Archive for the ‘Ethiopian News’ Category

Ethiopia: Addis Ababa Police Headquarters robbed

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Unknown individuals have reportedly robbed the Addis Ababa Police Headquarters late last month taking with them over 20 AK-47 automatic rifles, several hand grenades, and ammunition, according to Ginbot 7 Radio.

Such a brazen attack on a police headquarters in Addis Ababa, which is watched by several layers of security agencies — the Federal Police, kebele police, the military, Ministry of Internal Security, and the Addis Ababa police itself — has caused a speculation that the robbery might be an inside job.

More from Ginbot 7 Newspaper [Amhairc]:

ከባድ የጥበቃ ስራ በሚካሄድበት አዲስ አባባ ፖሊስ ጽፈት ቤት ውስጥ የመሳሪያ ዝርፊያ ተካሄደ

የወያኔ የደህንነት፣ የመከላከያና የፖሊስ አባለት ለ24 ሰአት በተጠንቀቅ በሚጠብቋት አዲስ አበባ የመሳሪያ ዝሪፊያ መካሄዱ ፤ ዝሪፊያውም የተካሄደው በፖሊስ ጣቢያው ግቢ ውስጥ መሆኑ ብዙዎችን አስገርሟል።

ጥቅምት 24 ቀን 2002 አም ማንነታቸው ባልታወቁ ሰዎች በአዲስ ከተማ ፖሊስ ጣቢያ ውስጥ በተፈጸመው ዝርፊያ ከ20 በላይ ክላሺንኮቭ ጠመንጃዎችና በርካታ ጥይቶችና ቦምቦች መዘረፋቸውን ምንጮቻችን ተናግረዋል። ዝርፊያው የተፈጸመው በሌሊት ሲሆን፣ የወያኔ ተረኛ ጠባቂ ፖሊሶች ስራቸውን በመስራት ላይ እንደነበሩም ለማወቅ ተችሎአል።

የዘራፊዎቹ ማንነት በውል ባይታወቅም ለዝግጅታችን ሚደርሱን መረጃዎች እንደሚያመላክቱት ዝርፊያውን የፈጸሙት ራሳቸው የወያኔ ሹመኞች ሳይሆኑ አልቀረም። የወያኔ ባለስልጣናት የተወሰኑ ፖሊሶችን ለማጥቃት በማሰብ ዝርፊያውን ሆን ብለው እንዳቀነባበሩት የሚጠቁሙ መረጃዎች በርካታ ሲሆኑ፣ የግንቦት 7 ድምጽ መረጃውን አጣርቶ ለህዝብ ይፋ ለማድረግ በመስራት ላይ ነው።

በተያያዘ ዜናም ባለፈው ወር ብቻ ከ1500 በላይ ፖሊሶች ስራቸውን በፈቃዳቸው ለቀዋል። ፖሊሶቹ ከወያኔ ጋር አብረው ለመስራት አለመፈለጋቸውን በመግለጽ የመልቀቂያ ደብዳቤ ሲያስገቡ መቆየታቸውን ለማወቅ የተቻለ ሲሆን፣ ወያኔ በሚለቁ ፖሊሶች ቦታ ታማኝ ተተኪዎችን ካዘጋጀ በሁዋላ የስራ መልቀቂያውን መፍቀዱ ታውቋል። ይህን ተከትሎም ከ1500 በላይ ፖሊሶች ስራቸውን ጥለው መውጣታቸውን ከታማኝ ምንጮች ያገኘው መረጃ አመልክቷል።

ወያኔ በፖሊሶች ላይ ያለው ጥርጣሬ በየጊዜው እየጨመረ በመምጣቱ በቅርቡ በጦላይ ወታደራዊ ማስልጠኛ ጣቢያ ግምገማ አካሄዶ በርካታ ፖሊሶችን ማባረሩ የሚታወስ ሲሆን፣ ተመሳሳይ ዙር ግምገማ በቅርቡ እንደሚደረግም ለማወቅ ተችሎአል።

ወታደሮችና ፖሊሶች አገርን በመግደል ላይ ካለው የወያኔ አገዛዝ ጋር በመተባበር ወገናቸውን ከመበደል እንዲታቀቡና የነጻነት ሀይሎችን እንዲቀላቀሉ የግንቦት 7 ሊ/መንበር የሆኑት ዶ/ር ብርሀኑ ነጋ በአዲስ አመት መልእክታቸው ጥሪ ማቅረባቸው የሚታወስ ሲሆን፣ ጥሪው በሰራዊቱና በፖሊሶች ዘንድ ከፍተኛ ተቀባይነት እያገኘ መምጣቱን የሚደርሱን መረጃዎች ያሳያሉ።

Nigeria beats Kenya, secures place in World Cup 2010

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

Nigeria has guaranteed its place in the World Cup Football 2010 championships in South Africa, beating Kenya on their home pitch 3:2 on Saturday.

Trailing at half-time in a match they had to win, the Nigerians hit back with two goals inside five minutes.

The Kenyans failed to clear a cross and the former Newcastle United striker spun before hooking the ball past goalkeeper Willis Ochieng to earn Nigeria a fourth World Cup appearance.

Russia is taking on Slovenia on today in Moscow in their first game in the World Cup Qualifiers. The teams will meet up again on November 18 in Slovenia for the deciding match.

Slovenia, who last reached the finals in 2002, have put in a series of strong defensive performances during their qualification campaign, conceding just four goals, fewer than only the Netherlands.

However, Guus Hiddink’s Russian side will be relieved to have avoided neighbors Ukraine, who will meet Greece in the playoffs.

Russia qualified for the playoffs after finishing second behind Germany in Group 4. Hiddink is hoping to bring his fourth national team to the World Cup, having previously led impressive campaigns with the Netherlands in 1998, South Korea in 2002, and Australia in 2006.

Institutionalized torture of Hassan Ahmed Makhtal in Ethiopia

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

Hassan Ahmed Makhtal Article 2 of the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment states that: “Each State party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.”

Common article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 prohibits torture during internal armed conflict. States are also required to bring those responsible for torture to justice and to give redress and compensation to those who have been tortured.

Article 18(1) of the Ethiopian Constitution states that: “No person shall be subject to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

However, in the Ogaden, there is neither arrest nor interrogation without torture. Usually, Ethiopian armed and security forces systematically torture detainees to extract confessions or information under duress. A number of people were tortured to death. The OHRC has examined a large number of torture survivors; some of them were disabled, while others bore scars of torture on their bodies.

The latest victim of Ethiopian government’s institutionalized torture was Hassan Ahmed Makhtal who died from wounds sustained during his detention.

On May 17th 2007, in Jigjiga, Ethiopian security forces and the local police arrested Hassan Ahmed Makhtal and a number of his relatives from their residences in the dead of night. And then they were transferred to Garabcase military barracks and Jigjiga Police Centre. According to ex-jail mates and relatives’ accounts they have undergone severe physical and psychological torture. Hassan, who was in a poor state of health, was denied adequate medical treatment while he was in detention. (See Ogaden: Ethiopian Government Forces: Massacre, displace and starve out the civilian population with impunity ref: OHRC/AR/07).

Recently, after 22 months of detention without official charges or trial he was released on bail, and was not allowed to travel abroad for medical treatment.

Hassan’s younger brother Bashir Ahmed Makhtal who is a prominent Canadian businessman, and originates from the Ogaden region, is now serving a life sentence in an Ethiopian jail. He was accused of being a member of the Ogaden National Liberation Front. (Bashir Ahmed Makhtal: Addis Ababa Court’s Sentence: A Miscarriage of Justice ref: OHRC /PRAU/1209).

Since the arrest of his Canadian brother, the Ethiopian government has hunted down all members of his extended family without an apparent reason.

The Ogaden Human Rights Committee is concerned about the safety and well-being of the remaining members of Hassan Ahmed Makhtal’s extended family, who are in detention and asks for their unconditional and immediate release.

The Ogaden Human Rights Committee condemns Ethiopian government’s policy of subjecting detainees to torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

(Ogaden Human Rights Committee, ogadenrights.org)

Egyptian police gun down an Ethiopian man

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

EL-ARISH, EGYPT — An Egyptian security official on Saturday said border guards shot to death another Ethiopian who was trying to cross the border into Israel.

“Guards first fired a warning shot as the man tried to cross the barbed wire fence early Saturday. When he failed to stop, he was shot dead,” the Egyptian official said.

Two Ethiopians and an Eritrean were also injured in the incident and were arrested by Egyptian authorities.

In September, Egypt police shot an Ethiopian woman and arrested at least 14 people who were trying to enter Israel illegally.

Ethiopian Emperor Menelik's pocket watch on auction

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

Menelik pocket watch GENEVA (AP) — A historical pocket watch made for Ethiopian Emperor Menelik II (1844 – 1913), “The Negus Watch”, dating from 1893, is displayed during an auction preview for the media at Sotheby’s in Geneva, Switzerland, this week.

The auction, Magnificent Jewels, will go on sale November 17 in Geneva.

The Watch was a gift to Leon Chefneux in recognition of his contribution to the implementation of Ethiopia’s first railway line, as inscribed on the inside of the case ‘Don de Sa Majeste Menelik II Empereur d’Ethiopie’.

The yellow gold chronometer pocket watch’s case embraces a white enamel dial. It exhibits a blue and white enamel embellishment, Ethiopian polychrome symbols, used in place of hour markers, subsidiary seconds, a white enamel replacement dial, as well as a back cover, suggestive of the monarch’s crown, infoniac.com says.

Paved with rubies and diamonds, the model is offered in its presentation case and accompanied by the original First Class Geneva Observatory Certificate.

The estimated value is CHF 30,000 – 50,000 (US$ 29,100 – 48,500).

የግል ሚዲያ የዴሞክራሲ ዋስትና እንጂ ጠላት አይደለም

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

ከአውራምባ ታይምስ ዝግጅት ክፍል

[pdf]

ኢትዮጵያ ፈርማ ከተቀበለቻቸው የተባበሩት መንግስታት የሰብአዊ መብት ሰነዶች አንዱ በዓለም አቀፍ የሲቪልና የፖለቲካ መብቶች ቃል ኪዳን አንቀጽ 19 ስር የሚገኘውና ማንኛውም ሰው ያለምንም ጣልቃ ገብነት የራሱን አስተሳሰብ ስለመያዝ መብቱ የሚደነግገው ክፍል ነው:: ድንጋጌው ሃሳብ በነፃነት የሚገለጽባቸውን የተለያዩ መንገዶች በመብትነት ያጎናፀፈ ሲሆን አጠቃቀሙን አስመልክቶም ግዴታዎችንና ኃላፊነቶችን አካቷል:: … የኢ.ፌ.ዴ.ሪ. ህገ መንግስት አንቀጽ 29 ንዑስ አንቀጽ 4 ደግሞ ድንጋጌዎቹን የሚያጠነክርና አስፈላጊው የህግ ጥበቃ የሚደረግበትን አግባብ ይገልፃል:: … እድሜ ጠገቡ አዲስ ዘመን ጋዜጣ ህዳር 1 ቀን 2002 ዓ.ም. በ69ኛ አመት 61ኛ እትሙ አቋሙን ከሚያንፀባርቅበት የርዕሰ አንቀጽ ጎን ቆርኔልዮስ የተባሉ ፀሃፊን መጣጥፍ የአዘጋጆቹ ምንም አይነት ሙያዊ አርትኦት ያልዳሰሰው በሚያስመስል መንገድ የተዘጋጀውን አሳዛኝና አሸማቃቂ ጽሁፍ አስመልክቶ የሚወስነው በመንግስት የተዘጋጀው ኤዲቶሪያል ፖሊሲው መሆኑ እንደተጠበቀ ሆኖ ከላይ በተጠቀሰው ዕለት ከድርጊት ዘጋቢነት ይልቅ ወደ ድርጊት አስፈፃሚነት የተለወጡ ጋዜጦችና ጋዜጠኞች በሚል ርዕስ በአውራምባ ታይምስ እና በአዲስ ነገር ጋዜጦች ላይ የቀረበው ጽሁፍ ሃሳብን በነፃነት ከመግለጽ መርህ ይልቅ ከሳሽና ፈራጅ በመሆን በነፃው ፕሬስ ላይ የተቃጣ ስልታዊ ጥቃት ሲሆን የመንግስት ፖሊሲና ስትራቴጂዎች አበስራለሁ የሚለው አዲስ ዘመን ጋዜጣ ይህንኑ ጽሁፍ ከርዕሰ አንቀጹ ጎን ያለውን ገዥ አምድ በመስጠት አትሞ ማሰራጨቱ የጉዳዩን አደገኝነት ያጎላዋል:: … ለመቀጠል እዚህ ላይ ይጫኑ [pdf]

Ethiopia: ONLF forces attack multiple Woyanne targets

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

An Ethiopian rebel group, the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), is reporting that it has carried out a massive military campaign against forces of the Woyanne tribal junta in eastern Ethiopia in the past few days and occupied 7 towns. The following is a military communique from the ONLF:

Armed forces of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) launched a broad multiple front military operation against military positions of the Woyanne regime occupation army liberating seven towns in Ogaden on Tuesday, 10 November, 2009. The operation involved thousands of ONLF troops and resulted in two days of heavy fighting. A significant number of Woyanne troops have been killed and their military hardware captured or destroyed during this operation.

ONLF forces entered the towns of Obolka located near Harar, Hamaro located to the East of Fik, Higlaaley near Degah Bur, Yucub located 40km from Wardheer, Galadiid located 35km from Kabri Dahar, Boodhaano near the city of Godey, Gunogabo located near Degah Bur,

Woyanne forces had deployed troops and positioned large amounts of military hardware in all of these towns due to their strategic military value. ONLF forces were warmly welcomed by the population in these areas and are administering medical care to those civilians attacked by retreating Woyanne forces.

Ethiopia: A senior AEUP leader resigned in protest

Friday, November 13th, 2009

A senior leader of the All Ethiopian Unity Party (AEUP), Major Argaw Kabtamu, has resigned from the party after protesting the party chairman Hailu Shawel’s agreement with head of the Woyanne regime, Meles Zenawi, on the upcoming general elections.

Major (Shaleqa) Argaw spent 2 years in jail, and was released on August 18, 2007, along with 30 other political prisoners. He is a highly respected leader of AEUP who is known for his principled stand.

In a related story, some leaders and members of the AEUP are circulating a petition within the party hierarchy in order to force Hailu Shawel to back out of the the traitorous agreement he signed with Meles Zenawi, a blood thirsty dictator who unleashed his death squads on Shibre Desalegn and thousands of other peaceful pro-democracy protesters following the May 2005 elections. During the same period, over 40,000 young Ethiopians were rounded up from Addis Ababa and other cities and were sent to malaria-infested concentration camps in remote parts of Ethiopia.

Younger AEUP activists are also currently working to force the resignation of Hailu Shawel for committing one of the worst betrayals of the people in Ethiopian history.

HRW honors Ethiopian human rights activist Daniel Bekele

Friday, November 13th, 2009

An Ethiopian human rights activist who was jailed for 2 1/2 years said Friday that his country is less free today than it was during its disputed 2005 election.

Daniel Bekele, 42, is crisscrossing the U.S. and Canada on a speaking tour after being honored for his human rights work by New York-based Human Rights Watch.

The soft-spoken lawyer — who won a court order that allowed him serve as an election monitor in Ethiopia in 2005, only to be arrested and charged with treason and attempted genocide later — says a bevy of new, restrictive legislation bodes poorly for a free vote in 2010.

“What is very interesting to note in Ethiopia is sort of the opening of democratic space until 2005, and how that … has constantly been shrinking, if not closing down since then,” Daniel said in a telephone interview from Toronto. In keeping with Ethiopian custom, he uses his first name on second reference.

Those laws, he said, include legislation implemented last year that essentially forbids cash-strapped Ethiopian organizations from doing human rights work, if more than 10 percent of their budget comes from foreign donors, and a strict new anti-terrorism law that could be used to prosecute journalists for what they publish.

The opposition won an unprecedented number of parliamentary seats in the 2005 vote, but not enough to topple Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. The opposition claimed the voting was rigged, and European Union observers said it was marred by irregularities.

The election was followed by violent protests. Ethiopia acknowledged that its security forces killed 193 civilians protesting alleged election fraud.

Leslie Lefkow, a Human Rights Watch researcher who is accompanying Daniel on his speaking tour, said rights workers in Ethiopia face increasing harassment, arrest and danger.

“The situation for human rights defenders is not only tight, it’s dangerous,” she said Friday. “There are certainly human rights defenders who are being threatened and being forced to flee the country.”

Opposition politicians have for months been pointing to signs of increased oppression in Ethiopia, notably the harassment and arrest of thousands of their candidates in 2008′s local elections that they believe allowed the ruling party to sweep the elections.

Prime Minister Meles said in September that he will run in May’s presidential election, reversing repeated avowals that he would retire. Meles has held power since he and his Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front led a 1991 coup to depose Mengistu Haile Mariam.

On Friday, more than 40 suspects arrested in April and charged with trying to plot a violent coup were scheduled to appear in an Addis Ababa court. The hearing was postponed.

“Some of the defendants made allegations that they were tortured and mistreated in earlier days,” Lefkow said. “To my knowledge, they still have not been given access to an independent medical assessment of that. In these various trials, including in Daniel’s own trial a few years ago, there’s a lot of rhetoric about the Ethiopian judicial system adhering to the rule of law, but little evidence.”

Daniel said he hopes to return to Ethiopia and resume his work after finishing his studies at Oxford University. For his own safety, he did not provide details about his time in prison with fellow activist Netsanet Demissie.

Both were initially charged with treason and attempted genocide along with 100 opposition leaders and journalists, then convicted of inciting violence and imprisoned for 2.5 years.

The main group of 38 politicians and journalists wrote a formal apology to the government and were convicted and pardoned in 2007, to great jubilation in the Ethiopian capital.

Daniel and Netsanet refused to sign the pardon deal and continued to fight their case as public attention for their situation waned. Daniel appeared undeterred by the sudden drop in attendance at the trial, appearing before the three-judge tribunal, his hands clasped, head high, speaking calmly and referring to thick law books.

“He is an incredibly courageous and committed person,” Lefkow said. “He desperately wants to help build up Ethiopia into a democratic society.”

(By Anita Powell, AP writer, Ethiopia correspondent from 2007 to 2009.)

A book about Gen. Demissie Bulto released in DC

Friday, November 13th, 2009

CRYSTAL CITY, VIRGINIA — On November 9, 2009, a crowd of over 120 gathered for a book signing event at the Double Tree Hotel in Crystal City, Virginia.

Ato Neamin Zeleke, the lead organizer and publisher, opened the event with a remark that highlighted the import of preserving the legacy of heroic Ethiopians who served their nation with honor and dignity and who sacrificed life and limb for their nation and people.

The event featured speeches by distinguished guests as well as family members of the late General Demissie Bulto.

Among those who spoke were the wife of Maj. Gen. Demissie, Wzr. Aster Adamu, his brothers Ato Kibebrew Bulto and Ato Berhanu Bulto, and Capt. Mamo Habtewold, an old friend of Gen Demissie and the most decorated Ethiopian war hero during the Korean War.

Capt. Mamo, who received the highest medal of honor from Atse HaileSelassie, Silver Star from the US Government, and King Leopold’s Star from the Belgium Government, and the highest medal from the Korean Government, spoke about his early days with Gen. Demissie at the Royal Honor Guard Military Academy and at the Korean War.

Wzr. Aster’s remarks focused on the hardship military families face on a daily basis and the struggles she faced and overcame in raising a family while her husband was fighting in the war against Somalia in the South and East and later against in Eritrea.

Those who spoke following her praised Wzr. Aster for preserving her late husband’s war dairies for over twenty years and leading a successful effort to unearth the remains of her late husband and other officers — who were killed by Mengistu Hailemariam loyalists and buried en masse in Eritrea — and conduct a proper burial in Addis Ababa.

Gen. Wubetu Tsegaye, who was imprisoned by Col. Mengistu Hailemariam following the May 1989 coup also spoke about his encounters with Gen. Demissie during one of the major battles in the North.

Gen. Wubetu described Gen. Demissie as an officer with an amazing skill as a strategic military thinker and planner in drawing up the most complex and largest military maneuver during the battle to free Barentu that included air born (several thousand that was dropped by a parachute), Heliborn troops (Troops dropped from Helicopter), amphibious landing with the Ethiopian Navy, mechanized and ground troops.

Brig. Gen. Tesfaye Habtemariam, who received the highest medal for his heroic leadership in a daring rescue mission in the Nakfa Mountains, also spoke eloquently about the time when he met Gen. Demissie for the first time when he was sent to Ethiopian Airborne in the 1960s to receive commando training. He singled out Maj. Gen. Merid Nigussie and Gen. Demissie Bulto as two officers who were highly capable army leaders. He said “I see the two of them as very similar, almost as two sides of the same coin. I recall many instances when they would show up at the battlefield and inspect the tiniest detail that one may overlook. They would look at a freshly dug foxhole and would ask the soldier to try to sit and move around in it. Then would ask the soldier how he is going to sleep in it, sit in it, relax in it. ‘You may be pinned down here by enemy fire for days,’ they would caution.”

Gen. Tesfaye added, “some times the soldiers would leave behind some of the ammunition that we would distribute for the given mission. The amount distributed depended on the nature of the mission but some soldiers would leave some of it behind to lighten their load. I have witnessed these two Generals conduct random checks of the soldiers’ sacks before sending us off to a mission. The two were the most detail oriented leaders who deeply cared about the welfare of their soldiers.”

Gen. Tesfaye also recalled an instance during the much-celebrated victory at Barentu when Gen. Demissie showed up at the front lines in Algena to encourage the troops: “He was not supposed to expose himself like that. However, he was a kind of leader who believed a general should inspect every movement and encourage his troops even when doing so posed grave dangers to his own life. The soldiers did not expect to see a senior commander at the battlefront and his presence gave us a moral boost.”

Brig. Gen Gezmu, Capt. Getachew Woldemariam, Lt. Ayal-Sew Dessie, Ato Asteway Merid — the son of the late Maj. General Merid Negussie, Ato Ayleneh Ejigou, and Ato Samson Demissie also spoke before the Q&A session.

Gen. Gezmu said he remembered the late general in particular for his unique effort to improve the welfare of his soldiers and staff. He recalled the general as a man who would try to help alleviate personal problems of officers and soldiers under his command. Capt. Getachew reminisced about his days with Gen. Demissie as a cadet at the Royal Guard Militay Academy.

An old friend of the author of the book, Ato Samson, recalled the time some fifteen years back when the author began writing the book. Samson remarked that the book has inspired him to record his own father’s story and held the book as an example of how each of us can contribute to the preservation of the history of our people.

