Alemayehu G. Mariam On December 21, 1987, Time Magazine on its cover page featured a downcast and crestfallen young Ethiopian mother as a symbol of famine victims in that country. Time asked two timeless questions: “Why are Ethiopians starving again? What should the world do and not do?” […]
Archive for the ‘Ethiopian News’ Category
(AP, Reuters) — A convoy of rebels entered a western neighborhood of the city firing their weapons into the air, a witness said. Sky television said some fighters were only 8 km (five miles) from the center and were being welcomed by civilians pouring into the streets. Euphoric Libyan rebels raced into the capital Tripoli […]
By Yilma Bekele How to manage and resolve conflict has always been our Achilles Heel. That is part of the reason why we stumble from one crisis to another. Last week was a perfect example of an attempt to try to find out a reasonable solution to a problem that arose in our region here […]
By Elias Kifle The Government of Eritrea has no choice but to launch a diplomatic offensive as Ethiopia’s khat-addicted dictator Meles Zenawi is bent on effecting a regime change in Eritrea through economic strangulation to be followed by a military attack. Meles has set his sight, to the point of obsession, on installing a puppet […]
Reports say Libya’s Col. Moammar Gadhafi may be preparing to flee as the rebels close in on his territory. NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski reports from the Pentagon. Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy Moammar Gadhafi is making preparations for a departure from Libya with his family for possible exile in […]
Ethiopian-owned furniture store in Maryland, Solo Furniture Installer and Liquidator, has been featured on Fox TV. [Read the rest] Related posts:Ethiopian owned furniture business featured on Fox An online store for Ethiopian gospel songs launched Denver: Ethiopian man killed in a 7-Eleven store
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joins European leaders today in demanding Syria’s dictator Bashar al-Assad to step aside. “The people of Syria deserve a government that respects their dignity, protects their rights and lives up to their aspirations. Assad is standing in their way,” Clinton said in remarks following President Barack Obama’s direct call […]
Part II of III By Aklog Birara* Part one identified similarities and differences between the Egyptian and Tunisian popular revolutions on the one hand and conditions in Ethiopia on the other. Differences aside, the Ethiopian admiration for an interest in the Arab Spring is relentless. In particular, Ethiopia’s democratic and nationalist leaning elites, the majority […]
Reuters is reporting that Eritrea’s president Isaias Afwerki is heading to Ugandan capital Kampala this week for a 3-day state visit. There is a wide-spread speculation that Uganda’s dictator has invited Isaias to broker a peace deal with Ethiopia’s khat-addicted tyrant Meles Zenawi. It’s highly doubtful, but if the speculation is true, and if Yoweri […]
By Alemayehu G. Mariam Americans fed up with uncontrolled deficit government spending are often heard invoking a familiar battle cry: “Starve the Beast!” In other words, no more taxpayer dollars for wasteful government spending. I say we stand up to the to Western donors and loaners who continue to support the criminal regime of Meles […]
As part of its Greater Tigray agenda, the Woyanne apartheid junta has been systematically attempting to weaken Ethiopian nationalism by turning one ethnic group against another. The Woyanne propaganda machine has commissioned papers and books, for example, audaciously bringing into question the Oromo people’s contribution to building Ethiopia as a nation. Unfortunately, the Woyanne propaganda […]
Ethiopia and its self-Inflicted wounds. By Yilma Bekele Some of our independent Web sites have put me in a quandary. That is not a good place to be. A certain amount of certainty is a must for rational existence. There have to be stuff that we all have to take for granted. Some things like […]
By Aklog Birara* Part I of 111 I tend to think that, in Sub-Saharan Africa, Ethiopian fascination with the Tunisian and Egyptian popular revolutions exceeds any other. This admiration emanates from wishes and aspirations among Ethiopia’s youth and the small middle class to see similar changes in their homeland. I admit that it is too […]
[Read the rest] Related posts:Beka! – Shambel Belaineh (video) 20 years Beka (music video) Grand Strategy for BEKA! Awakening
Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that numbers of people obeyed the dictates of the tyrants and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience. [read more] [Read the rest] Related posts:Tegbar calls for blockade of roads in an act of civil disobedience to free elected leaders of […]
Three years ago, Ethiopian Review posted a special report by UK’s Channel 4 News about how the Meles regime in Ethiopia is deliberately starving the people of Ogaden in eastern Ethiopia. Meles and his entire regime and puppets need to be brought to trial for this crime against humanity. Instead, the U.S. and U.K. pump […]
By Alemayehu G. Mariam Author’s Note: On June 16, 2008, I published a special commentary (reproduced below in its original form) explaining the sysetmatic use of disinformation by Meles Zenawi, the dictator in Ethiopia for two decades, to deny widespread famine in various parts of Ethiopia and insidiously manipulate famine as a political and military weapon to cling to power. […]
By Muktar Omer On August 05, 2011 a joint undercover investigation by BBC Newsnight and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism presented evidence that the Ethiopia’s current regime is using billions of dollars of development aid as a tool for political oppression. Here is the full transcript of the programme: Ethiopia using aid as a weapon […]
By Aklog Birara Part II of III Part I identified similarities and differences between the Egyptian and Tunisian popular revolutions on the one hand and conditions in Ethiopia on the other. Differences aside, the Ethiopian admiration for and, interest in the Arab Spring is relentless. In particular, Ethiopia’s democratic and nationalist leaning elites, the majority […]
By Fikre Tolossa Life is noting but a bridge that leads To the next life all those who roam on it. What a fool builds a house on a bridge, deeming it a home? Life is a tent, And not a home. It’ll shelter the next traveler, When the first stops to roam. Life is […]
(BBC) A joint undercover investigation by BBC Newsnight and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has uncovered evidence that the Ethiopian government is using billions of dollars of development aid as a tool for political oppression. Posing as tourists the team of journalists travelled to the southern region of Ethiopia. There they found villages where whole […]
By Yilma Bekele There are a lot of Ethiopians outside of their homeland. I have not seen a reliable statistics to tell us the real number, but there is no hiding from the fact that we have become a Nation that looks to outside to solve many of our pressing needs. Coffee, hides and lately […]
By Bruno Waterfield BRUSSELS (The Telegraph) — An investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and BBC Newsnight has found that as Ethiopia is hit by drought and famine, communities are being denied basic food, seed and fertiliser for failing to support Meles Zenawi, the country’s authoritarian leader. Senior Brussels officials ignored 61 email warnings […]
According to a reliable source, Saudi billionaire Mohammed al-Amoudi is wanted for questioning by the United States authorities to investigate about possible links with questionable groups. It appears that al-Amoudi has not visited the United States in years. Ethiopian Review is looking into the veracity of this information. We encourage our readers with information to […]
Nongovernmental Organizations, NGOs, that can function outside direct control and supervision of the government is a potential asset to a democracy movement… [read more] [Read the rest]
