranged by Aiga Forum admin Bitwoded Equbay, Arkebe’s brother, according to Ethiopian Review Intelligence Unit.

Most of the top leaders in Woyanne — the ruling ethnic apartheid junta in Ethiopia — are from the Adwa Awraja (district) of Tigray Region, including Meles and Arkebe.

Arkebe has arrived in the U.S. a few days ago to promote Woyanne’s five-year-plan, which is a disguise for solidifying its one-party rule in Ethiopia.

The secret meeting with Adwa Tigreans last night discussed strategies on how to outmaneuver Ethiopian pro-democracy activists who are preparing to confront Arkebe and his delegation who will launch a North America tour tomorrow, Saturday.

Some 20 Woyanne delegates have arrived in the U.S. this week. The delegation includes non-Tigreans who are segregated and staying at Courtyard Marriott Hotel in Washington DC, while their puppet-masters, the Adwa Tigreans, are staying with rich relatives who have bought homes through out the U.S. with the money they looted from the people of Ethiopia. [stay tuned for more details.]

Meles and our BEKA! moment

Friday, April 8th, 2011

By Yilma Bekele

By all accounts the minority based dictatorial regime in Ethiopia is in big trouble. Circumstances in the neighborhood are a bit disconcerting to Meles and company. You can tell from the flurry of activity being orchestrated the last three months that Arat Kilo is on pins and needles. The Woyane regime is doing its best to keep the Ethiopian people at home and their Diaspora relatives focused on something else other than the vision of an uprising. The events in North Africa and the Middle East have unnerved our TPLF bosses. It is rumored a few of them are in need of diapers, may we suggest Huggies due to their patented leakage protection.

The regime has devised a two-pronged attack to postpone the inevitable uprising. At home the Junta leader is busy wagging his fingers and huffing and puffing to scare and bully. The last two weeks he has put on a performance with the local cadre press to assure his followers that their job is safe due to the phenomenal economic growth that the chances of upheaval is deemed to be non-existent. No one believed him. Looks like it was not enough.

He decided to use his podium in the kangaroo Parliament to vent some more. There is a video posted on his web site. It is as usual two a part series. I listened to part two. Is it possible that all tyrants attend the same school? Castro used to speak for four hours, Mengistu used to speak for hours, Gaddafi was given a fifteen-minute slot to speak at the UN but rambled for an hour and half and our own orator spoke for an hour and twelve minutes in part one and an hour and thirty-four minutes in part two. He must love his voice. Of course it was a captive audience. He knows no one will dare leave his lecture. I am sure most of the cadre parliamentarians have no idea what he is talking about and the fact is he was not actually addressing them. They are just a prop.

This lecture was more focused on preparing the ground for his actions when the people’s demand for democracy begins. He was lining up the new enemies that are going to get the blame. This time around Egypt got the top billing. According to Ato Meles Egypt is in the process of undermining our way of life. Egypt in collusion with archenemy Eritrea and the local opposition including OLF, Andenet and Medrek and others are conspiring to topple our democratically elected government. He was very theatrical when he started waving his fingers and adjusting his glasses. It looks like the subject is dear to his heart. He just wanted to say I told you so when his sharp shooters start the mayhem.

His Diaspora strategy is unfolding as we speak. His cadre representatives are in North America. According to the World Bank the Diaspora sent in remittances $3.2billion USD in 2009 which is about $52 billion Bir. In 2009 Ethiopia earned $375.8 million from coffee, $158 million from flowers, $205 million from Khat and $129 million from sesame seed. You see what I mean. The Diaspora contributes ten times as much as the number one export. We are the premier benefactors of our precious homeland. I can say ‘may the almighty bless the Ethiopian Diaspora’ but I won’t. It is not something to be proud of. If the regime attracts $3.2 billion without working for it the question becomes what is the meaning of the current tour?

The fact that the illegal regime is dispatching its ‘top guns’ to face the fury of the dreaded Diaspora is a little, shall I say strange. Why at this juncture in time is a good question? It is not logical to think the DLA Piper advised regime would send its officials into the lion’s den and in broad daylight without a valid and compelling reason. My hunch is there is more to it than selling land. When you consider the temperature reaching a boiling point against tyranny around the neighborhood I have a feeling Woyane probably felt this to be a good time to shift the attention of the Diaspora away from lighting the fuse.

Nice try but it won’t work this time. Looks like all the vital ingredients for a ‘BEKA’ moment are all present and accounted for. Based on our recent experience in North Africa and the Middle East we pass the test with flying colors. Let us see, the main causes for the peoples uprising were, leaders in power for too long, rampant corruption and runaway nepotism, economic stagnation and recurring high inflation, high unemployment and a vast majority under thirty and under utilized, general hopelessness and resignation with high rate of migration. It is what is commonly referred to as volatile situation.

The weakest link in our peoples yearning for a better future is a small section of the Diaspora. It is a sad fact. To see those that got away due to a matter of chance using their new found success to bring misery on their own people is shameful. Without the cash inflow from the Diaspora the Ethiopian regime will not have been emboldened to be so arrogant. Remittances enable the regime to live for another day. This is not about the few hundred dollars that is sent to keep a family alive. That is a humanitarian act. It is about the big money. The money, that goes to buy stolen land to build a fake foreign looking building in collaboration with government and government affiliated businesses at an inflated price. The dollars that come in without strings attached enable the regime to pay its many employees that exist to torment our people.

Today we have government cadres in our cities promoting the so-called Growth and Transformation Plan. It sounds like something DLA Piper will come up with to give it a positive and friendly spin. What ever it is you can be sure that the Ethiopian people do not have any input in this plan. Their representatives are government cadres chosen for loyalty not ability. They are not capable of understanding the issue and they do not have expert staff to help them. The plan is the brainchild of Meles and company in consultation with IMF and World Bank. Eighty million people are beholden to a handful of cadres that are in power because they have big guns.

What they want from the Diaspora is more cash to be invested in enterprises they choose. Buying land, building a house, establishing bar and nightclub is encouraged. It is not allowed to start an Internet provider company, private television transmission, private radio station, independent newspaper and magazine or a printing press. The TPLF regime is allergic to knowledge-based investment.

So what is the rational for investing? Some say it is patriotic and that it creates jobs. That argument has been tried before. That is what the Western governments said about their investment in Apartheid South Africa. They called it ‘constructive engagement’. It was a big lie. They were just greedy and slave labor was always cheaper. The South Africans response was best delivered by Noble Laureate Albert Luthuli, President of the African National Congress who said ‘“The economic boycott of South Africa will entail undoubted hardship for African. We do not doubt that. But if it is a method which shortens the day of bloodshed, the suffering to us will be a price we are willing to pay.”

The use of economic muscle to modify an adversary’s behavior is common in International dealings. One of the earliest examples is In fact the American Revolution that owes its inception from the movement that erupted when the British Parliament passed what is known as the ‘stamp act’ in March of 1765. The act required printed materials in the colonies to be produced on stamped paper from London and carry revenue stamp. Colonial America revolted. The stamp act was the spark that started the prairie fire that led to the American Revolution. The American colonies took exception to the ‘stamp act’ because they felt they were being taxed without consent. Since they have no representation in the British parliament the colonies felt the act to be an affront to the system of local representation that they have put in place. The colonies said ‘no taxation without representation.’

A few months back here in the US the state of Arizona passed a draconian bill to control the so-called illegal immigration problem. Some people felt it was an attempt to increase the power and intrusiveness of the State and should not be tolerated. Labor organizations, liberal groups and Human Rights advocates went on the offensive and organized boycotts of all business associated with Arizona. They used their economic muscle as a leverage to advocate change.

Mrs. Rosa Parks’s refusal to give her bus seat to a white man sparked the ‘Montgomery Bus boycott.’ Our African people in North America used their economic power to fight injustice. Martin Luther King was in the forefront of using boycott as a weapon to secure the rights of black people in America. The freedom we enjoy here today came because some fought using every means necessary. Today’s Diaspora is working, learning, raising a family and helping their brethren back home because MLK, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks and others said BEKA, GEYE, BAS, ALONE, WETANDEM, YAAKEL, GIDES, DETEM!

Dear Diaspora, don’t you think it is a BEKA moment today. Do you really think the cadres that have been in power the last twenty years are capable of bringing change and transformation? Do you think they have the interest of Ethiopia at heart or are they focused in staying in power using any means necessary? I am sure a lot of you went to check on your investment, tell me were you satisfied with what you saw? I know the Woyane regime have prepared all that is necessary to make your stay comfortable and fun. When you consider the vast number of Hotels, nightclubs and whorehouses set in place to suck your dollars did you think that reflected the reality your parents and cousins face everyday? Did you notice the fear permeating the society, the unfriendly stare by cadres and security to remind you of your place? May be you thought that foreign passport afforded you some form of protection but how about your brothers and sisters? No matter how you look at it is a betrayal of country and people to wine and dine with killers and psychos. A mistake has been done but there is no point compounding it further. Today is a BEKA time.

When you consider how India, Korea, Israel and others used the potential of their Diaspora for transforming their country it is sad that we are still fighting against a predator regime that is hell bent in dividing us, setting us against each other and spending our resources in useless, unsustainable projects that do not help our country. Those countries did not invite their Diaspora to come and lease their parents land to build condominium. No they asked for investment in education, agriculture, industry and manufacturing. They wanted brainpower, they encouraged and subsidized knowledge not fell good projects for show and tell.

Change is coming. Mubarak did not stop it. Gaddafi tried but it looks like his days are numbered. Meles is trying to devise new ways of buying another week, another month but it is a useless exercise. He is not stupid, but he is blinded by power and false sense of security. It is the nature of dictators to think they are unique and what ever happened to their neighbor is not possible in their house. History has shown us otherwise. Ato Meles and company will not escape the judgment of their people. For now we will be in their face where ever they show up and say loud and clear BEKA!

Addis Dimts Radio live broadcast on Woyanne USA trip – today

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Starting at 6 PM Washington DC time today Addis Dimts Radio will host live broadcast on the Woyanne cadres North America disinformation campaign.

Listen the discussion by calling 712-432-3920 access code 854226 or online by going to the website www.addisdimts.com.

Egypt prepares for military action to stop Nile dam

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

The recent announcement by Meles Zenawi to build a massive dam along the Nile River has been received by Egypt’s government as a grave threat to country’s survival so much so that the military has been instructed to make preparation for war, according to an exclusive report by World Net Daily.

A better strategy for Egyptians is to help Ethiopians remove Meles Zenawi, instead of going to war with Ethiopia. They will be doing themselves and the people of Ethiopia a big favor if they do that. A democratically elected government in Ethiopia will not incite war with any of its neighbors.

Egypt must understand that for Meles, the Nile dam project is an attempt to cause a regional instability that is intended to divert the attention of the people of Ethiopia not to rise up against his regime. Ethiopia has several underutilized rivers that can be used for hydroelectric power. Building dam on the Nile River doesn’t make an economic sense. Like the Tekeze River dam, it is a politically motivated project. Read the full report here.

Why Ethiopia struggles to meet people’s basic needs

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

The short answer is poor governance.

By Roy Byrnes

I was cycling indoors at home recently while watching a tape of the just completed LA Marathon. Like the movie Groundhog Day, Ethiopians moved to the front of the both the men’s and women’s races. Ethiopia’s Bizunesh Deba, looking freakishly fresh, sat on American rookie Amy Hastings for the first 18+ miles at which point she slowly put 150-200 meters into her for victory in 2:26:34. Deba, 23, has won seven of the nine marathons she’s entered. Someone is mismanaging her, but I digress.

In the men’s race 26 year-old Ethiopian marathon rookie Markos Geneti ran a 1:02+ half and blew away the field coasting home in a course record 2:06:35. He’s a preeminent short and middle distance runner, but the marathon is where the money is in track and field these days. From now on, he’ll get six figures to show up at races.

The LA Times reported that Geneti plans to invest his $125,000 in earnings in a school in Addis Ababa.

I was intrigued by Amy Hastings grittiness and guts. When she fell off Deba she crawled back into touch, fell off again, and got back in touch, before fading right before the finish. It was an incredible debut. Afterwards, I read an interview with her from before the race that included this question: One of the appeals of elite-level running is that the people, by and large, are smart, nice, insightful, introspective, all those good things. In addition to the fact that you obviously love the sensation of running, I would think that the kind of people that you meet in running, the kind of people you’ve been teammates with, the kind of people you’re rivals with, have been a big part of the appeal, isn’t it?

This got me thinking about what else we may be able to generalize about elite marathoners. To the interviewers list I’ll add: self confidence, intense competitiveness, extraordinary self-discipline, resilience, optimism, and off the charts toughness.

If I were to write about every elite Ethiopian runner, you’d have to set aside the next hour. It’s Kenya, Ethiopia, then all the other countries of the world combined. I like Geneti and Deba in London (assuming Deba starts spreading out her races better).

And when I taught at a private international school in Addis Ababa, my best students were Ethiopian public school students who won scholarships to our school and went to Harvard and other elite universities after graduating. These athletes and these students accomplishments beg the question, how does a country with Geneti and Deba and Nebiyeleul Tilahoun type of human resources continue to struggle to meet people’s basic needs?

The short answer is poor governance. No doubt Meles Zenawi celebrates “his” runners accomplishments and uses them to bolster his own image among his people.

I hope Ethiopia’s runners, young students, and other citizens find inspiration from the Middle Eastern protestors to help close the Great Rift Valley that exists between their impressive human potential and bitter day-to-day realities. And I hope upon hope that Meles Zenawi is living in exile when Geneti and Deba walk into the opening ceremonies in London in the summer of 2012. Assuming, that is, they make the team.

Ethiopians prepare to confront Meles cadres this weekend

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Ethiopians in several cities in North America are preparing to confront Woyanne agents who have called for meetings with their supporters this coming weekend. The cadres and high level officials were sent by dictator Meles Zenawi as part of his recent disinformation campaign that is intended to prevent popular revolt against his regime. Protests are being organized in the following cities (will be updated as we receive more information):

Washington DC: April 9 at Howard University
New York: April 9
Ottawa: April 9 and 10
Minneapolis: April 10
Los Angeles: April 10
Columbus OH: April 9

Also listen to this audio:

Beka

HRW calls for the release of ethnic Oromo prisoners

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Human Rights Watch issued a statement today asking the Meles dictatorship in Ethiopia to release over 200 Ethiopians from the Oromo ethnic group who have recently been detained without charges. Read the full statement below:

Ethiopia: Free Opposition Members
Mass Arrests of More Than 200 Ethnic Oromo Appear Politically Motivated

(London) – The Government of Ethiopia should immediately release members of the ethnic Oromo political opposition detained without charge after mass arrests, Human Rights Watch said today.