A documentary video directed by Artist Tamagne Beyene was shown followed by a Q&A session with the author.

Artist Alemtsehay Wodajo read a poem dedicated to members of the former armed forces who gave the ultimate.

Distinguished guests present include Amb. Imiru Zeleke, Amb. Ayalew Mandefro — former Defense Minister, and journalist Ato Mulugeta Lule.

Gen. Demissie served in the Ethiopian army for a total of 38 years, 23 years during Emperor HaileSelassie and 15 years during the Derg regime. He received a total of 17 medals, 15 of which he received from Emperor HaileSellase including first level medal for battlefield heroism for his heroic deeds leading an airborne battalion at the battle of Degehabour during the first Somalia war in 1963.

(For more information about the book, write to neaminZ@aol.com)

Ethiopian-American vote delivers in Virginia 09 elections

Friday, November 13th, 2009

VIRGINIA, USA (ea4c.org) — Creigh Deeds and the Democratic ticket suffered a sweeping defeat, turning what Obama turned into a “Blue State” back into the red column of the Republican Party. The loss suffered by the Democrats was stunning in scope and magnitude. Not only did the Democratic Party lose its hold of the Governor’s mansion, they also lost the Lt. Governor’s election and the Attorney General’s election. Furthermore, the Democrats also lost control of the State House. And in a completely jaw-dropping fashion, Deeds not only lost statewide, he lost in Democratic strongholds such as Fairfax and in Northern Virginia as a whole.

The one “Blue” spot in a sea of Northern Virginia red occurred in the City of Alexandria and Arlington. Amazingly, these were the only areas that Deeds won. These two cities are part of the 8th Congressional District, a district which is home to a massive Ethiopian-American community. By showing up in droves to the polls, Ethiopian-Americans were able to join a coalition of voters that kept at least one part of Northern Virginia blue. The turnout of Ethiopians in support of Creigh Deeds did not happen in a vacuum. Creigh Deeds reached out to the Ethiopian community on October 17th. Based on that outreach, Ethiopian-Americans for Change formally endorsed Creigh Deeds and the Democratic slate. In order to gauge the level of support that Creigh Deeds enjoyed, Ethiopian-Americans for Change conducted a scientific poll two days after Deed’s initial outreach.

The support Deeds enjoyed at that time from the Ethiopian-American community was anemic at best. The first poll revealed that Deed’s support level stood at an astonishing 28%. Moreover, only 45% of Ethiopians intended on voting on November 3rd. Based on these findings, Ethiopian-Americans for Change conducted an intensive voter outreach effort from October 19 through election night. In order to gauge the effectiveness of our effort,Ethiopian-Americans for Change conducted a second round of surveys to over 14,000 registered Ethiopians who live in the eight congressional district in the days leading up to the big election on November 3rd in Virginia. This was a follow up poll to get a feel of how the race is going and how much of an impact the Ethiopian-American community can have on the outcome of the state-wide race. The turnaround between the first poll (Oct 19th -21st) and the latest poll (Oct 31st-Nov 1st) was stunning.

* A 20 point increase in the number of Ethiopians who stated that they are currently registered (from 68.1% to 88%). This was not due to newly registered voters, rather, it was due in the increase of awareness on behalf of folks who voted last year yet thought they were not registered for this election
* A 26 point increase in the number of Ethiopians who stated that they were aware of the Nov. 3rd election (from 45% to 71%)
* A 22 point increase in the number of Ethiopians who stated that they plan on voting on November 3rd (from 36.3% to 58%)
* A stunning 28 point increase in the number of Ethiopians who stated that they plan on voting for Deeds (from 28.8% to 56%)

We did not have a data set from the previous poll for Jody Wagner, but on the latest poll, Jody Wagner was garnering 53% of the Ethiopian vote while Bolling was mired at 3.0%.

The massive shift can be explained in part by the sustained efforts Ethiopian-Americans for Change has made upon endorsing Creigh Deeds and the Democratic slate.

Consider:

1. Made over 2,500 phone calls using the database of 14,000 + registered Ethiopian voters we have from the 8th Congressional District

2. Held the “Meet the Candidates” forum where we introduced Deeds, Wagner et al to the Ethiopian community

3. Passed out over 2,000 flyers and posters to Ethiopian businesses and individuals

4. Sent out 4 emails to our Ethiopian-Americans for Change email database

5. Sent out countless press releases to generate interest from Ethiopian media

6. Leveraged our website (EA4C.org), facebook and twitter accounts to build up excitement within and outside of the Ethiopian community

7. Customized a youtube commercial on behalf of Deeds to the Ethiopian community

Based on these results, we are confident that our effort in the 8th Congressional District increased turnout significantly and netted Deeds anywhere from 3,500 to 5,000 votes.  When the multiplier effect that our efforts had  in other districts that have a heavy Ethiopian presence (10th, 11th, and the 7th), the Ethiopian-American community would have cast a decisive vote if the election this year was as close as the election in 2005.

(For full detail of the poll and any follow up questions, contact media@ea4c.org.  Raw numbers from the poll will be made available for all media outlet that have a valid credential.)

Ethiopia Member of Parliament resigns in disgust

Friday, November 13th, 2009

By Belete Etana Disassa

I am a member of parliament (MP) and deputy chairman of Public Account Standing Committee (PAC) of the House of Peoples’ Representatives of Ethiopia, elected as a representative of Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) from Limu Kossa District, Jimma zone, Oromia region.

I want to give my honest and sincere testimony of the conditions currently prevailing in Ethiopia. This testimony is in no way intended to defame the ruling party and its cohorts. The main purpose of this letter is to expose the hidden facts in Ethiopia.

Today in Ethiopia there is no democracy, rule of law, respect for human and civil rights. The judiciary system in totally under the control of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). There is no justice and independent court proceeding.

If you are an MP, you are duty bound to ask questions. But if you ask questions, you are branded as OLF and you are a terrorist and a criminal. Article 54(5) of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) Constitution, states that “No member of the House may be prosecuted on account of any vote he cats or opinion he expresses in the House, nor shall any administrative action be taken against any member on such grounds.” But the person who asks the democratic and human rights of the people to be respected is automatically branded as OLF member, and I am one of the victim.

The EPRDF/TPLF regime is simply a dictatorship. It does not respect its own constitution. It murders, detains, tortures and arbitrary arrests innocent citizens. The regime is particularly on a campaign of detaining Oromo nationalists. Human rights abuses are common and a day to day activity of the regime, particularly in Oromia. Authorities imposed the new structures the “Garee” and “Goxii” system to monitor the speech and personal lives of the rural population, to restrict and control the movement of residents. If you oppose the system, you are thrown in prison to stay there for years without appearing before court.

Article 12 (1) and (2) of the FDRE constitution requires transparency and accountability but on the ground the fact is different. In 2008, from the 20 Federal Government Institutions, over 192.5 million birr was detected as deficit (misuse). From this money, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia account for the biggest share of improperly spent money. Expenditures of 560 million birr by Revenue Authority and 121.9 million birr by the Ethiopian Customs Authority have not been backed up by any document.

The Ethiopian Mapping Agency and Ministry of Mines and Energy billing customers without the proper tariff has been approved by the Council of Ministers. Furthermore, the former Ministry of Infrastructure has collected over 47.2 million birr annual fee with out any approved tariff.

Our finding also reveals that over 226.5 million birr worth of purchase by six institutions were not in accordance with the purchase manual of the government. The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia has paid 98,000 birr to its former head as salary and allowance when the head was not at his position for 27 months.

The National Bank of Ethiopia on the recent gold scam reveals that contrary to the bank procedure, one individual has been supplying gold to the bank without registering. Package that contains the brick of gold has not been properly inspected after it was certified it was gold by the Ethiopian Geological Survey office. The bank has also paid the gold value without properly weighing it and has accepted 38 similar gold bricks that weigh the same and with equal carat levels.

The finding revealed illegal procurements, unlawful payments, spending beyond the allocated budget, and expenditure that could not be accounted for, amounting to more than 2.5 billion Birr. Also the government of improperly borrowing an extra 3.3 billion birr from banks. This borrowing has contributed to the inflation rate in the country.

Corruption remains a serious problem in the country. As to our responsibility to investigate this fact, the response of the government is to disparage and disqualify the activity. On the other hand, the government officials appeared to manipulate the privatization process, state and party owned businesses received preferential access and misuse of public funds.

Such misdeeds and crimes were causing me mental anguish for the last three years. I have been receiving death threats for speaking up against the wanton disregard for the rule of law. My conscience could no longer allow me to continue to be a member of the party, an MP and deputy hairman of PAC of the House. I have chosen to resign from the regime and its rubber stamp parliament.

Ethiopia: ONLF fighters take over military base in Dufan

Friday, November 13th, 2009

The Ogaden Liberation Front (ONLF) officials yesterday said that they took over control of more Woyanne regime military basses in eastern Ethiopia.

Abdukadir Hassan Hirmoge, deputy chairman of ONLF, claimed victory over Woyanne forces following clashes in the past few days.

Abdulkadir said that ONLF forces attacked Woyanne-controlled areas such as Dufan and Dudume Adde about 20 kilometers from Dhagahbur and many other military targets. He said that the ONLF fighters took over the Woyanne military bases in Dufan and other areas that they attacked in the recent fighting.

Ethiopian lawyer Daniel Bekele to speak at HRW event in Toronto

Friday, November 13th, 2009

By Sonia Verma | The Globe and Mail

When Daniel Bekele, an Ethiopian lawyer, takes the stage at a Human Rights Watch dinner Friday in Toronto honouring his bravery, he will give a speech but he won’t tell his story.

He fears his government will send him back to the same prison from which he has just been released if he reveals too much about his ordeal.

“In my country I know how every word would be interpreted, so when you ask me a question about what happened and I try to answer it, my mind is also thinking how every word I say could possibly be interpreted in a hundred and one ways. So, unfortunately, I can’t speak freely,” Mr. Bekele explained in an interview with The Globe and Mail.

Mr. Bekele, 42, was among an estimated 30,000 civil-society leaders, journalists and politicians arrested in the wake of Ethiopia’s disputed 2005 election, in which the opposition won an unprecedented number of parliamentary seats but failed to topple Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

The opposition claimed the vote had been rigged, as did a team of European Union election observers. A parliamentary inquiry concluded that nearly 200 civilians were killed in a subsequent government crackdown on the opposition.

Mr. Bekele was charged with inciting violence against the government, punishable by life in prison or death.

A human-rights lawyer who had led election-monitoring efforts, he refused to sign a letter of apology, choosing instead to go to trial to test the rule of law.

He was convicted and spent 21/2 years in prison before being released by presidential pardon.

Fearing repercussions when he learned Human Rights Watch was honouring him with an award, he requested his name not be published until he and his family had left the country.

Birtukan Medekssa, an Ethiopian opposition politician who was also jailed in 2005 and subsequently released was rearrested last year after reports suggested she publicized certain conditions of her release.

“For this reason I find it difficult to go into this story of my arrest, what I was accused of and what I did to defend myself,” said Mr. Bekele, a husband and father of two.

He hopes his silence will serve to underscore the dangers still faced by human-rights advocates who are continuing to press for change in Ethiopia in the run-up to a new round of parliamentary elections in May.

“The challenge is that there is still a huge mismatch between what the constitution says and the reality on the ground,” Mr. Bekele said.

He is currently completing a PhD at Oxford University, but eventually plans to return to Ethiopia to continue his work: “I have every intention of going back and that’s why I have to be so careful,” he said.

“I need to continue to do this. Somebody needs to do this job.”

Meles blames U.S. for Ethiopia's economic problems

Friday, November 13th, 2009

By Peter Heinlein

ADDIS ABABA (VOA) — Ethiopia’s Prime Crime Minister Meles Zenawi says failures in the U.S. financial system are largely to blame for Africa’s economic crisis, and pointed to China as a possible key to recovery. Our correspondent in Addis Ababa has details of the Ethiopian leader’s keynote address to the annual African Economic Conference.

Speaking to an audience of academics and policymakers, Ethiopia Prime Minister the khat addicted dictator Meles Zenawi painted a gloomy picture of Africa’s economic outlook. He said the theme of the conference, fostering development in the current economic climate, may be impossible.

“The first question that comes to my mind is: Is it possible to foster development when we have a whole era of economic crisis ahead of us? I am going to suggest today that while it is probable that Africa will not be able to foster development in the current era, it is nevertheless possible to do so,” said Meles Zenawi.

Mr. Meles, a former Marxist rebel leader, launched a blistering attack on what he called “discredited neo-liberal economic policies” imposed on Africa from outside. He said unsustainable consumption by the United States when times were good had condemned Africa to a protracted period of low growth ahead.

“The United States has hitherto served as the consumer of last resort and helped to maintain the unsustainable division of labor and division of production and consumption,” he said. “It is no longer able to do it, and this is the main cause of the current crisis.”

Mr. Meles suggested Africa’s best hope might be a massive infusion of cash from China and other countries that have amassed surplus savings by producing goods for the consumers.

“It is possible to imagine that the Chinese will decided to redirect some of their surplus savings to infrastructural development in Africa,” said Meles Zenawi. “It is possible to do so because to some extent it is already happening. Such a shift would mean tens of billions of dollars per annum invested in African infrastructure, again opening the opportunity for the transformation of the overall economy. Indeed, it is not only possible but highly probable that the Chinese will take steps that would widen the window of opportunity for Africa.”

The Ethiopian prime minister, who will lead the African delegation to next month’s Copenhagen climate summit, expressed doubt the world is serious about tackling global warming. But he said a climate deal could be a boon to Africa, with its sources of renewable energy.

Some experts say Africa stands to receive as much as $100 billion a year from rich countries to offset the effects of climate change.

The three-day African Economic Conference is being held against a backdrop of low-growth forecasts for the near future. The 2009 growth estimate for sub-Saharan Africa is just 1.3 percent, with a prediction of an increase to four or five percent next year.

African Development Bank chief Donald Kaberuka, said prospects for recovery remain fragile. He said a full recovery would not occur until the continent returns to seven-percent growth, possibly within a few years.

Ethiopian man gets 32 years in prison for killing sister

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS (Star Tribune) — A 25-year-old Richfield, Minnesota, resident will spend at least 32 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to killing his sister and assaulting her infant.

Guuci Beyena Mekonnen, an Ethiopia native, entered his plea last week and was sentenced by Hennepin County Judge Tanya Bransford on Monday to a sentence determined by the plea deal.

If he had gone to trial and been convicted of first-degree murder, Mokonnen could have been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release.

On May 2, Richfield police responded to a call about a woman lying in the parking lot at 734 E. 78th St. near the Buena Vista Apartments. The woman, who was on her back, had a slash across her throat and bled heavily. In her arms was an 8-month-old infant, the complaint against Mokonnen said.

While investigators were at the scene, police received a 911 call from the Mall of America transit stop from a man who said he had killed his sister. Police went there and arrested Guuci Mokonnen, according to the complaint.

Mokonnen told police he was angry at his sister for not allowing him to live with her. He said he was homeless and unemployed and had thought about killing her for three years. He said he took a knife from his brother’s apartment to kill her.

Mokonnen received 30 years for killing his sister and three years for threatening the baby. The sentences are to be served consecutively.

Schools to teach Amarigna, Tigrigna as Hieroglyphic languages

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Since the release of the new book, “Amarigna & Tigrigna Qal Hieroglyphs for Beginners” (ancientgebts.org), Ethiopian and Eritrean adults have been familiarizing themselves with the controversial subject of the book. Now their children will have the opportunity to be exposed to it, too, in the classroom.

With the introduction of a companion teacher’s guide to the book, for primary and secondary education, now Eritrean, Ethiopian, and other school children in classrooms around the world will have the opportunity to learn about and examine Tigrigna and Amarigna as the founding languages of ancient Gebts. They will also for the first time be exposed to ancient Amara and Akele-Gezai, as not only the founders of ancient Gebts and writing, but also the providers of civilization to the world, which has long been attributed to ancient Gebts.

“With 30 million to 60 million Tigrigna and Amarigna speakers around the world, including those in Eritrea and Ethiopia,” says Legesse Allyn, author and publisher of the book and classroom teacher’s guide, “school-age children of Eritrean and Ethiopian parents will have a chance to see and experience their own languages in a new and exciting way – as the founding languages of ancient Gebts.”

Not only that, but for those school children who attend school outside of Eritrea and Ethiopia, especially in Western nations, their classmates will be introduced to their languages possibly for the first time in an official classroom setting. Together, Habesha and non-Habesha school children will learn about the languages of ancient Gebts as thriving, living languages as both the first written languages in the world and as the official founding languages of ancient Gebts 5100 years ago.”

The companion teacher’s guide includes a guide to synthesizing the content of “Amaringa & Tigrigna Qal Hieroglyphs for Beginners” with Bloom’s Taxonomy, which is essential for classroom learning. It also features a set of classroom exercises and the first available pronunciation guide matching the hieroglyphs to the pronunciation sounds of Tigrigna and Amarigna.

Not only that, but the pronunciation guide portion of the teacher’s guide utilizes fidel characters for the first time to teach hieroglyphic pronunciation, reading, and writing – fidel being a direct descendent of ancient Gebts hieroglyphs. The pronunciation guide is much different from what one might be accustomed to seeing in typical alphabet charts in schools and market places, where the complete alphabet is dispersed throughout a single chart.

Even if one does not agree with Legesse Allyn’s research, allowing school children to learn and benefit from current day research, in real time, that defines the origin of the very written words you are reading in this article, is invaluable to both the school children themselves and the broader global community. Never before has the fairly recent development of writing been so specifically explained as to why and how after an estimated 100,000 years modern human existence. If ancient Amara and Akele-Gezai had not developed writing for the administration of ancient Gebts, when might it have been invented?

(For more information visit ancientgebts.org)

Message to Memher Zebene

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

ሥልጣነ-ክህነት የቂም መወጫ በትር አይደለም!

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ከምትኩ ይመር፣ ዋሽንግተን ዲሲ

ዘበነ (መምህር) መንገድህን ፈትን ራስህንም ጠይቅ፤ ሥጋ ከባድ ነው፣ ትእቢትም ያሳፍናል። በእምነትና በሥራ እንጅ በቲፎዞ ገነት አትወረስም፣ መጽሃፉም አላለም። በአንጋፋው የሜሪላንድ ደብረ ገነት መድኃኔ ዓለም የኢትዮጵያ ኦርቶዶክስ ተዋህዶ ቤተክርስቲያን ውስጥ በቅርቡ በተካሄደ የምእመናን አባላት ስብሰባ ላይ በማይመለከትህ ጉዳይ ላይ ጣልቃ ለመግባትና ባላት በግል ሃሳባቸውን እንዳይለዋወጡ እንቅፋት ለመፍጠር ያደረከውን ሙከራ በመቃወም የተከበሩ አዛውንት እማማ ውድነሽ “ይህ የምእመናን ጉባኤና ውይይት እንጅ የካህናት አይደለምና ጣልቃ ገብነትህን አቁም። አንተን አይመለከትህም፣ ዝም ልትል ይገባሃል። በስብሰባው ላይ ልትገኝም አይገባህም፣ በነፃነት እንወያይበት” ብለው ሃሳባቸውን ስላቀረቡ ብቻ “ሀጢአትና ሸክላ የሚገስጸውን ይጠላል” የሚባለው ደርሶብህ እኝህ እናት የጌታችንና የመድኃኒታችንን እየሱስ ክርስቶስ ሥጋ ወደሙ ለመቀበል በቀረቡ ጊዜ በሆድህ ቂም ቋጥረህ አሸምቀህ ስትጠብቅ ቆይተህ በወፈግዝት እንዳይቀበሉ ለማድረግ ያደረከው ከንቱ መከራ በመክሸፉ ልኡል እግዚያብሔር ይመስገን እንላለን። ለመሆኑ ባለቤቱ እንኳን “ሀጢአት ያላደረገ ድንጋዩን ይወርውር ነበር ያለው። አንተ በዛ ዘመን ብትኖር ኖሮ ደፋር ነህና ካድራጎትህ ትወረውር ነበር ማለት ይቻላል።

ጌታችንን መድኃኒታችንን እየሱስ ክርስቶስ “እውነት እውነት እላችኋለሁ ሥጋዬን ካልበላችሁ ደሜንም ካልጠጣችሁ ህይወት የላችሁም። ሥጋዬን የሚበላ ደሜን የሚጠጣ የዘላለም ሕይወት አለው። እኔም በመጨረሻው ቀን አስነሳዋለሁ። ሥጋዬ እውነተኛ መብል፣ ደሜም መጠጥ ነውና ስጋዬን የሚበላ ደሜንም የሚጠጣ በእኔ ይኖራል እኔም በእርሱ እኖራለሁ። ህያው አብ እንደላከኝ እኔም በእርሱ እኖራለሁ” (ዮሐንስ ም.6 ቁ. 53-57):: በዚህ ቃል እውነትነት ያመኑት ትምህርቱን ወስደው፣ ከራሳቸው ጋር ተነጋግረው በነጻነት ወስነው፣ ጾመው፣ ጸልየው፣ መጽውተው፣ ንስሐ ገብተው፣ ሕጉንና ሥርዓተ ቤተክርስቲያንና አዋጁን ጠብቀው በምሳሌነት ከቆሙትና ከምናከብራቸው አባቶቻችንና እናቶቻችን መካከል አንዷ የሆኑትና እንደ መንፈሳዊ እናትነታቸው በሁሉም የኢ.ኦ.ተ.ቤ.ክ. የማይታጡት የተከበሩ እናታችን ላይ ውርደት ለማድርስ ሞክርህ የነበረው በልኡል እግዚያብሔር ከሽፎብሃል። እኝህ አዛውንት እናታችን በጸሎት የተጠመዱ፣ መፅሀፍትን የሚያውቁ፣ በዘመኑ ትምህርትም ከፍተኛ ደረጃ ላይ የደረሱ፣ ሁል ጊዜ የሚያነቡ፣ የሚጠይቁ፣ ለቤተክርስቲያናችን ቀናኢነትና ተቆርቋሪነት ያላቸው፣ እውነትን ያለፍራቻ የሚመሰክሩና በፈጣሪያቸው የሚመኩ ቅን እናት ላይ ከዓለም የኦርቶዶክስ ተዋህዶ ቤተክርስቲያናት ደንብና ሥርዓት ውጭ እንደውም ከዓለም የቤተክርስቲያን ታሪክና አስተምሮት ያልታየና ያልተደረገ የእግዚያብሔር ሚስጢርን በማቃለል በግል ጥላቻና ቂም በመነሳት በወፈግዝት የተከበረውን የጌታችንን የመድኃኒታችንን እየሱስ ክርስቶስ ሥጋና ደም ለመቀበል እየተራመዱ እያሉ በአደባባይ አውግዧለሁ አይቀበሏትም ብለህ መደንፋትህ በርካታ የቤተርሲቲያኒቷ ምእመናን ላይ “ነግ በኔ” የሚል ከፍተኛ ጭንቀትና ሥጋት አሳድሯል። በእጅጉ Aሳዝኗል፣ አንገብግቧልም።