Alemayehu G. Mariam VOA is the Voice of America. It is emphatically not the VOZ (Voice of Zenawi) or anyone else. Thus spoke VOA Acting Director Steve Redisch responding to the firestorm of controversy surrounding revelations of a blacklist of critics drawn up by the über-dictator Meles Zenawi and presented to a delegation of the […]
German Parliamentarian Thilo Hoppe issued the following press release today on the attempt by Ethiopia’s khat-addicted dictator to ban independent media and silence critics. PRESS RELEASE (PDF) According to reports from journalists at Voice of America and Deutsche Welle, the Ethiopian government is keeping a “blacklist” of names of “undesirable” journalists and “subversive” critics. In […]
(BBC) An Ethiopian-born billionaire has won £175,000 in libel damages over allegations he had hunted his daughter down so she could be stoned to death. Mohammed Hussein Al-Amoudi was born in Ethiopia, but now spends his time at homes in central London, Surrey and Saudi Arabia. The article was published on the online news website […]
By Yilma Bekele I watched a video of an interview Ato Meles gave to a woman journalist. The edited version on You Tube and our Independent Diaspora sites starts without introduction and ends abruptly. We have no idea who the questioner is and why she is granted a one to one interview. The role she […]
BUSINESS COMMUNITY, by providing people with goods and services that the government does not supply, and by playing an important role even in most centralized societies, business communities are frequently recognized as a very important pillar of support… [read more] [Read the rest]
Ethiopians held a protest rally on Monday against the attempt by some to restrict VOA’s Amharic broadcast after a high-level VOA delegation went to Ethiopia recently and met with Woyanne junta leaders. The following is an analysis and report on Monday’s protest. [Read the rest]
Alemayehu G. Mariam Ethiopia, Famine and the Oxford Dictionary Oxymorons (figures of speech that combine contradictory terms) can sometimes provide unique insights into the cognitive process. Consider, for instance, the phrase “honest politician”. Is there such a thing? It sounds so comical to talk about “efficient government”? How about an “emerging democracy”? That’s like saying a […]
Ethiopians in residing in the Washington DC Metro Area will hold a rally at the VOA on Monday morning, July 25 starting at 9 AM to protest against recent attempts by the khat-addicted dictator in Ethiopia and his paid ($50,000 per month) lobbyists in the U.S. to censor news broadcasts to Ethiopia. The protesters also […]
Alemayehu G. Mariam The record will show that I have been an unapologetic defender of the Voice of America. A couple of weeks ago, I defended the VOA as the Voice of the Voiceless. When Zenawi lambasted the VOA for being the flipside of the VOI (Voice of Interhamwe-Rwanda), I rose to its defense. When […]
Kuma Demeksa, Dula Aba Gemeda, and Alemayehu Atomsa are the most favorite puppets of Ethiopia’s khat-addicted tyrant Meles Zenawi. They have been appointed by Meles as top officials of Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) to represent Oromia Region in his government. Alemayehu Atomsa is the current president of Oromia. The question to these three pigs […]
By Yilma Bekele There is an Amharic saying that comes to mind when you think of the current revelations regarding VOA and its dealings with Ethiopia and Ethiopians. Thanks to Ato Abebe Gelaw’s investigative work we are able to see the inside workings of the independent News Organization. Its credibility is under a magnifying glass […]
To counter the ongoing attempt by the Woyanne fascist junta in Ethiopia to label Ethiopian opposition groups, human rights activists and journalists as terrorists, and also to highlight the worsening economic and political crises in the country, Tinsae Ethiopia has launched a new diplomatic campaign. [read more] [Read the rest]
The Tigreans had Aksum, but what could that mean to the Gurage? The Agew had Lalibela, but what could that mean to the Oromo? The Gonderes had castles, but what could that mean to the Wolayita?” – Meles Zenawi When I read the above statement made by the head Ethiopia’s ruling party, Ato Meles Zenawi, […]
Effective nonviolent movements must have the means to communicate their messages to a wider audience. This is why authoritarians in many countries attempt to limit or deny movements access to this pillar of the support. They also frequently invest substantial resources in state-run media. [read more] [Read the rest]
CORRECTION: We have been informed by reliable sources that Gwen Dillard has not been involved in the VOA censorship controversy. We apologize to Ms. Gwen Dillard and our readers for the following incorrect report. ===================== By Abebe Gellaw Washington DC—In response to a recent Addis Voice investigative report, VOA embroiled in fresh censorship row, Voice […]
By Alemayehu G. Mariam Life and Times of Democracy in Africa The long march of democracy in West Africa seems to be well underway. In July 2009, I wrote a weekly commentary marveling about Ghana’s multiparty democracy. Wistfully, I asked the rhetorical question: “Why is democracy in motion in Ghana, and on life-support in Ethiopia?” In […]
PRESS RELEASE The Ethiopian Heritage Society of North America (EHSNA) held its First Annual Ethiopian Heritage Festival “Celebrate and Discover Ethiopia.” at Georgetown University starting the evening of Friday July 1, 2011 at the Lucille M. Spagnuolo Gallery. The first day was attended by hundreds of Ethiopians representing the young and elderly, including this year’s […]
Ethiopians in Toronto will hold a special event marking Ethiopian Satellite Television’s (ESAT) 1st anniversary on July 30, 2011. See the poster below for more info: [Read the rest]
By Yilma Bekele No one likes a whiner. Why complain insistently when it is of no use. We used to be good at that. Whining was our domain. Did I just say ‘was’? Yes I did. It seems that we are coming out of our shell. The Arab Spring has arrived. The Diaspora is infected […]
A historic town hall meeting was held jointly by Alliance Liberty, Equality, and Justice in Ethiopia (ALEJE) and Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) on Sunday, July 10, 2011 at the Sheraton National Hotel in Arlington, VA. During the meeting, Dr. Berhanu Nega, Chairman of Ginbot 7 and ALEJE, Dr. Nuro Dedefo, Executive Committee member and Head […]
Former president Mengistu Hailemariam is planning to move to South Sudan, according to Reporter. The government of South Sudan has finished building a new house for the former president who is currently living in Zimbawe, Reporter added quoting informed sources. Southern Sudanese are apparently grateful to Mengistu Hailemariam for providing them with invaluable assistance during […]
Woyanne/Saudi businessman Mohammed Al Amoudi, who is looting and plundering Ethiopia, has submitted a testimony for his lawsuit against Ethiopian Review editor. His testimony is full of real funny stuff such as he doesn’t fund terrorists and that he keeps his personal life private. Read the full text of his 8-page testimony here. Al Amoudi’s […]
Teachers and students can become the catalyst for political change and can enlist support of other pillars of support in many societies. [read more] [Read the rest]
By Abebe Gellaw The Voice of America (VOA) has reversed its decision to suspend its Horn of Africa chief, David Arnold. After Addis Voice published a disturbing story on censorship and questionable actions taken against Mr. Arnold for comments he made recently in a June 23rd VOA report, VOA bosses held a series of crisis […]
By Alemayehu G. Mariam In October, 2009, I wrote a weekly commentary titled, “Famine and the Noisome Beast in Ethiopia”: It is hard to talk about Ethiopia these days in non-apocalyptic terms. Millions of Ethiopians are facing their old enemy again for the third time in nearly forty years. The Black Horseman of famine is […]