In March 2011, Ethiopian authorities carried out several waves of apparently politically motivated mass arrests of more than 200 ethnic Oromo Ethiopians. On March 30, the government confirmed that 121 were in detention without charge, alleging that they were members of the Oromo Liberation Front, a banned rebel armed group. The government told journalists that it had obtained court orders to continue to hold the 121 individuals while it gathers evidence against them.

“The Ethiopian government appears to be back to the old tricks of ‘detain first, ask questions later,’” said Rona Peligal, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The authorities should immediately free the Oromo opposition members unless they can bring credible charges against them.”

Ethiopia’s international partners should press the government to release the detainees immediately if it cannot credibly charge them, Human Rights Watch said.

The authorities arrested 40 members of the Oromo People’s Congress (OPC) in a mass roundup from March 12 through March 14 in several districts of Ethiopia’s Oromia region. Those detained included long-serving party officials and many candidates in the 2010 regional and parliamentary elections. Several of them remain unaccounted for, OPC party officials told Human Rights Watch.

At least 68 members of the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM), an opposition political party, are among those arbitrarily arrested between March 1 and March 15, according to party officials. Those arrested include former members of Parliament, former local government candidates for election, civil servants, teachers, and students. OFDM officials reported that at least two were beaten at the time of arrest, and the whereabouts of several remain unknown.

Torture is a routine practice at Addis Ababa’s Maikelawi, or Central Investigation Unit, where the majority of the detainees are believed to be held, Human Rights Watch said.

Reports of the arrests broadcast on Voice of America’s Amharic service have been jammed by the government the radio service said in a statement on its website, further raising concerns that the roundups are politically motivated.

Oromia is Ethiopia’s largest and most populous region. Its regional government is controlled by the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), a member of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

The Ethiopian government has a long history of using accusations of support for the Oromo Liberation Front, an armed rebel group that has been carrying out a low-level insurgency for more than a decade, as a pretext for cracking down on political dissent among the Oromo population.

While Ethiopia has valid security concerns related to sporadic bombings and other attacks, the government has routinely cited terrorism to justify suppressing nonviolent opposition and arbitrarily detaining peaceful government critics. The authorities have indicated that they may charge several of the detainees under the new Anti-Terrorism Law, which Human Rights Watch and others have criticized on human rights grounds.

Enacted in July 2009, the Anti-Terrorism Law severely restricts the right to freedom of expression. It contains an overly broad definition of acts of terrorism that could be used to suppress non-violent peaceful protests, and greatly expands police powers of search, seizure, and arrest. The law also provides for holding “terrorist suspects” for up to four months without charge. These provisions violate basic human rights requirements of due process. Human Rights Watch expressed concern at the time that the new law would become a potent tool for suppressing political opposition and legitimate criticism of government policy.

The Ethiopian constitution requires the government to bring a person taken into custody before a court within 48 hours and to inform the person of the reasons for their arrest, a protection that is already systematically violated. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Ethiopia is a party, provides that anyone arrested for a criminal offense shall be brought before a judicial authority and promptly charged.

Ethiopians in New York ready for Meles cadres

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Adama Clayton Powell Plaza
163 West 125th St., New York
Date: Saturday April 9th
Time: 12:00PM

No Confidence; No Investment!

Confidence is the prerequisite to attract investment by the Ethiopian Diaspora. The presence of genuine democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law are prerequisites to consider investment in Ethiopia. The following preconditions must be met by TPLF/EPRDF immediately.

1. All criminals involved in the murder of 193 unarmed pro-democracy protesters in June and November 2005, in Addis Abeba and the massacre of 424 Anuaks of Gambella in December 2003 must be brought to justice.

2. Ethnic apartheid is the new slavery institution in Ethiopia. Ethnocracy that has segregated 82 million Ethiopians into Killils must be abolished.

3. The separation of powers principle must be instituted by replacing the legislative- executive-judiciary branches of government that are fused into the hegemonic powers of the TPLF party.

4. All forms of media should be free and available to the public and all political parties.

5. All political prisoners should be released with appropriate compensation.

6. Repression and intimidation of opposition party members and their supporters must be outlawed and stopped immediately.

7. The police and armed forces should not get involved in politics and they need to be committed to protect the people from the government and outside enemies of the nation.

8. We hereby urge Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and his regime to stop the reign of terror and immediately transfer political power to a Transitional Government of National Salvation.

Please join us at 12:30 P.M. on Saturday, April 9, 2011 at 163 West 125th Street in Harlem to challenge the repressive regime’s charade of the so-called transformation and investment scheme crafted to hoodwink us all and the international community.

Enough to Tyranny in Ethiopia! Beka! Ga’ae!
For more info: kassaa@aol.com

Ethiopians in Ottawa ready to confront Woyanne delegation

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Reject the Ethno-Fascist Foot Soldiers of Melese Zenawi

A message from the Ethiopian Embassies in the US and Canada is urging all persons of Ethiopian origin to meet a high level delegation of Melese Zenawi’s regime in 14 cities of North America. The delegation will hold its meeting in Ottawa and Toronto on April 9 and 10. The purpose of all these coordinated meetings, we are told, is to invite diaspora Ethiopians to participate in the so called “Development and Transformation Plan” of the regime. In other words we are being invited to invest in the economic plan of Melese Zenawi and his ethno-fascist regime. We are writing to request all Ethiopians to come out in force and reject the maneuvers of the regime for the following reasons:

Based on its record we can not trust this regime

  • EFFORT owns and controls every sector of the Ethiopian economy; the ruling party (the TPLF) is at the same time a trading company
  • TPLF/EPDRF is a one party dictatorship in which political power, military leadership, and economic ownership has firmly come under the control of Melese Zenawi
  • The ethno-fascist regime has wiped out the free press and independent media and Ethiopians are forced to lead a life of untold oppression and misery
  • Inflation is soaring at 10% every month and corruption of government officers is completely out of control; to get a permit or a stamp of approval citizens must pay tens of thousands of Birr or abandon their project
  • Ethiopians from North America who went back to their country to invest in good faith have been robbed by corrupt officials, cheated out of their money by the cronies of the state and returned bankrupt. We can site a number of cases, including some from our own city. A number of people have come back with broken health and empty pockets after losing millions of Canadian dollars.
  • o Melese and his band of traitors have sold away our land inch by inch, plot by plot there by uprooting Ethiopians from their land and destroying the natural environment. And now they are coming for our bank books.

Why now and what is the real objective of the regime

  • The dictator is jittery about the popular uprising in North Africa and his messengers are going around the world to divert attention
  • After having weakened the legal opposition, this is a follow-up strategy to divide and conquer and ultimately silence the diaspora opposition.
  • Melese Zenawi and his band of robbers would like to see the flow of dollars to increase in order to fatten up their Swiss bank accounts.
  • If they are lucky the errand boys of the regime would like to recruit agents among us by handing out some sugar cubes.

What must be our response to the messengers of the despot

Our response to tyrants, criminals and traitors could be just one and only one: that is rejection. It is our duty as sons and daughters of a glorious country to shame and frustrate the foot soldiers of this ethno-fascist regime. It is our duty to speak up and fight for the rights and liberties of our people. It is our duty to reject the futile maneuvers of the despot to divide and conquer us. Finally we would like to give this band of traitors a very bold and unmistakable message to take to Melese Zenawi: “Sorry pal, Mission Impossible.”

Address: 170 Colonnade Rd South, Ottawa
Time: 1፡00 pm

Ethio-Canadian Forum for Democracy and Patriotic Ethiopians

Ottawa, Canada

Economist Intelligence Unit report on Ethiopia for April 2011

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Economist Intelligence Unit Country Report – Ethiopia

Monthly Review: April 2011

• Opposition parties claimed that more than 200 members were arrested during March to prevent attempts at organising demonstrations against the government.

• There are crucial differences between Ethiopia and the African countries that have overthrown their long-time rulers in 2011; Ethiopia has a much smaller middle-class, inferior levels of education and much lower Internet penetration.

• The government adopted a more aggressive stance against Eritrea in March by calling for the removal of the regime of the president, Isaias Afewerki, although the motives behind the increase in rhetoric are not yet clear.

• The state-owned Development Bank of Ethiopia has started to sell new government bonds, but with an inflation rate of 16.5% in February, the real interest rate on the bonds is negative and demand will probably be low.

• UK state aid for Ethiopia is planned to rise to an annual average of £331m (US$533m) up to 2015, making the country the biggest recipient of British aid.

• Interventionist policies such as the limit on bank lending, currency devaluation and price ceilings have created market distortions, leading to shortages of staple products, and may eventually cause more pain than gain.

Read the full report here.

Howard University asked to cancel Woyanne meeting

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Global Civic Movement for Change in Ethiopia, a group of pro-Ethiopian activist around the word, has written a letter to Howard University president Sidney A. Ribeau asking him to cancel a meeting that is organized at the university’s campus next weekend by cadres of the brutal dictatorship in Ethiopia. Read below:

President Sidney A. Ribeau
Howard University Office of the Secretary
2400 Sixth Street, NW, Suite 440
Washington, DC 20059
(202) 806-2250
sydney.ribeau@howard.edu

Re: Request of cancellation of the April 9th event organized by the dictatorial regime in Ethiopia.

Dear President Ribeau:

The Ethiopian-American community in the Diaspora and human rights activists, in particular, is stunned that Howard University is willing to give its space to the agents and messengers of the criminal and repressive regime of Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia. Providing a meeting venue to a regime known for egregious human rights violations, extra-judicial killings, torture and the use of rape as a weapon of war to undermine the movement for freedom and democracy is very disheartening. It casts a blemish on the reputation of this great institution of higher learning and an affront to all people, especially those of African descent. It also makes Howard University — a living symbol of the determination of the people of African descent to free themselves of oppression and enjoy the fruits of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and prosperity as responsible citizens in a free and egalitarian society —appear to be a tacit supporter of social injustice and gross human rights abuses in Africa.
Under the regime of Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia suffers from the absence of the rule of law, independent judiciary, free press, strong civil society, a strong opposition and a vibrant private sector. The United States Department of State 2010 Country Report on Human Rights and Practices documented that Mr. Meles Zenawi’s government continued to carry out “unlawful killings, torture, beating, abuse and mistreatment of detainees and opposition supporters by security forces, often acting with impunity; poor prison conditions ; arbitrary arrest and detention, particularly of sympathizers of members of opposition groups detention without charge and lengthy pretrial detention; use of excessive force by security services..” International rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Genocide Watch have repeatedly documented and condemned the gross violation of human rights, war crimes and even genocide perpetrated in Gambela and the Ogaden regions by the regime of Meles Zenawi.

These gross human rights violations are an affront to humanity and we believe the American people will not remain silent about these abuses, especially since the Zenawi regime is funded by taxpayer money. In the 2010 parliamentary elections, violation of human rights and the absence of a fair and free election process in Ethiopia allowed the ruling minority clique to claim that it won by 99.6%. In 2005, Mr. Meles Zenawi’s government rigged the relatively free and fair election, imprisoned thousands of innocent Ethiopians and the entire leadership of the major opposition party; and killed more than 200 peaceful protestors.

Despite massive foreign aid estimated at $30 billion since 1991, and $3 billion per year fro the U.S. government alone, the latest Oxford University Multi-Dimensional Index (MDI) showed that Ethiopia is the second poorest country, behind Niger in Sub-Saharan Africa. Ninety (90) percent of the population is poor; there are 5 million orphans; 70 percent of Ethiopian youth is unemployed and an estimated 7 million Ethiopians depend on international emergency food aid to survive.

The national economy is dominated by party owned and endowed enterprises. Endemic corruption is rampant at the highest levels of the regime. Inequality is on the rise. Ethiopian economists estimate that growing inequality is a consequence of economic and other asset concentration into the hands of a few government officials and their cronies at the expense of the majority. Land, the primary source of livelihood for the vast majority of the Ethiopian people, is owned by the state. The ruling party has used its power to illegally lease millions of acres of ancestral farmlands to foreign investors engaged in a neo-colonial land grab. These foreign agri-business companies are investing millions to produce food in Ethiopia to feed their own population and the rest to export to rich countries.

Under Meles Zenawi’s single party rule, Ethiopia continues to be ruled with an iron fist and suffer from incalculable “brain drain” Howard University as the alma mater of pioneer Ethiopians, such as Dr. Melaku Beyan stands to suffer irreparable damage to its reputation by allowing a brutal regime to hold a political meeting in its prestigious ground.

We, a coalition of civic organizations, advocacy and human rights activists, strongly urge you to cancel this embarrassing event that is due to be held at Cramton Auditorium on April 9, 2011. We would be very happy to meet with you and discuss our concerns further, and we can be reached by email: Neaminz@aol.com

Sincerely,

Neamin Zelleke
Coordinator
Global Civic Movement for Change in Ethiopiaa

CC:

Provost and Chief Academic Officer
James H. Wyche, Ph.D.
james.wyche@howard.edu
202-806-2550

Executive Vice President and
Chief Operating Officer
Troy A. Stovall
troy.stovall@howard.edu
202-806-2050

Senior Vice President
Strategic Planning, Operations & External Affairs & Chief Technology Officer
Hassan Minor, Ph.D.
svp@howard.edu
202-806-2530

Senior Vice President and Secretary
Artis Hampshire-Cowan, J.D.
ahampshire-cowan@howard.edu
202-806-2250

Senior Vice President and
Chief Financial Officer – Treasurer
Robert Tarola
robert.tarola@howard.edu
202-806-2411

Vice President for
Development and Alumni Relations
Nesta Bernard
nbernard@howard.edu
202-238-2340

Keith Miles
Chief of Staff
Email:kmiles@howard.edu
Office of University Communications

Latta, Judi Moore
Executive Director
Phone: (202) 238-2338
Fax: (202) 986-0409
E-mail: jlatta@howard.edu

Greg E. Carr
Associate Professor of Africana Studies
Chair of the Department of Afro-American Studies
Email: gcarr@howard.edu
Phone: 202-806-7581

African Studies Department
Cham, Mbye B.
Chairperson
Professor
mcham@howard.edu

David, Wilfred L.
Professor
wdavid@howard.edu
202.238.2315 426

Edgar, Robert R
Professor
redgar@howard.edu
202.238.2356 410

Nyang, Sulayman S
Professor
snyang@howard.edu
202.238.2311 430

Serapião, Luis B
Professor
lserapiao@howard.edu
202.238.2318 406

Shams, Feraidoon
Associate Professor
fshams@howard.edu
202.238.2324 402

Zewde, Almaz
Assistant Professor
azewde@howard.edu
202.238.2321 401

Hailu, Alem
Assistant Professor
alemhailu@att.net
202.238.2316

Johnson, Krista
Assistant Professor
kjohnson@howard.edu
202.238.2312 424

Africa: Democracy by Civil War

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Alemayehu G. Mariam

The Shell Game of African Democracy

If the Ivory Coast, one of the most prosperous African countries, can be considered a template for political change on the continent, democracy can replace dictatorship only by means of a civil war. For the past 5 months, Laurent Gbagbo, the loser of the November 2010 Ivory Coast presidential race has been holed up in his palace defiantly clinging to power. He claims to have won the election by order of his handpicked “Constitutional Council”, even though the Ivorian Electoral Commission declared his challenger Alassane Ouattara the winner.

