Archive for the ‘Ethiopian News’ Category

Bill Clinton calls for Libya no-fly zone

Friday, March 11th, 2011

NEW YORK (Reuters) — Former U.S. President Bill Clinton said the United States should enforce a no-fly zone over Libya to allow a fair fight between insurgents and troops loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The international community has been debating whether to impose a no-fly zone as Gaddafi’s warplanes carry out air strikes unhindered by insurgent anti-aircraft guns mounted on the back of pick-up trucks.

Clinton’s comments echoed those of some prominent U.S. senators calling for a no-fly zone to police Libyan air space and went beyond the caution of the Obama administration.

“I wouldn’t do it if they hadn’t asked, but if the (insurgent) leaders are on television pleading for it, “I think that we should do it,” Clinton told the Women in the World conference in New York late on Thursday.

“Gaddafi has internationalized the conflict himself by hiring people from other countries who do not give a rip about the Libyans,” Clinton said. “So that’s why (the insurgents) said, ‘Just give us the chance to have a fair fight,’ and I, for whatever it’s worth, think that’s what we should do.”

Clinton said previous no-fly zones had worked, noting such efforts over Iraq and Bosnia during his presidency, which spanned from 1993 to 2001.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the former president’s wife, has said it was up to the United Nations to decide whether there should be a no-fly zone.

She told a congressional hearing on Thursday the no-fly zones over Serbia and Iraq had not stopped the killing of civilians and did not push leaders out of power. (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

Obama’s disgraceful policy toward Libya uprising

Friday, March 11th, 2011

The commentary below by The New Republic‘s Leon Wieseltier reflects the frustration and anger of many pro-democracy activists around the world at U.S. President Barack Obama’s shameful refusal to help Libyan freedom fighters.

Barack Obama’s policy toward the Libyan struggle for freedom is no longer a muddle. It is now a disgrace.

Here is what his administration and its allies have told the world, and the Libyan dictator, and the Libyan rebels, in recent days. The director of national intelligence declared before the Senate Armed Services Committee, in a chilling example of self-fulfilling prophecy, that “over the longer term Qaddafi will prevail.” The secretary of defense continued to insist that the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya is too much for America to do, and to frighten the public with the warning that it would constitute a military operation, as if all military operations are like all other military operations, and therefore the prelude to the sort of wars that would require us, as he put it in an earlier outburst about Iraq and Afghanistan, to have our heads examined. Of course nobody is suggesting that a single American soldier step foot on Libyan soil: Gates’s exaggeration of the logistics and the implications of a no-fly zone, which the Libyan resistance is begging for, is the purest demagoguery, a way of inhibiting the discussion of what really can be done in this plainly just cause…

It may be, as Clinton said, that the consequences of a no-fly zone would be unforeseeable, but the consequences of the absence of a no-fly zone are entirely foreseeable. They are even seeable. We see them daily, most recently in the massacre at Zawiyah. And in a press briefing prior to the NATO ministerial meeting in Brussels, the secretary general of the alliance began by intoning that “the whole world is watching” and then announced that “NATO has no intention to intervene in Libya.” He did not grasp the heartless illogic of what he said—though if his remark could be construed as saying that the whole world is watching NATO have no intention to intervene in Libya, there was some truth to it. And he followed with these unforgettable observations: “If these systematic attacks against the Libyan people continue it may amount to a crime against humanity. And many people around the world may be tempted to say let’s do something to prevent this massacre against the Libyan civilian population.” Some of us may indeed be so tempted. But “on the other hand,” Rasmussen continued, “there are a lot of sensitivities in the region as far as foreign military intervention is concerned, or what might be considered a foreign military intervention.” Get it? We will not act to prevent a crime against humanity because by doing so we will offend—who, exactly? Not the Libyans who are clamoring for Western assistance, or the Egyptians who looked to us for unequivocal support in their fight for freedom, or the Iranians who made a similar mistake. No, we will offend only a certain doctrinaire Western notion of what the contemporary Arab world thinks about the West, a notion that the democratic upheavals in the Arab world are making manifestly obsolete. We will offend not their assumptions, but our assumptions about their assumptions… [read the full text here]

Libya rebels push back Gaddafi forces in Ras Lanuf

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Reuters is reporting that Libyan freedom fighters today have pushed back Gaddafi forces in Ras Lanuf. Yesterday it was reported that Gaddafi forces took over the eastern Libyan town after heavy bombardments with fighter jets, helicopters and tanks.

“There has been intense fighting with Gaddafi’s forces. They have withdrawn from the residential area to the west. We are now combing the area,” said rebel fighter Mohammed Aboul Hassan, told Reuters by telephone from the town.

Saudi Arabia police open fire at protesters

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Police in Saudi Arabia opened fire Thursday to disperse a protest in the Eastern Province, injuring at least one person.

The rare violence raised concern about a crackdown ahead of more planned protests after Friday prayers in different cities throughout the oil-rich kingdom, Washington Post reports:

Despite the ban and a warning that security forces will act against them, protesters demanding the release of political prisoners took to the streets for a second day in the eastern city of Qatif. Several hundred protesters, some wearing face masks to avoid being identified, marched after dark asking for “Freedom for prisoners.”

Police, who were lined up opposite the protesters, fired percussion bombs, followed by gunfire, causing the crowd to scatter, a witness said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of government retaliation.

The witness said at least one protester was injured and lifted by others to a car for treatment. It was not clear how the protester was injured.

Scores of protesters in Qatif had also marched in the city streets Wednesday night.

Obama intelligence chief says Gaddafi will defeat rebels

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

James Clapper, the US national intelligence director, has told U.S. Senate today that Muammar Gaddafi will defeat the rebels. That seems to be the Obama Administration’s wishful thinking. Some senators were furious at Clapper’s comments and asked for his resignation. The Libyan people are pleading for help in liberating themselves from a mass murderer, and instead of providing some help (no-fly zone), the Obama White House comes out with a moral boosting statement for Gaddafi forces.

(BBC) — James Clapper told the US Senate that Col Gaddafi’s superior military force would prevail over the long term.

In Washington, Mr Clapper, who is the top intelligence adviser to US President Barack Obama, told the Senate he saw no evidence Col Gaddafi would step down from power. He warned Col Gaddafi’s military was stronger than had previously been described.

In response to calls from some senior US Senate figures to establish a no-fly zone, Mr Clapper said Col Gaddafi’s air defences were “quite substantial.”

(Fox News) — U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, in an exclusive interview with Fox News correspondent Carl Cameron, called for Gen. James Clapper to resign or be fired as Director of National Intelligence, citing his comments before the Senate Armed Services Committee this morning, on which Graham sits.

Graham told Cameron that he lacks confidence in Clapper’s understanding of his job, that President Obama should “repudiate” Clapper’s remarks, and that this is the third time Clapper has faltered in this way. “Three strikes and you’re out,” Graham said.

(Politico.com) — “The situation in Libya remains tenuous and the director’s comments today on Qadhafi’s ‘staying power’ are not helpful to our national security interests. His comments will make the situation more difficult for those opposing Qadhafi,” Graham said in a statement released a few hours after his comments to Fox. “It also undercuts our national efforts to bring about the desired result of Libya moving from dictator to democracy.”

What is Beka? – VOA interview with Neamin Zeleke

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

The VOA interviews Ato Neamin Zeleke about the new worldwide Ethiopia civic movement that is working to help remove dictator Meles Zenawi from power. The civic group’s lead slogan is BEKA (enough). Listen to the interview below [Mp3).

BEKA slogan covers VOA web site

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

The Voice of America (VOA) web site’s Amharic section is filled with BEKA, a slogan in Facebook that demands the removal of Ethiopia’s dictator Meles Zenawi. Hundreds of Ethiopians have turned the slogan into their profile picture in Facebook and other social media. Click the here to see the VOA web site.

Youth groups have posted announcements in the social media about their intention to stage nation wide protests in May 2011 demanding the Meles regime to step down. May 2011 marks Ethiopian dictator’s 20th year in power.

Ethiopian Review 2011 plans

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Ethiopian Review is celebrating its 20th year of service and commitment by organizing various activities this year. Through a series of events, we are prepared to showcase Ethiopian Review’s proud past and promising future.

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

As we look back in pride and recommit ourselves to work more vigorously in the future, we have devised a strategy to intensify our work inside Ethiopia. Our planned activities for the future revolve around our anniversary theme: Information is Power, and Empowered citizenry is the force behind freedom and democracy.

Ethiopian Review’s board will present its 2011 Plans at a special meeting that is called for this coming Sunday, March 13, at 9 PM Washington DC time. The meeting will be held via teleconference.

To participate, please register by sending email to ethrev@gmail.com

Ethiopian Review Board of Directors

A message to Woyanne diplomats – from a former diplomat

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

By Lebenu Andinet

In the Time of Deceit Telling the Truth is a Revolutionary Act” – George Orwell

As a former Woyanne Diplomat I am writing this piece to call upon all Ethiopian diplomats and civil servants to stand for truth and abandon the regime that lives on deceit.

The year 2011 is a unique and crucial year for many oppressed and marginalized people of a number of Africa and Middle Eastern countries. The year has so far witnessed the freedom of people through out the Arab world where dictatorship prevailed for decades. Tunisia and Egypt have completed the removal process of their respective dictators through popular uprising, where as Libya, Bahrain, Djibouti, Yemen, Algeria, Saudi Arabia are fighting hard to topple their decayed and undemocratic regimes. The basic underpinning of these revolutions is tied to the inability of the regimes to bring about economic development, establishing the rule of law and adopting democratic system that includes freedom of speech, expression and women rights.

The underpinning factors that initiated the uprising in the Arab world that include poverty and undemocratic practices are extensively witnessed in Ethiopia in a greater level for decades. Each and every rational Ethiopian can easily understand the prevalence of these sorry realities in Ethiopia. Just taking the recent realities it is enough to mention that up to 3 million Ethiopians are in need of food aid from other donors. On the other side it is also important to point out the ridiculous EPRDF’s “99.66%” election victory, which, according to Human Rights Watch and European Union Election Observation Mission, was conducted under the environment of coercion and harassment. Ethiopian have the obligation to use the time to voice their discontent in a peaceful and legal ways so as to bring about a better and promising future to themselves and they children. It should be time Ethiopians stop going to bed empty stomach and it should be time Ethiopians feel free to express their opinions with out fear of the government intelligence apparatus. Our future is now and it is in our hands.

When people are faced with the issue of bringing about change in Ethiopia through peaceful popular uprising they seem to interpret it in terms of going out in the streets to for demonestration. Although that is part of the whole process it is not the only action.

As the British famous author and journalist George Orwell, whom we know by his controversial novel, “Animal Farm,” and the well known quote, “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others,” has suggested the most important idea as to what constitutes a revolutionary act. Not only throwing stones, shouting anti-government words, posting resentment on facebook is revolutionary, but standing for truth in the face of deceit and naked propaganda is also by far the most revolutionary of all.

We all know the white lies and dry fabrication Meles Zenawi’s regime in Ethiopia feeds the public day in and day out about economic development and democracy. But it is not secret to understand the reality prevailing in Ethiopia. After two decades of Woyanne-led EPRDF rule, Ethiopia is at the bottom of the global economic ladder and its so-called “democracy” is resulting in the triumph of a one-party state where oppositions are weakened and coerced by the incumbent party and its coercive arm of the government.

In the face of these realities, Ethiopians from all walks of life have to be true to the truth rather than be filled with the garbage information disseminated by the regime to deceive Ethiopians. Therefore, amid these limitless Woyanne/EPRDF lies we got to stand for the truth. In so doing we are executing what is needed from each of us in making the revolution our country deeply needs a reality.

As a former diplomat of the Woyanne led EPRDF government, I know that the diplomats in different countries are instructed to execute so much fabrication that does not match the reality in Ethiopia. Among others, they are expected to promote the 10% economic growth, where as millions are in need of food and the government is begging other countries for help. They are supposed to promote respect for human rights in Ethiopia while the reality is that people have no right to organize freely. They are expected to inform other countries that elections in Ethiopia are free and fair, where as the institutions necessary to conduct elections are totally controlled by the Woyanne regime.

Ethiopian diplomats and other civil servants residing in Ethiopia and through out the world have to remain true to the truth and contribute their share of revolutionary act. They must assist the revolution by giving information necessary to inform the international community about the human rights violations and the corrupt nature of the regime. It is a call for your conscience in the name of millions of Ethiopians who go to bed every night with empty stomach, walking with bare feet and afraid to express their views.

Let’s come together and stick to one of the acts of revolutionary measure. Let’s fight deceit with the truth by exposing Woyanne’s horrible crimes and by supporting the forces fighting for the new Ethiopia where all people are equal no matter what their ethnic origin or political persuasion.

I am envious of the achievement of the people of northern Africa and it is my hope that Ethiopia shall join the Tunisia and Egypt in saying “no more” to dictatorship.

(The writer can be reach at alelignaknaw@gmail.com)

Sudan opposition plans to stage protest Wednesday

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

Sudanese opposition groups are defying warnings by security forces not to hold the protest rally they scheduled for Wedensday.

The legal affairs official in the opposition alliance Kamal Omer, from the Popular Congress Party (PCP), said that they only notified the authorities about their intentions stressing that they need no permission to practice their right under the constitution.

The protest will take place at 1 p.m. at Abu-Janzeer square in the Sudanese capital and is scheduled to be addressed by leader of the Umma Party Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi.

The police chief in Khartoum State, General Mohammad Hafiz Hassan Attiya, said at a press conference that he does not recognize the opposition’s reasoning adding that the law requires permission and not notification in order to organize a protest.

Attiya said that the opposition appears to be seeking “to take law into their own hands” describing this as unacceptable. — Sudan Tribune

Angola protest did not materialize

The Angola regime of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has reacted to a call for peaceful protests by arresting several individuals, including 3 journalists, on Monday.

Novo Jornal editor Victor Silva said the journalists were part of a group of some 15 people arrested at May 1 Square in the capital, Luanda. He said all the detainees were later released.

“They were detained for no apparent reason,” Silva said of the journalists. “They were in May 1 Square to report on whether or not the protest was happening.”

(AFP) — Since last month, rumours have circulated on the internet of North Africa-style protests scheduled to begin on March 7 in Angola.

While the organisers of the protest remain largely anonymous, a Facebook page called “The Angolan People’s Revolution” had called on Angolans to march at midnight with posters “demanding the departure of Ze Du [Dos Santos' nickname], his ministers and his corrupt friends”.

Rapper Brigadeiro Mata Frakus, who recently returned from exile, is hugely popular on the internet since he released a song criticising dos Santos, in power since 1979.

The chief opposition party, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), has said it would not take part in the protests because it does not know who is calling for the marches.
There were no signs of people gathering in May 1 Square at noon (11:00 GMT), two hours before the rescheduled protest was due to start. Military police patrolled the streets, which were unusually quiet.

Many had dismissed the anonymous call to protest as a charade but the ruling party, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), reacted with a show of strength by organising large pro-government demonstrations on Saturday in Luanda and several other cities.

Angola is the continent’s largest producer of crude oil along with Nigeria, but the majority of its 18 million people live beneath the poverty line.

More from The Guardian’s Lara Pawson:

Since Tunisians rose up so heroically two months ago, a great deal has been written about the influence on the rest of the Arab world. Now, the spirit of revolution may be starting to blow south, stirring up protests in pockets of sub-Saharan Africa, too. In Angola, 17 people, including several journalists, were arrested on Monday at the start of a demonstration in Independence Square in the capital, Luanda. The protest began as an internet campaign two weeks ago when an anonymous group of individuals, announcing “a new revolution of the Angolan people”, set up a website calling for an end to the 32-year rule of President José Eduardo dos Santos.

Monday’s short-lived protest in Luanda is in no way comparable with the extraordinary scenes witnessed in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Very few protesters showed up. However, people in Luanda say the atmosphere was extremely tense. There was a heavy police presence throughout the city and most people stayed at home fearing trouble. Even senior members of the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), which has held onto power since independence in 1975, have been rattled by the surge in criticism.

“Angola is not Egypt. Angola is not Libya. Angola is not Tunisia,” the MPLA provincial secretary to Luanda, Bento Bento, has insisted. He has also accused western intelligence agencies and pressure groups in France, Portugal, Italy, Brussels and the UK of instigating opposition: “They have enacted … a proper operation against Angola, the MPLA and especially our comrade and president, José Eduardo dos Santos.”

In a bid to bolster confidence and outmanoeuvre the critics, MPLA officials organised pre-emptive “pro-peace” rallies across the country on Saturday. State radio said 500,000 supporters took to the streets of Luanda waving MPLA flags, wearing MPLA T-shirts and drinking MPLA-funded beer and fizzy drinks. The Associated Press estimated a lower figure of 20,000 participants. Whatever the number, this was not an authentic outpouring of adoration for the regime. State employees were ordered to attend, and beyond the capital all did not go well. For example, in the north-east diamond-rich province of Lunda Norte, MPLA supporters were attacked by other members of the public, and the provincial governor, Ernesto Muangala, fled to safety.

Meanwhile, in direct contradiction to article 47 of the new Angolan constitution, approved in January 2010, which grants all citizens the right to demonstrate peacefully, Bento Bento announced: “Whoever tries to demonstrate will be neutralised because Angola has laws and institutions and a good citizen understands the laws, respects the country and is a patriot.” The secretary general of the party, Dino Matross, was only marginally more blunt: “Anyone who demonstrates,” he said, “we’re going to get you.”

This is not idle rhetoric. The MPLA has long relied on excessive brutality to quash opposition. As Sousa Jamba, a journalist and member of Angola’s main opposition party, Unita, wrote this week: “The scars of 1977, 1992, etc, have still not disappeared. We have a history in which demonstrations in the streets, particularly in the capital, end in tragedy.”

Jamba is referring to 27 May 1977, when two senior members of the MPLA led an uprising against the administration of President Agostinho Neto. The government’s response – supported by the Cuban army – was extreme. Violent retaliations went on for months, killing thousands – some say tens of thousands – of innocent people. Many men and women were arrested and tortured, and some were held in concentration camps for years. In 1992, following Angola’s first attempt at multiparty elections, civil war erupted once again when Unita leader Jonas Savimbi refused to accept the results. Hundreds of people in Luanda who were thought to have voted for Unita were attacked or killed by MPLA supporters.

This state-sponsored violence, coupled with the fact that the 27-year civil war ended only in 2002, helps explain why opposition parties in Angola have been so reluctant to support this week’s demonstration. Unita leader Isaías Samakuva has described the protest as “a trap” set by the government to test the political temperature of the country. He is also suspicious of the fact the organisers are anonymous. Smaller political parties agree it would be foolhardy to participate in a demonstration called for by unknown figures. The Democratic Block, which comprises several respected political figures, said it would be “extremely naive” to participate in a protest that could lead to the sort of purges that took place in 1977 and 1992.

The response from the political class this week may indicate a growing generation gap within Angolan society. Luaty Beirão, a popular Angolan rapper also known as Ikonoklasta, was one of the protesters arrested on Monday morning. He believes the political parties are out of touch with the majority of Angolan people, and are either too lazy or too old-fashioned to take action for their political beliefs. At a gig on 27 February in Luanda, he called for President Dos Santos to leave power. Each time he did, a large audience of mainly young men chanted “Fora!” (“Out!”). To the delight of his fans, he described the regime as “a son of a bitch government” and ended his performance holding up a banner which read: “Ti Zé Tira o Pé: Tô Prazo Expirou Há Bwé!” (Uncle Zé [the president], get out: your time ran out ages ago!). The crowd erupted into wild applause.

Although Angola is not ready for a revolution like Tunisia’s or Egypt’s, the past week suggests that the tide may be beginning to turn. As Rafael Marques, a journalist with an excellent track record for exposing corruption and human rights abuses across Angola, observes: “Opposition is frail, but unhappiness with the MPLA is overwhelming.” And a new generation is finding its voice.

Ethiopian businessman pleads guilty to bribing DC officials

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

A well-known Ethiopian business man in the Washington DC area acknowledged in federal court last Wednesday that he distributed more than $250,000 in bribes in a scheme to obtain lucrative licenses to operate cab companies in the District and to influence city legislation that would benefit his business.

Yitbarek Syume, 53, who has been held in the D.C. jail since his arrest in October 2009, pleaded guilty to bribery, conspiracy to commit bribery, and mail fraud. He could be sentenced to up to nine years in prison under federal guidelines.

Syume told U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman through an Amharic interpreter that he wanted “to apologize to my family, to the Ethiopian community and to this court.” [read more]

Social media flooded with anti-Meles slogan

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Facebook is currently being flooded with BEKA, a slogan that calls for the end of Meles Zenawi’s dictatorship in Ethiopia.

Initiated by a couple of youth groups, during the past few days hundreds of Ethiopians have changed their profile photos to posters that have the Amharic word “Beka”, which means “Enough.” The posters have different designs and colors as some of those shown here.

Two groups are also calling for a nationwide protest in Ethiopia on May 20, 2011, the 20th anniversary of Meles Zenawi in power.

Ethiopia: The Sun Also Rises

Monday, March 7th, 2011

By Alemayehu G. Mariam

Creeping Youthbellion and Youthvolution in Africa and the Middle East

“When the sun rises, it rises for everyone,” goes the old saying. The sun that rose over tyranny in North Africa will not set at the edge of the Sahel; it will shine southward on the African savannah and rainforest. The wind of change blowing across the Middle East will soon cut a wide swath clear to the Atlantic Coast of West Africa from the Red Sea. The sun that lifted the darkness that had enveloped Tunisia, Egypt and Libya for decades can now be seen rising just over the Ethiopian horizon. The sun rises to greet a new generation of Ethiopians.

Today we are witnessing a second African independence, an independence from thugtatorship no less dramatic or volcanic than the upheavals of oppressed peoples that overthrew the yoke of colonialism one-half century ago. In 1960, British PM Harold McMillan warned his fraternity of European imperial powers: “The wind of change is blowing through this [African] continent, and whether we like it or not, this growth of national consciousness is a political fact. We must all accept it as a fact, and our national policies must take account of it.”

The wind of change that has kicked up a sandstorm of youth rebellion and revolt in North Africa has laid bare the ghastly facts of oppression and youth despair to global consciousness. Arab and African youths are crying out for freedom, democracy, human rights and equal economic opportunity. The vast majority of the uneducated, under-educated and mis-educated African youths have no hope for the future. Legions of Arab youths with college degrees, advanced professional and technical training waste away the best years of their lives because they have few economic opportunities. They too see a void in their future. African and Arab youths have had enough, and they are rising up like the sun to liberate themselves and their societies from the clutches of thugs. The outcome of the youth uprisings is foreordained. As Sam Cooke, the great pioneer of soul music sang, “It’s been a long, a long time coming/ But I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will…”

But there are some who cynically argue that the type of volcanic popular uprisings sweeping North Africa cannot happen in Ethiopia. They offer many reasons. They say the thugtators in Ethiopia have used every means at their disposal to keep the people benighted, divided and antagonized. They point to the primitive state of information technology in Ethiopia as proof of a deliberate official strategy to prevent Ethiopian youth from accessing the Internet freely to learn new ideas and create cyber civic societies. (Ethiopia has the second lowest (after Sierra Leone) internet penetration rate in Africa.) They say Zenawi has bought off the best and the brightest of Ethiopia’s youth with cash, jobs, special educational opportunities and privileges just to keep them off the streets and happy as a clam. (It seems Ethiopia’s youth are a pressurized powder keg.) They say Ethiopia’s young people (who comprise the majority of the population) have no frame of historical reference and that Zenawi has brainwashed them into believing that he is their demi-god and savior. (It is possible to fool some of the youths all of the time, but it is impossible to fool all of the youths all of the time.) They say Zenawi’s vast security network of informants, spies and thugs will suppress any youth or other uprising before it could gather momentum. They say Zenawi has permeated the society with so much fear and loathing that it is nearly impossible for individuals or groups to come together, build consensus and articulate a unified demand for change. They say Zenawi has created so much ethnic antagonism in the society that he can cling to power indefinitely by playing his divide-and-rule game and raising the specter of genocide and civil war. Regardless of what anyone says, Zenawi has made it crystal clear what he will do to cling to power. He will “crush with full force” anyone who opposes him electorally or otherwise.

The Survival Principle of Thugtatorships

African thugtators will do anything to cling to power. Hosni Mubarak used a state of emergency decree to cling to power for three decades. When he was deposed from his Pharaonic throne, there were 30,000 political prisoners rotting in his dungeons. Ben Ali in Tunisia did as he pleased for nearly a quarter of a century. Gadhafi’s actions in Libya today offer a hard object lesson on what thugtators will do to cling to power. He continues to use helicopter gunships and MiG fighter planes to bomb and strafe civilians. He is using his private army of thugs and mercenaries to commit unspeakable violence on Libyan citizens. He has offered to buy off Libyans for $400 per household and pledged a 150 percent increase in government workers’ wages if they stop the uprising. They told him “to immerse it in water and drink it” (or “to stuff it…” in the English vernacular.) Gadhafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, has threatened to dismember Libya and plunge it into a civil war and “fight to the last minute, until the last bullet, until the last drop of my blood.” Gadhafi is doing everything in his power to cling to power. The only unanswered question is whether he will resort to the “chemical option”. On March 16, 1988, toward the end of the Iraq-Iran war, Saddam Hussien used chemical weapons against the Kurds in Halabja killing thousands. Will Gadhafi use chemical weapons against Libyans in March 2011 as his regime comes to its long overdue end? Whether Zenawi will follow Gadhafi’s scorched earth policy to cling to power remains to be seen, but careful analysis of his actions, public statements, interviews, speeches, writings, ideological perspective and the irrepressible and self-consuming hatred he has publicly displayed against those who have opposed him over the past 20 years suggests that he will likely follow the tragic wisdom of the old aphorism, “Apre moi, le deluge” (After me, the flood).

But thugtators, trapped in their bubbles and echo chambers, often overestimate their prowess and abilities. “Brotherly Leader” Gadhafi thought he was so powerful and the Libyan people so cowardly that he did not expect in his wildest imagination they would dare rise up and challenge him. He was proven wrong when Libyans broke the chains of crippling fear Gadhafi had put on them for 42 years. Gadhafi thought he could prevent Libyan youths from communicating and coordinating with each other by shutting down social media such as Facebook. Libya’s young revolutionaries proved to be more creative; they used Muslim dating websites to coordinate their activities. Now Gadhafi has completely shut down Internet service in the country believing he can control and distort the flow of information coming out of Libya. Gadhafi’s murderous thugs and mercenaries have been repelled time and again by a ragtag army of Libyan shopkeepers, waiters, welders, engineers, students and the unemployed. Despite Gadhafi’s talk of tribal war, Libyans have closed ranks to wage war on thugtatorship. After 42 years of ignorant ramblings in the Green Book, Gadhafi and his Jamahiriya (“republic ruled by the masses”) are in their death throes.

The Bouzazi Factor

Mohamed Bouzazi was the young Tunisian who burned himself to protest Ben Ali’s thugtatorship. Bouzazi’s desperate act became the spark that created the critical mass of popular uprising which has caused a chain reaction throughout North Africa and the Middle East. The tipping point for change in any country cannot be predicted with certainty. In Tunisia, Bouzazi was literally the “fissile material” that catalyzed the popular uprising. In Egypt, a number of factors worked together to get rid of Mubarak’s thugtatorship. The young Egyptians who led the revolt were well educated and tech savvy and used their knowledge to organize effectively. The Egyptian military maintained neutrality and opposition elements were able to build consensus on the need to remove Mubarak and his henchmen from power after three decades. In Libya, the people just had enough of a raving lunatic running their lives.

Change is a universal imperative and it will come to Ethiopia as it has for its northern neighbors. The coming change in Ethiopia may not necessarily follow any existing template. It will originate from an unexpected source and spread in unexpected ways. The tipping point in Ethiopia will likely revolve around three factors: 1) the clarity, truthfulness and persuasiveness of the message of change delivered to the people, 2) the unity in the voices of the messengers who deliver the message, and 3) the context in which the message of change is communicated to the people. Simply stated, a convergence of democratic forces and a consensus on a clear message of change is necessary to create a critical mass for change in Ethiopia.

Overcoming the Fear Factor

The one common thread in all of the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East is that the people overcame their fears. The thugtators waged decades long campaigns of psychological warfare to instill fear and loathing in the hearts and minds of their peoples. For decades, the people believed the thugtators to be strong and invincible, untouchable and unaccountable.   Recent evidence shows that all thugtatorships have feet of clay. The moment the Libyan people unshackled themselves from 42 years of crippling fear — the kind of fear President Roosevelt described as “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified, terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance ” — they were able to see Gadhafi for what he truly is — a thug. Ditto for Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak. Change came to Tunisia, Egypt and Libya not because the thugtators had changed but because the people had changed. They were no longer afraid! They found out the true meaning of the old saying, “Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.”

The Hubris of Thugtators

Thugtators believe they can cling to power by eliminating their opposition, and particularly those who helped them get into power. They ward off potential challengers by keeping their military weak and appointing their cronies and henchmen to leadership positions. They believe they are loved, respected and admired by their people. Gadhafi said, “All my people love me!” They don’t. They hate him. Gadhafi convinced himself that all Libyans are happy under his rule.” They are not. Libya has a Sovereign Wealth Fund of $70 billion and nearly as much has been frozen by the American, British and Swiss governments. Yet the vast majority of the 6 million Libyans have difficulty making ends meet. Gadhafi has squandered much of the oil money buying arms, financing terrorists, seeking to develop weapons of mass destruction, giving it away to other countries to increase his prestige and paying blood money for acts of terrorism he personally ordered. He paid $3 billion to the survivors of the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in which 270 people died. Zenawi said he won the last election by 99.6 percent because the people love his party. They “consider themselves and the EPRDF as two sides of a coin” and “nothing can ever shake their unwavering support for our organization,” he said in his victory speech last May. He congratulated the people for “giv[ing] us the mandate through your votes” and patronized them for their “high sense of judgment and fairness” in voting for his party.

Regardless of what thugtators say or do, they will always remain weak and anxiety-ridden because they are in it for the money and not to serve the people. State power is the means by which they pick clean the economic bones of their countries. Thugtators are incapable of anticipating or understanding the need for change. Because they lack a vision for the future and the courage to do what needs to be done in the present, they are always swept away in a flash flood of popular uprising as Ben Ali, Mubarak and Gadhafi have found out lately.

Foolishly Riding the Tiger

President Obama needs to realize that it is not enough to talk about being “on the right side of history”. The U.S. must first do the right thing. For the Obama Administration to talk about “regime alteration” instead of regime change in the Middle East and North Africa today is not being on the right side of history. It is just being plain wrong! President John F. Kennedy said that being on the right side of history is being on the side of the “people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery and helping them help themselves.” In his inaugural speech President Kennedy said:

To those new states whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom– and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.

To those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required–not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

The lesson of the spreading uprisings for African and Middle Eastern thugtators is a simple one best paraphrased in Gandhi’s immortal words: “There have been thugtators and murderers who have foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger. But in the end, they found themselves inside the tiger’s belly. Think of it, always.”

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

Wife of Ethiopia’s tyrant on Dubai shopping spree

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Last Saturday, Azeb Mesfin, the wife of Ethiopia’s blood thirsty dictator Meles Zenawi, flew to Dubai on another shopping spree, according to Ethiopian Review sources.

Azeb arrived at the airport around 11 AM local time accompanied by a few close friends and bodyguards. She then proceeded directly to a small private plane.

Upon arrival in Dubai, she was greeted by Woyanne embassy employees who took her shopping. After she finished her shopping, the goods she purchased were handed over to Ethiopian Airlines employees to be flown to the U.K.

As instructed, the Ethiopian Airlines employees delivered all the items at a house owned by Azeb in London which is currently occupied by Semhal Meles, the dictator’s daughter.

On Monday morning, Azeb returned to Ethiopia.

Azeb Mesfin, who is called “the mother of corruption,” reportedly owns several homes in the U.S. and Europe. She is known for her shopping trips to European and Middle Eastern cities spending hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time.

The Voices of 2005

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

By Teodros Kiros

The dark days of November 2005

It was 5 years ago on “November 1, 2005, that the ruling Tigrean People Liberation Front (Woyanne) under the leadership of Meles Zenawi unleashed a new form of terror on the people of Ethiopia. The repercussion of the terror campaign is still felt throughout Ethiopia and around the world, wherever Ethiopians reside.

Following the May 5, 2005, elections, before the votes were counted, Meles declared victory and suspended his own constitution, stripping the people of Ethiopia the right to free speech, and other basic civil rights.

When Ethiopians peacefully protested the regime’s actions, Meles responded by giving a shoot-to-kill order to his death squads. Meles Zenawi’s forces gunned down hundreds of unarmed citizens, rounded up over 40,000 young Ethiopians and sent them to detention camps in remote parts of the country. Meles also ordered the shutting down of independent newspapers and the arrest of their staff. November 2005 was one of the darkest moments in Ethiopia’s history.
Ethiopians around the world remember the November 2005 massacre, the victims of the TPLF regime for the past 20 years by honoring the martyrs who paid the ultimate price and by also resolving to intensify the struggle for freedom and democracy against the anti-Ethiopia minority ethnic dictatorship of Meles Zenawi.

Birtukan Medeksa, the symbol of MAAT, characteristically modest, moderate and brilliant was one of the victims of the dark days of remember. She was among those who were imprisoned for challenging the outcomes of the November election and became a beacon of change. The regime imprisoned her twice and now Birtukan is on her way to America for psychological treatment. Most of the heroes of November are now residing in America and Europe and desperately trying to revive the sunny moments of 2005.

These were the dark days of Ethiopian politics. The darkness that hovered over the Ethiopian nation is now twilight. Silenced voices hover the cemeteries of the dead. Those who remain are profoundly dismayed. We must ask, however, where are the voices of the taxi drivers who protested.

Where are those five million Ethiopians who protested against the rigged elections, and were called hooligans, although they were classical protestors who challenged the regime and refused to be silenced by guns.

The voices of 2005 are very much like the Egyptian voices of 2011, but their heroism did not get the media attention that the Arab world is rightly getting.

History demands of us that we remember these dark days as we engage the prevailing regime to meet us on the streets of democracy for regime change.

We appeal to the regime in the name of love of country to step down peacefully and give the Ethiopian people new voices of deciding their destiny. We must trust the people to articulate dispassionately an Ethiopian voice and frame a vision of a participatory and deliberative democracy in which merit and service to country are the new criteria by which leadership is measured and distributed.

Our guiding principle ought to be the liberation of the people is the activity of the people and their activity can be organized by a genuine participatory and deliberative democracy.

A future article will examine the structure of a new political party, which will organize a disciplined people’s uprising.

The General Will of the Ethiopian People

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

By Teodros Kiros

Jean Jacques Rousseau, the extraordinary political philosopher, famously argued:

Sovereignty is purely and simply the exercise of the general will, and can in no circumstances therefore be alienated. And I affirm further that the sovereign is purely and simply a collective being, and can be represented therefore only by itself… (Social Contract, Ed Willmore Kendall, pp33-34)

Furthermore,

The general will is always well intentioned, i.e., that it always looks to the public good… It often happens that the will of everybody, because it is looking to private interest and is thus merely a sum of particular wills, is something quite different from the general will, which looks exclusively to the common interest. But if you shake out from those particular wills those that are most so and those that are least so, in so far as they destroy each other, the general will is the sum of the remaining differences (pp, 38-39)

When measured by this classical yardstick, the general will of the Ethiopian people, has been alienated, which is a violation of the indivisibility of the general as the exercise of the will of the people, and flagrant denial of the use of their public reason.

Eskinder Nega writes in the letter to the prime minister,

With the attainment of status and privilege dominating the thoughts of your subordinates, here is what you are hearing from them: a grateful populace enthralled by fast economic growth; political stability; a happy, hopeful youth; and content farmers. In other words, a nation on the verge of take-off, boldly united under Meles’ indispensable leadership.

Here is the gist of this letter, the real message from the grassroots: a nation outraged by high soaring inflation; a public scandalized by unprecedented corruption; rampant unemployment; political oppression; chronic shortage of land in rural areas. In sum, the nation is desperate for change.

You have essentially wasted the two decades with which you were blessed to affect change. In place of pragmatism dogma has prevailed, in place of transparency secrecy has taken root, in place of democracy oppression has intensified, and in place of merit patronage has been rewarded.
Ato Meles Zenawi: the people want—no, need—you to leave office. The people are closely watching events in North Africa as I write this letter. They are debating the implications for Africa, including Ethiopia. And they have been inspired by the heroism of ordinary Libyans. (Abudgida, March 4,2011)

For the past twenty years, and many years before that the right of the Ethiopian people to formulate their own wills have been systematically closed. Many decisions have been taken without their participation. Their voices have been silenced. Policies have been passed without their input.

That is why they are now silently observing the results of the revolutions in the Arab World, before they decide to take their cases to the ruling regimes doors and ask for a conversation at Meskel Square peacefully-as the fora in which they are going to demand for a regime change, as an exercise of sovereignty, the voice of public reason.

Mass protest hits Saudi Arabia

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

Saudi Arabia security forces have been deployed in huge numbers across the region. King Abdullah is also reported to have told neighbouring Bahrain that if they do not put down their own ongoing Shia revolt, his own forces will. In response to the massive mobilisation, protesters are planning to place women on the front ranks to discourage Saudi forces from firing on them. On Thursday, Saudi Shias population staged protests in two towns in Saudi Arabia’s oil-producing Eastern Province. – The Telegraph

The silence of Ethiopian People

Friday, March 4th, 2011

By Teodros Kiros

Silence is enigmatic. Silence speaks without speaking, hears without hearing, and sees without seeing. On the surface these enigmas are contradictory. How can silence hear without hearing, and see without seeing?

Those contradictions are the essence of silence.

We cannot see silence seeing, nor can we hear it, hearing.

Silence is silent because it has heard; silence is silent because it has seen. Sometime silence sees too much and hears too much; that is when silence remains silent.

Ever since the historic voices of the people were heard and seen in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Yemen and now Libya, the Ethiopian landscape is environed by silence. You must be wondering what the people are thinking, what the people must be saying. Keep on wondering, because have determined to remain silent, for they think that silent is golden, or they may be secretly listening to Fortuna, to that moody teacher of time.

There is wisdom in this silence, in this stillness of time, when the mind is at its most active condition, when the mind is thinking about when and how to act.

The Ethiopian people have seen without seeing, heard without hearing, but they remain steadfastly silent. Perhaps, they have seen and heard it all. Some are still mourning the deaths of their beloved first in the hands of the Derg and now in the hands of the existing Tyrannical/Oligarchy.

Do not let the silence of the people disturb you. Great actions are always preceded by long periods of reflection during the stillness of time, when time is borrowed by deliberation, by public reason.

British money to prop up Ethiopia’s dictatorship

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Britain has decided to give upwards of $250 million a year to shore up the Zenawi regime under the guise of helping the Ethiopian people.  There is ample evidence that much of foreign aid to the Zenawi regime is used to brutalize and keep Ethiopians poor.

Human Rights Watch has put it bluntly to donors who pretend to help the poor in Ethiopia.  “Ethiopia’s repressive government has put foreign aid to a sinister purpose, with officials in Ethiopia’s ruling party using their power to give or deny financial assistance to citizens based on their political affiliation. Perhaps even more shocking, international donors appear to expend more energy pretending these abuses don’t exist than trying to address them.”

After thirty years of famine assistance, Ethiopia still can’t feed its people.  So-called aid is used to enrich a tyrant and his coterie who make Ghaddafi look like a boy scout.  Yet donors continue to turn a blind  eye to the suffering of the average Ethiopian as long as the regime in power continues their bidding.  Is it too much to ask “Donor Do No Harm”?

Ethiopia is Top UK Aid Recipient

Peter Heinlein | Voice of America |

Britain has chosen Ethiopia to be its biggest recipient of development aid during the next four years. Several donor governments are ramping up assistance as Ethiopia sets ambitious goals for eradicating poverty and hunger.

Ethiopia will receive $2 billion in British development assistance in a four-year period.

Howard Taylor, head of the British aid program in Ethiopia, says the decision to boost assistance was based on need as well as evidence that the country has made major strides in recent years.

Ethiopia Prime Minister Meles Zenawi says his country’s economy has grown at a rate of 10 percent or more during each of the past seven years.  International aid agencies question the method of calculating the figure.  But Mr. Meles says that even double-digit growth would not be enough because Ethiopia’s population has increased faster than the country’s rate of economic growth.  The population now stands at around 80 million people.

Taylor says that although the accuracy of the government data can be debated, there is no doubt that Ethiopia’s economic growth is accelerating. “The precision of the data is disputed, and we have an ongoing conversation ourselves with partners, including the government itself, about some of that data.  But the headline issue, which nobody disputes, is that there has been from a low base tremendous development progress in Ethiopia over the last eight to ten years or so,” he said.

Taylor says recent studies show that Ethiopia receives far less aid than it needs – half as much in assistance per capita compared to other African countries.  He attributes that partly to donor concerns about the killing of anti-government demonstrators following Ethiopia’s disputed 2005 election.

“It’s a fact that overseas aid to Ethiopia did decrease after the 2005 election.  It has since increased.  I think the size of the population in Ethiopia is a key factor in why the per capita aid is low because Ethiopia is so populous and still growing so fast,” he said.

A poverty index released by Oxford University and the United Nations last year ranked Ethiopia as the world’s second poorest country, after Niger.  But the Ethiopian government’s latest five year economic plan includes the ambitious goal of achieving self-sufficiency in food.

Taylor says international donors are increasing their aid budgets, even as they struggle with their own economic troubles. “They’re certainly in the poorest 10 countries in the world.  But I think that’s an obvious argument for continued support and increasing what we do here.  We are trying to help the millions of very poor, very vulnerable Ethiopians improve their lives,” he said.

Britain and the European Union are among Ethiopia’s biggest aid donors.

The United States is the largest bilateral aid contributor to Ethiopia, averaging more than $1 billion in assistance per year since 2007.  During that time, U.S. aid has included more than $1.5 billion in food aid to prevent famine and alleviate chronic food shortages.