በመሠረቱ አዛውንቷ የአንተ ጥርስ ውስጥ የገቡት “ክህነት ማን ሰጠህ? መቼና የት? ብለው በመጠየቃቸውና መስቀልም ከአንተና ከመሰልህ ባለመሳለማቸውና ስላላመኑባችሁ በዲያቢሎሳዊ ስሜት ተነስተህ የግል ቂም በቀል መውጫ ለማድረግ እንዳይቀበሉ ለማድረግ ወፈግዝትህን በጭካኔ አወረድክባቸው። እንደተገነዘብነው ዘዴህ እኝህ ለሰማይ ለምድር የከበዱ አዛውንትን በማዋረድና በማዋከብ በአንተ ላይ ወቀሳና ተቃወሞ የሚያነሱብህን ሌሎች ምእመናን ላይ ጉልበትህን ለማሳየትና ለወደፊትም እንዳይነሱብህ ለመቀጣጫነትም እንደሆነ አይጠረጠርም። አንድ ነባር ምእመን እንዳሉት “ይህ ሰው የመለስ ዜናዊን ሥልጣን ቢያገኝ፣ ከእሱ በከፋ ሁኔታ የሰው ዘር አይተርፈውም ነበር ፣ ቂመኛና ጨካኝ ነው” ነበር ያሉት። ሁልጊዜ ይደልዎን፣ አድናቆትንና ምስጋናንና ብቻ አትጠብቅ። ስታጠፋ ለመገሰጽ፣ ስትሳሳት ለመታረም ዝግጁ መሆን አለብህ። “የሹም ዶሮ እሽ አትበሉኝ አለች” እንደሚባለው መሆን ተከባሎ አዘቅት ውስጥ መግባትን ያስከትላል።

ዘበነ ፣ልብ በል ሰባኪ ወይም መምህር ወደ ሰገነት የሚወጣው የእግዚያብሔርን ቃል ለመስበክ እንጅ ከግል ሁኔት በመነሳት ለውዳሴ ከንቱ ወይም ለእርግማንና ለወፈግዝት መሆን አይኖርበትም። በቀሪው ዘመናቸው እግዚያብሔርን እንዲያማርሩ አዛውንት ምእመናን ላይ ወጥመድ መሸመቅና ለማሸማቀቅ “ገዝቻለሁ” እያሉ በአውደ ምሕረቱ ማጓራት በጣም አስነዋሪ ድርጊት ነው። የንሥሐ አባታቸው አይደለህ፣ ብትሆንም እንኳዋ ለመቁረብ በገዛ ፈቃዳቸው የቀረቡትን ሰው “አይገባዎትም ተመለሱ” የማለት ሥልጣን ከየት አመጣህ? በተለይ በዚህ በምንኖርበት የሰው መብት በሚከበርበት Aገር ላይ ማን በማን ላይ ይጮሃል? በደንብ የሚያስቀጣ ሕግ አለው እኮ! ነገር ግን እርሳቸው በልጠውሃል በአካልና በመንፈስ ከመንገዳቸው ሳይለቁ “ይቅር ይበልህ” እያሉ የነፍስ መዳኛ ብቸኛው መድሃኒት የሆነውን የእየሱስ ክርስቶስን ሥጋና ደመ ተቀብለዋል። በእለቱ አገልግሎት ላይ የነበሩት ተረኛው ቀዳሽ ካህን ያንተን ተጽእኖ በመቋቋም ሳይታወኩ በማቀበልዎና ለእግዚያብሔር ህግ በመቆምዎ ኮራንብዎ! ለካስ ቤተክርስቲያናችን አሁንም ሰው አላት አልን። እውነተኛ አባት ህጉንና ሥርዓቱን ደንቡን ያውቃልና “በስመ አብ ወወልድ ወመንፈስ ቅዱስ አሃዱ አምላክ“ እያሉ እየገሰጹ በተፈጠረው ሁኔታ ምእመናኑ እንዳይታወክ እየጸለዩ የቅዳሴ አገልግሎትዎን አጠናቀዋልና ምስጋና ከልብ ይድረስዎ። ትክክለኛ ካህንነትዎን በፈታኝ ጊዜ አስመስክረዋልና ኮራንብዎት! እግዚያብሔርም የቀደሙ አባቶቻችንን ፀጋና በርከት እንዲሁም እድሜና ጤና ሰጥቶ ገልግሎትዎን ይባርክ።

ዘበነ እኝህ በሃሰት የውግዘት አኮርባጅ የገረፋቸው አዛውንት እውነተኛ የክርስቲያን ተምሳሌት፣ አንጡራ የኦርቶዶክስ ሐብት ሲሆኑ አቧራ ጠርገው ላይ ታች ብለው ደክመው ዛሬ እግዚያብሔርን በቦታው እንድናመልክበት ቤተክርስቲያን ከሌሎች አባቶችና እናቶች ጋር ሰርተው ለአንተ (ለዘበነ) ኮሮጆ እንድትሞላበት ስላደረጉ፣ የሥራና የመተዳደሪያ መስክ ስለከፈቱልህ ውለታቸውን በማዋረድ ከፈልካቸው። “ወርቅ ላበደረ ጠጠር” ማላት ይህ ነው። እኝህ እናት ቢሳሳቱ እንኳ ወደ ስጋ ወደሙ መቅረብ የህይወት መድሃኒት ነውና፣ ይፈውሳቸው ብለህ ልትጸልይላቸውና ልትመክራቸው በተገባህ ነበር። ለነገሩ አንተ ምን ታደርግ “ግርግር ለምን ያመቻል” እንዲሉ የቤተክርስቲያናችን በጠላቶችዋ እንድትከፋፈል መደረግ ለአንተና ለመሰሎችህ አመችቷልና። ግን እስከ መቼ? እራስህን መርምር። በኛ በምእመናን በራሳችን ገንዘብና ማእድ አትስደበን። ሸቀጥ ለተጠቃሚዎች ለመሸጥ እንደሚንገበገብ ማስታወቂያ ተናጋሪ የቃላት ወንጭፍ በጆሮአችን አትወርውር። እመቤታችን ቅድስት ድንግል ማርያም በትህትንና በአክብሮት ነው መልአኩን ገብርኤል “እንደ ቃልህ ይደረግልኝ” ያለቸው።በትህትና ነው ለተራበ ውሻ ጫማውን ውልቃ ውሃ ያጠጣችው። ሰባኪ እኮ ራሱ የእውነት መጀመሪያ መሆን ይገባዋል። የእምነትን ስብከት ከፕሮፓጋንዳ ለይ። አንተ የወንጌል ሰባኪ መምህር ነህ እንጅ ለስጋ ለገበያ የሚለፈልፍና የሚቀባጥር ካድሬ አይደለህም። ጌታችንን መድሃኒታችንን እየሱስ ክርስቶስ እንዳስተማረን እውነቱንና ወንጌሉን ብቻ መስክር። “ሰው ሊያደርግባችሁ የማትወዱትን እናንተም በሰው ላይ አታድርጉ” የሚለውን የእግዚያብሔር ቃል ከማነብነብ ባሻገር አንተም በሥራ ላይ አውለው። ቃሉን ብቻ ስበክ። የምትሰብከውንም በስራ ላይ ማዋልህን አረጋግጥ። በአዛውንቷ ላይ የወረወርከው የወፈግዝት ፍላፃ አልፏል። ወዮ ለአንተ ግን በንስሐና በይቅርታ እስካልተመለስክ ድረስ በእድሜህ የፈተና ፍላጻ ይሆናል!

ስለምንተ ማርያም፣ ስለቸሩ እግዚያብሔር ብለው በመንፈስ ቅዱስ አስተማሪነት ችግሩን፣ ረሃቡንና ጥሙን ተቋቁመው በዓለም ወደር ካልተገኘለት የመንፈስ ቅዱስ የእውቀት ውቅያኖስ በሁሉም የእውቀት ዘርፎች እጅግ ከፍተኛ ደረጃ ላይ የደረሱትን በተለይም ዘመናት ባስቆጠሩት በጎጃም፣ በጎንደር፣ በወሎ፣ በሸዋና በትግራይ የኢትዮጵያ ቤተክርስቲያናት ዋና ዋና የቅኔ፣ የትርጓሜ፣ የድጓና የዜማ ትምህርታቸውን አጠናቀው መንፈሳዊ ፒ.ኤች.ዲያቸውን ኩራት በሆነችው የኢትዮጵያ ቤተክርስቲያን ያገኙትን እውነተኛ ካህናት አባቶቻችንን መሳድብ፣ ማቃለል፣ ማብጠልጠል፣ ማንጓጠጥና መዘርጠጥ የቤተክርስቲያን ጠላትነት ብቻ ሳይሆን የአገርና የሕዝህም ጭምር ነው። ስለሆነም ስተሃልና ልብህን ከስድብ መልስ። እነዚህ ሊቃውንተ ቤተክርስቲያን በፍፁም አንተ ዘበነ እንዳዋረድካቸው “ሆዳሞች፣ልብስና ቆብ ብቻ፣ አባጨጓሬም ‘አባ’ ይባላል ወዘተ ተብለው መሳለቂያ የሚሆኑ አይደሉም። ለነገሩማ ማንም ቢሆን ያውም በቤተክርስቱያ ቅጽር ግቢ ውስጥ መስድብ፣ ማውረድና መሳለቂያ ማድረግ ክልክል ነው። ቃሉም እንደሚለው “ክፉ ሰውም ከልብ ክፉ መዝገብ ክፉውን ያወጣል” ሉቃስ 6-45።

በአንድ ወቅት አንድ እንግሊዛዊ ጸሃፊ ስለ አባቶቻችን ካህናትና ሊቃውንት ጥልቅ የእውቀትና የጥበብ ማህደርነት ሲናገር“ በአውሮፓ አንድ ሰው፣ አንድ የትምህርት ዓይነት ያጠናል ወይንም የአንድ የትምህርት ዓይነት ባለቤት ነው። በትዮጵያ ግን አንድ ሰው የባለብዙ ዘርፎች ትምህርት ባለቤት ነው። በመሆኑም በአውሮፓ አንድ ሰው ቢሞት ያው የአንድ የሙያ ባለቤት ሞተ ነው የሚባለው። በትዮጵያ ግን Aንድ ሰው ቢሞት Aንድ ትልቅ ሙዚየም እንደተቃጠለ ይቆጠራል ብሎ ነበር። ታዲያ እነዚህ በዓለም ዓቀፍ ደረጃ የተመሰከረላቸውን መንፈሳዊ ኢትዮጵያዊያን አባቶች መሳደብና መናቅ ምን ይባላል? አንተ ማነህና? ከየትኛውስ የቅኔ፣ የተርጓሜ፣ የድጓና የዜማ ትምህርት ቤት ነው የበቀልከው? ወይንስ ፌሬሰንበት ዘ….. ይሆን? እኛ ግን ጽድቅን ለማግኘትና መንግሥተ ሰማያትን ለመውረስ ይህንን ከንቱ ዓለም ንቀውና ተጸይፈው፤ ጤዛ ለብሰው ዳዋ ተንተርሰው በጽድቅ መንገድ የሄዱት ሊቃውንቶቻችንና ካህናቶቻችንን አለኝታዎቻችንና መመኪያዎቻችን ናቸውና እባክህን ከእነሱ ላይ ውረድ።

እንደዚህ ዓይነት በቤተ ክርስቲያን ውስጥ የሚደርሱ ችግሮችና እንደ ዘበነ ያሉ አጥፊዎች በጊዜው ባለመታረማቸውና አጥፊዎችም ላይ አግባብነት ያላቸው የሥነሥርዓት እርምጃዎች ባለመወሰዳቸው እነሆ ዛሬ ቤተክርስቲያናችን ከፍተኛ አደጋ ላይ ትገናለች። አንዳንድ የቤተክርስቲያን አባቶችና መምህራን በምእመናቸው ላይ ተነሳስተው በአድማ፣ በጥላቻ፣ በቁጣ፣ ‘በስገዱልኝ’ የሚመሩን መሆን የለባቸውም ። እኛ ለዘበነ የምንለው ከዚህ ከገባህበት “ከሴኬም ጉዞ” ውጣ ሲያልቅ አያምር Aይሁንብህ፣ ከዚህ በፊት ስለቤተክርስቲያን የጮህከውን እስተዋጾ ገደል ከቶታልና በጸሎት እራስህን በመግዛት ወደነበርክበት የፀጋ ስብከት ተመለስ። አንደበትህን ከስድብ፣ ከሽርደዳ፣ ከአሽሙርና ከፌዝ አርቀህ ለቃለ እግዚያብሔር ብቻ አድርገው። በተለይ መምህራን በትእግሥት፣ በግብረገብነት፣ በሥነሥርዓት የሚያስተምሩ መሆን ይኖርባቸዋል። የኋላ የቤተክርስቲያናችን ታሪክ የእነ አቡነ ተክለ ሐይማኖትና የመሳሰሉት የእምነት ጽናት፣ መስዋእትነት፣ ግብረግብነትና ሥነምግባርን አስተምሮን አልፏል። ስድብ፣ ቁጣ፣ ቂም፣በቀልና ወፈግዝት ምእመናንን የሚመርዝና ቤተክርስቲያንን የሚያጠፋ ነውና በአስቸኳይ እርግፍ አድርገህ ተወው። እዚህ ላይ ሳይነሳ መታለፍ የሌለበት የደብረገነት መድኃኔዓለም ቤተክርስቲያን አለቃና መስራች የነበሩት ትጉህ ና ታታሪው አባታችን መልአከ ገነት ልሳነ ወርቅ ውቡ በህይወት እያሉ ዘበነ ትናንትና እዚህ መጥተህ በዲያቆንነት ቅዳሴ ላይ ስምህን ስታስነሳ አይከብድህም ወይ? አገራችንስ ውስጥ የቤተክርስቲያን አለቃ ካህን እያለ የዲያቆን ስም ቅዳሴ ላይ ተነስቶ ያውቃል ወይ? እኛ ሳናውቀው የቤተክርስቲያን ህግ ተለወጠ ወይንስ ሌላ ምክንያት አለ? በየትኛውም የዓለም ክፍል ያላችሁ እውነተኛ ሊቃውንተ ቤተክርስቲያን ምን ትላላችሁ? የተከበሩ አባታችን ቀሲስ አስተርአየ በዚህ ጉዳይ ላይ ምን ይላሉ? ሳይቃጠል በቅጠል ነውና መላ በሉ!

Ethiopians in Israel struggle to succeed – video

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Ybase Chekol, an Ethiopian Christian man, says his ancestors were among a group of Jews known as the Falash Mura who were forced to convert to Christianity more than 100 years ago.

Now, he and his family have moved to Israel, where Israeli law allows the Falash Mura to become citizens – if they embrace Judaism.

But as Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston reports from Jerusalem, discrimination makes it hard for many of these immigrants to succeed in Israeli society. Watch the video below

Woyanne selling out Ethiopian farmers

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

BAKO, Ethiopia — For centuries, farmers like Berhanu Gudina have eked out a living in Ethiopia’s central lowlands, tending tiny plots of maize, wheat or barley amid the vastness of the lush green plains.

Now, they find themselves working cheek by jowl with high-tech commercial farms stretching over thousands of hectares tilled by state-of-the-art tractors — and owned and operated by foreigners.

With memories of Ethiopia’s devastating 1984 famine still fresh in the minds of its leaders, the government has been enticing well-heeled foreigners to invest in the nation’s underperforming agriculture sector. It is part of an economic development push they say will help the Horn of Africa nation ensure it has enough food for its 80 million people.

Many small Ethiopian farmers do not share their leaders’ enthusiasm for the policy, eying the outsiders with a suspicion that has crept across Africa as millions of hectares have been placed, with varying degrees of transparency, in foreign hands.

“Now we see Indians coming, Chinese coming. Before, we were just Ethiopian,” 54-year-old Gudina said in Bako, a small farming town 280 km (170 miles) west of Addis Ababa. “What do they want here? The same as the British in Kenya? To steal everything? Our government is selling our country to the Asians so they can make money for themselves.”

Xenophobia aside, a number of organizations — including the foundation started by Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates — argue that Africa should support its own farmers.

“Instead of African countries giving away their best lands, they should invest in their own farmers,” said Akin Adesina, vice president of the Nairobi-based Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). “What’s needed is a small-holder, farmer-based revolution. African land should not be up for garage sale.”

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Both sides of the debate agree on this much: a stark reality — underlined by last year’s food price crisis — looms large over Ethiopia and beyond. The world is in danger of running out of food.

By 2050, when its population is likely to be more than 9 billion, up from 6 billion now, the world’s food production needs to increase by 70 percent, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation.

In Africa, which for a variety of reasons was bypassed by the Green Revolution that transformed India and China in the 1960s and 1970s, the numbers are even more bleak. The continent’s population is set to double from 1 billion now.

In all, the FAO says, feeding those extra mouths is going to take $83 billion (50.2 billion pound) in investment every year for the next four decades, increasing both the amount of cultivated land and how much it produces. The estimated investment for Africa alone is $11 billion a year.

For deeply impoverished Ethiopia, sub-Saharan Africa’s second-most populous nation after Nigeria, even a fraction of those sums is unthinkable.

Yet with 111 million hectares — nearly twice the area of Texas — within its borders, the answer, in the government’s eyes, is simple: Lease ‘spare’ land to wealthy outsiders to get them to grow the food. One unfortunate consequence of that thinking is Gudina and his little plot of maize are painted as part of the problem, rather than a potential solution.

“The small-scale farmers are not producing the quality they should, because they don’t have the technology,” said Esayas Kebede, head of the Agricultural Investment Agency, a body founded only in February but already talking about offering foreign farmers 3 million hectares in the next two years.

“There are 12 million households in Ethiopia. We can’t afford to give new technology to all of them,” he said, sitting in an office adorned with maps showing possible sites for commercial farms.

Indian agro-conglomerate Karuturi Global, whose involvement in Ethiopia so far has been exporting cut-flowers to Europe, has taken the hint, branching out into food production with a sprawling maize farm in Bako. Unlike with similar land deals elsewhere in Africa, the company insists crops will be exported only after demand is met in Ethiopia — where 6.2 million people are said to be in need of emergency food aid because of poor seasonal rains.

“Our main aim is to feed the Ethiopian people,” Karuturi’s Ethiopia general manager, Hanumatha Rao, told Reuters, sitting under an awning at the Bako farm as hundreds of labourers harvested maize in the fields stretching up nearby hillsides. “Whatever we produce will go to the stomachs of the Ethiopian people before it goes to the international market.”

ANOTHER AFRICAN REVOLUTION

While many governments have been busy courting foreigners, in most cases from Asia or the Middle East, to increase Africa’s food output, small farmers like Gudina are not totally without friends.

An initiative backed by the Melinda and Bill Gates and Rockefeller foundations is aiming to kick-start an African Green Revolution, carefully avoiding the pitfalls that had engulfed previous such attempts.

In particular, Africa boasts a dazzling array of soil types, climates and crops that have defied the one-size-fits-all solution of better seed, fertilizer and irrigation that worked in Asia half a century ago.

Its perennial tendency to corruption and official incompetence has also played its part in keeping average grain yields on the continent at just 1.2 tons per hectare, compared with 3.5 tons in Europe and 5.5 tons in the United States.

AGRA’s Adesina says sub-Saharan governments are slowly realizing the importance of small farmers, who account for 70 percent of the region’s population and 60 percent of its agricultural output. But he urges governments to make good on a pledge six years ago to raise farm spending to 10 percent of their national budgets.

For its part, AGRA is pouring money into research institutes from Burkina Faso in the west to Tanzania in the east to breed higher yielding and more drought- and pest-resistant strains of everything from maize and cassava to sorghum and sweet potato.

“We’ve been studying African agriculture for several decades and the message we keep getting back from farmers is: ‘It’s the seeds, stupid,’” said Joseph DeVries, director of AGRA’s seed improvement division. “What you’re planting is what you’re harvesting.”

As yet, the work — carefully packaged as “Africans working for an African solution” — involves only conventional breeding techniques, such as cross-pollination and hybridization, as genetically modified seeds remain prohibitively expensive for farmers subsisting on one or two dollars a day.

However, AGRA does not rule out a future role for GM food crops, a stance that has stoked fears it will inadvertently pave the way for U.S. seed companies into the continent beyond South Africa, the only country that allows widespread commercial use. It also accepts a need for chemical soil additives — a source of concern to environmentalists — although it stresses the importance of “judicious and efficient use of fertilizer and more intensive use of organic matter.”

After 10 years of research, DeVries said, AGRA has developed, among other things, a cassava variety with double its previous yield and a hybrid sorghum strain that is producing 3 to 3.5 tons per hectare, compared with 1 ton before. It is also giving grants to rural shop-keepers to try to create seed distribution networks in countries that remain too small or inaccessible to attract interest from established commercial suppliers.

“There’s huge demand for these new varieties, but there’s just not nearly enough investment. It’s logistics, and it’s also capital,” DeVries said.

CASH FOR CROPS

As ever in Africa, money — or, rather, a lack of it — is a major problem. According to AGRA’s Adesina, only 1 percent of private capital on the continent is made available to farming, due to banks’ concerns about loan collateral and a reluctance to deal with farmers who in many cases are barely literate.

However, the Green Revolution push has begun to attract some serious financial players.

With AGRA providing $10 million in loan guarantees, South Africa’s Standard Bank, the continent’s biggest bank, has earmarked $100 million over three years for small farmers in Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda. The pilot scheme suggests the bank is buying an argument slowly gaining traction: That Africa, a continent more renowned for war, famine and disasters, could and should evolve into the breadbasket of the world.

With less than 25 percent of Africa’s potential arable land under cultivation, according to many estimates, and its current levels of yield at rock-bottom, it is a compelling, if distant, vision.

“The first step is improving the efficiency of small farmers in Africa,” said Jacques Taylor, head of Standard Bank’s agricultural banking arm in Johannesburg, seat of the gold on which most of South Africa’s wealth has so far been based. “Can we get them to increase their yields from just over 1 ton to 3 tons to 5 tons? That’s possible. It’s not a dream. It’s a reality.”

LAND-GRABS AND GM’S TROJAN HORSE?

Even though Standard Bank says it is keen to expand the funding, if all goes well, there is a very long way to go before such financing makes a dent in the $11 billion the FAO says has to be invested in Africa each year.