Underlying Gbagbo’s electoral shenanigans to cling to power at any cost is a lingering and recurrent problem in African politics: Rigged, stolen and shell-gamed elections. African dictators set up elections just like the streetwise scammer sets up a shell game. African dictators know they will “win” the elections they set up by hook or crook. But they go through elaborate ceremonies to make the phony elections look real. They set up shills and call them “opposition parties”. They jail the real opposition leaders and intimidate their supporters. They trot out their handpicked “elections commissions” and put them on public display as independent observers to bless and legitimize the rigged elections. To please and hoodwink their Western donor benefactors, they being in international elections observers, adopt “election codes of conduct” and stage make-believe public debates. The outcome never changes: The African con artist dictators always win!

Well, maybe not always. On the rarest occasions, by some fluke an incumbent African dictator is defeated by a challenger despite massive election rigging and fraud. Even more incredibly, the whole world sides with the challenger winner. Then all hell breaks loose as it is happening today in the Ivory Coast. Gbagbo lost despite ballot-stuffing, ballot-shredding, ballot-stealing, voter intimidation and voting fraud.

For all African dictators, elections are an intolerable nuisance on their permanent clutch on power. They play the elections game because the international donors and multilateral banks make it a precondition for handouts and loans. Truth be told, neither the dictators nor the donors/banks are interested in genuine democratic elections as evidenced in many Wikileaks cablegrams. They want an election show to justify their immoral support for the criminal thugs. The dictators, donors and multilateral banks agree on one unitary principle so plainly and honestly articulated by former French President Jacques Chirac: “Africa is not ready for democracy” (a government of the people, by the people for the people). That is why so many African countries wallow in thugtatorships (a government of thieves, by thieves for thieves).

Democracy by Civil War

The manifest implications of this electoral shell game for the people of Africa are frigtening. There can be no peaceful transfer of power through a democratic election. If a challenger wins an election against an incumbent dictator fair and square, the challenger must be prepared to use force to remove the incumbent. Strange as it may sound, it may even be necessary to fight a full blown civil war to replace African dictatorships with African democracy. That seems to be the seminal lesson of the Ivory Coast which finds itself in a creeping civil war because Gbagbo has made peaceful transition impossible.

Over the past week, Ouattara’s “Republican Forces” have swept southwards from their bases in the north and seized the capital Yamoussoukro and the major port of San Pedro. They have now encircling the commercial capital Abidjan. Gbagbo’s army and civilian supporters have been fighting it out in the streets of Abidjan for months. Gbagbo has recruited an army of unemployed and illiterate youths in Abidjan to “defend the country, which is under attack from foreigners”, namely Ivorians from the north.

The ordinary people of the Ivory Coast are paying the price for a democracy betrayed. The number of innocent civilians killed increases by the dozens each day. The International Committee of the Red Cross recently reported the massacre of over 1,000 people in the western town of Duekoue. The perpetrators are alleged to be retreating Gbagbo soldiers who shot or hacked their victims to death with machetes. Since the elections in December 2010, over a million Ivorians have been internally displaced and over one hundred thousand have fled to Liberia. The great commercial city of Abidjan with over four million people is said to be a virtual ghost town. Street thugs are pillaging the city as Gbagbo blames the U.N. and the West for the bloodshed and civil war in the country.

Playing the Shell Game of African Democracy

Africa’s incumbent dictators will always win the elections they manufacture. They will win by hook or crook, and by incredibly absurd percentages. Meles Zenawi, the capricious dictator in Ethiopia, declared that his party won the May 2010 parliamentary election by 99.6. Such a claim may sound laughable and absurd to the reasonable mind, but it has a Gobellian logic to it. The Nazi propaganda minister said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” Goebbels’ boss said, “The bigger the lie, the more it will be believed.” To claim 100 percent or 99.6 percent of the people voted for one party is absurd, but repeated many times, the sheer audacity of such a bold-faced lie renders the listener speechless, dumbfounded and numb. Similarly, Gbagbo says he won the presidential election despite unannimous international opinion to the contrary. Elections are window-dressing exercises for thugtatorships.

When African dictators lose by some strange fluke, they will demonize a segment of their citizens and embark on a campaign to denigrate their critics and opponents just to cling to power. History Professor Gbagbo declared Ivorians from the northern part of that country “foreigners”, including Ouattara, and rejected the outcome of the election as invalid. Gbagbo has also targeted the large population of migrant workers in the country with xenophobic and hateful rhetoric. When the European Election Observer Mission declared that the May 2010 election in Ethiopia “fell below international standards”, Zenawi attacked the Mission with a torrent of insult straight from the gutter. He described the EU report as a “pack of lies and innuendoes” and “garbage”. He dismissively added that the EU report was “just the view of some Western neo-liberals who are unhappy about the strength of the ruling party.”

African dictators will exploit ethnic, religious and regional divisions to cling to power. Gbagbo has been promoting a nasty ideology called “Ivoirité” to exclude and marginalize northern Muslims from national political office. The ideology is based on the notion that there are “real” Ivorians (‘indigenous Ivorians’) and foreigners who pretend to be Ivorians by immigration or ancestry (false Ivorians). By creating such insidious classifications, Ivorians from the north have been denied basic citizenship rights.

Africa’s dictators have a love-hate relationship with the West. They are quick to blame the West for their political problems. Yet, they are always standing at the gate begging for handouts. It is a case of the dog that bites the hand that feeds it. Gbagbo blames France, the U.N. and the U.S. for his country’s civil war. Zenawi blames the EU “neoliberals” for his bogus election victory. Mugabe blames Britain and the U.S. for his country’s political and economic woes.

In all of the political turmoil and election-related violence, African organizations have failed to take any meaningful action. Prof. George Ayittey, the internationally renowned Ghanaian economist and “one of the top 100 public intellectuals” who is “shaping the tenor of our time” said that the African Union is a “useless continental organization” that “can’t even define ‘democracy’”. Today, the AU stands on the sidelines twiddling its thumbs as thousands of Ivorians are slaughtered and Gbagbo steals the election in broad daylight. The other equally comatose organization is ECOWAS (Economic Community Of West African States). For months it has been threatening to remove Gbagbo by force if a peaceful solution could not be found. The Ivory Coast is in a virtual state of civil war and the AU and ECOWAS keep on talking with little action.

The U.S. says the AU and ECOWAS will find solutions to the stalemate in the Ivory Coast. David Wharton, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of African Affairs, said “what matters is not US view, but the African view”.Wharton was merely towing the party line. President Obama said, “the ideal is African solutions to African problems” and “what US thinks is really less important than what the neighborhood feels”. Recently, the President said “It is time for former President Gbagbo to heed the will of his people, and to complete a peaceful transition of power to President Ouattara. The eyes of the world are on Cote d’Ivoire.” Should we expect Gbagbo to un-cling from power terrified by the Evil Eye of the world?!?

The Wrath of Gbagbo on the Ivory Coast

African dictators think themselves to be African gods the longer they cling to power. They demand to be worshipped and adored as living legends. For the poor and illiterate Africans, they do become the gods of fire, war, chaos, terror, anger and revenge. They become life-givers and life-takers. When they lose power — lose elections they have rigged to win — they visit their wrath upon their citizens. Today we witness the Wrath of Gbagbo on the Ivory Coast. If Gbagbo cannot have Cote d’Ivoire, no one can have Cote d’Ivoire. Apre moi, le deluge!

Ethiopia’s dictator offers Egypt partial ownership of Nile dam

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Ethiopia’s khat-addicted dictator has offered Egypt a co-ownership of the planned Nile River dam, according to the VOA (read here). Meles Zenawi said: “If there is a reconsideration, there will be time to consider many issues, including possibly joint ownership of the project itself. We are open to such ideas,” said Meles.

Ethiopia has several others rivers that can be used for hydroelectric power. Meles is going after Nile River and picks fight with Sudan and Egypt to divert attention from his domestic crisis, including an impending uprising. What is even more sinister is that he is offering a joint ownership of the dam to Egypt and Sudan, which could threaten Ethiopia’s sovereignty in the long-term.

Distinguished scholar Prof. Aleme Eshete passed away

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

We have been informed that distinguished Ethiopian historian and political science scholar Professor Aleme Eshete has passed away. Prof. Aleme has been living in Italy for the past several years. He has published several influential papers on Ethiopian history, including The Cultural Situation in Socialist Ethiopia (1982); The Role and Position of Foreign-Educated Interpreters in Ethiopia – 1880-1889; European Political Adventurers in Ethiopia at the Turn of the 20th Century; A Page in the History of Posts and Telegraphs in Ethiopia: 1899-1903; La Cia in Africa.

The Ethiopian Review staff extends its condolences to the family of Prof. Aleme Eshete.

VIDEO: Prof. Aleme Eshete on Ethiopian history

Say NO to Woyanne officials visit in north America

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

PRESS RELEASE
Global Civic Movement for Change in Ethiopia

This is a call to all patriotic Ethiopians to say No to the TPLF/EPRDF officials’ visit to North America searching for investment from the Diaspora community. We are not against investing and helping our country and people. On the other hand, we believe we should have a clear understanding of where our money goes and for what purpose it will be used. TPLF/EPRDF officials are asking us to invest under the following circumstances best suited to their perpetuation of their power and not the national interest of Ethiopia.

* Today, all land belongs to the government and we are supposed to lease our own ancestral land. The Ethiopian farmer is at the mercy of TPLF/EPRDF officials in his own land. As a result of these and the overall ill devised policies of the regime, millions of Ethiopians depend on donor food aid; millions of Ethiopians still live in grinding and abject poverty. While the kleptocrats of the ruling regime’s ethnic and political cronies gloat with opulence and decadence.
* Today TPLF/EPRDF officials and EFFORT (Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigrai) are the largest owners of the major industries in Ethiopia including Banking, Construction, Agribusiness, Mining, Communication, Insurance and other pillars of the economy that are vital to the well-being and development of the country. Meanwhile, Ethiopian business owners are being pushed out of the market due to a lack of a level playing field. While the regime penalizes these business owners with trumped up charges of tax evasion etc., business owners affiliated with the regime due to their ethnicity or political loyalty are made to thrive and prosper.
* Today TPLF/EPRDF controls the rubber stamping parliament using illegal and bogus elections as we witnessed a few months back “winning” 99.6% of the seats; thus effectively turning Ethiopia into a one-party state. Meles has been in power for 20 years. He has been a cause of death and destruction. He has stolen the election in 2005, and massacred unarmed civilians. He imprisoned close to 50 000 people. At present the brutal regime is imprisoning our people in Gambela, Oromo, Ogaden, Southern Ethiopia and elsewhere.
* Today TPLF/EPRDF controls the military, security service, and the police leaving our people at the mercy of a few sick and selfish individuals. The North Africa and Middle East democratic revolutions are forcing the regime to panic. In desperation it is looking for Diaspora money.
* Today TPLF/EPRDF is selling our land to foreign investors at the expense of Ethiopian farmers and the fragile ecology of these places. Thus transferring this problem for generations to come. Our most fertile land and forest resources are being cleared to feed foreigners without regard to the grave consequences to the people of Ethiopia.
* Today we are made to be by-standers and strangers in our own land with the ruling regime working day and night to create animosity, division, confusion and hatred among Ethiopians based on ethnic background and religious affiliation.

Dear fellow Ethiopians, what we are being asked is to go against our own interest. They want us to invest our hard earned money so that TPLF/EPRDF officials and their families can reinvest it outside of our country by buying properties in Europe and America and on shopping sprees. As you are all aware, we work hard for our money. We left our homeland without anything and through hard work and perseverance we have managed to build a decent living wherever we reside.

TPLF/EPRDF and their cohorts have used and abused our people for the last twenty years. They have committed untold crimes against the people of Ethiopia. Now they want us to be part of their criminal empire. We ask you to look at this situation soberly and choose the welfare of your Motherland and your people over empty promises and shameful acts.

Washington DC, New York, NY, Dallas, TX, Seattle, WA, Las Vegas, NV, Atlanta, GA, San Josea , CA , Los Angeles, CA , Ottawa, Canada, Toronto, Canada, Denver, CO, Minneapolis, MN organizing groups and Taskforces.

It time to say no! Enough is enough! Beka! Geye! Yaekel! Aloni! Wetandem! Gides! Bass! Diiteh!

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

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

Syrian cabinet resigns, political prisoners released

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

(VOA) — Syria’s state media say the government of Prime Minister Mohammed Naji al-Otari has resigned and the country’s president has accepted the resignations.

The reports say President Bashar al-Assad accepted the Cabinet resignations on Tuesday, following more than a week of anti-government protests.

The Associated Press says the 32-member Cabinet will continue running the country’s affairs until President Assad forms a new government.

News reports say President Assad could announce an end to Syria’s nearly 50-year-old emergency laws when he addresses the nation in the coming days.

The opposition protests represent the most serious threat to President Assad’s 11-year-rule and the long-standing authority of his family.

Syrian security officials have cracked down on the demonstrations, firing tear gas and live ammunition to disperse protesters. The U.S.-based rights group Human Rights Watch says at least 61 people have been killed since the unrest began.

Syrian officials say at least 12 people were killed in unrest in the port of Latakia on Friday and Saturday. Witnesses and human rights groups say security forces fired on protesters. Authorities blame armed extremists and foreign powers for inciting the violence.

The southern city of Daraa has been the focal point of the demonstrations.

(Washington Post) — The cabinet resignation, reported on state TV, marks the latest concession by Assad since protesters forced a string of political promises from his government, including a pledge to lift a 48-year-old emergency law. On Saturday, Assad released hundreds of political prisoners and pulled back security forces from the southwestern city where Syria’s burgeoning unrest began earlier this month.

Along with those concessions, anti-government activists are calling on Assad to rescind limits on civil rights, including the right to free assembly.

Opposition members say talk is no longer enough to appease the protesters.

“The issue is not what Assad will say, it is what will he apply?” said Ammar Qurabi, who head Syria’s National Organization for Human Rights. “We are tired of all this talk that the Syrian people have heard from the government for 11 years.”