Interpol issues security alert against Gaddafi, 15 others

Friday, March 4th, 2011

INTERPOL has issued [see here] a global alert known as an Orange Notice against Colonel Al-Qadhafi and 15 other Libyan nationals, including members of his family and close associates, in a bid to warn member states of the danger posed by the movement of these individuals and their assets, to assist member states in their efforts to enforce sanctions under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1970 (2011), and to support INTERPOL’s assistance to the International Criminal Court investigation into alleged crimes against humanity in Libya.

With identifying information on each of the subjects on the UN travel ban and asset freeze list added to INTERPOL’s databases and circulated to frontline law enforcement officers at key areas such as border control points, INTERPOL’s alert will help ensure that law enforcement in each of the world police body’s 188 member countries will be able to take all necessary measures to protect civilians and to enforce travel bans against all 16 Libyan nationals, as well as the assets freeze targeting six of them. The individuals subject to the Orange Notice have been identified as being involved in or complicit in planning attacks, including aerial bombardments, on civilian populations.

INTERPOL’s alert will see its Command and Co-ordination Centre at its General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon liaise with its National Central Bureaus to pool and update all relevant intelligence to ensure that the Libyan nationals are not able to circumvent the travel ban or the assets freeze.

With the UN Security Council referring recent events in Libya to the International Criminal Court and calling on all states and concerned international organizations to co-operate fully with the Prosecutor and the Court in this matter, INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said: “INTERPOL’s constitution provides a clear mandate for the widest co-operation among law enforcement authorities in its member countries, within the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the prevention of serious human rights abuses.”

“As a first priority, we must work to protect the civilian populations of Libya and of any country into which these Libyan individuals may travel or attempt to move their assets,” said Secretary General Noble.

“If member states are expected to implement effectively the travel ban and asset freeze against the named individuals in order to prevent serious criminal conduct and abuse of human rights, they will need instant access to hard data. INTERPOL’s secure global communications system and databases will give them access to the information on which to act. The ICC Prosecutor will also need secure options for gathering and sharing information relevant to his investigation which INTERPOL can provide.

“Our co-operation with the UN Security Council on sanctions against individuals is strong and will get stronger. Once the relevant UN Committee for monitoring the implementation of these sanctions has had an opportunity to consider the matter, INTERPOL hopes to work with the UN to obtain the issuance of and ensure the reliability of INTERPOL – UN Security Council Special Notices for these individuals as we have done with the 1267 Committee,” added the head of INTERPOL.

INTERPOL’s co-operation with UN bodies has seen its global law enforcement network and system of international notices used by international criminal tribunals and the ICC to seek persons wanted for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Ethiopia’s tyrant incites religious clash; 5 churches burned

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Every time the ethnic apartheid junta in Ethiopia faces domestic crisis, it resorts to inciting ethnic and religious animosity and clashes among Ethiopians. During the 2005 election-related revolt, Meles and gang had tried to instigate hostility between Amhara and Oromo ethnic groups, incited some Muslims in Jimma and other southern Ethiopian towns to attack Christians and the following year, December 2006, invaded Somalia. Meles is repeating the same thing now as his regime faces an imminent popular uprising. International Christian Concern has reported today, and Ethiopian Review has been able to confirm the report independently from its sources in Ethiopia, that several churches have been burned in southern Ethiopia this week. Read the full report below:

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that today Muslims killed one Christian, burned down eight churches, a bible school, and 17 Christian homes in stepping up their attacks against Christians in Asendabo, Ethiopia.

Yesterday ICC reported that the attacks started on March 2 after Muslims accused Christians of desecrating the Qur’an. Today’s attacks bring the total number of razed churches to 13. More than 150 Christians are now without homes. The attacks have spread to the villages surrounding the town of Asendabo.

Christians are calling on the government of Ethiopia for protection. The Ethiopian government sent federal security forces but they couldn’t control ten thousand rioting Muslims from continuing their attacks.

Asendabo is a town located in Jimma Zone, Western Ethiopia. Western Ethiopia was the scene of violent attacks against Christians in 2006 when Muslims killed more than a dozen Christian and burned down several churches. The attacks forces thousands of Christians to leave their homes.

UK high court decides in Al Amoudi vs. Elias Kifle

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

U.K.’s High Court of Justice has issued an order in favor of Saudi billionaire Mohammed Al Amoudi in his libel lawsuit against Ethiopian Review editor Elias Kifle. (click here to read the order)

Bloomberg’s Kristen Schweizer wrote this about the case:

Saudi sheikh Al Amoudi, who owns several properties in the U.K., said a story in the U.S.-based Ethiopian Review website has subjected him to “serious libel centered around one of his young, unmarried daughters.”

“The Al Amoudi case is definitely libel tourism because Sheikh Al Amoudi lives for the most part outside the U.K. and is not a British citizen and the majority of readers of the Ethiopian Review are outside the U.K.,” Libel Reform’s Harris said. He said the draft bill is expected in late March.

Read the full text of Kristen’s article here.

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Arab League to impose no-fly zone over Libya

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

(Reuters) – The Arab League said on Wednesday it could impose a “no fly” zone on Libya in coordination with the African Union if fighting continued in the north African state, Secretary-General Amr Moussa said on Wednesday.

“The Arab League will not stand with its hands tied while the blood of the brotherly Libyan people is spilt,” Moussa said.

One of the steps it could take would be to enforce a “no fly” zone in cooperation with the African Union, he said.

The Arab League has suspended the membership of Muammar Gaddafi’s government in protest at its crackdown on protesters who have risen up

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Libya opposition forces repel Gaddafi counter attack

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

(AP) — Opposition forces pushed back an attack by the Libyan dictator’s forces trying to retake a key coastal oil installation in a topsy-turvy battle Wednesday in which shells splashed in the Mediterranean and a warplane bombed a beach where rebel fighters were charging over the dunes. At least five people were killed in the fighting.

The assault on the Brega oil port was the first major regime counteroffensive against the opposition-held eastern half of Libya, where the population backed by mutinous army units rose up and drove out Gaddafi’s rule over the past two weeks.

The Gaddafi forces initially re-captured the oil facilities Wednesday morning. But then a wave of opposition citizen militias drove them out again, cornering them in a nearby university campus where they battled for several hours until the approximately 200 Gadhafi loyalists fled, according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene.

Soon after sunrise Wednesday, a large force of Gaddafi loyalists in around 50 SUVS, some mounted with machine guns, descended on opposition-held Brega, 460 miles (740 kilometers) east of Tripoli along the Mediterranean. The force caught a small opposition contingent guarding the site by suprise and it fled, said Ahmed Dawas, an anti-Gaddafi fighter at a checkpoint outside the port.

The pro-Gaddafi forces seized the port, airstrip and the oil facilities where about 4,000 personnel work, as regime warplanes hit an ammunition depot on the outskirts of the nearby rebel-held city of Ajdabiya, witnesses said.

Midmorning, the opposition counter-attacked. Anti-Gaddafi fighters with automatic weapons sped out of Ajdabiya in pickup trucks, heading for Brega, 40 miles away (70 kilometers) away. Dawas said they retook the oil facilities and airstrip. Other witnesses reported regime forces were surrounded by rebels. The sound of screaming warplanes and the crackle of heavy gunfire could be heard as the witnesses spoke to The Associated Press by phone.

By the afternoon, the regime fighters fled the oil facilities and holed up in a nearby university campus, where they came under siege by anti-Gaddafi fighters, according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene.

Machine gun and automatic weapons fire rattled in the air, and shells lobbed from the campus went over the anti-Gaddafi side to splash in the Mediterranean.

At one point, a warplane from Gaddafi’s airforce swooped overhead and an explosion was heard. A witness said it struck an empty stretch of dunes near the battle, sending a plume of sand into the air but causing no injuries in an apparent attempt to intimidate the anti-Gaddafi side.

But opposition citizen militias poured into the battle, arriving from Ajdabiya and armed with assault rifles. They moved through the dunes along the beach against the campus next to a pristine blue-water Mediterranean beach. Those without guns picked up bottles and put wicks in them to make firebombs.

At least five opposition fighters were killed in the fighting, their bodies covered with sand thrown up by shells bursting in the dunes. Angry crowds gathered around them at Brega’s hospital, chanting, “The blood of martyrs will not go in vain.”

In the late afternoon, the pro-Gaddafi force fled the campus, and opposition fighters were seen combing through the university buildings. Automatic gunfire was still heard in the distance, but it appeared the regime troops were withdrawing. The campus grounds and dunes between it and the beach were littered with casings and shells.

In Ajdabiya, people geared up to defend the city, fearing the pro-Gaddafi forces would move on them next. At the gates of the city, hundreds of residents took up positions on the road from Brega, armed with Kalashnikovs and hunting rifles, along with a few rocket-propelled grenade launchers. They set up two large rocket launchers and an anti-aircraft gun in the road. But by the evening, there was no sign of attack there.

Brega and nearby Ajdabiya are the furthest west points in the large contiguous swath of eastern Libya extending all the way to the Egyptian border that fell into opposition hands in the uprising that began Feb. 15. Ajdabiya is about 90 miles (150 kilometers) from Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city and the nerve center of the opposition.

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International Criminal Court launches Libya investigation

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

The launching of an investigation by the Int’l Criminal Court (ICC) into charges of crimes against humanity in Libya is a hopeful sign that the international community will no longer tolerate dictators who brutalize their people. The ICC must be made aware that Ethiopia’s tyrant Meles Zenawi has been committing similar atrocities for the past 20 years.

(CNN) — The International Criminal Court is opening an investigation into the situation in Libya, the office of the court’s prosecutor said in a statement Wednesday.

“Following a preliminary examination of available information, the prosecutor has reached the conclusion that an investigation is warranted,” the statement said.

Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo plans to present Thursday “an overview of the alleged crimes committed in Libya” since February 15, when the protests in that country started, the statement said.

Libya is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, meaning the Libyan government does not recognize the court’s authority. But the United Nations Security Council referred the matter to the court, giving it “jurisdiction” over the situation in Libya, the statement said.

The court focuses on what it considers “the most serious crimes of concern to the international community.”

No possible charges or violations were listed in the statement.

(Reuters) — The Security Council on Saturday imposed sanctions on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his family, and referred Libya’s crackdown on anti-government demonstrators to the ICC.

Once the prosecutor has gathered sufficient evidence, the next step would be for the prosecutor to present his case to ICC judges, who will need to decide whether or not to issue arrest warrants.

Libya was one of a handful of states worldwide that refused to sign up to the ICC’s founding Rome statute, but because the case was referred by the Security Council, its nationals can be prosecuted as the ICC now has jurisdiction.

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Ethiopians Unite Against the Meles Dictatorship

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

The winds of change that is sweeping through the Middle East and North Africa cannot be stopped by Meles Zenawi and his thugs. As the African saying goes, “No one can stop the rain.”

No amount of wind bagging about economic growth, divide and rule tactics, and state terrorism will prevent 80 million Ethiopians from demanding their liberty, human dignity, democratic rights, and a better life in their own country.

The time has now come for us to say, “Enough is Enough!” Beka! Gaye! Bass! Yiakel!

Ethiopians shall unite, rise up and take control of their destiny. They stand as one — from the rural villages to the cities and the Diaspora — to remove Meles Zenawi’s Woyanne junta. 20 years of dictatorship is enough! 20 years of massacres… 20 years of corruption… 20 years of abuse of power is enough… 20 years of mismanagement, misrule is enough!.

Meles Zenawi has been a cause of death and destruction. During the last 20 years tens of thousands of people have perished. His security forces have committed crimes against humanity and Genocide in Gambela, the Ogaden region and elsewhere in the country. His abysmal human rights records are well documented by the Department of State, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Ethiopian Human Rights Council, the United States Congress and the European Parliament. There is an overwhelming prima-facie evidence for the United Nation’s Security Council to refer the matter to the International Criminal Court.

In 2010 he conducted a fake election, hired a lobby firm in the United States, and claimed that he won a whopping 99.6% of the seats in the rubber stamp parliament. His wicked macroeconomic policy has resulted in hyperinflation, massive devaluation, bank looting, rampant youth unemployment, spiraling cost of living, grinding poverty, and forced migration. His disastrous agricultural policy, despite the so-called big push by the West, is unable to feed the ever-growing population of the country. By the end of 2010 close to 10% of the population is living on food aid. Food aid has been used for political purposes.

Furthermore, Meles is selling the country’s virgin lands to foreigners by evicting poor peasants from their ancestral land, resulting in major land grab, environmental catastrophe and human displacement. Meles has created a landlocked country that is inhabited by more than 80 million people. That is why we, the Global Civic Movement for Change in Ethiopia have resolved that the 20 years of brutal rule of Meles Zenawi must end.

We call upon all Ethiopian civil society organizations, churches, mosques, schools and universities, professionals, business people, laborers and civil servants, the youth, men and women to rise up in nonviolent resistance as their brothers and sisters have done in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya to remove the Meles regime.

We call upon members of the Ethiopian Defense Forces, the police and security services to stand with the people and protect them from the Meles dictatorship. We make a special call to them to refrain from using deadly force against their brothers and sisters in the same way as their counterparts in Tunisia and Egypt have done.

We call upon all Ethiopian civic organizations world wide to engage in consultations with all democratic forces inside and outside of Ethiopia and provide moral and materiel assistance to bring about democratic change in Ethiopia.

BEKA! GAYE! BASS! YIAKEL!

For more information please contact ethiopians.say.beka@gmail.com

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Ethiopia’s tyrant Exporting Terror

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

On February 27, 2011, Jon Swaine, penned a piece in the Telegraph entitled, ‘“Libya: African mercenaries ‘immune from prosecution for war crimes.’” As the title indicates, Swaine seems to be concerned about the UN Security Council’s lack of specific call for inquiry into the actions of the “mercenaries” from Algeria, Ethiopia, Tunisia and other African countries. Ethiopian Review strongly believes that the participating African regimes, rather than the soldiers, that must face international justice for crime against humanity in Libya.

It is incumbent upon the United Nations Security Council to broaden its call for investigation by including the African regimes that are at the center in the ongoing carnage in Libya against defenseless civilians.

In the case of Ethiopia, the vast majority of soldiers join the army for economic reasons. Currently the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) rules Ethiopia under the disguise of the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), headed by dictator Meles Zenawi. It is a group that runs Ethiopia as its fiefdom, more like the Moammar Gadhafi and his cohorts. The Ethiopian army and security forces take orders directly from Meles Zenawi.

In violation of the international law, Zenawi’s regime ordered the deployment of soldiers to Libya to take part in the assault against civilians — the soldiers are simply carrying out a mission.

It is vital for the United Nations Security Council to ask the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Zenawi’s regime’s participation in war crimes in Libya. In fact, once ICC begins its inquiry into this matter, it can expand its case to include other war crimes that had been committed by Meles Zenawi’s regime in Somalia between 2006 and 2009.

We firmly believe that the United Nations Security Council must set a precedent to demonstrate its commitment to have zero tolerance for regimes that are exporting terror globally. We hope for a swift action.

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Bereket and Seif El Gaddafi – birds of a feather

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

By Yilma Bekele

“When a leader’s only means of staying in power is to use mass violence against his own people, he has lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what is right for his country by leaving now,” said President Obama. He was not talking about Meles Zenawi. President Obama was discussing Libya’s beleaguered dictator Gaddafi.

We all know Gaddafi has been a ruthless tyrant for quiet a while. He has been abusing his people, disturbing the peace in his neighborhood and far and is the poster child for a dysfunctional and failed leadership model. The last few days all his enablers have been coming out of the woodworks to condemn his style and demand his ouster.

Some will say too little too late. I know it sort of fishy when the British, the French and the Americans all of a sudden stand in solidarity with the Libyan people. Where were you the last forty years is a legitimate question? On the other hand it is perfectly understandable if the Libyan people look at their new friends with a little bit of suspicion and put their guards up. That is the way it should be. Hopefully the Libyan, Egyptian and Tunisian people will keep their new friends at arms length until they sort out their problems their own way.

For us Ethiopians the upheaval in our neighborhood has been a godsend event. We are overloaded with lessons and information. We are thrilled thinking of the possibilities, we are happy of the fact that freedom is at hand and delirious with the knowledge our Woyane leaders are scurrying around to postpone the inevitable. The fact that junta leader Meles is holed up in his palace pouring over discarded manuals is priceless.

As we are learning from Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and Libya, remember the tyrant and his associates are figuring how to reverse engineer the gains of the last few weeks. It is not easy but they have no choice. Libya is showing us that criminals fight to the last. How come they don’t realize it is over is a good question. The short answer is this state of mind called ‘delusion’.

This sickness is best manifested by no other than our Communication Minister Berket Simon and Gaddafi’s son Saif El Islam. These two characters will join that special place currently occupied by Mohamed Saeed al Sahaf AKA ‘Baghdad Bob’ the information Minster of dear old departed Saddam Hussein who is famous for declaring ‘ There is no presence of American infidels in the city of Baghdad’ while you can see the smoke rising in the background from US bombing. Gentlemen, that is a perfect example of being delusional and an absolute detachment from reality.

Saif El Islam decided to go on Libyan TV actually there is no such thing as Libyan TV. It should be renamed Gaddafi family TV. He spoke for ½ hr. Saif was trying to impress his listeners how educated he is by declaring that he will speak without prepared notes and from his heart. Well it was a big mistake. The playboy prince only proved that he couldn’t follow a train of thought nor make sense of his understanding of events as it unfolds all around him. His half hour presentation was gibberish at most and further proof that the Gaddafi family is in dire need of psychiatric aid. You can follow the link at the end this article on youtube and cry. Here is Saif without further ado.

Dear brothers there is a plot against Libya, the security forces will show this on TV we have arrested tens of people unfortunately from our Arab brethren and of course from the African employees in Libya. …Millions of pounds was spent on these people …proof is in Benghazi and baida you could see Arabs and Africans they were holding arms. All have their own plots ….our Arab brothers who are sitting down in their comfort chairs drinking coffee and helping us Libyans to burn and destroy our country. …then the story is very dangerous, it is bigger than the Libyans and the small young people who are in the streets trying to imitate what happened in Tunisia and Egypt and I would like to tell you Libya is not Egypt and Tunisia don’t be over enthusiastic and don’t be affected by this In Libya the situation is different Libya if any separation happen it will break it up.. Libya it is not like Egypt it consists of tribes and clans is not societies with party’s and so on it is clans everyone knows their area every ones knows their duty and obligations and then this will cause civil war back to the civil war of ’36. Libya is not Tunisia and Egypt … Libya has got oil which has united the whole of Libya….all Libyans live on it is not in the east or the west it is in the middle all 5 million live on it if we separate who is going to feed us who is going to run these oil resources who have the ability to run this and manage it how we going to divide this between us who is going to spend on our children and our food drink hospitals schools do you expect if we divide the country this is defiantly a sedation we will agree on how to divide the petrol and oil for two three months but you are wrong this will be a burning issue this will be the cause for fights and trial and tribulations between all the tribes because it is in the middle of Libya and the south and it is in the desert and it is not inhabited …..Benghazi have no oil Barka have no oil how you going to eat brothers what could happen to Libya is very dangerous…therefore we are now facing a huge test a difficult test I have to be honest with you we are all armed even the thugs and those who are unemployed they have guns …everyone is armed therefore we can have forty years of civil war and Libya will have little education no health no food no future in addition now we have companies in Libya there are 200 billion worth of projects this will go astray no one would come to Libya and do any business or investment in Libya 55 thousand housing units hospitals would not be working ….remember what I am saying very well and therefore today we are at crossroads and before a historic decision to make either we agree today we say wee Libyans and this is our country we want to reform we want freedom and we want democracy and we want real reforms and and this what we have originally agreed on now we demand as final decision everyone gives up all the five millions have arms we are tribes and clans and if we have all have arms then we will not be crying over 84 death we will be crying over thousands of death there would be rivers of blood all over Libya you will be emigrating from Libya because the oil will stop being pumped and foreigners will leave Libya and the oil companies will leave Libya there will be no money …today I will ask you for the last time before we go intoto the arms and all of us as Libyans if it goes out of control like some people want do this before we resort in to arms and every Libyan would have to carry arms in order to defend himself then blood will flow tomorrow lets go with an imitative historic tomorrow within 48 hrs within 3 days within 6 hrs just to have a general peoples assembly with one clear agenda that is to issue a number laws that everyone agrees on that is the law of information to put law and order so that we open everything for freedom and also all the penal system that was silly and we begin national dialogue and national debate we all agree on even the leader in his last meeting with the journalists he said ..we have to lay down constitution for the country…..call it what you call it … of course there have been steps to increase wages and also to give more loans to youth …any way we have discovered many cells many Arabs people use drugs they use Egyptians Tunisians everything will come up to the whole world with documents anyway Libyans who live in London, who live in New York and Manchester and in Germany and in Canada they are inciting you and asking you to turn against us they live in there they have health care and your kids come here and die outside the army barracks when they go to get ammunition they are happy and comfortable in Europe together with their children and they are inciting us so that you die and destroy our country why is that so they come here and run us and rule us and rule Libya …they are turning us into Iraq ..Muammar Gaddafi is not General Abedine or Mubarak he is not a classical or traditional President.

So you think it is long and rambling nonsense. I agree, I sat thru ½ hr of trash talk and have to transcribe and cut it down to its essence. Saif did us a favor. He was able to put all of his father’s argument why he should be declared leader for life. We Ethiopians are familiar with all his important talking points. We have heard it on TPLF/Woyane TV that some of us repeat it word for word.

I did not have to work hard. Our own Berket came to the rescue. Dear old communication-miscommunication Minster put in his two cents worth of stupid speak to tell us why he is safe. This is what the criminal has to say regarding his take on the uprising in the neighborhood:

There is no chance for a public uprising in Ethiopia as the predominately factor for such uprising in Egypt and Tunisia were middle income states that no longer could drive through economic growth, and failed to provide enough jobs and equitable wealth distribution creating desperation among the public hardly resembles Ethiopia …there [where popular revolts happen] are desperate people, people who have nowhere to turn to. Our people are not desperate, here we have a public that has seen hope, a public that enjoys a glimmer of hope more than ever due to the recent years’ economic growth and transformation,”

This is just the beginning. As the temperature rises Woyane enablers will come up with zillions of arguments the reasons why Ato Meles should lead us and why we worthless subjects are lucky to have such an intelligent, wise and world respected leader at the helm to steer the ship called Ethiopia.

All we got to do is substitute Libya with Ethiopia and you can see the meetings of minds between these dysfunctional individuals. They both think without their leadership the country will fall apart. Their removal will cause disintegration, economic collapse and foreign intervention. The problem is not caused due to their failed polices but due to the phantom opposition be it local or the Diaspora. You can see Seif’s rant against the Diaspora and go to Walta, Aiga or Ethiopian (Woyane) TV and you see the same train of thought.

There are certain things we noticed the last few months. God it looks like months but the dictators are tumbling down weekly. They never saw it coming is a fact of life. Ben Ali never dreamt that thirty years of bullying would be undone in just thirty days. Mubarak did not see it coming. Gaddafi was ranting against Tunisians and never believed his days are numbered. Considering that he is claiming the love of his people today, I guess he is still in the dark while sitting in his bunker. On top of it all Israeli intelligence was certain their puppy Mubarak was safe and the CIA was assuring decision makers that Mubarak was untouchable. So much for the Mossad and the CIA, I guess their PR is mightier than their analysts.

As you can see Tunisia did not experience civil war, Egypt did not disintegrate and Libyans do not seem to be killing each other but are collectively encircling the ‘leader’ and his henchmen. This is a lesson to Woyane enablers. It is not going to be different in Ethiopia. We have lived together for so long, intermarried, worshiped that no amount of propaganda and self serving wish will turn us against each other. It did not happened before when TPLF was fanning the flame of hate and shouting everybody to his Kilil concept. It did not happen when Meles and company pushed out our Eritrean citizens from their place of birth and wanted the rest of us to celebrate with them. You know what we did, our people cried following the buses taking their brothers sisters away from their home. We are gentle, loving people. Hate have no place in our Ethiopia. Woyane’s are planters of hate. The only thing they will harvest is this colossal tsunami of rage directed at the thousand or less Woyane dogs.

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The interim Libyan gov't resumes oil exports

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

(The Telegraph) — According to the European Union, 80 per cent of Libya’s oilfields are now under the control of the opposition forces.

For the first time in over a week, oil was shipped from the eastern port city of Tobruk, deep in territory that has fallen to a civilian-led insurrection that has styled itself the Free Libya movement.
A tanker carrying 700,000 barrels of crude oil sailed for China, with a second bound for Italy due to leave in the next 48 hours.

Such quantities may be trifling when compared the vast amount of oil in the world’s waterways at any one time, but the resumption of Libyan exports has already done much to soothe international concern.

Oil prices have soared since the turmoil in Libya began nearly a fortnight ago, raising fears of a major setback to the faltering global economic recovery, but the cost of a barrel of Brent crude fell for the first time in days in response to the news.

That any oil is leaving Libya is little short of miraculous.

Officials involved in setting up a Libyan National Council, a de facto provisional government headquartered in the second city of Benghazi, conceded that oil production had fallen by as much as 50 per cent.

But they said they were determined to fulfil Libya’s international obligations, while ensuring that domestic demand – vital for the success of the revolt – is also met.

“The main reason to keep the oil flowing is that the crisis will be much worse, both for the international community and for us if we don’t,” said Idris al-Sharif, an official affiliated with the new authority in eastern Libya said.

Further proving the magnitude of the task ahead of the rebels, elements of the Libyan air force still loyal to Col Gaddafi bombed Ajdabiya, 100 miles south of Benghazi, striking ammunition dumps in the town.

The job of ensuring continued production and exportation in “Free Libya” has fallen to the state owned Arabian Gulf Oil Company, which ousted its pro-Gaddafi director Abdulwaris Sa’ad and now answers to the rebel leadership.

But all proceeds from oil exportation still go to the main National Oil Company in Tripoli, long the source of much of Col Gaddafi’s revenues.

Much of the oil is locked in long-term contracts, but officials in Benghazi said they hoped that they hoped to begin discussions with the international community on how to divert revenues from Tripoli to Benghazi once the national council is fully operational.

“There are various options we can look at, including the creation of escrow accounts to halt the flow of money to the regime,” one said.

In a sign that idealism has given way to realism, officials said they had abandoned plans to punish Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian leader, for his perceived support of Col Gaddafi by withholding oil. Italy depends on Libya for a quarter of its oil imports.

With Libya dependent on Italian refining technology, essential for its domestic market, any decision to exclude Italy could hurt the revolutionary cause.

Salam al Mismam, an executive at the Tobruk oil refinery, confirmed that work had resumed on ensuring that supplies to Italy were despatched as quickly as possible.

Ethiopia's ruling party wins 100% in off-term elections

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Off-term elections were held in Ethiopia over the weekend although they attracted little attention. The elections were a waste of resources since 99.9 percent of the candidates and the voters are members of the ruling party Woyanne. Out of the 10,000 candidates, only 2 were non-Woyanne members, and less than 10 percent of voters went out to vote. More details in the Amharic section here.

The Price of Liberty and Dignity

Monday, February 28th, 2011

By Teodros Kiros

The defiant citizens of Libya fought against roaring tanks, piercing guns, and fast helicopters intent on destroying the resilient human bodies to silence, to perpetual acquiescence in the culture of tyranny.

Old men and women, boys and girls, even babies, were not spared from the violence of tyranny. A shameless dictator and his family boasted that they were going to fight to the last bullet and that imperialism was going to be taught a lesson. It is not imperialism, which is being taught a lesson, it is dictatorship, which is being shamed, and dictators everywhere are watching their fate, if they do not heed to the people’s demand.

When you anger the people and when Fortuna summons to act, then the people use Virtu and fight in defense of liberty and dignity.

The Libyan people were not going to take any of it. They rose to the barbarism of tyranny and are fighting heroically. The people in combat continue to demonstrate extraordinary military coordination and firepower as they resist the forces of evil. They are resisting tanks, missiles, with anti-aircraft guns, and even dared to display an array of tanks.

The people are repeatedly repulsing the Kaddafi’s Forces outside Tripoli, as they are defending their dignities and respecting their existential rights to live in peace and harmony.

In the heat of a civil war, which began peacefully as a march of liberty, the people quickly learned that dictatorships do not listen to the summons of reason, and they quickly used Virtu, that Machiavellian technique of skillful resistance and took on the challenge, and had to respond to force with counter force, and the result is a stunning military coordination of the streets of democracy.

The stream of the quest for liberty also engulfs the Arab world and soon the African world. The Libyan challenge is not over yet, and there are many days and nights awaiting the combatants on the streets of democracy, and thousands more are going to be sacrificed in defense of liberty, and so is the price of liberty.

Liberty and dignity unlike many other existential rights are priceless and humans are destined to die for their sakes, and this lesson is one of the constants in human history. We always hope that tyranny learns from history and gives up power without bloodshed, which reasonable persons wish, but tyranny never does, and liberty and dignity are forced to resist it.

Thugtatorship: The Highest Stage of African Dictatorship

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Alemayehu G. Mariam

Thugogracy in Africa

If democracy is government of the people, by the people and for the people, a thugogracy is a government of thieves, for thieves, by thieves. Simply stated, a thugtatorship is rule by a gang of thieves and robbers (thugs) in designer suits. It is becoming crystal clear that much of Africa today is a thugogracy privately managed and operated for the exclusive benefit of bloodthirsty thugtators.

In a thugtatorship, the purpose of seizing and clinging to political power is solely to accumulate personal wealth for the ruling class by stealing public funds and depriving the broader population scarce resources necessary for basic survival. The English word “thug” comes from the Hindi word “thag” which means “con man”. In India “Thugees”, well-organized criminal gangs, robbed and murdered unsuspecting travelers over a century ago. Africa’s “thugees” today mug, rob, pillage, plunder and rape unsuspecting whole nations and peoples and secrete away their billions in stolen loot in European and American banks.

Today, we see the incredibly extreme lengths Libyan thugtator Muammar Gaddafi is willing to go to preserve his thugocratic empire floating on billions of stolen oil dollars hidden in foreign bank accounts and corporate property holdings. The British Government recently announced that it expects to seize “around £20 billion in liquid assets of the Libyan regime, mostly in London.” The Swiss Government has similarly issued an order for the immediate freeze of assets belonging to Gadhafi and his entourage. The Swiss central bank announced that it will freeze Gaddafi’s 613 million Swiss francs (USD$658 million), with an additional 205 million francs (USD$220 million) in paper or fiduciary operations. In 2008, before a diplomatic incident involving the arrest of one of Gaddafi’s sons for assault in Switzerland, Gadhafi’s Swiss holdings amounted to 5.7 billion in cash and 812 million francs in paper and fiduciary operations. In 2006, the Libyan Sovereign Wealth Fund had investments of $70 billion. The U.S. closed its Embassy in Triopli and slapped a freeze on all Libyan assets described as “substantial.”

To protect his empire of corruption, Gadhafi has ordered his air force to bomb and strafe unarmed civilian demonstrators demanding an end to his 42-year rule. His son Saif al-Islam threatened to dismember the country and plunge it into a civil war that will last for 30 or 40 years. In a televised speech, the young thug promised a bloodbath: “We will fight to the last minute, until the last bullet. I will fight until the last drop of my blood.” The buffoonish al-Islam contemptuously reassured the world: “Plan A is to live and die in Libya. Plan B is to live and die in Libya. Plan C is to live and die in Libya.” For someone who has no official role in government, it was an astonishing statement to make.

Gadhafi himself has vowed to fight on and die “like a martyr” in the service of his thugogracy. He urged his supporters in Green Square to fight back and “defend the nation.” He exhorted, “Retaliate against them, retaliate against them… Dance, sing and prepare. Prepare to defend Libya, to defend the oil, dignity and independence.” Gadhafi promised: “At the suitable time, we will open the arms depot so all Libyans and tribes become armed, so that Libya becomes red with fire.” It is not enough for Gadhafi and his thugs to have bled the Libyan people dry for 42 years, they now want to burn down the whole country to ashes. Apres moi, le deluge! (After me, the flood!)

The Ivory Coast is on the verge of civil war, according to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. In December 2010, Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down after he was decisively defeated in the presidential election. His own Election Commission said his opponent Alassane Ouattara won the election by a nine-point margin. The African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the United Nations, the United States, the European Union all said Ouattara is the winner. Gbagbo has turned a deaf ear and is preparing to plunge the Ivory Coast into civil war to protect his empire of corruption. In 2000, Gbagbo imposed a curfew and a state of emergency and ordered security forces to shoot and kill any demonstrators in the streets: “Police, gendarmes and soldiers from all branches of the armed forces are ordered to use all means throughout the country to oppose troublemakers.” Like Gaddafi’s mercenaries today, Gbagbo’s troops back then went on a killing and beating rampage. The European Union, the Swiss and United States Governments have frozen Gbagbo’s assets in their countries.

In May 2010, Meles Zenawi said he won the parliamentary election by 99.6 percent. The European Union Election Observer Team said the election “lacked a level playing field” and “failed to meet international standards”, a well-known code phrase for a “stolen election”. In its 2005 report, the Observer Team said exactly the same thing. Zenawi’s EPDRF party pretty much owns the Ethiopian economy. “According to the World Bank, roughly half of the rest of the national economy is accounted for by companies held by an EPRDF-affiliated business group called the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT). EFFORT’s freight transport, construction, pharmaceutical, and cement firms receive lucrative foreign aid contracts and highly favorable terms on loans from government banks.” The regime’s own anti-corruption agency reported in 2008 that “USD$16 million dollars” worth of gold bars simply walked out of the bank in broad daylight. A couple of weeks ago, in an incredible display of arrogance and total lack of accountability, Zenawi publicly stated that 10,000 tons of coffee earmarked for exports had simply vanished from the warehouses. He called a meeting of commodities traders and in a videotaped statement told them he will forgive them because “we all have our hands in the disappearance of the coffee”. He warned them that if anyone should steal coffee in the future, he would “cut off their hands”.

In 2005, Zenawi demonstrated the extremes he will go to protect his empire of corruption. Zenawi’s own Inquiry Commission documented that troops under Zenawi’s direct command and control mowed down 193 documented unarmed protesters in the streets and severely wounded nearly 800. Another 30,000 suspected opponents were jailed. In a meeting with high level U.S. officials in advance of the May 2010 election, Zenawi told them in plain words what he will do to his opposition if they try to “discredit the election”: “If opposition groups resort to violence in an attempt to discredit the election, we will crush them with our full force; they will all vegetate like Birtukan (Midekssa) in jail forever.” If Zenawi will “crush” those who “attempt to discredit an election”, it does not leave much to the imagination to figure out what he will do when the people ask him peacefully to leave power.

In April 2010, Omar al-Bashir of the Sudan claimed victory by winning nearly 70 percent of the vote. The EU EOM declared the “deficiencies in the legal and electoral framework in the campaign environment led the overall process to fall short of a number of international standards for genuine democratic elections.” Another election stolen in broad daylight; but that is not all Bashir has stolen. According to a Wikileaks cablegram, “International Criminal Court [ICC] Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told [U.S.] Ambassadors Rice and Wolff on March 20 [2009] that [Ocampo] would put the figure of Sudanese President Bashir’s stash of money at possibly $9 billion.” After the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, the first warrant of its kind for a sitting head of state, a sneering Bashir flipped his middle finger at the ICC: “They will issue their decision tomorrow, and we are telling them to immerse it in water and drink it“, a common Arabic insult which is the equivalent of “they can shove it up their _ _ _.” Bashir recently he said he will not run for the presidency again. (It is not clear if had decided not to run because he wants to enjoy his stolen billions or because he expects to put on the jail jumpsuit of the ICC.)

In February 2010, a group of soldiers in Niger calling itself the “Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy” stormed Niger’s presidential palace and snatched president Mamadou Tandja and his ministers. In 2009, Tandja had dissolved the National Assembly and set up a “Constitutional Court” to pave the way for him to become president-for-life. Niger’s state auditor reported that “at least 64 billion CFA francs [USD$128-million] were stolen from Niger’s state coffers under the government of former president Mamadou Tandja.” Tandja is sitting in jail in southwestern Niger.

In March 2008, Robert Mugabe declared victory in the presidential election after waging a campaign of violence and intimidation on his opponent Morgan Tsvangirai and his supporters. In 2003, Mugabe boasted, “I am still the Hitler of the time. This Hitler has only one objective: justice for his people, sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his people and their rights over their resources. If that is Hitler, then let me be Hitler tenfold. Ten times, that is what we stand for.” No one would disagree with Mugabe’s self-description. In 2010, Mugabe announced his plan to sell “about $1.7 billion of diamonds in storage” (probably rejects of his diamond-crazed wife Grace). According to a Wikileaks cablegram, “a small group of high-ranking Zimbabwean officials (including Grace Mugabe) have been extracting tremendous diamond profits.” Mugabe is so greedy that he stole outright “£4.5 million from [aid] funds meant to help millions of seriously ill people.”

In December 2007, Mwai Kibaki declared himself winner of the presidential election. In 2002, Kibaki, criticizing his predecessor Daniel Arap Moi regime, urged the people to “Remain calm, even when intimidated or provoked by those who are desperately determined to rig the elections and plunge the country into civil war.” In 2007, Kibaki and his thugees unleashed such violence against the civilian population that 1500 Kenyans were killed and some 600 hundred thousand displaced, almost plunging Kenya into civil war. The Kroll Report revealed that Moi stole billions of dollars using a “web of shell companies, secret trusts and frontmen” and secreted the loot in 30 countries. Kibaki stonewalled further action on the report, including prosecution of Moi.

The story of corruption, theft, embezzlement and brazen transfer of the national wealth of African peoples to European and African banks and corporate institutions is repeated elsewhere in the continent. Ex-Nigerian President Sani Abacha, who was judicially determined to be a member of a criminal organization by a Swiss court, stole $500 million. Ben Ali of Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt also have their stolen assets in the hundreds of millions of dollars frozen in Switzerland and elsewhere. Other African thugtators who have robbed their people blind (and pretty much have gotten away with it) include Nigeria’s Ibrahim Babangida, Guniea’s Lansana Conte, Togo’s Gnassingbe Eyadema, Gabon’s Omar Bongo, Equatorial Guniea’s Obiang Nguema, Burkina Faso’s Blaise Campore and Congo’s (Brazaville) Denis Sassou Nguesso, among others.

Godfathers and African Thugogracies

In previous commentaries, I have argued that the business of African governments is corruption. African thugtators cling to power to operate sophisticated criminal business enterprises to loot their national treasuries and resources. These African “leaders” are actually “godfathers” or heads of criminal families. Just like any organized criminal enterprise, African thugtators use their party apparatuses, bureaucracies, military and police forces to maintain and perpetuate their corrupt financial empires.

When the U.S. first announced its “kleptocracy asset recovery program” to the world in July 2010, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder delivered the message, not at some international anti-corruption forum, but at the African Union Summit in Kampala, Uganda. Holder told the gathered African thugtators:

Today, I’m pleased to announce that the U.S. Department of Justice is launching a new Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative aimed at combating large-scale foreign official corruption and recovering public funds for their intended – and proper – use: for the people of our nations. We’re assembling a team of prosecutors who will focus exclusively on this work and build upon efforts already underway to deter corruption, hold offenders accountable, and protect public resources.

Holder’s announcement was nothing short of breathtaking. It was as though he was addressing the national convention of the “Commissione” of all the Mafia families from New York City, Chicago, Detroit, Miami, Atlantic City, Las Vegas, St. Louis, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. In Kampala, Holder was talking directly to the African equivalents of the Godfathers of the Bonnano, Columbo, Gambino, Genovese and Lucchese crime families in one place. Absolutely surreal!

The Political Economy of Thugtatorships

Thugtatorships in Africa thrive in the political economy of kleptocracy. Widespread corruption permeates every corner of society. Oil revenues, diamonds, gold bars, coffee and other commodities and foreign aid are stolen outright and pocketed by the thugtators and their army of thugocrats. Public funds are embezzled and misused and state property misappropriated and converted to private use. Publicly-owned assets are virtually given away to supporters in “privatization programs” or secretly held in illegal transactions. Bank loans are given out to front enterprises owned secretly by the thugtators or their supporters without sufficient or proper collateral. Businessmen must pay huge bribes or kickbacks to participate in public contracting and procurement. Those involved in the import/export business are victimized in shakedowns by thugocrats. The judiciary is thoroughly corrupted through political interference and manipulation.
Armageddon: Thugtators’ Nuclear Option

One of the common tricks used by thugtators to cling to power is to terrorize the people with warnings of an impending Armageddon. They say that if they are removed from power, even after 42 years, the sky will fall and the earth will open up and swallow the people. Thugtators sow fear, uncertainty and doubt in the population and use misinformation and disinformation to psychologically defeat, disorient and neutralize the people. Gaddafi thuggish son warned Libya will “spiral into civil war for the next 30 to 40 years and the country’s infrastructure ruined” without the Gadhafi dynasty. He said Libya will be awash in “rivers of blood”. Gadhafi urged his supporters: “This is an opposition movement, a separatist movement which threatens the unity of Libya. We will take up arms… we will fight to the last bullet. We will destroy seditious elements. If everybody is armed, it is civil war, we will kill each other.”

Zenawi has been talking about “genocide” for years. The 2005 European Union Election Observer Mission in its Final Mission Report strongly chastised Zenawi and his associates for morbid genocide rhetoric:

The end of the campaign became more heated, with parties accusing each other of numerous violations of campaign rules. Campaign rhetoric became insulting. The most extreme example of this came from the Deputy Prime Minister, Addisu Legesse, who, in a public debate on 15 April, compared the opposition parties with the Interhamwe militia, which perpetrated the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The Prime Minister made the same comparison on 5 May in relation to the CUD [Coalition for Unity and Democracy]. The EPRDF [Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front] made the same associations during its free slots on radio and TV… Such rhetoric is unacceptable in a democratic election.

Zenawi “is quick to talk up threats to his country, whether from malcontents in the army or disgruntled ethnic groups among Ethiopia’s mosaic of peoples. Radical Oromos, a southern group that makes up about a third of Ethiopia’s people, often fall under suspicion.” Last year, he compared Voice of America radio broadcasts to Ethiopia with broadcasts of Radio Mille Collines which directed the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.