Woyanne money-man Al Amoudi has sent his chief servant Abinet Gebremeskel to Atlanta this week to reassert control over the Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America, and so far it seems that he is succeeding by bullying the timid board members. At one point on Thursday, a fight broke out between the vice-president of ESFNA […]
Over 40 teachers and employees of Adama University, 100 kms south of Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, have been arrested during the past few days, according to Ethiopian Review’s correspondent in Addis Ababa. The reason for rounding up and throwing in jail these number of teachers is not clear, but a teacher who escaped arrest told […]
Most Ethiopians are staying away from the ESFNA event this year to protest its continued association with the Woyanne junta and its agent Al Amoudi who are looting and plundering Ethiopia. ESFNA has a clear choice to make: cleanse itself of all Woyannes and their lackeys, or fall apart. The video below shows a soccer […]
The Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America (ESFNA) is holding its annual event this week. This year’s event is being held in Atlanta. When ESFNA was formed about 28 years ago, it had a lofty goal of bringing Ethiopians in North America together around sports and cultural activities. Since 2005, however, the organization has been […]
Civil servants make this huge administrative monster called the state bureaucracy. Slow, inefficient and corrupt bureaucracies are trade mark of 90% of non-democratic countries. [read more] [Read the rest]
By Elias Kifle This past weekend (July 1st – 3rd) the Ethiopian Heritage Society in North America (EHSNA) held a highly successful Ethiopian festival in Washington DC. During the same period, on July 2nd, members and friends of Ethiopian Review gathered to celebrate the journal’s 20th anniversary. I participated in both events and left with […]
EDITOR’S NOTE: Didn’t Bereket Simon say that security situation “in Ogaden is improving by the day”? (CPJ) — Two Swedish journalists reporting on the activities of armed separatists operating in an oil-rich province of eastern Ethiopia have been detained without charge since Thursday in the Horn of Africa nation, according to news reports and government […]
By Abebe Gellaw Two young Ethiopian journalists, Woubishet Taye, Deputy Editor of Awramba Times, and Reyot Alemu, a columnist of Fetih newspaper, have been facing terrorism charges under the controversial “Anti-Terrorism Proclamation No.652/2009”. Coincidentally, it was only last week that the 547-seat Ethiopian Parliament, where the ruling party occupies all but two seats, officially named […]
CPJ — The Ethiopian government Woyanne regime today publicly accused an editor and a columnist of involvement in a terrorism plot, according to news reports and local journalists. Woubshet Taye, deputy editor of the leading Awramba Times newspaper and Reeyot Alemu, columnist for the weekly Feteh, have been held incommunicado under Ethiopia’s far-reaching anti-terrorism law […]
By Messay Kebede This is not a response to the numerous reactions generated by my previous article titled “The fallacy of TPLF’s developmental state” Some of the reactions raised serious and legitimate questions; others emanated from misunderstandings of the actual contents of the article; still others drifted more toward acrimony and malicious insinuations than a […]
The police are almost always an important source of power in society. They maintain law and order, they carry out the government’s laws, and they insure that the system remains stable. Within the police one can identify all of the different sources of power… [read more] [Read the rest]
Addis Dimts Radio and Netsanet LeEthiopia Radio have discussed Ethiopian Review’s 20th anniversary on their weekend programs. Listen below. Nesanet LeEthiopia [forward to 28:00:01] Addis Dimts [forward to 1:25:38] [Read the rest]
ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — The deputy editor of Awramba Times, Woubshet Taye, who was arrested a week ago, June 19, may have been tortured by the interrogators at Maekelawi Prison, according to a family member. It’s been 8 days since Woubshet has been picked up by heavily armed security forces and thrown in jail. So […]
The International Criminal Court (ICC) Monday issued arrest warrants against Libyan leader Mummar Gaddafi and two of his high-ranking officials. The Pre-Trial Chamber I issued warrantsfor Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the “de facto Prime Minister,” and his brother-in-law Abdullah al-Sanussi, the head of intelligence, for alleged crimes against the people of Libya to […]
Alemayehu G. Mariam (This is the second installment in a series of commentaries I pledged to offer on U.S. policy in Africa under the heading “The Moral Hazard of U.S. Policy in Africa”. In Part I, I argued that democracy and human rights in Africa cannot be subordinated to the expediency of “engaging” incorrigible African […]
New York (CPJ) — Ethiopian authorities have been holding a newspaper columnist incommunicado since Tuesday, local journalists told the Committee to Protect Journalists. Reeyot Alemu, a regular contributor to the independent weekly Feteh, was expected to spend the next four weeks in preventive detention under what appears to be Ethiopian regime’s sweeping anti-terrorism law. Alemu, […]
Ethiopia under the Woyanne tribal junta and its khat-addicted dictator continues to rank high in all failed state indicators. Click here to read the complete report. [Read the rest]
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on Ethiopian authorities today to immediately release journalist Woubshet Taye, who has been held since Sunday. Police picked up Taye, deputy editor of the leading independent weekly Awramba Times, at his home in the capital, Addis Ababa, at 3 p.m. and confiscated several documents, cameras, CDs, and selected […]
By Yilma Bekele … within an established totalitarian regime the purpose of propaganda is not to persuade, much less to inform, but to humiliate. From this point of view, propaganda should not approximate to the truth as closely as possible: on the contrary it should do as much violence to it as possible. For by […]
The ABCs of Toppling a Tyrant: A. UNITY! B. PLANNING! C. DISCIPLINE! Read more [Read the rest]
There is the economics of Adam Smith, the intellectual father of capitalism. There is Levitt & Dubner’s freakonomics of weird stuff. Then there is the fakeonomics (economics by gimmickry) of Meles Zenawi, the dictator in Ethiopia and author of the five-year “Growth and Transformation Plan” (GTP). Zenawi forecasts a “not unimaginable” 14.9 percent economic growth for […]
Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa residents had some thing to be cheerful about Saturday after Buna defeated the Woyanne-affiliated football team Dedebit 2-1. In a typical Woyanne fashion, the game was full of controversy and intrigue, but Buna were able to overpower the better financed and trained Dedebit to victory. The stadium was full of Buna […]
ABC News is reporting that a man with uniquely Ethiopian name, Yonathan Melaku, was arrested Friday morning near the Pentagon carrying what are thought to be bomb making items. There are two possibilities: 1) the guy is mentally sick, or 2) it is the work of the desperate Woyanne junta in Ethiopia that is trying […]
A worldwide boycott of Chinese products may need to be organized to let China know that it needs to stop helping brutal dictators in the third world silence independent media. The following is a press release from ESAT. ESAT accuses China of complicity in jamming signals The Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT), which resumed transmissions to […]
Abiye Teklemariam Megenta Professor Messay Kebede’s challenging essay, “The fallacy of TPLF’s developmental state,” makes a lot of fresh arguments and suggestions. Some of them are deeply unsettling to many of us who consider ourselves to be part of a pro-democracy struggle in Ethiopia. To the extent that we believe Messay himself is a member […]