Tinsae Ethiopia calls for nationwide actons to remove Meles

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

PRESS RELEASE

Tinsae Ethiopia calls for the end of Meles Zenawi’s regime

Last month, the newly formed Tinsae Ethiopia Patriots Union has distributed “Beka!” (Enough!) pamphlet in Amharic, Oromgna and Tigregna using its network through out Ethiopia (read here).

In a follow up pamphlet two weeks ago, Tinsae Ethiopia has called for for nationwide protests in the month of May, 2011, to remove Meles Zenawi’s dictatorship from power (read here).

Tinsae Ethiopia has stated that Ethiopians have rejected the Meles regime during the 2005 elections, but the regime has taken brutal measures to stay in power, while continuing to misrule the country and commit atrocities.

May 2011 will be the Meles regime’s 20th anniversary in power. Tinsae Ethiopia has called on Ethiopians inside the country and around to rally around the slogan “Beka!” (Enough).

Recalling previous attempts by the Meles regime to divert attention from itself by inciting ethnic and religious clashes, Tinsae Ethiopia has asked every Ethiopian to not fall prey for such scheme and look after the well-being of each other regardless of one’s religion or ethnic back ground.

Tinsae Ethiopia has also sent out a message to the armed forces in Ethiopia to join the people’s demand for change and help bring Meles and his collaborators to justice.

Libyan freedom fighters retake Ajdabiya, advance on Brega

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

Libyan freedom fighters retook the strategic eastern town of Ajdabiya which they lost over a week ago, as air strikes by coalition warplanes pound forces loyal to Gaddafi.

(VOA) — Libyan rebels chanted and fired their automatic rifles into the air after capturing the strategic town of Ajdabiya, which controls key roadways into eastern Libya. Coalition warplanes earlier had bombed Gaddafi’s military targets in Ajdabiya, destroying several tanks. A rebel spokesman said African mercenaries were killed in the fighting. Al-Arabiya TV showed several dozen African mercenaries, captured by the rebels.

(Al Jazeera) — Libyan rebels are advancing westwards after recapturing the strategic eastern town of Ajdabiya from government controls with the help of coalition airstrikes.

Reports on Saturday afternoon suggested rebels had already pressed onto the oil-port town of Brega, 80 kilometres to the west.

“We are in the centre of Brega,” rebel fighter Abdelsalam al-Maadani told the AFP news agency by telephone.

Beka! – Shambel Belaineh (video)

Friday, March 25th, 2011

Popular Ethiopian artist Shambel Belaineh has released a new song titled ‘beka!’ (enough) that calls on Meles Zenawi’s regime in Ethiopia to resign. Watch below:

U.K. to abolish anti-press freedom law

Friday, March 25th, 2011

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ethiopian Review is one of the victims of the U.K.’s anti-press freedom law that the new prime minister is trying to abolish. (See here).

New York Times Editorial

The British government is, at last, moving to reform the country’s notorious libel law, which has long made London a magnet for frivolous lawsuits. The reform proposal presented to Parliament last week by Kenneth Clarke, the justice secretary, is far from perfect but represents a reasonable first effort to change a law regarded as so unfair that it has been condemned by the United Nations. Last summer, President Obama signed a bill blocking enforcement of British libel judgments in American courts.

Under British libel law, a defendant is guilty until proved innocent. A plaintiff does not have to show damage to his reputation. Further, under the 1849 Duke of Brunswick rule, each individual newspaper sale — or hit on a Web site — counts as a new publication and thus another libel. The law also treats opinion, however measured, just as it treats tabloid gossip until a defendant convinces a court it should be accepted as fair comment.

As a result, London has become, in effect, a center of libel tourism, and the Royal Courts of Justice favored tribunal for what a House of Commons report called “blatantly inappropriate cases, involving foreigners suing foreigners.”

The new American law — the Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage Act — bars American courts from recognizing defamation judgments by foreign courts if they are inconsistent with First Amendment protections. But it is no way an answer to problems of British libel law itself.

Mr. Clarke introduced the bill with lofty rhetoric. “The right to freedom of speech is a cornerstone of our Constitution,” he said. “It is essential to the health of our democracy that people should be free to debate issues and challenge authority.”

The bill includes a requirement that statements must cause the plaintiff “substantial harm” in order to be considered defamatory. The bill would allow defendants to claim “responsible publication on matters of public interest” as an argument in their favor. It does away with multiple libels and reduces London’s attractiveness as a lawsuit destination by requiring plaintiffs to prove that England or Wales is “clearly the most appropriate place” to sue someone who doesn’t live in Europe.

The proposed barrier against jurisdiction is significant and a welcome change. In most other respects, the bill is not nearly as protective of speech as American law, and the burden remains on the defendant. Still, the bill has the potential to bury London’s deserved reputation as the world’s libel capital. It deserves the measured praise it is drawing.

German parliamentarian speaks out on repression in Ethiopia

Friday, March 25th, 2011

A member of Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, Mr Thilo Hoppe, has asked his government to review its policy toward Ethiopia. The following is the statement he released:

Development cooperation with Ethiopia should be reviewed

Thilo Hoppe, Member of the German Bundestag, has issued the following statement on the human-
rights situation in Ethiopia:

It is not only in the Arab world that the voices of those who are no longer willing to accept a lack of democracy and a disregard for human rights are growing louder; this is also happening in Ethiopia.

The German Bundestag’s Committee on Economic Cooperation and Development met with opposition politicians and human-rights activists from Ethiopia, who reported on the suppression of protests in Addis Ababa and the imprisonment of journalists, politicians and NGO representatives critical of the regime.

The Federal Government should follow up on these reports and also raise the critical human-rights situation in negotiations with Ethiopia on development cooperation.

Development cooperation with the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi should be reviewed.

The review must examine what kind of assistance reaches the poorest of the poor and fosters sustainable development – and what forms of cooperation may be misused by the government and may even hinder democratic development. It must be made clear to the Ethiopian government that, in Germany’s view, development cooperation cannot be separated from the realization of human rights.

Thilo Hoppe
Mitglied des Deutschen Bundestages
Stv. Vorsitzender des Ausschusses für wirtschaftliche
Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung
E-Mail: Thilo.hoppe@wk.bundestag.de

Syria’s president releases protesters detained by police

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

SYRIA (BBC) — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad later ordered the release of everyone arrested during the “recent events”, state media said.

Assad’s regime have also pledged to introduce reforms to meet the demands of protesters, after days of violence in the southern city of Deraa, promised to study the need for lifting the state of emergency, in place since 1963, and bring to trial those suspected of killing several protesters in Deraa.

Presidential spokeswoman Bouthaina Shaaban blamed outside agitators for whipping up trouble, and denied that the government had ordered security forces to open fire on protesters.

But she said this “did not mean mistakes had not been made”.

“We should not confuse the behaviour of an individual, and the desire and determination of President Bashar al-Assad to move Syria to more prosperity,” she told a news conference in Damascus.

Relaxing restrictions?

A committee would be set up to talk to “our brothers in Deraa” and bring to justice those responsible for killing protesters, Ms Shaaban said.

She also said the government would raise workers’ wages, introduce health reforms, allow more political parties to compete in elections, relax media restrictions and establish a new mechanism for fighting corruption.

Ms Shaaban announced a similar package of reforms in 2005, but critics say her pledges were never enacted.

Opposition groups reacted to the news conference immediately, telling Reuters news agency that the Deraa committee would do nothing to meet the aspirations of the people.

Reuters reported that dissidents in Syria and in exile dismissed the reforms, calling for the immediate scrapping of the state of emergency and freeing of thousands of political prisoners.

Abdul-Karim Rihawi, who heads the Syrian Human Rights League, later said authorities had released several activists including prominent journalist Mazen Darwish and writer Louay Husein.

Ms Shaaban accused international media, including the BBC and CNN, of exaggerating the crackdown on the protesters.

Estimates vary as to how many people were killed in Wednesday’s unrest.

Some reports quoting witnesses and activists have put the figure as high as 100; others have claimed about 15 people were killed.

The government said 10 people had died.

Security forces opened fired on crowds three times in Deraa on Wednesday, activists and witnesses said.

The first clashes took place in the early hours outside a mosque. Later, witnesses said crowds at a funeral for those who were killed were themselves fired on.

President Assad succeeded his father in 2000 and has tolerated little dissent.

Yemen president starts to negotiate terms for resigning

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the country’s top general are hashing out a political settlement in which both men would resign from their positions within days in favor of a civilian-led transitional government, according to three people familiar with the situation.

The outlines of that peaceful transition emerged amid rising tension over the standoff between the President Saleh and Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who earlier this week broke ranks and declared his support for the array of protesters demanding that the president step down immediately.

Opposing tanks from units loyal to Mr. Saleh and to Gen. Ahmar have faced off in the streets of San’a all week and tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrators continued their vigil in the capital’s Change Square. … [continue reading]

Growing unease in Ethiopia – VOA

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

A sign of the government’s growing unease has been a partial resumption of jamming of VOA language service broadcasts to Ethiopia. The broadcasts are often jammed before Ethiopia’s elections, but the jamming stops after the voting. … [continue reading]

Why is Meles going after OPDO?

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Ethiopia’s dictator Meles Zenawi is going after officials and members of the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) with a vengeance these days. So far over 150 officials and hundreds of members have been thrown in jail charged with corruption.

Ethiopian Review has interviewed Col. Abebe Geresu about the mass purging inside OPDO.

OPDO is one of the five parties that make up the the TPLF-dominated ruling coalition, Ethiopian People’s Democratic Front (EPRDF).

Col. Abebe left the current regime 2 years ago along with Gen. Kemal Gelchu and 600 other high- and mid-ranking officers mostly from OPDO.

The interview is in Amharic. Read below:

ጥያቄና መልስ ከኮ/ል አበበ ገረሱ ጋር

ጥያቄ – በቅርቡ የመለስ ዜናዊ አገዛዝ በርካታ ባለስልጣኖችን እያሰረና ከስራ እያባረረ ይጋኛል። ከሚታሰሩት መካከል አብዛኛዎቹ የኦሮሞ ህዝብ ዲሞክራሴያዊ ድርጅት (ኦህዴድ ) ኣባላት ናቸው። ለምን መለሰ ዜናዊ የኢህአዴግ አባል ድርጅት የሆነውን የኦህዴድን አመራር አባላት ማሰር የጀመረ ይመስሎታል?

መልስ- መጀመሪያ ለጥያቄህ በጣም አመሰግንሃለሁ። ኦህዴድ ድርጅት ተብሎ ይጠራ እንጅ የድርጅት ህልውና ያልነበረው ነው። ኣቶ መለሰ ዜናዊ በአንድ ወቅት «ኦህደድ ታክቲካዊ ድርጅት እንጂ ስትራትጅካዊ ድርጅት ኣይደለም» ብሎ ነበር። ሌላም ጊዜ «ኦህዴድ ሲፋቅ ኦነግ ይወጣዋል» እያለ በፊት ሌላ በኋላ ሌላ ወይም ፈጣን ሎተሪ ኣይነት ድርጅት መሆኑን በተደጋጋሚ እየገለጸ ቆይቷል። ለዚህም ምክንያቱ ኦህዴድ የሚባለው ድርጅት ወያኔዎች ወደ ኦሮሞ መሬት ለመግባት እርግጠኞች በነበሩበት ጊዜ ኦሮሞን የሚመስል ድርጅት ኣይነት ይዞ መሄድ የግድ ስለነበረባቸው ኦሮምኛ ተናጋሪ የደርግ ሰራዊት ምርከኞችን ኣሰባስቦ በድርጅት መልክ ማደራጀት ስለነበረበት በኣቶ ክንፈ ገብረመድህን በኩል ኣደራጃቸው። በዛኑ ዘመን «መደራጀታችን ለምን ያስፈልጋል፥ የኦሮሞ ድርጅት ኦነግ ኣለ?» ብሎ የጠየቁትን ኣጠፏቸው። ከዚያ በኋላ ምንም ማሰብ የማይችሉትን ምርኮኛች ወታደሮችን እነ ኩማ ደመቅሳ፥ እነ ኣባ ዱላ ገመዳ፥ እነ ኢብራሂም መልካና ባጫ ደበሌ የተባሉትን ዋነኞቹ የኦህዴድ ኣመራሮች ኣድርጎ ጉዞውን ወደ አዲስ አበባ ቀጠለ።

ከዚህ በኋላ ነው እንግዲህ ወያኔዎች ኦህዴድ ታክቲካዊ ድርጅትነቱን በግልጽ መጠቀም የጀመረው። ኢህኣዴግ አዲስ አበባን በተቆጣጠረ ማግስት በ1984 ዓ/ም መቱ ላይ ኦህዴድ ባደረገው ግምገማ ላይ በአንድ ጀንበር 400 ሰው አባረረ። ቀጥሎ በታጠቅ ጦር ሰፈር 16,000 የኦሮሞ ካድሬዎችን ካሰለጠነ በኋላ የደርግ ምርኮኞችን በሙሉ አባሮ የአካል ምርኮኞች ብቻ ሳይሆኑ የአዕምሮ ምርኮኞችን ኣመራር እንዲሆኑለት ለይቶ አስቀራቸው። «ትግላችን ካለፈው ይልቅ ቀጣይ፥ ውስብስና አስቸጋሪ ነው። በመሆኑም አዲሱን የትግል መስመራችንን መቀጥል የምንችለው ንቅል የሆነው ታጋይ ሳይሆን አዲሱ ትውልድ ነው በሚል» ነባሩ የኦህዴድ ታጋዮችን «ፈርተሃል፣ ጠጥተሃል፣ ሰርቀሃል፣ ትግሬዎችን ትጠላለህ፣ የደርግ ሰራዊት ናችሁ፣ የደርግ አመለካከት አለቀቃችሁም፣ ጠባብ አመለካከት አላቹ» በሚሉ ሰበቦች የአህዴድን ታጋዮች ማሰር፣ ማባረር እና ደብዛችውን ማጥፋት የጀመረው አሁን ሳይሆን ከ1984 ዓ.ም ጀምሮ ነው።

የኦህዴድ ምክትል ሊቀ መንበር የነበሩት ኣቶ ኢብራሂም መልካም ሙስና በሚል ሰበብ የተባረሩት ትንሽ ከሌሎች ምርከኞች የተሻለ ህዝባዊ አመለካከት ስለነበራቸዉ ነበር። ሌሎችም በዚሁ በተልካሻ ምክንያቶች ተባረዋል። ወያኔ እነ ኣቶ ባዩን በመኪና ገጭቶ የገደለው በዚሁ ምክንያት ነበረ። ዛሬም ወያኔ የኦህዴድን ባለስልጣኖች ከክልሉ ምክትል ፕሬዝዳንት ጀምሮ በገፍ ማሰር የጀመረው ሙስና በሚል ሰበብ ነው። በእርግጥ በኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ ሙስና፣ ዘረፋ እና የንጹሃንን ዜጎች ዳም ማፍሰስ ወንጀል ቢሆን ኖሮ ክአቶ መለሰ ዜናዊ፣ ወ/ሮ አዜብ መስፍን እና ጀሌዎቻቸው በላይ በወንጅል የተዘፈቀ ያለ አይመስለኝም። ነገሩ ሌላ ነው።