“Do we need more of this? For sure. $100 million is really a drop in the ocean when you look at the funding needs,” Taylor said. “But we’d like to think this is a step in the right direction.”

As such, it seems inevitable Africa will have to adopt a dual-track approach to its looming food crisis — rolling out the red carpet for more Karuturis, but also making life easier for Berhanu Gudina and his colleagues in central Ethiopia.

While it is hard to fault the thinking behind either strategy, critics of both abound.

Across the continent, foreign deals have been condemned as “land-grabs” negotiated between barely accountable administrations and outside companies or governments who care little about poverty or development.

In one notable case, in Madagascar, a little-reported million-hectare deal with South Korean conglomerate Daewoo contributed heavily to a successful popular uprising in March against President Marc Ravalomanana.

Elsewhere, from Sudan and its numerous Gulf farmer-investors, to Republic of Congo and a group of white South African commercial farmers, to Ethiopia and its Indians, land has become a hot political potato.

The prevailing view outside governments is that the little guys are being forced to make way for the mega-deal.

“It cannot just descend on them from the sky. It has to be done in consultation with the people who occupy the land,” Ethiopian opposition leader Bulcha Demeksa told Reuters. “But the government is not doing that. It is just going ahead and signing agreement after agreement with the foreigners.”

Similarly, AGRA’s detractors look to unintended consequences of India’s Green Revolution — particularly the environmental damage caused by widespread fertilizer use and drying up of water tables — to argue Africa should look before it leaps.

Furthermore, says Mariam Myatt of the Johannesburg-based African Centre for Biosafety, if India’s experience is anything to go by, a Green Revolution would leave Africa’s farmers as dependent on banks and seed and fertilizer companies as they are now on seasonal rains.

“The Green Revolution, under the guise of solving hunger in Africa, is nothing more than a push for a parasitic corporate-controlled chemical system of agriculture,” she said.

With Bill Gates also pumping funding into biotech research at bodies such as the African Agriculture Technology Foundation, Myatt said, AGRA might end up as the unwitting Trojan horse that eases GM crops — and Western corporate interests — into Africa.

“It will go a long way towards laying the groundwork for the entry of private fertilizer and agrochemical companies and seed companies and, more particularly, GM seed companies.”

(Source: Reuters. Writing by Ed Cropley; Editing by Jim Impoco and Walter Bagley)

The joy and sadness of November

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

By Yilma Bekele

November 9, 1989, is a special day for the German people, in particular, and for the rest of humanity, in general. It is a day that one more system designed to treat fellow humans as lesser beings is shattered and discarded. On November 9, 1989, the ‘wall’ that was built to keep people in fear and agony was finally breached and then there was light. It was celebrated with great fanfare. The enabler of this heroic act, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and current German Chancellor Angela Merkel held hand and crossed the border to cheers and tears accompanied by thousands of fellow citizens. Angela Merkel said “This is not just a day of celebration for Germans. This is a day of celebration for the whole of Europe; this is a day of celebration for all those people who have more freedom.”

November 1, 2005, is a special day for the Ethiopian people. On that fateful day that will live in infamy in our ancient history, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia Meles Zenawi ordered his private Agazi force to open fire using live bullets on fellow Ethiopians that were peacefully protesting the rigged outcome of the May general election.

The independent report by Chairman Frehiwot Samuel and Judge Wolde-Michael Meshesha showed that government forces massacred 197 civilians. We are eternally grateful to the courageous act by Frehiwot Samuel and Judge Wolde Michael and other inquiry commission members for shining a bright light on the despicable act committed by the Meles regime. At this critical juncture in our history where principle and integrity are traded like commodity it is rare to find such patriotic Ethiopians who are willing to tell the truth and are ready to pay the price.

The story of our November 1, 2005, does not end with the massacre. Prime Minster Meles and his cabinet of criminals detained more than 40,000 Ethiopians and transported them to all corners of the country. We became familiar with places such as Zewai, Dedessa, Bir Sheloko, Shoa Robit, Kolfe and Sendafa. People were indiscriminately picked up from their homes, work places and street corners and taken to be shaved, beaten, starved and humiliated their crime; being Ethiopian or young. How many were exposed to AIDS by the wholesale shaving using the same razor blade, how many were eaten by crocodiles trying to escape Dedessa hellhole and how many were scared for life for being treated like a herd of animals will never be known.

November 1, 2005, should be etched in the brain of every Ethiopian that values human life and hungers for freedom and equality. We commemorate Yekatit 12, 1937. We have built a monument in Arat Kilo to remind us of Yekatit 12. On Yekatit 12, 1837 the fascist forces that were occupying our motherland opened fire on the residents of Addis Abeba in retaliation to the attempted assassination of the Viceroy Graziani by Abrham Deboch and Moges Asgedom. On November 1, 2005 Agazi forces, the private army of Meles Zenawi and friends massacred our people for demanding freedom. Graziani and Meles will never be forgotten. When the time comes a monument will be erected for our heroes of November 1, 2005. No one can stop that.

The Germans celebrated their November victory. They remembered the nightmare years under Communism and rejoiced in their new found freedom. For over fifty years the East German people suffered untold hardship. Some collaborated with the regime for economic reasons, some collaborated because there was no place to go but no matter all suffered because tomorrow brought more misery and hopelessness. Today Germany is one and people are building a new free and independent society based on a strong foundation of the rule of law.

The Ethiopians still remember what November brought. November was a ‘eureka’ moment. It laid bare the character of the so-called EPDRF regime. The lies, falsehoods, empty bravado of the minority regime was exposed for all to see. We came to realize that there is no such thing as EPDRF but TPLF, that there is no such thing as the Ethiopian police but private Agazi Force, answerable to Meles Zenawi and a few of his inner circle and there is no such thing as a cabinet but a few dedicated hard core Woyanes.

No matter there are always dedicated people fighting slavery and injustice. It is no different in Ethiopia. There are those that choose immediate fame and glory and side with the enemies of the people. There are those willing to sell everything including their country because of cowardice or natural weakness. Then there are those who choose freedom and risk it all. We have encountered plenty of brave Ethiopians in this time of trial and tribulations in our history. We are emboldened by their selfless act and dedication. They make all of look good.

The heroes of the leadership of Kinijit hold a special place in our heart. Their smart organizational skills and simple message of hope galvanized the whole nation. Our country was filled with hope, possibility and unsurpassed joy. Over a million people showed up to that celebration of pre-victory and showed the whole world that we are not stupid that we can taste freedom and we are ready for the future. Dr. Berhanu and friends unlocked the doors of possibility and unleashed a powerful force that was brewing inside of us. No one can extinguish that fire. The more they try the more it glows.

Inquiry commission Chairman Frehiwot Samuel and Judge Wolde Michael Meshesha gave us the gift of standing up against dictators. The truth was told and there is no amount of revision that can change what really happened on that day. They were forced to flee their beloved homeland because they refused to be bought, intimidated or humiliated.

Judge Bertukan Mediksa is celebrating 317 days in Woyane jail. Judge Bertukan is the symbol of our suffering. She is also a bright light shining over all of humanity with a message of dedication to the truth and love for mother Ethiopia. She is a strong lady following the footsteps of Abuna Petros, Abrham Deboch and Moges Asgedom. Amnesty International has declared our dear sister, mother, and leader of Andenet Party a political prisoner. Please join the global write for Rights organized by AI. It is the duty of every Ethiopian to involve a minimum of ten people to this noble cause. You can use the following format to let your opinion be known:

http://www.amnestyusa.org/writeathon/pdf/WAT09sampleltrs_all.doc

http://www.amnestyusa.org/writeathon/pdf/WAT09sampleltrs_all.pdf

We commemorate November 1, 2005 to pay our respect for those who lost their lives when they were trying to speak for us. We can do our silent prayers or attend a service for our heroes. But that would not be enough. The real commemoration is working to stop another November 1, from happening. It is doing your share wherever you are in setting aside time or money to help those who are working to stop a repeat of Nobember1. To all my country people scattered all over the planet remember we are here in a foreign land among strangers because the ‘freedom deniers’ are over there wrecking our motherland and planning more November massacres. You can stop them or sit idle. It is your choice.

North Carolina: Senseless murder of Ethiopian girl

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

By Cleve R. Wootson Jr

CHARLOTTE, NC (Charlotte Observer) — Staying in Ethiopia was a death sentence for the pretty, thin 17-year-old girl with a heart defect.

Tigist Yemane was weak. She couldn’t walk more than a few steps without passing out.

Without an operation, doctors told her in 2004, she would be dead in six months.

In the United States, the operation to fix her mitral stenosis is relatively simple and involves an overnight hospital stay. In her native Ethiopia, the operation was out of her reach.

Yemane had become the woman of the house after her mother died when she was nine. Her father, she told friends, was an alcoholic and mostly out of the picture. She cooked and cleaned and looked after her younger siblings. And as her ailment progressed, Yemane got weaker and weaker.

John Cederholm, a Charlotte heart surgeon visiting a missionary friend in the Addis Ababa slum, thought he could help. He and Brian Davidson, who runs a sports-based outreach program in Ethiopia, convinced authorities there to give Yemane a temporary visa, telling them they’d ensure her return. For the first time, Yemane had hope for living beyond her teenage years.

But nearly six years later, Yemane is dead – the 45th homicide victim this year in Charlotte, the city where she floundered for a foothold in America.

‘This is your opportunity’

In 2004, Yemane flew to Charlotte where Dr. Cederholm performed surgery at the Sanger Clinic, replacing one of the valves in her heart.

The Ethiopian teen stayed in the Cederholm’s Charlotte home and absorbed American culture as she healed and got stronger.

“She came over with a little bit of broken English,” Cederholm said. At first, “she didn’t know how to turn on a shower. She didn’t know how to turn on a stove.”

When she was better, Cederholm fulfilled his promise to Ethiopian authorities and put Yemane on a plane back to her native country. But her visa was still valid and people close to her in Ethiopia saw it as her ticket out of the slums.

“They told her, ‘This is your opportunity for a new life. This is your chance to escape,’” Cederholm said.

Family and friends collected money to pay for another flight to the U.S.

Cederholm and Davidson are unsure when Yemane returned to the United States.

They do know she arrived in Washington D.C. with little money and the phone number of a family she hoped to stay with.

“It’s only human and natural to want something better,” Davidson said. “Unfortunately, the reality of the fact is (the U.S.) is not what it looks like in the movies.

“Her life, it was a hardship.”

Back in the U.S., but alone

Yemane made the phone call but the family said they didn’t have the money or space to take her in, Cederholm said.

Yemane was homeless and alone.

For three years, she flitted from home to home, staying with Ethiopian families who took her in, sometimes sleeping on the streets or in shelters. She was married briefly to a man who friends said abused her, but she managed to get away.

Her compass always pointed to Charlotte, the only real home in the United States she knew. Around 2006, Cederholm said his family took her in once again for about a month.

In 2007, she met Loretta Caldwell, who runs a Charlotte ministry that takes in homeless women. The police were trying to take Yemane to a homeless shelter on the westside, but she’d been there before and didn’t want to go back.

“She started running up to my car saying ‘Lady, help me, help me, please help me,’” Caldwell said.

“And I pulled off looking back at her and said ‘She’s so beautiful. What happened to her?’”

Caldwell took her in.

Over the next two years, in a stable and permanent home, Yemane thrived. Caldwell helped her get a visa and a job. She used pink paint on the walls of her room, which was larger than the apartment she shared with her siblings in Ethiopia. She set up profiles on Facebook and MySpace, and her accent became fainter as she burned through calling cards talking to her siblings in Ethiopia.

One of her brothers just had a baby, and she was collecting baby clothes to send to him.

She called Caldwell “mother,” and the older woman began to think of Yemane as her daughter.

‘Are you OK? Are you safe?’

Caldwell says she was overprotective of her surrogate daughter. Even though Yemane was 23, Caldwell ran criminal background checks on the men she would date, and set a curfew.

She said she trusted Yemane’s latest boyfriend, Davon Thomas, because she knew his mother, and they seemed like “good, Christian people.”

Caldwell said she last spoke with Yemane on Friday night. Yemane had called to say she might break curfew.

“Are you OK?” Caldwell asked. “Are you safe?”

Yemane said “yes” to both, and Caldwell said she was going to bed.

The next morning, Yemane’s pink room was still empty.

“I started calling her. And I started calling him. And then I called around to find her,” Caldwell said.

“Within 30 minutes … the detectives were at my front door.”

Police say Thomas shot Yemane to death early Saturday morning inside his parents’ house in the Reedy Creek Community. Police called it a domestic homicide and searched for Thomas for two days before he turned himself in.

Thomas, 27, is in Mecklenburg jail, charged with Yemane’s murder. And the Charlotteans who helped bring a sick teenager over from Ethiopia six years ago were raising money to send her body back.

Solutions for some common Windows 7 problems

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Windows 7 is faster than Vista, makes better use of your system resources, is packed with interesting features, and looks great. But that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. If you’ve moved to Windows 7 recently then you might have noticed various upgrade problems, interface issues and features that seem to have disappeared entirely, among many other complications with the new system.

Don’t despair. While these problems can be really frustrating, answers are beginning to appear. We’ve uncovered some of the best and most effective solutions around, so follow our guide and your Windows 7 installation will soon be back on track.

18 cool things Windows 7 does that Vista doesn’t

1. Vista upgrade hangs at 62%

Windows 7 can start causing problems before it’s even installed, as many people report their upgrade hangs forever at 62%. Which is annoying.

Reboot, and your PC should roll back to Windows Vista. You can then open the setup log file \$WINDOWS.~BT\Sources\Panther\setupact.log to view what happened. Microsoft says this is usually caused because the Iphlpsvc service has stopped responding, and just adding an environment variable to ignore it will fix the problem. Point your browser at http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx/kb/975253 for the fix.

If this doesn’t help (or your upgrade hangs at something other than 62%) then browse the setup log for other clues. And you might also try to boot and install from the Windows 7 disc, if possible, as that reduces the chance of any conflict with your existing Vista (or XP) setup.

INSTALL WINDOWS 7: Windows 7 upgrades are usually quick, but sometimes it doesn’t install at all

2. DVD drive not found

In some cases your DVD drive may not be found by Windows 7, even if it’s visible in the BIOS and using the standard driver.

The standard solution here is to run REGEDIT, browse to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Class\, then delete both UpperFilters and LowerFilters in the right-hand pane (UpperFilters.bak and LowerFilters.bak entries can be ignored).

No change? Resetting the drive letter has worked for some. Click Start, type Disk Management and choose the “Create and format hard disk partitions” link. If your optical drive is visible here then right-click it, select Change Drive Letter and Paths, click Change and choose a new letter. If the drive is now visible in Explorer, then repeat the process to change the drive letter back; if it’s still not visible, reboot and it should appear.

3. Aero isn’t running

If Windows 7 isn’t looking its best, then the Aero theme may not have been fully enabled on your system. Click Start, type Aero, choose the “Find and fix problems with transparency and other visual effects” link, and click Next to launch the Aero troubleshooting wizard. It’ll try to identify and resolve and problems. And if it doesn’t, then install the latest driver for your graphics hardware. That could be all your system needs.

Some Aero features may be disabled in the Registry, though. For example, if Aero Peek (the ability to make open windows transparent to display your desktop underneath) doesn’t work for you, then launch REGEDIT, browse to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\DWM and make sure EnableAeroPeek is set to 1, rather than 0.

NO AERO: Windows 7’s troubleshooting wizards will fix many display problems while you watch

4. Aero Snap irritations

Windows 7’s new ability to move and resize windows, all in one movement, can be a genuine productivity boost. But if you find windows moving around when you don’t expect it then Aero Snap is more of an annoyance than anything else, though at least it’s one you can disable in just a few seconds.

Launch Control Panel, click Ease of Access, and select either “Change how your mouse works” or “Change how your keyboard works”. Then browse down to the “Make it easier to manage windows” section, check “Prevent windows from being automatically arranged when moved to the edge of the screen”, click OK, and program windows now won’t go anywhere unless you specifically command it.

5. iPhone won’t sync in Windows 7

Irritated iPhone users are beginning to report major difficulties in getting their iPhone to sync with Windows 7 systems. Particularly 64-bit Windows 7 systems, based around the P55 chipset. The iPhone is usually (though not always) recognised, but iTunes then complains that it can’t connect to the unit because of an “unknown error”, usually (though again, not always) 0xE8000065.

Disabling USB power management appears to be one solution. Click Start, type DEVMGMT.MSC and press [Enter] to launch Device Manager, then click View > Devices By Type. Expand the Universal Serial Bus controllers section of the tree, right-click each USB Root Hub entry in turn, select Properties > Power Management, and clear “Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power”.

Reboot your PC after this tweak and try again. This works for some, but if you’re out of luck then check the Apple Discussions thread for other ideas.

SYNCING FEELING: iTunes on Windows 7 won’t always see, or sync with, your iPod

6. Windows 7 themes change your custom icons

Windows 7 has some spectacular new themes – there’s a great selection at the Microsoft site – but installing them can have one annoying side-effect. If you’ve previously changed a system icon like Computer or the Recycle Bin then that could disappear, replaced by the equivalent icon from the theme pack.

To prevent this, right-click an empty part of the desktop, select Personalize > Change Desktop Icons, clear the “Allow themes to change desktop icons” box and click OK. Your icons will now be preserved, and the only way to change them will be manually, from the same Desktop Icons dialogue.

7. Taskbar problems

We like the new Windows 7 taskbar, but many people seem less than impressed with the new approach to taskbar buttons, finding it difficult to tell at a glance whether an icon is a running application or a pinned shortcut. If this sounds like you then there’s an easy way to restore more standard taskbar buttons, though – right-click the taskbar, select Properties, and set Taskbar Buttons to “Never combine” or “Combine when taskbar is full”.

You can even restore the old Quick Launch toolbar in just a few clicks. Simply right-click the taskbar, click Toolbars > New Toolbar, type %userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch in the folder box and click Select Folder. The Quick Launch toolbar should then reappear, and you can move and resize it to suit your needs.

STANDARD TASKBAR: Just a few seconds work and your taskbar has that retro look

8. Missing Explorer folders

Click Start > Computer in Windows 7 and you’ll find system folders like Control Panel and the Recycle Bin are no longer displayed in the left-hand Explore pane. This seems like a backward step to us, but there’s a quick solution. Click Tools > Folder Options, check “Show all folders”, click OK and all your top-level system folders will reappear.

9. Missing applets

Windows 7 installs quickly and takes up less hard drive space than you might expect, but in part that’s down to cheating – Mail, Movie Maker, Photo Gallery and other applets are no longer bundled with a standard Windows installation. Instead you must download the programs you need from the Windows Live Essentials site.

Installing Live Essentials will also get you potentially unnecessary extras, though, like an ActiveX control to help in uploading files to Windows Live SkyDrive. And the Windows Live Sign-In Assistant, which can be useful if you want to switch between multiple Windows Live accounts. If you have only one Windows Live account, and no plans to use Live SkyDrive, then these can safely be removed from the Control Panel Uninstall A Program applet.

TAKE YOUR PICK: You can install as many, or as few of the Live Essentials programs as you like

10. Too many minidumps

By default Windows 7 now keeps the last 50 minidump files (memory images saved when your PC crashes). If you’re keen on using dump files to troubleshoot crashes then this is good news, but if you’ve no interest in that kind of advanced debugging then minidumps are just a waste of your valuable hard drive space. In which case you should run REGEDIT, browse to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\CrashControl, and set MiniDumpsCount to 1. Windows will only now keep the last dump file and you’ll free up a little hard drive space.

11. HP Multifunction Printer problems

If you’ve an HP multifunction printer with its “Full Feature Software solution” or “Basic Driver solution” installed then, after upgrading to Windows 7, you may find the printer stops working. Press the buttons on the front of the printer and nothing will happen; launch the software manually and you’ll see reports that it can’t connect to your hardware.

The problem is that a few files and Registry entries have been lost in the migration to Windows Vista, and even reinstalling the original HP software won’t help. Fortunately there’s a new version of HP Solution Center that should get everything working again, though, and you can find out more about it at the HP support site.

12. Hidden extensions

And, of course, no list of Windows annoyances would be complete without a mention of Explorer’s default settings, which even in Windows 7 remain to hide file extensions, as well as system files and folders.

To fix this, launch Explorer and click Tools > Folder Options > View.

Clear the “Hide extensions for known file types” to show file extensions, reducing the likelihood that you’ll accidentally double-click on virus.txt.exe in future.

And as long as there are no novice users on your system who might go poking around in Explorer, we’d also choose to “Show hidden files and folders” as well as clear the “Hide protected operating system files” box. It’s often important to see these files when you’re troubleshooting, or following problem-solving instructions from someone else. (Source: Techradar.com)

Five Soldiers Defect to Eritrea

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Five Soldiers Defect to Eritrea and more news. Watch below:

Warlord Meles says Africa can give world clean energy

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

EDITOR’S NOTE: It seems the mental condition of Ethiopia’s khat addicted tyrant is deteriorating by the day. He doesn’t have food to feed 6 million people and yet he talks about giving the world clean energy.

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s Prime Minister tribal warlord Meles Zenawi, who will represent Africa at next month’s Copenhagen climate change talks, said on Thursday it was unlikely the world was serious about tackling global warming.

[Meles Zenawi is too incompetent to feed his own province of Tigray, let alone contribute any thing on climate change. To invite him to Copenhagen must be a sick joke by European politicians.]

The United Nations summit in Denmark will try to agree on how to counter climate change and come up with a post-Kyoto treaty protocol to curb harmful emissions.

“It is highly improbable … the world is serious about climate change and (will decide) to take effective measures to tackle it,” Meles told an economic conference in Addis Ababa. “But no one can say such an outcome is completely impossible.”

Meles has become Africa’s most outspoken leader on climate change and has argued that European pollution may have caused his country’s ruinous 1984 famine.

Aid workers say a five-year drought, worsened by climate change, is afflicting some 23 million people in seven east African nations, with Ethiopia worst affected.

Meles has demanded the rich world compensate Africa for the impact of global warming, and says the funding would help develop the continent’s agro-industries.

“Such a revival of the bedrock of Africa’s economies would revitalise our strategy for managing chronic poverty in the short-term while laying the basis for overall economic transformation in the long-term,” the prime minister said.

“POTENTIAL ENERGY NICHE”

Poor nations want rich countries to cut emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 to avert the worst effects of climate change. But many industrialised nations fear such cuts are out of reach, especially in an economic downturn.

Some climate experts have called for rich countries to pay up to $100 billion annually to counter the impact of global warming in Africa.

Meles, who also represented Africa at G8 and G20 summits of rich nations this year, said investment could help the continent provide clean energy to the world.