If Africa’s thugtators plan to use the “nuclear option” and bring Armageddon on their societies, they would be wise to know who is destined to win the final battle between good and evil. Gadhafi’s fate now dangles between what he wants to do to bring this unspeakable tragedy to a swift conclusion, the will of the Libyan people once they vanquish his mercenaries and the International Criminal Court to whom the U.N. Security Council has voted unanimously to refer Moammar Gadhafi and members of his government in Libya for investigation and prosecution for crimes against humanity and war crimes. Like al-Bashir of the Sudan, Gadhafi and members of his thugocratic empire will not escape the long arms of justice. The days of massacring unarmed demonstrators, strafing and bombing civilians and detention of innocent people by the tens of thousands with impunity are gone. Justice may be delayed but when the people open the floodgates of freedom, “justice (not blood) will run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream” and wash out the wreckage of thugtatorship into the sea.

Thugtators and Their Business Partners in Africorruption, Inc.

Africa’s thugtatorships have longstanding and profitable partnerships with the West. Through aid and trade, the West has enabled these thugocracies to flourish in Africa and repress Africans. To cover up their hypocrisy and hoodwink the people, the West is now lined up to “freeze” the assets of the thugtators. It is a drama they have perfected since the early days of African independence. The fact of the matter is that the West is interested only in “stability” in Africa. That simply means, in any African country, they want a “guy they can do business with.” The business they want to do in Africa is the oil business, the (blood) diamond business, the arms sales business, the coffee and cocoa export business, the tourism business, the luxury goods export business and the war on terrorism business. They are not interested in the African peoples’ business, the human rights business, the rule of law business, the accountability and transparency business and the fair and free elections business.

Today, the West is witnessing a special kind of revolution it has never seen: A youth-led popular nonviolent revolution against thugtatorships in Africa and the Middle East. Neither the West nor the thugtators know what to do with this kind of revolution or the revolutionaries leading it. President Obama said, “History will end up recording that at every juncture in the situation in Egypt, that we were on the right side of history.” Well, what is good for Egypt is good enough for Ethiopia, Libya, Tunisia, the Sudan, Algeria, Kenya, Bahrain, Djbouti, Somalia…, and Zimbabwe. The decisive question in world history today is: Are we on the right side of history with the victims of oppression, or are we on the wrong side with thugtators destined to the dustbin of history?

Power to Youths in Africa and the Middle East!

Tigray is part of the Ethiopian pro-democracy movement!

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Ethiopians say enough to Meles ZenawiThe wind of change that is sweeping the Middle East and North Africa has reached at the doorsteps of Ethiopia. Ethiopians through out the country and in the diaspora have resolved to embrace the change, and through a sustained and determined peaceful struggle, will remove Meles Zenawi’s dictatorship that has been misruling Ethiopia for the past 20 years. Hence, the moment of truth has come to every Ethiopian.

The Meles regime is once again preparing to escape change by further dividing the Tigregna speaking community from the rest of Ethiopians. It is clear to all Ethiopians that Meles Zenawi’s Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) has escalated ethnic tensions during the last 20 years. The purpose of this statement therefore is to alert all Ethiopians to be extra vigilant in separating agents of the Meles regime from the people of Tigray who are part and parcel of the Ethiopian pro-democracy movement.

Since Meles Zenawi assumed power in 1991, lacking any semblance of legitimacy, he has ruled Ethiopia with an iron fist. Without the consent of the people, it has divided the country along ethnic lines, and encouraged ethnic based politics in order to fragment and weaken Ethiopia.

Life is becoming unbearable for millions of Ethiopians who are being deprived of their lands, of their resources and of their rights. Small businesses that are not affiliated with TPLF-linked businesses are closing down in large number. While the few privileged ruling party members wallows in luxury, millions of Ethiopians live in abject poverty. To add insult to injury, the Meles regime is issuing thousands of commercial farm licenses to foreign investors from India, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and China. Today, hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians are either being evicted from their ancestral lands or turned into day laborers to foreign government-backed mega investors. Meles promotes neo-colonialism in a country that successfully defeated colonial invaders.

Since the Meles regime is looting and plundering Ethiopia in the name of Tigray, it is incumbent upon our Tigrean brothers and sisters to tell the regime: “Not in Our Name.” Ethiopians are longing for their Tigrean sisters and brothers to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the fight against the Meles regime. Actions are needed now before it is too late.

The choice is clear. It is either to stand on the side of the Meles regime that traces its orgin to Tigray, or to be part of the popular pro-democracy movement

BEKA! Yaekelena!

(The above statement is released by Worldwide Ethiopian Civic Action Group, a gathering of activists who are working to bring about the end of dictatorship in Ethiopia. For more information: ethiopians.say.beka@gmail.com)

Feb. 28, 2011

Interim government being formed in Libya

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

(Al Jazeera) — Former Libyan justice minister Mustafa Mohamed Abdel Jalil – who resigned from Gaddafi’s cabinet on Monday in protest at the killing of protesters – earlier told Al Jazeera he had led the formation of an interim government based in Benghazi, Libya’s second city, in the eastern part of the country now largely free of Gaddafi’s control.

He said the transitional government “has military and civilian personalities”.

“It will lead for no more than three months – and then there will be fair elections and the people will choose their leader,” he said.

Ali Aujali, Libya’s ambassador to the U.S., has said that he supports the interim government being formed in Benghazi by the country’s former minister of justice.

Aujali said on Saturday the caretaker administration, which announced it would lead the country for three months to prepare for elections, was “the government for the whole of Libya”.

“We want to support this government as the caretaker government until the liberation of all of Libya, which I hope will happen very soon,” he said.

Libya’s deputy UN ambassador, Ibrahim Dabbashi, also said on Saturday that his delegation supported Abud Ajleil’s caretaker government.

“In principle we support this government,” Dabbashi, one of the first Libyan diplomats to denounce Gaddafi, told Reuters. “We are seeking more information about it, but yes, I think we support it.”

Aujali, a veteran Libyan diplomat, praised Abdel Jalil.

“He is a very honest man. He was in charge of the justice issue in the eastern part of Libya when the regime asked him to hang an innocent Libyan citizen and he refused,” Aujali said.

“I am sure he will gain support of all Libyans and of the international community,” he added.

Two U.S. senators call for no-fly zone

(Fox News) — Senators Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and John McCain, R-Ariz., both expressed disappointment Sunday that President Obama has not responded more forcefully against the violence spreading in Libya and called for the arming of rebel forces in that country. Speaking to CNN’s Candy Crowley from Cairo, Egypt, McCain said though U.S. officials had expressed concern for the safety of Americans in Libya as reason for holding back on further action and stronger rhetoric, that was not good enough.

“The British prime minister, the French president, and others were not hesitant, and they have citizens in that country. Look, America leads,” McCain said. “The president should reverse the terrible decision he made in 2009 to not support the demonstrators in Tehran. Stand up for democracy in Iran, and tell those people we are with them.”

The president did say Saturday that the Libyan president should go “now.” Still, Lieberman said, “I wish we had spoken out much more clearly and early against the Qaddafi regime…The fact is, now is the time for action.”

Lieberman said of the recent UN sanctions imposed on Libyan Leader Muammar Qaddafi and his regime that he was “glad pressure is finally being applied,” but the senator said, “Honestly, I think the world has to do more.”

The Connecticut Independent, who some have recommended to be the next Secretary of Defense, called for the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya to ensure Qaddafi cannot continue to attack his own people from military planes and fly in armed mercenaries from Africa. The senator said the U.S. “should recognize the opposition government as the legitimate government of Libya and that we ought to give that government, certainly, humanitarian assistance and military arms.”

An Ethiopian Uprising is Now or Never

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

By Teodros Kiros

The great Machiavelli, the architect of political thinking spoke convincingly about virtu and Fortuna. Virtu is skill, the ability to be skillful and flexible, when time requires it; Fortuna on the other hand, is the tuning of one’s senses to the language of the right time. We must carefully listen to Fortuna as it directs us, to seize the moment, and act courageously and to the right degree and at the right time.

The Ethiopian world is now ready for action, except that the people might be weary, or simply waiting for a spark. The question then is not, “Are the people ready?” but rather, “Who is going is going to be the catalyst for the uprising, who is going to start the political action?

These are two separate questions, and they demand separate answers. The people are ready, but they are waiting for starters. Nor should the uprising be organized in order to start; it must start first and organization will follow. Leadership qualities are born and mature in the hands of action, of doing, of living practice. Once the uprising begins, the people will know what to do, or as I put it before:

In the people’s revolution, everyone is a leader and a follower. Sovereignty is concrete. It is expressed as lived power. The people learn for the first time they will learn leading and following, managing and obeying, directing and being directed.

The qualities of sovereignty are internalized through practice. The essential attributes of citizenship: obligation, responsibility, duty and order are learned directly by doing. These qualities are not imposed from high on as in monarchies and tyrannies. They emerged directly out of the living movement of action, the people’s action as they fight for their life and defend the lives of others.

These political qualities are practices of the self as they mature on streets, the streets of living democracy.

The people become powerful by practicing power on the streets of living democracy. The people’s revolution is an arena of practice. The streets are the nerve centers, and the practices are the engines of cultural and political transformation.

At the people’s agora, the future of the revolution is organized slowly. There the people originate power and seek to organize it-patiently and decently.

The people very much like rulers, for whom the distinctions were drawn and the advise of acting swiftly and intelligently were given, this shrewd advise also applies to the Ethiopian people.

I firmly advise the Ethiopian people to use Virtu, when real time needs it, and listen to Fortuna when it is gently blowing in the people’s ears. Wise are those, who listen to languages, the language of Virtue, which demands flexibility and the language of Fortuna, which requires stillness.

Fortuna is a woman argued the architect of politics, because woman admires heroes, those who overcome her by calculated force, when the time requires it, so is the Ethiopian real time demanding that we Ethiopians act now or never, for Fortuna is moody, its changes its mind quickly, unless we listen to its directions in the stillness of political action.

I have written a series of articles which appeared in the Ethiopian and all our other websites with concrete recommendations of what we must do to stage a civilized uprising not by the masses but by the Ethiopian people from all walks of life, in defense of dignity and liberty, the pillars of revolt and revolution.

Virtu and Fortuna are awaiting us to respond to their summons and act NOW, or NEVER. We have tried all other permutations, including waiting.

As I argued in “We cannot wait,” we have waited enough, and the more we wait both our existential rights and political rights are going to be abused.

(The writer can be reached at kiros@fas.harvard.edu)

U.S. freezes Gaddafi assets

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

Finally the Obama Administration starts to take action against Gaddafi today, albeit in a timid manner. What the people of Libya need is a no-fly zone so that Gaddafi will not be able to bomb them from the air and use chemical weapons against them.

(Al Arabiya) — U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday imposed personal sanctions on Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and several members of his family, in a clear attempt to further weaken his teetering regime and punish brutal assaults against his people.

Obama wielded presidential power in an executive order to seize the assets of Gaddafi and named family members in the United States and globally within the auspices of U.S. financial institutions, saying the “human dignity” of Libyans “cannot be denied.”

Washington also shuttered its Tripoli embassy, warned its spies were seeking evidence of “atrocities” in Libya and said that Gaddafi had lost the confidence of his people, in an apparent broad hint that Washington wanted him gone.

Officials said the U.S. sanctions were a direct attempt to prevent any looting of Libya’s assets and sovereign wealth by Gaddafi and his sons amid turmoil which reports said has killed over 1,000 people and split the country.

Privately, sources said, Washington hoped the measures would encourage defections from the regime.

The move also came on the eve of a U.N. Security Council meeting to consider multilateral sanctions on the Gaddafi government, and after the Libyan strongman warned of a looming battle in Tripoli to protect his four-decades-old regime.

“By any measure, Muammar Gaddafi’s government has violated international norms and common decency and must be held accountable,” Obama said in a statement.

“These sanctions therefore target the Gaddafi government, while protecting the assets that belong to the people of Libya.”

“The Libyan government’s continued violation of human rights, brutalization of its people, and outrageous threats have rightly drawn the strong and broad condemnation of the international community,” Obama said.

“We will stand steadfastly with the Libyan people in their demand for universal rights, and a government that is responsive to their aspirations. Their human dignity cannot be denied.”

U.S. Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey told reporters on a conference call that Obama had taken “decisive steps” to hold the Gaddafi regime accountable.

The sanctions contained an annex specifically naming Gaddafi and four sons, but did not single out any other Libyan officials, a sign Washington was hoping to peel off key members of the ruling elite in Tripoli.

The administration did retain the power under the executive order to name other Libyan officials who could be targeted.

And a U.S. official told AFP on condition of anonymity that the measures were specifically crafted to encourage defections.
Fear for safety of Americans

Washington announced the sanctions move — along with the closing of its embassy and withdrawal of U.S. diplomats — after a chartered ferry and a plane carrying Americans and other evacuees left Libya earlier on Friday.

The Obama administration had been criticized for its relatively restrained response so far to the turmoil. But U.S. officials said fears for the safety of the Americans had tempered Washington’s response.

“(Gaddafi) is overseeing the brutal treatment of his people … and his legitimacy has been reduced to zero in the eyes of his people,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said after Libyan security forces shot protesters in the streets of Tripoli on Friday.

The U.S. embassy in Tripoli, which was only opened in 2006, during a tentative rapprochement in U.S.-Libya ties, was shuttered for security reasons and all diplomatic personnel withdrawn, Carney and the State Department said.

The White House also fleshed out its attempts to hold Gaddafi “accountable” in addition to the new sanctions regime.

It warned that it would use the full extent of its “intelligence capabilities to monitor the Gaddafi regime’s actions” and would particularly seek evidence of violence or atrocities committed against the Libyan people.

Carney, however, would not go as far as to say that the White House backed calls for Gaddafi and his lieutenants to eventually face some kind of formal justice, perhaps at the International Criminal Court.
On the financial front, the U.S. Treasury warned U.S. banks to watch out for transfers linked to Libya’s political leaders.

The department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network told banks to be aware of “the potential increased movement of assets that may be related to the situation in Libya,” in a statement released Friday.

Libya and its leaders are suspected of holding billions of dollars in foreign bank accounts, cash largely gleaned from the country’s vast oil wealth.

According to a 2010 message from the U.S. embassy in Tripoli, obtained by WikiLeaks, Libya’s sovereign wealth fund holds $32 billion in cash and “several American banks are each managing $300-500 million.”
Clinton to drum up support

With the Libyan crisis also being taken up at the United Nations, European Union governments agreed on the idea of imposing an arms embargo, asset freezes and a travel ban on the oil-producing North African nation, with diplomats saying a formal decision would be taken early next week.

The Obama administration said earlier this week it was studying a wide range of options, including the freezing of assets, a travel ban on members of Gaddafi’s government, a “no-fly” zone over Libya and military action.

In a first step, the U.S. Treasury has told American banks to closely monitor transactions that may be related to unrest in Libya for possible signs that state assets were being misappropriated.

Several U.S. energy companies in Libya — including Marathon, Hess and Occidental — have continued working through the crisis as other foreign firms have curtailed or suspended operations.

If sanctions gain traction internationally, Libya’s oil output could be restricted.

“Although Libya is not a big supplier to the U.S., any sanctions imposed by the U.S. — particularly on doing business with that country — means the U.S. or other countries affected will still have to tap other suppliers,” said Peter Beutel, president of trading consultants Cameron Hanover.

In New York, the U.N. Security Council was considering a French-British draft proposal for an arms embargo, financial sanctions and a request to the International Criminal Court to indict Libyan leaders for crimes against humanity.

The White House did not express direct support for the proposal but said it was discussing it with members of the Security Council, including the other four permanent members — China, Russia, Britain and France.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will push for unity against Gaddafi on Monday at the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The United States resumed diplomatic ties with Libya in 2004 after Gaddafi agreed to abandon his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.

U.S. economic sanctions were progressively removed after Libya agreed to accept civil responsibility for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland in 1988.

Latest defection

Libya’s envoy to the United Nations, Mohammed Shalgham, a childhood friend of Gaddafi, became the latest official to abandon him, with a diplomat saying he had joined his deputy Ibrahim Dabbashi in defecting.

“Please, the United Nations, save Libya. Let there be no bloodshed, no killing of innocents. We want a decisive, rapid and courageous resolution from you,” Shalgham told the Security Council.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon on Friday demanded decisive action by the Security Council against Gaddafi’s bloody crackdown, warning that any delay would add to the growing death toll which he said now came to over 1,000.

Ban’s call and an emotional speech by the Libyan ambassador to the United Nations — in which he raised the specter of Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot — jolted the council into ordering a special meeting on Saturday to consider a sanctions resolution against Kadhafi.

In Ankara, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said “Mr. Gaddafi must go,” becoming the first world leader to demand the ouster of the former army colonel who seized power in a 1969 coup.

In a rooftop address on Friday, Gaddafi urged his partisans in the square below to “defend Libya.” “If needs be, we will open all the arsenals.

“We will fight them and we will beat them,” he said as frenzied supporters raised his portrait and waved the country’s green flag.

Almost the entire east of the oil-rich North African nation has slipped from Gaddafi’s control since a popular uprising began with protests in the port city of Benghazi on February 15, inspired by revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia.

Are Ethiopians angry enough to revolt?

Friday, February 25th, 2011

By Messay Kebede

While events of historic proportions are occurring in the Arab world, the question that haunts Ethiopians is whether similar uprisings are possible in present-day Ethiopia, that is, whether the inspiring impact of events in Arab countries would be strong enough to provoke unrests and demonstrations in Ethiopia. Since the occurrence of the French Revolution, scholars of revolution are familiar with the outcomes of demonstration effects, some going to the extent of counting as one powerful cause of revolution its tendency to spread to other countries by the sheer effect of its inspirational appeal.

That an increasing number of Ethiopians argue that decisive lessons to topple the Meles regime can be drawn from events in the Arab world is a promising evolution. In an article titled “Way Forward for Ethiopia’s Opposition” posted on various websites (June 2010), I contended that the results of the last election showed clearly that the strategy of changing the Woyane regime by winning parliamentary elections is no longer tenable. I suggested that opposition groups should design a new strategy, which is “to work toward the gathering of conditions favoring a popular outburst with a political organization and a program ready to step in.” In other words, in light of the failure of the electoralist strategy and the little chance of creating in the near future an armed movement capable of threatening the regime, the only option left was to help build up the conditions of a popular uprising and be ready to take up its leadership. Thanks to the events in the Arab world, most Ethiopians now consider a popular uprising in Ethiopia as a very likely possibility and call for opposition groups to be ready for such an event. Of course, the main question is to know whether their expectation is realistic or simply a wishful thinking.

Let me begin by saying that events in Tunisia and Egypt, impressive and mutational as they are, are not yet revolutions. The latter require the overthrow of existing states and the implementation of a new social order. The fact that the two ruling dictators were removed does not necessarily entail a drastic social change in Egypt and Tunisia unless the removal is soon followed by the initiation of profound changes. All we can say now is that the removal is just a first step in the right direction, and that it is too early to speak of revolution.

Even so, the fact that the uprisings remained mostly nonviolent (with the exception of Libya) strongly renews the conviction that nonviolent form of struggle is the best method to remove dictatorial regimes. Nonviolence means here essentially active defiance and noncooperation. So understood, nonviolence is indeed, as one of the apostles of nonviolence, Gene Sharp, puts it, “the most powerful means available to those struggling for freedom” (From Dictatorship to Democracy, p. 13). There is no doubt that protests in Egypt and Tunisia prevented the early intervention of the army essentially because they remained largely nonviolent.

What is most striking about the events in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere is the metamorphosis of ordinary people. These people had so thoroughly submitted to the dictatorships that any prediction just a month ago of impeding protests would have sounded foolish. The uprisings came as a surprise to everybody. Most of all, all these protests were spontaneous in that they were not initiated by any organized opposition.

Spontaneity is undoubtedly one of the strong aspects of the movements. The dictatorships could not stop them because they could not find leaders they could put in jail or kill. People were driven by their own frustration, not by the appeal of a party or a leader. They were now in charge of their own destiny and, more importantly, free of the fear that paralyzed them for so long. How did this metamorphosis become possible?

It is a truism to say that dictatorships rule by fear and collapse the very day that they fail to inspire fear. This issue of fear is the key to the question of knowing whether similar uprisings are possible in Ethiopia. I am not impressed by the argument of those who discard the possibility of uprisings in Ethiopia on the ground that, unlike the Arab countries, Ethiopia does not have a large educated class and a vast means of internet access. Without denying the effective role of internet communications, the argument overlooks that popular uprisings have occurred before the invention of the internet, not to mention the fact that Ethiopians carried out a successful uprising in 1974 that toppled the entrenched imperial regime. Be it noted that the uprising against the imperial regime was successful because it was not initiated by an established leadership.

Another issue is to know whether the Ethiopian army can behave in a way similar to the behavior of the Egyptian army. Most Ethiopians are inclined to say the opposite owing to their belief that Ethiopia has no longer a national army per se, but a TPLF dominated mercenary army exclusively committed to protecting the interests of the ruling clique. The question is indeed a serious one, but there is no way of knowing the answer unless the uprising starts and shows some resilience. The 2005 violent crackdown on protesters cannot be taken as evidence, since except for taxi drivers and protesting young people, no massive movement of protest took place. In fact, the confined nature of the protest may have led to the belief that it could be easily suppressed. We cannot tell how the police and the army would react in the face of a determined massive protest all over the country. We should move the discussion from what the military will do to what a massive uprising can compel them to understand.

What this means is that the crucial issue is indeed the question of fear. Are Ethiopians any less fearful of the Meles regime? Stated otherwise, the possibility of uprising solely hinges on our ability to ascertain that Ethiopians are today angrier than ever before. For anger alone can dissolve fear. More than the availability of internet communications, what explains events in Arab countries is the increasing fury of ordinary people, especially of unemployed young people. When anger grips the human mind, nothing else matters, including the likelihood of death. Anger is force and defiance because it mobilizes the power of emotion. People defy bloody regimes, not because they become suddenly courageous, but because the overwhelming power of rage made them do things that they would not otherwise have done.

I know that many Ethiopians see unity as an essential condition for the occurrence of a massive uprising. In effect, people begin to protest when they see a fair chance of success, and no chance of success can be expected if ethnic divisions prevail over unity. For an uprising to succeed, it must be massive, and it cannot be massive unless ethnic alignments are put aside. What else is this requirement of unity but another facet of the same question of anger? Are Ethiopians angry enough to overcome their divisions so as to rise together against their common enemy? The overwhelming nature of anger unites more than any rational discourse in favor of unity.

Although it is true that the mobilization of emotion explains the power of popular uprisings, it is also true that rage can only be a trigger. It cannot sustain itself over an extended period of time, especially if the regime in place uses deadly means to suppress the uprising. Very quickly, organization and smart politics must take the lead. Notably, anger must be controlled in such a way that it does not burst into an orgy of violence, which will end up by giving the upper hand to the dictator. Everything must be done to minimize the intervention of the army, and the best way to do so is to keep the movement nonviolent. In other words, nonviolent movement is nothing but the control of anger, more exactly, its transformation into a force of internal resistance that wears out the repressive power of the dictatorial state. Nonviolence does not generate anger; it sublimates it by reorienting its compulsion for outward furious expressions toward the buildup of an internal force of defiance.

In sum, the possibility of popular uprising in Ethiopia wholly depends on the psychological state of the masses. No doubt, events in the Arab world can be inspirational, but they are not enough to cause revolts unless the masses are going through the state of anger. Inspiration can strengthen confidence, but it cannot generate the emotional state of anger. What is more, it is not possible to know in advance what drives people to the tipping point of anger. We can definitely say that most Ethiopians are unhappy with the regime, that they even hate it. But dislike and hate are not yet anger. While hate is a contained or differed emotion, anger is in need of immediate reaction or lashing out. You get to live with hatred, not with rage, which, as an impulsive need for outward expressions, explodes.

(Messay Kebede, Ph.D., can be reached at Messay.Kebede@notes.udayton.edu)

Time is ticking at the doors of Meles

Friday, February 25th, 2011

By Albert Michael

Today Africa, especially its North region, is in a storm. People of the region are experiencing the momentum of the storm by physical taking part in it. People outside the region have been feeling the flame and shocked with the happenings. This phenomenal time in the history of Africa is a wow time for dictators and all the despots. Knowing that their turn is not far away, African dictators presumably taking unconscious steps in a way that can sustain them in power. Their heart is melting. Their mind is blowing. But the fact is, as some one has said that the idea whose time has come is powerful than artillery, when change begins to spark in its due time no power can hold it back . The change occurring in Africa has two fold outcome: on one hand toppling off tyrants from their comfort seats where they have been sacking the sweat and blood of their own citizen and on the other hand reforming and transforming the whole systems which have been hosting injustice. Both of the outcomes privilege the people to become source of power in Africa. Time is a perfect judge!!

The recent change geared by the people of North Africa nations, for most analysts and observers, is a point of prediction for what would happen next in the other African countries specifically countries stack in the valley of poverty and where the thugs of the ruling class are living their luxurious life. On December 17, 2010 determination of a man to express his feeling in an unusual way by setting himself on fire resulted in the massive people’s movement first in Tunisia and then spread to neighbouring countries. This a historic convergence and its effects which time and change gave birth, through the mighty power of people’s movement never ceased in North Africa but spilled over to the Middle east countries and other parts of Africa. Who thought that Ben of Tunisia, Mubarak of Egypt and most probably Gadhafi of Libya would stand before the court where the people judge in the history of Africa. That was only known by the fact of time. No one can reverse this change. When time carries change that is a real change. Time. Time. Time. A good judge

In the history of human ages, historic convergences and transitional tides have occurred at significant points. Major events befallen in different times of past have heralded socio-economic and political changes. The world we lived so far shaped by the nature of these events. The death of colonialism, the end of the two World Wars, the closure Cold War and globalization are the results of cumulative events of mini reactions occurred in the time frame of our history.

The reality we see in North Africa is not different except it should be taken as part of the foundations laid for a large scale change awaiting for the whole Africa. I am saying that all the major events of change in our history started some where in a corridor in specific places and spread to the vicinities. This reminds me what happened in the history of colonialism in Africa. The process which led to the demise of European exploitations systems started earlier in 1890s. In those early times, Chief Bambatha of Zulu and Maji Maji revolt were some of the popular uprisings which had initiated the massive anti-colonialism movement in Africa. The then factors pushed people to revolt were the colonialists wrong measures against the local people. The people became subjects of the colonial masters. When the yoke of the burden was unbearable to the local people individuals such as Bambantha took the courage to rally for liberation. That was the point to set the remaining pace of the journey to freedom. After four to five decades, colonialism became a history.

In a similar analogy my conviction is that the current phenomenon in the north part of Africa is a riddle of wave which could move the whole continent. In the coming few years Africa will be free of dictators and the will of people shall dominate in the most countries of the continent.

My prediction is based on the fact that, the factors initiated the mass movements in North Africa are similar or even worst in other parts of the continent. In countries like Ethiopia where the unemployment rate is beyond imagination, ethnic divisions is intentionally installed, economic inequalities is fostered through ill-intended policies, anti-free press laws muzzled citizens right expression , institutionalized corruption is widely practiced and one man has become the whole country and every thing in the country unless it is a matter of time popular uprising is foreseeable. In general injustices ingrained into the structure of governance and administrations of majority of countries in Africa make change intrinsic and inescapable. Time is a perfect judge!! People of Africa are fade up of living in darkness of home made slavery, poverty, oppression, and hunger. Time has come. Darkness never endures before light. Tyranny and dictatorial ship is a work of darkness. It will never be established in the land of Africa in the coming years. The next wave of people’s movement will strike East Africa and Horn of Africa, central Africa and Some West and South East African countries. Because the bell of change rung and even felt in the North is already heard in whole Africa and even in other parts of the world. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

Time is ticking at the doors of dictators. They have only two choices: Either to open their heart to accommodate the questions of the people and start genuine reform in the interest of people after asking apology or to get ready for undignified exit by the peoples’ powerful movement. The arrow of change is sharply indicating the doors which would be bumped by the tide of change in the next round. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

Archbishop Desmond Tutu demands action on Libya

Friday, February 25th, 2011

African Governments are “failing” Libyan citizens and all Africans

PRESS STATEMENT by Civicus

African Governments’ appalling lack of pressure to force Libyan Leader, Muammar Gaddafi, to halt the violence and step down, reflects persistent inadequacies in the African Union (AU). Their failure to act decisively threatens progress towards democracy and respect for human rights on the continent, according to leading African civil society activists speaking today at a press conference in Johannesburg.

“The response from African governments and the African Union took so long and was so feeble that it emboldens Gaddafi in clinging on to power by any means possible, and permits him to claim the protests are a Western or Al Qaeda conspiracy,” said Ingrid Srinath, Secretary General of CIVICUS.

“African leaders must realise that their failure to speak clearly and act promptly has real consequences and costs lives. Such apathy in the face of atrocities cannot persist,” she added.

Article 3 of the Constitutive Act of the AU lists the promotion of peace, security and stability on the continent as one of its key objectives. Despite this, civil society believes the AU and African governments have been slow to react.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Congress of South African Trade Union joined Srinath and more than 40 other signatories from civil society in a joint statement demanding action from the AU.

“The carnage in Libya must stop. A leader who crushes his own people does not deserve that name – or position,” said Archbishop Desmond Tutu. South Africa has a special responsibility to act

South Africa, Nigeria and Gabon currently represent Africa on the UN Security Council and as such have a special responsibility to ensure the protection of the Libyan people. Rajesh Latchman, Convenor of the Global Call to Action against Poverty in South Africa, singled out the South African Government’s need to act as a non-permanent member of
the UN Security Council since January 2011, despite their aspirations for a permanent seat.

“While an immediate and decisive response to the bloodshed in Libya is needed right now, the South African government needs to have a rapid response system to ensure diplomatic action when faced with such a crisis is not dependent on the push factor from civil society but driven by the values of our Constitution,” he said.

“For president Zuma in particular, this is not a call for you to imitate the out of office behaviour of your predecessor, it is rather a call to bring together a broad based but small collective of business, civil society and government leaders to act as a thought collective for the way our country acts when the rights of people outside our borders are violated.”

A horrifying example of an ongoing problem Latchman’s comments echo those of other civil society representatives at the press conference.

Noel Kututwa, Special Advisor with Amnesty International said that Amnesty International has accused the international community of failing the Libyan people in their hour of greatest need as Colonel Gaddafi threatened to “cleanse Libya house by house”. “The response of the UN Security Council fell shamefully below what was needed to stop the spiralling violence in Libya,” Kututwa said.

Amnesty International has called for an immediate arms embargo and assets freeze and the African Union and its member states to immediately investigate reports that armed elements are being transported from African countries to Libya, acting to secure the land borders into Libya and monitor suspicious flights.

While the situation in Libya is of immediate priority, it is also serving to highlight inadequacies on the part of the AU and African governments to respond when the security and human rights of people across the continent are threatened.

The joint statement from civil society will be distributed to the AU and African governments. It is one step in an ongoing campaign from civil society to support and protect the people of Libya as they strive to assert their democratic and human rights.

Civil society leaders pledged solidarity with all those struggling for freedom across the globe.

(For more information please contact: Rowena McNaughton, CIVICUS Media Officer, rowena.mcnaughton@civicus.org, +27 82 768 0250; www.civicus.org)

Ethiopians in Libya exposed to vigilante attacks

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

The brutal attack by mercenary forces against anti-Gaddafi protesters and civilians in Libya is now exposing refugees from Ethiopia and other African countries to vigilante attacks. The brutality of the mercenaries, many of whom were sent to Libya by planes in the past few days, is making Libyan citizens understandably bitter, and while the opposition groups are trying to calm down the angry and traumatized population and promising a fair trial for those who are suspected of being mercenaries, unfortunately incidents of harassment and attacks against innocent refugees are being reported in some of the liberated cities. An urgent call must be sent out to the people of Libya by Ethiopians around the world that most Ethiopians are as victimized as they have been by Gaddafi’s friend, Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia. Libyan’s must take care not to soil their revolution with the blood of innocent refugees.

The following is an interview by DW Radio with two Ethiopians in Tripoli.

 
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Below is an interview with a Woyanne ambassador:
 

The stupid ambassador need to be told that the Ethiopian refugees have been migrating to Libya in the first place because his regime has made Ethiopia a living hell for most citizens.

Ethiopian Federal Police soldier in Libya The Woyanne ambassador says that his regime did not send mercenaries to Libya. But the evidence is indisputable. Members of the Federal Police, Meles Zenawi’s personal death squad, have been sent to Libya wearing their own standard issue uniform as this photo shows. The dead soldier in the photo is wearing the distinct Ethiopian Federal Police uniform. The Federal Police soldiers were indiscriminately shooting down Ethiopian civilians following the May 2005 elections, the same way as they are shooting down Libyan civilians now. Ethiopians have first hand experience of how brutal and barbaric Meles Zenawi’s death squads are.

Ironically, the poor Ethiopian refugees in Libya, who fled from these soldiers in their own country, are now facing an angry population in Libya for what the regime in Ethiopia and its blood thirsty death squads are doing to Libyan citizens.

A talking point has been sent out from Woyanne propaganda chief Bereket Simon’s office to every Woyanne cadre around the world to say that the captured mercenaries are refugees. While asking the Libyans to protect innocent Ethiopians, we need to also condemn Meles for the reason that the refugees are in Libya, as well as for sending his killers to slaughter civilians in another country.

Mahidere Andenet Radio Atlanta 15th Anniversary

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Mahidere Andenet Radio Atlanta is celebrating its 15th anniversary Saturday, Feb. 26. You are invited to the celebration event:

Date/Time: Saturday, Feb. 26, at 6:00 PM
Place: 2201 Lawrenceville HWY, Decatur GA 30033

More info: 404 580 4207

Mahidere Andenet

Woyanne mercenaries captured in Libya (video)

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Libya opposition forces continue to capture mercenaries who have arrived by planes from other African countries to carry out Gaddafi’s threat of bloodshed. Some of the mercenaries were sent to Libya by Gaddafi’s long time friend and aid recipient Meles Zenawi, who himself is a genocidal dictator. The following video shows some of the soldiers along with their Ethiopian passports.

Exporting Ethiopian girls: The story of Trungo (video)

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Ethiopians in the Diaspora have become the largest source of hard currency for the brutal dictatorship in Ethiopia bringing over $3 billion annualy. To keep the revenue flowing, companies that are affiliated with the ruling party are busy exporting poor Ethiopian girls to Arab countries to work as maids in slavery-like conditions. These girls face constant abuse and mistreatment in the hands of their employers. We Ethiopians as a society should be terribly ashamed of ourselves for letting our defenseless girls to be exploited and abused in foreign countries. The girls should be at school and able to find jobs in their own country. The following is a gut-wrenching story of Trungo by a German TV, WDR. It’s in German language, but not difficult to follow the story, which is about a young girl named “Trungo” who comes from a remote area in the northern Ethiopia and traveled to Dubai to work as a maid. The film recounts that Trungo decided to leave her village so that she can support her family. The film also shows the dubious cooperation of the brokers in Addis Ababa and in Dubai and the savage and inhuman behavior of Arab employers who are abusing Ethiopian women. Watch below:

UK rejects call by France to impose no-fly zone over Libya

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

The U.K. government is notorious for its anti-human rights foreign policy. Rejecting the call by France to impose no-fly zone over Libya so that Gaddafi would not commit genocide should not come as a surprise. No wonder people around the world despise the morally bankrupt government of the U.K. that sells weapons to genocidal dictators like Gaddafi of Libya and Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia.

(Guardian) — Nicolas Sarkozy is leading the calls for a NATO-imposed no-fly zone to be enforced over Libya to “prevent the use of that country’s warplanes against [its] population”.

Sarkozy, the current president of the G8 and G20 economic forums, has also called for the European Union to impose sanctions against Libya and suggested that the assets of the family of the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, should be frozen.

William Hague, the British foreign secretary, did not join the calls for a no-fly zone, but David Cameron held out the prospect of imposing sanctions on Libya if Gaddafi continued to respond to the protests with violence. The government is wary of antagonizing the Libyan leadership while it attempts to repatriate British citizens.

In an interview with al-Jazeera television in Doha, the prime minister said: “Sanctions are always an option for the future if what we are seeing in Libya continues. Of course, if Libya continues down this path, there will be a very strong argument [for sanctions].”

Cameron’s remarks appeared to be a hardening of his position from earlier in the day, when he sidestepped questions about whether he would endorse the French president’s call for sanctions.

But the prime minister moved to play down the prospect of military action against Libya, saying: “I do not think we are at that stage yet. We are at the stage of condemning the actions Colonel Gaddafi has taken against his own people.”

It is likely the British attitude towards a no-fly zone will toughen if and when its citizens are evacuated.

The government is also concerned that Russia and China could veto a no-fly zone at the United Nations security council, leaving the international community weakened.

Demands for a ban on flights over Libya have been made by Ibrahim al-Dabashi, the country’s deputy ambassador to the UN, who is among diplomats who have abandoned Gaddafi.

He said the measure would prevent mercenaries, weapons and other supplies from reaching Gaddafi and his security forces. There have also been fears that Gaddafi could resort to bombing his own people.

Hague said he was canceling a planned trip to Washington to handle the crisis from London, adding that it would be difficult to get a security council resolution. The council has, though, made a statement condemning Libya’s actions.

Hague stressed he wanted an international inquiry into possible war crimes, saying this represented the best chance to stop murder and atrocities by the regime. “They will be held to account. They should hear that message loud and clear,” he said.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4′s Today programme, the former foreign secretary Lord Owen became the first British politician to call for a no-fly zone, adding that the west should be concerned about the possibility that Gaddafi would unleash chemical weapons.

“We know that this is a person who could unleash either chemical or biological weapons, which he possibly still has. He is one of the worst despots we have seen for many a century. He is deeply unstable, and has been for 42 years,” Owen said.

He called for a UN charter chapter 7 intervention – meaning the authorization of military and non-military means to “restore international peace and security” – to be enforced by Nato air forces with Egyptian military support to demonstrate regional backing for the effort.

He argued a no-fly zone similar to the one imposed on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 1991 was feasible and wholly desirable. He said he believed the US would already have put its planes on alert.

Sarkozy went further than any other leading EU politician in calling for military action. “The continuing brutal and bloody repression against the Libyan civilian population is revolting,” he said. ” The international community cannot remain a spectator to these massive violations of human rights.”

The scale of the threat to world security was underlined by reports suggesting Gaddafi had ordered the destruction of oilfields, as well as the growing likelihood that he was willing to see a massive death toll rather than relinquish power.

Legitimacy of Political Power

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

By Dejenie A. Lakew

The Temporal Sign and Demand of Society: Legitimacy of Political Power

A leader exercises power of leadership and service on a particular society. The power he/she has can be legitimate or otherwise. The legitimacy of the power of a leader comes from the people. If not from the people then the power is illegitimate.

A legitimate leader therefore has to be a person amongst the people not somebody who is outside of them, who has a better vision, established and derivable wisdom and virtues and an intrinsic courage that analyzes and understands problems of the society ahead and deliver solutions in an optimal time-shortest time possible. He/she leads the people by providing convincing methods and delivering solutions to problems the society faces in the right and progressive direction. No legal citizen should live in pain and die for a survival of an illegal leader but instead a leader has to live in pain and die for the survival of a legal individual citizen. The immediate concerns and jobs of a leader is to serve the society, not be served by society. He/she is an employee of the society not employing the society and make the society live under his/her mercy. Their power to lead the country is legitimate when it is given by the society. By the time they defy the society, develop contempt to the people and rule by their own will, then they changed the country into their real estate and the society into their own workers. That is the beginning of dictatorship, timocracy, oligarchy, etc, any form of illegal government. Once relations get sour and reach to that stage, leaders lose the legitimacy of their power and receive the rant of the society and ultimately lose their political achievements they have done in their legitimate times. The consequences are catastrophic to them to their family members and great descendants- they all be in the eternal fire of history. Therefore, a leader has to be wise enough to know and listen the society and its will as to when he/she should finish a tenure of service so that they end their power as legitimate and the good things they have done during their legitimate times remain as an eternal candle of history to the society.

Good leaders create administrative structures so that the people get conditions/or resources of life, happiness and freedom in minimal obstacles by providing effective leadership on all levels of their government structures . In order these things to be implemented, there has to be a common space of understanding between the people and the leaders. The people should give time to elected leaders as to when and how they have to come up with solutions to the common social, economic and political problems that they have promised to do so. But at the same time leaders should know that life is short and ephemeral and solutions they promised have to be delivered on time and if that does not happen, then they have to give a path way and in fact invite and solicit the people to elect other new leaders who are capable of understanding the scope and magnitude of the problems and promise to address the issues in a better and short time frame. After all governments are highest forms of social gatherings or structures of a particular society, established to take care of common welfare of the people and therefore cannot behave as an outside power but appended to the people from above for all time.

The protests that are happening in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and across the middle east are clear indicators of society running out of patience in living and carrying problems indefinitely, where society expresses outcry in multitudes to the extent of willing to die of their suffering by the hands common people who happened to be on the pinnacle of power and place of the leadership but unable to deliver anything for the society. Inability is not a sin by itself but not willing to give the place for others who are capable is the political sin. In times where society express suffrage and anger , governments should behave as part of the society and ask an apology from the society and express their willingness to leave office by arranging conditions in order problems be addressed.

Leaders should know and it is to their benefit that they feel and remain part of the society when they were in power and when they are out of power. They have to do their utmost effort to live within the society and contribute more when they are out of power but taking care of their family. It is always possible for them to be listened, heard and contribute more to their people as long as they are alive and as long as they finish legally. That is the right way to stay in politics for life long—not by hanging on power for life. These problems of appetite for hanging on power for life time are common in what are called developing or underdeveloped countries , where leaders take counties as their real estates and the society as employees in their firms — while it is non-existent in developed countries.