የኦሮሞ ህዝብ ብሶቱ ጣራ ደርሶ ሊፈነዳ በደረሰበት ባሁኑ ሰዓት እነ መለስ ዜናዊ የዚህን ህዝብ ሃብት፣ ንብረቱን እና መሬቱን እየቀሙ ለጀሌዎቻቸውና ለ ባዕዳን ሃገሮች ባለ ሃብት ሽጠው ስለበሉ የኦሮሞን ህዝብ አመለካከት በኦህዴድ አመራሮች አሳብበን እንቀይራለን በሚል ግዜ ያለፈበት የወያኔ ከፋፍለ ግዛ አስተሳሰብ ነው።

ይህ ደግሞ ኦህዴድን ለዋውጦ የኦሮሞን ህዝብ በማታለል ተቃውሞን እና ህዝባዊ አመጽን ለማፈን ፈጽሞ የማይቻል፣ ነገር ግን የአምባገነን መሪዎች በውድቀታቸው ዋዜማ ላይ የሚያደርጉት መፍጨርጨር አንዱ አካል ነው።

የኦሮሞ ህዝብ የወያኔ ስርኣት ቃር ቃር ካለው ሃያ ዓመታትን አስቆጥሯል። ከአንግዲህ ወዲህ ወያኔ የኦህዴድን ባለስልጣኖች አሰራቸውም ኣባረራቸውም ገደላቸውም የኦሮሞ ህዝብ ከሌሎች ኢትዮጵያ ህዝቦች ጋር ወያኔን ለአንዴና ለመጨረሻ ጊዜ ከራሱ ጫንቃ ላይ ካልጣለው በሃገሪትዋ ውስጥ ፍትህና ሰላም ምንም ቢሆን ሊመጣ ስለማይችል ህዝባዊ ትግሉን አጠናክሮ ይቀጥላል እንጂ ለኣፍታም ቢሆን ህዝባዊ ነውጡ በወያኔ ድራማ ሊገታ አይችልም። መሰረቱ የበሰበስውን ቤት ጣራውን ቢጠግኑት ቤት ሊሆን አይችልም። መሰረት የለውምና።

ጥያቄ – በሌሎቹ የኢህኣዴግ ድርጅቶች ለምን ተመሳሳይ ሁኔታ ኣልተከሰተም?

መልስ – በሌሎቹ ድርጅቶች ያልተነሳበት ምክንያት ኣሁን ህዝባዊ ነውጡ ወያኔን ያሳጋ ያለው ወይም ሕዝባዊ ነውጡ ይነሳል ተብሎ የሚጠበቀው በኦሮምያ ክልልና ኣዲስ ኣበባ ዙሪያ በመሆኑና ተቃዋሚ የኦሮሞ ድርጅቶች በሕዝብ ውስጥ የሚሰሩት ስራ ወያኔን በከፍተኛ ጭንቀት ውስጥ በመጣሉ ነው ዘመቻውን ኣስቀደሞ በኦህዲድ ድርጅት ባለስልጣናት ላይ የከፈተው።

ሁለተኛ፣ ሌሎች ድርጅቶች የሚባሉትስ እነማን ናቸው? በኢህኣዴግ ኣባል ድርጅቶች ውስጥ ኣንደኛው ህወሓት (ወያኔ) ነው። ህወሓት ማለት የመለስ ጉዳይ ኣስፈጻሚ ስለሆነ ምንም ዓይነት ችግር የሚያመጣ ኣይደለም። ብኣዴን ከሆነ ከኣዲሱ ለገሰ እና ከተፈራ ዋልዋ ውጭ ሌሎቹ ኣማርኛ ተናጋሪ ትግሪዎችና የመለስ ዜናዊ ቡችሎች የነበሩ ናቸው። ዴህዴግ የሚባሎት ድሮውኑ መለስ «ስዕብና የሌላቸው ሰዎች ስብስብ» ነው ብሏቸዋል። ሌሎችን ኣጋር ደጋፊ በሚል የኢህኣዴግ ተጎታቾች ኣድጓቸዋል። ለማናቸውም ተጎታች ድርጅቶቹ ሁሉ የሚቀርላቸው ጉዳይ ኣይደለም።

ጥያቄ – ይህ ሁኔታ ወዴት የሚያመራ ይመስልዎታል?

መልስ – ይህ ሁኔታ የሚያመራው ወያኔ የግዛት ዘመኑ ያከተመ መሆኑን በግልጽ የሚጠቁም ነው። የኢትዮጵያ ሕዝብ የወያኔ ስርዓት ኣንገሽግሾታል። ወያኔ በኢትዮጵያኖች ዘንድ በዝረራ የተሸነፈው በምርጫ 97 ነበር። ነገር ግን በማን ኣለብኝነት የሕዝቦችን ድምጽ በሰራዊት ሃይል ኣፍኖ ነበር እስከዛሬ ድረስ በስልጣን ላይ ያለው። የኢትዮጵያ ሕዝብ የራሱ የመከላከያ ሰራዊት የለውም። ኣሁን ያለው ሰራዊት የወያኔ የግል ሰራዊት ወይም የትግራይ ሚሊሻዎች፣ ማለትም የነመለስ የግላቸው ሰራዊት እንጂ ያገር ሰራዊት ኣይደለም። በመሆኑም ወያኔ ዛሬም ድረስ በነዚህ በግሉ ሰራዊት ኣባላት የኢትዮጵያን ሕዝብ ተቃውሞ እና ኣመጽን ለማፈን እስከመጨረሻ መጣጣሩ ኣይቀርም። ነገር ግን ወያኔ ምንም ያክል በትግራይ ልጆች ብቻ የሚመራውን ሕዝባዊነት የሌለው ወይም የኢትዮጵያ መከላከያ ሰራዊት ያልሆነውን ነፍሰገዳይ ስራዊት ቢያከማችም ወያኔና ሰራዊቱ የኢትዮጵያን ሕዝብ ሊያሸንፉት ኣይችሉም። የወያኔ ሰራዊትም የኢትዮጵያን ሕዝብ ደም ኣፍስሶ የትም ሊያመልጥ ኣይችልም። ኣቶ መለስ ዜናዊም የኢትዮጵያን ሕዝብ ኣስጨፍጭፎ ከዚህ በፊት እንደተዋረዱት አንምገነን መሪዎች ተዋርደው በጦር ወንጀለኛነት ከመጠየቅ ኣያመልጥም። በርግጠኝነት ሁኔታው የሚያመራው ወደዚህ ነው።

አሁን እነ መለስ ዜናዊ ኦህዴድን ባለስልጣኖች ቢያስሩም፣ ቢፈቱም፣ ቢያባርሩም፣ የስልጣን ዘመናቸውን ሊያራዝምላቸው የሚችል ኣይመስለኝም። ስለዚህ የወያኔ ባለስልጣኖች በኢትዮጵያኖች ዘንድ ቃር ቃር ያለዉን ድራማቸውን ትተው የኢትዮጵያን ሕዝብ ይቅርታ ጠይቀው በሰላማዊ መንገድ ስልጣኑን ለሕዝብ ቢያስረክቡ አገሪቱን ከከፋ ጥፋት ሊታደጉና እነሱም ከወንጀለኝነት ሊድኑ ይችላሉ። ያላቻዉም የማጨረሻ ምርጫ ይሄ ብቻ ነው። ኣለበለዚያ የወያኔ ስርዓት በከፍተኛ ሕዝባዊ ነውጥ ተመቶ ወደ ግባኣተ መሬቱ የሚመለስበት ዋዜማ ላይ ደርሷል።

African dictators try to snuff out flames of discontent

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

By By MICHELLE FAUL and ANGUS SHAW | Associated Press

Ethiopia’s 20-year government announced a cap on basic food prices within days of President Zine al Abidine Ben Ali’s flight from Tunisia. Opponents said Saturday the government has rounded up some 200 opposition members in the past week “in a preemptive action to prevent the popular uprising that is sweeping through northern Africa.”

Angola’s ruler of more than 30 years, President Eduardo dos Santos, has used mass troop deployments and arrests to quash a planned pro-democracy protest. Opposition politicians and human rights lawyers in Angola, a virtual one-party state, have been receiving anonymous death threats and the cars of two lawyers were set ablaze.

In Djibouti, riot police moved against an estimated 6,000 people at an opposition political rally on Feb. 18, and opposition politicians said five people were killed and dozens wounded. A second rally planned for March 4 didn’t happen after security forces filled the streets. Opposition leaders have been jailed.

“There is no way anybody can win against him,” opposition leader Abdourahman Boreh said from exile in London, referring to President Ismail Omar Guelleh. “He uses all the power, all the police, all the government instruments and resources, and he uses brutality.”

Uganda’s Conservative Party leader John Ken Lukyamuzi said “it is very possible” the protests will spread to sub-Saharan Africa. In his own country, police fired tear gas against people protesting alleged rigging in last month’s presidential vote that saw incumbent Yoweri Museveni, 66, who has been in power since 1986, win again. He threatened his opponents.

“I will deal with them decisively and they will never rise again,” Museveni said, promising at one point to “bang them into jails and that would be the end of the story.”

In Zimbabwe, Jeenah said, people are held back from taking to the streets by fears of the beatings and torture meted out to dissenters, while Mugabe is sustained by the lack of criticism and even support demonstrated by other African leaders.

Ivory Coast threatens to slide back toward civil war since Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept that he lost November elections. As Gbagbo’s intransigence turns the commercial capital, Abidjan, into a war zone, African leaders have been hesitant to intervene militarily. Some who side with Gbagbo are themselves anti-democratic.

If Gbagbo prevails, he would be the third African leader to refuse to accept election results, following the lead of Mugabe and Kenya’s Mwai Kibaki.

It’s a dangerous precedent. More than a dozen presidential elections are scheduled across Africa this year. If winners of free and fair elections are prevented from taking office, the people’s discontent can only build.

(Faul reported from Johannesburg. Associated Press writers Jason Straziuso in Nairobi, Kenya; Godfrey Olukya in Kampala, Uganda; Divine Ntaryike in Douala, Cameroon; and Phathizwe-Chief Zulu in Mbabane, Swaziland contributed to this report.)

Sugar and cooking oil disappearing in Ethiopia

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Residents in Addis Ababa and other Ethiopian cities have to wait over 8 hours in line to buy sugar, cooking oil and other food items, according to Ethiopian Review sources. The photos below show a sugar line at a store on Tewodros Street in Addis Ababa yesterday, March 21, 2011. Meanwhile, it is reported that dictator Meles Zenawi and wife Azeb Mesfin have began construction of their 80 million birr house at the Menelik II Palace compound, and the ruling party TPLF is spending millions of dollars to celebrate it’s 20th anniversary in power next May, 2011.

Sugar line in Ethiopia

Sugar line in Ethiopia

Clearing people and forests for agribusiness

Monday, March 21st, 2011

The Meles dictatorship in Ethiopia continues to displace people from their land and destroy ancient forests to grow crops and flower for export, as the video below shows:

Meles talks about military action against Eritrea – VOA

Monday, March 21st, 2011

VOA’s Peter Heinlein from Addis Ababa is reporting that Meles Zenawi’s regime in Ethiopia has changed its policy toward Eritrean to “actively advocate the overthrow of the government in Eritrea.”

News agencies quoted Ethiopean Prime Minister dictator Meles Zenawi as telling an Eritrean opposition radio station his government would work in a ‘diplomatic and military capacity’ to oust the regime in Asmara, the Eritrean capital. The reports gave no further details.”

In an interview Sunday with VOA, Ethiopian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Dina Mufti said the decision to take a tougher stance was made after the international community turned a deaf ear to pleas for more pressure on Eritrea.

“We have been hoping the international community will put pressure on it. However, we do not see that, therefore time has come for us to make sure that our sovereignty is protected and our people, our country, is saved. So these are the situations that have forced us to revisit our position,” he said.

This is obviously a desperate attempt by Meles to divert attention from the various opposition voices who are demanding an end to his regime. Some Ethiopian groups are using Facebook to call for the launching of protests on May 28, 2011, the 20th anniversary of Meles Zenawi’s coming to power. – VOA

Officials, top army general in Yemen resign

Monday, March 21st, 2011

The country’s United Nations ambassador, Abdullah Alsaidi, has resigned, Reuters reports. Alsaidi is the latest member of President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s government who has stepped down from their positions, in protest of the violence and killing of pro-democracy protesters. On Friday, both the country’s tourism minister and the head of the party’s foreign affairs committee quit. On Saturday, Nasr Taha Mustafa, head of the state news agency and a leading ruling party member, resigned from both his position and his party. Party member Mohamed Saleh Qara’a also quit over what he referred to as ‘”completely unacceptable”‘ violence.

VIDEO

Protesters in Syria burned down ruling party’s office

Monday, March 21st, 2011

SYRIA — Protesters in the city of Deraa burned the house of the ousted district governmor as well as the ruling party’s HQ and a local culture ministry office. Al-Arabiya also reported that Syrian army tanks arrived in the city on Sunday.

VIDEO

On Sunday, at least five people were killed and 60 were injured after Syrian officers used live ammunition to disperse protests.

Tens of thousands of Syrians took to the streets as a governmental delegation arrived in Deraa to console families mourning for loved ones killed in previous demonstrations.

The officials promised to release 15 detainees but the protestors remained undeterred. The mourners later gathered at the al-Omari mosque in the old quarter of Deraa near the border with Jordan.

In Yemen, president Ali Abdullah Saleh has suffered a political setback, with his ambassador to Syria resigning and three top generals expressing their support for the anti-Government protesters.

Tanks took up positions around the capital Sana’a today as tens of thousands of people gathered for funerals for 50 demonstrators shot dead by loyalist forces. It’s been described as the biggest gathering of protesters against president Saleh’s 32 years of autocratic rule.

Ethiopia: Broken Contract, Broken Faith, Broken Country

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Alemayehu G. Mariam

Over the past week, Meles Zenawi has been waxing eloquent on contract and leasehold law. Asked by a local journalist whether the winds of change blowing in North Africa could make a detour to Ethiopia, he said that was impossible because he and his party have a five-year “contract” with the Ethiopian people. He explained[1],

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. Therefore, in a situation where the people have this kind of power and have given consent to a government which has been in power for 10 months, they can wait [until the end of the five-year contract] and remove it by denying their ballots. There is no reason or logic why they would change it by other means. That is why a change similar to that in North Africa cannot happen in Ethiopia.