“If the decision to tackle climate change effectively were to be made, then Africa with its vast resources of renewable energy — solar, wind, hydropower, bio-energy — would have an important niche in the global market,” Meles said.

Power shortages are common in African countries, costing economies billions of dollars and hindering investment, even though natural resources are abundant.

Africa contributes little to the pollution blamed for warming, but is forecast to be hardest hit by its impact.

The Geneva-based Global Humanitarian Forum says poor nations bear more than nine-tenths of the human and economic burden of climate change.

The 50 poorest countries, however, contribute less than 1 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions that scientists say are threatening the planet, it says. (Editing by Daniel Wallis and Jon Hemming)

Liya Kebede on challenges facing mothers in Ethiopia

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

In Ethiopia, 94 percent of women deliver their babies at home, without the aid of a trained birth attendant.

Follow Liya Kebede, the World Health Organization’s Global Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health and a native of Ethiopia, as she learns firsthand the challenges facing mothers and newborns and how new U.S.-funded programs are helping to shift the odds in their favor. Watch the video below:

2 Ethiopian men charged with fraud in Atlanta

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

ATLANTA — Bartow County Sheriff’s Office Investigators have arrested two Atlanta men — who are natives of Ethiopia — in connection with more than $2,000 worth of fraudulent purchases.

According to Sheriff’s Office reports Asaye H. Tewolde, 33, of Atlanta and Henok Biede Weldemicael, 26, also of Atlanta each have been charged with 72 counts of financial transaction card fraud from purchases they made in Bartow County over the last several weeks.

The two are accused of using invalid gift cards to make purchases at a Mapco Express in Cartersville in October and November. According to investigators, the pair were interfering with the satellite transceiver that verifies the credit card purchases, enabling them to buy numerous items on the invalid cards.

The pair were arrested when they attempted to use the cards at the same store again and store employees contacted deputies.

Investigators have recovered more than 75 invalid gift cards that were allegedly being used by the pair to purchase cigarettes and other items. Tewolde and Weldemicael also are suspected of the same crime in other jurisdictions.

Both men are being held at the Bartow County Jail pending a bond hearing.

EPPF Fighters attack Woyanne in Wolkait area

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

EPPF Fighters attack Woyanne in Wolkait area and more News. Watch below:

Tecola Hagos on Hailu Shawel's betrayal

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

By Tecola W. Hagos

The events of the last two week in Ethiopia has been painful, but a great example of political betrayal and opportunism of the worst kind. I watched on video the depiction of an open platform of November 1, 2009 attended by Ministers, Dignitaries, Ambassadors from all over the World, and the throng of journalists, at a signing ceremony presided by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the public humiliation and the betrayal of the people of Ethiopia in the person of Hailu Shawel, Lidetu Ayalew, and Ayalew Chamiso, who claim to represent the opposition interest of the Ethiopian people. I ask myself what happened to common decency, sense of self-worth, and communal responsibility for those individuals in attendance of the staging of the signing of the Code of Conduct to stoop so low as complete pawns in the hands of a power-crazed puppet-master.

I cannot afford to lose all faith in my fellow Ethiopians, thus I conjectured the possibility of blackmail by the Government of Meles Zenawi of Hailu Shawel, and to a lesser extent Lidetu Ayalew and Ayalew Chamiso, with some hitherto unknown horrible corruption charges or some sordid video record in order to force them play their dubious role becoming gatekeepers to ward off other opposition parties and groups, such as the Medrek group. I tried also some other explanation to justify such action by the three gentlemen, namely the question of the national interest. But when I examined closely each of the above excuses I was willing to entertain on their behalf to avoid unfounded allegations, I realized that the record of those individuals, in the past several years, indicate deliberate opportunistic and predatory activities. The signing of the Code of Conduct is simply the fulfillment of long drawn processes of marriage with the EPRDF.

I recall Engineer Hailu Shawel coming to see me in 1992 at the new office complex built during the time of Mengistu’s administration at the Menilik’s Palace grounds. What he wanted was to inform me his desire to cooperate with EPRDF, and he gave me the impression that he was seeking some appointment. [In those days, I was perceived to be some kind of king-maker.] I tried to inform him that the time was not conducive for me to talk about such personal issues and I pointed to him the fact that I was moving to a new office. I talked with him in a temporary little office that I simply used for the moment in order to accommodate his insistence to see me. Trying to cooperate with ones government is not per se evil; however, it is the motive that indicates the character flaw or strength of an individual. My assessment of Hailu Shawel in that brief moment of encounter was that of a person of opportunistic character—I am vindicated and proven right several times over in the course of the last fifteen years.

During the same period in the 1990s, I watched the birth of the AAPO led by the highly principled Professor Asrat; I witnessed the establishment of the Human Rights Commission, and the infighting of the OLF for political parity with the EPRDF. I am contrasting those developments to point out the fact that Hailu Shawel’s interest right from the start was a highly personal one compared to the activities of the leaders of such different political and civic groups I had a chance to know about due to my proximity to the center of power and due to personal acquaintances with many of the players in those organizations. Hailu Shawel played a highly personal political game. He is the quintessential Mahel Sefari. He used the frustration and hatred a number of Addis Ababean feel for EPRDF to his personal advantage by projecting himself as a man-of-the-people to the leadership of EPRDF, and not to be trifled with. When he started his All Ethiopians Unity Party, Hailu Shawel was doing that with an approval wink from EPRDF leaders because Professor Asrat’s All Amhara organization was gaining tremendous support and was becoming a real threat to the very survival of EPRDF even when the Professor Asrat was in detention. The leaders of the EPRDF needed an organization that will divide and dilute such concentrated challenge to their power.

No matter how hard one may try to change an old donkey into a stallion, it is an impossible task to achieve such fete. Just like nature, society cannot be that easily fooled. Such silly effort to fool society was amply demonstrated to the entire world to see by the event of November 1, 2009 at the Sheraton Hotel. Almost six months ago, on June 4, 2009, I wrote predicting such situation.

As he has done countless times in the past, Meles Zenawi will try all kinds of trickery dividing the opposition and driving wedges in between opposition leaders. It is no secret that Meles and his group have effectively divided and weakened the opposition in the past; for example, AAPO, OLF, CUD et cetera were all victims of the divisive schemes of launching leaders against each other. Thus, it will not surprise me if Meles Zenawi would offer Hailu Shawel the Presidency of Ethiopia in exchange for Hailu’s docility and political betrayal of the opposition.

What is well camouflaged and effectively hidden from everyone else’s scrutiny is the ambition of Hailu Shawel to be Meles Zenawi’s Ye Elfign Askelkai—a power broker position that is most favored and desired by Mahel Sefaris. The political evolution of Kinijit and Hailu Shawel’s role in the final political skirmish after the aborted election of 2005 leading to the arrest and conviction of Kinijit leaders was a situation where activities went out of control and dragged many of the leaders including Hailu Shawel into such a situation. However, the moment the Leaders of Kinjit were released from prison the split started with Hailu Shawel disassociating himself and separating his own group from the rest of Kinjit Members.

In 1991 to 1993 when I was advising the Transitional Government of Ethiopia, Ledetu Ayalew was too junior a person for me to know at all, so was Ayalew Chamiso. In fact, I never met those two gentlemen, I only know of them from reports, newspaper articles, videos, and pictures since my second exile (after 1993 to date) in the United States. Based on such reports and documentation, I wrote in a couple of articles expressing my admiration for Lidetu Ayalew as an individual who came to prominence through his own native wits and smarts without the help of any ethnic based hegemonic structure or help from academia or anybody else for that matter. It is no little achievement in a society that is densely stratified in tight hierarchical structure based on ethnic exclusivity, family prominence, and wealth, for a simple born peasant man from Lasta to make such inroad into the power structure of Ethiopia, especially an Ethiopia being ruled by the most rigid and closed Government in the history of this ancient land.

I have pointed out above the diverse personalities and interests of the three leaders who signed the Code of Conduct. Often people have pointed out to me and others that one should not focus on individual personalities when dealing with the political life of a nation. I respectfully differ from such high standard, for Ethiopian politics is driven completely by focusing on the personality of the leaders of Ethiopian political parties. It would be unrealistic for anyone to try to do politics in Ethiopia without first focusing on Ethiopian political personalities.

The Game Plan

It is imperative to understand the mind of Meles Zenawi and his close associates in order to understand why the group decided to form close alliance with Hailu Shawel. It is no surprise to me that such scheme would come about at this point. Over ten years ago, in my book Demystifying Political Thought, Power, and Economic Development (1999), I predicted the breakup of AAPO, and that fractured group in time would join forces with the faction of the TPLF corrupt leadership and would continue the repressive Government of the EPRDF under the leadership of Meles Zenawi.

The Amharas will continue in their present status, disorganized and ineffective, incapable to counter or regain the political clout they presumably had lost if the present fracturing continuous… moreover recent development indicate that AAPO officials in Addis Ababa are working together with the EPRDF undermining the very Amhara movement they were elected to lead and promote. [Referring to Qegnazmatch Nekatibeb leading AAPO and the continued detention of Professor Asrat] It is only a matter of time before the national office of AAPO in Ethiopia fractures and joins the EPRDF corrupt structure. In keeping with such trend, a faction from the TPLF with a section from AAPO, and exofficials of Mengistu’s government and the camp started by One Ethiopia will metamorphosis into a support group for Meles. (84-5)

[Tecola W. Hagos, Demystifying Political Thought, Power, and Economic Development (1999), pages 84-5. (Emphasis added)]

Meles Zenawi has perfected the art of “divide and rule” and raised it to new heights. Recent books, articles, and book reviews by former members of the TPLF have given us a glimpse of the sordid and corrupt inner workings of the TPLF. We have now a clear picture of the organizations administration and finance, more importantly the names and roles played by the core leaders responsible for the day to day functioning of the TPLF. Meles Zenawi, Sebhat Nega, Seyoum Mesfine, Abay Tsehai, Abadi Zemu, Brehane Gebrekristos, Tewodros Hagos et cetera played major roles in all the corrupt schemes hoodwinking major international humanitarian organizations and their star fund raisers whereby millions of dollars was deposited in accounts established by such individuals allegedly for the starving people of Tigray and vicinity. There was neither public auditing nor proper accounting ever to this day of all the hundreds of millions of dollars donated and received through charitable fund raising from the West and others. The individuals who had intimate knowledge of the finance and administrative process at the time, such as Gebremedhin Araya, Aregawi Berhe et cetera, have exposed the diabolical secret of the TPLF leaders diversion of donated funds into private accounts that was never audited by the organization.

Those TPLF leaders distributed a minuscule amount to the starving Tigrayan refugees in the Sudan, and kept the rest for their own use in accounts controlled by them. Because of such meager assistance most Tigrayan refugees in the Sudan tried to return to their home base even though it was under the administration of the Military Regime. The attraction was that Regime was providing sustenance far in excess of what was provided by TPLF Leaders even though the donated fund the TPLF Leaders were in charge of was far in excess of the donations that the Ethiopian Government had acquired from international donors. Furthermore, Meles Zenawi as the leader of that pack outmaneuvered Western governmental security and spying agencies by portraying himself and his close supporters as democratic and honorable leaders. The fact is that by the time the EPRDF reached Addis Ababa overrunning the Military Regime, the leaders of the TPLF were already Millioners. They all have tasted the forbidden golden apple from the tree of wealth. By then they were infested like Gollum with obsessive and insatiable appetite for wealth.

The only agenda they had was how best they could use their guerrilla forces to establish and run a puppet government in order to control the resources of a defeated country, and how best to loot it blind. We all have been wrong to a great extent in believing that they were interested in the fracturing of Ethiopia because of their hatred of the very idea of an Ethiopia and the fact that they were against the military dictatorship then in power. Some of us also wrongly believed that they were partial in their love and commitment to see an independent Eritrea. They would not have cared an iota for Eritrea if it were not in their best interest to do so in order to exploit and loot Ethiopia by themselves. In that shameful criminal activity of looting and robbery, they found Al-Amoudi, an individual who taught them a thing or too how to move huge amount of money around the world. He also might have personally facilitated the international web of investment and banking of the hundreds of millions of dollars and other hard currency thus stolen effectively hiding such fabulous looted wealth from Ethiopia including gold mined in mines allegedly owned by Al-Amoudi. In short, we are dealing here with a different breed of men unseen in the history of Ethiopia or the World before who held a nation hostage for one purpose only—to loot its wealth.

The true nature of the activities of the Leaders of the TPLF has become far more clearer now than a decade ago, since former TPLF leaders such as Gebremedhin Araya (responsible for the finance of TPLF), Aregawi Berhe (former Leader and Commander of the TPLF guerilla forces) and others have finally started writing and publishing their memoire. It is absolutely clear from such accounts that the main goal of the TPLF Leadership had shifted since 1984 from fighting for the liberation of the people of Tigray/Ethiopia to the acquisition of wealth by using the guerrilla structure that was in place to control the state structure. Meles Zenawi and his select tiny support group having tested of the forbidden golden apple born out of the famine of 1984 and after were simply dedicated to make as much money as possible looting and confiscating the wealth of a nation. They were in fact a group of mercenaries similar in their operation like the Mafia.

They used as their foot soldiers naïve peasant boys and girls from Tigray and a few from adjoining Provinces, young men and women who believed in a nationalist cause, to fight the deadliest war against a brutal military regime for seventeen years. Setting aside those patriotic naïve fighters, the leaders of the TPLF were just common criminals then as they are now.

The bond that held tight Meles Zenawi and his group is not patriotism; it is not concern for the people of Tigray; it is not the desire to help Eritreans. The bond is made of gold chain called “Money.” The interest born of money and wealth creates the most enduring and highly exclusive bonding. That is literally what we see in the current leaders of the TPLF. Opposition supporters writing endlessly ascribing the current disastrous Ethiopian government administration to narrow ethnic interest are totally wrong. Any mention of “Woyane” as the target of dissent and derision is like barking up the wrong tree. The people of Tigray are primary victims of the TPLF even worse than the rest of Ethiopia. The affinity between Meles Zenawi and the Mahel Sefaris is obvious.

The losers in the current game of the signing of the Code of Conduct and realignment of the EPRDF with its newest Member Hailu Shawel (AEUP) are the people of Ethiopia, not Hailu Shawel and his Party, not Medrek or anybody else. Meles Zenawi has gained another day to prepare for far longer and devastating fight against all those who are concerned about the vital interest of Ethiopia, the Opposition et cetera. He has extended his life to do more damage to the state of Ethiopia entrenching his divisive Killel system, alienating Ethiopian territory, selling/leasing huge chunk of Ethiopian land to foreign investors and states while millions of Ethiopians starve to death. He will keep looting Ethiopia’s gold in collaboration with Al-Amoudi.

The incorporation of new Satellite organizations, such as AEUP replacing the old ones, such as ANDM, OPDO et cetera that have atrophied over the last ten years, due to serious marginalization of the leaders of such organizations by Meles Zenawi. Starting from the arrest and imprisonment of Tamrat Layne, all Satellite organizations of the EPRDF lost their political luster. In the guise of the signing of a Code of Conduct, which is a meaningless document in itself, Meles Zenawi is putting in place a blue print for his future. There is some other subterranean purpose in the game that was fully displayed for the World to see on November 1, 2009. The bottom-line is that Meles Zenawi is replacing his old cronies wholesale with the quintessential Mahel Sefaris, who had worked diligently as shadow advisors and yes men of incredibly loyalty to Meles Zenawi in the last eighteen years. The current political development of Meles Zenawi’s budding friendship with Hailu Shawel spells doom for the old comrades of Meles Zenawi, such as
Adissu Legesse, Teferra Walwa, Kassu Illala et cetera who will soon be retired and replaced by the technocrats that Hailu Shawel would organize after the election of 2010, such technocrats are salivating right now to join the new administration with “Emperor” Meles Zenawi on the Throne for the next twenty years. This is the likely and disgusting outcome of the game plan that could only be conjured up by a sick mind.

North Carolina man shot Ethiopian girlfriend

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

By Ely Portillo | Charlotte Observer

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA — A man accused of murdering his girlfriend Saturday turned himself in to authorities Monday night, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police.

Investigators say Davon Londell Thomas, 27, shot his girlfriend, 23-year-old Tigist Yemane, a native of Ethiopia, shortly before 5 AM Saturday morning at his parents’ home on Willowglen Trail near Reedy Creek Park.

They say he then fled into woods near the house.

A murder warrant was issued for his arrest, but on Saturday Thomas eluded search dogs, a helicopter and dozens of officers combing the surrounding area for him.

Police warned the public that he had military training from serving in the Army National Guard and should be considered armed and dangerous.

But on Monday he surrendered at CMPD headquarters uptown.

Court records show Thomas pleaded guilty in 2008 to assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.

His sentence was suspended and he was given probation until 2011.

Last month, he pleaded guilty to resisting a public officer and was given probation and ordered to perform community service.

He was also forbidden to possess any firearms.

Ethiopia's delusional tyrant

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

By Isaac Ugbabe

Echoing the Ethiopian government’s recent call for food aid, British diplomat, Paddy Ashdown, has requested the international community’s urgent assistance in preventing a looming humanitarian crisis. Reuters reports that 160,000 tons of food are required if the devastating effects of poor rainfall are to be avoided. According to the Economist magazine, this year has seen the worst drought in East Africa since possibly 1991. Production of Kenya’s staple crop, maize, is expected to fall by a third, with subsistence farmers suffering the most. In several parts of the country, villagers are already dependent on monthly government rations of maize-meal and cooking oil. Somalia, faced with attrition from an escalating civil war, is now also considering the daunting prospect of supplying emergency food supplies to about 3.6 million hungry people. Yet, it is Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous nation, that is most susceptible to climate change, and, confronting the specter of famine, will have to ask itself why it is once again in this perilous situation. Paddy Ashdown, speaking to Reuters about the possibility of 6.2 million Ethiopians starving to death, said, “We can prevent this situation getting to much worse proportions.”

Although the government’s appeal for aid coincides with the 25th anniversary of the 1984 famine, a tragedy that resulted in the deaths of over 1million Ethiopians, Ashdown claims such a doomsday scenario is less likely in the twenty-first century. “A number of factors are not in place that were in place then. There was a civil war, we didn’t have the institutions we have now to deal with problems, and we reacted late.” Although agriculture remains the mainstay of Ethiopia’s economy, and most farmers continue to employ outmoded practices, the country is better prepared to avert famine than it was 25 years ago. And, thanks to the well-publicized Band Aid and USA for Africa campaigns in the 1980s, the world is much more aware. According to the U.S. State Department, agriculture is responsible for more than 80 percent of Ethiopia’s exports and provides jobs for 85 percent of its population. Coffee production is the country’s largest source of foreign reserves, and, unsurprisingly, is closely monitored by the government. Other important agricultural exports include animal skins, pulses, and “khat”, a 6-12 foot flowering shrub whose leaves are chewed for their mind-altering effects. Ethiopian farmers who survived the last famine are wary of losing their livelihoods, and indeed their lives, to the vagaries of climate change. You might even say they are paranoid. “We did not work night and day before…but we do now,” said Mesele Adhena, a farmer supporting six children, in an interview with the BBC. The government, for its part, is stockpiling grain, though it’s been reported these emergency rations will run out before the rural poor are given their share. There is also a food-for-work program that, if properly implemented, will keep famine from rearing its ugly head.

Things that obviously have not changed since 1984 include Africa’s misplaced priorities and its predilection for strongmen. The 18-year tenure of Ethiopia’s khat addicted Prime Minister dictator Meles Zenawi is proof of this. Zenawi, who came to power in 1991, the year of the last major East African drought, has, through rain or shine, managed to keep a firm grip on power. And even though it’s been suggested that he’ll step down after next year’s elections, it is widely believed that, even if he does, he’ll stay on as chairman of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). According to the Economist, Zenawi isn’t concerned with such speculation, dismissing it as “boring.” However, a separate report by the Economist on the recent release from prison of popular reggae artist, Teddy Afro, shows the government is desperate to improve its image ahead of elections. Mr. Afro had been jailed on trumped-up charges, not, as might be expected, for possession of marijuana, but for a hit-and-run accident involving a homeless man in the capital, Addis Ababa. His fans believe he was locked away, like numerous other dissidents, including the young judge and opposition leader, Birtukan Mideksa, because he “compared Mr. Meles’s lot to a brutal junta.” Yet, securing Zenawi’s position as de facto emperor has called for more than a domestic clampdown; international concerns pose an equally destabilizing threat. Backed by the United States, with its anti al-Qaeda agenda, Ethiopia has, thus far, managed to keep intractable Eritrea and lawless Somalia at bay.

And still, food insecurity, like Zenawi’s reign, extends unchecked. It was the great famine of 1972, in fact, that led to Emperor Haile Selassie’s downfall. Selassie, a direct descendant of King Solomon of Israel, was as much renowned for fending off European occupation of Ethiopia as for his deification by Jamaican Rastafarians. He succumbed, some would say, to “the will of god” when, after 44 years in power, a global oil crisis coincided with climate change to turn his people against him.

Zenawi’s reign began with drought, and nearly two decades later, this same scourge dictates his country’s economic policy. The U.S. State Department believes Ethiopia has the potential to be both self-sufficient in grains and an exporter of numerous agricultural products, but “undeveloped water resources, and poor transport infrastructure”, among other things, have made it reliant on food aid. Far from restricted to withering crops, the current drought has caused whole herds of cattle and sheep, those “chewers of the cud” who’ve grazed East African plains for millennia, to drop dead. This, reports the Economist, will only increase tensions among feuding tribes in southern Ethiopia, while, in the east, secessionists of Somali ancestry are also expected to intensify their struggle. Within Somalia, where food aid is often used “to control the people”, Islamist militants will win even more recruits.

According to Oxfam, the international relief agency, drought doesn’t have to lead to famine. If a government invests in irrigation, grain warehouses, and wells, people will survive no matter how long the clouds withhold their precious supply of rain. But Ethiopia will not put to rest the threat of famine till it addresses its underlying causes. A report by Action Aid, entitled Who’s really fighting hunger?, states 1 billion people are unjustifiably going hungry in the world today. The report goes on to explain that hunger is a choice people make, and “not a force of nature.” Although hunger has its roots in inequalities between rich and poor, says the aid agency, it is exacerbated by policies that commoditize food instead of treating it as a right. “It is because of these policies that most developing countries no longer grow enough to feed themselves, and that their farmers are among the hungriest and poorest people in the world. Meanwhile, the rich world battles growing obesity.”