The consequences are sever and catastrophic not only for such bad leaders but to their all family members. There is no dictator who left power by will and allow his family members live in peace instead they make all their lifelong happiness and achievements be destroyed forever by angry society and unforgiving history. It is amazing why leaders cannot see that and make their immediate family members, children and grand children pay a price for their selfish and ill advised desire of power for life. All dictators disappear along with their descendants for ever from their society while wise leaders remain political advisors and important figures to their own society. Their descendants remain beloved society members living a good life within their own society, proud of the political works their parents have done and the recognition received by the society and history.

It is therefore the sign and demand of the time that leaders of countries irrespective of under-developed/developing, should be willing to do exactly what politically developed world leaders do:

* Put time frame for a political life-tenure in their constitution.

* Make sure their political power is legitimate.

* Know the difference between a country and real estate. It is only in real estate that individual citizens have lifelong rights to own it and live in it.

* Leave office when people demand and cry of their ineffectiveness.

* Leave office when problems remain unsolved on time and beyond.

* During turmoil times within society ( governments unwilling to yield their power from demand of society), then the police force and army should not always play as killing inanimate partners of illegitimate governments that run amuck and put their very own citizens, who give legitimacy to their power beneath their foot, but instead to carry out their responsibility by keeping the security and safety of the society in general and the rights of the people untouched.

It is only when this happens that the old style of removing governments by guns will stop and a modern and civilized political life begins which is a building block of stability, growth and social development.

(Dejenie A. Lakew, Ph.D., can be reached at dejenieal@gmail.com)

Libya opposition forces take control of more towns

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Libyan opposition forces, with the help of troops who joined the protesters, are tightening the noose around Gaddafi by taking more town today. Gulf News reports that the opposition is now controlling 90 percent of the country. Meanwhile, Algeria, Bahrain, Jordan and Saudi Arabia have decided to take a different course by releasing political prisoners, calling for dialogue, and other positive measures to prevent uprising. In Algeria, the regime has lifted the 19-year-old state of emergency yesterday and announced greater freedom and reform. Bahrain has released 250 prisoners of conscience today.

(Gulf News) — Early yesterday, security forces loyal to Sa’edi, Gaddafi’s son, encircled Sirte, blocking the coastal highway and another highway linking Libya’s eastern and western regions. “Tanks and manned armoured vehicles have cut the coastal and the inside road linking east with the west. Sirte is the last stronghold of the man since his tribe lives in the city,” Fateh Al Talhouni, member of the revolutionary committee in Misurata told Gulf News. So far, protesters have claimed control of 90 per cent of Libya, including most of the capital Tripoli and major cities such as Benghazi, Baida, Tobruk, Misurata, Zawiya and Zantan. Guards loyal to Gaddafi have fled from checkposts on the Egyptian border and tribal elders have formed local committees to take their place.

(CBS) — CBS News’ Mandy Clark describes the scene in Libya after entering the country through Egypt: I’m across the border in Libya. We’re heading to Tobruk. Right now there’s a man passing me holding two old Libyan flags, which are pre-Qaddafi era. And he’s giving the sign of victory, and that’s what we’re seeing all over since we’ve got into Libya – people welcoming us to a free Libya. We’ve been offered rides to anywhere we want to go. People want news crews in here to report what’s happening. They’re offering as many people as they can lift to get to where they need to go. Entering here was quite difficult – going through on the Egyptian side, there were layers upon layers of security. And they certainly made you feel that you weren’t going to get into Libya. But, after you had passed the last Egyptian checkpoint, you headed to the Libyan one. There was kind of a rag-tag militia with mismatching uniforms. They were deeply friendly; they kept on saying “welcome, welcome.” When they asked who we were with, we said “CBS America.”
They said, “Welcome CBS. Welcome all international media.” And they drove us. They’re offering free lifts. The people and the mood certainly is jubilant. It’s not a new liberation flag, it’s actually the Libyan flag before Qaddafi. It’s the old Libyan flag, and people are waving it as a sign to show that the old Libya is back and that Qaddafi is gone.

Botswana joins Peru in breaking diplomatic ties with Libya

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Botswana is the only African country with a freely elected decent government. Their action against Libya is an example of their moral decency.

(CNN) — Botswana’s foreign affairs ministry said in a statement, “In light of the massive and disproportionate force visited upon peaceful protesters by the Libyan security forces, the government of Botswana summoned the Libyan Representative in Gaborone and expressed its revulsion at the Libyan government’s response to peaceful protesters and called for restraint in dealing with the situation.”

Peru and Botswana both announced they were breaking diplomatic ties with Libya. Peruvian President Alan Garcia said his country suspended diplomatic relations after condemning “the repression unleashed by Gadhafi.”

The statement added that Botswana was joining “the international community which is calling for action to be taken against those persons who have committed crimes against humanity in the continuing conflict in Libya and hopes that such persons shall be referred to the International Criminal Court to account for their deeds.”

ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo noted that Libya is not a party to the Rome Statute, which set up the court. “Intervention by the ICC on the alleged crimes committed in Libya can occur only if the Libyan authorities accept the jurisdiction of the Court,” his statement said. “In the absence of such step, the United Nations Security Council can decide to refer the situation to the Court. The Office of the Prosecutor will act only after either decision is taken.”

French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for prompt European Union sanctions against Libya on Wednesday, such as “a ban on access to EU territory and financial monitoring.”

(Bloomberg) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy led calls for European Union sanctions against Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi as political unrest continued in the North African nation.

Merkel said that Qaddafi’s televised speech yesterday in which he threatened his own people with civil war was “alarming.” Sarkozy said today that France may suspend economic and commercial relations with Libya, according to an e- mailed statement in Paris.

The European Union in Brussels is suspending negotiations with the Libyan government on an EU-Libya Framework Agreement and said the 27-nation bloc “is ready to take further measures.” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said “those responsible for the brutal aggression and violence against civilians will be held to account.”

(VOA) — The U.S. State Department says it is considering sanctions against Libya in response to the government’s violent crackdown on protesters.

Spokesman P.J. Crowley said Wednesday the United States has a number of options for taking action against Libya including bilateral or multilateral sanctions. He said it is important that any steps the U.S. takes should be coordinated with the international community.

Protests called in Zimbabwe, Gabon, Cameroon, Mauritania

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

The Washington Post and New York Times are reporting that anti-dictatorship protests in north Africa are spreading south.

* Anti-government demonstrations, which have spread across Northern Africa, seem to have moved across the rest of the continent to Cameroon, Gabon, Zimbabwe and Mauritania. In Cameroon, protests have been called for Wednesday to demand the ouster of President Paul Biya, CNN reports. Biya has ruled the country for 28 years. The main opposition leader, Kah Walla, told CNN that his group wants to see free and fair elections. – Melissa Bell, Washington Post

* The democracy uprising is spreading to new parts of Africa: Cameroon, Gabon, Zimbabwe, Mauritania. Nicholas Kristo, New York Times

* Activists meet in Zimbabwe to discuss the implications of Egypt and Tunisia and end up arrested. Mugabe did not learn the right lessons. – Philip J. Crowley, U.S. Department of State

* Opposition groups gain ground in Libya. They are claiming victory in Misurata, a provincial center 130 miles east of the capital, in another indication that the rebellion was encroaching on cities closer to Colonel Qaddafi’s stronghold of Tripoli. In the southern city of Sabha, considered a Qaddafi stronghold, large protests were also reported. – New York Times

Meeting with Berhanu Nega, Neamin Zeleke in Texas

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

On February 12 and 13, 2011, Ethiopians in Houston and Dallas, Texas, held public meetings with Dr. Birhanu Nega of Ginbot 7 Movement and Ato Neamin Zeleke of the Alliance for Freedom, Democracy and Justice. The meetings were held at Houston Baptist University, Houston and at Double Tree Hotel, Richardson, TX.

Ato Neamin spoke on the need for the Diaspora to come together and act in unison to help the
Ethiopian people join in the emerging uprisings to oust dictators like Meles and replace them with
people’s power. In his speech, he made specific calls for action to the Diaspora to

* Organize itself world-wide under a single umbrella

* Engage in economic fight with the TPLF through mechanisms such as non-official remittance transfer and through effective boycott of the TPLF and so called EPDRF affiliated companies

* Refrain from getting sucked into being political hostage of the TPLF by participating in its official sham investment schemes

* Support for ESAT and other similar measures.

Dr. Birhanu addressed the audience on the timely topic of the people’s uprising in the Middle East and North Africa and its implication to us Ethiopians. The speech dealt with an analysis of the significance and causes of the revolution that is sweeping our region. He emphasized the fact that the drivers of this revolution exist in Ethiopia in an even more pronounced fashion than in Egypt or Tunisia. His speech also acknowledged and identified some of the negative barriers for people’s uprising that exist uniquely in Ethiopia. Finally, he enumerated the steps that must be taken by the opposition groups, the youth and the people of Ethiopia to enable the revolution in the Ethiopian condition.

We believe the speeches by Dr Birhanu and Ato Neamin are must-listen speeches for all Ethiopians. Watch below:

After the public meeting, the participants of the meeting had an extended informal conversation over dinner with the guests about the present condition in Ethiopia. In Houston, the focus of the discussion revolved around the implication of the absence of a large middle and educated class in Ethiopia for carrying a revolution like we witnessed in Egypt. Dr. Birhanu insisted that this fact is irrelevant for the fight against dictatorship in Ethiopia. He said, “everybody including peasants can and will fight for their freedom and self government”.

In Dallas, the focus of the dinner-conversation was instigated by the provocative question from Dr. Birhanu. He asked the dinner participants on why there were only 200+ participants in the meeting in a city where there are over 20, 0000 Ethiopians. These led to a very productive exchange of ideas in what we all have to do to broaden the participation of the larger community in such event in the future.

Meeting Organizers

Peru breaks diplomatic ties with Libya

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Here is a small nation with a big heart standing up for justice. Thank you Peru.

(AP) — Peru’s government has announced it is suspending diplomatic relations with Libya to protest the violence unleashed by its leader Muammar Gaddafi against his people.

A statement released Tuesday evening by President Alan Garcia’s office on its website said Peru would ask the UN Security Council to establish an exclusion zone in Libyan airspace “to prevent the use of that country’s warplanes against (its) population.”

Other developments

* The Arab League has suspended Libya from its sessions in light of violent crackdowns on anti-government protests, said media reports citing regional news network Al Jazeera. Earlier on Tuesday, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa spoke of ‘Arab anger about what is happening to civilians in Libya,’ the report added. A League statement read out by Secretary-General Arm Moussa strongly condemned what it called crimes against civilians, the recruiting of foreign mercenaries and the use of live ammunition and heavy weapons by Libyan forces.

* Witnesses have reported that Benghazi has essentially been taken over by the opposition. – CNN

* On Sunday, Maj. Gen. Suleiman Mahmoud, the commander of the Tobruk Garrison, took off his shoes and entered a mosque, he said. Inside he hailed the martyrs of the revolution and told the people he was with them. Hundreds gathered around him and wept. Mahmoud said that he had participated in Gaddafi’s 1969 revolution but that his family had persuaded him in recent days to turn against the government. His daughter, who holds a doctorate, sobbed into the phone, telling him of the hundreds who had been killed in their home town of Benghazi. Many were teenage boys, and some were the neighbors’ children. “I decided to withdraw from the revolutionary army and join the people,” Mahmoud said, still in his uniform Tuesday night. – Washington Post

Conditions in Ethiopia justify revolution

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

By Shimekit Debalke

Over the last couple of weeks or months, I have been carefully listening to, watching, and reading conflicting messages about the importance and timeliness of a popular uprising in Ethiopia to topple the TPLF-led regime.

Some people argue that the “Jasmine‖” and “Nile Revolutions” that successfully took place in Tunisia and Egypt, respectively, will not be applicable to Ethiopia. Their argument centers on the fact that Tunisians and Egyptians are more literate. But, literacy is only one factor for successful revolution. There are other important ingredients of a successful revolution – unison, patriotism, resoluteness, vision, and a common goal. If literacy is even given undue emphasis, we Ethiopians have enlightened and experienced individuals in the academia, public service, civil society organizations and other walks of life who are courageous and gallant.

Others argue that the military in the Arab World is more enlightened and neutral. I strongly believe that the army in Ethiopia will draw an important lesson that if it continues to support this regime in suppressing the inevitable peoples’ revolution, its fate will be endangered in the aftermath of the successful revolution and Ethiopia will no more consider it as a national army. So the army must be for us, not against us. I understand that the military officials at all levels are from Tigray. But, the rank-and-file of the army are recruited from all ethnic groups and will never shoot their own people down. The rank-and-file of the army are tired of their racist bosses.

Others argue that the Ethiopian youth might not be able to have sufficient access to social media (such as Facebook and Twitter) since all communications are controlled by TPLF. Probably more than social media, revolution requires organization and commitment. Popular uprisings in Georgia, Ukraine, and other nations have been successful well before the advent of any social media and even of the internet. There was no internet when gallant Ethiopians such as Walleligne Mekonnen and Tilahun Gizaw were shaking the Haileselassie regime during the 1960s. There is no need to be obsessed with the importance of social media and neglect other techniques and strategies. I am not downplaying the importance of social media for the uprising. It is a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition.

Others argue that if a popular uprising is called upon, Zenawi’s police, security forces and the military will respond with brute force. I want to remind TPLF officials about John F. Kennedy’s quote ((if at all they read it):

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

For the last 20 years, we have been arrested, marginalized, dehumanized, and murdered by the regime. What are we waiting for? Can we express ourselves freely? Are we equally treated before the court? Aren’t we in continuous frustration of extra-judicial arrests? Generally speaking, we are in mass detention center under TPLF. The detention center is Ethiopia itself and the prison guards are TPLF thugs and gangs.

Others still argue that if a regime change takes place, some ethnic groups will claim secession. In its 20-years stay, TPLF has been successful only in one thing – that is, creating a misunderstanding among different ethnic groups, encouraging one ethnic group to take vengeance against the other ethnic group – a “divide-and-conquer” principle which the British used during the colonial period. Nonetheless, be cognizant that after this regime is dismantled, Article 39 of the TPLF/EPRDF “constitution” will no longer be in effect to be used by some ethnic groups as a pretext to raise the question of self-determination up to secession. The current”constitution” does not represent Ethiopian national interest and it is TPLF’s political programme solely designed to support “Eritrean independence” and create the Tigray Republic (though they have not sufficient and necessary resources to secede and are still busy amassing resources to make their nightmare a reality). Don’t’ worry! There will be national reconciliation to address both individual and group/ethnic rights – no fear for disintegration after the revolution. If we tolerate TPLF administration any more, we will disintegrate.

Thus, we Ethiopians have strong justification to ignite a revolution probably more than any other nation in the world – leave alone the Arab World.

Needless to say, we are in abject poverty and are fed up with Zenawi’s development/growth propaganda. The economy has fallen victim to Meles’ insatiable families and loyal groups. Probably incomparable to other countries, we Ethiopians are deprived of the indivisible and inalienable human rights — civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. All the draconian legislations passed by the most unpopular “Parliament” in the world, including the NGO Legislation, the Press Law, and the  “Anti-Terrorism” Law are all meant to suppress any opposition and plural thoughts. Recently, the government has frozen the assets of the two indigenous human rights organizations – Ethiopian Women Lawyers’ Association (EWLA) and the Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRC). Meles has narrowed the political space to the extent possible and declared a one-man rule. The deprivations in Ethiopia are countless both in depth and width.

Let me bring here Ernesto Che’Guevera’s quote about revolution: “It is not necessary to wait until all conditions for making revolution exist: the insurrection can create them.” The upsurge should be as peaceful as possible. Let me, however, remind you of Fidel Castor’s quote: “A revolution is not a bed of roses. A revolution is a struggle to death between the future and the past.” However, we should devise a mechanism to achieve our goals with no or minimum blood and sacrifice. We have no moral justification to be scared by the Woyanne cliques. They will immediately be inundated and engulfed by gallant Ethiopians storming from all walks of life. This regime does not have a public base. It is solely based on thugs and gangs who are good to endanger our national interest.

Finally, Let me pinpoint some strategies for our struggle (you can improve them since the list is not exhaustive):

1. Share our overall plans to prominent international media, social media professionals and owners, prominent human rights groups, the UN, the US, the UK, and other freedom-loving nations.

2. Disseminate brochures, leaflets, and posters at hotspot areas. (In Addis Ababa: Piazza, Stadium, Sidist Kilo, Arat Kilo, Amist Kilo, Anbessa Bus Stops, regional bus stations, high schools, and universities. In regional cities: high schools, universities, and bus stations). This can effectively be done at nighttime recruiting street adults – be, however, cautious that some of these street adults might be Woyanee informers!

3. Move underground as the EPRP (Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Party) did 30 years back to ignite the revolution. Hold underground consultative meetings with high school and university teachers in very small groups and exchange information through email, SMS, or call by using code names.

4. Launch the uprising in major towns such as in Addis Ababa, Adama, Hawassa, Bahir Dar, Dessie, and other perceived opposition strongholds. This may then be spread to Addis Ababa.

5. Assure the police and the army that it will not be dismantled when regime change takes place as a result of the popular uprising by any means available, especially during the revolt.

6. Once the uprising is ignited, let us stay together at the streets, churches and mosques. If we go back home in the night, the Woyanne security forces will come to our homes and take us to jails.

7. Refrain from any ethnic and religious insult throughout the period of the uprising. Woyane thugs will incite this to abort the revolution – be cautious!

The Moral Economy of A New Ethiopia in the Horizon

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

By Teodros Kiros

We Ethiopians know what we do not want, but some of us know what we do not want,  as well us what we want and could want.  When we ask for regime change, we do so with a firm vision of a new Ethiopia. We have a well thought out possibility for change, ready to be converted into a new reality by our able and underused intelligencia.  We have a blue print of a future Ethiopia, and we are ready to share it with the Ethiopian public for their considered judgment. From now on nothing is going to be practiced without the scrutiny of the Ethiopian people’s public reason. Our role is merely to suggest what we think is viable, and our people’s  public reason judges our proposals. Together, we practice radical democracy, the peoples’ democracy.

A sharp twitter recently observed:

But as food prices continue to rise and economic hardship tightens its grip on the region, it is plausible to imagine Africans revolting and using means other than the often meaningless ballot box to remove their leaders.

“What people want is the democratization of society, of production, of the economy, and indeed all aspects of life,” says Manji. “What they are being offered instead is the ballot box.”

But, Manji adds: “Elections don’t address the fundamental problems that people face. Elections on their own do nothing to enable ordinary people to be able to determine their own destiny. “

This, according to Kisiangani, is because “the process of democratization in many African countries seems more illusory than fundamental”.

Gabon, Zimbabwe, even Ethiopia may never have the online reach enjoyed by Egyptians, and the scale of solidarity through linguistic and cultural symmetry may not allow their calls to reach the same number of internet users. But this does not mean that a similar desire for change is not brewing, nor that the traditional media and online community are justified in ignoring it.

Screens were put up in Tahrir Square broadcasting Al Jazeera’s coverage of the protests back to the protesters. It is difficult to qualify the role of social media in the popular uprisings gaining momentum across the Arab world, but it is even more difficult to quantify the effect of the perception of being ignored, of not being watched, discussed and, well, retweeted to the throngs of others needing to be heard.

Ignoring the developments in Africa is to miss the half the story.

“The protests have created the ‘hope’ that ordinary people can define their political destiny,” says Kisiangani. “The uprisings … are making people on the continent become conscious about their abilities to define their political destinies.”

Follow @azadessa on Twitter.

What follows is an outline of a vision for the New Ethiopia that we will march for peacefully and confidently.

The new Moral Economy, which I propose, can democratize the entire nation.

MAAT was to ancient Egypt as Wisdom was to ancient Greece. Wisdom was to Plato’s aristocratic regime as Maat was to Egypt ’s social and political life. The concept of Maat insinuated itself with every aspect of Classical Egypt. Pharaohs and the majestic slaves who erected the pyramids swore by Maat. Rich and poor, men and women, slaves and free citizens worshipped the magic of Maat. Matt was the moral organizer of everyday life in classical Egypt.  Every facet of Egyptian life was organized by the expansive principle of Matt. Maat framed every facet of Egyptian life. Why did Matt have such a presence in Egyptian life? What was its magical spell? I should now like to address these questions. The human self required an organizing

moral principle. Moral life cannot function without a moral frame, a frame that furnishes the self with boundaries and limiting conditions of social action. It is precisely this lacuna that was lacking in Egyptian morality until the self-creating Egyptian gods originated the expansive concept of Maat. Matt, was symbolized by the feminine principle of “truth, balance, order and justice”. Maat was harmony, righteousness, patience and vision, born out of the feminine principle of patient labor. For the ancient Egyptians, the order of the universe was also the ideal order for the human world.

Logos ordered the universe, by the rational word. It is this order that Plato used in his Republic, when he constructed an ideal city out of Logos. This principle was later translated into, “In the beginning was Logos”, and was with God and the Logos was God (John1:1). Jesus himself was Logos, in marked contrast, for the ancient Egyptians, the organizing principle of Logos was replaced by the organizing principle of Maat. Kings who personified Maat ruled the Egyptian city. The human heart, which was worshipped by the Egyptians, and which was the seat of thinking, was also the seat of Maat. The pharaohs were expected to rule with Maat, and not without it. The pharaoh’s greatness was measured by the quality and quantity of Maat that he or she internalized. After death, the scale of Maat, the scale of Justice, would weigh their hearts.

When famines occurred and deep inequalities became a way of life, it was the duty of the rulers to uphold Maat and measure the depth and extent of the suffering. Not that this ideal was perfectly upheld, particularly when nature overwhelmed the rulers ideals, but there was at least an absolute and objective standard by which social/ political life was judged and measured.

Maat as a moral form requires an appropriate economic form, which has yet to be how elastic and flexible the dominant capitalist economic form, and however generously it is stretched, the capitalist economic form is plainly speaking morally vacuous to accommodate the greatness of Maat as a moral form. The most fitting moral form that could work in tandem with Maat is an economic form that is anchored on a solid moral foundation. Maat is precisely that moral foundation, which is yearning

for an economic form, particularly relevant for the African condition.

A moral form requires a supportive economic form. Classical Egypt had the right moral form but not the right economic form. Whereas Maat singled out the self as capable of stepping out of its ego shell and embracing other egos outside of it, the corresponding famine and hunger situations forced the actual Egyptian motto embrace the other, but to destroy other selves. It is these particular moments of despair and anguish that killed the enabling moments of patience, justice and love, Maat’s feminized principles. The Egyptian self was thus denuded of its potential grandeur, which would make many Afrocentrists, intent on proving the moral superiority of the African self, cry in despair. To say that material deprivation produced moral deprivation is not to argue that at no point, did the African self ever present itself as moral. The idealized attempts by Egypt’s leaders that led to internalize the limiting conditions of Maat proves the Afrocentric hypotheses that there was a particularly Egyptianized/Africanized effort at internalizing moral greatness, but it was not institutionalized in Egyptian life, the way that the capitalist form did in the 17th century and beyond.

The moral form of life that Maat promised remained on paper, as nothing more than an ideal. The ideals were not institutionalized as ideas, which can be lived, which can be practiced. African thinkers did not take the time to embody these ideals in the lifeblood of institutions. In short the moral form did not produce a corresponding economic form, in the precise way that the capitalist form produced a corresponding moral form, and institutionalized the latter in far reaching institutions of the state and its civil society. That is the task that I should like to impose on myself. The celebrated moral features of Maat are generosity, justice, uprightness, tolerance and loving patience. Indeed, these are demanding virtues that capitalism as the dominant economic form cannot support, no matter how diligently it tries.

Adam Smith, the world-famous economist, but who was also a moral philosopher, argued that unless capitalism is restrained by morality, as a limiting condition of greed and superfluity, it would eat itself up. To that effect, he developed an elaborate moral theory comprising of what he called “moral sentiments” to control the excesses of the market. He proposed compassion and sociality as two powerful moral sentiments that could regulate the excesses of the market. The moral sentiment, he thought, could counter the purely instrumental features of the capitalist economic form. Of course, to this day, his warning of an inevitable doom has yet to be heeded, and capitalism itself continues to marvel of its resiliency to create crises and immediately correct them, thereby proving its “naturalness” and making it easy for its proponents to present it to the world as a God-chosen economic form. Any attempt to counter it with something like Maat is dismissed as a pipe dream. No one in his or her right mind is expected to take Maat seriously. And the fact that the geographical origin of Maat is an African civilization conveniently results in dismissing Maat as irrelevant and wishful thinking.

Maat as a moral form is considerably deeper than the passing moral sentiments that the Scottish moral philosopher, David Hume, proposed. Generosity, justice, uprightness, tolerance, wisdom and loving patience go directly against our natural proclivity of injustice, dishonesty, intolerance, closedmindness, ignorance and hate. These vices seem to fit the ready-to-hand tapestry of our makeup, which by now has become so second nature that no Maat is going to dissemble these powerful vices, which were effectively used to build empires and economic forms that support the visions of the rich and powerful. In contemporary life revitalizing the features of Maat requires nothing less than manufacturing a new human being.

We must create new Ethiopians, who have to be willing and capable of acting generously, patiently, tolerantly and lovingly. We do not have such  Ethiopians in sufficient numbers that matter to construct an economic \form that values justice, uprightness, wisdom, tolerance and loving patience. Taking the virtues singly, the following picture emerges. Let us begin with generosity.

Generosity is a virtue. It is a virtue that is willing to give without receiving, or is willing to give without the deliberate intent of receiving anything, or that the receiving is only an accident, and not an intentional act. The generous person then gives a particular good A to person B; and person B does not simply receive A as a matter of course. B receives A with a profound respect of the giver, and even plans, if she can, to one day reciprocate not in the same way, but in someway. The reciprocity need not be of equal goods. A and B need not be two equal goods, in which equality is measured by money. What makes the act morally compelling is the desire to reciprocate, and not the quantity of the reciprocity.

One of the economic forms of Maat, as illustrated above, is a vision of the self as generous, and generosity itself does not require a calculated practice of reciprocity but simply the desire and the commitment to give when one can, and sometimes to give A to B, although A has to sacrifice good C for the sake of giving A to B, even when one cannot, and perhaps should not, and yet the generous gives nevertheless. One of the central pillars of Maat as an economic form is the cultivation of a human self willing and capable of acting generously in the relational moral regime of giving and receiving, or simply giving without receiving, or receiving with a profound sense of gratitude and respect. The celebrated moral features of Maat are generosity, justice, uprightness, tolerance and loving patience. Indeed, these are demanding virtues that capitalism as the dominant economic form cannot support, no matter how diligently it tries.

Justice is one of the features of Maat and it is also a potential source of a Moral Economy, appropriate for the African condition.

As Aristotle taught, one does not become just merely by abstractly knowing what Justice is; rather, one becomes just by doing just things. The puzzling question is this: if one does not know what justice is then how can she know what just things are, so that she could choose only just things and not others? The question is not easy to answer. But an example might give us a sense of what Aristotle means, and then proceed to discuss the matter at hand, justice as one of the economic forms of Maat.

It is Christmas evening and a family is gathering for a dinner and the table has been set for ten people. Among the popular dishes are five pies, and shortly before the guests arrive, one of the family members has been asked to cut  ambashas into exact sizes, such that no single person would feel that he has mistakenly picked one of the smallest pies, in the event that a person picked a piece and it turned out to be the smallest.

The task of the pie cutter is to observe that justice is served and that all the pies are cut evenly and fairly. This is of course an exceedingly difficult task, but justice demands it, and the just cutter must prove the worthiness of her moral action. What must this person do? That is the moral question. Well, at the minimum the person herself must be just in order to perform just action, and in this instance, justice means nothing more than cutting the pieces equally to ones best ability, and that she must do so fairly.

She must cut the pies with a moral imagination and an intuitive mathematical precision, and must pray to the transcendent to make her see justly, and that she is enabled to measure precisely. There is a spiritual dimension to the science of measurement, which could have been simply done with a measuring tape. That possibility, however convenient, is not elegant. She is not going to stand there with to make an effort to be precise, because her intention is to be just and (2) that her eyes are just, or that she prays that they would be. (1) and (2) are the requirements; the rest is left to moral imagination.

She cuts the ambashas, and it turns out that all the pieces appear to be equal, and when the guests arrived, they randomly pick the pieces, and appear to be clearly satisfied. What we have here is a display of justice in the Aristotelian sense, in which justice is defined as an activity that is guided by a measure of equality, and equality itself is manifest in the attempt at being fair to everyone, and in this example, an attempt to be fair to the guests, without their ever knowing that they are being worked on. They judge the event as illuminated by justice, and the event as uplifting. They eat, drink, converse, dance and leave.

Justice presents itself in this event, through the presence of those delicious pies, each of which was a duplicate of the other. Generalizing this to a higher level, what we can say is that any economic form must be guided with justice as an event of doing things fairly and that all the commodities that human beings should want must be distributed with such a standard, the standard of justice as fairness. Given justice as fairness, commodity A can be distributed between persons B and C  in such an equitable way that B and C share commodity A by getting the same amount at any time, any place and for a good reason.

Compassion is another feature of Maat; indeed, it is one of the cardinal moral forms for the new moral economy that I am theorizing here. Compassion is to moral economy as greed is to capitalism. One cannot imagine capitalism without the salient principle of greed, and similarly, one cannot imagine moral economy without the originary principle of compassion. Class, race, gender, ethnicity and groups divide the modern world. Out of these divisions it is class division that is the most decisive, as it is also the one that seems to be so natural that we cannot surmount the pain and agony that it produces. In a class-divided world, compassion is the least present because there is no compelling reason that persuades individuals to be compassionate if they are not naturally compassionate, or are inclined toward it. Of course, where compassion is not naturally present, it could be taught either by example or directly through teaching.

An example should elucidate the place of compassion in moral economy. It’s summer, and exhaustingly hot. People that you encounter are hot tempered too. Everybody is on edge, including you. You happen to be a coffee lover, so there you are standing behind a long line of people to get your fix. The heat has made you really impatient, and you are ready to explode on anything around you. You are also naturally generous but not this day. Soon, before you leave the coffee shop, a homeless person smiles at you and tries to engage you in a conversation, hoping that you will understand the purpose of the conversation. Of course you understand, but you ignore him and walk by. But then something bothers you, and you come back to the coffeshop and generously give the man what he wanted. You are proud of yourself, because you have done what generosity demands, that

you control your temper and perform the morally correct action. Surely, you say to yourself it was not easy, but you did it.

Now you wonder what all this means, and why you did it. It is obvious to you why you did the action. Indeed, it is because you are really a compassionate human being but also a religious person. You really have no obligation topay attention to that person. He is not related to you, he is not an ex friend that fortune turned against, nor did you do it so as to be a hero by the media.

Your action is morally worthy only because you have internalized compassion. To you compassion comes quite naturally. It is part of your moral frame. Any repeated action becomes a habit. So compassionate action comes habitually to you. You rarely fight it. Rather, you exuberantly let it lead your way, as it eventually did on that hot and difficult day. But even on that day you conquered the temptation of doubt, and excessive self-love, by the moral force of compassion. That is why you corrected yourself, when you were briefly but powerfully tempted by forgetfulness on that hot day and returned to do the morally right thing.

Compassion is morally compelling when it is extended to a total other, which has nothing to do with our lives, other than the silent duty we have toward those who await our moral attention. It is much easier to be compassionate toward a loved one, a friend, a relative and even an acquaintance; harder is the task when the subject is a real other, such as that homeless person by the coffee shop. In order for any action to be morally worthy the motive must be pure, and the purity is measured by the quality and quantity of the compassion that is extended to any needy human being, uncontaminated by external motives, such as love, friendship, acquaintance and relation.

It is in this particular way that I am arguing that compassion serves Maat.

Tolerance is a crucial feature of moral economy. In fact, it could easily be argued that it is an indispensable organizing principle, which works in tandem with loving kindness. Just as we cannot love a person without respecting her, except delusorily, we cannot live with one another without tolerating each other’s needs, habits, likes and dislikes.

In the economic sphere tolerance is subtly pertinent. We cannot readily sense its inner working unless we pay attention to its musings at the work place, as we interact with one another as bosses and employees.

Consider the following example to underscore the point. There is this employee who does things in ways that many people find annoying. She customarily comes late to work; she procrastinates; she spreads papers, cans and food stuffs all around her sometimes she cannot even find herself amid the dirt, the pile and the dust. Yet, and this is the point, whatever she does is done flawlessly, as flawless as human products could be. Her boss has agonized over what to do with her; he has contemplated firing her numerous times. Lulled by the elegance of her work and his loving-kindness toward her, he decides to keep her. He has promised himself to erase those occasional thoughts of getting rid of her. As he told one of his friends, he has learned, and not very easily, the ways of tolerance as a principle of management, of managing employees who will not and cannot change their habits for the rest of their lives.

I consider this manager very wise and skilled at the art of management. He

decided, obviously because he could change himself as hard as it was, rather than expect his employee to change. The structure of his thoughts could be put syllogistically. Y can change his way / X cannot change easily / Therefore Y must change for the sake of Z.

Y is the manager. X is the annoying employee. Z is the organization where Y and X work. In this situation Z is saved precisely because the manager internalizes tolerance and loving-kindness as the organizing principles of the organization. Y controls his ego and chooses to advance the interests of Z over and against his own private needs. He did not fire X because his ego demands it. Nor does he ever insist that X must change. He has intuitively and empirically concluded that it is not pointless to expect X to change, nor would it benefit Z to lose X, since X is an intelligent and skilled worker.

Where tolerance is habitually practiced at workplaces it becomes an indispensable good that could save many employers the unnecessary cost that is incurred on hiring and firing employees and ease the distress of the families and loved ones of employers and employees. Tolerance can easily remedy the situation. If it is much easier for managers to change than it is for excellent employees with annoying habits, and then it is those who can change their ways who must change for the sake of a functional and democratic moral economy.

Patience is a feature of Maat. The ideal leader as well as the ideal citizen must patiently wait to witness the appearance of the Transcendent. Nothing great is accomplished without a transcendental intervention, the seal of completeness, of Generosity and Justice, two other features of moral economy, as I have argued in previous essays.

Rarely is patience, however, associated with economic forms. Economic forms are founded on seizing the opportunity before it vanishes. The activity is everything but patient. Patience and quick money making are the virtues of capitalism. In that worldview, success is measured by shrewdness, quickness, impatience and opportunism. Whereas patience is undermined by capitalism, the economic form for Maat reveres it. The economic form for the African condition demands it. Without this virtue the disadvantaged citizen of the African continent is doomed, fated to starve and die.

A moral economy, in contrast, when founded on Maat, shares with Maat an ardent belief in-patient waiting, and this is particularly true during times of famine, poverty and loss. Patient waiting is the much-needed virtue that both generosity and justice demand. An example might illuminate the abstraction.

African Economy in country A has been blooming, and the Western world has been hailing it as a model for the future. Country A gets spoiled and its inhabitants shop madly. No commodity is beyond their reach, so they think. Suddenly, all things, with the exception of the Transcendent change, since no condition is permanent. The oil fields drain. The spoils of the economy are distributed unevenly.

The citizens become impatient with country A, which had introduced them to the pangs of luxury, which have now become the pangs of hunger. Friends turn against friends. The shopping frenzy slows down. Their lovers do not love the men anymore. The rate of divorce increases, since the men’s ability to maintain expensive lifestyles are no more.

Patient waiting for better days is not a norm. Loves and friendships founded on comfort, wealth and excessive wealth are not permanent. They flounder as easily as they initially sprawled. Things that last must be built slowly, in the furnace of time, and be sculpted in accordance with the laws of beauty.

Country A is no longer a model of hope, but a model of despair. Uneconomic form that does not institutionalize patient waiting as a way of life digs its grave when conditions change. That is why patient waiting also must be systematically insinuated in the African citizen’s psyche, as an ethics of living, and a stylistics of what I have previously called-existential seriousness. A responsible economic form must inculcate the virtue of patience among its citizens, from early on. This complicated and demanding virtue must be taught at all levels of school. It must be part of economic principles, and be taught as such, and not be pushed to the sidelines, as part of religion and theology, which does not have much to do with morals, and has nothing to do with economics. It is this dogma of capitalist economics that must change.

My argument here is a modest contribution to challenge one of the foundational dogmas of bourgeois economics. The morals must guide economics and a new moral economy that works in concert with moral philosophy and religion is precisely what the African condition requires. More morality, with a distinct religious voice, such as the notion of patient waiting, will strengthen and expand our horizons as we struggle with poverty, famine and other sorrows of modern life.

We need more people who can patiently wait as everything changes, hopeful that no condition is permanent, including the conditions of nations, when their economies get distorted and the citizens are hardened and become cruel towards one another, and that the notion of helping your fellow citizens sounds indeed very

strange, to those who are comfortable. Instead, during trying times, citizens do not patiently wait for things to change; instead, they give up altogether, or become irreligious and immoral.  It is in this way that patient waiting, I argue, becomes one of the pillars of moral economy, one of the features of Maat, along with generosity and justice, which I examined in previous essays.

Justice is one of the features of Maat and it is also a potential source of a Moral Economy, appropriate for the African condition.  As Aristotle taught, one does not become just merely by abstractly knowing what Justice is; rather, one becomes just by doing just things. The puzzling question is this: if one does not know what justice is then how can she know what just things are, so that she could choose only just things and not others? The question is not easy to answer. But an example might give us a sense of what Aristotle means, and then proceed to discuss the matter at hand, justice as one of the economic forms of Maat.

It is Christmas evening and a family is gathering for a dinner and the table had been set for ten people. Among the popular dishes are five ambashas, and shortly before the guests arrive, one of the family members has been asked to cut the Ambashas (bread) into exact sizes, such that no single person would feel that he has mistakenly picked one of the smallest pies, in the event that a person picked a piece and it turned out to be the smallest.

The task of the  ambasha cutter was to observe that justice is served and that all the ambashas are cut evenly and fairly. This is of course an exceedingly difficult task, but justice demands it, and the just cutter must prove the worthiness of her moral action. What must this person do? That is the moral question. Well, at the minimum the person herself must be just in order to perform just action, and in this instance, justice means nothing more than cutting the pieces equally to ones best ability.

She must cut the pies with a moral imagination and an intuitive mathematical precision, and must pray to the transcendent to make her see justly, and that she is enabled to measure precisely. There is a spiritual dimension to the science of measurement, which could have been simply done with a measuring rope. That possibility, however, convenient, is not elegant. She is not going to stand there with a ruler to cut pies. Rather, the expectations are two, that (1) She is going to make an effort to be precise, because her intention is to be just and (2) that her eyes are just, or that she prays that they would be. (1) and (2) are the

requirements; the rest is left to moral imagination.

She cut the pies, and it turned out that, all the pieces appeared to be equal, and when the guests arrived, they randomly picked the pieces, and appeared to be clearly satisfied. What we have here is a display of justice in the Aristotelian sense, in which justice is defined as an activity that is guided by a measure of equality, and equality itself is manifest in the attempt at being fair to everyone, and in this example, an attempt to be fair to the guests, without they ever knowing that they are being worked on. They judge the event as illuminated by justice, and the event as uplifting. They ate, drunk, conversed, danced and left.

Justice presented itself in this event, through the presence of those delicious pies, each of which was a duplicate of the other.

Generalizing this to a higher level, what we can say is that any economic form must be guided with justice as an event of doing things fairly and that all the commodities that human beings should want must be distributed with such a standard, the standard of justice as fairness. Given justice as fairness, commodity A can be distributed between persons B and C, in such an equitable way, that B and C share commodity A by getting the same amount at any time, any place and for a good reason.

The celebrated moral features of Maat are generosity, justice, uprightness,

tolerance and loving patience. Indeed, these are demanding virtues that capitalism , as the dominant economic form cannot support, no matter how diligently it tries. Adam Smith, the world famous economist, but who was also a moral philosopher, did argue that unless capitalism is restrained by morality, as a limiting condition of greed and superfluity, it would eat itself up. To that effect, he developed an elaborate moral theory comprising of what he called “moral sentiments” to control the excesses of the market. He proposed compassion and sociality as two powerful moral sentiments that could regulate the excesses of the market. The moral sentiment, he thought, could counter the purely instrumental features of the capitalist economic form. Of course, to this day, his warning of an inevitable doom has yet to be heeded, and capitalism itself continues to marvel its resiliency to create crises and immediately correct them, thereby proving its “naturalness” and making it easy for its proponents to present it to the world as a God chosen economic form. Any attempt to counter it with something like Maat is dismissed as a pipe dream. No body in her right mind is expected to take Maat seriously. And the fact the geographical origin of Maat is an African civilization, conveniently results in dismissing Maat as irrelevant and wishful thinking.

Maat as a moral form is considerably deeper than the passing moral sentiments that the Scottish moral philosopher proposed. Generosity, justice, uprightness, tolerance, wisdom and loving patience go directly against our natural proclivity of injustice, dishonesty, intolerance, closedmindness, ignorance and hate. These vices seem to fit the ready to hand tapestry of our makeup, which by now has become, so second nature that no Maat is going to dissemble these powerful vices which were effectively used to build empires and economic forms that support the visions of the rich and powerful. In contemporary life revitalizing the features of Maat requires nothing less than manufacturing a new human being.

We must create new human beings, human beings who have to be willing and capable of acting generously, patiently, tolerantly and lovingly. We do not have such human beings in sufficient numbers that matter to construct an economic form that values justice, uprightness, wisdom, tolerance and loving patience.

Taking the virtues singly, the following picture emerges. Let us begin with

generosity. Generosity is a virtue. It is a virtue that is willing to give without

receiving, or is willing to give without the deliberate intent of receiving anything, or that the receiving is only an accident, and not an intentional act. The generous person then gives a particular good A to person B; and person B does not simply receive A as a matter of course. B receives A with a profound respec to of the giver, and even plans, if she can, to one day reciprocate not in the same way, but in some way. The reciprocity need not be of equal goods. A and B need not be two equal goods, in which equality is measured by money. What makes the act morally compelling is the desire to reciprocate, and not the quantity of the reciprocity.