It is not clear what Zenawi means in his repeated use of the word “contract” to describe the relationship between the people of Ethiopia and his party, and how that “contract” became an ironclad deal for five years. The terms of the “contract” and the circumstances that constitute breach are also unclear. But the word  “contract” has special significance for those in the legal profession and students of political theory.

Legal Contract?

In the civil laws of all modern societies, a contract is a legally enforceable agreement between two or more parties with mutual obligations. There are all sorts of contracts, and certain ones have no validity in law.  For instance, there are “unconscionable contracts” in which one party imposes terms on the other party by duress (such as use of physical threats, economic pressure, misleading information, etc.), undue influence (one party takes unfair advantage of the weaknesses of the other party) or  “unconscionable bargaining” (the party in a superior bargaining position denies the subordinate party realistic opportunities to negotiate beneficial terms  leaving that party the option of only acquiescing to the deal).  A contract based on an “illusory promise” is invalid because one party has the sole option to live up to the terms of the contract or to avoid the obligations at will. If Zenawi does indeed have a legal “contract” with the people, it must be of the “unconscionable” variety.

A Social Contract?

Perhaps Zenawi is referring to a “social contract” with the Ethiopian people. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the philosophical anchor of the French Revolution theorized about a “social contract” in which individuals gave up their natural liberty to ensure their self-preservation in civil society. Rousseau penned the memorable phrase, “Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains.” The “chains” were put on man by other men who seek domination.  Rousseau’s solution to the problem of “man in chains” was to create a community of people who establish a state that expresses their sovereign “general will” by passing laws that benefit them. Rousseau believed that government has a tendency to usurp the power of the people and supported the right of the people to alter their form of government and replace their leaders at will. The question is whether the Ethiopian people are in “chains” or “free” in their “contract” with Zenawi.

John Locke, the philosophical anchor of the American Revolution, also theorized about a “social contract”. He argued that individuals collectively formed society in mutual consent to protect each other’s life, liberty and property by establishing government. He believed the “just powers” of government derive from the consent of the governed. He wrote, “Freedom of men under government is to have a standing rule to live by, common to every one of that society, and made by the legislative power vested in it; a liberty to follow my own will in all things, when the rule prescribes not, and not to be subject to the inconstant, unknown, arbitrary will of another man.”  Locke’s basic argument is that people entered into a “social contract” to live under the rule of law (that is by application and respect for constitutional principles and legislation passed by the people’s representatives) and avoid the rule of a tyrant. Locke’s “social contract” is revocable at any time by the withdrawal of popular  consent. The question is whether Zenawi’s vaunted “contract” with the Ethiopian people is based on the “rule of law” or the “arbitrary will of a man”?

Thomas Hobbes, the English philosopher and champion of absolutism (dictatorship) also proposed a “social contract” theory. He argued that in the state of nature (before government was established), life was “nasty, brutish, and short”.  To end the “war of all against all” in the state of nature, humans entered into a “contract” and gave up their “unlimited natural freedoms” in exchange for a political community and civil society that maximized their self-preservation and personal security. Hobbes believed that a powerful and supreme sovereign (a monarch) was needed to enforce the “social contract”.  Unlike Locke who believed in the rule of law, Hobbes believed in rule by prerogative (arbitrary rule by one individual who is accountable to no one) in which a monarch would exercise supreme authority to ensure the safety and security of individuals in civil society. Having personally experienced the English Civil War, he came to believe that the burdens of the most oppressive government are “scarce sensible, in respect of the miseries, and horrible calamities, that accompany a Civil War”. In other words, having an absolute dictator is better than risking civil war. Louis XIV of France was probably echoing Hobbes when he told parliamentarians challenging his personal decrees,  “L’État, c’est moi.” (The state, it is me). More recently, Moamar Gadhafi and his sons have been pleading to extend their 42-year “contract” on the Libyan people indefinitely by claiming: “The tribes are all armed, there are forces from the Libyan army and the eastern region is armed. The situation is very dangerous. From the perspective of a civil war, the leader must play a very, very big role in calming Libya and convincing people to sit together. If something happened to the leader, who would be in control? A civil war would start.” Perhaps Zenawi is referring to a Hobbsean-type of social contract?

This idea of a “contract” with the people is nothing new. After winning the 1994 elections, Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives claimed to have concluded a “Contract With America” (CWA) aimed at “restoring the bonds of trust between the people and their elected representatives.”  They said they would bring an “end of government that is too big, too intrusive, and too easy with the public’s money.” They promised to eliminate deficit spending and reduce fraud, waste and abuse in government. Over the following decade, “Big Government” continued to grow bigger under the CWA. Republicans went on a spending spree incurring the biggest annual increases in spending over the preceding 40 years. They got entangled in a number of spectacular corruption cases and lobbying scandals.  The three “engineers” of the 1994 “Republican Revolution” publicly broke their “bonds with the people”. In 1998, following Republican losses in the mid-term elections and paying a fine of $300,000 for ethics violations, Newt Gingrich resigned both his Speakership and his congressional seat. Dick Armey served as House majority leader before retiring in 2002. He dumped the Contract With America, joined the DLA Piper lobbying firm and snagged a contract “for a minimum of $50,000 a month” with the Zenawi regime. Tom Delay, another member of the CWA team took over from Armey but was forced to resign in 2005 after he was charged with criminal money laundering. He was convicted in 2010 and sentenced to three years in prison.

Leaseholds and Land Grabs

Zenawi also offered extended legal analysis of the  “land grab” problem in Addis Ababa. The question raised by a young reporter was whether developers who held leaseholds in urban land in the capital could freely transfer their interest in the open commercial real estate market regardless of any improvements (buildings) on the land. Zenawi made the bewildering claim that “developers were grabbing land that does not belong to them in any legal sense and misusing the land lease rights they were given for personal profit and speculation.” He said such transfers were fueling “land speculation” in  the capital with “government officials facilitating such activities or turning a blind eye” to them. He said the “intention” of the law “was to transfer use rights for those who can use it better” but that “the law was open to interpretation.” He proceeded to make the following astonishing statement:

The reason why we have not taken anyone to court on that basis is simply because it is open to interpretation.  The political mistake is that it was open to be interpretation and therefore strictly speaking such acts may not have been illegal. They may not have been wise, but they may not be illegal. So those who made those unwise decisions, but they cannot be held accountable simply because the law provides for such interpretation. And so we will be taking steps to clarify those specific provisions in the law to make sure they did not open the floodgates for speculation in urban land. All of those, with the exception of one businessman have admitted they made very serious mistakes, offered to correct the mistakes and asked for administrative penalties rather than taking them to court. It does not serve our development interest to lock up so many businessmen since they admitted their mistakes, mend their ways and pay hefty fines. All government officials involved will be taken to court.

Zenawi’s analysis is remarkable for its manifest misconstruction of the urban land proclamation and non-sequitur (fallacious argument) explanation. First, the transfer of leasehold interest by developers in the open commercial market is a perfectly legal activity and can in no way be characterized as “land grabbing” or “land speculation.” Article 13 of Proclamation No. 272/2002 (A Proclamation to Provide for the Reenactment of Lease Holding of Urban Land) provides: “Any lease-hold possessor may transfer, or undertake a surety on, his right of lease-hold; and he may also use it as a capital contribution to the amount of the lease payment he has made.” The are no express or implied limitations in the Proclamation on the transfer of leasehold rights by anyone who has “lease-hold title” as defined in Article 9 (i.e. “any person, to whom lease-hold of urban land is permitted through auction or negotiation, after he has signed a contract of lease with the body permitting the land or the appropriate body.” Article 6 (1) (b) (1) provides that Addis Ababa’s urban land may be leased for “upto 60 years for industry” and “upto 50 years for commerce and other” activities. There is no textual basis in the Proclamation that limits the transfer of urban leasehold interests by a lawful title holder or renders such an  interest invalid because the title holder has found a way to generate personal profit from it.

Second, the penalty for violation of the terms of a leasehold is termination and forfeiture (give up the land) as set forth in Article 15: “The lease-hold of urban land shall be terminated where the lease-hold possessor has failed to use the land for the prescribed activity or service within the period of time set.”  It is not a crime to violate a “contract of lease”, yet Zenawi says “it does not serve our development interest to lock up so many businessmen since they admitted their mistakes”. Zenawi has no legal authority to “lock up” any businessmen for “mistakes” allegedly committed in the exercise of their contractual rights. All he can legally do is repossess the leased land following a contested court trial and seek compensation for damages, if any. To threaten businessmen to pay “hefty fines” or face “lock up” is plain extortion.

Third, Zenawi says the “law is open to interpretation.” The relevant parts of the Proclamation are plainly written and present no ambiguity which require interpretation. But if there is a dispute over the meaning or application of a particular law or provision, it is up to the courts to make authoritative determination on what the law means. Simply stated, whether the Proclamation allows commercial transfer of leasehold interests is purely a question of law (not fact) to be decided impartially by a judge; it is not a question to be decided by executive fiat in which one person becomes the policeman, judge, jury and executioner. For Zenawi to issue authoritative legal interpretation and dispositive declarations on what he concedes to be ambiguous questions of leasehold law is not only a travesty of justice but also an unconstitutional usurpation of judicial power. (Apparently, “one businessman” has chosen to try his luck in court by refusing to pay “hefty fines”. Best of luck!)  Anyone who doubts the complete absence of the rule of law in Ethiopia and entertains the fantasy that there is an independent judiciary can take hard lessons from this example.

Fourth, Zenawi says “developers were grabbing land that does not belong to them in any legal sense and misusing the land lease rights they were given for personal profit and speculation.” It hard to make sense of this statement. Nonetheless, businessmen, including developers, are in business to make profit, as much profit as they could. Few businessmen and women are in business for charity, and even fewer would remain in business if they did not make a fair profit. A leasehold is a valuable asset in its own right and can be traded for profit as a physical asset, a fact fully acknowledged in Articles 13, 4 and 5 of the Proclamation.  What must be understood is the fact that legitimate developers buy land, acquire leaseholds, finance real estate deals and build projects at great risk and expense. They often take extraordinary risks in arranging financing, obtaining loans and securing necessary regulatory approvals. More often than not, they are at the “mercy” of architects, city planners, engineers, surveyors, inspectors, contractors, brokers and building materials suppliers. It is unfair and mean-spirited to paint them with a broad brush as “land grabbers” and “land speculators” who are no better than gangsters and street criminals that deserve to be “locked up.”

Real Land Grabs and Land Speculation

On the other hand, the phrases “land grabbing” and “land speculation” are perfectly applicable to other land transactions that have been taking place throughout Ethiopia over the past several years. For instance, handing over 1.8 million hectares of farmland, “equaling nearly 40 percent the total area of the principal grain-growing state of Punjab, India” to Indian “investors” for 70 years is a prime example of “land grabbing.” Turning over 250,000 hectares of land to the Saudi Star Agriculture Development Company for decades is another excellent example of “land speculation”. Selling hundreds of thousands of hectares of land in Gambella for $1 a year “lease” is a land giveaway fest of epic proportions. Doing 815 huge land deals with foreign “investors” over a three year period without transparency, institutional mechanisms for accountability, environmental impact analysis and the forced removal of local resident from ancestral lands is not only land grabbing and land speculation, it is also a gross violation of human rights. Truth be told, it is not just urban land and it is not just farmland but the whole of Ethiopia’s land that is on the chopping block!

In the American Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, inspired by Locke, wrote that when government breaks its contract and faith with the people, the people have the right to terminate the contract at will and reinstitute government that earns their consent and deserves  their trust: “That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends [life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness], it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.” The only contract that cannot be broken is one concluded with Mephistopheles.


[1] Translation from Amharic.

U.S. fires 110 Tomahawk missiles against Gaddafi forces

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

BENGHAZI, Libya (NBC) — The United States launched its first missile attack on Libyan air defenses on Saturday, NBC News confirmed, as America and its allies began military action to enforce a no-fly zone.

A senior U.S. military official said the missile strikes were aimed at sites along the Libyan coast. The missiles were launched from U.S. Navy vessels in the Mediterranean.

The official said the assault would unfold in stages and strike at air defense installations around the capital, Tripoli, and a coastal area south of Benghazi. That’s the rebel stronghold under attack by Moammar Gadhafi’s forces.

Earlier, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said allied air forces had gone into action on over Libya and were preventing Moammar Gadhafi’s forces from attacking the rebel city of Benghazi.

A French official said a French fighter jet had fired on a Libyan military vehicle, in the first reported strike in the international campaign to enforce a no-fly zone. Overall, at least four Libyan tanks were destroyed in French attack, Al Jazeera reported.

French fighter jets flew over

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

(Bloomberg) — French military jets flew over Libya, ready to enforce an air-exclusion zone to halt Muammar Qaddafi’s attacks on rebels, as Western leaders met in Paris to consider their next steps.

The planes were in the air not far from Libya this afternoon and were ready to carry out air strikes if there are orders from President Nicolas Sarkozy, a military official with knowledge of the preparations said on condition of anonymity.

Qaddafi’s forces attacked the rebel stronghold of Benghazi today in defiance of international demands for a cease-fire, television stations reported. Al Jazeera cited the head of the rebel council, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, as saying bombing raids took place in the eastern port city of 1 million people.

Pro-Qaddafi forces entered parts of Benghazi, Al Arabiya TV reported. Forces advancing included tanks, it said, adding that 11 fighters loyal to Qaddafi were killed. A BBC correspondent reported seeing government tanks on a bridge. TV channels showed footage of a fighter jet being shot down.

(AP) — Six Danish F-16 fighter jets landed Saturday at the U.S. air base in Sigonella, Sicily, and a half-dozen U.S. aircraft arrived elsewhere as the military buildup mounted in Italy for possible action against Libya.

Danish air force spokesman Lars Skjoldan said the six F-16s would be ready for operation in Libya by Sunday.

Italy has offered the use of seven military bases to enforce the U.N.-authorized no-fly zone over Libya and protect Libyan civilians from Moammar Gadhafi’s troops.

In addition to the aircraft already in Italy, Norway said it was prepared to send six F-16 fighter jets to enforce the no-fly zone, but that they wouldn’t be operational for five to six days.

One of the two British bases in Cyprus, meanwhile, will be supporting AWACS surveillance aircraft assigned to monitor the no-fly zone over Libya, said spokesman Kristian Gray.

The aircraft are already at the Royal Air Force’s Akrotiri base on the south coast of the island, he told The Associated Press on Saturday. Also deployed to the base is a team of British personnel to coordinate movement of British aircraft.