Though usually recognized as a “conservative pillar of support,” organized religion sometimes plays a very dynamic role during processes of political change… [read more] [Read the rest]
By Messay Kebede This paper can be taken as a manifesto of an individual who has pondered on the tragedy of Ethiopia for many years and whose specific features is that he is passionate about the country, has no political ambition or affiliation, even though he is firmly anchored in the opposition camp, and feels […]
ADDIS ABABA (AP) – Airlines that travel through East Africa said Monday they are keeping an eye on an ash cloud after a volcano eruption in Eritrea, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the eruption is forcing her to cut short a three-nation African tour. Clinton was to have spent Monday night in […]
U.S. Department of State is financing efforts by activists to circumvent Internet blockade by dictators such as Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, according to a New York Times report: By JAMES GLANZ and JOHN MARKOFF | The New York Times The Obama administration is leading a global effort to deploy “shadow” Internet and mobile phone systems […]
Alemayehu G. Mariam George Ayittey, the distinguished Ghanaian economist, and arguably one of the “Top 100 Public Intellectuals” (a person of ideas who stands for things far larger than one’s academic discipline) worldwide who “are shaping the tenor of our time” has been at war with Africa’s tin pot dictators and their lackeys for at […]
Syria plunged deeper into chaos and bloodshed Friday as adamant pro-democracy protesters took to the streets across the country in cities and towns including Homs, Lattakia, Amouda, Izram, Dara, Der Ezzor and Qamishli in mass protests that mark what protestors have called “Friday of Tribes.” The theme of Friday’s protests means, “The clan is with […]
ESAT (Ethiopian Satellite TV) has announced that is once again back on air and transmitting direct to Ethiopia for the 7th time starting yesterday. The new satellite parameters are: ABS1 Satellite 75 degree East C Band Downlink: 3.480 GHz Vertical (3480) Symbol Rate: 1.852 Msps (1852) FEC : 2/3 The regime in Ethiopia has been […]
By Joshua Norman | CBS This is an installment in the CBS WorldWatch series, “The world’s enduring dictators,” inspired by events in Tunisia and Egypt, in which CBSNews.com takes a look at the men who continue to rule their lands unimpeded by law. See a complete explanation of the series and a list of others […]
Ethiopia’s khat-addicted, bleached skin Yemeni dictator Meles Zenawi has ordered 200 tanks from Ukraine at the cost of USD$100 million, according to a Ukraine newspaper (read here). Who are the tanks going to protect? The answer is obvious. They are being purchased to protect Meles and his vampire Woyanne junta from the people of Ethiopia. […]
By Yilma Bekele I am not making this up You can follow the link below and watch the four part video of the leader for life meeting with Ethiopian business leaders. It is a very interesting video. The video is edited and posted on You Tube by Ethiopian TV. I am very grateful. They should […]
In televised speech 20 years ago this month (June 1991), Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi told a cheering audience that Ethiopia is an Arab country and that the new leader, Meles Zenawi, is a Yemeni: Apart from the the royal family, and with the exception of a few black groups, all the rest of Ethiopians are […]
Read the rest here.
Col. Tesfaye Woldeselassie, the Derg regime’s security chief who is responsible for the torture and death of thousands of Ethiopians, has died in prison. Suspicions have risen after the fall of the Derg regime that during his last years as Minister of National and Public Security, Col. Tesfaye had been secretly working for Woyanne, and […]
Read the rest here.
YEMEN (UPI) — At least 14 refugees died at the hands of smugglers as they traveled from Somalia to Yemen, the United Nations said Tuesday.
The U.N. refugee agency said in a release issued in New York that 10 Ethiopians suffocated when the smugglers crammed them and about 15 others in the boat’s engine room with no ventilation. Survivors claimed the bodies of the dead were tossed into the sea.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said there were reports the boat carried as many as 115 passengers as it set out early Sunday from Bossaso in northern Somalia.
Concerned the Yemeni navy would spot them, the smugglers allegedly forced the rest of the passengers to get out of the boat too far from land and four more people drowned before they could reach shore, the U.N. release said. Two of the bodies had been recovered.
“We condemn the unscrupulous and inhuman treatment of refugees and others who are desperately seeking to flee the violence, human rights abuses and seriously debilitating life options in the Horn of Africa,” said Erika Feller, assistant high commissioner for protection.
ETHIOPIAN HERITAGE SOCIETY OF NORTH AMERICA
Invites you to the First Annual Ethiopian Heritage Festival (JULY 1-3/2011)
The first annual Ethiopian Heritage Festival will be held in Washington D.C. from July 1, 2011 to July 3, 2011. The Festival will be held at the immaculate and majestic George Town University multi-sport facility conveniently located in the heart of D.C. located at 3700 O St. in Georgetown with free parking.
This first annual Ethiopian Heritage festival themed “CELBRATE & DISCOVER” Ethiopia is one of a kind celebration and is organized by the Ethiopian Heritage Society of North America (ESHNA). The society requests the attendance and participation of all in the Festival. The Festival intends to proudly display Ethiopia’s rich heritage and diversity through its various three days event. The Festival includes historical exhibition, cultural shows, delicious food, contests, music, sports, symposiums, and workshops focusing on Ethiopia. What’s more, the Festival is family friendly and encompasses various events for children in our Children Amba. Simply put, the Board of the Ethiopian Heritage Society has worked tirelessly to make this Festival one that lives up to its name and is expected to be a memorable occasion for all.
From its inception to the successful ‘Kick-Off’ party on May 14, 2011 held in Washington D.C., the Society has made every effort to make the Festival an appealing and glamorous experience to all. The Festival and the formation of the Society is an answer to the public’s long, repeated and frequent call to have an Ethiopian Festival where Ethiopians from all different background, ethnicity, religions, beliefs, values, and political opinion gather and celebrate our common heritage and home – Ethiopiawent. Washington D.C. is selected because it’s a city where hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians reside, and is home to the largest number of Ethiopians outside of Ethiopia.
While the Society invites you to the Festival and hope it will be an unforgettable fiesta, the Society strongly believes that there is more work to be done in the coming years to make the Festival even more inclusive, more representative, and more closer to the goal and mission it set out to achieve. Accordingly, the Society invites all with skills, knowledge, or talent to join us in making a more perfect festival in the coming years. The Society, therefore, renews and reiterates its call to all Ethiopians with ideas and thoughts on how to better and improve the Society or the upcoming festivals to be a part of us.
The Society also wishes to extend its invitation to the business community to partner with us in promoting your businesses, take advantage of our limited vendor spaces, and showcase your products to the many Ethiopians who will be in attendance at the Festival. Further, historians, religious leaders from all religions and denominations, professionals, and community leaders are invited to share their vast expertise, experience, and skills in making the Festival and the society more effective.