One of the economic forms of Maat, as illustrated above, is a vision of the self as generous, and generosity itself does not require a calculated practice of reciprocity but simply the desire and the commitment to give when one can, and sometimes, to give A to B, although A has to sacrifice good C for the sake of giving A to B, even when one cannot, and perhaps should not, and yet the generous gives nevertheless. One of the central pillars of Maat as an economic form is the cultivation of a human self willing and capable of acting generously in the relational moral regime of giving and receiving, or simply giving without receiving, or receiving with a profound sense of gratitude and respect .

Individuals who embody maat’s principles must lead the new Ethiopia.  All our infrastructures must be infused by these principles. Our schools and work places must nurture Ethiopians who can practice the above features.  While we are fighting for regime change , we must in our private lives and public spaces embark on this foundational cultural transformation, as I have repeatedly argued in the pages of all our websites.

I am calling for again, an act of the practice of the self and the activation of the collective Ethiopian soul. Nothing short of the originary change can give us the radical democratic change, which we are yearning.

Regime change must correspond to cultural change, otherwise the New Ethiopia will not be any different  from the one, which we are despairing to change.

The  new regime has to  be a cultural transformer and system builder. Every facet of Ethiopian life has to be guided by matt, a cultural transformer and vision giver. We have to make  maat our  very own and appropriate her principles of justice.

US Republican Congress to cut foreign aid by 41%! Bravo!

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

There is a good news coming out of the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress. Doug Bandow of Forbes Magazine reports that Congress is cutting foreign “aid” by 41 percent this year. This a great news for the people of Ethiopia and other countries who are suffering under U.S.-financed brutal dictators. For the dictators themselves, however, it is a major blow. The good people of United States are allowing their government to hand out money to other countries out of kindness, but Americans need to understand that their hard earned money is being used by the U.S. diplomats to prop up blood thirsty dictators who are using the money to brutalize their people. See here what the U.S-backed regime in Ethiopia is doing to women and children [click here]. There are tens of thousands of similar cases of atrocities that have been committed by the U.S. puppet in Africa, Meles Zenawi. Thank You, Republicans! Shame on you, Obama and Hillary Clinton for proposing $580 million in assistance for Ethiopia’s genocidal tyrant in 2011!

Foreign Aid, Or Foreign Hindrance

By Doug Bandow | Forbes.com

The federal budget deficit will run a record $1.65 trillion in 2011.  So why does Washington continue to subsidize foreign governments?

The House Republicans appear determined to reduce spending, and one of their targets is foreign “aid.”  This year the State Department would lose 16% of its budget; humanitarian aid would drop by 41 percent.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warns of catastrophe:  “Cuts of this magnitude will be devastating to our national security, will render us unable to respond to unanticipated disasters and will damage our leadership around the world.”

She cited the recent political upheaval in Egypt:  “We need the resources to do the job; otherwise we will pay a higher price later in crises that are allowed to simmer and boil over into conflicts.”  She also pointed to work in Afghanistan and Iraq to argue that the proposed reductions would be “detrimental to America’s security.”

Even some conservatives stand with Secretary Clinton on this issue.  For instance, Jennifer Rubin, the Washington Post’s in-house blogger on the right, termed Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) a “neo-isolationist” for proposing to cut what amounts to international welfare.

But despite Secretary Clinton’s extravagant claims, there is little evidence that foreign assistance advances U.S. interests. After all, if America writing checks — more than a trillion dollars worth since the end of World War II — made the world a better place, the globe should be at peace, the poor should be fed, and the Second Coming should be history.

Consider Egypt.  Secretary Clinton argued that events in Egypt require Americans to subsidize the new military rulers.  For what purpose?  The U.S. provided some $30 billion to Egypt over the last three decades but the country remains poor and undemocratic.   Indeed, underwriting the corrupt Mubarak dictatorship helped turn Egypt into popular volcano.

The Obama administration has proposed spending $8.7 billion in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq next year.  Yet the results of assistance programs in these three nations are no better than in Egypt.

Pakistan has been on the U.S. dole for decades.  Tom Wright of the Wall Street Journal reported last month:  “The ambitious civilian aid program is intended in part to bolster support for the U.S. in the volatile and strategically vital nation.  But a host of problems on the ground are hampering the initiative.”

The problems run deep.  Alejandro Quiro Flores and Alastair Smith of New York University charged that “The aid dynamic is similar to that of Pakistan’s war against insurgents:  as long as the United States is willing to pay Pakistan ever more to eradicate extremists, Pakistan will not decisively defeat them; the graft that counterterrorism aid brings outweighs the political cost of some continuing violence.”

The waste, inefficiency, and corruption surrounding humanitarian projects in Afghanistan and Iraq are legendary.  It doesn’t matter if these conflicts are perceived as getting better or worse.  Aid officials will always advocate an increase in funding because the situation is getting better or worse.

At least there is a security argument for trying to buttress allied governments in war.  What of the $27 billion in so-called development assistance requested for next year?  Since the end of World War II the U.S. and other wealthy nations have spent trillions of dollars trying to raise poor nations out of poverty.  These outlays have had no discernible impact on Third World economic growth.

No doubt some projects in some countries have provided some benefits.  But the detritus of failed development projects litter the globe.  Detailed cross-national studies find neither correlation nor causation between aid and growth.  Indeed, generous financial transfers to corrupt dictators often have impeded necessary reforms.  Political elites in foreign countries disagree on many things, but all want to preserve their power and position.  Observed Flores and Smith:  “Autocratic governments’ disregard for public welfare is exacerbated by international relief assistance.”

After decades of failure aid advocates claim they now are doing better.  President George W. Bush created the Millennium Challenge Corporation to reward governments with good policies.  The MCC currently is running $7.2 billion worth of multi-year programs in 20 countries.  Yet, reported the Washington Times last August, the agency:  “is giving billions of dollars to nations upbraided by the State Department for corruption in government.”

Of Senegal, observed J.P. Pham of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy:  “We have a government that did everything right, up until they got themselves into the queue to get a grant from MCC.  They know the metrics [on corruption] will lag by a few years.”  Senegal once was considered a democratic and economic “leader in West Africa,” said former deputy assistant secretary of state Todd Moss, but “What we’ve seen is a very steep and worrying decline in the last couple of years.”

The World Bank also has emphasized better governance.  Yet, reported Mary Anastasia O’Grady of the Wall Street Journal:  “In the midst of the financial turmoil that rocked the international capital markets …, the World Bank proudly announced a new $250 million ‘assistance package’ for [El Salvador].  A few months later a scandal erupted over why a similar amount of money was never accounted for on the government’s books.”

Aid incentives are all wrong.  Observed Tate Watkins of the Mercatus Center:  “Systematic foreign aid creates opportunities for corruption, cultures of dependency, and disincentives to development.  The aid faucet misaligns incentives between donors and recipients, making it extremely difficult to turn off the flow.”

Even money targeted at humanitarian needs has a disappointing record.  Disasters like the earthquake in Haiti typically open the aid spigots.  To what result?  Six months later in Haiti, reported the Wall Street Journal, “the process of reconstruction appears to have come to a halt.”

Aid groups acknowledge that progress has been limited at best.  Reported the Washington Post:  “The effectiveness of the NGOs is now being questioned, by the groups themselves, and especially by Haitian leaders who complain that NGOs have become a parallel government hobbled by poor coordination, high turnover and a lack of transparency.”

At times assistance programs have been perversely harmful.  U.S. “Food for Peace” shipments, used to dump farmers’ domestic surpluses, is notorious for ruining local farmers and thus undermining local production.  This problem continues in Haiti.  On returning from a private aid mission, Don Slesnick, the mayor of Coral Gables, Florida, complained:  “We were saddened to see rice bags travel no more than 20 yards from the gates of the distribution site before ending up in the back of a pickup truck presumably headed for the black market.  To our further dismay, we returned home to read news stories that those very same donations were undercutting Haitian rice farmers who needed income to support their own families.”

Ethiopia is the largest aid recipient in Africa.  Unfortunately, reported Tom Porteous, the London Director of Human Rights Watch:  “multi-billion dollar programs funded by the World Bank and others have been politicized and manipulated by the Ethiopian government and are used as a powerful tool of political control and repression.”

Worse is Somalia.  Even the United Nations gives aid in this tragic nation a failing grade.  Reported the New York Times last year:  “As much as half the food aid sent to Somalia is diverted from needy people to a web of corrupt contractors, radical Islamist militants and local United Nations staff members, according to a new Security Council report.”

It’s déjà vu all over again, as Yogi Berra observed.  Two decades ago President George H. W. Bush intervened in Somalia to help deliver food.  Michael Maren worked with private organizations and later concluded:  “Separately we’d arrived at the conclusion that the relief program was probably killing as many people as it was saving, and the net result was that Somali soldiers were supplementing their income by selling food, while the [insurgent force] — often indistinguishable from the army — was using the food as rations to fuel their attacks into Ethiopia.”

Government should get out of the aid business.  There are limited instances when financial transfers might supplement or even substitute for defense expenditures, but the Cold War is over.  The U.S. is the sole superpower and faces no global rival.

Most of America’s allies, including regional powers Israel and Turkey, should have graduated from U.S. assistance years ago.  Most Third World nations are tangential at best to American security.  The more than $5 billion annually to support foreign arms sales is largely a subsidy for U.S. weapons producers.

While it’s hard to criticize humanitarian aid properly delivered, private money spent by private organizations is the best way to help those in need around the world.  Any assistance from Washington should be focused on temporary disasters where the U.S. government has unique logistical advantages—such as using an otherwise unemployed aircraft carrier to assist tsunami victims.

As for development assistance, American officials should focus on accelerating economic growth in America and easing access of other nations to the international marketplace.  That means reducing trade barriers.

For instance, the U.S. limits sugar imports from Caribbean.  Pakistanis would benefit far more from lower textile tariffs than from additional subsidies to their ineffective government.  One of the most important roadblocks to international trade liberalization is American and European agricultural subsidies.

Despite this abysmal record, the Obama administration is resisting cuts in domestic “foreign aid” programs, has contributed to increased World Bank outlays, and joined other industrialized nations in calling for more International Monetary Fund lending.

Secretary Clinton should listen to her own rhetoric:  “It’s time for a new mindset for a new century.  Time to retire old debates and replace dogmatic attitudes with clear reasoning and common sense.”

One of those dogmatic attitudes is assuming that foreign “aid” really acts as assistance rather than hindrance.  For too long aid advocates have camouflaged program failures with platitudes:  aid is used to “maintain American leadership around the globe,” “invest in global development,” and demonstrate that America is “paying attention” to other countries.  However, leadership means husbanding resources, setting priorities, and acknowledging limitations.  Development requires good policies, not international welfare.  Attention is worth paying for only if it yields positive results.

Washington should stop throwing good money after bad even if we were living in bountiful economic times.  With the country drowning in red ink, Washington must cut every unnecessary program.  Misnamed foreign aid is a good place to start.

Meles and Gaddafi – partners in crime

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

By Yilma Bekele

They say ‘in any relationship, if one party wants a change, that party needs to instigate change.’ The Tunisian people felt change was necessary. The Egyptian people agreed. The Libyans, Yemenis, Algerians, Bahrinians and the Iranians are in the process of adapting the Tunisian model.

They wanted change because hopelessness and apathy were becoming the hallmark of the society their crude leaders were building. Today is like yesterday and tomorrow will be more of the same. They felt that is no way to build a country. They felt change was in order.

Ben Ali of Tunisia abused his people for over twenty years while Mubarak lingered around for thirty years. They both used the formidable power of the state for coercion. Both have no qualms about killing, jailing, bankrupting, exiling those they deemed a threat. As usual the difference between one dictator and another is in the degrees of their insanity and selfishness. If you notice both did not have any problem about sacrificing their close friends when the going got tough.

The Tunisians got the ball rolling. They had a lot of help. The rich experience of the Serbian youth movement called ‘Otpor’ with contribution from the ‘Academy of Change’ from Egypt was instrumental in the Tunisian victory. Their elegant design was based on the teachings of Gandhi, MLK and a generous dose of Gene Sharp.

The Egyptians were relentless in their pursuit of freedom. The chaotic situation we witnessed on television was a well-choreographed play directed behind the scene. The youth leaders were simple and clear on their demands. The ouster of the dictator was the core of their demands. As usual the dictator tried to pacify by promising to loosen his grip. Too little too late should be inscribed on his gravestone. He tried every trick in the book to deflect attention away from his failures. No stone was left unturned to find a way out of this calamity. He dusted old tricks from the attic, borrowed some from fellow tyrants, went along with enablers advice, invented a few himself but nothing seems to work this time.

Two lessons stand out when we look at the ‘uprising’ in both countries. Galvanizing the ‘youth’ was key. Their perseverance when faced by supposedly formidable coercive state power was vital. The fact that the leaders of the movement were those in their thirties was refreshing and a game changer. Both Ben Ali and Mubarak are incapable of understanding the fury of the youth. They were confused and unable to process the information that their subjects were rejecting them and have learnt the language of saying ‘No’ and ‘Enough’.

As an Ethiopian I was awe struck. I laughed at the obstinate Mubarak acting belligerent as he was un robed in public, I cried for those that lost their life for their country, I was filled with joy when I witnessed the raw hunger for freedom and dignity and I fantasized about the tsunami hitting my home land. The last two months have stirred our passion for freedom and self-determination.

So when is ‘people power’ scheduled to arrive in East Africa is a good question. The short answer is now. The freedom train is now boarding. It is up to each individual to board or not. The train will leave soon with or without any one of us. This train requires no fossil fuel. This train runs on raw human energy. It is the ultimate ‘green energy’ train. It is renewable, sustainable and abundant. Our freedom train is equipped with a large sweep in front of it. It sweeps tyrants, dictators and bullies out of sight.

Freedom train is coming to Ethiopia. This is the third appearance of the train in our country. We allowed some undesirable elements to board the last two times. They were able to contaminate the train with their toxic presence and hijack our precious cargo. Our train was derailed.

The Tunisians and Egyptians developed a new vaccine to overcome Fear. Fear is what paralyzes us. Fear is our number one enemy. We spend too much time trying to design a perfect plan. Fear compels us to fret about the little details even before we take the firs step. We worry about the so-called lack of unity, we stress regarding the absence of a strong leader, we exaggerate the might of the enemy and we freeze with a sack full of uncertainty. Fear is our number one enemy.

Did you notice how centralized power was in both Tunisia and Egypt? Did you see both were one man shows? Does this kind of arrangement ring a bell? When we said Meles’s Ethiopia was a one man show people doubted us. Tunisia and Egypt proved dictatorship is a solo affair. You slay the head and the body flails around. The yes people, the sycophants and the spineless around the tyrant burn away like the morning dew.

Today we got a reversal of circumstances. Ato Meles is the one in FEAR. He is the one unable to sleep. The last two months have been a time of round the clock meetings with his fellow criminals. Like Ben Ali and Mubarak he has been pouring over plans on how to instill more fear on his people. He has been working over time to transfer his overwhelming and paralyzing fear on to us. He has sent his Kebele tugs to warn mothers about the fate of their children if they dare to emulate Tunisia or Egypt and now Libya. He has indicated that snipers are stationed on top of every building and his Agazi force is deployed in every intersection. He has promised salary increases. He has invested on more technology to block our ESAT transmission, switched off the Internet and directed his agents in the Diaspora to shout louder and create confusion. He is a picture of a cornered rat.

What is clear is that internally weak regimes like Woyane do not become passive and tolerant when confronted but rather turn to proven method of belligerency. Notice Ben Ali killed a few, Mubarak sent hired tugs and the Monarchs of Bahrain went to the extreme to preserve their lifestyle and ultimately their neck and today tyrant Gaddafi has upped the ante by using helicopters and fighter jets against his own people.

Our tyrant who is in the same league as Gaddafi will not leave silently. Our little tyrant got lots of issues hanging around his neck. Our tyrant has spilled blood. His 2005 murder was duly noted by judge Woldemichael Meshesha. His ruthless act in the Ogaden has been complied and preserved by Human Right Watch. His massacre in Gambella will never be forgotten thanks to my friend Obang.

So one might ask what next? How do we get out of this nightmare? Let us just agree our leader for life does not have any incentive to leave gracefully. On the other hand the society he has built is not sustainable nor is it desirable. Twenty years have proven he is not capable of building a just and free society. No matter what yardstick one uses to measure progress his attempt has been an abject failure. Twenty years into his leadership we are still confronted with over two million in imminent starvation, double digits of unemployment and runaway inflation. The only accomplishment the TPLF regime boasts of is real estate development, even that is the result of Diaspora investment not home grown achievement.

What is needed today is a day, a week, and a month of ‘rage’ against Woyane brutality. Who better to do that than our young ones? Who better to lead us than our young and smart children? Our young people have a glorious history to fall back on. The young people of Ethiopia have always been instruments of change. I know the shoes left behind by the University and high school students of the 60’s and 70’s is hard to fill.

Despite the over forty years of anarchy and destruction our youth have stayed focused. Their strength is displayed all around us. The fact they have survived against all odds despite Woyane bullying is testimonial to their resiliency. All you have to do is look at those that have stayed at home. They wake up everyday in that hostile and hopeless Woyane environment but still manage to eek out a living. They leave no stone unturned in their attempt to make sense of a life that shows no promise of a better tomorrow.

We should also celebrate the determination of those that leave their family and their country to find a better life. How could we forget those that cross the shark infested waters to reach Yemen or those that drown in the process? We will always remember those that cross our frontiers in their trek to unknown destinations. They cross the jungles of Africa, find a miraculous way to fly to South America and cross the US borders by foot, containers trucks and any means to find a better life. Our young ones have been tested by Woyane caused calamity and emerged stronger and wiser.

It is part of Woyane strategy to marginalize the youth by subscribing and encouraging a culture of apathy. The rise in consumption of Khat, a known narcotic and importation of degenerate culture is part of Woyane’s plan to contaminate our culture and identity. The Ethiopian youth have to overcome that. Rest assured our young ones are strong. Twenty years of organized propaganda to belittle our history, revise our glorious past, turn one ethnic against another have fallen on deaf ears.

Those of us in the Diaspora will continue our cry on behalf of our people that are silenced by the illegal regime. We will march, sign petitions, contribute money and work with Senators and Representatives to force the terrorist regime to relinquish power peacefully.

We urge the opposition to refrain from unilateral negotiations with the illegal regime. We want to put the opposition on notice that listening to the foreign diplomats and sitting down with the murderer regime is not part of our strategy to get rid of this cancer imposed on us. If the opposition wants to be included in this journey of liberation we are embarking, we hope they will read the heartbeat of our people and include the young people in their delebrations. If the opposition party’s want respect from us then we expect that they will keep in mind that our respect is earned. It is not a right but a privilege. We hope the debacle of unilateral action like the recent election will not be repeated.

We are certain Ato Meles will follow the footsteps of Gaddafi and unleash unprecedented terror on our people. He will use ethnic divide, religious divide any and all divisive issues to confuse and set us up against each other. We are hopeful that we have learned a lesson from our mistakes in the past and refrain from cannibalizing each other but rather aim our collective fury at the evil regime.

Yes we can, yes we will Ethiopia will be free, that no one can change.

Desperation time for Meles and his thugs

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Listen to the death threat in the audio clip below to understand how members and supporters of the genocidal tyrant in Ethiopia are filled with fear of an imminent uprising. Nothing has started yet but they are already having a meltdown.

Meles Zenawi's troops shoot at Libyan protesters

Monday, February 21st, 2011

A South African news site, Business Day, is reporting that among the mercenaries who are shooting at Libyan protesters are troops who have been sent to Libya by Ethiopia’s tyrant Meles Zenawi for training.

Meles Zenawi has a mercenary force known as “Agazi” that is trained to indiscriminately shoot at civilians, as witnessed in June and November 2005.

Tekeda Alemu, prepare your speech

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Several members of Libya’s mission to the United Nation, including the deputy ambassador, have today called on Gaddafi to resign. They also appealed to the U.N. to take action to prevent genocide by Gaddafi’s mercenary forces. When the imminent uprising in Ethiopia starts, will the Meles regime’s top diplomat at the U.N., Tekeda Alemu, take a similar action. He has no choice if he wishes to redeem himself. Otherwise, he will have the blood of Ethiopians on his hand and he will be hunted down for the rest of his life. The same message goes to all ambassadors around the world who are representing the ethnic apartheid regime in Ethiopia.

* Libya’s ambassadors at the United Nations are calling for leader Moammar Gaddafi to step down as the country’s ruler. Deputy Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi said on Monday that if Gaddafi does not relinquish power, “the Libyan people will get rid of him.” Dabbashi urged the international community to impose a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent mercenaries, weapons and other supplies from reaching Gaddafi and his security forces. – NDTV

* Two high-ranking Libyan air force pilots have who fled to Malta in their aircraft are reported to have told officials they escaped rather than carry out orders to bomb civilians. The officers defected as Libyan diplomats in several countries and international organisations resigned in protest at the regime’s violent response to the deepening crisis. They included Muammar Gaddafi’s ambassadors to China, India, Indonesia and Poland, as well as Libya’s representative to the Arab League and most, if not all, of its mission at the United Nations. – Guardian.com.uk

* Libyan city of Misratah, east of Tripoli, is latest to be attacked by airstrikes. Heavy artillery fire devastates buildings as tanks roll into the city, witnesses say. – Al Jazeera

Military planes fire at civilian protesters in Libya

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Al Jazeera TV is reporting that military aircraft fired live ammunition at crowds of anti-government protesters in Libya’s capital Tripoli today. Some Libyan air force pilot landed their fighter jets in Malta and told authorities that they are defecting because they are not willing to fire at their own people.

Other developments:

* Hundreds of Libyans stormed a South Korean-operated construction site near the Libyan capital Tripoli on Monday, wounding 17 and causing a stand-off between police and rioters, the South Korean Foreign Ministry said. About 500 rioters raided the site 30 kilometers (18 miles) from Tripoli, the ministry said. – CNN

* Members of a Libyan Army unit told Benghazi residents on Sunday they had defected and “liberated” Libya’s second city from troops supporting veteran leader Muammar Qaddafi.

* Output at one of Libya’s oil fields was reported to have been stopped by a workers’ strike and some European oil companies withdrew expatriate workers and suspended operations. Most of Libya’s oil fields are in the east, south of Benghazi. – Reuters

* In signs of disagreement inside Libya’s ruling elite, the justice minister resigned in protest at the “excessive use of violence” against protesters. In India, Libya’s ambassador said he was resigning in protest at the violent crackdown.

* An international coalition of 70 rights groups today urged world powers and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to suspend Libya from its membership on the UN Human Rights Council, and to convene the UN Security Council to protect Libyan civilians from “crimes against humanity.” (See full text below)

Signatories include UN Watch, a Geneva human rights organization, the U.S.-based National Endowment for Democracy, and Physicians for Human Rights, as well as 67 other groups from South Africa, Switzerland, India, Liberia, Italy, Mali, Nigeria, Germany, Pakistan, Sudan, Venezuela, Somalia, Thailand, the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

The joint statement says that the widespread atrocities committed by Libya against its own people are “particularly odious” actions that amount to “crimes against humanity,” requiring member states to take action through the Security Council under the responsibility to protect doctrine. The letter was sent today to UN chief Ban Ki-moon; EU foreign minister Catherine Ashton; the Security Council representatives from the US, France, and the UK; and to the Human Rights Council delegates from the US and Hungary, which chairs the European Union.

The appeal calls for an emergency session of the Human Rights Council to suspend Libya’s membership, and to dispatch an urgent fact-finding team to the country.

“The muted response of the US and the EU to the Libyan atrocities is not only a let-down to the many Libyans risking their lives for freedom, but a shirking of their obligations, as members of the Security Council and the Human Rights Council, to protect peace and human rights, and to prevent war crimes,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, and an international lawyer who represents Libyan torture victims.

“Baroness Ashton’s call for Libyan forces to exercise ‘restraint’ is entirely inappropriate. We’re dealing with the deliberate murder and massacre of hundreds of peaceful protesters. By signaling diplomatic caution in the face of a bloodbath — instead of urgency and action — the EU is failing the victims. It’s time for basic human rights to come before oil,” said Neuer.

“The EU should also urge the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross to send urgently-needed medical supplies into Libya, particularly for hospitals in Benghazi. Ashton should attempt to visit Libya after her trip to Cairo tomorrow.” Attempts were made from Egypt to send urgent medical supplies to Libya, but the international community needs to step in, said Neuer.

In addition to the 70 NGOs, the letter was endorsed by Dr. Frene Ginwala, former Speaker of the South African National Assembly, philosopher Francis Fukuyama, and Mohamed Eljahmi, a Libyan human rights activist.

######

Urgent Appeal to Stop Atrocities in Libya

Sent by 70 NGOs to the US, EU, and UN, 21 February 2011

We, the undersigned non-governmental, human rights, and humanitarian organizations, urge you to mobilize the United Nations and the international community and take immediate action to halt the mass atrocities now being perpetrated by the Libyan government against its own people. The inexcusable silence cannot continue.

As you know, in the past several days, Colonel Moammar Gadhafi’s forces are estimated to have deliberately killed hundreds of peaceful protesters and innocent bystanders across the country. In the city of Benghazi alone, one doctor reported seeing at least 200 dead bodies. Witnesses report that a mixture of special commandos, foreign mercenaries and regime loyalists have attacked demonstrators with knives, assault rifles and heavy-caliber weapons.

Snipers are shooting peaceful protesters. Artillery and helicopter gunships have been used against crowds of demonstrators. Thugs armed with hammers and swords attacked families in their homes. Hospital officials report numerous victims shot in the head and chest, and one struck on the head by an anti-aircraft missile. Tanks are reported to be on the streets and crushing innocent bystanders. Witnesses report that mercenaries are shooting indiscriminately from helicopters and from the top of roofs. Women and children were seen jumping off Giuliana Bridge in Benghazi to escape. Many of them were killed by the impact of hitting the water, while others were drowned. The Libyan regime is seeking to hide all of these crimes by shutting off contact with the outside world. Foreign journalists have been refused entry. Internet and phone lines have been cut or disrupted.

There is no question here about intent. The government media has published open threats, promising that demonstrators would meet a “violent and thunderous response.”

Accordingly, the government of Libya is committing gross and systematic violations of the right to life as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Citizens seeking to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are being massacred by the government.

Moreover, the government of Libya is committing crimes against humanity, as defined by the Explanatory Memorandum to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The Libyan government’s mass killing of innocent civilians amount to particularly odious offences which constitute a serious attack on human dignity. As confirmed by numerous oral and video testimonies gathered by human rights organizations and news agencies, the Libyan government’s assault on its civilian population are not isolated or sporadic events. Rather, these actions constitute a widespread and systematic policy and practice of atrocities, intentionally committed, including murder, political persecution and other inhumane acts which reach the threshold of crimes against humanity.

Responsibility to Protect

Under the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document, you have a clear and unambiguous responsibility to protect the people of Libya. The international community, through the United Nations, has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help to protect the Libyan population. Because the Libyan national authorities are manifestly failing to protect their population from crimes against humanity, should peaceful means be inadequate, member states are obliged to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the UN Charter, including Chapter VII.

In addition, we urge you to convene an emergency Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council, whose members have a duty, under UNGA Resolution 60/251, to address situations of gross and systematic violations of violations of human rights. The session should:

Call for the General Assembly to suspend Libya’s Council membership, pursuant to Article 8 of Resolution 60/251, which applies to member states that commit gross and systematic violations of human rights.

Strongly condemn, and demand an immediate end to, Libya’s massacre of its own citizens.
Dispatch immediately an international mission of independent experts to collect relevant facts and document violations of international human rights law and crimes against humanity, in order to end the impunity of the Libyan government. The mission should include an independent medical investigation into the deaths, and an investigation of the unlawful interference by the Libyan government with the access to and treatment of wounded.
Call on the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights and the Council’s relevant Special Procedures to closely monitor the situation and take action as needed.
Call on the Council to remain seized of the matter and address the Libyan situation at its upcoming 16th regular session in March.
Member states and high officials of the United Nations have a responsibility to protect the people of Libya from what are preventable crimes. We urge you to use all available measures and levers to end atrocities throughout the country.

We urge you to send a clear message that, collectively, the international community, the Security Council and the Human Rights Council will not be bystanders to these mass atrocities. The credibility of the United Nations — and many innocent lives — are at stake.

Sincerely,

1. Hillel C. Neuer, United Nations Watch, Switzerland
2. Dr. Sliman Bouchuiguir, Libyan League for Human Rights, Switzerland
3. Mary Kay Stratis, Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, Inc., USA
4. Carl Gershman, President, The National Endowment for Democracy, USA
5. Yang Jianli, Initiatives for China, USA – Former prisoner of conscience and survivor of Tiananmen Square massacre
6. Yang Kuanxing, YIbao – Chinese writer, original signatory to Charter 08, the manifesto calling for political reform in China
7. Matteo Mecacci, MP, Nonviolent Radical Party, Italy
8. Frank Donaghue, Physicians for Human Rights, USA
9. Nazanin Afshin-Jam, President and Co Founder of Stop Child Executions, Canada
10. Bhawani Shanker Kusum, Gram Bharati Samiti, India
11. G. Jasper Cummeh, III, Actions for Genuine Democratic Alternatives, Liberia
12. Michel Monod, International Fellowship of Reconciliation, Switzerland
13. Esohe Aghatise, Associazione Iroko Onlus, Italy
14. Harris O. Schoenberg, UN Reform Advocates, USA
15. Myrna Lachenal, World Federation for Mental Health, Switzerland
16. Nguyên Lê Nhân Quyên, Vietnamese League for Human Rights, Switzerland
17. Sylvia G. Iriondo, Mothers and Women against Repression (M.A.R. Por Cuba), USA
18. David Littman, World Union for Progressive Judaism, Switzerland
19. Barrister Festus Okoye, Executive Director, Human Rights Monitor, Nigeria
20. Theodor Rathgeber, Forum Human Rights, Germany
21. Derik Uya Alfred, Kwoto Cultural Center, Juba – Southern Sudan
22. Carlos E Tinoco, Consorcio Desarrollo y Justicia, A.C., Venezuela
23. Abdurashid Abdulle Abikar, Center for Youth and Democracy, Somalia
24. Dr. Vanee Meisinger, Pan Pacific and South East Asia Women’s Association, Thailand
25. Simone Abel, René Cassin, United Kingdom
26. Dr. Francois Ullmann, Ingenieurs du Monde, Switzerland
27. Sr Catherine Waters, Catholic International Education Office, USA
28. Gibreil Hamid, Darfur Peace and Development Centre, Switzerland
29. Nino Sergi, INTERSOS – Humanitarian Aid Organization, Italy
30. Daniel Feng, Foundation for China in the 21st Century
31. Ann Buwalda, Executive Director, Jubilee Campaign, USA
32. Leo Igwe, Nigerian Humanist Movement, Nigeria
33. Chandika Gautam, Member, Nepal International Consumers Union, Nepal
34. Zohra Yusuf, Council Member, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Pakistan
35. Sekou Doumbia, Femmes & Droits Humains, Mali
36. Cyrille Rolande Bechon, Executive Directror, Nouveaux Droits de l’Homme, Cameroon
37. Dr Frene Ginwala, Former Speaker, South Africa’s First democratically elected National Assembly
38. Valnora Edwin, National Coordinator, Campaign for Good Governance, Sierra Leone
39. Patrick Mpedzisi, African Democracy Forum, South Africa
40. Phil ya Nangoloh, NamRights, Namibia
41. Jaime Vintimilla, Centro Sobre Derecho y Sociedad (CIDES), Ecuador
42. Tilder Kumichii Ndichia, Gender Empowerment and Development, Cameroon
43. Amina Bouayach, Moroccan Organisation for Human Rights, Morocco
44. Abdullahi Mohamoud Nur, CEPID-Horn Africa, Somalia
45. Delly Mawazo Sesete, Resarch Center on Environment, Democracy & Human Rights, DR Congo
46. Joseph Rahall, Green Scenery, Sierra Leone
47. Arnold Djuma, Solidarité pour la Promotion Sociale et la Paix, Rwanda
48. Panayote Dimitras, Greek Helsinki Monitor, Greece
49. Carlos E. Ponce, Latina American and Caribbean Network for Democracy, Venezuela
50. Fr. Paul Lansu, Pax Christi International, Belgium
51. Tharsika Pakeerathan, Swiss Council of Eelam Tamils, Switzerland
52. Ibrahima Niang, Commission des Droits Humains du Mouvement Citoyen, Senegal
53. Virginia Swain, Center for Global Community and World Law, USA
54. Dr Yael Danieli, International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, USA
55. Savita Gokhale, Loksadhana, India
56. Hasan Dheeree, Biland Awdal Organization, Somalia
57. Pacifique Nininahazwe, Forum pour le Renforcement de la Société Civile, Burundi
58. Derik Uya Alfred, Kwoto Cultural Center, Southern Sudan
59. Michel Golubnichy, International Association of Peace Foundations, Russia
60. Edward Ladu Terso, Multi Media Training Center, South Sudan
61. Hafiz Mohammed, Justice Africa Sudan, Sudan
62. Sammy Eppel, B’nai B’rith Human Rights Commission, Venezuela
63. Jack Jeffery, International Humanist and Ethical Union, United Kingdom
64. Duy Hoang, Viet Tan, Vietnam
65. Promotion de la Democratie et Protection des Droits Humains, DR Congo
66. Radwan A. Masmoudi, Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy, USA
67. María José Zamora Solórzano, Movimiento por Nicaragua, Nicaragua
68. John Suarez, Cuban Democratic Directorate, USA
69. Mohamed Abdul Malek, Libya Watch, United Kingdom
70. Journalists Union of Russia, Russia

Gaddafi has left Libya – Press TV, Al Arabiya reporting

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Al Arabyia, Press TV, and a representative of Libyan opposition group have reported that Muammar Gaddafi has left Libya. Germany’s news web site TT.com also reports, quoting opposition groups, that Gaddafi has fled.

On Monday, Gaddafi’s son, Seif al-Eslam, denied the report that his father left the country.

Other developments

(Guardian.co.uk) — In fast-moving developments after midnight, demonstrators were reported to be in Tripoli’s Green Square and preparing to march on Gaddafi’s compound as rumours spread that the leader had fled to Venezuela. Other reports described protesters in the streets of Tripoli throwing stones at billboards of Muammar Gaddafi while police used teargas to try to disperse them.

BBC Arabic reported automatic gunfire and teargas in the capital for the first time since the unrest began.

But the regime went on the attack when Muammar Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, appeared on state TV to say it was a “tragedy” that Libyans had died but warned of “civil war” unless order was restored.

Wagging a finger at the camera, he blamed Libyan exiles for fomenting the violence but also promised dialogue on the country’s constitution, saying that the general people’s congress, Libya’s equivalent of a parliament, would convene to discuss a “clear” reform agenda, while the government would also raise wages.

“There is a plot against Libya,” said Saif, blaming “an Islamic group with a military agenda” for the bloodshed in Benghazi.

Libya would see “rivers of blood”, an exodus of foreign oil companies and occupation by “imperialists” if the violence continued, he said.

In reality, there has been little sign of Islamist involvement in Libya’s unprecedented unrest. Nor was there in the uprisings in Tunisia or Egypt.

In a rambling speech Saif al-Islam repeatedly said Libya was “not Egypt or Tunisia”, neighbouring countries whose leaders were swept from power in recent weeks.

“Muammar Gaddafi, our leader, is leading the battle in Tripoli, and we are with him,” Saif al-Islam said. “The armed forces are with him. Tens of thousands are heading here to be with him. We will fight until the last man, the last woman, the last bullet.”

“People are in the street chanting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is great) and throwing stones at photos of Gaddafi,”an expatriate worker told Reuters by telephone from Tripoli. “The police are firing teargas everywhere, it’s even getting into the houses.”

According to a Reuters report, Libyan soldiers said they had defected and were joining the protests.

An intelligence source reported that 150 soldiers and officers who disobeyed orders and refused to shoot at protesters would be executed.

Estimates of the total number of fatalities over six days of unprecedented unrest ranged from 233 – the latest figure given by Human Rights Watch – to 285. But some opposition sources gave figures as high as 500.

Two of Gaddafi’s other sons, Khamis and Saadi, and intelligence chief Abdullah Sanussi were reportedly commanding efforts to crush the protests in Benghazi, where buildings were ransacked and troops and police forced to retreat to a compound to pick off demonstrators with sniper and artillery fire.

As-Sharq al-Awsat, the Saudi newspaper, quoted sources close to the Gaddafi family as saying they would “die on Libyan soil” rather than give up power like the presidents of Egypt and Tunisia.

Facts were hard to pin down in the face of a news blackout that included jamming of the signal of the al-Jazeera TV network and interference with telephone and internet connections.

The Libya al-Yawm news website quoted one local doctor as saying that 285 people had died in Benghazi alone.

“Now people are dying we’ve got nothing else to live for,” a student blogger told the Guardian. “It’s like a pressure cooker. People are boiling up inside. I’m not even afraid any more. Once I wouldn’t have spoken at all by phone. Now I don’t care.”

In other signs of mounting domestic anger at Gaddafi, Libya’s representative to the Arab League, Abdel Monein al-Honi, announced that he was resigning in protest at the suppression of the unrest. Libya’s ambassador to China, Hussein Sadiq al-Musrati, resigned on air while on al-Jazeera Arabic, calling on the army to intervene, and urged all diplomatic staff to resign. In another striking development, the leader of a powerful tribe in eastern Libya warned that oil exports to the west – vital for the country’s economy – would be halted within 24 hours unless the authorities stopped the “oppression of protesters”.

Protesters attack Libya TV station – AFP

Monday, February 21st, 2011

(AFP) — Protesters in the Libyan capital Tripoli sacked state broadcast offices and set branches of the People’s Committees that are the mainstay of the regime ablaze overnight, witnesses told AFP on Monday.

“The headquarters of Al-Jamahiriya Two television and Al-Shababia radio have been sacked,” one witness told AFP by telephone on condition of anonymity.

Broadcasts on both channels were interrupted on Sunday evening but resumed on Monday morning.

A number of witnesses said protesters had torched public buildings in the capital overnight, not only People’s Committee offices but also police stations.

(Reuters) – BP has suspended preparations for exploratory drilling for oil and gas in western Libya due to growing unrest in the north African country, a spokesman for the British energy giant said on Monday.

The company does not produce any oil or gas in Libya but has been readying an onshore rig to start drilling for fuel in the west of the country.

“We are looking at evacuating some people from Libya, so those preparations are being suspended but we haven’t started drilling and we are years away from any production,” the spokesman said.

Why is the Obama administration tongue-tied on Libya?

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Maybe it is fear of coming down on the wrong side of a coup that has left the Obama administration reluctant to criticize Qaddafi’s crackdown. When asked by a reporter if Qaddafi is a dictator, “State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley remained silent and looked for another question to answer,” Fox News reports. Nonetheless, the journalist persisted, finally prompting an answer from Crowley: “I don’t think he came to office through a democratic process.”

This afternoon the State Department released a brief statement — “The United States is gravely concerned with disturbing reports and images coming out of Libya,” etc.—but so far there is nothing from the White House. This is especially bizarre since an administration that in the course of a month has witnessed two Arab uprisings should presumably have some sort of working script by now to apply to events unfolding in Libya. So why is the Obama administration tongue-tied? After all, this is not a U.S. ally, but a regime that in 2009 won, and celebrated, the release of an intelligence officer responsible for the deaths of 190 American citizens over the skies of Lockerbie, Scotland. Merely giving up a nuclear weapons program, as Qaddafi did in 2003, does not make a regime friendly to U.S. interests. Through his silence, Obama is giving the impression that the White House is standing with Qaddafi. – The Weekly Standard

Libya special forces started to support the people

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

* In Benghazi, the starting point of the revolt, three witnesses said that special military forces called in as reinforcements had instead helped the protesters take over the local army barracks. “The gunshots you hear are the gunshots of celebration,” said Abdel Latif al-Hadi, a 54-year-old Benghazi resident whose five sons were out protesting.

* In the Libyan capital Tripoli witnesses interviewed by telephone on Sunday night said protesters were converging on the capital’s central Green Square and clashing with the heavily armed riot police. Young men armed themselves with chains around their knuckles, steel pipes and machetes. The police had retreated from some neighborhoods, and protesters were seen armed with police batons, helmets and rifles commandeered from riot squads.

* Under Colonel Qaddafi’s idiosyncratic rule, tribal bonds remain primary even within the ranks of the military, and both protesters and the security forces have reason to believe that backing down will likely mean their ultimate death or imprisonment. – New York Times- The New York Times

* Libya’s ambassador to India has resigned in protest at his government’s violent crackdown on demonstrators calling for the ouster of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported on Monday. The BBC, on its Arabic service website, said Ambassador Ali al-Essawi also accused the government of deploying foreign mercenaries against the protesters. The BBC confirmed to Reuters it had spoken to Essawi. – Reuters

* Among other unconfirmed reports out of Libya right now, one is that Qaddafi’s sons, Muatassem and Saif al-Islam, fought each other, with the former shooting the latter. It’s hard to know much right now, since media coverage out of Libya has gone virtually black. Al Jazeera explains that its signal was disrupted from a building in southern Libya, which seems to be something of a niche industry for Qaddafi’s regime—for a few years the Libyans were found to be blocking a channel owned by exiled Syrian opposition figures, presumably at the request of the government in Damascus. – Weekly Standard

* Members of a Libyan Army unit told Benghazi residents on Sunday they had defected and “liberated” Libya’s second city from troops supporting veteran leader Muammar Qaddafi. Habib Al-Obaidi, who heads the intensive care unit at the main Al-Jalae hospital, and lawyer Mohamed Al-Mana, told Reuters members of the “Thunderbolt” squad had arrived at the hospital with soldiers wounded in clashes with Qaddafi’s personal guard. “They are now saying that they have overpowered the Praetorian Guard and that they have joined the people’s revolt,” Al-Mana said by telephone.