German Foreign Minister criticized by domestic media

(Reuters) – German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle came under domestic fire on Saturday for opting out of any military involvement in Libya, drawing accusations of siding with dictators rather than Berlin’s NATO allies.

Foreign policy experts, the opposition and media commentators expressed everything from puzzlement to scorn at Berlin’s abstention on Thursday in a U.N. Security Council resolution authorising a no-fly zone over Libya.

The centre-left daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung made one of the strongest attacks on Westerwelle and Chancellor Angela Merkel for deciding to take no part in any military effort to protect Libyan civilians from leader Muammar Gaddafi’s forces. “For the first time since its inception, the Federal Republic has pulled up the anchor that secures it to the West,” wrote commentator Daniel Broessler.

Broessler equated the abstention with a direct vote against Germany’s NATO allies on the United Nations Security Council which supported the resolution.

“Now Merkel and Westerwelle are responsible for Germany voting against Americans, British and French, but with the Chinese, Russians, Brazilians and Indians — against our most important allies in the West and on the side of dictators, autocrats and two distant democracies.”

Since World War Two, Germans have been traditionally hostile to foreign military interventions and Merkel’s coalition faces a series of difficult regional elections this weekend and next.

Westerwelle, who leads the liberal Free Democrats in the coalition, attracted criticism of his performance after becoming foreign minister in 2009 but this had eased recently.

On Saturday he defended his position. “I see myself coming from a tradition of moderation when it comes to military deployments,” he told Spiegel magazine.

Over 200 opposition members arrested in Ethiopia

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

Meles Zenawi’s regime in Ethiopia has so far this week rounded up and thrown in jail over 200 members of Medrek, a coalition of eight opposition parties.

Most of the detainees are from the Oromo People’s Congress (OPC) and the Oromo Federal Democratic Movement (OFDM).

According to Medrek secretary general, 217 OFDM and 40 OPC members have been arrested this week. The whereabouts of many of the detainees are not known.

The Meles regime is rounding up opposition members in a preemptive action to prevent the popular uprising that is sweeping through northern Africa and the Middle East from erupting in Ethiopia.

Meles is also purging some of his own officials in the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), a member of the ruling Woyanne coalition. It’s reported that over 150 high- and mid-ranking OPDO officials have been arrested in during the past few days and charged with corruption.

Meanwhile, at least two youth groups, Ethiopian Revolution May 2011 and YeDil Qen, are preparing for nationwide protests to be launched on May 28, 2011. Their Facebook sites are attracting thousands of members.

In Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, food prices are increasing by the day, and sugar and oil are in scarce supply.

Syria security forces clash with protesters

Friday, March 18th, 2011

(Al Jazeera) — Protests have erupted in at least three towns across Syria in the most serious case of unrest in decades for a country that has been ruled with strict emergency laws for almost half a century.

(BBC) — At least two protesters have been shot dead in the south Syrian city of Deraa as security forces clamped down on a protest rally.

A resident told Reuters news agency the pair had been killed by security forces as protesters demanded political freedom and an end to corruption.

A human rights activist told AFP that four people had been killed.

President Bashar al-Assad, whose Baath party has dominated politics for nearly 50 years, tolerates no dissent.

The state news agency Sana said violence and “acts of sabotage” had broken out at a demonstration in Deraa on Friday, prompting security forces to intervene.

It accused “infiltrators” of seeking to “provoke chaos through acts of violence which resulted in damage to private and public property”.

‘Hundreds injured’
The resident who spoke to Reuters named the two dead people as Hussam Abdel Wali Ayyash and Akram Jawabreh.

They had been among “several thousand” demonstrators chanting “God, Syria, Freedom” and anti-corruption slogans, accusing the president’s family of corruption, the resident said.

Security forces, the Reuters source added, were reinforced with troops flown in by helicopters.

An anti-government website, Free Syria, also named Akram Jawabreh as one of “a number” of protesters killed.

The unnamed human rights activist contacted by AFP named both Mr Jawabreh and Mr Ayyash among four people killed.

“The security forces fired live bullets at the protesters,” the activist said, adding that “hundreds” of protesters had been wounded.

He told AFP that “many” of the wounded had been “snatched by security forces” from hospital and moved to unknown locations.

Meles Zenawi purges senior Oromo officials

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Ethiopia’s paranoid dictator has purged several senior Oromo officials in the Oromo People’s Democratic Movement (OPDO), an affiliate party of the ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front (Woyanne).

Some of the senior officials who have been arrested recently include Zelalem Jemaneh, OPDO executive committee member; and Daba Debele, OPDO central council member and head of Addis Ababa Capacity Building Bureau.

So far, 150 OPDO officials have been rounded up and thrown in jail. The reason given for the arrests is corruption, which is a well known tactic by Meles Zenawi to remove potential opponents.

The Abyssinian character

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

The following are a couple of excerpts from an interesting book about the Abyssinian Character by a Russian Traveler Alexander Bulatovich who traveled to Ethiopia around 1896. The book was translated and edited by Richard Seltzer in 2000.

Ethiopia Through Russian Eyes: a Country in Transition, 1896-1898. Lawrenceville NJ, Red Sea Press.

(Excerpts)

It is hard to imagine so many contrasts united in one person, as are united in the Abyssinian character. Their character is like the nature around them — where precipices, cliffs, mountains and plains alternate among one another, and cold is mixed with tropical heat. If I allow myself a rather free comparison, this is how I would characterize the Abyssinian. He is talented and receptive, like a Frenchman. With his practicality, with the way he deals with those he has conquered and his governmental abilities, he is like an Englishman. His pride is like that of a Spaniard. By his love for his faith, his mildness of character and tolerance, he is like a Russian. By his commercial abilities, he is like a Jew. But in addition to all these characteristics, he is very brave, cunning, and suspicious.

At the present time, Abyssinia — with its ancient culture, Christianity, and historically shaped governmental order — appears like an island among other peoples who are almost in a childlike condition. Abyssinians have professed the Christian faith since 343 A.D., and before then, from the time of Solomon, they professed the Jewish faith, which even today is reflected in their ceremonies. To this day they separate animals into pure and impure; they give great significance to the ability to butcher cattle; and they circumcise their children. There are many other similarities, but I will tell of them in greater detail later. [...]

Only an Ethiopian uprising can save the economy

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

By Teodros Kiros

A careful study of world uprisings has convinced George Katsiaficas, the leading expert on social movements, that uprisings empower people and unleash their hitherto untapped passions and energies that fuel dormant economies and revive them in extraordinary ways.

Uprisings create spaces of organized political actions during which time the people develop some distinctly political qualities of leadership. The world has recently witnessed these new qualities in the spectacularly new models of people’s resistance to dictatorships of pharonic Egypt, a polity that was oppressed for 5000 years of successive dominance under its own pharaohs, the Greeks, the Romans, and the Mamluks.

Tahrir square gave us a new model of political action on the enterprising streets of Cairo, Alexandria and many other Egyptian towns.

George Katsiaficas defended this thesis in African Ascent, hosted by Teodros Kiros, and the interview can be viewed in YouTube by March 25th, 2011.

When people’s passions, imaginations and intelligences are freed from the snares of dictatorship; when people discover their powers and abilities on the streets of democracy; when the people learn that their liberation is tied to the liberation of the nation, then they draw from the hidden fountain of their intelligence to revive the economy. The economy can be revived only if they participate, only if they disalienate themselves and becoming the living engine of the economy.

We recently learned from Egypt that new social movements of youth, women, workers and other professionals created new spaces of action for themselves.

It is uprisings, which disclosed the protesters of Tunisia, Egypt and now Libya as actional and erotic beings and not passive and alienated spectators.

So the dormant Ethiopian economy can be energized and revived by peaceful uprisings, which will take power from dictators and their cohorts and give power directly to the people themselves.

A new vibrant Ethiopian economy is the consequence of the people’s activities.

The current Ethiopian economic crises, which the Prime Minister refuses to see from the invisible space of the palace, can be saved only by the people themselves if they are freed from political darkness, civil boredom, ethnic narrow-mindedness, skepticism and cultural decadence, and come out in millions to Meskel square and demand regime change.

If and when this happens they will immediately embark on the long road of national development organized by the empowering principle of Ethiopianity. We can for the first time witness what the people can do, when they are trusted and coached to work for the nation-selflessly and intelligently.

Obama appears to prefer a Gaddafi victory

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Ethiopian pro-democracy forces need to closely examine the Obama Administration’s policy toward Libya that is based on short-sighted naked self interest and examine their strategy accordingly. The following is an insightful analysis by David From that was posted on The Telegraph today.

Barack Obama is in no hurry to see Gaddafi go

By David Frum

Would President Obama prefer a Gaddafi victory? If that sounds implausible, then just look at the record. On March 3, Obama announced that Gaddafi “must go”. Two weeks have passed since then – and more than a month since the uprising began on February 15. In the interim, the tide of war has turned in Gaddafi’s favour. Yet Obama has done nothing to make his own words reality.

Every proposal – from the no-fly zone and aid to rebels, to recognition of a provisional government – has somehow become bogged down.

The administration never rejected the proposals out of hand, but it never accepted them either. And now time, so very unfortunately, has run out. Admittedly, the American government moves slowly. But it does not move this slowly.

The Obama administration may not care to admit it, but it did make a decision, and one of benefit to Gaddafi. Why? One factor was surely Obama’s preference for a less activist foreign policy in general.

But there were special considerations in Libya, and they were clearly stated in a piece by General Wesley Clark for the Washington Post last Friday. The former US commander in Kosovo and a 2004 Democratic presidential candidate wrote: “We don’t have a clearly stated objective, legal authority, committed international support or adequate on-the-scene military capabilities, and Libya’s politics hardly foreshadow a clear outcome.”

The key phrase here is “Libya’s politics”. For the past few days, Washington policy circles have been worrying over a piece of research circulated last week: “On a per capita basis … twice as many foreign fighters came to Iraq from Libya – and specifically eastern Libya – than from any other country in the Arabic-speaking world. Libyans were apparently more fired up to travel to Iraq to kill Americans than anyone else in the Middle East. And 84.1 per cent [74] of the 88 Libyan fighters … who listed their hometowns came from either Benghazi or Darnah in Libya’s east.”

That might not seem a statistically valid survey of public opinion inside Libya. But given the prevailing lack of information about the anti-Gaddafi insurgency, the factoid acted to corroborate fears of an Islamist takeover of Libya – or, maybe worse, the collapse of Libya into a Somalia-on-the-Mediterranean.

Perhaps President Obama reasoned something along these lines: “Yes, Gaddafi is a very bad guy. But he quit the terrorism business a decade ago and paid compensation to the families of victims of the Lockerbie bombing. He surrendered his nuclear program in 2003. He co-operates with the EU in stopping illegal migration into Italy. He is a reliable oil supplier and a good customer for Western companies.

“It’s very sad to see Gaddafi crush an uprising so brutally. But things could be worse. Tribal leaders, fighting each other, inspired by Islamic ideology – all just 300 miles from the coast of Sicily? We could have 300,000 refugees showing up on the Nato side of the Mediterranean. Better stick with the devil we know. The blood-letting cannot last much longer, stability will return soon. And then we can express regret for the loss of life, offer humanitarian assistance and impose some kind of sanctions on the Gaddafi family – at least until the fuss dies down.”
Europeans who invested so much hope in Barack Obama may hesitate to accept the news that their man is not the idealist they had imagined. But Arab leaders have already got the message: Mubarak was a fool, don’t resign in the face of protests, instead use force. The king of Bahrain has learnt the lesson of Libya: he is importing Saudi troops to suppress local protesters. Whoever called this moment the Arab 1848 had it right – assuming, that is, that the anonymous wit remembered how the original 1848 turned out.

But let’s consider what meaning the Arab 1848 has for the West. Over the past near-decade, how often have voices in Britain and Europe reproached the Bush administration for its foolish infatuation with Arab democracy? Look at what happened in the Palestinian Authority, where the locals used their votes to vote for Hamas – and never got a chance to use them a second time. Look at what happened in Iraq, where the overthrow of a dictator opened the door to civil war, terrorism and Iranian influence. And indeed, the criticisms were powerful, as far as they went.
But Libya confronts us with the consequences of the opposite policy. As happened in Iraq in 1991, the world is acquiescing in the brutal suppression of a popular uprising by an Arab dictator. Will this violently reasserted dictatorship be “stable”? If those data on Libyan suicide bombers are correct, then Gaddafi’s dictatorship has bred Islamic resistance. Will more violence intensify Libya’s Islamification? And since no regime lasts for ever, what will Europe face across
the Mediterranean when the regime does finally go?

Libya confronts us, too, with the folly of the traditional “realist” response to Islamic radicalism: the delusion that somehow the carving of a Palestinian state out of Israel will pacify the region. Are the boys of Benghazi fighting for Palestine? How exactly would installing a Palestinian president-for-life in east Jerusalem reconcile Libyans to a second generation of Gaddafis seizing Libya’s oil wealth as their personal fortune?

Libya is Obama’s Iraq in reverse. The fighting may end faster when the dictator survives. But the consequences may reveal themselves as no less ugly, no less large, and no less enduring.

Ato Meles and his never-ending threats

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

By Yilma Bekele

The people’s uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East have been the talk of Ethiopians both at home and the Diaspora for the last month and half. We are surprised by the sudden fall of the tyrants of Tunisia and Egypt. We are watching with keen interest the volatile situation in Libya and Yemen.

You know the one thing in common these far away places have is the large number of displaced Africans caught in this wave. Most of our people are refugees from bad economy, civil war, lack of opportunity, tyranny and other curable ills. There are plenty of Ethiopians that are currently exposed to danger while searching for a meaningful life. It was sad to hear Meles Zenawi pretending about using air and sea to pluck our people from Libya. When you consider most of these people paid large sums of money to reach Libya escaping sadness and misery in their homeland it is inconceivable that they will return to hell willingly.

Even though the world media was transfixed by the upheaval in the lands of the Arabs, the Government controlled media was going to great length to pretend nothing out of the ordinary was going on in the neighborhood. The Ethiopian peoples information regarding the tsunami in their vicinity came from a few brave Independent News Papers at home, ESAT (Ethiopian Satellite TV (http://www.ethsat.com/), Diaspora Web sites, VOA, Deutche Welle, and Al Jazeera. The regime was also investing large amounts of money and labor to jam and interfere with ESAT and Diaspora based independent Web sites.