Therefore, the emphasis of the first Ethiopian Heritage Festival is our common heritage, culture, tradition, and, celebration of our uniqueness. This Festival will be the first and major historical event and celebration designed to promote Ethiopia and Ethiopians the aim being to connect the past with the present and to pass it on to the future generation. Consequently, all roads should lead to Washington D.C., Georgetown University, beginning July 1 to July 3, 2011 to be a part of an invigorating and historical Festival.
For more information please visit our website www.ethiopianheritagesociety.org or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Alemayehu G. Mariam
[This commentary is an expanded version of remarks I gave at the annual SEED Award Dinner (Society of Ethiopians Established in Diaspora) held at the Georgetown University Conference Center, Washington, D.C. on May 29, 2011.]
I thank the Executive Board of SEED and its chairman Prof. Melaku Lakew for selecting me as one of the 2011 honorees.
The very acronym of the organization is inspiring. Seeds germinate, become seedlings, develop roots and grow. In time, they bloom and blossom into beautiful flowers and drop new seeds for the next generation. For the last 19 years, SEED has been growing and blossoming, and this evening we see the seeds of SEED in the faces of these extraordinarily accomplished young men and women we are honoring.
I am proud there is an organization such as SEED to recognize Ethiopians who have aspired to make their own small contributions to the cause of Ethiopianity and humanity. For that, we should all celebrate SEED and congratulate its Board and members for having the foresight to establish and sustain for nearly two decades a non-partisan civic organization dedicated to recognizing the contributions of Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia regardless of ideology, political affiliation, ethnicity, nationality, religion or race. SEED is a shining example of what individuals can accomplish by acting collectively through civic society institutions.
I am proud and deeply humbled in being selected to be among a group of honorees that has made extraordinary contributions in the service of all Ethiopians. W/o Abebech Gobena has been called by many as “Africa’s Mother Teresa” for her life-saving humanitarian work with orphaned and abandoned children and abused women. Dr. Woldemeskel Kostre trained generations of Ethiopian Olympic gold medalists and other athletes who have set numerous world records. Professor Redda Tekle Haimanot has made singular contributions to the eradication of polio and helped improve health care access in one of the most medically underserved parts of Ethiopia. Ato Ezra Teshome is widely recognized for his extraordinary contributions to the eradication of polio and helping to empower poor women and children in Ethiopia.
There are two Ethiopians who are being honored tonight posthumously. Professor Hussein Ahmed was an outstanding scholar whose original research illuminated the role of Islam as a cohesive factor in Ethiopia. Dr. Melaku E. Bayen was the first Ethiopian physician to graduate from an American university. He coordinated a Pan-Africanist campaign against Italian aggression in Ethiopia in the 1930s.
When I find myself standing among these towering and heroic figures, I remind myself, in the words of the poet Robert Frost, that I “have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep”.
These individuals are great role models for me, all of us here tonight and the next generation of young Ethiopians.
Speaking about young Ethiopians, I am especially proud to share this stage and event with the high school and college graduates honored this evening. The academic achievements of these young people are among the absolute best in America. Their community service and extra-curricular activities are inspiring to all of us. I am so proud of these young people that my “cup runneth over.”
I am not only proud this evening but also blessed. I share this stage with my daughter Abigail who is being honored in her own right for extraordinary academic achievements and community service. What took decades for me to learn, she mastered in her teen years: True democratic citizenship involves taking individual responsibility to help one’s community and those less fortunate than oneself with a sense of duty, obligation, commitment and honor. I have learned from her that when young people look beyond themselves and their daily distractions and frustrations, they become a mighty force for good and humanity.
This evening I want to say a few words to you from the heart. Many of you know me for the things I have said and written from the mind. Every week in my commentaries, I speak in the language of facts, statistics and evidence. I try as best I can to weave facts through a fabric of persuasive analysis and argumentation to convey my message. But speaking from the heart is more difficult because one has to penetrate the inner crust of facts and statistics and speak from the bedrock of truth.
The truth is Ethiopia’s young people are Ethiopia’s future. Nearly 70 percent of the Ethiopian population of 80 million is estimated to be young people (50 percent of them under age 15). An old Ethiopian proverb reminds us: “Our youth are today’s seeds and tomorrow’s flowers. (Ye zare frewoch, ye’nege abebawoch).” For me, the most important question today revolves around these future flowers in Ethiopia and in the Diaspora.
We in the older generation often ask the question, “What can we teach and do for our young people to prepare them for the future? How can we guide them to a better future?”
The right question in my view is: “What can we learn from young Ethiopians today?”
I believe the vast majority of young people everywhere share one common virtue: Idealism. They believe they can change the world and make it a better place despite the endless wars, communal and sectarian conflict and human rights abuses. Young people want freedom, peace and equal opportunity. They are deeply offended by unfairness and injustice. They have little tolerance for dishonesty and hypocrisy, the principal reasons for their disengagement from politics which they think is all about lying, money and corruption. They despise those who abuse their powers. They have contempt for double-talkers. They are turned off by the older generation’s attitude of “do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do.” They are disappointed when they see us lacking in courage and integrity and selling out for a few pieces of silver.
When I look across the proverbial “generation gap,” I see a gap in thinking, attitude and perspective, not age.
The young people have a “can-do” attitude; for most of us in the older generation, it is “no can do”. They find reasons to do things, we find excuses not to. When churn over old and tired ideas, they come up with innovative ones. When we wallow in despair over what could have been, they bubble with hope and excitement over what could be. We hesitate, they act. We brood, they think. We see the darkness in the tunnel, they see the light at the end. We drive looking through the rear view mirror; they cruise along looking through the windshield. Some of us in the older generation want things to happen. Many of us sit around and wish it to happen. Our young people make it happen! Such is the nature of the gap we need to bridge.
A long time ago, we in the older generation started out on the road to idealism, but somewhere along the way we took a detour to a destination called realism. There we began to worship at the altar of greed, power, wealth, fame and the rest of it. When our realism ultimately proved disappointing, we became cynical and concluded that in a dog-eat-dog world, only the strong survive. We became self-centered and indifferent to the suffering of the weak and defenseless, turned a blind eye to their plight, a deaf ear to their pained cries and muted our lips to the injustices inflicted upon them by the powerful.
We must now return to our idealist roots. George Carlin, the irreverent satirist, said “Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.” Maybe you have seen a glimpse of that disappointed idealist in yourself. But there is nothing shameful in being an idealist. The greatest political and moral leaders of the world over the past century have been idealists. They were great visionaries because, like young people, they could imagine and envision a much better future. Gandhi told the British colonial masters: “In the end you will leave India because 100,000 Englishmen simply cannot control 350 million Indians if those Indians refuse to cooperate.” Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. “dreamt that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.” Nelson Mandela pledged, “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another…” These idealists were laughing-stocks in their day, but in the end they won and the world is a much better place because of their struggle, leadership and principles.