Al Jazeera jammed in Ethiopia

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

Ethiopia’s tyrant Meles Zenawi has jammed Al Jazeera today, according to residents in Addis Ababa. Meles has also been jamming Ethiopian Satellite TV (ESAT). In an anticipation of imminent revolt in Ethiopia, the Meles regime has been taking preemptive measures, such as warning parents to prevent their children from taking part in any anti-government activity, deploying heavy weapons on major streets, and blocking internet sites.

US embassy in Addis to host discussion with the opposition

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

The American embassy in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa has invited opposition groups for discussion on current developments in the region, Addis Neger reports:

The embassy says that public uprisings, originating in Tunisia and Egypt, are expanding throughout the region to countries such as Bahrain, Jordan, Libya, Yemen and lately to neighboring Djibouti. According to embassy sources, the US government has expressed concern that similar uprisings may begin in Ethiopia, and that symptoms of such uprisings are already being revealed.

The opposition groups in Ethiopia will be ill-advised to start any kind of negotiation with Meles Zenawi other than demanding his immediate and unconditional resignation.

Bahrain: Troops withdraw from Square; Protesters celebrate

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

Manama, Bahrain (Los Angeles Times) — Protesters celebrated Saturday in Bahrain when police and soldiers withdrew from Manama’s symbolic Pearl Square, allowing young Shiite Muslims eager for a larger role in Bahraini society to take back their central stage.

“The police backed down when they saw thousands of people coming from four directions,” said one demonstrator.

Confrontations gave way to a massive party as protesters chanted, hugged and waved yellow and red plastic flowers. Hundreds of Bahraini flags fluttered in the wind.

Soldiers had fired tear gas and bullets at demonstrators a day earlier and brutally cleared Pearl Square before dawn on Thursday, rousting sleeping protesters camped in the traffic roundabout.

Crown Prince Salman ibn Hamed Khalifa, told by by Bahrain’s king to open a dialogue with all opposition forces, said in an interview with CNN that he had ordered the removal of the military from the square. He said the protesters would be allowed to gather and voice their concerns without fear.

The crown prince indicated he was deeply sorry for the deaths of protesters, CNN reported.

At least four people died in the confrontations in and around Pearl Square, and dozens were injured, according to hospital sources. At least two people were wounded earlier Saturday when violence erupted for a third straight day at the square. An angry crowd of men and women sang, “Down, down Hamed!” referring to the king, and “Bring down the government!”

An angry woman impatient to march on Pearl Square shouted: “Every day! We need to be on the street!” Protesters wore bandannas over their faces to protect against tear gas.

But when the police left, the mood turned happy.

A protester who gave his name only as Riyad said: “We will stay. It will not end until the government listens to the people. We will not give up until the government collapses.”

Protesters take over Aden, Yemen's second largest city

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Residents of Yemen’s second largest city say after 10 days constant protests, security forces have disappeared from the streets, threatening to plunge Aden into chaos.

Residents of thbe port city say groups of men are attacking, looting and burning government buildings and there is no sign of police or armed forces.

In the capital Sanaa, hundreds of Yemenis began demonstrating early in the morning Saturday outside the university demanding the ouster of the country’s longtime ruler as they marched towards the Justice Ministry.

“The people want the ouster of the regime,” they chanted.

Over the past nine days of protests, six people have been killed and more than 150 wounded as police fire tear gas and gunshots.

Massacre in Bahrain

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

By Robert Fisk

Rumours burned like petrol in Bahrain yesterday and many medical staff were insisting that up to 60 corpses had been taken from Pearl Square on Thursday morning and that police were seen by crowds loading bodies into three refrigerated trucks. One man showed me a mobile phone snapshot in which the three trucks could be seen clearly, parked behind several army armoured personnel carriers. According to other demonstrators, the vehicles, which bore Saudi registration plates, were later seen on the highway to Saudi Arabia. It is easy to dismiss such ghoulish stories, but I found one man – another male nurse at the hospital who works under the umbrella of the United Nations – who told me that an American colleague, he gave his name as “Jarrod”, had videotaped the bodies being put into the trucks but was then arrested by the police and had not been seen since.

Why has the royal family of Bahrain allowed its soldiers to open fire at peaceful demonstrators? To turn on Bahraini civilians with live fire within 24 hours of the earlier killings seems like an act of lunacy.

But the heavy hand of Saudi Arabia may not be far away. The Saudis are fearful that the demonstrations in Manama and the towns of Bahrain will light equally provocative fires in the east of their kingdom, where a substantial Shia minority lives around Dhahran and other towns close to the Kuwaiti border. Their desire to see the Shia of Bahrain crushed as quickly as possible was made very clear at Thursday’s Gulf summit here, with all the sheikhs and princes agreeing that there would be no Egyptian-style revolution in a kingdom which has a Shia majority of perhaps 70 per cent and a small Sunni minority which includes the royal family. … [Read more]

Ethiopia censors Mideast protests – CPJ

Friday, February 18th, 2011

By Mohamed Keita | CPJ

As news of Middle Eastern and North African protests swirl around the globe, satellite television and the Internet prove vital sources of information for Africans as governments fearful of an informed citizenry and a free press such as in Eritrea, Equatorial Guinea, and Zimbabwe impose total news blackouts on the developments.

Nowhere is the news blackout more extreme than in Eritrea, where the government has banned independent media since 2001. Typing “Egypt” in the search field of the government news website Shabait returns about 50 results, the most recent and relevant of which is a December 3, 2010, item titled: “Presidents Isaias and Mubarak conduct discussion in Cairo.” Eritrean sources told CPJ, however, that satellite dishes in the capital Asmara’s rooftops allowed people to follow the unfolding events.

Earlier this month, Equatorial Guinea’s information minister, Jerónimo Osa Osa Ecoro, issued a statement accusing those who criticize the 32-year authoritarian ruler Teodoro Obiang’s election as the new president of the African Union of failing to “acknowledge the enormous steps” taken by Obiang toward democratization and human rights. Notwithstanding that Obiang won his last national election with 97 percent of the vote amid allegations of poll-rigging, it didn’t take long for his claim to be contradicted by a news blackout by the government-controlled national broadcaster RTVGE on protests in North Africa since February 11, according to news reports. Nevertheless, satellite dishes in Malabo allowed most people to access news and information, according to a local source. The same day the blackout started, Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel, editor of cultural magazine Atanga and a blogger with Spain-based online magazine Frontera Digital began a hunger strike that he vowed not to stop until a transitional government ushering democratic reforms was not put in place in Equatorial Guinea.

Flipping the pages of Zimbabwe’s government-controlled daily The Herald, Vincent Kahiya, editor-in-chief of the private Harare-based daily Newsday said to me on Thursday: “There is nothing on the international page on what’s happening in Bahrain, Libya, and so on.” Instead, he noted, “What we have seen is commentary on what they’re not reporting.” In fact, the ruling Zanu-PF-controlled state media has, among other things, accused the United States, which maintains sanctions restricting travel, financial, and business assets of President Robert Mugabe and members of the ruling Zanu-PF elite, of interfering in Egypt’s “rebellion.” Another journalist, whose name I have withheld for fear of government reprisals, shared in an e-mail: “I have DSTV [South Africa-based Digital Satellite Television] and I hardly watch Zimbabwean TV or read The Herald.” In fact, “CNN etc. is God-sent on these protests,” wrote another journalist. “Zimbabweans are talking about it, and there’s a lot of interest on those issues,” Kahiya said, adding that private newspapers reporting the North African developments were selling quickly.

In Ethiopia, a local journalist who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of government reprisals used the term “silent report” to describe the coverage of the government-controlled Ethiopian Television and Radio Agency, explaining that the station limited newscasters to reading two or three paragraphs without further reporting. Nevertheless, “much of the public is well aware of the issues,” the source said, adding that even rural area people had access to satellite TV.

Ethiopian police became apparently angered by persecuted journalist Eskinder Nega’s coverage of the protests. Nega, whose weekly columns appear on U.S.-based news forum EthioMedia, was picked up on February 11 as he walked out of a café in the capital, Addis Ababa. He later reported that the Ethiopian deputy commissioner of police allegedly delivered to him a warning from the government for his alleged “to incite an Egyptian and Tunisian like protests in Ethiopia,” with his Internet writings. Nega’s columns compared and contrasted Egypt and Ethiopia in terms of the military’s role in politics, and pro-democracy movements, according to CPJ research.

In Djibouti, where a series of protests have erupted since last month, government-controlled state broadcaster Radio Télévision de Djibouti was also censoring news of the North African protests, a local journalist told CPJ on condition of anonymity for fear of government reprisals. However, few Djiboutians watch the channel and most people passionately follow developments through their satellite dishes, the journalist said.

In Gabon, where supporters of opposition supporters have been protesting since André Mba Obame claimed fraud had robbed him of victory in the August 2009 presidential elections and declared himself president, state media’s coverage of the North African protests has also been minimal, said independent editor Norbert Goua Mezuï. “I don’t even watch the national channels, I do when I stumble on them,” he said, “but we rely on France 24, Africa 24, TV5, TF1, and France 2 to tell us what is really happening elsewhere.”

(Mohamed Keita is advocacy coordinator for CPJ’s Africa Program. He regularly gives interviews in French and English to international news media on press freedom issues in Africa and has participated in several panels. Follow him on Twitter: @africamedia_CPJ.)

40,000 Awasa residents to lose their homes

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Deutsche Welle Amharic Service reports that 40,000 residents of Ethiopia’s southern town of Awassa have been asked to vacate their homes. The Woyanne ruling junta’s local puppet administration issued the order saying that the houses the residents own have been built without proper permits. It’s reported that several residents who have voiced opposition to the measure are being rounded up and arrested. Listen the report below [Amharic].

 

Dictators in sub-Saharan Africa take preemptive actions

Friday, February 18th, 2011

By Alex Thurston

As protests continue across the Arab world, rumblings of political discontent have sounded in sub-Saharan Africa as well. These rumblings range from serious protests in Gabon and Sudan to pro-revolution newspaper columns in countries like Nigeria. Revolution will likely not spread through sub-Saharan Africa, but leaders in Ethiopia and Uganda moved this week to block even the possibility of uprisings. These moves show that the Arab protests are making some African leaders quite nervous, particularly as their countries navigate political transitions.

In Ethiopia, journalist Eskinder Nega has compared his country to Egypt and speculated about the possibility of an Egypt-style mobilization in Ethiopia. Eskinder’s remarks online and on the radio drew the attention, he says, of the Ethiopian government:

Eskinder Nega says six heavily-armed policemen jumped from a truck on a busy central Addis Ababa street last week, grabbed him and whisked him away to federal police headquarters. He says during a two-hour detention, he was brought before a deputy police commissioner who did not identify himself, but who warned him his activities were considered seditious.

“He said, ‘You’ve been trying to incite Egyptian and Tunisian-like protests in Ethiopia through writings you do on the Internet,” Eskinder recounted. “And the interviews you give to various news outlets. And he said, ‘Nothing similar is going to happen in this country.’”

Eskinder was jailed during the 2005 government crackdown in Ethiopia, which followed fiercely contested elections. Last year’s elections in Ethiopia did not produce the same levels of dissent – or violence – that 2005′s elections did, but Eskinder’s latest detention suggests that Ethiopian authorities are keen to shut down any voices who say that the government lacks legitimacy and is vulnerable to the wave of uprisings.

In Uganda, which holds presidential elections today, there seems to be little chance that President Yoweri Museveni will lose, and little chance that mass demonstrations could drive him from power. Still, Ugandan opposition leaders have talked about launching protests if Museveni wins. This threat was enough to worry the government, which “ordered phone companies to intercept text messages with words or phrases including ‘Egypt’, ‘bullet,’ and ‘people power’ ahead of [today]‘s elections that some fear may turn violent.” This preemptive maneuver seems to presage a greater crackdown to come, if the opposition does indeed take to the streets.

Government crackdowns could end up being the decisive factor in stopping sub-Saharan African protest movements before they really get off the ground. Northern Sudan’s repression appears to have stymied protesters there for the most part. And the words of an Ethiopian opposition member that Eskinder interviewed are revealing as to the political realities there:

Could the legal Ethiopian opposition leaders try to replicate what the legal opposition triggered in Egypt? “No,” firmly answered an opposition official I queried. “There will be a massacre, and it will also be the end of us,” he said. I could have been mistaken, but I thought I had sensed alarm in his tone.

There is another important issue also: If government repression did occur, would media outlets cover it? Given how little coverage Gabon has received in comparison with Arab countries, I think it unlikely that international media would devote substantial attention to a short – but merciless – crackdown in a country like Ethiopia. Some people paid attention in 2005, of course, but not on the scale that we’re seeing with Egypt and elsewhere.

In some places, then, African activists’ realistic fears of death and failure are already discouraging potential protesters. Nevertheless, as I said Wednesday, everyone is well aware of the events in Egypt – including governments who are taking steps to signal policies of zero tolerance for dissent.

(Alex Thurston is a PhD student studying Islam in Africa at Northwestern University and blogs at Sahel Blog.)

Massive protest in Djibouti, Police fire at protesters

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Tens of thousands of people held a massive protest rally in Djibouti against the regime of President Ismail Guelleh. Opposition leaders say that the police fired live bullets at peaceful protesters yesterday.

(Bloomberg) — Djibouti opposition groups will meet today to decide what step to take next after police allegedly fired on demonstrators yesterday, injuring at least two of them, an opposition leader said.

“The situation is very bad,” Ismail Guedi Hared, president of the Union for a Democratic Alternative, said by phone late yesterday. The police “used tear gas and they shot in every direction. I know two people are in hospital.”

In Djibouti, the Horn of Africa nation that hosts the only U.S. military base on the continent, President Ismail Guelleh’s People’s Rally for Progress party has ruled since independence in 1977. The 63- year-old leader, who was first elected in 1999, amended the constitution in March to allow him to extend his rule by two more six-year terms.

Yesterday’s protest turned violent near the Hassan Guled stadium in the capital, Djibouti, Hared said. Live ammunition was used by both sides and a crowd of about 100 demonstrators threw stones at the police after leaders of the protest were escorted away, according to the Djibouti-based website Djibouti24.

“The police are confronting demonstrators,” Mohamed Daoud Chehem, head of the Djibouti Party for Development, said by phone from the protest yesterday. “They have opened fire,” he said, without being able to specify if anyone was injured or what type of ammunition was used.

Chehem said that as many as 20,000 people had joined the protest against Guelleh. The country has a population of about 860,000.

Exiled Djiboutian opposition leader Abdourahman Boreh, who is currently in London, said the demonstrations may continue.

“We will see how it goes,” Boreh said yesterday. “This is the first day. We will see how the government reacts.”

Last month, Boreh called for elections scheduled for April to be delayed by as much as a year and for international monitors to oversee an electoral roll that includes 130,000 to 140,000 of the population of about 865,000.

Djibouti ranks 148th out of 169 countries in the United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Index, which measures life expectancy, education and living standards.
U.S. Concerns

“We’re closely monitoring, keeping an eye on developments, especially as they relate to any forces we may have in the region,” Pentagon spokesman, Marine Corps Colonel David Lapin, told reporters yesterday.

The U.S has had a base in Djibouti since 2001, while former colonial power France also has 3,000 troops stationed in the country, which is smaller than the U.S. state of Massachusetts. The republic borders the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden and is seen as a strategic location in the U.S.-led fight against terrorism and piracy.

Protesters take over Libya's Benghazi Airport – BBC

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Libya, one of the most repressive regimes in Africa, is unable to stop the wave of popular uprisings against dictators that is sweeping through northern Africa and the Middle East. The Libya pro-democracy protesters are taking their activities outside of the capital city to avoid direct clashes with the security forces that have been firing live bullets on unarmed civilians causing 23 deaths. BBC reports that the protesters today have taken control of an airport in the eastern Libyan town of Benghazi. Protesters also set fire to police stations and government buildings. Ghadafi’s brutal measures that are intended to instill fear seem to be having a reverse effect.

(BBC) — Libya’s dictator Col. Muammar Gaddafi has taken a series of measures, including blocking internet sites and shutting off electricity to protest areas, to try to quell rising unrest.

Gaddafi’s regime has also reportedly offered to replace some top officials in a conciliatory move.

Media outlets loyal to Col Gaddafi have threatened retaliation against protesters who criticize the leader.

Emerging reports suggest a mounting death toll from days of clashes between security forces and protesters.

The mainstay of the unrest is in regional towns and cities, where many people live in poverty.

Foreign journalists operate under restrictions in Libya, so it has been impossible to independently verify much of the information coming out of the country.

But the BBC has confirmed that several websites – including Facebook and al-Jazeera Arabic – have been blocked.

And the airport in Benghazi, the country’s second largest city, has been closed, amid reports that protesters have taken it over.

Unrest spreads

Residents in Benghazi told the BBC that electricity has been cut off, and tanks are posted outside the court building.

Benghazi protesters have told international media they have learnt from Tunisia and Egypt, and are determined to depose Col Gaddafi.

Media outlets loyal to Col Gaddafi had earlier conceded that security forces had killed 14 protesters in Benghazi on Thursday, though other accounts put the death toll much higher.

Gamal Bandour, a judge in the city, told AP news agency that the mourners set fire to government buildings and police stations on the way back from the funerals on Friday.

Witnesses said 15 people had been killed during Friday’s clashes.

Meanwhile, dissidents based outside Libya claimed that protesters were now battling security forces for control of another eastern city, al-Bayda.

Video footage from al-Bayda showed bloodstained bodies in a mortuary, and protesters torching a municipal building and demolishing a statue of the so-called “green book” – the collection of principles by which Col Gaddafi rules.

The Oea newspaper, owned by one of Col Gaddafi’s sons, earlier reported that demonstrators had lynched two policemen in al-Bayda.

Oea also reported outbreaks of violence in Darnah, east of Benghazi, where it described residents as living in fear.

It said all police stations in Darnah had been evacuated after protesters were killed on Thursday, and rumors were circulating that elite military units were closing in on the city.

Amid the crackdown, the semi-independent Quryna newspaper reported that the government would replace many state executives and decentralize and restructure the government.

It was unclear whether the political move was in response to growing unrest.

Earlier, the pro-government Al-Zahf Al-Akhdar newspaper threatened to “violently and thunderously respond” to the protests.

“The people’s power, the Jamahiriya [system of rule], the revolution, and Colonel Gaddafi are all red lines and those who try to cross or come near these lines are suicidal and playing with fire.”

Col Gaddafi is the Arab world’s longest-serving leader, having ruled oil-rich Libya since a coup in 1969.

Bahrain's military largely made up of foreign recruits

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Middle Eastern correspondent for CSM, Dan Murphy, reports that Bahrain’s small military is made up of foreign mercenary recruits. No wonder they are willing to gun down unarmed civilians. in Ethiopia we face the same situation. The regime in power rules and behaves like a foreign entity. The ruling junta hates the people of Ethiopia. For Meles and gang Ethiopia is a country to loot and plunder. It’s therefore necessary for opposition groups to adjust their strategy accordingly.

(CSM) — Bahrain, where a US-backed Sunni monarchy rules over a populace that’s about 70 percent Shiite, massive force has been unleashed on peaceful democracy protesters both today and yesterday as well. The Western-looking kingdom plays host to America’s Fifth Fleet, leaving President Barack Obama with even fewer levers of influence in Bahrain than he had in the case of Egypt.

It’s one thing to threaten withholding military aid from Egypt, a card the Obama administration probably played during the height of Egypt’s uprising. It’s quite another to say, “Stop shooting your people, or we’ll remove our naval base.”

Some foreign observers like the influential New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof appear to be shocked that a “moderate” regime (his word) like Bahrain’s would kill its own people. They shouldn’t be. The ruling Khalifa family, like Qaddafi, is engaged in the sort of existential struggle that Egypt and Tunisia’s power brokers didn’t face; while Egypt’s Mubarak and Tunisia’s Ben Ali may be out of power, the officers and political architecture that support their rules remain intact, at least for now.

But the odds that the Khalifas will preserve a powerful role for themselves in Bahrain in the face of true democracy are small. They appear to be acting accordingly. In the early morning Thursday, riot police stormed a democracy encampment at Pearl Square in Manama, Bahrain’s capital – an encampment set up in emulation of Cairo’s Tahrir Square. The police fired shot guns and rubber bullets, killing five and dispersing protesters.

Today, it was the Bahrain Defense Force’s turn to get in on the action. The kingdom’s tiny military, largely made up of foreign mercenary recruits, they assaulted groups of mourners who were burying the previous day’s dead and trying to push protests forward. Reports from Manama said gunfire lashed crowds from helicopters and that dozens, at least, were injured. Al Jazeera quoted a doctor in a Manama hospital as saying the emergency room was “overwhelmed” with casualties. The death toll, if any, is still unclear.

Bahrain’s population is about 1.2 million. While the five confirmed killed on Thursday seems small relative to the 300 or so who died in Egypt’s uprising, it’s already a greater percentage of the population than in Egypt, and that number seems likely to have grown today.

Will force work? Or will it spur on Bahrain’s Shiites to greater cycles of mourning and protest?

Bahrain leaders must face crimes against humanity charges

Friday, February 18th, 2011

The Bahrain military has open fired on thousands of protesters on Friday, according to AP. The number of dead and injured is unknown yet. The international community must not tolerate this atrocity. The Bahrain leaders and military commanders must face charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court. If such barbaric act goes unpunished, dictators in other countries, including in Ethiopia, will continue to commit similar atrocities. Ethiopia’s tyrant Meles Zenawi must be smiling today.

MANAMA, Bahrain (Associated Press) — Soldiers opened fire Friday on thousands of protesters defying a government ban and streaming toward the landmark square that had been the symbolic center of the uprising to break the political grip of the Gulf nation’s leaders.

Officials at the main Salmaniya hospital said at least 50 people were injured, some with gunshot wounds. Some doctors and medics on emergency medical teams were in tears as they tended to the wounded. X-rays showed bullets still lodged inside victims.

“This is a war,” said Dr. Bassem Deif, an orthopedic surgeon examining people with bullet-shattered bones.

Protesters described a chaotic scene of tear gas clouds, bullets coming from many directions and people slipping in pools of blood as they sought cover. Some claimed the gunfire came from either helicopters or sniper nests, a day after riot police swept through the protest encampment in Pearl Square, killing at least five people and razing the tents and makeshift shelters that were inspired by the demonstrators in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

An Associated Press cameraman saw army units shooting anti-aircraft weapons, fitted on top of armored personnel carriers, above the protesters, in apparent warning shots and attempts to drive them back from security cordons about 200 yards (200 meters) from the square.

Then the soldiers turned firearms on the crowd, one marcher said.

“People started running in all directions and bullets were flying,” said Ali al-Haji, a 27-year-old bank clerk. “I saw people getting shot in the legs, chest, and one man was bleeding from his head.”

“My eyes were full of tear gas, there was shooting and there was a lot of panic,” said Mohammed Abdullah, a 37-year-old businessman taking part in the protest.

condemns violence in Bahrain, Libya and Yemen

US President Barack Obama is condemning reports of violence in response to protests in Bahrain, Libya and Yemen. He is calling on the governments of those countries to show restraint.

Obama said the governments of the three countries should respect the rights of citizens demonstrating peacefully in the aftermath of Egypt’s uprising. He expressed condolences to the families of those killed.

The president’s statement was read aloud by White House press secretary Jay Carney to reporters traveling with the president on Air Force One from California to Oregon.

Crown Prince Al Khalifa promises a national dialogue

(BBC) — Witnesses said the army fired live rounds and tear gas, and officials said at least 25 people had been hurt.

Many of the protesters are calling for the overthrow of the royal family.

Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa appeared on state TV on Friday to promise a national dialogue once calm has returned.

The prince, who is also deputy supreme commander of the army, called for everyone to withdraw from the streets.

The BBC’s Caroline Hawley, in Manama, says the funeral procession of one of the dead protesters turned into another anti-government demonstration.

The mourners were trying to make their way to the Salmaniya Hospital, where their injured colleagues are being treated.

But they came under fire as they passed close to Pearl Square, which has been sealed off by the army for the past day to prevent further large-scale demonstrations.

An eyewitness told al-Jazeera TV that the authorities gave no warning.

“They just started shooting us. Now there is more than 20 injured in the hospital. One guy has already passed away because he got shot in his head,” said the witness.

Ethiopian native owns half of DC's gas stations

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Joe MamoTo hear him tell it, Joe Mamo’s move from Ethiopia to North Dakota in 1981 was accidental. Mamo’s father, Yenberber Mamo, was a public transit mogul who manufactured buses and ran the first fleet to provide service across Ethiopia. The operation made his father’s Mamo Kacha bus line a household name in the East African country. It provided a nice life for his family. But it rendered him distinctly unpopular with the Marxist junta that ruled Ethiopia between 1974 and 1991. The elder Mamo was jailed two or three times by the regime. Some of his property was confiscated. As his son approached draft age, the patriarch looked for ways to send him overseas.

That’s how Joe, at the age of 13, found himself attending Catholic boarding school in North Dakota. “He didn’t know the difference between North Dakota and New York City. We didn’t know until we got there,” says Joe Mamo, whose given name is Eyob. But he got used to the cold winters and moved to Chicago after graduation. While he attended community college there, he got a job pumping gas.

By 1987, Mamo had moved to Washington, where an old friend had settled among the region’s large Ethiopian community. This too was “an accidental move,” he says. “I didn’t know Washington that well but I liked it here because it was much more diverse than Chicago. There’s a lot of Ethiopians, a lot of different cultures.” And while Mamo remained far from home, it turned out that his entrepreneurial DNA was still intact in North America. “I always wanted to be a businessman like my father. The only business I knew was a gas station, so I decided to lease a gas station,” Mamo says. … [READ MORE]

The destruction of Gambella's "Hidden Treasure" (video)

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Every thing in Ethiopia is being pillaged, plundered, looted and destroyed by the gang of thugs that is currently ruling Ethiopia. After carrying out a genocidal war in Gambela [read here], the Meles regime is now preparing to destroy the region’s natural resources by leasing large tracts of forest land to foreign investors at bargain prices to grow tea for export. Below is a video about Gambella’s stunning natural resources.

Land grab in Ethiopia – Discussion with Dr Fikre Tolossa

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Northern California Peace Corps Association (NorCal PCA), in partnership with the Commonwealth Club of California, will hold a discussion on:

LAND GRAB IN AFRICA: THE CASE OF ETHIOPIA
presented by Fikre Tolossa, PhD, Playwright/Author

Though Africa is no longer threatened by armed colonizers, foreign exploiters are threatening Ethiopian farmers by obtaining fertile land from African leaders. The governments of many African countries are benefiting from these land transactions, but the people are left impoverished and hungry. Tolossa will suggest ways to improve the desperate situation for Ethiopian farmers.

Date: March 1, 2011
Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6:00 p.m. program

For more information visit: NorCalPca.org

Guide to removing dictators

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Ethiopian activists who are organizing an uprising against the ethnic apartheid dictatorship in Ethiopia don’t have to invent new methods. There are strategies and methods that are proven to be effective against some of the most brutal dictators around the world. One of the pioneers in this field is Gene Sharp. The New York Times writer Sheryl Gay Stolberg has written the following about him:

If people are not afraid of the dictatorship, that dictatorship is in big trouble.” – Gene Sharp

Shy U.S. Intellectual Created Playbook Used in a Revolution

BOSTON (New York Times) – Halfway around the world from Tahrir Square in Cairo, an aging American intellectual shuffles about his cluttered brick row house in a working-class neighborhood here. His name is Gene Sharp. Stoop-shouldered and white-haired at 83, he grows orchids, has yet to master the Internet and hardly seems like a dangerous man.

But for the world’s despots, his ideas can be fatal.

Few Americans have heard of Mr. Sharp. But for decades, his practical writings on nonviolent revolution —  most notably “From Dictatorship to Democracy [click here to download],” a 93-page guide to toppling autocrats, available for download in 24 languages — have inspired dissidents around the world, including in Burma, Bosnia, Estonia and Zimbabwe, and now Tunisia and Egypt.

When Egypt’s April 6 Youth Movement was struggling to recover from a failed effort in 2005, its leaders tossed around “crazy ideas” about bringing down the government, said Ahmed Maher, a leading strategist. They stumbled on Mr. Sharp while examining the Serbian movement Otpor, which he had influenced.

When the nonpartisan International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, which trains democracy activists, slipped into Cairo several years ago to conduct a workshop, among the papers it distributed was Mr. Sharp’s “198 Methods of Nonviolent Action,” a list of tactics that range from hunger strikes to “protest disrobing” to “disclosing identities of secret agents.”

Dalia Ziada, an Egyptian blogger and activist who attended the workshop and later organized similar sessions on her own, said trainees were active in both the Tunisia and Egypt revolts. She said that some activists translated excerpts of Mr. Sharp’s work into Arabic, and that his message of “attacking weaknesses of dictators” stuck with them.

Peter Ackerman, a onetime student of Mr. Sharp who founded the nonviolence center and ran the Cairo workshop, cites his former mentor as proof that “ideas have power.”

Mr. Sharp, hard-nosed yet exceedingly shy, is careful not to take credit. He is more thinker than revolutionary, though as a young man he participated in lunch-counter sit-ins and spent nine months in a federal prison in Danbury, Conn., as a conscientious objector during the Korean War. He has had no contact with the Egyptian protesters, he said, although he recently learned that the Muslim Brotherhood had “From Dictatorship to Democracy” posted on its Web site.

While seeing the revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak as a sign of “encouragement,” Mr. Sharp said, “The people of Egypt did that — not me.”

He has been watching events in Cairo unfold on CNN from his modest house in East Boston, which he bought in 1968 for $150 plus back taxes.

It doubles as the headquarters of the Albert Einstein Institution, an organization Mr. Sharp founded in 1983 while running seminars at Harvard and teaching political science at what is now the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. It consists of him; his assistant, Jamila Raquib, whose family fled Soviet oppression in Afghanistan when she was 5; a part-time office manager and a Golden Retriever mix named Sally. Their office wall sports a bumper sticker that reads “Gotov Je!” — Serbian for “He is finished!”

In this era of Twitter revolutionaries, the Internet holds little allure for Mr. Sharp. He is not on Facebook and does not venture onto the Einstein Web site. (“I should,” he said apologetically.) If he must send e-mail, he consults a handwritten note Ms. Raquib has taped to the doorjamb near his state-of-the-art Macintosh computer in a study overflowing with books and papers. “To open a blank e-mail,” it reads, “click once on icon that says ‘new’ at top of window.”

Some people suspect Mr. Sharp of being a closet peacenik and a lefty — in the 1950s, he wrote for a publication called “Peace News” and he once worked as personal secretary to A. J. Muste, a noted labor union activist and pacifist — but he insists that he outgrew his own early pacifism and describes himself as “trans-partisan.”

Based on studies of revolutionaries like Gandhi, nonviolent uprisings, civil rights struggles, economic boycotts and the like, he has concluded that advancing freedom takes careful strategy and meticulous planning, advice that Ms. Ziada said resonated among youth leaders in Egypt. Peaceful protest is best, he says — not for any moral reason, but because violence provokes autocrats to crack down. “If you fight with violence,” Mr. Sharp said, “you are fighting with your enemy’s best weapon, and you may be a brave but dead hero.”

Autocrats abhor Mr. Sharp. In 2007, President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela denounced him, and officials in Myanmar, according to diplomatic cables obtained by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, accused him of being part of a conspiracy to set off demonstrations intended “to bring down the government.” (A year earlier, a cable from the United States Embassy in Damascus noted that Syrian dissidents had trained in nonviolence by reading Mr. Sharp’s writings.)

In 2008, Iran featured Mr. Sharp, along with Senator John McCain of Arizona and the Democratic financier George Soros, in an animated propaganda video that accused Mr. Sharp of being the C.I.A. agent “in charge of America’s infiltration into other countries,” an assertion his fellow scholars find ludicrous.

“He is generally considered the father of the whole field of the study of strategic nonviolent action,” said Stephen Zunes, an expert in that field at the University of San Francisco. “Some of these exaggerated stories of him going around the world and starting revolutions and leading mobs, what a joke. He’s much more into doing the research and the theoretical work than he is in disseminating it.”

That is not to say Mr. Sharp has not seen any action. In 1989, he flew to China to witness the uprising in Tiananmen Square. In the early 1990s, he sneaked into a rebel camp in Myanmar at the invitation of Robert L. Helvey, a retired Army colonel who advised the opposition there. They met when Colonel Helvey was on a fellowship at Harvard; the military man thought the professor had ideas that could avoid war. “Here we were in this jungle, reading Gene Sharp’s work by candlelight,” Colonel Helvey recalled. “This guy has tremendous insight into society and the dynamics of social power.”

Not everyone is so impressed. As’ad AbuKhalil, a Lebanese political scientist and founder of the Angry Arab News Service blog, was outraged by a passing mention of Mr. Sharp in The New York Times on Monday. He complained that Western journalists were looking for a “Lawrence of Arabia” to explain Egyptians’ success, in a colonialist attempt to deny credit to Egyptians.

Still, just as Mr. Sharp’s profile seems to be expanding, his institute is contracting.

Mr. Ackerman, who became wealthy as an investment banker after studying under Mr. Sharp, contributed millions of dollars and kept it afloat for years. But about a decade ago, Mr. Ackerman wanted to disseminate Mr. Sharp’s ideas more aggressively, as well as his own. He put his money into his own center, which also produces movies and even a video game to train dissidents. An annuity he purchased still helps pay Mr. Sharp’s salary.

In the twilight of his career, Mr. Sharp, who never married, is slowing down. His voice trembles and his blue eyes grow watery when he is tired; he gave up driving after a recent accident. He does his own grocery shopping; his assistant, Ms. Raquib, tries to follow him when it is icy. He does not like it.

He says his work is far from done. He has just submitted a manuscript for a new book, “Sharp’s Dictionary of Power and Struggle: Terminology of Civil Resistance in Conflicts,”  to be published this fall by Oxford University Press. He would like readers to know he did not pick the title. “It’s a little immodest,”  he said. He has another manuscript in the works about Einstein, whose own concerns about totalitarianism prompted Mr. Sharp to adopt the scientist’s name for his institution. (Einstein wrote the foreword to Mr. Sharp’s first book, about Gandhi.)

In the meantime, he is keeping a close eye on the Middle East. He was struck by the Egyptian protesters’ discipline in remaining peaceful, and especially by their lack of fear. “That is straight out of Gandhi,” Mr. Sharp said. “If people are not afraid of the dictatorship, that dictatorship is in big trouble.”

Andrew W. Lehren contributed reporting from New York, and David D. Kirkpatrick from Cairo.

Prof. Stiglitz, reconsider your support for Ethiopia's tyrant

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Open Letter to Professor Stiglitz

Professor Joseph Stiglitz
Economics Department, Columbia University
814 Uris Hall, MC 3308, 420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027

Dear Professor Stiglitz,

First, we Ethiopian economists and scholars express our sincere admiration for and recognition of your distinguished work in advancing the frontiers of economic thinking and your world renowned contributions to the theory of information which earned you and your colleague (Professor Grossman) the highest esteem, the award of the Nobel Prize in economics.

In light of your stature, it will not come as a surprise to you that those of us who hail from developing countries follow what you say very closely. In this regard, we kept a keen eye and learned a great deal of your interest and involvement in matters of development in the Third World over the past few years. You will agree with us that all people—irrespective of race, religion, age or other attribute– aspire to be free of oppression, poverty and corruption. The monumental changes that are taking place in Tunisia and Egypt which are now raging in the rest of North Africa and the Middle East are illustrative of the human passion for freedom and dignity. Given this emerging trend, we were astonished by your recent interview with Bloomberg (2. February 2011, “Real Risk of Spillover from Egypt Unrest”), in which you discussed the situation in Egypt. When the journalist asked what advice you would provide to the Egyptian Government you said that, “at this point they have to open up and democratize; I think there’s just no choice; I think they’ve been very slow at doing this […] they ought to follow what’sgoing on in Tunisia”. We would like to inform you how elated we were to hear your unconditional support of the democratic aspirations of the Egyptian people. The first important step toward democratization took place on February 11 when a peoples’ led popular revolutionforced President Hosni Mubarak to step down from power after ruling Egypt with an iron fist for30 years.

What we find baffling is the contradictory signals you voice. Your appreciation of the importance of democratization in Egypt clashes with your long-held posture with regard to the application of the same principles in Africa in general and Ethiopia in particular. On a closer look, your critical approach to repressive governance does not appear to be applicable to Africa. We say this with justification and with the hope that you will reconsider your stand. In the past two decades you lent incalculable support, through your words and your actions, to Ethiopia’s minority dictator, Meles Zenawi, who has ruled Ethiopia for 20 years. We would like to draw your attention to Peter Gill’s book Famine and Foreigners. This insightful analysis provides the world with a detailed account of how you developed a warm and intimate friendship with the ruler of Ethiopia, and how you and Mr. Meles became brothers-in-arms against the operations of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the country. Our concern is not about personal friendship but about the policy implications the friendship implies. We are talking about the legitimacy that your warm friendship and endorsements gave to the head of one of the most repressive regimes in Africa today.

Video of Stiglitz Interview on Egypt Turmoil

The Ethiopian ruler to whom you lent your undivided attention and support is the same person who has inflicted untold brutality and pain on innocent civilians, communities and the country through acts of alleged genocide, crimes against humanity and human rights violations. Mr.Meles Zenawi has stolen elections repeatedly; massacred hundreds and mass-detained over 40,000 citizens in Addis Ababa and other cities in 2005/06. Genocide Watch, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the New York Times, the State Department’s annual human rights reports and many other media, public, and human rights agencies have given careful account of these and other atrocities. The independent Global Financial Integrity group has documented billions of dollars of illicit outflow of funds under his watch.

You will agree with us that there are real consequences when internationally known intellectuals with power and influence provide legitimacy to dictators such as Mr. Meles Zenawi. On the ground, the lives of ordinary Ethiopians who are denied livelihoods, suffer from unemployment, live with hunger and face the indignities of living under a repressive system each and every day tell the real story. These Ethiopians have been caught up between your policy/ideological preference on the one hand, and your delight in finding an African ruler who is happy to play the African anti-neoliberal Robin to your Batman. Don’t you think this is unfair and unjust? We regret to say that, in your ideological and intellectual battles with the IMF in collaboration with Mr. Meles, you gave a dictator the benefits of your global status as a leading economist. He has used this to polish his international image. The cost to the Ethiopian people has been high.

African intellectuals, academics and fair minded leaders find this kind of affinity with African dictators regrettable and unbecoming of leading economist like you. What saddens and amazes us is your endorsement of Mr. Meles Zenawi’s knowledge of economics and his intellectual acumen. This, we find utterly irresponsible and intellectually dishonest. Ethiopia has many intellectual leaders scattered around the globe. Mr. Meles Zenawi is not one of them. This disservice to the Ethiopian people and to the rest of Africans is contained in your book, Globalization and its Discontents, in which you state that Mr. Zenawi “demonstrated knowledge of economics—and indeed a creativity—that would have put him at the head of any of my university classes”. You speak highly of the way he rules the country, saying “Meles combined these intellectual attributes with personal integrity: no one doubted his honesty and there were few accusations of corruption within his government.”

How do we reconcile your assessments and conclusions with other experts and global institutions such Human Rights Watch, Transparency International, Global Financial Integrity, Mo Ibrahim, Oxford University and even the World Bank? . As far as we are concerned he has several times failed his economics tests miserably. His economic policies and programs have brought untold suffering to the Ethiopian people. In the event you are not aware of his many failures, we would like to identify a most recent one. Recently he imposed price caps on a dozen or so goods. When imposing his ill-fated price caps measure, Mr. Zenawi told us that he was doing it in order to curb the month-to-month double-digit inflation that the country was experiencing. As any student who has taken principles of economics course would have predicted, the colossal failure of the price cap measure has not only backfired on his regime; it has also brought untold suffering to the Ethiopian people. As we predicted, every negative and secondary effect of price caps that any economist would theorize has been realized in Ethiopia. Mr. Zenawi’s price caps measures qualify to be cited as lessons in how to mismanage an economy. As if this is not enough, Mr. Zenawi tried to shift the blame on the Ethiopian entrepreneurs and merchants. A few days before imposing the ill-fated price caps measure, he gathered about 584 businesspersons and accused them of price gauging, hoarding and engaging in unhealthy competition. He told them that he would “cut their fingers” unless they cooperate with him. For anyone who watched the entire taunting process (and the ones before it) and Mr. Zenawi’s rants and the stunned faces and silence of the 584 businessmen and women, it was clear that the attendees were scared and did not know what to say. He met with and freighted the business community despite the fact that he had been informed (see here, for example, ) that the root causes of the price hikes and runaway inflation were the supply rigidities brought about by the opaque system that he imposed on the country. These include the creation and support of party-owned conglomerates which have dominated the vital sectors of the country’s economy, expansionary monetary policy (accompanied by negative real interest rates) and government spending- both of which have played their part in injecting liquidity into the system; lack of productivity; continuous devaluation of the birr – the latest one being the 20% devaluation announced on September 1st, 2010. To make matters worse, the latest information we have indicates that Mr. Zenawi’s government is contemplating to expand the price caps. The piling of mistakes continues unabatedly despite the fact that some of us had illustrated the negative ramifications of price caps (see hereahead of time so that lessons could be learned.

The world knows Mr. Zenawi as articulate when speaking with foreigners. Ethiopians know him as sinister and cunning, brutal and repressive. For these reasons, we are puzzled by your unreserved praise of his economics. It is a disservice to the majority of Ethiopians for you to give legitimacy to a leader whose family, party and endowments control the economy with an iron fist. He runs a party owned and controlled business empire through his wife, decimates the private sector, and instills fear into farmers of losing their land, and access to inputs. Worse, if they complain about unfairness in rural service provision they will be punished. Like us, the Economist magazine strongly differs with your assessment about Mr. Zenawi’s economics acumen, stating that the Ethiopian Government is “one of the most economically illiterate in the modern world.” A Wikileaked cable from the US Embassy to Berlin also stated: “Germany reported addressing Ethiopia’s economic situation, namely hard currency and the poor investment climate, with Meles directly and being struck by what they described as Meles’ poor understanding of economics.”