Meles Zenawi’s solution is to ask for more food aid, which, incidentally, is an industry in itself, one monopolized by Western companies. He also expects $40 billion a year in compensation to Africa for foreign-induced climate change, reports the Economist, and has openly blamed Europe for making the 1984 famine worse than it had to be. Zenawi will be representing Africa at the much-anticipated climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, this December, and one can only expect him to negotiate further concessions. His decision to appeal for aid on the 25th anniversary of the 1984 famine proves that he’s either a shameless opportunist, or that, after years of helping himself to the country’s dwindling supply of khat, is delusional enough to think the brokering of such deals with the West, without the consent of his people, can continue indefinitely. It will take more khat than he can chew to ever make that dream a reality, and more coffee than he can consume to keep him awake that long.

Ethiopians in the Diaspora overestimate U.S. leverage in Ethiopia

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

By David H. Shinn

As a reader during the past 25 years of political commentary by the Ethiopian diaspora and based on my own contacts with that community, I am struck by the prevailing belief that the U.S. government has the ability to change Ethiopian polices and alter the fundamental direction of events in Ethiopia. This view is misguided.

The policy conundrum came to my attention again recently as I read an opinion piece in The Hill by Mesfin Mekonnen.

Ato Mesfin begins by urging a hastened review of U.S. policy towards Ethiopia. This is a reasonable request. Every new American administration should review its policy with counties that are as important as Ethiopia and where there is controversy about the nature of the bilateral relationship. The opinion piece goes on to state that “Congress should hold hearings and enact legislation to help Ethiopians create the conditions that are necessary to ensure that food aid is never needed again.” The implication is that the U.S. government can resolve Ethiopia’s governmental, demographic, political and social issues.

I beg to differ.

The United States can impact the situation on the margins, but it does not have the power to force fundamental change even if there was agreement on what that change should be.

While the United States does have influence in Ethiopia, in fact, more than most countries, there are distinct limits to that influence. Not only is Ethiopia a sovereign state but it interacts with dozens of other important countries and organizations.

Those in the Ethiopian diaspora who oppose the Ethiopian government usually suggest that American assistance to Ethiopia can and should serve as the leverage for forcing change in the country. The level of U.S. assistance in recent years has been impressive. In fiscal year 2007, it was about $474 million and in fiscal year 2008 about $456 million. It is important, however, to look more closely at this assistance.

In an essay in the November/December 2008 issue of Foreign Affairs, three former administrators of USAID — J. Brian Atwood, Peter M. McPherson and Andrew Natsios — wrote that in fiscal year 2007 about 50 percent of U.S. assistance to Ethiopia went to HIV/AIDS prevention, 38 percent to emergency food relief and 7 percent to child survival, family planning and malaria prevention and treatment. Only 1.5 percent went to agriculture, 1.5 percent to economic growth, 1.5 percent to education and 1 percent for improving governance.

In fiscal year 2008, by my calculations, 73 percent of USAID’s budget for Ethiopia went to HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention, 12 percent to child survival and health, 9 percent to development assistance, 5 percent for food aid and less than 1 percent for a combination of foreign military financing (FMF) and international military education and training (IMET). The amount for FMF was $843,000 and for IMET $620,000.

This is not an assistance program that has significant political leverage. In 2007, almost 95 percent of the assistance program went to HIV/AIDS, emergency food aid and child survival. In 2008, the figure was about 90 percent for these programs.

There are very few members of Congress and even fewer in the Executive Branch who are interested in cutting funding for HIV/AIDS, child survival and emergency food aid in an effort to change governmental policies in Ethiopia.

While Ethiopian officials also listen to the United States for reasons unrelated to foreign aid, the fact is that U.S. leverage is much more limited than most in the Ethiopian diaspora believe.

(Amb. David H. Shinn is an adjunct professor of international affairs at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. Amb. Shinn, who received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from GW, is a former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia (1996-99) and to Burkina Faso (1987-90).)

4 Ethiopian women killed themselves in Lebanon

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

By Hayeon Lee |NowLebanon

Over the last two weeks, four Ethiopian women in Lebanon were found dead, probably from suicide.

From the moment she arrived in Lebanon, Martha (not her real name), an Ethiopian woman in her twenties, was subjected to abuse by her employer and her three children – a 9-year-old and two teenagers. They beat her ceaselessly, verbally abused her, locked her in the house, and bolted the fridge door. “Imagine a 9-year-old child beating you. I cried,” said Martha. Two months into her ‘contract’, she escaped to the Ethiopian consulate where she was followed by her employer, with children in tow, who tried to publically beat her. The consulate protected her and let her leave with an apparently apologetic member of the employment agency that had brought Martha to Lebanon.

Surprisingly, Martha was sent back to the same family and the brutal regime from which she had fled. “I tried to kill myself by drinking some cleaning liquid, but only my mouth burned. I did not try again,” Martha smiled sadly. In fact, Martha lasted a year and escaped when her employer asked her to go out and buy a broom. “As soon as I was outside, I started to run.”

Martha survived, but many other women who come to this country as maids, only find themselves hostages to brutality that ends up taking their lives. In the past two weeks, four Ethiopian women have died in Lebanon as a result of either suspected or confirmed suicide. Three – Matente Kebede Zeditu (26), Saneet Mariam (30), and Tezeta Yalmiya (26) – were reported in the media. Although Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) figure of more than one death out of around 200,000 domestic workers per week created waves when it was released in August 2008, the Lebanese government has taken no substantial action, and maids keep dying needlessly.

“These deaths are the tip of the iceberg,” says Nadim Houry, senior researcher at HRW. “It is only the most dramatic manifestation of a number of violations [of basic human rights] such as ill-treatment, and isolation of these workers.”

For example, it is standard practice for Lebanese employers to ‘retain’ the domestic worker’s passport, while many do not let them go out for years at a time. Verbal abuse is common as is the withholding of salaries.

Although most of these “standard practices” are illegal under the Lebanese constitution and the overwhelming majority of Lebanese, who employ domestic staff treat them fairly, the problem is that there is no law enforcement body to protect the most basic human rights of foreign maids and prosecute abusive employers.

As a result, many choose to end their lives. But even then, the suffering continues with the repatriation of the body. A Nepali woman who died at the end of August is still in the morgue.  “There are some cases where a body is left in the fridge for a long time, and neither the insurance nor the employer wants to pay for the trip home,” says Houry. The best way to stop these deaths, he says, is to hold the Lebanese government accountable. “What would be required are concrete measures by the government that would reduce the isolation that these workers feel.”

Official police sources said that the Ethiopian woman who committed suicide by jumping from the seventh floor in Gemmayze, did so because of a soured relationship with her sister. Nevertheless, Broukti*, an Ethiopian domestic worker, who has worked for more than a decade in Lebanon and is also a local community organizer, is skeptical. “I don’t believe it. If it was in Ethiopia, nobody would kill herself because she fought with her sister.”

In fact, according to the deaths recorded by HRW, much more than half of all deaths are those of Ethiopian women who make up less than a quarter of the workforce. Broukti has two explanations. Firstly, the problem is that many of the women from her country come from rural areas and pay hundreds of dollars to smugglers believing they will work in white-collar jobs abroad. When they arrive in Lebanon, they find their situation unbearable. The Ethiopian government’s ban on Ethiopians coming to Lebanon since last year has only exacerbated the problem.

Furthermore, for many of these women, the treatment as second-class human beings without family, friends, culture and humanity is insufferable.  “We are Ethiopians with a history. We have never been colonized. We colonized until the border of Saudi Arabia. We’re a very proud nation,” Broukti says.

Women worked to death in Lebanon

By Dalila Mahdawi | Guardian

They mop floors, take out the rubbish, walk the dog, buy groceries and care for the children, the elderly or disabled. Many a well-to-do and lower middle class Lebanese family relies on migrant domestic workers to take care of their household, but when it comes to providing for these women, not all return the favour.

Migrant domestic workers – women who work as live-in or freelance housekeepers, cooks, and nannies – form a vital presence in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East, where women’s increased participation in the workforce has not been accompanied by state-backed social or childcare services.

There are thought to be about 200,000 women, mostly from the Philippines, Ethiopia and Sri Lanka, in Lebanon alone. But although they are becoming an intrinsic part of the country’s social fabric, their contribution is often overlooked. While many Lebanese people are careful to ensure their housekeepers are well treated, a significant number abuse them. In extreme cases, migrant domestic workers are killed or kill themselves.

The spate of suicides has become so bad in recent weeks it prompted Lebanese blogger Wissam to launch the grimly named Ethiopian Suicides blog. The website is dedicated to monitoring media reports on the deaths of foreign migrant domestic workers in Lebanon. “I have a dream,” Wissam says. “That migrant domestic workers will be treated humanely in Lebanon and will stop trying to commit or commit[ting] suicide.”

In the last three weeks alone, Wissam notes, four Ethiopian women have died. Lebanese police say the deaths of Kassaye Atsegenet, 24, Saneet Mariam, 30, Matente Kebede Zeditu, 26, Tezeta Yalmiya, 26 were probably suicides. But as human rights activists here will testify, the truth about what happened to them may never be known because police usually only take into account the employer’s testimony. Migrants who survive abuse or suicide attempts are not usually provided with a translator, meaning their version of events often does not get registered with officials.

Sadly, violations against such workers occur throughout the region and in some cases the women end up in slave-like conditions.

Reflecting the concern of sender countries for the wellbeing of their citizens, Ethiopia and the Philippines have placed bans on working in Lebanon and Jordan, but this has not stemmed the flow of illegal migrants smuggled in through third countries. Without the necessary work papers and embassy support, migrant women become even more vulnerable to human rights abuses.

One reason the women are driven to the edge is that, in Lebanon at least, they are not given protection under the country’s labour law. Such exclusion means that those who withhold salaries, confiscate passports, confine their employees to the house or otherwise abuse them, can literally get away with murder. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that five months after parliamentary elections, a Lebanese government is only now being formed.

The campaign to grant migrant domestic workers greater rights in the region has been led by Human Rights Watch. This summer, it contacted Lebanese beach resorts and found that 17 out of 27 private facilities practised some form of discrimination against such women by prohibiting them from swimming in the pool or even the Mediterranean sea.

A study conducted by the organisation last year found that more than one migrant domestic worker was dying in Lebanon each week – mostly from suspected suicide or by falling off a balcony while trying to escape abusive employers. The numbers sent ripples throughout the rights community and resulted in far more sustained local media coverage on the issue of domestic migrant workers. Judging by Wissam’s recent statistics, however, this does not appear to have persuaded the authorities to take sufficient measures to protect their rights.

The embassies of countries that supply migrant workers have a duty to protect their citizens. They could start by offering amnesty and assistance to all illegal workers, increasing their legal protection capabilities and properly informing women at home of their rights and responsibilities while working abroad. Many countries, such as Nepal or Madagascar, which are sending women to the Middle East in increasing numbers, would do well to increase their diplomatic representation from consular level to embassies.

Many migrant workers come to the Middle East seeking a better life for the families they left behind. The Lebanese themselves have a long history of migration and hardship, and should know first-hand the difficulties of living and working in a foreign country. Just as many Lebanese abroad work hard with the hopes of eventually returning home, the Lebanese should ensure that these women get to go back to their countries – alive and well, not in body bags.

American man suing FBI over wrongful detention in Ethiopia

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

NEW JERSEY (BBC) — An American man residing in New Jersey is suing the FBI for mistreatment while he was held in jail in Kenya and Ethiopia in 2007.

Amir Meshal was arrested on the Kenyan border as he fled Somalia after the ousting of the Islamist administration.

According to the lawsuit, FBI agents interrogated him there, saying he had received al-Qaeda training in Somalia.

Mr Meshal says he was then returned to Somalia and sent on to Ethiopia for three months where US agents threatened him with torture and death.

He repeatedly denied the allegations and was released in May 2007 and returned to the United States after media inquiries and protests from human rights groups.

The US State Department said it formally protested at the time about Mr Meshal’s removal from Kenya to Ethiopia, the Associated Press news agency reports.

In April 2007, the Ethiopia government admitted that it had detained 41 “terror suspects” captured in neighbouring Somalia.

It defended the action as part of the “global war on terror”, but denied the detainees had been held incommunicado or were mistreated.

An FBI spokesman has said officials will not comment on the case.

In September, an Egyptian man received a $250,000 payout from the FBI because of the way he was treated following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks.

Mr Meshal’s lawsuit has been filed on his behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union.

“American citizens abroad who seek refuge from hostilities deserve the assistance of their government in getting home safely,” AP quotes ACLU lawyer Nusrat Choudhury as saying.

Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele nominated for IAAF Athlete of the Year

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

The International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) announced the nominations for the 2009 Athlete of the Year awards. The finalists were selected using a poll of IAAF members.

For the men, the finalists for the Athlete of the Year include Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia, Usain Bolt of Jamaica, Tyson Gay of the United States, Steven Hooker of Australia and Andreas Thorkildsen of Norway. Bolt and Gay are both short-distance runners who specialize in the 100 and 200 meters, while Kenensia Bekele focuses on long-distance races like the 10,000 meters.

Based on their results and popularity in 2009, it would seem that Bolt and Bekele are the frontrunners for this award. Usain Bolt set several world records in both the 100 and 200 meters this year, while Bekele thrilled the running world with his unbeatable performances at the IAAF World Championships in Berlin.

The finalists for the women’s award include Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia, Sanya Richards of the United States, Valerie Vili of New Zealand, Blanka Vlasic of Croatia and Anita Wlodarczyk of Poland. Isinbayeva competes in the pole vault and Vili represents New Zealand in the shot put. Sanya Richards is a 400-meter runner. Vlasic competes in the high jump, and Wlordarczyk is a hammer thrower.

The winners of the Athlete of the Year awards will be announced on November 22, 2009 at the World Athletics Gala in Monaco.

40 tonnes of gold discovered in Ethiopia

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopia’s Ministry of Mines on Tuesday announced the discovery of a mine containing more than 40 tonnes of gold deposit worth 1.7 billion dollars (1.1 billion euros).

The state-run Ethiopian News Agency reported that the new find, announced by the ministry of mines and energy, will require some 200 million dollars to extract and process.

“Geological survey indicates that… an estimated 500 tonnes of gold deposit is found in the country,” the agency said, providing a figure for the whole of Ethiopia.

Some 44 companies are engaged in gold exploration, earning Ethiopia about 105 million dollars in export every year.

Yemen police arrested 72 Ethiopians

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

SANA’A, YEMEN (Saba) — Yemen police detained 72 Ethiopians, including 15 women, who have entered the country illegally by boat, Interior Ministry has reported.

Security authorities have said that the migrants who landed off Ahwar Coast in Abyan Governorate tried to reach Aden city but they were stopped by the security forces and sent to a refugee camp in coordination with the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Two weeks ago, security forces arrested 101 Ethiopians who entered Yemeni territories illegally.

Taiz Governorate authorities said that 800 Ethiopians, many of whom women and children, entered Yemen illegally in October.

Hailu Shawl comes full circle

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

By Alem Mamo

“He who has lost honor can lose nothing more.” – Publilius Syrus

The term ‘honor’ comes from the Latin honos in which a person is assessed based on the individual’s actions, mainly his or her honesty, dignity and integrity. The recent political theater performed by four honourless characters (Hailu Shawel, Ayele Chamiso, Lidetu Ayalew, and Meles Zenawi) is an atrocious act of deceit, lies and dishonesty that has appalled all of those who long for democracy, freedom, justice and human rights in Ethiopia.

It is not far fetched to say that politics is perhaps the lone profession in which some dishonorable individuals are granted the title of ‘honorable.’ What a pity. Dishonesty and deceptions are honored and dignified. How long should the people of this magnificent land be subjected to such cheap gamesmanship. It is this very fact of political opportunism that considerably delayed the process of democratization in Ethiopia.

We all know too well that if it wasn’t for the support provided to the military junta by some opportunistic intellectuals, the duration of the regime’s power may have been shorter and the suffering of the Ethiopian people could have been less traumatic and extensive. Those who betrayed the Ethiopian people at the time did it for nothing more than a few crumbs thrown at them from the military regime.

The recent choreographed publicity stunt, primarily prepared for the consumption of donor countries, is so juvenile in nature that we would hope it could impress neither donor countries nor the people of Ethiopia. No self-respecting soul with minimum integrity should buy into this vicious assault on the hopes and aspirations of the Ethiopian people for a true democracy.

It is an open secret that the history of TPLF shows its unmatched record of manufacturing surrogate political organizations deliberately created to advance its goals and objectives at the expense of the Ethiopian people. Before, coming to power TPLF used captured soldiers of the military regime to invent ethnic-based political parties, which currently form the so-called EPRDF. No one, particularly the Ethiopian people, believes for a fraction of a second that a TPLF-led regime has truthfulness or an inch of integrity.

I remember what one of my good friends from Ethiopia told me during a telephone conversation. “The only reliable information we get from the TPLF run TV, radio and print media is the date. The rest is pure lie and deception.” Well, ironically, the same was said about the military regime. The publicity stunt shown on the state-run TV and posted on the pro-TPLF website is awash with the declaration that Ethiopia has made a great advance toward democracy. Sadly, as long as TPLF is in power there will never be democracy.

As I said above, no one expects truthfulness or a hint of integrity from the TPLF regime. Some, however, would be surprised by Hailu Shawl’s political acrobatics and the bow of loyalty that he delivered to Meles Zenawi. The question one needs to ask is this: Did Hailu Shawel betray the cause of true democracy, justice, human rights and freedom in Ethiopia or did he come full circle in returning to where he began his political life?

We all know that Hailu Shawel was a Minister of Agriculture under Mengistu Hailemariam’s military regime. Although he claims that he resigned or left his post because of his profound difference with the regime’s policy, one could ask a question about his rise to a cabinet position under a regime that terrorized its citizens for 18 years. Even lower level bureaucratic positions are rewarded to those who showed unwavering support to the regime and participated in the atrocities committed against the people of Ethiopia. Therefore, the question is what don’t we know about Hailu Shawel? Is he a born opportunist who will say anything and do anything to have that “honorable” title and the power that comes along with it?

Political compromise and concessions are part of a political discourse. However, such deals are often made under one condition and that is the advancement of the greater good. In the case of the recent so-called ‘electoral code of conduct’ deal, the only thing being advanced is the strangle hold of power by the TPLF. The reality is that the TPLF and the common good are irreconcilable. The political principle of TPLF is deliberate polarization, oppression and the infliction of maximum suffering and trauma on the people of Ethiopia.

(The author could be reached at alem671@hotmail.com)

Straightening out coffee facts in Ethiopia

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

By Wondwossen Mezlekia

The recent article by Dr. Eleni Gabre-Madhin, founder and CEO of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX), titled “Will The Real Poor Farmer Rise” is a praiseworthy contribution to a serious public dialogue on matters of national interest. It is also courageous for a prominent figure who supports the government of Ethiopia to opt to engage in civil dialogue about complex issues in the public domain. This being a new phenomenon in Ethiopia, inability to draw a line between a personal capacity and an official capacity is totally understandable; although, the bar might be higher for individuals who grew up in a society where public dialogues and opinions are at the central core of democracy and who are rather expected to be models of democratic and civil communication, the lack of which has left the whole Africa incapacitated. It is crucial for all of us to learn to involve in intellectual discussions setting aside personal feelings and egos and rather focusing on the substantive issues at stake, in this case the problems brewing in Ethiopia’s coffee sector.

The conversation about ECX and the problems in Ethiopia’s coffee sector – a topic that provoked Dr. Eleni to weigh in — has been running for weeks now, the recent development being the secretly planned event that was held in Addis Ababa, October 21 – 24, 2009, between ECX, the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), and others. Throughout, many questions have been raised, including the government’s use of ECX to secure its interests, the merits of the country’s property right laws, the government’s responsibilities in protecting farmers from exploitation, the risks of commoditizing the country’s finest coffee brands, ECX’s distraction from its initial noble mission, which is to help eliminate famine by creating an efficient domestic agricultural commodity market, and more. The reason why ECX is particularly scrutinized in relation to its coffee trade is because the stakes in that crop are high, too high to be left for a trial and error. Well informed industry observers warn that the government’s handling of the coffee sector could be destructive to the development of domestic private sector in general and the untapped coffee resources in particular. But, ECX seems to be maintaining its positions that all is well, as if nothing had happened. At best, the take away from reading the above article is that the problems at hand need to be spelled out in a clear and undistorted manner so that everyone who claims to have a stake in Ethiopia can have the same understanding and view from anywhere in the globe. Therefore, it will be necessary to pause the discussion about the gravity of the impending consequences of the sticky situation that ECX and the coffee sector found themselves in and first set the records straight. To that effect, the following paragraphs trail on Dr. Eleni’s main points cited in the above article for the sake of clarity and to fill the gap in ECX’s understanding of what had just happened in Ethiopia.

“Coffee trading in ECX was a hastily conceived, ill-prepared affair by people who knew nothing about the complexity of the coffee market”

The credentials of ECX’s officers has never been a point of contention throughout the discussions as there is no reason to believe that Ethiopia is short of able experts in the coffee sector. Doing so would amount to disrespecting the people who preserved the sector through three consecutive regimes. This, however, does not exempt the poor handling of the media frenzy that followed the interruption of the Specialty coffee trade because neither the government nor ECX displayed wisdom or competence in dealing with the situation. That being said, there are ample evidences to show that ECX was not prepared to trade coffee and that the project plans that led up to the realization of ECX anticipated a coffee exchange at this early stage. ECX was established as a domestic exchange for grain, not for coffee trade. The first evidence for this is found nowhere but in the Policy Working Paper prepared by Eleni Z. Gabre-Madhin and Ian Goggin, Chief Executive, Africa Commodity Exchange (Malawi) and former President, Zimbabwe Agricultural Commodity Exchange. The document dated November 2005 and titled “Does Ethiopia Need a Commodity Exchange?: An Integrated Approach to Market Development” does not mention the coffee crop anywhere in the 24 pages – not even once.

Also, ECX’s lack of experience and resources were central factors that have contributed to the coffee trade problem. The then eight-month old ECX had hardly established its own institutional capabilities, much less gaining the experience in trading agricultural commodities, when it was surprised by the government with the unexpected task of trading the global crop. Although Dr. Eleni now denies it, ECX’s understandable frustrations are documented in the PBS/Market Maker film that featured Dr. Eleni. Here is a portion of the transcript taken from pertinent segments of the film:

Narrator (Aeron Brown): “Eleni’s strategy for building the ECX is so to start to walk before you run; start with a few commodities, work out the kinks, take on more, slowly when you know the system works. … Coffee is to Ethiopia what oil is to Saudi Arabia. The coffee crash [summer of 2008] threatened the entire economy. At the highest levels of government, the question was raised: what if the ECX with its open market, efficient pricing, took up coffee now? Not years from now, but right now? Could the downturn be avoided? For Eleni, for her team, for the ECX, this is both an extraordinary opportunity and an extraordinary risk.”