To be idealistic also means to be ready, willing and able to unlearn and change outdated attitudes, beliefs and fears. It took me a long while to appreciate Gandhi’s teaching, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Today I think in terms of humanity and not ethnicity or even nationality. I replaced my ideological rigidity with intellectual flexibility. I once kept silence in the face of brutality, today I champion accountability. I watched others relate on the basis of enmity, today I seek to promote cordiality. My ultimate hope is to mobilize global unity against inhumanity.
In 2005, I broke out of my hardened cocoon of realism into the mushy soft world of idealism. Following the May elections in Ethiopia that year, 193 unarmed protesters were massacred by government troops in the streets, and 763 shot and wounded. Over thirty thousand people were rounded up and imprisoned. The post-election events of 2005 plunged millions of Ethiopians into the abyss of cynicism and despair. It had the opposite effect on me.
My conscience was seared by the sheer brutality and inhumanity of that bestial and barbaric massacre. I thought of the Sharpeville Massacre in South Africa in March 1960 where apartheid policemen killed 69 unarmed black South African protesters. I was too young to speak out for the Sharpeville victims, but not too old now to speak for the 193 Ethiopians and the thousands of other victims of crimes against humanity.
That is how I became idealistic. I came to believe that it is possible to have an Ethiopia where citizens can peacefully protest the actions of their government and not be massacred for it. No person should become a political prisoner or a target of government persecution because s/he dissents with those in power. I believe those who hold the reins of power in Ethiopia must bow their heads before the law and not sit on the throne as the deities of the law. In other words, they are not the gods of law but the law’s humble and faithful servants. I began to imagine that no person in Ethiopia should be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. I even had the audacity to imagine that there must be an independent free press in Ethiopia to stand as a watchdog over government and expose corruption. There must be an independent judiciary to administer justice and hold accountable those who abuse their powers. Elections must be free and fair, and young people should be allowed to play a central role in the country’s future. Long story made short, I became, as some might say, a hopeless idealist.
When you become an idealist, you stand up for your convictions. You preach and teach what you believe in. So I do my best to promote democracy, human rights and freedom in Ethiopia and Africa and elsewhere. I try to be the voice of the voiceless, though some may think I am just a voice in the wilderness.
It is true that I am a relentless critic of oppression, injustice and dictatorship. No doubt, some will laugh and call me naïve for my efforts. Surely, I must know that a few idealists cannot possibly change the world. That may be true, but I am persuaded by Margaret Mead who observed, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Idealism also means using ones misfortunes to help others in daily life. Several years ago, my wife developed breast cancer which was discovered in its earliest stages through an annual routine mammogram and successfully treated. Though my wife had an excellent outcome, so many Ethiopian women die needlessly by not doing regular mammograms and hiding the fact of that disease from their loved ones and friends once diagnosed. She decided to come out in public and write a “letter to my Ethiopian sisters” to raise awareness about breast cancer and how to prevent it from taking so many lives. Some well-intentioned people advised her not to make her condition public implying that there is something embarrassing about having the disease. She is an incorrigible idealist in her own right and believed that if more Ethiopian women knew the truth about early detection and treatment, they will be able to beat breast cancer every time. Silence about breast cancer kills more of our sisters and mothers than breast cancer itself. Let us all be whistleblowers against breast cancer!
We need to bridge the generation gap I spoke of earlier. We can do that if we speak the same language as our young people. We bridge the gap when we learn from each other. They can teach us about the future and the great things they can accomplish; and we teach them about the past, how to avoid the mistakes we made and the things we did right.
Some may think my bridge-building ideas are impractical, unattainable, fanciful and the stuff of dreamers. In my own defense, I will answer them with a question: After all, what do expect from a utopian Ethiopian?!?
In the struggle of all idealistic people, the outcome is always the same as Gandhi taught: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
We will assuredly win if we are on the side of our young people. If you don’t believe me, talk to the young people in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya… I say, let’s join the Youthvolution in Africa.
If I have one message for all of you, and particularly the young people here tonight, it is that we all need to be the voices of the voiceless and stand up and be counted. In the words of the great Bob Marley, I say: Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights (and their rights too)! Don’t give up the fight! Make change happen one person at a time.
Thank you SEED and all of you who have come to honor us tonight!
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” Barack Obama
 SEED is a non-partisan civic organization established in 1993 dedicated to the recognition of Ethiopians and Ethiopian friends who have demonstrated outstanding achievements as educators, scientists, artists, religious leaders, high school and university students and community leaders. http://www.ethioseed.org
Previous commentaries by the author are available at: www.huffingtonpost.com/alemayehu-g-mariam/ and http://open.salon.com/blog/almariam/
The Obama administration, anxious to deny al-Qaida’s most dangerous offshoot more space in which to flourish, urged Yemen’s wounded president on Monday to immediately step aside and clear the way for a transfer of power aimed at averting all-out civil war.
The administration’s call came as U.S. diplomats worked with Saudi Arabian and European officials to revive a plan to replace Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh with a national unity government and end violence that has killed scores of people and splintered the regime, the Yemeni military and the country’s powerful tribes.
There was no sign that Saleh, who was in Saudi Arabia being treated for a wound he sustained Friday in a rocket attack, was ready to step down. Vice President Abed Rabbo Masour Hadi told European diplomats that Saleh’s “health is improving greatly and he will return to the country in the coming days,” according to the state-run news agency.
The return of Saleh, 68, who has held power since 1978, could lead to further bloodshed, something the Obama administration is anxious to avoid. U.S. officials have soured on their onetime ally after a tumultuous four months in which pro-Saleh gunmen attacked anti-regime protesters, top military officials and diplomats defected, and street battles erupted in the capital, Sanaa, between Saleh’s forces and those of a rival tribal sheikh.
Washington is worried that al-Qaida’s local branch, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, could exploit the growing unrest to expand a sanctuary in Yemen from which to launch attacks on neighboring Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil producer, and U.S. targets.
“We are calling for a peaceful and orderly transition, a non-violent transition that is consistent with Yemen’s own constitution,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday. “We think an immediate transition is in the best interests of the Yemeni people.”
Members of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, an amalgam of Yemenis, Saudis and others, including Americans, were behind the 2000 USS Cole attack, as well as the failed 2009 Christmas attempt to bomb an airliner over Detroit and a failed 2010 plot to ship bombs disguised as printer cartridges to the U.S.
A leading member of the group is Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical cleric born in New Mexico to Yemeni parents, who has been linked to the bomb plots and who allegedly helped radicalize a U.S. Army major accused of killing 12 people and wounding 31 others in a 2009 shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas.
Some experts think that the danger posed by the group has been overblown, especially by Saleh, who they contend used it to squeeze out U.S. financial assistance – which rose to $217 million in 2010 from $102 million 2009 – and to bolster his image as a strongman indispensible to the U.S.-led fight against terrorism.