In no small part to your contribution, Mr. Zenawi’s appearance at Columbia University on 22 September, 2010, shocked the Ethiopian community in the Diaspora and in the country. His speech, the essence of which was the condemnation of neo-liberalism, was preceded by your warm welcome and introduction. You invited Mr. Zenawi to speak at World Leaders Forum at Columbia despite the fact that you were amply informed of his regime’s atrocities by many people of Ethiopian origin. Letters were sent to your institution via Lee C Bollinger, President of Colombia University, the student paper at Columbia, Columbia Spectator, and through several faculty members at Columbia.

Your University’s website initially carried the following scandalous statement about the visit. We presume that you were not unaware of the statement.

Under the seasoned governmental leadership of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, now in hisfourth term, and vision of the Tigrai Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) and Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), Ethiopia has made and continues to make progresses in many areas including in education, transportation, health and energy.”

Mr. Meles Zenawi is hardly a “seasoned leader.” Ethiopians and most objective observers know him as a brutal dictator and his regime is one of the most repressive and corrupt regimes in the world today. We would like to draw your attention to the latest Freedom House report which downgraded Ethiopia’s position from “Partly Free” to “Not Free.” Using the newly installed “Anti-Terrorism Proclamation” and “Charities and Societies Proclamation” law (CSO law), the regime has muzzled freedom of expression and criminalized human rights activities. Yes, progress has been made in infrastructure projects but at the expense of quality and fairness. For example, some of our own research and the researches of others indicate that, thanks to the huge sums of donor funds, student enrolment ratios have improved but quality has deteriorated. This fact has been acknowledged on August 26, 2010, when the Ministry of Education issued a directive that categorically banned all public and private higher learning institutions from running distance education programs, and all private higher learning institutions from offering on-campus law and teachers’ education programs.

In light of the above and the ample reliable documentation of repression, gross human rights abuses, alleged genocide, single party and endowment command and control of the national economy, massive unemployment, land grab and mismanagement of the national economy, we urge you to no longer give legitimacy to the dictatorial regime led by Mr. Meles Zenawi. We believe that your past support and endorsement may have overlooked the real facts on the ground. As a Nobel Prize winner and a reputed leading economist you have provided Mr.

Zenawi status and legitimacy he and his regime do not deserve. He is universally identified as one of the worst dictators in Africa today. The democratic wave that brought down dictators in Tunisia and Egypt is not likely to stop there. Foreign Policy magazine reported that the Tunisian and Egyptian ex-presidents are not alone. It provided a line-up of the eight worst dictators that fall into this category. Meles Zenawi makes this membership. (“America’s Other

Most Embarrassing Allies”.) Your video of February 2, 2011 has shown that you are able to see the downfall of autocratic rulers who choke their country and economy.

We urge you to be part of a legacy of prominent voices around the globe who believe in human freedom and possibilities. At the end of the day, economic development is about people. You will agree with us that the nexus between economic development and good governance is so compelling that any form of dictatorship can’t be acceptable in North Africa, the Middle East or Sub-Saharan Africa.

We thank you in advance for your attention.

Sincerely,

On behalf of Ethiopian Development Policy Focus Group

  1. Getachew Begashaw, Ph.D. Professor of Economics, W.R. Harper College, Chicago, IL(Member).
  • Aklog Birara, Ph.D. Senior Advisor (recent retiree, World Bank) and Adjunct Professor, Trinity University of Washington D.C. (Member).
  • Seid Hassan, Ph.D. Murray State University, Murray, KY (Member).
  • 5,000 hectares of ancient Ethiopian forest to be destroyed

    Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

    By Obang Metho

    The Ethiopian Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (MoARD) is ignoring objections from Ethiopian President Girma Wolde-Giorgis, from the Environmental Protection Authority of Ethiopia (EPA) and from the indigenous Mazenger people of Gambella, to the clearing of 5,000 hectares of ancient forests in the Godere District, located at the headwaters of five critical rivers in the Nile Basin that are major tributaries to the White Nile.

    Gambella, EthiopiaDespite the fact that the Mazenger and other indigenous people have depended on these forest-covered lands for their livelihood for generations and despite well-founded fears that the deforestation of the area could have serious and potentially irreversible effects on the people, habitat, wildlife and water, the Minister of Agriculture has authorized a fifty year lease of the land to the Indian company, Verdanta Harvests (VH), who plan to use the land for a tea and spice plantation; destined for export. The absolutely cavalier attitude of the MoARD towards anyone else’s authority, rights or concerns gives evidence of how frenzied and money and/or power-centered these land deals have become in Ethiopia. In Godere, the clearing of the trees has already begun; blatantly disregarding all warnings, protests or claims to the land.

    As objections fall on deaf ears, it appears that compliance with publicized protocols is non-existent with decisions being made at the whim of a few Meles-regime cronies at the top. The failure to consider the short and long term environmental risks associated with these land grabs; not even including the impact to the lives of the people, could have extremely dangerous consequences as millions of hectares of choice Ethiopian agricultural land are leased throughout the country. It gives the impression that Meles and his cronies are trying to make “fast money” before the regime collapses; then abandoning these investors to the mercy of a new government who might not be willing to sell out on the people.

    Here is a more sequential explanation of what happened in Godere; with more details available through a recently leaked eighteen-page document (see here) in Amharic that we in the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE) acquired regarding the above-mentioned deal. The letters reads like a drama; showing a game of double-talk, manipulation and intimidation being played by this regime with the land, lives and future of the people.

    Summary of the Document

    Sometime last spring (2010), the local Mazenger and other indigenous people in the villages of Gomare and Bako (Godere district) discovered that their homes and forest-covered land they depended on for everything; including hunting, gathering and beekeeping, were soon to be leased to an Indian company who would be clearing the forests to make way for a tea and spice plantation. As a result, they were targeted for displacement. After hearing about this, the local people in both villages organized and sent a team of representatives to Addis Ababa. The team included: Tamiru Ambelo; Chairman of Gomare village, Ameya Kesito; secretary of Gomare village and Kasahun Kekilo; an elder from Bako village.

    While in Addis Ababa, they met with the President of Ethiopia, Girma Wolde-Giorgis, supposedly the Head of State in the administration, and explained to him what was happening. They told him that this land should not be given away to investors; telling him that it belonged to them as indigenous people who had lived there for generations, that without it their livelihood would be destroyed, that they considered the forests sacred and that the environment would be greatly impacted through the deforestation of the region. Much to his credit, President Girma listened to them and supported their position.

    In response he wrote a letter to the Environmental Protection Authority of Ethiopia (EPAE); saying that the EPAE should tell the MoARD to suspend this project. Again, much to the credit of the EPAE and in an effort to follow their established mission of protecting the environment, the EPAE also listened and supported the peoples’ position. On May 6, 2010, the EPAE wrote a letter to the MoARD, with copies to Gambella Regional Governor, Omot Obang Olum and President Girma, saying that the short term benefit of leasing this land (including clearing it of its forests) would not outweigh the long-term costs to the country and that the lease should not proceed. They added that there were local environmental NGO’s present in the district who had been very involved in teaching the locals how to protect these valuable forests for the future and that they had done a very good job.

    On November 19, 2010, Governor Omot responded indirectly to this EPAE position; not to them, but by writing a letter to Godere District authorities; telling them that this land (5000 hc) had already been given to an investor, Verdanta Harvests (VH) and that the agreement could not be altered at this time. He explained that VH had already paid the government $19,000 US for 3,012 hc of the land; towards an agreement that would give them 5,000 hectares for fifty years at $6 US per hectare. He told them that the project was to proceed without interference.

    His letter was backed up by the MoARD, who on November 25, 2010, sent their own team to meet with the local people in the villages. However, when they met, they excluded those officials who had opposed it; including the chairman of the village, Tamiru Ambelo. Instead, they only invited the village vice chairman, a man more “sympathetic” to their own point of view—as well as other select people—to meet with the general public. When they met, they heavily lobbied the people for their support of the project. They labeled any who disagreed with it as being “anti-development;” saying that such people opposed the very development and investment that would bring roads, employment and income to the people.

    In response to this meeting, on December 9, 2010, Tamiru, Ameya and Kasahun wrote another letter to President Girma; updating him and asking him to intervene once again because despite his letter and the directive from the EPA, Gambella Governor Omot Obang Olum and the MoARD were proceeding with the clearing of the land. This time President Girma wrote a letter directly to the Minister of Agriculture on December 10, 2010; literally telling him to stop this project from going any further because this land, with its abundant rain forests, should be protected; explaining how the headwaters of these critical rivers could be affected and how the people depended on the forests for their livelihood. He copied the letter to Omot Obang Olum, the EPA, the local authorities, local residents and even to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi himself.

    No formal response to his letter is recorded in the 18-page document we acquired; however, on January 25, 2011, the administrator of the Godere district wrote a letter to the two kebele villages of Gomare and Bako; directing them to immediately fire Tamiru from his job as chairman of the village and in his place, to immediately appoint the vice chair as chairman of the village. As mentioned previously, this vice chair had been in favor of the land investment project. Tamiru was accused of working with “anti-development” people in trying to kill the project and of working against the interests of the local people. He was also accused of opposing literacy, job creation and other kinds of development. Currently, the project is moving forward and the forests are being cleared.

    In conclusion:

    What is happening in Godere is only one example of what is going on throughout Ethiopia as the legitimate concerns of the people are manipulated or suppressed and as those who speak out are harassed, intimidated, punished (losing jobs, property, etc), beaten, arrested or killed. This case is only exceptional in that both President Girma and the EPAE took the side of the people; yet, even then, no one listened to them. We hope this government will not take any actions against Tamiru, Ameya and Kasahun; but if any punitive actions result, we will report on it.

    Where is the accountability and rule of law in this government that portrays itself as being democratic, environmentally conscious; even representing all of Africa in the climate talks and as a progressive crusader for economic development? The Meles regime is being run like a mafia; a kleptocracy of Meles, his family and his cronies. Regardless of its elaborate laws and grandiose rhetoric, every decision in Ethiopia is at the whim of someone at the top who might profit in some way. Punitive measures; including human rights violations, are the predictable outcome for any who dare resist by getting in their way. From the prospective of the Meles regime, all indigenous land is for sale; regardless of the impact on the people, the environment and the country.

    As one local Anuak man said, “Ethiopia has never been colonized, but now it has been colonized by the tiny minority of people who run the country. It is not only the outsiders who are complicit with them in robbing the country, but also the opportunistic Ethiopians; including some in the Diaspora.”

    Information has been leaked to the SMNE regarding names of Ethiopians both within and outside of the country who are colluding with the Meles regime in the land grab schemes.

    The SMNE continues to receive leaked information from conscientious Ethiopians who are secretly outraged by this injustice and morally convicted to not cooperate any longer with the Meles regime in their corrupt and illegal practices which have been going on for nearly twenty years now. These courageous Ethiopians have provided other information to us as well and we expect continued leaks of such documents and information to still come forth from Ethiopians who can no longer ignore this.

    One of those documents is a list of some of the Ethiopians who have capitalized on investing in these land grabs; knowingly leasing the land under situations where the people are not consulted, where the environmental impacts have not been studied or heeded and where people are being forced off their land with no compensation or provision for their needs. This displacement is not only being carried out in the rural communities; but also is going on within the city limits of Addis Ababa. The people are promised “development,” but almost none has been seen. Some see this as an opportunity to make quick money; taking advantage of the great vulnerability of the people as they rush in to exploit the moment. However, even though no one seems to be watching; the eyes of those God-fearing Ethiopians—scattered among the villages, offices and departments throughout the country—are watching carefully and are quietly acting on it. Here is our recent example.

    The SMNE has been given a list of more than a hundred names, phone numbers and locations of Ethiopian investors in Gambella, Benishangul-Gumuz, Afar, Amhara region, Southern Nations and Oromiya who have taken advantage of the opportunity; buying 1,000 to 5,000 hectares of land in cooperation with this repressive government who is now starting to forcibly remove the people from their homes to resettlement villages. Many are refusing to go, but others, fearing reprisals, have left. We intend to release these names; including those who live in the Diaspora so Ethiopians can know who is helping rob the country. When this government falls, any agreement that has been signed regarding the land will not be binding. These agreements are illegal; completed without consulting the people, under the threat of retaliation and by a government who has stolen an election and kept citizens captive. Actions that have displaced the people through forced villagization projects will be reversed.

    New Ethiopia

    In a “New Ethiopia,” whether in Godere, Addis Ababa, Abobo, Arba Minch, Adwa, Asosa, Awasa, Babille, Bonga, Debre Dawa, Dessie, Debre Tabor, Dimma, Dembidolo, Debre Berhan, Gambella, Gondar, Gorgora, Gog, Harar, Humera, Jimma, Jijiga, Kombolcha, Kulubi, Mek’ele, Mizan Teferi, Metu, Moyale, Negele Boran, Nekemte, Sodore, Sodu Welmal, Tullu Milki, Turmi, Woldia, Wolleka, Abelo, Yeha; and above all; in the north, south, east and west of New Ethiopia, no matter what ethnicity, political view, language, religion or any other differences, this injustice should outrage all of us as citizens of a country where “humanity comes before ethnicity” and where “no one is free until all are free.” This is what the SMNE is all about.

    President Girma and the EPAE have tried to do what was right and just for the people, but were ignored! Regardless, we commend them highly for what they have done in trying to implement the law in a country where there is no rule of law. They are examples of some of the good Ethiopians trying to operate with integrity; yet who are totally compromised by a corrupt and lawless few who hold the country hostage. We also give much credit to the representatives and the people of Gomare and Bako for their remarkable work, persistence and courage; particularly the leadership.

    All of these people are heroes. May God help increasingly more Ethiopians to follow their conscience; rising up to do what is good, right and just. Eventually, with God’s help and with each other, we will reach the “tipping point;” unbalancing this regime away from evil, ethnic hatred and oppression and towards a New Ethiopia where the God-given rights of all Ethiopians are respected. Be ready for that tipping point may come at any moment! May God free our souls with His presence; lifting up the curtain of fear and apathy that binds us to our past; replacing it with love, truth, courage and the moral conviction necessary to lead us rightly into a new future!

    (Please do not hesitate to e-mail your comments to Mr. Obang Metho, Executive Director of the SMNE, at: obang@solidaritymovement.org)

    Wikileaks: U.S. perspective on Ogaden counter-insurgency

    Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

    By Peter Chrichton

    The latest Wikileaks cable details the US Government’s 2007 position on the ongoing conflict in the Ogaden region, following the ONLF’s attack on an oil installation. The cable considers the Ethiopian Government’s rationale for such a “brutal and excessive counter insurgency operation” and provides a fascinating insight into US perceptions about the EPRDF, about US-Ethiopian relations, and the extent that the US is involved in Ethiopian affairs. Anyone who has any doubt about the role that the USG plays in Ethiopian affairs should read this document. It is originally from November 28, 2007, and was released by Wikileaks on February 3, 2011. It is available in full here.

    The cable suggests that the underlying reasons for “such an extreme, visceral GoE and Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) response” was because it threatened the EPRDF’s vision for economic development (close links with China and oil exploitation), posed a “fundamental threat to the GoE’s authority”, and “embarrassed the Defense Forces, making it appear to the outside world as unable to control and secure its own territory.” The cable also suggests that the USG is of the opinion that the EPRDF views the ONLF as a “long term threat to the survival of the EPRDF government”. The cable discusses the parallels with the TPLF, who similarly to the ONLF, with just 6% of the population were able to overthrow the Derg. The United States Government (USG) sees the ONLF issue as a “domestic issue” and they are not seen as a “terrorist organization” “though elements of the ONLF may very well support extremist operations.” The cable further explains that the problem is “not the ONLF as an organization, but individuals within the group.” The USG also suggests that there is no “explicit evidence” of Eritrean support for the ONLF outside of evidence provided by the EPRDF.

    The cable also suggests that the EPRDF’s vision includes a “heavy government role in promoting & accelerated capitalist development”. It also underscores the strong links between China and Ethiopia suggesting that in China, Ethiopia has found “a cheap, eager, and reliable partner to implement infrastructural expansion without nagging about human rights, social equity, or environmental concerns.”

    The cable concludes with three USG recommendations regarding the Ogaden situation. These include:

    1. That the USG have a “frank discussion with the GOE” about the fact that “military action alone will not bring a lasting resolution [in the Ogaden]“

    2. Sustain a more comprehensive approach with includes an “emphasis on unrestricted humanitarian aid deliveries and on commercial food and livestock trade”

    3. Political dialogue with the ONLF could be the key to resolving problems and opening political space with the people of the Ogaden.

    It is interesting to note that all meetings with EPRDF officials about counter-insurgency efforts in this cable (and others) include the participation of USAID representatives.

    USAID has often been accused of being a front for US intelligence gathering operations in Africa, and their ongoing participation in meetings that have nothing to do with aid and development further raise the suspicion of the close links between US humanitarian assitance and intelligence gathering operations in Ethiopia.

    As mainstream reporting on Wikileaks revelations seem to have dried up in the recent months, we fully encourage you to continue to view cables emanating from the US Embassy in Addis Ababa. There are currently 6 cables and new cables are released on an ongoing basis providing an increased and uncensored understanding of the role that the United States Government plays in Ethiopian affairs. Thus far cables have focused on land grabbing in Ethiopia, humanitarian assistance in the Ogaden, US perspectives on Ethiopian government “hardliners”, and briefings on meetings between USG and Meles Zenawi. All cables emanating from the US Embassy in Addis Ababa are available on an ongoing basis at here.

    (Peter Chrichton can be contacted at Peter.Chrichton@gmail.com)

    Information hungry Ethiopians rent newspaper to read

    Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

    Information hungry Ethiopians who are too poor to buy newspapers are resorting to renting them per half hour basis, according to a report that is published by South Africa’s Mail & Guardian. One of the places where newspapers are being rented is the Arat Kilo neighborhood of Addis Ababa where Meles Zenawi and wife Azeb Mesfin are currently building an extravagant residential villa at the cost of 82 million birr.

    Ethiopia’s newspaper landlords

    By Mohammed Selam

    Despite an abundance of national and international newsmakers, Addis Ababa has relatively little in the way of newspapers — no dailies of note — or even newsstands to offer news consumers. But don’t be fooled. This is a city of voracious readers where even the poor are indulged.

    In fact, some corners of Addis are reserved for newspaper passions, Arat Kilo being one legendary neighbourhood. And by persisting, there you may stumble upon the city’s secret: consumers too poor to buy a copy of a newspaper but able to rent a read.

    Newspaper for rent in EthiopiaArat Kilo is not only the home of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s spacious palace and the country’s Parliament building but also of flat-broke citizens with rich news-reading addictions.

    “Paper landlords” offer “news seats” to readers who gather on the edge of a road, in a nearby alleyway, even inside a traffic circle. And for years, these “paper tenants” have happily hunkered down, reading a copy of a newspaper quickly and then returning it to watchful owners nearby. And even today’s deteriorating economy and “press-phobic” government has not significantly slowed this frenzied exchange.

    In a country without a substantive daily Saturday is distribution day for the country’s weeklies. That also makes it the toughest day to find an empty news seat in Arat Kilo, or anywhere on the streets of Addis.

    Luckily, Birhanina Selam, the nation’s oldest and largest publishing house, where 99% of newspapers get published, is in Arat Kilo. So readers there can get news hot off the press while the rest of the city gets the paper later that day.

    Cliché of journalism

    Major cities elsewhere in the country receive newspapers a day or two later and for readers there the cliché of journalism as the first rough draft of history seems senseless. The story is already history by the time it reaches their streets.

    Unlike newspaper readers in the countryside, the poor of Arat Kilo must deal with noise. Cars blow horns hysterically. Street children shout for money in the name of God. Lottery vendors call out for customers. Taxi conductors shriek names of destinations. Yet the “renters” tune out the city’s hustle as they run up against rental deadlines. Paper landlords vigilantly act as timekeepers.

    Readers dare not hold copies for more than a half hour or they will be charged more birr. One copy of a newspaper may quickly pass through a hundred readers before, late in the day, it is finally recycled as toilet tissue or bread wrap.

    Now, as a rising number of unemployed people hunt for jobs through newspapers and a growing population of pensioners distract themselves with news, news seats are popular pastimes.

    And this is true despite prices for newspapers doubling as a result of the rising costs of newsprint and the country’s latest round of inflation and devaluation. Addis — dubbed the political capital of Africa because it hosts the headquarters of the African Union — is not as safe a haven for journalists as it is for journalism readers. Some international patron saints of media call the current government one of the world’s most journalist-unfriendly regimes.

    As more and more local journalists face threats, the number of newspapers dwindles as diminutive media houses close. Over the past few years, some two dozen journalists have fled to neighbouring countries. They’ve left behind a country hurtling towards a “no free press” zone, with few media houses willing to publish private political newspapers.

    Less variety for the poor

    Just last year, two journalists in Ethiopia collected two prestigious awards — the Committee to Protect Journalists’ International Press Freedom Award and the Pen American Centre’s Freedom to Write Award for their fortitude and courage working in Ethiopia as political journalists. These honours witness the way the country handles the free press.

    At present only a handful of local newspapers and two handsful of local magazines circulate in Ethiopia, with a total weekly circulation that barely equals that of one day of Kenya’s Daily Nation’s 50 000 print run.

    By comparison, Fortune, reportedly the leading English weekly in Ethiopia, publishes 7 000 copies a week at most. So, unfortunately, the poor — and everyone else — in Addis have fewer copies and less variety. And a nation with the second-largest population in Africa — some 80-million potential readers — registers among the fewest number of newspapers on the continent.

    Ironically, in Addis you do not often see readers riding in taxis, waiting at bus stops or sitting in cafés for hours. Few Ethiopians read newspapers, magazines or books alone in public but they do banter in groups. Only a few cafés allow their verandahs to be news seats to attract more customers. On the contrary, many street-side cafés post No Reading signs next to No Smoking signs. The Jolly Bar, friendly to newspaper renters for more than a decade, now forbids customers to read newspapers inside or outside.

    In Arat Kilo, however, no one expects, or can afford, to read their papers in a comfortable seat or on a café verandah. “Here citizens may stand for a while on a zebra crossing and read the headline and pass,” says Boche Bochera, a prominent “paper lord” in the neighbourhood, exaggerating how his place is overrun by newspaper tenants.

    Here, stones are aids to reading as are lampposts and pedestrian right-of-ways. And readers lean against notice boards or idle taxis, transforming themselves into “newspaper warms”. The streets of Addis, like Arat Kilo, get warmer with newspapers and newspaper readers lying on them.

    Newspaper vendors and peddlers

    Nowadays, traditional newspaper vendors and peddlers find themselves challenged by newspaper lords such as Boche. From a flat stone in Arat Kilo, Boche earns bread for his family of six by renting newspapers and magazines from sunrise to sunset.

    Wearing worn overalls, he spreads the day’s newspapers around him and passes copies to paper brokers, mostly kids; his “paper constituencies” may reach 300 people a day. His attachment to this task is legendary. “I have a beautiful daughter called Kalkidan,” he says. “I named her after a magazine I lease weekly.”

    And he seldom bribes community police to let him sit comfortably. “That is how I survived for the last 15 years,” he says.

    When papers start to wear out with over-use, Boche splices them with Scotch tape. Then he affixes his signature so everyone knows which copies belong to him. This, he reasons, is his protection. But, he says: “Some disloyal paper tenants steal my copy and sell it somewhere else to quench their hunger.” As the hub of street newspaper reading, Arat Kilo entertains more than a thousand people a day. Other spots are rising to the challenge.

    Merkato, dubbed the largest open market in Africa, now has a place for newspaper addicts around the Mearab Hotel. When daylight wanes, newspapers rented there will be collected and resold in kiosks nearby to wrap chat, a local leafy stimulant.

    Other Addis neighbourhoods, like Piassa, Legehar, Megenagna and Kazanchis have also created newspaper circles for paper tenants. Yohannes Tekle (29) has been a regular reader of street papers for seven years. These days, especially, when a newspaper costs up to six birr (75 US cents), he rents one for 25 Ethiopian cents (which is less than one US cent).

    For Tekle, a day without newspapers is unthinkable. “It is like an addiction,” he says. “Sometimes, I regret it after renting a paper when it is full of mumbo-jumbo news. I could have used that cent for buying a loaf of bread.” Still, he’s reluctant to set aside the habit.

    “If I miss a day without renting, however, I feel like I missed some significant news about my county — like a coup in progress.”

    (Mohammed Selman, a lecturer in journalism, is a freelance writer. He lives in Ethiopia. In 2009 he won the Excellence in Journalism award for print from the Foreign Press Association in Addis Ababa.)

    Azeb Mesfin builds new house at the cost of 82 million birr

    Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

    Azeb Mesfin mother of corruptionAzeb Mesfin, the wife of Ethiopia’s tyrant Meles Zenawi, is building a new residence inside the Menelik Palace compound at the cost of 82 million birr, FORTUNE, an Addis Ababa-based business journal reports.

    Azeb, who is known in Ethiopia as the mother of corruption, is building the residence with public funds, while according to the U.N. 2 million Ethiopian are in need of emergency food assistance.

    FORTUNE is reporting that taxpayers are paying for the construction of the extremely lavish residence for the Prime Minister and his wife inside the Menelik Palace compound at Arat Kilo. The regime will be spending close to 82 million Birr on this residence, which will incorporate a swimming pool and tennis court as well as guest houses.

    A committee of three has been established to follow the construction of the residence. It comprises Azeb Mesfin, an MP and resident of the compound for close to 20 years now; Muktar Khadir, head of the Office of the Prime Minister and secretary of the cabinet; and an individual who is currently following up the landscape work inside the palace.

    Please also read this: Who stole 10,000 tons of Ethiopian coffee? It shows the level of corruption on the part of the Meles crime family.

    African Union lagging in defense of press freedom – CPJ

    Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

    The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has issued a report today stating that the African Union (AU) is lagging in defense of press freedom and that African governments are criminalizing investigative reporting. What the CPJ forgot to add is that AU is a union of thugs, thieves, and mass murderers like Ethiopia’s Meles Zenawi, Sudan’s Al Bashir, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, to name a few. It is an organization that is created to protect the interest of African dictators, not the suffering people of Africa.

    New York (CPJ) — Global and regional institutions with a responsibility to guard press freedom are largely failing to fulfill their mandate as journalists worldwide continue to face threats, imprisonment, intimidation, and killings, according to Attacks on the Press, a yearly survey released today by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

    “While international law guarantees the right to free expression, journalists cannot count on a robust defense of those rights,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “The recent unprecedented repression and persecution of journalists in Egypt, for example, provides an important opportunity for global and regional institutions to speak and act forcefully in defense of a free press.”

    Attacks on the Press is the world’s most comprehensive guide to international press freedom, with thorough analyses of the key factors that obstruct a free press by CPJ’s regional experts. It includes a special feature on the invisible nature of online attacks meant to curb journalists, including online surveillance, malicious software, and the elimination of news sites from the Internet.

    CPJ found that a halfhearted, inconsistent approach to defending press freedom plagues institutions like the United Nations, the African Union, the Organization of American States, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, among others. “While valiant special rapporteurs at various institutions battle anti-media violence, their efforts are stymied by a halting political will to guarantee press freedom,” said Simon.

    With a preface by Al-Jazeera English anchor Riz Khan, the book provides an overview of media conditions in more than 100 countries along with data on journalists killed (44) and imprisoned (145) in 2010. Regional trends identified by CPJ include:

    Africa:

    A rise in investigative journalism has led governments in the region to crack down on journalists, particularly those reporting on the provision of basic services and the use of public money. From Cameroon to South Africa, authorities are moving aggressively to unmask confidential news sources, criminalize possession of government documents, and retaliate against probing journalists—all while governments across the continent, under pressure from donor countries, are pledging more transparency and accountability.

    Americas:

    Decades since democratization took hold in the region, a rise in censorship can be seen throughout Latin America, caused by government repression, judicial interference, and intimidation from criminal groups. In some countries, a climate of impunity perpetuates a cycle of violence and self-censorship. In others, governments abuse state resources to silence critical reporting, and powerful figures routinely utilize politicized courts to override constitutional guarantees of free expression.

    Asia:

    With a mixture of violence and official repression, censorship in Asia takes many forms. China’s anti-media policies are becoming ever more entrenched, even as local journalists test the daily guidelines flowing from the Central Propaganda Department. Asian democracies like Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia appear incapable of reversing the impunity with which journalists are being killed, while Sri Lanka’s peace dividend never materialized for journalists. Pakistan was the world’s deadliest country for journalists in 2010.

    Europe and Central Asia:

    Newer and subtler forms of censorship are taking hold across the region to counter the rise of electronic journalism, particularly in Russia and the former Soviet republics. These include the targeted use of technological attacks and the untraceable disabling of independent media websites. The physical violence already employed in several countries to harass and intimidate journalists working in traditional media now extends to bloggers. Meanwhile, journalists face restrictions and potential punishment from defamation laws and anti-extremism statutes.

    Middle East and North Africa:

    Throughout the region, governments are conflating critical coverage of counterterrorism with terrorism itself, claiming national security grounds to suppress news and views considered unfavorable. From Egypt to Turkey, sweeping national security legislation has been enacted, criminalizing the coverage of terrorism and politically sensitive topics. Iran leads the region in its abuse of anti-state charges, and from Sudan to Bahrain, authorities resort to threats, harassment, and restriction of movement to limit coverage and conceal controversial activities and flawed policies.

    Revolution and reformation in Ethiopia

    Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

    By Natnael F. Alemayehu

    For those who hope to see a thriving and united Ethiopia, I say to you: “If home is where the heart is, and the heart is more powerful than the mind”. If we have Ethiopia in our hearts, and no fear in our minds, it is the enemy who should fear us; for the power of “we” is more influential than the logic of “I”. Change is coming! The question is, what are we prepared to do with and for the new and free Ethiopia?

    Revolution and reformation? It is always easier to begin an article with a critique of the past because it helps to comfort one’s soul and mind in the face of the coming unknown, after questioning the status quo. In the evolution of mankind, the majority always wanted change when they were robbed, oppressed and stripped of their dignity by a powerful few. In the end, the power of the people and the unity of the oppressed ignited the flame of change, starting a new chapter. Today, we find ourselves at the end of a chapter in Ethiopia’s lustrous history. So, how should we begin the new chapter? What comes after the revolution? How do we reform our country to actually become a nation of the people?

    We must first revolutionize our thinking and reform our attitudes towards one another as Ethiopians. Before we question social issues, economical flaws, and lack of law, we must question the “single person’s” understanding of democracy and freedom. Without law, there could be no freedom, and without freedom, there is no democracy. Our plan must not be to create a utopian society, but rather an Ethiopia where the people, first and foremost, are free—free to express their individual identity, free to speak, free to respect, free disagree, free to debate, free to share, free to change, free to exchange, free to remain as they are, free to argue and free to free their minds. The poor of the country must be the beginning and the end of the next chapter for Ethiopia.

    We must believe in constructing a government that is by the people, for the people, and we must become a people who understand and believe in that government. Our government and system of governance must also begin with the people. We cannot invite the people to be part of the development and growth of the nation, if they were never included in the constructing plans. Respect and appreciation of the individual must also become part of communal social interaction. Simply, we must view every individual and tribe as part of the “we” of tomorrow.

    Our reformation must not be about erasing the past, rewriting what has been done but rather by learn from the past to build a prosperous future. Let us not forget, it took the current administration fifteen years to destroy what previous governments had put in place and five years to destroy what little normalcy was left in their method of governance. As a result, by their own admission, we are fifteen years behind in the transformation development plan, which took them twenty years to manifest.

    Most of all, the people must influence political, financial, and economic development, as well as social policy. For too long, the leaders of most African countries have neglected the people of their nations for their own personal short-term, money-driven agendas. The people have to be the nations driving force. A nation is nothing without a strong economy, and an economy is ineffectual without a contributing workforce. Innovators, thinkers, idealists, builders, farmers, laborers, shop owners, merchants are some of the contributors to a strong economy. People should be free to work and financially flourish without direct involvement from the government, but government must continuously monitor the system.

    The elected representatives of the people must believe in the separation of government and military along with the separation of government and economics. Political leaders must not be intimidated by educated leaders of the community; rather, they should embrace them, to listen to the people through them, and build a cooperative solution to the troubles of the nation. Government must not be above the uneducated, the educated, or the majority. Government must be of the people and for the people. Politics and politicians must not be above social servants and/or intellectuals, but rather be supporters of innovation and internal social evolution. They must strengthen the country’s economy and development by providing the necessary tools for those individuals and groups to flourish.

    Rule of Law and Political Process …

    Without rule of law and political process for all citizens, we will go back to the same past we have struggled through. All citizens must be subject to rules; no individual, group, or tribe can be excluded. Instituting a governing law and a transparent political system will allow for the public sector to flourish under new inventions, creations, and a variety of new businesses. It is not inventors or thinkers that Ethiopia lacks. The issue is lack of opportunity and freedom of expression. Under a new process, the wealthy and the politicians must be subjected to the laws of the nation to the same extent as everyone else.

    Ideological Reform and Social Reform

    In order to reform our thinking for the new chapter, we must analyze four elements of the current system that I feel are critical to opening up dialogue and encouraging action-backed change. We must first ask what democracy is and what it means to have a transparent government. What is a government for the people? What is the role of government? What must government do for the average person? And how must it all relate to, influence and be well understood by the people of Ethiopia to be effective.

    The next chapter of Ethiopian politics has to begin with the people. The growth and development must be intertwined in culture, religion, economy, social and political institutions. Elected government officials should not have direct personal influence on the economics of the nation. As long as we continue to have elected officials control political policy and financial regulations, it is only to their best interest, not the countries economy and people, that these policies and regulations will be geared towards. Government has to leave businesses in the hands of the owners to succeed or fail. Government must regulate according to market conditions, but must not control the economy.

    Democracy: Understanding Democracy

    The basic element of democracy is OPPOSITION, from which is expected a united and improved outcome. Democracy is the “rule of the people”, not “to be ruled by a few”. The result of a revolution must be social equality for all Ethiopians. The widespread people of the country must be a political force in each and every election. Elected representatives must govern the people, under a system in which multi-party ideology can flourish with the interests of Ethiopia at the fore. Democracy, in relation to political representation, is a government vested in the people, to change periodically at the choosing of the people through elections.

    In a parliament, championed by individuals who only pretend to represent the people, if one individual preaches to the converted, it is not political or social democracy, it is as simple as that. This type of system does not have a democratic foundation, and cannot claim to practice the theories of democracy because quite simply, the people are not actually represented by the representatives. We have become accustomed to witnessing one leader in every political system to be tried in our country; we must begin a system of governance reliant on collective ideas and participation.

    Transparency: Government and the People; Law of the Land

    There are two synonymous questions asked after the departure of almost every African leader “How much money did they take?” and “How many people did they kill before fleeing the country?” Corrupt individuals, their families, and selfish human hyenas who listen to them have robbed us for far too long. We must take our Ethiopia back! In order to do so we must begin to respect one another, listen to one other, and help our weakened and psychologically wounded brothers and sisters in Ethiopia.

    The flaw in the current African model of governance (which is backed by the West) is “rule with an iron fist, and the people will love you in time.” NO THEY WON’T! That is a lie. As evidenced by Africa’s bloody history students will revolt, people will become angry and in some cases civil war will ensue. If you educate people, give them the freedom to ask questions and be heard by the system, they will be part of Africa’s solution going forward. It is easier to convince the uneducated and the poor to resort to violence and extremism because they are unable to ask questions and convene intellectually. An educated society will use democratic means to take back their freedom. Look no farther than Egypt. The outcome of the revolution again must remain in the hands of the people.

    Government must take the lead and give every citizen the opportunity to participate, either conceptually or physically, in the development process through trade and education in social, infrastructural, and financial policies. We must construct a social and political system respectful of people, human rights and values. The future of the world depends on the sovereignty of the individual state, and we must begin constructing Ethiopia as one nation of many groups. Our difference in subculture and religion will bring us together and strengthen us in a united Ethiopia.

    Role of Government

    The old question of “who will police the police?” is as African as our dark skin. The quote also applies to the continent’s individual state leaders. They believe that by dividing the country through various existing social differences, they will rule longer, most of all become stronger. That’s where they fail, and where we will succeed. People are the strength of a government. That’s why when the majorities rise up and ask questions, leaders flee the country. They never had support!

    Protecting the rights of the people and installing constitutional mandates is not enough. The people must understand and know who their representatives are and what they are doing. We must endorse an action-backed, result-oriented system. Merely sitting people in a big room to discuss issues of a political nature does not make a democracy. In a true democracy, it is the needs of the people, and their ability to elect and remove whomever they choose at any given time, that is the foundation and the effect of a national rule of law.

    Ideology: Understanding Ethiopia, Ethiopians/Ourselves

    Change must ignite within each and every one of us before we can have social change.

    The political state of our nation is not the focus of the next chapter in Ethiopia, but rather the social change result of the individual change we must ask of all Ethiopians. What are the everyday needs of the average individual? From their wants and needs, can we construct a system able to grow concurrently with the minds of the educated and a productive workforce?

    Yes, this will take time and effort, but we do not lack the resources or the minds to create an adoptable social and political structure designed for Ethiopia. To date, all forms of Western-shaped governance have led Ethiopia into an oligarchy (a structure of power where a few people control everything). Western political ideals will never work in Ethiopia, unless altered to work for Ethiopia. All political and social structures must be constructed according to the current social conditions of the nation. The ideals must also allow for adaptability, for progress and change, which will certainly come with future generations.

    Our People Must Understand…

    We must teach ourselves that our politicians are elected officials, representatives of the people in a place of liberty and freedom for all under the same constitution. The role and responsibilities of elected officials are to those of the people whom elected them. The majority has to be part of the movement and change. Every individual’s contribution must be recognized and respected regardless of tribe; religion or any other divisive means that other use to divide us. Our diversity will become the foundation of our strength to unite Ethiopia!

    Most of all, we must protect the country from outside influence. The new political system must be mandated and implemented with full Ethiopian interests, so that the rights of all Ethiopians will be protected and defended from both domestic and foreign forces who stand to destroy the sovereignty of Ethiopia.

    If history ever forgives us for what we have done to this country, God will not!

    (The writer can be reached at mail@eskemeche.com or visit his web site: eskemeche.com)

    The Meles regime in danger of falling – U.S. journalist

    Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

    A U.S. investigative journalist, Wayne Madsen, tells RT TV that Meles Zenawi’s regime in Ethiopia is in danger of falling. Watch below

    Algeria decides to end state emergency

    Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

    The Algerian government announced today that it is lifting the state of emergency that has been imposed since 1992 as opposition groups plan more protests. The regime of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is also considering additional measures such as wage increases, importation of more food and major reforms in order to appear responsive to the public demands.

    Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci told Europe 1 radio Monday morning that Algeria’s 19-year state-of-emergency laws would be revoked within days, ending tight censorship and lifting a ban on political demonstrations. “In the coming days,” Medelci said, the emergency regulations would be “a thing of the past,” giving way to “complete freedom of expression within the limits of the law.” He then added, “Algeria is not Tunisia or Egypt.”

    Algerian regime’s actions are contrary to the normal mode of operation for most dictators who resort to more repressive measures in the face of popular uprisings that usually lead to a disgraceful end for them.

    In Ethiopia’s case, Meles Zenawi’s hands are socked with so much blood that his end will be terribly ugly. If he is smart as he claims to be, he would disappear right now and enjoy his loot with his Chinese friends.

    More Algeria update

    (Deutsche Welle) — After the popular overthrow of the authoritarian regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced that he would lift the 20-year-old emergency law that restricts freedoms in Algeria.

    Despite the promise, some 30,000 security forces prevented protests by the National Coordination for Change Democracy (CNCD) from taking place in the capital of Algiers last Saturday. CNCD is an umbrella group that represents numerous opposition factions.

    In defiance of the still active emergency law, the CNCD announced subsequent to Saturday’s aborted demonstration that it would hold protests every week until Bouteflika steps down. However, it is unlikely that the Algerian regime will witness a fate similar to that of Ben Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt. While in those cases the military either sided with the opposition or remained neutral, in Algeria the armed forces are deeply invested in the survival of Bouteflika’s regime.

    Power of the military

    Similar to Tunisia and Egypt, Algeria’s young population – 60 percent of the country is under 30 – struggles with a staggering 30-percent unemployment rate and little hope for the future. Protests in January over rising food prices and lack of economic opportunity turned violent, resulting in several casualties.

    “If you go on the street and ask young Algerians what they want to do, most have exactly one idea and that’s a visa for France,” Oliver Schlumberger, an expert on democratic reform in the Mideast with the University of Tuebingen, told Deutsche Welle.

    And though the opposition groups have taken to the streets ostensibly against Bouteflika, the real power in Algeria lies with the military. Respectfully called “le pouvoir” – the power – virtually every facet of life in North Africa’s largest nation is dependent on the military, from politics to the resource-rich economy. Regime change in Algeria would ultimately impact the interests of the military itself.

    “In Algeria, the president is actually a consensus figure for the military which stays behind the scenes,” Schlumberger said. “The president himself doesn’t come from the military, but instead is a diplomat who was a minister during the 1970s. A group of 10 to 15 generals is the real power behind the scenes.”

    Yet the opposition has – up to this point – tried to avoid confrontation with the armed forces. They remember what happened when free elections were held in 1991. The Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) won and the military intervened to annul the results. A brutal six-year civil war ensued which claimed 100,000 lives.

    War weary

    The now polarizing President Bouteflika originally came to power – undoubtedly with the support of the military – on a platform of national reconciliation. He promised amnesty for anyone who laid down their arms. The situation slowly calmed down, but peace never totally returned. The hardcore Islamic fighters vowed to fight on, some declaring their allegiance to al-Qaeda. They roam the vast expanse of the Sahel Desert, kidnapping Westerners and demanding ransoms and carry out bomb attacks from time to time.

    Schlumberger visited Algeria just as the civil war came to an end in 2001. He told Deutsche Welle that the conflict makes Algerians different from Egyptians in a very important way.

    “They’re war weary,” Schlumberger said. “There was such an extreme, palpable need to return to normalcy. That people could go to work in the morning and return at night without fear or worry and maybe drink a coffee on the street.”