Dr. Eleni: “We had a nine-hour meeting over two days with very senior people in the government, very intense, and finally the Deputy Prime Minister looked at me and said: if we said, let’s have all that come, [sic] can you handle it? And, I looked at him and said “yes.” … I was very scared. It was a very, very funny moment. I came out of that meeting and called my management team and said, ‘we are going to be trading all of Ethiopia’s coffee. This will change everything.’ ..Much better for us in the longer term but ‘can we do it?’ is what I don’t know. … Coffee is just an overwhelming situation; doing too much with too little staff, too little equipment, too little time.”

That’s it. That is what it took for the government to decide to route the coffee trading to the commodity exchange platform. The point is, the decision to trade coffee on ECX is completely a political decision driven by the government’s needs to control and enhance the flow of coffee exports.

“The inclusion of coffee in ECX was for the purpose of government control and to monopolize the coffee market”

The law that established ECX clearly states that ECX’s Board of Directors should be composed of six government and five privately appointed directors. Despite, the current Board is dominated by directors with vested interests in promoting the government’s business. Of the eleven directors, only three sits (27%) are occupied by the private sector. To argue that somehow Ethiopian Grain Trade Enterprise (EGTE) and Kality Food factory (whose managers are incumbent directors) are privately appointed is deceiving. Plain and simple. These enterprises are owned by the government and report to – through their respective Board of Directors – to the Privatization and Public Enterprises Supervisory Agency, a government body also with a sit on the ECX Board.

EGTE is now, for the first time in its history, the major player in the coffee trade as is GUNA Trading House PLC, an endowment which, according to Bloomberg, is owned by the ruling political party. GUNA has publicly announced its plans to tap into the coffee trade after five years of abandoning the sector. Independent institutions, such as the World Bank have voiced public concerns that these enterprises benefit from privileged access to policymakers and resources which gives them unfair leverage in the marketplace. If this is not a sign to monopolize the market, what is?

“ECX was an instrument to take action against private exporters”

This dimension of the problem is exhaustively discussed by many writers within the context of the country’s legal and political situation.

“The Exchange had simply not thought about specialty coffee trading until forced to by international coffee buyers in 2009″

Regardless of what ECX might have had privately thought about Specialty coffee trading, what is known for sure is that ECX’s system has effectively disrupted the export of Specialty coffee trade and all coffees are sold at commodity prices and market to this day, with the exception of some stocks sold by cooperatives and commercial farms. There is no “single origin” Specialty coffee leaving the country until ECX finds a solution because the system eliminates “traceability”. Two questions arise here: 1) If the legislation that was passed in November 2008 provided ECX the mandate to separately or concurrently handle Specialty coffee as it deemed necessary and ECX decided to trade the Specialty coffees as commodities until it finds a solution, doesn’t it also mean that ECX is solely responsible for the disruption of the trade? 2) Why didn’t ECX allow the Specialty coffee transactions to continue as is until a new system is put in place?

The bigger problem is that because ECX was of the notion that only about 3.7% of the country’s coffee production qualifies to be branded as a Specialty coffee, its focus has been on the bulk coffee trading. [3] It was only after the 2009 SCAA event in Atlanta that SCAA and ECX formed a joint working group to find a solution for the problems. The working group reported its proposal to SCAA at the ECX Specialty coffee event held late October in Ethiopia. Here is where we are now.

What’s next?

The coffee exchange strategy should look beyond the commodity market. The global coffee trade is controlled by a hand-full of multi-national corporations and international prices for commodity coffee are mostly determined by these multinationals. The daily fluctuations in price are mainly driven by the buyers’ bargaining power and speculations about coffee supply, which in turn is dependent on factors affecting coffee growing regions in the world. The competition between the biggest coffee producers, including Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Mexico, often helps multinationals as increases in supply result in a decline in prices. The compound effect on coffee dependent economies, such as Ethiopia, is that they have no say whatsoever in influencing commodity coffee export prices. Therefore, it is incumbent upon ECX to adopt cutting-edge marketing strategies that will enable Ethiopia beat the competition by making the best use of the wealth of coffee resources. The unique attributes of Ethiopia’s coffee are the strengths that the country can exploit as leverage in the fast growing Specialty coffee niche market. At this juncture, and in the short term, the best that ECX can do to help the country is to devise a system that will be conducive to the Specialty coffee trade and provide incentives to the farmers. To that end, there are impending issues and outstanding questions that need the immediate attention of the government and ECX. Hopefully, ECX will continue to lead a forward-looking dialogue by sharing the outcome(s) of the recent meetings with SCAA and the agreement the parties have reached.

(The writer, Wondwossen Mezlekia, can be reached at wondwossen.mezlekia@gmail.com)

Keep your eyes on the prize

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Keep your eyes on the prize By yilma bekele
Psychologist Ellen McGrath calls it ‘the rumination rut’…. a style of thinking in which, like a hamster in a cage, you run in tight circles on a treadmill in your brain. It means obsessing about a problem, about a loss, about any kind of setback or ambiguity without moving past thought into the realm of action.’ This in turn makes us loose our focus. While our problem stays constant our focus wonders aimlessly. It is like trying to hit a moving target.
‘Land to the tiller’ was a cry in 1968. ‘Land to the tiller’ is still the cry of the vast majority of our people today. ‘Democracy, the Rule of Law and respect for basic Human Rights’ was the issue raised by Kinijit and other opposition parties during the May 2005 general election. ‘Democracy, Rule of Law and respect for Human Right’ are still the main demands today.
The last few years have shown the ‘Diaspora’ to be an agent of positive change in the affairs of our homeland. So much has been accomplished in such a short time. On the other hand those who will loose from positive change have not been idle either. Innumerable hurdles were thrown to derail the march for true Democracy.
Those within the ‘organization’ were used to disrupt the organization. It is a scientific method Biologists use to fight insects and other pests that threaten both humans and animals. They utilize what is known as ‘Sterile insect technique’. This method of biological control works by releasing millions of sterile or genetically modified insects in the general population thus disrupting the normal reproduction cycle.
When it comes to ‘human organization’ the same method is applied by inserting agents camouflaged as committed members. Properly handled they could even rise up to leadership position. Ato Ledetu is a perfect example of the ‘sterile insect technique’. Intentional or not it was executed perfectly. The opposition was in disarray. The population was subdued. The movement lost focus. There was too much up on the screen.
It was not long ago that the regime utilized its supposedly big gun to confuse and demoralize us. Upon the release of ‘Kinijit’ leaders from Woyane jail TPLF unleashed Hailu Shawel, Bedru Adem and other minions on us. ‘Sterile insect technique’ was unleashed in a spectacular manner. It was dramatic. The ultimate betrayal! The giant turned out to be a dwarf. It was meant to demoralize us, break our back, and send us to a hellhole of depression. Bullies underestimate their victims. Never again was the Diasporas reply. They forgot we have risen beyond personalities. Hailu and company were discarded and went back home with their tail between their legs. As the Ethiopian people have persevered under the constant onslaught of Woyane terror, feudal impersonators did not fool the Diaspora.
They are at it again. All you have to do is look at what has been going on the last few weeks. The TPLF machine has been busy. It is a relentless machine. It works 24/7. The main goal is to confuse and cause disarray. It manufactures news. It is constantly trying to define the news for us. The TPLF is a moving target. When we are worried about land give away to Sudan they reinvade Somalia, when we are stressing about political prisoners they release Teddy Afro and we forget the others, when we are concerned about the famine they give us Hailu Shawel and an empty code of conduct. The TPLF is one evil machine designed to kill hope.
It is de ja vu time. Hailu Shawel the crown prince of betrayal is in the process of being unveiled as the right hand man of the petty tyrant. Since Ledetu has been completely disgraced in front of our people Woyane was forced to bring out this senile old man to saw mistrust. They say during high noon in Ethiopia standing in the middle of the town square Ledetu doesn’t even cast a shadow. It is that much that he has been rendered useless. It is Hailu’s turn now. All that free money offered by the Banks, all that business empire built by Shawel engineering is coming home to roost. It is pay back time baby. Park your pride outside, discard your principles, betray your country and friends and bend over comrade Hailu. We will leave the rest to the fertile mind of Meles and friends.
The news yesterday is about the millions of our people dying of hunger. The news today is about famine and the wrong and cruel policy designed by Ato Meles and company. The news tomorrow is about pinning responsibility on those who are causing such anguish and terror on our people. No amount of ‘code of election’ is going to fix that. Without fundamental change taking place our old country cannot survive the rape and pillage by the TPLF minority mafia. As far as we are concerned the so-called election is a dead issue. With Ato Meles in charge of the nation, the security under TPLF, the judiciary under TPLF, election board under Meles, the media muzzled and under TPLF, the foreign Ambassadors echoing Ato Meles’s lies, how in the world can you have a fair and open election? Let TPLF rant about elections. Our job is to work harder to isolate the minority regime from its international supporters. Our job as the Diaspora is stop feeding dollars to the TPLF mafia. Our job is to have the nerve to be upset and do what is right to save our motherland.
The movement should stay in focus. Focus, purpose and simplicity work together to create success. Our message should be both direct and simple. Our demand should be clear and consistent. We should never react to the agenda set by others. We should set our own agenda.
We should learn to stay in focus. We should not be sidetracked. We have defined our goal and purpose and no amount of background noise should take our attention from the prize. No matter how long it takes we should learn to stay the course and win. Keeping quiet is not an option. Staying neutral is not an option. Losing is not an option. We will not be distracted by our worries and fears, but rather take strength from the lofty goal we have set for our country and people, ‘Freedom and Democracy’ and Ethiopia will rise up again.
Our focus is the struggle to bring ‘Democracy, Justice and the Rule of Law’ to our motherland. Nothing more. Nothing less. We will not be distracted by shameless ‘leaders’, nor by negative propagandists. The possibility of losing does not compare to the certainty of wining. The ultimate prize is a glorious Ethiopia leading the Horn of Africa in science, technology and human value. As they say in US Navy Seals ‘the more you sweat in peace time the less you bleed in war’. We will focus and work hard today, so tomorrow our sons and daughters will benefit from our effort.

My advice to our AEUP friends that were cruelly used by Shawel and friends is please don’t go limp on us again. Do not try to manufacture your phantom evidence to show Hailu as a freedom fighter. Do not mistake country with tribe. Do not stand with Woyane and pretend you are equal while in fact you are by the feet leaking that dirty boot. As far as the Ethiopian people are concerned Hailu is dead. Good riddance of bad rubbish.

So as you lay in your hospital bed, with no one by your side
I hope you keep on asking, what’s the reason why.
When your casket lowers, no one will shed a tear..
So good bye dear Hailu, your life is near the end
You will die a lonely death, with not one friend
So when its finally over, and you take your last breathe
Ethiopia will start life again..start fresh.

http://allpoetry.com/trace3grls

Interview with an EPPF Fighter

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Interview with an EPPF Fighter and more News. Watch below:

The other handshake

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

While sellouts like Hailu Shawel are shaking hands with a blood thirsty tribal warlord, genuine patriotic Ethiopians like EPPF fighters are in the bushes and jungles of Ethiopia fighting to liberate our country from the Woyanne vampire regime. The photo below was taken during my recent visit with EPPF freedom fighters in the field. I have also visited and held discussions with leaders and fighters of other Ethiopian resistance groups during the past few days. Detailed reports, photos and video will be posted in the coming few days. – Elias Kifle

Elias Kifle with EPPF fighters

Why are we surprised by Hailu Shawel's betrayal?

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

When Ethiopian Review published a series of articles 2 years ago about Hailu Shawel’s corruption and treachery, his supporters were up in arms. It took them 2 years to find out that this man is a pathological traitor.

It is sickening for many of his supporters to watch him shake the hands of a monstrous tyrant whose hands are socked with the blood of the likes of Shibre Desalegn, the people of Anuak, Ogaden, Somalia… just to mention some of Meles Zenawi’s victims.

Much has been said about Engineer Enjera Hailu by angry Ethiopians in the past few days following his cowardly act. So there is nothing new to add. Instead, let’s revisit what Ethiopian Review has been writing about him since 2007 when he first exposed himself as a double-tongued scoundrel:

* Hailu Shawel’s trail of betrayal
* Hailu Shawel’s family business thriving under Woyanne
* Hailu Shawel to face angry protestors in Washington
* Hailu Shawel gets a no confidence vote by Ethiopians in DC
* Hailu Shawel lies to Washington Post

EPPF Special Report from Asmara

Friday, October 30th, 2009

EPPF Conference Special Report from Asmara and more News. Watch below:

Hailu Shawel, Lidetu Ayalew agree to fake election rules

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Some groups who claim to be opposition parties in Ethiopia and the ruling tribal junta, Woyanne, have agreed to new rules for June 2010 sham elections.

The new electoral laws reportedly outline campaigning, voting and party symbol guidelines and how to deal with intimidation and violence and call for the establishment of a panel to handle election disputes.

“The agreement was reached on consensus by all participants after two months of negotiations,” said Ayalew Chamiso, head of the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy party (CUD).

Ayalew Chamiso is a Woyanne puppet who has been installed by Meles Zenawi as chairman of the now defunct CUD, popularly known as Kinijit, that won the 2005 elections.

“The agreement enables the elections to be carried out in a peaceful, fair and free manner,” added Ayalew.

The All Ethiopian Unity Party (AAUP) led by Hailu Shawel and the Ethiopia Democratic Party (EDP) led by Lidetu Ayalew also agreed to the rules, according to the state television.

On the other hand, the Forum for Democratic Dialogue in Ethiopia (Medrek), a coalition of 8 parties, which had said key elements on security and freedom of expression and movement were not included in the code, has not signed on.

Berhanu Nega, a former leader of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) and now a leader of the Ginbot 7 said Ethiopia is not a conducive country for democracy.

“All the issues that make a democratic election do not exist in Ethiopia at this time, starting from the independence of the election board, the independence of the military and the police, judiciary all are in the pocket of the ruling class. And in the absence of a fair and leveled playing ground there is no meaning in an election,” he said.

Nega said the 2010 election will most likely be similar to the 2008 local election when he said  Meles Zenawi’s ruling party won 99.9 percent of the vote.

He said two of the opposition parties that reportedly agreed on the new rules for next year’s election were created by the government.

“You know there are three parties who participated in this. Two of them are the parties created by the ruling party. So these are not serious parties. This is just simply to show to the gullible international community that there is some election taking place. But nobody in Ethiopia is taking it seriously at all,” he said.

Nega said his party would not take part in what he described as a sham election in 2010 election.

“I think by now Africans are aware what actually is going on in the name of elections. Elections are supposed to be mechanisms through which popular will would be reflected. But in our continent in most countries, especially in Ethiopia, it has become an exercise in futility,” he said.

Nega was elected mayor of Addis Ababa in the 2005 election, but he and other opposition leaders were later jail after the government charged them with genocide and treason.

He said since 2005 Ethiopia has turned into a totalitarian state and that the only option for most Ethiopians is to remove the government.

“Even by African standards, this is a suffocating dictatorship that has completely the life out of Ethiopian politics and for most Ethiopians now the only way out of this political quagmire is to get rid of this government by one means or another,” he said.

Nega concord his comments would be interpreted as seeking the overthrow of the Meles Zenawi government.

“I am very, very clear and ardent than this. Unless otherwise people are free they cannot solve their basic economic problems…we have a very unpopular government, despotic government. Unless otherwise people start to take responsibility for their lives, I don’t think you’re going to make significant change in the economic wellbeing of the people,” Nega said.

He said the recent famine in Ethiopia is the result of the Meles Zenawi government being much more interested in staying in power rather than developing the country and saving the people.

Sources: VOA/AFP/ER

Swine flu, Woyane flu, pick your virus

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

By Yilma Bekele

The talk is all about swine flu. Center for Disease Control is stressing about the shortage of vaccine. Some are not convinced about the effectiveness of the new vaccine. On the other hand the Obama administration has declared swine flu a national emergency.

Swine influenza is a flu virus usually found in pigs. This time it has mutated to infect humans. Symptoms include fever, cough, muscle ache, headache, diarrhea and vomiting among others. Despite the heightened hysteria most people are likely to recover without needing medical care. The swine flu scare started in the spring of 2009. Barely six months and scientists have already isolated the virus and come up with a vaccine.

On the other hand Woyanne virus has been around twenty years. Woyanne virus started in the western low lands of Tigrai, northern Ethiopia. Within a few years it has mutated and managed to infect most of Ethiopia. Woyanne flu is highly contagious and can spread from human to human. Woyanne flu is what you would call a hybrid. It means that it has been produced from two or more other viruses.

The closet viruses related to Woyanne flu are Fascism, Nazism, Stalinism and Apartheid. Woyane scientists call the new virus the Meles/Sebhat strain. The founders have not bothered to patent their new finding. They have opted for ‘open source’ approach so other dedicated dictators can build on their work for the good of humanity.

Methods of infection:

Woyane flu is a truly fascinating virus that is capable of change and adaptation. The initial preferred method was use of brute force. Villagers were isolated and their elders and leaders eliminated. Forced indoctrination was carried out 24/7. As the areas under control increased the newly infected villagers were dispersed among the population. Method of infection underwent change too. Blackmail and corruption became the new tools. Promise of power and personal riches became the new weapons of choice. The Woyane virus adapted to infecting the victims brain. Instead of killing the virus renders the victim useless and incapable of making simple decisions. The virus is capable of rewiring the thought process of the host.

Test and diagnosis:

Doctors are able to tell those exposed to the virus by a simple test. Victims are abnormally chatty and show a heightened sense of love for today’s Ethiopia. They are quick in their condemnation of our ancient history and carry a wide brush to paint the past in negative terms. Victims have a tendency to place themselves and others in tribal boxes for easy classification. Woyanne virus infected individuals are very disruptive in-group settings. They saw mistrust and enhance negative ill feelings between people. The virus is capable of working on human weakness and using that to disrupt good will among the population.

Woyane flu exposed views themselves as individuals first. They have a tendency to think what is good for them is good for country. The virus is good at magnifying the ego. For example what they see is my beautiful building not my displaced neighbor, my extravagant reception not my starving kin my beautiful commodity exchange not my imprisoned merchants.

Prognosis:

The highly exposed to the virus number a few hundreds. The mildly infected probably number in few thousands. The vast majority has managed to produce immunity. The likelihood of further infection is deemed very unlikely. The Woyanne virus has run its course and at the moment it is vainly trying to reinvent itself. Scientists view it as a wana be strain that was able to incubate due to favorable circumstances at its place of birth. It was a weak opportunist virus. The Woyane virus is in the process of disintegration.

Prevention:

The US center for disease control advice regarding swine flu states “People who work with pigs who might be infected should use protective clothing and special breathing masks.” There is no protective cloth to avoid infection by Woyanne virus. The best protection is to avoid Woyanne. In order to avoid re-occurrences it is highly advisable to isolate the carriers and disinfect where possible or eliminate when appropriate.

(The writer can be reached at yilma@pacbell.net)

Ethiopia: 3 soldiers defect to Eritrea

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

ASMARA — Members of the Woyanne regime’s armed forces in Ethiopia continue to abandon their units in droves, according to 3 soldiers who recently defected to Eritrea.

One of the many complaints the soldiers are expressing is that the top leadership of the armed forces are completely dominated by one ethnic group and that the army is being used to preserve the ruling party’s grip on power, not to defend the national interest of Ethiopia.

The soldiers who arrived in Eritrea are:

1) Private Worku Gemechu, 21st Division
2) Private Alemu Wudneh, 20th Division
3) Private Measho Abraha, 50th Division

The soldiers told Ethiopian Review correspondent in Asmara that the Woyanne regime is currently fighting with resistance groups in multiple fronts.

Health ministers from around the world meet in Ethiopia

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

By Pascale Harter

As health ministers from around the world meet in the Ethiopian capital to tackle maternal mortality, women suffering birth-related injuries are given a new lease of life through a simple operation.

Hailemariam Workneh is trying to amuse his son outside the Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa.

They have one toy – a small rubber crocodile which two-year-old Awel squeals and runs away from, before edging back towards it and squealing again.

Hailemariam says it’s not easy to keep his son distracted while his mother gets treated for fistula. But he is glad to be here. Finally.

It took him five years to save up the money to bring his wife here from their village in the north.

He is the only husband we see at the clinic.

Fifty per cent of women who have fistula are abandoned by their husbands because they leak urine or faeces, or both.

The staff at the Hamlin Hospital are full of admiration for Hailemariam for sticking by his wife.

They keep telling me how unusual it is.

When his wife Zeinat wakes from her surgery she says the same thing.

Needless shame

“I was too ashamed to leave the house because of the smell, I couldn’t see my friends,” she says. “It was so hard being alone. But my husband is a good man, he didn’t neglect me while I was leaking.”

Most women, she says, will “cry every day”, because they have no-one to help them.

Zeinat’s surgery is successful and afterwards, she cannot stop smiling.

“I am excited at participating in life again,” she says.

The last five years have involved needless pain and shame.

The causes are in part a lack of resources, in part gender inequality, according to the United Nation’s Population Fund.

Like 94% of women in Ethiopia, Zeinat had to give birth without the help of a properly trained health worker.

As is often the case for small-framed Ethiopian women, the baby was too big for her to deliver normally.

Midwife shortage

Prof Gordon Williams, medical director at the Hamlin Hospital, says women in rural areas are often stopped from eating much during their pregnancy, and are worked extra hard in the belief it will stop the baby from growing too big in the womb.

It does not. Instead, by the time she comes to give birth the woman will be weak and malnourished.

When she realises there is a complication with the birth it is usually too late.

The nearest health clinic can be more than 100km (62 miles) away – a distance women often walk, while in labour.

But even at the health clinic it is unlikely there will be the equipment to perform a caesarean section, which routinely saves the lives of mother and baby in the West.

It is unlikely there will even be a midwife.

It is said there are more Ethiopian midwives working in Chicago than Addis Ababa.

What is left after the brain drain is one midwife to every 20,000 women of childbearing age.

And they are not in the rural areas, where 85% of Ethiopians live.

Social stigma

So like Zeinat, the woman will have to give birth alone.

And like Zeinat she may lose the baby, and be left suffering with obstetric fistula – a tear between the vagina and the bladder or the rectum, making her continually incontinent.

In the five years since her first child died during labour, Zeinat conceived several times.

Having sex and giving birth again must have been excruciatingly painful.

Awel is the only one of her children to have survived birth.

But it is the social stigma that the women with fistula talk about.

Baysade Shoke is waiting to be operated on.

She has lived with fistula for 43 years.

“I have lived in darkness,” she says.

“I hardly considered myself a human being because of the smell.”

Prevention

She says she is hopeful that the surgery will bring her “out into the light”.

When it is over and she feels ready, the hospital will give her money to get back to her village and a new dress to go back in.

But Abarash Muskun preferred not to make that journey.