In his latest use of that tactic, several experts said, Saleh withdrew security forces from several areas in recent weeks, including the south-central coastal town of Zinjibar, allowing Islamic extremists to seize them.
“He’s willing to do anything to stay in power,” said Princeton University professor Bernard Haykel, who pointed out that Saleh employed Islamic radicals in the past to fight political threats.
Many experts, however, agreed that al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula would benefit from a prolonged civil war that splintered Yemen, which was already embroiled in a northern tribal insurgency and a separatist movement in the south when massive protests demanding Saleh’s ouster began in February.
“They have the capacity to mount attacks against American interests. They’ve said they’ll do it again and the bigger the space that (the group) has to plan and mount operations against international targets, the more dangerous they become,” said Christopher Boucek of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
“A failed state right next to the world’s biggest oil producer is bad.”
Until recently, the U.S. closely cooperated with Saleh. It dramatically increased U.S. aid and training for Yemen’s security forces in a bid to stabilize the impoverished country of 24 million at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. Nearly 40 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day.
But in the face of ever-widening popular protests, U.S. officials threw their weight behind an Arab-drafted transition plan that called for Saleh to turn power over to Hadi, the vice president, within 30 days, in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Hadi would lead a government comprising ruling party and opposition members until elections were held within two weeks.
Saleh refused three times to sign the plan, and the White House last week dispatched John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser, to the region for consultations.
On Saturday, however, Saleh was evacuated to Saudi Arabia for treatment for a wound he suffered in a rocket attack on his palace, allowing the U.S., Saudi Arabia and European countries to revive the power transfer scheme.
Experts warned that even if he were to agree to the plan, the country’s dire economic straits could derail any chances for political stability.
“Yemen’s collapsing economy, that’s the big story,” Boucek said. “That is the source of all instability in Yemen.”
(By By JONATHAN S. LANDAY, McClatchy Newspapers. Special correspondent Adam Baron contributed reporting from Sanaa, Yemen.)
Military force is viewed as the “trump card” by authoritarian regimes. Unlike police personnel, military units are often separated from civilian society. This separation from the public hinder the development of personal relationships between military and civilian families. [read more]
Tinsae Ethiopia members sent this photo from the western Ethiopian town of Assosa. (read more at Tinsae.org)
Bloombeg has reported today that Shimeles Kemal, the communication state minister for Ethiopia’s ruling tribal junta, said that Tinsae Ethiopia Patriots Union’s report on attacking Woyanne’s infrastructure is a hoax and that “we have not heard of such group.” Shimeles (aka Shiwushet) is a certified liar who says that Woyanne won the last election with 99 percent of the votes in a free and fair election. Read the full report here at Tinsae.org
Government offices, banks, and Woyanne-affiliated businesses in a large part of southern Ethiopia are currently without broadband internet connection after Tinsae Ethiopia members and supporters cut off the fiber optics communication line that is routed through southern Ethiopia to Kenya. [read more at Tinsae.org]
Members of Tinsae Ethiopia Patriots Union have cut off electrical power lines in Sululta area yesterday and today, causing power outage in some parts of northern Addis Ababa. [read more at Tinsae.org]
Alemayehu G. Mariam
Saving Africa From Thugtators
Two historic events are unfolding before our eyes in Africa today. The new president of Cote d’Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara, is asking the International Criminal Court (ICC) to conduct an investigation into gross human rights violations in his country. In a letter to ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Ouattara wrote: “It appears the Ivorian justice system, at the moment, is not best placed to consider the most serious crimes committed over the recent months, and that any attempts to bring to justice those who are most responsible would risk running into all kinds of difficulties.” He emphatically urged the prosecutor to bring the “people who bear the greatest responsibility for the most serious crimes before the International Criminal Court.”
Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s iron-fisted dictator for three decades, and his sons are expected to stand trial in an Egyptian court for human rights violations. The Egyptian Attorney General announced that Mubarak & Sons will face charges of “intentional murder, attempted murder of demonstrators, abuse of power to intentionally waste public funds and unlawfully profiting from public funds for themselves and others.”
Bernard Munyagishari, one of the most notorious leaders of the genocidal Rwandan Interahamwe, was apprehended last week (along with, in a separate incident, Ratko Mladic, the Butcher of Srebrenica (Bosnia)) of the Democratic Republic of Congo after nearly 16 years on the lam. According to a 2005 ICC indictment, Munyagishari “masterminded a virulent hate campaign against the Tutsis” and trained and distributed weapons to Interahamwe groups to enable them “more efficiently to attack and kill the Tutsis and Hutu opponents.”
Omar al-Bashir of the Sudan remains a fugitive from justice following his ICC indictment for genocide and crimes against humanity. Bashir is accused of “masterminding with absolute control” a criminal plan “to destroy in substantial part the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups” and causing the deaths of 35,000 people “outright” in the Darfur region since 2003.
A number of former Kenyan officials including the deputy prime minister and two other ministers, the cabinet secretary, police chief and others stand accused of murder, rape and persecution by the ICC. They are suspected of orchestrating the post-election violence that resulted in the deaths of some 1,500 Kenyans and displacement of over 600,000.
There is no question that Moammar Gadhafi & Sons will soon be indicted by the ICC for crimes against humanity and war crimes in connection with the massive atrocities that are taking place in Libya today. In his ICC application for an arrest warrant, Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampos argued: “The evidence shows that Moammar Gadhafi personally ordered attacks on unarmed Libyan civilians. His forces attacked Libyan civilians in their homes and in the public space, shot demonstrators with live ammunition, used heavy weaponry against participants in funeral processions and placed snipers to kill those leaving mosques after prayers.”
The trial of the ruthless Liberian warlord Charles Taylor before the ICC on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes recently concluded in The Hague after three and one-half years of litigation. A verdict is expected in the foreseeable future.
Africa’s dictators who once sneered at the very notion of legal accountability for their flagrant human rights abuses are now waking up at night in cold sweat. They keep interrogating themselves in the middle of the night: First it was Bashir. Now it is Mubarak. Next is Gadhafi and after him… Ben Ali, Ali Saleh and then…?
Lady Justice “is like a train that is nearly always late”, but she has finally arrived at her African destination with a scale in one hand and a sword in the other, and without her blindfold to see the atrocities that continue to be committed by Africa’s thugtators. A new dawn is rising over the darkness of dictatorship that envelopes Africa.
The Beginning of Africa’s Second Independence?
For much of the six decades of independence, much of Africa has been under the thumbs and boots of ruthless military and civilian thugs palming themselves off as leaders while sucking the continent dry as their private estate. There have been over 80 military coups in Africa and hundreds of attempted, plotted and alleged coups. A 2002 African Union study estimated that corruption cost the continent US$150 billion a year. Last week, a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) commissioned report from Global Financial Integrity (GFI) on “illicit financial flows” (money stolen by government officials and their cronies and stashed away in foreign banks) from the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) revealed the theft of US$ 8.4 billion from Ethiopia, the second poorest country on the planet.