    As a consequence, most of the population supported the reconciliation program. War-weary enemies became neighbors once again, despite the fact that most people know exactly who killed whom. But political reconciliation has not resolved the economic and social problems that originally contributed to the Islamist victory in the 1991 elections. And the Algerians currently taking to the streets say that their situation is getting worse every day, despite the fact that the national economy is doing fairly well. However, it remains to be seen whether the opposition movement can win the war-weary population to their cause.

    “Repression and lack of modernity surely exists in Algeria,” Schlumberger said. “But I’m not so sure that this will lead to a similarly large number of people taking great risks and going onto the streets and protesting.”

    National security petrostate

    Algeria has large oil and gas reserves and profits from economic relations with the West. However, wealth from energy exports has done little to alleviate the plight of the population at large. Approximately 60 percent of state income comes from the energy industry while 95 percent of Algeria’s export revenue comes from oil and gas. And according to Schlumberger, the military has a major stake in the country’s energy-dependent economy.

    “The military is of course a security actor on the one hand, but also an actor with very important economic interests on the other hand,” he said. “A model dominates there in which you need the consent of a general in order to be economically successful. That means there’s someone from the military behind the scenes who takes a percent of the earnings.”

    The military, the real power behind Bouteflika, is invested in and profits from the status quo. So while the armed forces either sided with the opposition or remained neutral in Tunisia and Egypt, which ultimately gave the protesters a window of political opportunity, in Algeria the generals have – at the moment – little interest in political change.

    “The military has a lot to lose in terms of privileges,” Schlumberger said. “And in that respect, I don’t really see the military agreeing to meaningful reforms without a fight.”

    Iran pro-democracy movement is reignited

    Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

    Iran pro-democracy movement is the latest to join the revolution against dictators in northern Africa and the Middle East as thousands of protesters clashed with the police on Monday and though out the night.

    (Al Jazeera) — Clashes between pro-reformists and security forces in Tehran have left several people injured, with one person reported killed.

    Thousands of anti-government protesters marched on Monday on Enghelab and Azadi streets [which connect and create a straight path through the city centre], with a heavy presence in Enghelab Square and Vali-Asr Street.

    Quoting witnesses, the AP news wire reported that at least three protesters injured by bullets were taken to a hospital in central Tehran, while dozens more were hospitalized because of severe wounds as a result of being beaten.

    The semi-official Fars news agency said one person had been shot dead and several wounded by protesters.

    “One person was shot dead and several were wounded by seditionists (opposition supporters) who staged a rally in Tehran,” Fars said, without giving further details.

    Tear gas

    Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari, reporting from Tehran, confirmed reports that security forces used tear gas, pepper spray and batons against the protesters.

    As with other foreign media, she was prohibited by government order to witness the demonstrations.

    Jabbari said that she had received reports that up to 10,000 security personnel had been deployed to prevent protesters from gathering at Azadi Square, where the marches, originating from various points in Tehran, were expected to converge.

    The AFP news agency reported that police fired paintball bullets on protesters.

    One video, posted on Youtube (claiming to be from Monday’s protests) shows people chanting, “political prisoners must be freed.” A woman then cries that tear gas has been deployed, dispersing the crowd.

    On the Facebook page used to organize the marches, there were also reports of shooting in or around Enghelab Square, as well as demonstrations in the cities of Mashhad, Shiraz and Kermanshah.

    Cashes between police and demonstrators — resulting in dozens of arrests — took place in Isfahan, the country’s third largest city.

    Twitter and Facebook posts said Mir Hossein Mousavi, the opposition leader and former presidential candidate, and his wife, Zahrah Rahnavard, had joined one of the marches.

    Mehdi Karroubi, the other prominent opposition leader, is still under house arrest.

    Al Jazeera was unable to confirm whether Mousavi and Rahnavard had joined the protest, and at last report, Kaleme.com, a pro-reformist website, said that security forces had prevented the couple from leaving their home.

    Next move

    As night fell in Iran, the BBC reported that city lights were being turned off and that security forces were attacking protesters in the dark.

    While many of the protesters reflected on the day’s marches on Twitter and Facebook, Youtube videos show that hundreds were still on the streets after dark, setting fire to rubbish bins and barricades, chanting anti-government slogans.

    Monday’s marches were organized as a one-day event and it is unclear if further protests will take place overnight or tomorrow.

    A message on posted by the organizers of the demonstrations posted on the 25 Bahman Facebook site — the site’s title reflecting today’s date on the Iranian calendar — seemed to indicate that there might be more protests.

    “The 25 Bahman group will try to announce the programme for of protests for tonight and tomorrow shortly,” it read.

    “Please stand by via any means of communication you have. We are victorious.”

    The current security clampdown is reminiscent of the one that crushed a wave of protests after the disputed re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, in June 2009.

    Opposition supporters revived a tactic from the 2009 protests, shouting “Allahu Akbar” or God is Great, and “Death to the dictator”, from rooftops and balconies on Monday in a sign of defiance towards Iran’s leadership.

    Several opposition activists and aides to Mousavi and Karroubi have been arrested in recent days.

    Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, hailed the “courage” of the protesters, and pressed Tehran to follow Egypt’s example and “open up” its political system.

    Our correspondent in the capital said that as far as Iran’s leaders are concerned, Monday’s protests “are not a reflection of what people actually want”.

    They believe these are small groups of individuals who have ulterior motives, they are a threat to national security and therefore the security forces are necessary to prevent them from becoming a threat inside the country,” said Jabbari.

    Amnesty International, the London-based human rights group, criticised Iranian authorities for opposing Monday’s protests and making dozens of arrests, saying the crackdown was aimed at blocking the work of activists and stifling dissent.

    “Iranians have a right to gather to peacefully express their support for the people of Egypt and Tunisia,” said Hassiba Hadj-Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa deputy director.

    “While the authorities have a responsibility to maintain public order, this should be no excuse to ban and disperse protests by those who choose to exercise that right.”

    There was no mention of Monday’s demonstrations on state-run television stations or websites.

    Instead, one station replayed interviews it did with those who attended the march celebrating the 32nd anniversary of the Islamic revolution on Friday.

    (BBC) — In Washington DC, the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters that the US administration “very clearly and directly” supports the protesters.

    “What we see happening in Iran today is a testament to the courage of the Iranian people, and an indictment of the hypocrisy of the Iranian regime – a regime which over the last three weeks has constantly hailed what went on in Egypt,” she said.

    Mrs Clinton said the US had the same message for the Iranian authorities as it did for those in Egypt, where President Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down after 29 years in power by nationwide mass protests.

    “We are against violence and we would call to account the Iranian government that is once again using its security forces and resorting to violence to prevent the free expression of ideas from their own people,” she said.

    “We think that there needs to be a commitment to open up the political system in Iran, to hear the voices of the opposition and civil society,” she added.

    Indian farmers head to Ethiopia

    Monday, February 14th, 2011

    The United Nations is currently asking the international community to donate food for 2.8 million Ethiopians, and yet the so-called “Ethiopian government” sells fertile land to foreign investors to grow oil seeds and sugarcane for export.

    Chandigarh, INDIA (PTI) — A group of Indian farmers in Punjab today said that they are going to grow pulses and oilseeds on 5,000 hectares of land in Ethiopia and import their farm produce to India.

    “We will start cultivating 5,000 hectares of land in Ethiopia from September this year and plan to cultivate pulses, oil seeds, sugarcane and maize which are always in short supply (in India),” Confederation of Potato Seed Farmers (POSCON) secretary general Jang Bahadur Singh Sangha said here today.

    Additionally, the group wants the government to exempt their farm produce in Ethiopia from duty when imported to India in order to curtail country’s dependence on import of such farm products.

    “By bringing crops like pulses, oilseeds to India, we will help the country in making it self sufficient in these crops and ensure food security,” Sangha asserted.

    They also want either the Union minister of agriculture or ministry of external affairs to support them in this endeavour by patronising the farming agreements.

    Citing farming in Ethiopia as a ‘workable’ venture, 15 members of POSCON, the representative body of the state’s potato growers, have shown keen interest in cultivating land there he added.

    Sangha said, “I have already visited Ethiopia twice along with other members of our association and found huge tracts of land available in there. Farming conditions (in Ethiopia) are also similar to what we have in India.”

    Also, availability of land in Ethopia at much cheaper cost than in India encouraged farmers to cultivate the land in Ethiopia.

    “Land is available for farming on lease of 25 to 45 years period. Moreover, in Ethiopia, the cost of land on lease is Rs500 per hectare, while in Punjab the cost varies between Rs25,000-30,000 per hectare,” he added.

    Farmers have zeroed in on a few African areas, including Gambela and Oromia, for cultivating land.

    Moreover, the Ethiopian government has promised to support farming by Indian farmers in every manner.

    Last year, ministry of external affairs had arranged a meeting of representatives of several African countries, including Ethiopia, Uganada, Zambia, and Tanzania with Punjab farmers and these countries invited them to develop land and invest in agriculture.

    Africa's Youths United Can Never be Defeated

    Monday, February 14th, 2011

    Alemayehu G. Mariam

    Mubarak, Irhal!

    A specter is haunting Africa and the Middle East – the specter of an awesome army of youths on the move, in revolt, marching for freedom, chanting for democracy and dying for human rights and human dignity. Millions of youths are standing up and demanding dictators to stand down and leave town. They are fed up with despotism, totalitarianism, absolutism, authoritarianism, monarchism, fascism and terrorism. They are sick and tired of being told to wait and wait and wait as their future fades into nothingness. They are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Youths rose up like the morning sun to brighten the long dark night of dictatorship in Tunisia and Egypt. They dictated to the great dictators: “Mubarak, irhal (go away).” “Degage, Ben Ali!” (Get out, Ben Ali!). When Mubarak refused to budge like a bloodsucking tick on a milk cow, they brandished their shoes and cried out, “Mubarak, you are a shoe!” (a stinging insult in Arab culture). Mubarak finally got the point. He saw 85 million pairs of shoes pointed at his rear end. In a 30-second announcement, the House of Mubarak dissolved into the dust bin of history.

    The Beautiful Egyptian Youth Revolution

    What makes the Egyptian youth revolution so beautiful, wonderful, absorbing, hypnotizing and inspiring is that they did it with moral courage, steadfast determination and without resorting to violence even when violence was visited upon them by Mubarak’s thugs. They did not fire a single shot, as Mubarak’s thugs massacred 300 of their own and jailed several thousands more. Egypt’s youths fought their battles in the streets of Cairo, Alexandria and elsewhere, but they won their war against dictatorship and for freedom, democracy and human rights in the hearts and minds of their people. How they went about winning their revolution is a testament to a people whose civilization is the cradle of human civilization. They transformed their oppression-seared nation into a molten steel of freedom-loving humanity: Muslims and Christians prayed together in Tahrir Square for the end of the dark days of dictatorship and the beginning of a new dawn of freedom. Civilians held hands with soldiers who were sent out to shoot them. Religious revivalists locked arms with secularists, socialists and others to demand change. Rich and poor embraced each other in common cause. Young and old marched together day and night; and men and women of all ages raised their arms in defiance chanting, “Mubarak, irhal.”

    Victory of Courage Over Fear

    For 30 years, Mubarak ruled with fear and an iron fist under a State of Emergency. He established a vast network of secret police, spies, informants and honor guards to make sure he stayed in power and his opposition decimated. Under an emergency law (Law No. 162 of 1958), Mubarak exercised unlimited powers. He banned any real opposition political activity and unapproved political organizations, prohibited street demonstrations, arrested critics and dissidents and clamped down on all he thought posed a threat to his rule. Mubarak had the power to imprison anyone for any reason, at any time and for any period of time without trial. Some he tried in kangaroo military courts and sentenced them to long prison terms. Mubarak held an estimated 20,000 persons under the emergency law and the number of political prisoners in Egypt is estimated at 30,000. Mubarak’s brutal (secret) police are responsible for the disappearance, torture, rape and killing of thousands of pro-democracy campaigners and innocent people. A cable sent to Washington by the US ambassador to Cairo in 2009 revealed: “Torture and police brutality in Egypt are endemic and widespread. The police use brutal methods mostly against common criminals to extract confessions, but also against demonstrators, certain political prisoners and unfortunate bystanders.” When Egyptian youth overcame their fears and stood up to the notorious secret police, spies, informants and bloodthirsty thugs, it was all over for Mubarak and his kleptocratic regime. In less than three weeks, Mubarak’s empire of fear, terror and torture crumbled like an Egyptian ghorayebah cookie left out in the Sahara sun.

    All Dictators End Up in the Dustbin of History

    These must be days of worry and panic for African and Middle Eastern dictators. No doubt, some are in a state of total depression having sleepless nights and nightmares when they catch a wink. They brood over the questions: “What if IT (the “unspeakable”) happens to me? What am I going to do? How many can I kill to suppress an uprising and get away with it? A thousand, ten thousand?”

    African and Middle Eastern dictators who have abused their power must know that sooner or later their turn will come. When it does, they will have only three choices: justice before their national or international tribunals, the dustbin of history, or if they can make it to the airport fast enough to Dictators’ “home away from home”, Saudi Arabia (at least until their turn comes). There will be no place for them to run and hide. Let them learn from the fates of their brothers: Al Bashir of Sudan has an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court hanging over his head. Old Charley Taylor of Liberia is awaiting his verdict at the ICC. Hissien Habre of Chad will soon be moving into Taylor’s cell at the ICC. A gang of Kenyan state ministers which instigated the violence following the 2007 presidential elections should be trading their designer suits for prison jumpsuits at the ICC in the not too distant future. Mengistu, Ben Ali, Mubarak, Al Bashir and others will be on the lam for a while and evade the long arm of justice. Justice may be delayed but it will always arrive as it did a couple of days for Pervez Musharraf who has warrant out for his arrest in connection with the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

    All dictators are doomed to an ignominious downfall. No African dictator has ever left office with dignity, honor, respect and the adulation of his people. They have all left office in shame, disgrace and infamy. History shows that dictators live out their last days like abandoned vicious dogs– lonely, godforsaken and tormented. Such has been the destiny of Mobutu of Zaire, Bokassa of the Central African Republic, Idi Amin of Uganda, Barre of Somalia, El-Nimery of the Sudan, Saddam of Iraq, Pol Pot of Cambodia, Marcos of the Philippines, the Shah of Iran, Ceausescu of Romania, Pincohet of Chile, Somoza of Nicaragua, Hoxha of Albania, Suharto of Indonesia, Stroessner of Paraguay, Ne Win of Mynamar, Hitler, Stalin, Mussollini and all the rest. History testifies that these names will forever be synonymous with evil, cruelty, atrocity, depravity and inhumanity. It is ironic that Mubarak (which in Arabic means “blessed one”) was born to live as the blessed one; but he will forever be remembered in Egyptian history as the “cursed one”.

    The Power of Nonviolence Resistance

    As Gandhi said, “Strength does not come from physical capacity”, nor does it come from guns, tanks and planes. “It comes from an indomitable will.” Winston Churchill must have learned something from Gandhi when he said, “Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

    As odd as it seems, violence is the weapon of the weak. To shoot and kill and maim unarmed protesters in the streets is not a sign of strength, it is a sign of fear and cowardice. To jail wholesale opposition leaders, journalists, critics and dissidents is not a demonstration of control but the ultimate manifestation of lack of control. One speaks the language of violence because one cannot speak the language of reason. Violence is the language of the angry, the hateful, the vengeful, the ignorant and the fearful. Dictators speak to their victims in the language of violence because their raison d’etre (reason for existing) is to hate and spread hate. Their very soul stirs with hatred often damaged by childhood experiences and feelings of inferiority. Hitler and Stalin exhibited strong hatred towards Jews from childhood, and because they felt woefully inadequate, they did things to try and show everybody that they have power. Violence never resolves the issues that triggered the violence; and as Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” Dr. Martn Luther King explained it further: “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate…” To reciprocate in violence is to become one with the perpetrators of violence. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

    But the nonviolent resistor is strong, very strong. S/he is willing to sit down and reason with the one brutalizing her/him. Gandhi, Martin King, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Vaclav Havel, Lech Walesa, Rosa Parks and many others have proven to be stronger than those whose heartbeats stroked to the metronome of hate. Gandhi drove the British colonialists out of India without firing a single shot. They mocked him as the “little lawyer in a diaper.” In the end, the British saluted the Indian flag and left. More recently, Eastern Europe shed its totalitarian burden through nonviolent resistance. Now we have seen it happen in Tunisia and Egypt.

    But there are some who believe that nonviolent resistance will not work in the face of a morally depraved, conscienceless and barbaric adversary who will mow down in cold blood children, men and women. Others say nonviolence resistance takes too long to produce results. Such views have been articulated since the time of Gandhi, but the historical evidence refutes them. As we have recently seen in Tunisia and Egypt, two of the most brutal and entrenched dictatorships in the world unraveled in less than a month through nonviolent resistance.

    As to a long-term nonviolent struggle, there are many instructive experiences. Let’s take Poland as an example. In 1981, the Soviets put General Wojciech Jaruzelski in charge to crackdown on Solidarity, a non-communist controlled trade union established a year earlier. Jaruzelski immediately declared martial law and arrested thousands of Solidarity members, often in in the middle of the night, including union leader Lech Walesa. Jaruzelski flooded the streets of Warsaw, Gdansk and elsewhere in Poland with police who shot, beat and jailed strikers and protesters by the tens of thousands. By the beginning of 1982, the crackdown seemed successful and most of Solidarity top leaders were behind bars. But Jaruzelski’s campaign of violence and repression did not end the nonviolent resistance in Poland. It only drove it underground. Where the jailed union leaders left off, others took over including priests, students, dissidents and journalists. Unable to meet in the streets, the people gathered in their churches, in the restaurants and bars, offices, schools and associations. A proliferation of underground institutions emerged including Solidarity Radio; hundreds of underground publications served as the medium of communication for the people. Solidarity leaders who had evaded arrest managed to generate huge international support. The U.S. and other countries imposed sanctions on Poland, which inflicted significant hardship on Jaruzelski’s government. By 1988, Poland’s economy was in shambles as prices for basic staples rose sharply and inflation soared. In August of that year, Jaruzelski was ready to negotiate with Solidarity and met Walesa. Following the “Polish Roundtable Talks”, communism was doomed in Poland. In December 1990, Lech Walesa became the first popularly elected president of Poland. It took nearly a decade to complete the Polish nonviolent revolution. History shows that nonviolent change seems impossible to many until people act to bring it about. Who would have thought two months ago that two of the world’s worst dictators would be toppled and consigned to the dust bin of history in a nonviolent struggle by youths?

    The Wrath of Ethiopian Youth

    In June 2010, I wrote:

    The wretched conditions of Ethiopia’s youth point to the fact that they are a ticking demographic time bomb. The evidence of youth frustration, discontent, disillusionment and discouragement by the protracted economic crisis, lack of economic opportunities and political repression is manifest, overwhelming and irrefutable. The yearning of youth for freedom and change is self-evident. The only question is whether the country’s youth will seek change through increased militancy or by other peaceful means.

    Youths always inspire each other. Ethiopia’s youths seek the same things as their Tunisian and Egyptian counterparts: a livelihood, adequate food, decent housing and education and basic health care. They want free access to information – radio, newspaper, magazines, satellite and internet — as they are absolutely and unconditionally guaranteed in their constitution. Above all, they want to live in a society that upholds the rule of law, protects human rights and respects the votes of the people. They do not want corruption, nepotism, cronyism, criminality and inhumanity. That is not too much to ask.

    When the uprising took place in Tunisia and Egypt, it was not the “leaders” that led it. Youth power became the catalyzing force for a democratic revolution in both countries. Africa’s dictators should understand that people do not rise up because it is in style or fashionable, but because their conditions of existence are subhuman, inhuman and intolerable. It is possible to stop the satellite transmissions, jam the radio broadcasts, shutter the newspapers, close the internet cafes, grab a young journalist and human rights advocate as he walks out of an internet café and interrogate, threaten, intimidate and terrorize him, but it is far more difficult to quiet the hungry stomachs, mend the broken hearts, heal the wounded spirits and calm the angry minds of the young people. Youths united in Ethiopia and elsewhere on the African continent can never be defeated.

    Power to Africa’s Youths!

    Zenawi, irhal! Bashir, degage! Mugabe, irhal! Gbagbo, degage! Ghaddafi, irhal! African dictators, irhal!…. degage!

    Yemen protest intensifies despite brutal police attacks

    Monday, February 14th, 2011

    Savage attacks by Yemen police have so far been unable to stifle the intensifying pro-democracy protests across the country. On Sunday, thousands of students who joined the demonstration came under attacks by security forces and pro-government thugs. The protesters are demanding reform and the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

    (Al Jazeera) — Several thousand protesters, many of them university students, tried to reach the central square in the capital Sanaa on Sunday, but were pushed back by police using clubs. Witnesses said several protesters were injured and 23 people were detained by police.

    VIDEO

    Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that the security forces had used electroshock tasers and batons against the demonstrators.

    The US-based organisation called on the Yemeni government to cease all attacks against the demonstrators and investigate and prosecute those responsible for the violence.

    “Without provocation, government security forces brutally beat and tasered peaceful demonstrators on the streets of Sanaa,” Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East and North Africa director at HRW, said. “The government needs to take full responsibility for this abuse.”

    On Saturday, clashes broke out in Sanaa between groups supporting and opposing the government after men armed with knives and sticks forced around 300 anti-government protesters to end a rally, the Reuters news agency quoted witnesses as saying.

    In Algeria the opposition regroups for more protest

    (AP) — The organizers of a pro-reform protest that brought thousands of Algerians onto the streets of the capital over the weekend called Sunday for another rally next week.

    The Coordination for Democratic Change in Algeria — an umbrella group for human rights activists, unionists, lawyers and others — has called for the Feb. 19 demonstrations to take place throughout the country.

    Saturday’s rally — which came a day after an uprising in Egypt toppled that country’s autocratic ruler — took place only in the capital, Algiers.

    Organizers said around 10,000 took part in the gathering, though officials put turnout at 1,500. Many protesters held signs reading “Bouteflika out,” in reference to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in power in the impoverished but gas-rich North African nation since 1999.

    Under the country’s long-standing state of emergency, public protests are banned in Algiers, and an estimated 26,000 riot police set up barriers throughout the city in a failed bid to quash Saturday’s gathering, organizers said.

    A human rights campaigner said police briefly detained around 400 people. No injuries were reported.

    The hours-long rally dissolved peacefully Saturday afternoon, and Sunday was calm in the capital, though youth clashed with riot police in the eastern coastal city of Annaba.

    The skirmish broke out after thousands of people responded Sunday to an ad in the local paper announcing job vacancies at Annaba’s city hall. When it turned out no jobs were on offer, members of the angry mob started throwing stones at police.

    Annaba is 375 miles (600 kilometers) east of Algiers, near the border with Tunisia.

    Tensions have been high in Algeria since a spate of riots over high food prices early last month that left three dead. and recent uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt that deposed those country’s leaders.

    The success of those uprisings is fueling activists’ hope for change in Algeria, although many in this conflict-scarred nation of 35 million people fear any prospect of a return to violence. The country lived through a brutal Islamist insurgency in the 1990s that left an estimated 200,000 people dead.

    In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley called on the security services to exercise restraint.

    “In addition, we reaffirm our support for the universal rights of the Algerian people, including assembly and expression,” Crowley said. “These rights apply on the Internet. Moreover, these rights must be respected. We will continue to follow the situation closely in the days ahead.”

    Bahrain opposition groups call for protest rally

    Monday, February 14th, 2011

    (Al Jazeera) — Bahrain’s security forces have set up checkpoints to monitor people’s movements as opposition groups blanketed social media sites with calls to stage the first major anti-government protests in the Gulf since the uprising in Egypt.

    Units patrolled shopping centers and other key spots in a clear warning against holding Monday’s rally, which has been the focus of social media appeals and text messages for more than a week.

    One cartoon posted on a Bahraini blog showed three arms holding aloft a mobile phone and the symbols of Facebook and Twitter.

    The decision by Shia-led opposition groups and others to call for demonstrations on February 14 is symbolic as it is the anniversary of Bahrain’s 2002 constitution, which brought some pro-democracy reforms such as an elected parliament.

    A Facebook page calling for a revolution in Bahrain on Monday has nearly 14,000 followers, and an emailed schedule of protests and demonstrations is also being circulated.

    The developments came as riot police clashed with a small group of youths who staged a march following a wedding ceremony in Karzakan, a Shia village in the west.

    An AP photographer said he had seen several people injured and others gasping from tear gas.

    Shia discontent

    Sunday’s wide-ranging clampdown appeared directed toward Bahrain’s Shia majority, which has led the drive for Monday’s rallies.

    Bahrain’s Sunni rulers have already given out cash and promised greater media reforms in an effort to quell discontent.

    In an open letter to the king, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights has called for wide-ranging reforms to avoid a “worst-case scenario”, including the dismantling of the security forces, the prosecution of state officials for abuses and the release of 450 jailed activists, religious leaders and others.

    The tiny kingdom is among the most politically volatile in the Gulf and holds important strategic value for the West as the home to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet.

    Bahrain’s Shias , which account for nearly 70 per cent of the total popualtion, have long complained of systematic discrimination by the ruling Sunni dynasty, whose crackdown on dissent last year touched off riots and clashes.

    Concessions

    Bahrain’s leaders have stepped in with some concessions to try to defuse tension.

    Government media monitors began talks on Sunday with newspaper publishers and others to draft new rules to limit state controls.

    The official Bahrain News Agency has also launched a new multimedia service that includes social media applications to seek more outreach.

    Activists and rights groups have often had to contend with widespread blocks on websites and blogs.

    On Friday, hundreds of Bahrainis and Egyptian nationals went out in the streets chanting and dancing near the Egyptian Embassy in Manama moments after Hosni Mubarak stepped down as Egypt’s president.

    Bahraini authorities quickly set up roadblocks to contain the crowds.

    The chances for confrontation in Bahrain have been further elevated by the ongoing trial of 25 Shia activists – including two charged in absentia – accused of plotting against the state.

    The detainees have alleged police torture and being made to sign forced confessions, but the court has moved ahead with the proceedings. The next session is scheduled for February 24.

    Free internet access! More bad news for dictators

    Monday, February 14th, 2011

    Dictators try as much as they can to restrict the free flow of information. Ethiopia’s beggar dictator pays China tens of millions of dollars to block web sites, radio programs, and satellite TVs. By some estimate, the Woyanne ruling junta has spent over $250 million for such technology while millions of children in Ethiopia go hungry.

    Unfortunately for dictators, technology is out pacing them. One of the reasons Egypt’s revolution succeeded with minimal bloodshed (unlike the uprising in Ethiopia following the 2005 elections where Meles Zenawi’s troops gunned down hundreds of civilians, and China’s Tiananmen Squre protests in 1989 where the Chinese government slaughtered over 3,000 civilians) is that satellite TVs and the internet have helped draw international attention to the legitimate demands of the protesters and the criminal acts of the Mubarak regime. Egyptian army would have been an international pariah and the generals would have been hunted down as criminals had they attacked the peaceful civilians.

    To overcome blockade of the internet and restriction of information by dictators, a group named A Human Right is attempting to provide free internet access to every one in the world. It is an exciting project that can expedite the elimination of dictatorships from the face of the earth. The following is a report by Eric W. Dolan at RawStory.com:

    Group plans to beam free Internet across the globe from space

    The charity group A Human Right said it was planning to purchase a satellite that would provide free basic Internet access to developing countries around the world.

    The group, which was founded by 25-year-old Kosta Grammatis, is currently raising money to buy the TerreStar-1, the largest commercial communications satellite ever built. TerreStar, the company that owns the satellite, filed for chapter-11 bankruptcy protection in October 2010, opening the possibility that the satellite may be up for sale.

    The group hopes to raise $150,000 to finalize a business plan, investigate the legal and business aspects of submitting a bid for the satellite, and hire engineers to turn the plan into a reality. After this initial phase, the group plans to develop an open source low cost modem that could be used to connect to the satellite and finalize plans with partner governments.

    “We believe that Internet access is a tool that allows people to help themselves – a tool so vital that it should be considered a universal human right,” the website for Buy This Satellite stated. “Imagine your digital life disconnected. Without access to the 100 million man-hours that have been put into Wikipedia, how much do you actually know?”

    Nearly 5 billion out of the world’s 6.9 billion people don’t have access to the Internet.

    A Human Right plans to finance their satellite by allowing telecommunication companies to purchase bandwidth, while providing basic service for free to everyone. “Our goal is to not only get everyone online, but also facilitate the growth of an industry,” their website said.

    The group has already managed to raise $44,781.

    “The idea for global connectivity was born in Berlin, Germany in an innovation ‘Do-Tank’ called Palomar 5,” according to the group. “Thirty people under the age of thirty came together to innovate on what the future might look like, and how to address some of the worlds problems.”

    “In Egypt we’ve watched as the government, in an unprecedented way, shutoff Internet access for the entire country,” Grammatis told TIME. “We’re building a system that can’t be shutoff–it’s as decentralized as possible. You could jam the signal somewhat, but to do that at the scale of a country is a very very difficult task.”

    “Big ideas, that can improve our society as a whole, are worth doing, and this one will be done,” he added. “It’s the logical next step in communications: a network available to anyone everywhere for minimal cost.”

    Similarly, President Obama announced Thursday his plan to get 98 percent of the United States connected to the Internet in five years.

    Ethiopia's dictator gives warning to parents

    Sunday, February 13th, 2011

    As the revolution clock is ticking in Ethiopia, the Meles regime is acting and behaving like any other dictatorship — intensify its repressive measures. This week, the ruling party’s security agents have started to gather parents and give them stern warnings to prevent their children from participating in any anti-government activities.

    Two days ago, prominent Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega was taken to the Federal Police Headquarters where he was warned not to write any thing that may incite uprising.

    The regime has tried to once again force Ethiopian Satellite TV (ESAT) off the air. But ESAT came back on air within 24 hours on a more secure satellite.

    EthiopianReview.com and all other independent news web sites remain blocked in Ethiopia.

    During the past few days, eyewitnesses at Woreda 23 told Ethiopian Review that officials from the Woreda police and Kebele 11 summoned some parents to the police station and threatened them that they will be sorry if their children participate in any protest. The Woyanne security agents warned the parents that Ethiopia is not Egypt and that there is a serious consequence for any one who engages in anti-government activities.

    It’s true that Ethiopia is not Egypt because although Mubarak is a dictator he is not the enemy of the people of Egypt and the army is a national army. The Meles regime is an anti-Ethiopia entity and his ruling junta is a gang of blood thirsty thugs who have been committing atrocities through out the country for the past 20 years while receiving billions of dollars in assistance and loans from the U.S. and EU.

    No matter how savage and barbaric Woyannes are, they cannot stop the people of Ethiopia from asserting their freedom.

    Yemen police beat up pro-democracy protesters

    Saturday, February 12th, 2011

    SANA’A — Yemen security forces with clashed with Yemeni pro-democracy protesters on Friday and Saturday. The protesters were celebrating resignation of Egypt’s dictator Hosni Mubarak. They are also demanding President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen to step down.

    Princeton University Yemen scholar Gregory Johnsen told the VOA that some of the protests within the last 24 hours took place “outside the umbrella of the opposition JMP movement” indicating that public discontent could be spreading.

    Eyewitnesses say that rallies took place spontaneously in parts of Sana’a, with demonstrators trying to rally in front of the Egyptian Embassy.

    The Yemen Post newspaper editor-in-chief Hakim Almasmari says that government security forces skirmished with the crowds. A number of demonstrators were reportedly injured in the clashes. Almasmari adds that several people were also arrested.

    Buses ferried ruling party members, equipped with tents, food and water, to the city’s main square to help prevent attempts by protesters to gather there, Fox News reported.

    There were about 5,000 security agents and government supporters in the Sanaa square named Tahrir, or Liberation.

    (Reuters) — Some 300 anti-government student demonstrators assembled at Sanaa University in Yemen on Saturday morning. As numbers swelled into the thousands, they began marching towards the Egyptian embassy.

    “The people want the fall of the government,” protesters chanted. “A Yemeni revolution after the Egyptian revolution.”

    But a group of government supporters armed with knives and sticks confronted the protesters at the central Tahrir Square. Scuffles broke out and the pro-government activists used traditional knives and batons to force the anti-government protesters to flee.

    Two people were lightly injured, witnesses said.

    The clash came after armed men forced around 300 anti-government protesters to quit an impromptu demonstration in the Yemeni capital on Friday night.

    Yemeni authorities detained at least 10 people after anti-government protesters in Sanaa celebrated Mubarak’s downfall on Friday, U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said.

    The group said the celebrations turned to clashes when hundreds of men armed with assault rifles, knives and sticks attacked the protesters while security forces stood by.

    “The Yemeni security forces have a duty to protect peaceful protesters,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “In this case, security forces seem to have organised armed men to attack the protesters.”

    Yemen’s ruling party set up tents in Sanaa’s central Tahrir Square last week to occupy the space and prevent people from gathering in large numbers.

    Party officials handed out small amounts of money to reward pro-government protesters on Saturday. Some used the cash to buy food or Qat, a mild green stimulant leaf that more than half of Yemen’s 23 million people chew daily and which has been cited as a deterrent to protest.

    Algeria's regime shuts down internet sites

    Saturday, February 12th, 2011

    Algeria RevolutionFollowing the successful revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt that overthrew entrenched dictators, a new revolution has started in Algeria on Saturday, February 12, 2001. Instead of learning from Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Ben Ali of Tunisia, Algeria’s dictator Abdelaziz Boutifleka is taking similar actions against pro-democracy protesters. Today he sent out on the streets of Algiers over 30,000 of his police to block protesters from staging demonstrations. And in the afternoon he disconnected the internet. His security forces are also rounding up journalists, and thugs hired by the regime are beating up protesters. Too predictable.

    Today is named Day 1 of the Algerian Revolution. We wish the freedom hungry people of Algeria success in their fight against the dictatorship.

    Ethiopia’s corrupt dictator Meles Zenawi is nervously awaiting his turn. The clock is ticking.

    Latest developments in Algeria

    (Telegraph.co.uk) — Mostafa Boshashi, head of the Algerian League for Human Rights, said: “Algerians want their voices to be heard too. They want democratic change. “At the moment people are being prevented from travelling to demonstrations. The entrances to cities like Algeria have been blocked.”

    On Saturday at least 500 had been arrested by early evening in Algiers alone, with hundreds more in Annaba, Constantine and Oran taking part in the so-called February 12 Revolution.

    “The police station cells are overflowing,” said Sofiane Hamidouche, a demonstrator in Annaba.

    “There are running battles taking place all over the city. It’s chaos. As night falls the situation will get worse.”

    Algeria police arrest hundreds of protesters

    Saturday, February 12th, 2011

    Algeria police arrested hundreds of protesters who are demanding reforms at a rally on Saturday. Thousands of police in riot gear stopped the protesters from entering May 1 Square where the demonstration was called by a coalition of civic and political groups. However, a Small number of protesters succeeded in entering the square, shouting “Bouteflika out!”

    (Reuters) — “It is a state of siege,” said Abdeslam Ali Rachedi, a university lecturer and government opponent. After about three hours, hundreds of people left the square quietly, with police opening up gaps in their cordon to let them through. Some 200 young men from a poor neighborhood nearby stayed on the square. Some threw objects at police.

    “I am sorry to say the government has deployed a huge force to prevent a peaceful march. This is not good for Algeria’s image,” said Mustafa Bouchachi, a leader of the League for Human Rights which helped organize the protest.

    The protest was not backed by the main trade unions or the biggest opposition parties. Nearly all members of Algeria’s radical Islamist groups, which were banned in the 1990s but still have grassroots influence, stayed away.

    Officials with the opposition RCD party, which helped organize the protest, told Reuters the demonstrators totaled between 7,000 and 10,000 and that 1,000 people were arrested.

    (CNN) — The demonstrations were mostly peaceful, with police rounding up protesters in small groups to break up the crowds, and anti-riot police gathered at the scene.

    Khalil AbdulMouminm, the general secretary for the Algerian league, called the situation “very tense on the ground” and said police were preventing protesters from assembling, with authorities blocking all entrances to the capital.

    Algeria Revolution Day 1

    Saturday, February 12th, 2011

    Pro-democracy activists have declared Saturday, Feb. 12, “Day 1″ of the Algerian Revolution against the regime of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. The ctivists have defied a ban against public political gatherings and called a march in Algiers today in which thousands are expected to participate.

    In response, the regime has brought 30,000 police officers into Algiers. Hundreds of armored vehicles are parked at key intersections of the capital.

    (Bloomberg) — The Coordination for Democratic Change in Algeria, an umbrella group of human rights activists, unionists, lawyers and others, insists the march will take place despite numerous warnings by authorities to stay out of the streets. Buses and vans filled with armed police were posted at strategic points along the march route and around Algiers, including at the “Maison de la Presse,” a small village in Algiers where newspapers have their headquarters.

    (Al Jazeera) — Protesters are demanding greater democratic freedoms, a change of government, and more jobs. The demonstration was set to begin at 11:00 am local time.

    “We are ready for the march,” said Mohsen Belabes, a spokesman for the Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD) opposition party, which is one of the organisers of the protest. “It’s going to be a great day for democracy in Algeria.”

    Mubarak’s resignation on Friday, and last month’s overthrow of Tunisian leader, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, have electrified the Arab world.

    The rally is being organised by the National Co-ordination for Change and Democracy (CNCD), a three-week-old umbrella group of opposition parties, civil society movements and unofficial unions inspired by the mass protests in Tunisia and Egypt.

    (BBC) — Widespread unrest in Algeria could have implications for the world economy because it is a major oil and gas exporter, but many analysts say an Egypt-style revolt is unlikely because the government can use its energy wealth to placate most grievances.

    Protest organizers in Algeria — who say they draw some of their inspiration from events in Egypt and Tunisia — say police may turn people away before they can reach the march in the capital, or parallel protests planned for other cities.

    “Algerians must be allowed to express themselves freely and hold peaceful protests in Algiers and elsewhere,” rights group Amnesty International said in a statement. “We urge the Algerian authorities not to respond to these demands by using excessive force.”

    In an attempt to head of anti-government unrest, the authorities have cut prices for sugar and cooking oil, bought huge quantities of grain to ensure bread supplies and promised to lift a 19-year-old state of emergency.

    I salute Al Jazeera

    Friday, February 11th, 2011

    By Elias Kifle

    Many seem to give credit to the social media (Facebook, Twitter and blogs) for helping the Egyptian and Tunisian youths who brought down the entrenched dictatorships in their country, but there is not enough mention about the contributions made by Al Jazeera, except by the dictators themselves.

    I used to dislike Al Jazeera for some of the anti-American vitriol that it some times broadcasts. It’s fine to criticize the U.S. for its often misguided foreign policy by some of its corrupt State Department officials who are propping up dictators such us Ethiopia’s Meles Zenawi. However, the U.S. is a force for good in this world and doesn’t deserve to be demonized.

    Having said that, Al Jazeera is becoming a respected and powerful news organization that is transforming the Middle East for the better. For the past few weeks I have been streaming its live video broadcast on the front page of EthiopianReview.com. I myself was glued to one my my computer screens that streams Al Jazeera Live 24/7. Its coverage of the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt is by far the best and the most thorough. I also think that one of the reasons the revolutions in these countries were not as bloody as they could have been is that the live TV coverage of every incident may have made the military leaders aware that they will be held personally responsible for any bloodshed. The international community would be too sickened by televised massacre of civilians and would bring those responsible for the atrocities to the International Criminal Court, like the Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, Sudan’s Al Bashir, and Bosnia’s Radovan Karadzic.

    A few years ago, Ethiopia’s vampire tyrant has kicked out Al Jazeera from Ethiopia, but it is still being watched by hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians.

    We need to strengthen our own satellite TV, ESAT, if we want to minimize the bloodshed the Woyanne ruling junta is preparing to cause in the next Ethiopian revolution. ESAT, along with all the Ethiopian radio programs, web sites, and social media will play a critical role in not only facilitating and helping coordinate the struggle, but they also could help prevent massive atrocities in Ethiopia.

    On behalf of Ethiopian Review, I extend my congratulations and well wishes to the people of Egypt.

    Hosni Mubarak resigns! Congratulations Egypt!

    Friday, February 11th, 2011

    (BBC) — Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down as president of Egypt. In an announcement on state TV, Vice-President Omar Suleiman said Mr Mubarak had handed power to the military.

    It came as thousands massed in Cairo and other Egyptian cities for an 18th day of protest to demand Mr Mubarak’s resignation.

    Protesters responded by cheering, waving flags, embracing and sounding car horns. “The people have brought down the regime,” they chanted.

    Mr Suleiman said Mr Mubarak had handed power to the high command of the armed forces.

    “In the name of God the merciful, the compassionate, citizens, during these very difficult circumstances Egypt is going through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down from the office of president of the republic and has charged the high council of the armed forces to administer the affairs of the country,” he said.

    “May God help everybody.”

    The military high command is headed by Defence Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.

    Mr Mubarak has already left Cairo and is in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh where he has a residence, officials say.

    Constitution breached

    In Cairo, thousands of people are gathered outside the presidential palace, in Tahrir Square and at state TV.

    They came out in anger following an address by Mr Mubarak on Thursday. He had been expected to announce his resignation but instead stopped short of stepping down, transferring most powers to Mr Suleiman.

    The BBC’s Jon Leyne in Cairo said the announcement caught everyone by surprise, and all over the city drivers honked their horns and people fired guns into the air.

    But the army takeover looks very much like a military coup, our correspondent adds.

    The constitution has been breached, he says, because officially it should be the speaker of parliament who takes over, not the army leadership.

    Oil price falls after Egypt’s President Mubarak resigns

    (The Telegraph) — Oil fell in late trading after Egypt’s President Mubarak resigned, bringing an end to weeks of protests that have spooked the energy market.

    The price of Brent crude rose sharply early on Friday when it appeared that the Egyptian leader would cling to power, raising fears about the key Suez canal transport route. Brent, the key London oil contract, has risen more than the US benchmark WTI – at one point trading at a $16 premium – as it is more exposed to the region.