Denial of independent news is the hallmark of a dictatorial regime. Creating confusion, misinforming and revising the news is also a prefered and a known modus operandi of a closed system. It is with this in mind the Ethiopian Prime Minster called his government certified reporters for press conference after a month long hiatus from public view to tell us his version of the story. He wanted to bully, threaten, scold and warn eighty million people against an attempt to remove him, his family and friends from power. As you know his lieutenant Berket offered some bogus explanation a la Seif Gaddafi to show why an uprising is not possible in a 12% growing economy. Needless to say he was laughed out of town.

Ato Meles decided to approach the situation from a different angle. It looks like Ato Melese’s strategy is to stick to the good old method of belligerency as the best way out of this mess he finds himself in. We the rest of ordinary Ethiopians have been looking at the unfolding situation and learning a valuable lesson in overcoming our fear and devising low cost methods of removing this TPLF tumor from our home land. It looks like Ato Meles sitting in his guarded bunker has been pouring over documents to draw a lesson on how to avert being Mubaraked by the people.

The so-called press conference was to unfurl his ‘doctrine’ regarding the hard lessons of the last few weeks. The usual suspects from Walta, Aiga Forum, The Reporter, Ben’s page etc. were summoned and given the prepared question to ask. It is always perplexing to see six microphones on the podium when one should be more than enough considering they all go to the same news editor.

Ato Meles was exhibiting a brand new haircut, a five thousand dollar Savile Row suit and a better makeup than the last time we saw him. You can tell that he has been under tremendous stress by looking at the bags under his eyes and the violent way he was pounding the table to make his point. When it came to answering the question regarding the ‘uprising’ the pounding got louder, the head scratching and fidgeting got intense and the internal fury was producing lots of heat like the crippled Japanese Nuclear plants and needed venting to avert explosion.

I want to concentrate on his response regarding the chances of an uprising in Ethiopia, but I would like to comment on a few of the points raised by the TPLF leader before he got to his main talking point.

Ato Meles seems to have a very strange understanding of the office he occupies. He said that ‘his contract with the Ethiopian people is for an eight hour a day labor’ and he does not feel it is important for him to be ‘a role model’ for anybody. That is a disturbing statement coming from a person entrusted for the welfare of eighty million souls. One would think being a leader of such a poor country with over eight million citizens suffering the scourge of hunger, double-digit inflation, high rate of unemployment etc. is more than a 24/7 responsibility. As for the issue of being a ‘role model’ who better than the head of the government and guardian of what is good and noble in all of us for the people to follow.

When asked about inflation the price of fuel and general failure of the economy, again I find his response very illiterate and far from the truth. His take on basic economics 101 is a little confusing to say the least. He said ‘ why would the price of potatoes go up due to the increase in gasoline?’ Let us see. Potatoes are generally grown in the countryside and require trucks to transport them to the market. In some instances fertilizers are applied for good harvest, tractors are used to dig out the bounty and the warehouse they are stored require electricity. What is common here is the importance of oil in this chain of economic activity. Why wouldn’t the hike in the price of fuel affect potatoes my dear Meles?

So much for economics, now to the important issue at hand, the current trend of peaceful peoples uprising to bring democracy and the rule of law. This press conference was to deal with the problem before it rears its ugly head in Ethiopia. It was Ato Melese’s response to the Ethiopian people on how he was going to handle the situation. It was his way of putting lipstick on a pig in a futile attempt to stop the impending implosion. It was a nice try. Unfortunately like everything else he tries it was an abject failure.

What Ato Meles learned from the uprisings became clear from his response to his own questions as read by his staff. From Tunisia he learnt quick exit is not the answer since Ben Ali’s exile did not save his family’s fortune from being under consideration for confiscation or stop the demand by the people to haul his criminal ass back to Tunisia for trial, Mubarak’s futile attempt to hang on only postponed the inevitable for a few days and resulted in his being a virtual prisoner in his home land, Saleh’s attempt both to offer concessions and kill at the same time has only resulted in his hanging on to power by his fingernails while Gaddafi and sons are in a do or die situation with no light at the end of the tunnel.

Ato Meles decided to attack before the idea of uprising took roots. The pres conference was to bully his people and at the same time show his followers that he is still in charge; he is not afraid and give them a nudge to intensify the offense. In a nutshell the main speaking points could be summarized as follows. ‘There is no chance of uprising here because we carried an election about ten months ago and EPDRF won overwhelmingly, we have in place a constitutional method of changing leaders unlike Egypt and Tunisia and all our problems can be traced to Shabia and Al Qaeda Islamists blah blah.’

What is revealing is the charge he leveled against his ‘enemies’ regarding the crimes they are supposedly hatching against his regime. According to him Shabia in cooperation with rogue Ethiopians and some of the legal opposition is planning to turn ‘Addis into Baghdad.’ That is his story and he is sticking to it. If you notice this madness has similarity to the charges leveled against Kinijit leaders and Civic organization heads in the aftermath of the 2005 elections where they were accused of planning a ‘genocide.’ You see even before the civil disobedience starts Ato Meles is accusing all those that oppose him of planning violence to justify his gangster type response. Not a bad tactic if you ask me. Hijacking the cry of the victim is nothing new. What is sad is the idea of a ‘government’ spending so much time and energy to sabotage and suppress the dreams and aspirations of its own population for the benefit of a few individual’s thirst for power and money.

So what do you think of Ato Meles’s take on the situation? Is he correct in his assessment of the situation both at home and the neighborhood? Is he telling the truth when he says ‘we do not consider it (the question of civil disobedience) as an immediate and relevant issue…and it is not discussed by his Politburo?’ In other words as they say here in the US ‘would you buy a used car’ from this salesman?

If you have your doubts, I understand. I concur that It is very difficult to accept Meles’s analysis as correct and based on facts. He does not seem to have a good track record when it comes to having a clear understanding of the situations in the neighborhood and his assessment of the moods and wants of the Ethiopian people. In other words the individual is clueless when it comes to relating to the people he is supposed to lead. We don’t have to go far to prove our point.

Do you remember his conclusion that Shabia is not going to attack? Shabia did and we paid the price with over eighty thousand dead and millions of dollars wasted on weapons from Korea and East Europe. We are also aware of Siyoum Mesfin’s lying declaration that the International Court have agreed with Ethiopia regarding Badme and four years later it is still unresolved issue. How could we forget the so-called ‘cake walk’ into Somalia and the ensuing humiliation? Do I need to remind you of the 2005 election and EPDRF’s loss of Addis and most of the country? There is no need to mention the utterly weird situation of 12% growth to go with hyperinflation, famine and the dwindling foreign reserve? As you can see the palace folks are poster children for miscalculation and fiction rather than a sober and realistic assessment of any situation. It is my firm belief that TPLF folks are not capable of finding the exit door in a studio apartment.

If we are permitted we can actually give our friends some advice on avoiding the fate of Ben Ali, Mubarak or Gaddafi. There is a cheaper solution that does not require spending time and energy on exotic and expensive scenarios to fight what is inevitable. History is full of examples where in the end no matter how much one tries victory of good over evil is as sure as the sun rising from the East tomorrow morning. Here is a short list of responses by Meles and company that will assure them keeping their head intact with the rest of their body and avoiding humiliation in front of the people of Ethiopia and humanity in general.

The simple and more direct solution will be to resign. The TPLF boss can say he wants to spend more time with his family and we will understand. If that is too radical then there are other options. Let us start by abandoning this self-serving Constitution and starting fresh. We can undo the illegal act of the Derge that made land property of the government instead of the people. All land and property should be returned to the rightful owners with no ifs or buts. The concept of Kilil and formation of Ethnic based party and organization should have no place in our new Ethiopia. The internal security will be dismantled never to show its ugly and brutal face ever again. The new Ethiopia will allocate large portion of its budget on education instead of Arms and repressive organs. The emerging free and democratic Ethiopia will sit down with our Eritrean cousins and resolve the issue of security and use of port facilities in amicable ways. Ethiopia will sign a non aggression pact with all is neighbors including Somalia and work towards cultural, educational and sports exchange to turn East Africa in to a zone of peace and tranquility.

Tell you what if you take our advice we will even convince Judge Wolde Michael Meshesha not to press on this issue of criminal act committed way back in October 2005. It is not easy but we will do our best in lieu of the benefits to our poor and tired country and people. We might even go as far as looking the other way regarding the loot some of you have stashed in foreign banks but it all depends on your cooperation and your solemn oath that you will refrain from denying your guilt and will ask the Ethiopian people for forgiveness and show real remorse. I believe our way is a lot better than a protracted and ugly struggle you might wage for a few days before the inevitable collapse of your ponzi scheme.

You know it, we know it and everybody and his dog knows it that there is no easy way out. The bullying and repression have bought you a measly ten years or so. It is not effective anymore because of the new international situation being allergic towards despots and finally to the current deteriorating economic situation where gas costs 18.50/liter, Oil costs 36 or more, teff costs thousands, chicken costs triple digits etc. etc. You see what I mean, people are coming to the realization that there is nothing to loose anymore. That is scary and that is what is keeping you awake at night. That is what makes you come up with scenarios like ‘Addis into Baghdad’ and the specter of all those unemployed youth breaching the palace walls with Meles and company running around in their pajamas pursued by an angry mob! It gives me shivers just to think about it. Let us agree to nip this horrible situation in the bud before it gets traction. Good luck my friend, please don’t make me say ‘I told you so!’

Revolution and Ethiopian youth

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

By Teodros Kiros

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has accused a little known Muslim extremist group of staging a wave of church burnings to provoke communal tensions in the Horn of Africa country. Meles expressed concern about regional instability, but dismissed the possibility of a North African-style popular uprising in Ethiopia. Meles says he is aware of attempts to end the ruling party’s nearly 20 years in power, both from within and without. But in a meeting with reporters, he rejected suggestions of a people’s revolution similar to those confronting entrenched authoritarian governments in North Africa and the Middle East. “It’s simply not possible. The circumstances for it do not exist. That does not mean some people will not try.’ “ – Peter Heinlein (VOA)

The Prime Minister is indeed blind to the lives of most Ethiopians who are swimming in the murky waters of poverty, political darkness and civil boredom. The Ethiopian youth are marred in a vicious cycle of poverty, which the “revolutionary democracy” of EPRDF twenty years ago promised to eradicate; and ten years ago revolutionary democracy devolved in to the living nightmare of tyranny/oligarchy framed by ethnocracy. The promise of eradicating poverty is now replaced by acceptable levels of unemployment of Ethiopian youth.

The naked reality, which glares to the Prime Minister’s palace in, clearly summarized below:

Over half of Ethiopia’s population consists of young people between the ages of 15-24 years. Many of the youth face diverse problems and live with constant life challenges. Especially in urban centers of the country, the number of delinquent juveniles is increasing. In Addis Ababa alone it is believed that there are over 100,000 people living on the streets, and more than half of these are young people. This number is increasing every day due to poverty and migration of people from the rural to urban areas in search of a better life. It is also due to children losing parents to AIDS and other causes. These young people are often involved in socially undesirable practices, such as frequenting brothels and drug and alcohol abuse. Many youth commit crimes such as robbery and other offenses. According to police reports, more than half of all the arrested criminals are young people. Other available evidence also indicates that young people commit most criminal offenses including drug abuse and other harmful practices in Ethiopia.

The mushrooming of foreign videocassettes and films in the country is also believed to negatively affect the personality of today’s youth in particular. Being left with low or no access to recreational centers or to leisure time activities, a number of youths are flooding to video shows most of which are full of violent, immoral and pornographic acts. What is still worse is that these films make the youths develop negative attitude towards their own culture, country and people. These young people seem to know nothing good about their homeland except that they despise it by comparing it with that of affluent societies. As a result it is not uncommon to observe immoral acts they often emulate from the film-shows. Since they spend much of their time watching films and practicing other socially undesirable activities, they fail to regularly attend their classes and acquire proper knowledge, which determines their future.

One of the major factors that seriously aggravate the problems of the youth is the absence of sufficient employment opportunities. A lot of school dropouts and those who complete high school education but with no opportunity to join higher learning institutes could not but remain dependent on their parents or guardians’ meager resources. Unfortunately, a considerable number of them spend almost half of their time in such a state. As a result, those youths who particularly come from low income parents often become hopeless and involved in prostitution and end up contracting HIV/AIDS. Frustrated by the challenges of getting reliable means of subsistence, some young people seem to have lost faith and a vision of tomorrow’s world. The situation calls for an immediate attention to assist in curbing the present trend of the young in Ethiopia. It is with this understanding and a sense of responsibility to serve God and people that Youth Impact came to existence.” – Youth Impact Ethiopia

This is the reality in the ground, which will soon wake up the Prime Minister from the slumbers of his deep sleep. The time bomb is ticking. Is the regime is still sleeping long hours, thinking that the intimidated Ethiopian poor are going to resign to their deplorable condition?

This is Your Revolution – Lead It!

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Imagine having no opportunity to dream and strive to reach your full potential. Imagine watching your future pass by while living an unfulfilled life because you are one of the unlucky ones to be outside the circle of the well-connected who control the country.

Under the current system, only 0.5 percent of Ethiopian high school graduates have the opportunity to enter higher education, which is one of the lowest in the world; and the rest are left to face bleak futures. If you are one of the millions of Ethiopians who are fed up living a dreary and meaningless life under the ruthless TPLF regime, consider yourself one of the leaders of the upcoming revolution.

All major political changes often start small and at a local level. As such, you can be instrumental in igniting the Ethiopian revolution as Abdesslem Trimech did in Tunisia. To successfully direct this revolution, you need to start from your own family, and move on to convince your friends, neighbors and colleagues. The idea is to organize the society, one neighborhood at a time, while isolating TPLF and its cronies.

Once you have effectively organized your neighborhood, you can organize like-minded individuals into a group. This group will function to establish effective local based strategies that would:

a) Dismantle TPLF’s political and economic base;
b) Target TPLF‘s supporters and loyalists; and
c) Ignite and sustain a revolution.

Remember, 85 percent of Ethiopia is rural and that TPLF controls Ethiopia through kebele (local governments).You must work hard to make every kebele a TPLF Free Zone, and that starts with your own neighborhood. Amongst many other strategies, you must try to compile the names of TPLF collaborators in your kebele and begin to send them messages, directly or indirectly, to join the revolution or face justice in the post TPLF era.

Political change must come to Ethiopia to create a just and fair system for the youth, so they, too, have the opportunity to go after their dreams regardless of their places within the society. For that to happen, you must organize locally and devise strategies that would peacefully bring about democracy. As President Obama once said, “No one has written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.” The same should be the case in Ethiopia.

Commit yourself to doing your part in giving the youth of Ethiopia a chance to shape their own destiny. Make the month of May the beginning of the end of the Meles’ era! Believe in yourself, because you have the power to be a part of history.

Be ready to say enough is enough! BEKA!

The Ethiopian Revolution 2011