Could the election of Alassane Ouattara signal the beginning of Africa’s second independence? Is there hope for the end of thugtatorship in Africa and the beginning of a new era of democratic governance, openness and political accountability?
Ouattara’s letter to Moreno-Ocampo is in itself an extraordinary act of leadership, courage, audacity and supreme self-confidence. It is a monumental event in Africa’s modern political history. No African leader has ever asked or invited the ICC to investigate human rights abuses and prosecute the violators. In fact, in August 2010, the African Union (AU) thumbed its nose at the ICC stating: “The AU Member States shall not cooperate pursuant to the provisions of Article 98 of the Rome Statute of the ICC relating to immunities, for the arrest and surrender of President Omar El Bashir of the Sudan”. In other words, Africa’s leaders will shelter the Butcher of Darfur from facing justice.
Against the backdrop of the AU denunciation, Ouattra’s invitation for an ICC investigation is refreshing and reassuring. Manifestly, Ouattra is aware of the fact that an ICC investigation is a double-edged sword that could cut him and his supporters just as easily as Gbagbo and his crew. To be sure, there are serious allegations of human rights abuses by Ouattara’s current prime minister, Guillaume Soro. An ICC investigation could potentially implicate Ouattara himself, possibly casting a long dark shadow over the remainder of his presidency. Regardless, Ouattara says full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes. Let the chips fall where they may!
Why is Ouattra doing this? Does he have something up his sleeve? I am still reeling from the fact that an African leader is actually upholding human rights instead of trashing them, calling for an independent investigation instead of putting out a whitewash. Could it be that Ouattara is a truly new breed of African leader? Is it possible that he genuinely believes in the rule of law, human rights and full legal accountability? Maybe he wants to end the culture of impunity in his country and set a shining example of a new culture of respect for human rights for the continent. Just maybe Ouattra’s leadership role model is Nelson Mandela.
On May 21, the day of Ouattara’s formal inauguration, the ICC Prosecutor lodged an application with the ICC to investigate “crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court that have been committed in the Ivory Coast since 28 November 2010.”
Nature of Human Rights Violations in the Cote d’Ivoire
The human rights violations alleged in Cote d’Ivoire are of the most egregious types. According to a January 2011 Human Rights Watch Report, security forces and militia under the control of Laurent Gbagbo have allegedly committed extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances, torture, and rape. Gbagbo’s supporters are accused of undertaking an “organized campaign of violence targeting members of opposition political parties, ethnic groups from northern Côte d’Ivoire, Muslims, and immigrants from neighboring West African countries.” Seven women supporters of Ouattara engaged in peaceful demonstration were gunned down before the cameras by Gbagbo’s forces in February 2011.
According to an April 2011 Human Rights Watch Report, “forces loyal to President-elect Alassane Ouattara killed hundreds of civilians, raped more than 20 alleged supporters of his rival, Laurent Gbagbo, and burned at least 10 villages in Côte d’Ivoire’s far western region.” The report alleged “in one particularly horrific incident, hundreds of ethnic Guéré civilians perceived as supporting Gbagbo were massacred in the western town of Duékoué by a mixture of pro-Ouattara groups.” Credible reports by charity groups who visited the location put the number at over one thousand.
The Ivorian human rights violators will likely face war crimes and crimes against humanity charges similar to those lodged against the former Liberian warlord Charles Taylor. For purposes of war crimes (Convention III, Article 3 Geneva Convention (1949) and of Additional Protocol II), charges will likely include unlawful killings, terrorizing the civilian population, physical violence, sexual violence, abductions and pillage, among others. Other particularized charges may include ill-treatment or deportation of civilian residents, the killing of prisoners and wanton destruction of cities, towns and villages. Charges of crimes against humanity (Article 7, Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court) will likely include murder, rape, abductions, political or religious persecution and other inhumane acts and practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government or a de facto authority. There is substantial evidence to show the occurrence of widespread and systematic practices of atrocity by both sides of the Ivorian conflict in the post-election period to justify vigorous prosecutions.
No Truth, No Reconciliation. No Justice, No Peace.
What Ouattra has done in Cote d’Ivoire could be the most significant act in the cause of the freedom, democracy and human rights in Africa’s modern history. By the stroke of his pen, Ouattra has the raised the bar for legal accountability and may have begun a new era and tradition of the rule of law in the continent. By letting justice take its course, Ouattara has taken the first decisive step to heal the wounds and divisions of Ivorian society.
There are many lessons to be learned from Ouattara’s heroic act. First, without revealing the truth about human rights abuses, there can be no reconciliation in Cote d’Ivoire or any other society victimized by massive human rights violations. The South Africans managed to make an effective transition to democracy and heal a society torn apart by the vile and inhuman ideology of apartheid in their Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
Second, if Africa’s dictators believe they will face justice for their criminal actions regardless of how long it takes, they will think a hundred times before ordering massacres of peaceful unarmed demonstrators in the streets, jailing of thousands of innocent people and indiscriminate bombing of civilians. Third, legal accountability under international human rights standards means Africa’s dictators will have no place to run to or hide and enjoy their billions in stolen loot. The world will be their prison.
When the rule of law is deep-rooted in Africa, the tables will finally turn. The people will no longer fear their leaders and governments. Rather, the leaders and government institutions will fear the people. That will mark Africa’s long overdue transition from thugtatorship (“the highest stage of African dictatorship”) to democracy.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Justice has yet to arrive for 193 unarmed Ethiopian protesters massacred in the streets in 2005 and 763 shot and wounded. These victims are not some nameless individuals buried in shallow graves. Their identities are well known to all and shall never be forgotten. The identities of the 237 policemen who committed the massacre are also well known. There is overwhelming evidence of gross human rights abuses in Gambella in western Ethiopia and in the Ogaden region in the east as well as many other parts of the country. There are thousands of political prisoners languishing in secret prisons in Ethiopia today.
The monstrous crimes committed against these victims will not remain forever shrouded in the fog of history because the arc of the moral universe is long and it bends towards justice. That is why I believe justice delayed in Ethiopia is NOT justice denied. Paraphrasing the great African American poet Langston Hughes, justice delayed in Ethiopia is a “sore that festers and runs, and sags” like a heavy load ready to explode.
Keep Hope Alive in Ethiopia!
Previous commentaries by the author are available at: www.huffingtonpost.com/alemayehu-g-mariam and http://open.salon.com/blog/almariam
Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa is swarmed with security forces today as the ruling Woyanne tribal junta prepares to celebrate its 20th year in power. Youth groups are also attempting to stage protests to demand an end to the 20-year-old dictatorship, but every gathering is immediately dispersed by the Federal Police, Meles Zenawi’s death squads.
In the morning, the Woyanne regime staged its own rally in support of its recently announced plan to build hydroelectric dam along the Nile River. It has bussed thousands of government employees to Melskel Square to listen to a speech by the khat-addicted dictator. A short while later, the crowd dispersed without incident.