Her surgery was not successful and the stigma of living with the smell of leaking urine is too much so she has stayed on at the hospital, working as a nurse aide.

Abarash is one of the patients the Hamlin Hospital treats each year, but is unable to cure.

What she and the doctors would like to see is prevention; health professionals in well-equipped health centres throughout the country so women do not lose their babies, and do not develop fistula in the process.

(BBC)

IMF corruption exposed

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following report by the BBC is one more evidence that the IMF and World Bank are corrupted organizations that are causing havoc in 3rd world countries such as Ethiopia by fueling brutal dictatorships with hundreds of millions of dollars.

Senegal admits IMF ‘money gift’

(BBC) — Senegal has confirmed it gave money to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) official earlier this month, after previously denying the allegations.

Alex Segura was given almost $200,000 (£122,000) at the end of his three-year posting – money which the IMF says was paid back as quickly as it could be.

Prime Minister Souleymane Ndene Ndiaye said it was a goodbye present — part of an African tradition.

But opposition activists have condemned what they regard as a corrupt payment.

The fund said in a statement Mr Segura was given the present after a dinner with President Abdoulaye Wade, but did not realise the gift was money until he was about to leave the country for Barcelona.

“With Mr Segura worried about missing his flight, and concerned that there was no place to leave the money safely in Senegal, he decided to take the money aboard the plane,” Reuters quoted the IMF as saying.

The cash was handed over to Senegal’s ambassador in Spain.

Government ‘exposed’

The BBC’s Hamadou Tidiane Sy, in Dakar, says the affair has sparked anger and outrage in Senegal.

He says Senegalese want to know why an IMF official was allowed to leave the country with so much money, and they also want to see whether anyone will be punished.

Anti-corruption campaigner Mamadou Mbodj said the case should be referred to the country’s High Court of Justice.

“It is unacceptable in a poor country like ours to use the taxpayers’ money to reward international civil servants who are already highly paid for their jobs”, he told the BBC.

Aissata Tall Sall, spokeswoman for the Socialist Party, said the government had “exposed its true nature to the rest of the world”.

She called for international sanctions and said it was unacceptable for the IMF and government to consider the issue closed.

The president has not commented on the affair, but Mr Ndiaye admitted the gift was given, while denying corruption.

“We in Africa have a tradition – when someone visits you, you give him a gift at departure,” he told local media.

112 Ethiopians arrested in Yemen

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

SANA’A, YEMEN (Saba) – Yemeni security services in Abyan Province have arrested 112 Ethiopian refugees, including 19 women, who illegally entered Yemeni territories by sea, Interior Ministry has reported.

According to the security services, the Ethiopians have been arrested at the coast of Ahwar District.

The security forces also said that 90 Somali refugees, including 25 women and 7 children have arrived in Abyan and Taiz provinces, 22 of them landed on Ahwar coast in Abyan province, while the remaining 68 refugees disembarked on Thubab cost in Taiz province.

The police detained all the refugees from both coasts and transported them to the refugee camp in Lahj province.

Sentencing of Ethiopian man in Maryland postponed

Monday, October 26th, 2009

SILVER SPRING, MARYLAND — Sentencing for a Silver Spring man involved in the December kidnapping of a Clinton bank manager and her family has been postponed until Dec. 4.

Yosef Tadele, 23, a native of Ethiopia, who pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact in the kidnapping, was scheduled to face sentencing Friday in Prince George’s County Circuit Judge Sheila R. Tillerson Adams’ courtroom. However, he was in Montgomery County at the time regarding a traffic matter, according to his attorney, Brian K. McDaniel, of Washington, D.C.

Tadele was implicated in the kidnapping of LaChrista Hamilton, a manager with SunTrust Bank, and her husband and their two sons. Two other men, Yohannes T. Surafel, 25, of Washington, D.C., and Beruk Ayalneh, 24, whose last known address is in Arlington, Va., according to court records, are also facing charges for their involvement in the kidnapping.

According to testimony at a January 2009 hearing, Surafel and Ayalneh allegedly held the family at gunpoint in their Briarcliff Drive home the evening of Dec. 26. The men allegedly planned to take the family the next day to the Silver Spring branch where Hamilton worked to assist with an armed robbery.

Surafel drove with the family to the bank Dec. 27, during which time the car was stopped and he was seized by police.

Tadele has been accused of driving Surafel and Ayalneh to Hamilton’s home on Dec. 26 and picking up Ayalneh the following the day with the intention of meeting up with Surafel later.

Surafel is facing charges of kidnapping, assault, false imprisonment, conspiracy to commit a robbery and several other charges associated with his possession of a handgun. His attorney, Richard Finci of Greenbelt, testified at an earlier hearing that Surafel suffered emotional trauma as a Virginia Tech student on campus during the April 2007 massacre in which 32 people died.

Surafel’s trial is scheduled for Oct. 27. Ayalneh’s whereabouts are unknown.

Assistant State’s Attorney Carol Coderre, who is prosecuting the case, declined to comment Friday.

EPPF's 10th Anniversary Conference Report

Monday, October 26th, 2009

EPPF’s 10th Anniversary Conference Report and more News. Watch below:

Message from Tesfaye GebreAb

Monday, October 26th, 2009

ይድረስ ካንባቢዎቼ [pdf]
እኔ ደህና ነኝ!
እናንተስ እንዴት ሰነበታችሁ?

“የጋዜጠኛው ማስታወሻ” የመጀመሪያው እትም ተሸጦ አልቆአል። መፅሃፉን ለገዛችሁ ሁሉ ምስጋናዬ ይድረሳችሁ። ሁለተኛው እትምም ታትሞ ለስርጭት ዝግጁ ሆኖአል። ከመጪው ህዳር ወር ማብቂያ ጀምሮም በሁሉም ክፍለአለማትና ከተሞች ይሰራጫል። “የጋዜጠኛው ማስታወሻ” ሁለተኛ እትም የጀርባ ሽፋን ላይ የፕሮፌሰር ጌታቸው ሃይሌ፤ የተክለሚካኤል አበበ እና የነአምን ዘለቀ ቅንጫቢ አስተያየቶች ታትመውበታል። መፅሃፉን ለማከፋፈል የምትሹ ወደ africabooks2010@gmail.com ደብዳቤ በመፃፍ ፍላጎታችሁን መግለፅ ትችላላችሁ።

“የደራሲው ማስታወሻ”ን ቃል በገባሁት መሰረት ፅፌ ጨርሻለሁ። 21 ምእራፋትና 406 ገፆች ላይ ተጠናቆአል። ይህ አዲሱ መፅሃፍ፤ “ቀዳሚው ውሃ ነበር!” የሚለውን ብሂል ያስታውሳል። ጥቂት የማረም ስራ እና ቀሪ ቴክኒካዊ ተግባራት ብቻ ነው የቀሩኝ። በመጪው የፈረንጆች አዲስ አመት ማግስት ለስርጭት ይበቃል ብዬ ተስፋ አድርጌያለሁ።

በመጨረሻ፤ ኢሜይል ለላካችሁልኝ ሁሉ ከልብ አመሰግናለሁ። ምላሽ ላልላኩላችሁ በጊዜ እጥረት ነውና ከይቅርታ ጋር የክብር ምስጋና ተቀበሉኝ። አብዛኞቻችሁ እንደተመኛችሁልኝ እንደ ከዋክብት ባልራቀ ጊዜ ውስጥ ተያይዘን ወደ ቢሾፍቱ እንገማሸራለን። የወንዛችንን ዘፈን እየዘፈንን ወደ ጣና፤ ወደ አባይ፤ ወደ አዳባይ፤ ወደ ጨንቻ፤ ወደ አኝዋክ፤ ወደ ሌቃ ዱለቻ፤ ወደ አይሳኢታ፤ ባገራችን ዋሽንት ታጅበን እንዋባለን። ይህ ህልምም ቅዠትም አይደለም። የአገዛዝ ስርአቱ የቆመበት መሰረት ውስጡ የተበላ ነው። ምሰሶው ቀፎውን ቀርቶአል። ጠጋ ብለው የልብ ትርታውን ሲያዳምጡት የጭንቀት ኡኡታው ጆሮ ይበጠርቃል። ዝርዝሩን “የደራሲው ማስታወሻ” ያወጋችሁዋል። በሰላም ያገናኘን።

ተስፋዬ ገብረአብ
ttgebreab@gmail.com

EPPF celebrated 10th anniversary, held special conference

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

ASMARA — Marking its 10th anniversary, the Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front (EPPF) held a special conference from October 17 – 18, 2009. The event was attended by executive and central committee members of EPPF and chapter representatives from the United States and Europe. High-level officials of the Eritrean government were invited as guests of honor.

The 2-day conference passed several resolutions after lively discussions in preparation for EPPF’s general assembly that will be held shortly. (click here to read).

The special conference was held at a secret location in Eritrea.

Ethiopian Review publisher, who had attended the conference, will present a series of reports and analysis on the activities of EPPF, as well as general observations, in the coming weeks.

J. Peter Pham: Ethiopian warlord's "Intellectual for Hire"

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

By Sophia Tesfamariam

On my flight back from London, UK, I decided to catch up on my reading and began by going through some articles that were compiled for me by a friend. It was amongst the pile that I found the piece on Somalia by J. Peter Pham; it turned out to be yet another lazy analysis… I say lazy because his entire piece was a patching together of “cut and paste” paragraphs collected from various dubious self-serving sources. Pham´s incoherent piece was an elaborate apologia for Meles Zenawi, the only terrorist lurking in the Horn of Africa, who bears full responsibility for the carnage in Somalia. Pham has become one of the most vocal apologists for the minority regime in Ethiopia and his latest “cut and paste” piece is a regurgitation of the regime´s often heard narration (tantrums), as it scrambles to get itself out of yet another self-created quagmire.

Those of us who have been observing development in the Horn region know Meles Zenawi´s modus operandi. This latest piece by Pham is a desperate and transparent attempt to divert attention away from the ill-advised, illegal and immoral US-backed Ethiopian invasion and 2-year occupation of Somalia, and international crimes committed by Meles Zenawi´s regime in Somalia. Sanctioning Eritrea (for not toeing Washington´s line on Somalia) is supposed to give Meles Zenawi a respite from his self created quagmire. For Pham and his cohorts, blaming Eritrea is somehow supposed to absolve Meles and those responsible for the crimes committed in Somalia. It may take time, but sooner or later, Meles Zenawi and his handlers will pay for the destruction of Somalia and the deaths of thousands of innocent Somalis. It is Meles Zenawi´s hands that are drenched with the blood of Somalis, not Eritrea´s. Pham is barking up the wrong tree.

My first instinct was to ignore the dishonest individual and his “cut and paste” propaganda piece, which he attempts to pass of for an intellectual analysis on Somalia. But since there may be some lawmakers who might take his statements for fact and believe his misinformation, once in a while, as we have done in the past, it’s important that Eritreans, Ethiopians and Somalis, as citizens of the Horn, call him out and expose his hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty. This ordained Catholic priest (a credential rarely mentioned in his articles) has traded his priestly collar for a “falfalina” (bow tie), and replaced the morals and teachings of the Catholic Church, with lies and deceptions in his new found (much more lucrative) vocation as a hired gun (or is it hired pen). This embedded priest exposes the ugly side of academia and how much US Foreign Policy is damaged by self serving, morally bankrupt operatives such as Pham who have no qualms about deceiving the US public and lawmakers in order to advance their own illicit (often illegal) agendas.

Horn residents are not surprised by J. Peter Pham’s latest piece in defense of Meles Zenawi and the minority regime in Ethiopia. One of the “intellectuals for hire” that has provided the minority regime political shield in Washington with “testimonies in Congress”, Pham has deliberately lied to, and misled, lawmakers and the American public with is faulty analysis on Somalia, Somaliland, the UIC and more. Pham´s thinking is not just beyond the pale, it´s willfully dangerous and evil. This self appointed “expert” on Africa believes his brief stint as a “Vatican envoy to East Africa” gives him the credentials to write at will, without providing a single shred of evidence to support his far fetched assertions. “Cut and paste” paragraphs fit together to fit Meles Zenawi´s narratives will not cut it. Distorting the facts, omitting the truth and fabricating lies is not a Christian thing to do…as a former priest, he ought to know better.

It is no secret that Pham is closely associated with the conservative neocolonialist cartel; a dubious alliance of fundamentally different and even ideologically opposed religious and political factions such as the coalition of evangelical Christians (also known as the New Christian Right) and the aggressive political ideologues commonly known as the Neoconservatives who have launched an unprecedented evil campaign against Eritrea for the last 10 years in order to advance their hegemonic agendas in the region. Pham is also closely associated with Joseph Greibosky, the author of several erroneous reports on Eritrea and Iran and whose organization, the Institute for Religion and Public Policy, enjoyed a lucrative arrangement-to the tune of a quarter of a million dollars –with the Bush Administration´s State Department.

As a consultant for U.S. intelligence agencies who has helped place former students in intelligence positions, Pham knows a thing or two about that industry and its connections in Somalia. Pham, more than anybody else, knows that Eritrea has no interest in destabilizing Somalia. Despite what Jendayi E. Frazer and her cohorts purport, neither she, nor her hired guns have been able to provide any evidence to back up their evil allegations against Eritrea. It has been almost three years since Frazer and her accomplices fabricated the outlandish UN reports on Somalia, and to this day, neither Frazer nor her accomplices(Ethiopia, Kenya and the illegitimate TNGs), or any other independent party has been able to substantiate its contents-none. Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN Envoy for Somalia for Somalia, has admitted as much.

Pham, who in a recent Washington Post article had the audacity to preach to President Barack Obama about the law, continues to justify Meles Zenawi’s lawlessness and belligerence in Somalia and numerous violations of international law and over two dozen UN Security Council resolutions. Exposing his bias and pro-Ethiopia stance, distorting the facts and deliberately omitting from his latest piece, the Final and Binding decision of the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) which was delivered on 13 April 2002, which unequivocally awarded Badme, the casus belli for the 1998-2000 border conflict to Eritrea, Pham attempts to divert the issue by mentioning the Eritrea Ethiopia Claims Commission (EECC), a body that chose to address an issue in 2005 that was outside of its Algiers Agreement mandate.

Had Pham done his homework, instead of parroting Meles Zenawi’s tantrums, he would have known that the Algiers Agreement, in addition to the EEBC and EECC, also called for the establishment of a Commission by the African Union and the Secretary General of the United Nations, whose mandate was to investigate the origins of the conflict. The African Union, now an appendage of Menelik Palace has yet to fulfill its obligations under the Algiers Agreements-ditto for the UN. Ethiopia continues to occupy sovereign Eritrean territories, including Badme, in violation of international law.

Eritrea´s principled position on Somalia has been consistent from day one. As far back as 1993, Eritrea has been consistently calling for non-interference in the internal affairs of Somalia and has repeatedly called on the international community to respect Somalia´s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Eritrea does not recognize the Transitional National Government of Somalia, not because of the individuals involved, but because it is an illegitimate regime that has been imposed on the Somali people against their wishes. The previous externally imposed TNGs that have been “propped up” in Mogadishu have been repeatedly rejected by the Somali people, who want to choose their own leaders. Eritrea’s non-recognition of the externally established TNG is not what is destabilizing Somalia; rather it is the Ethiopian invasion and occupation of Somalia and the installing of illegitimate TNGs in Somalia that will be amenable to the West and its allies that has threatened the peace, security and stability in the region.

Like Meles Zenawi, Pham is a flip flopping street smart “intellectual for hire” and knows how to sell his services. The man has no principles. He says one thing today and something different tomorrow, as long as it suits his handlers. There was a time when Pham opposed externally imposed TNGs in Somalia. Here is an excerpt from a piece he wrote before his conversion. On 25 May 2007, in a piece he wrote for the National Review, he said:

“…If anything, the very existence of the TFG – or any central government which in the Somali context is always viewed as an imposition from the outside – is a provocation that invites resistance and gives destabilizing forces an easy entry…”

In another article (“Do Not Resuscitate,” The National Interest Mar.-Apr. 2008) Pham went further to explain why an externally imposed TNG in Somalia would not work. He wrote:

“…It should be clear that the way forward in imported states is not to mindlessly repeat mantras about dialogue aimed at shoring up “transitional governments” that are congenitally incapable of governing. Rather, what is needed is the clarity of vision and the political courage to squarely face the facts on the ground. The interests of the international community, as well as those of great powers (like the United States) most likely to become involved in the conflicted regions like the Horn of Africa, require security and stability. That will not be achieved by propping up inherently illegitimate and destabilizing regimes constructed at some international conference center…”

In a June 2009 article he mocked the TNG led by Sheikh Sharif Ahmed:

“…Even as it was struggling to maintain control of what little bits of its capital it still holds, the TFG continues the charade of being a sovereign government…”

This embedded priest ought to know about charades.

On 02 Jul 09 Pham wrote the following in World Defense Review:

“…What this approach ignores, however, is that if the failure so far of no fewer than fourteen internationally-sponsored attempts at establishing a national government indicates anything, it is the futility—indeed, hubris—of the notion that outsiders can impose a regime on Somalia, even if it is staffed with presumably moderate Somalis duly vetted and anointed by the international community. Instead, in the context of the decentralized reality among the Somali, the concerned international community in general and the United States in particular need to invest the time and resources to seek out local partners who are actually capable of partnering to create a modicum of stability—societal, economic, and, ultimately, governmental—rather than throwing money and arms at a “Transitional Federal Government” which, as a former U.S. ambassador who dealt with Somali issues told me last week, “is neither transitional, nor federal, nor a government.”…”

Is Pham going to accuse this anonymous “former US ambassador”, as he did Eritrea, of being a spoiler, of destabilizing the Horn region? I doubt that.

Pham’s latest hypocritical piece is a perfect example of the dangers inherent in using “intellectuals for hire”. In pursuit of myopic political agendas such greedy, fame seeking individuals like Pham who have no qualms manipulating and distorting the fact lack scholarly integrity and credibility. Seldom held to account for the ramifications of their writings which are always shaped to advance a particular agenda-in this case, absolution of Meles Zenawi’s regime for its numerous international crimes, these “intellectuals for hire” have damaged US credibility and integrity in the world. US Policy for Africa is incoherent and racist because of self serving “advisors” and “analysts” like Pham.

This Islam phobic, incoherent US policy for Somalia is precisely what is threatening to destabilize the entire region. Pham and the other “intellectuals for hire” should be held accountable for the fire they helped fuel in Somalia with their faulty “analysis” and incessant lobbying on behalf of the regime in Ethiopia. With Meles Zenawi, Jendayi E. Frazer instigated and planned the invasion and occupation of Somalia. The pulverization of Somali villages and farms, the deaths of over 12000 innocent civilians, the displacement of over 2 million Somalis, the extra judicial massacres of individuals labeled by Pham and others as being “fundamentalists” and “extremists”, the indiscriminate bombings of Somali markets etc. etc. that followed is the cause behind the greatest humanitarian disaster in the history of Somalia.

The Obama Administration can do itself a favor by investigating Pham´s role in this sordid and destructive affair and ask him why he is hell bent on fueling the carnage in Somalia and campaigning for the dismemberment of Somalia. Whose interests/agenda is he promoting? Certainly, his agenda is not in the best interest of the United States or Somalia…

The rule of law must prevail over the law of the jungle.

On OLF leadership: Dropping the Substance for the Shadow?

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

By Messay Kebede

The problem with Jawar’s latest response, “Misunderstanding Nationalism: Rejoinder to Professor Messay Kebede’s Responses,” is that it moves further away from the main reason for our online debate, namely, the piece he wrote about the OLF in which he declares the organization “damaged beyond repair” and repeatedly speaks of its “demise.” His thesis is that inefficient leadership is responsible for this demise. My point was to ask him to look further or deeper, as ideological inappropriateness could also cause inefficiency. It is not clear to me why Jawar absolutely refuses to acknowledge that the ideology of an organization can impact on its efficiency.

My suspicious is that Jawar is now under enormous pressure from other Oromo nationalists. As a result, he effects a reversal: I become an enemy of the OLF while he himself rediscovers terms highly appreciative of the achievements of the organization. This does not come as a surprise since the absolute primacy of group solidarity characteristic of ethnic politics always ends up by silencing critical stands, even if they are legitimate.

That said, I agree with the last paragraph of Jawar’s reply in which he asks us to deal properly with Oromo identity and interest, provided that he tells us how the one-sided affirmation of a particular identity can agree with the need to promote pan-Ethiopian characteristics, without which there is no national unity. My quarrel is never against the affirmation of a particular identity; it is against those who at the same time do not see the need to develop pan-Ethiopian characteristics, not to mention those that are openly secessionists. I invite Jawar to read some of the many articles I wrote in which I promote the notion of a rainbow-nation, that is, a political and cultural solution crowing ethnic claims with a transcendent identity.

As to a detailed assessment of his reply, I make the following remarks:

I. Jawar writes: Messay “refuses to accept that organizational efficiency is primarily a result of strategy and committed leadership.” My reply: how is one to assess the efficiency, strategy, and the level of commitment of an organization without involving its ideology? No need here to come up with a sophisticated definition of ideology: one online dictionary defines ideology as “a set of aims and ideas that directs one’s goals, expectations, and actions.” Is it logical to argue that what defines goals, expectations, and actions has nothing to do with efficiency, all the more so as Jawar tells us that “an organization should be evaluated based on stated objectives?” Clearly, wrong objectives can make an organization inefficient.

2. Jawar complains about my “lack of objectivity”; that is why I (and people like me) “underestimate, misunderstand and mishandle nationalist movements.” This appeal to objectivity is baffling when we all know that politics is the clash of different interests. The ideal way of dealing with political conflicts is not by asking the one party to be objective. Not only does this approach forget that politics is the art of concession, but it also creates an imbalance. While the one opponent has the right to be subjective by speaking of the nation he wants to bring to existence, I am asked to silence my feelings about the nation that I want to defend. Rather than objectivity, the right attitude here is the effort to reach mutual accommodation.

3. According to Jawar, “had the OLF ideology failed, there would not exist a land known as Oromia in [the] country.” Maybe I am referring to an imaginary history, but recent events ascertain that Oromia was a gift of the TPLF, which represents another nation. Credit should be given where credit is due, even if it is for a sinister project. At any rate, Oromia was not established by indigenous victorious forces. And if Oromo are invited to be grateful to Tigrean conquerors for the creation of Oromia, I wonder why recognition is not extended to the primary benefactor, who is none other than Emperor Menilik. The latter should be praised for uniting the Oromo under the Ethiopian state, thereby saving them from utter dispersion under different colonial rulers, all the more so as this time Oromo were full participants in the conquest, as witnessed by Ras Gobena’s epic.

4. When Jawar accuses me of underestimating the force of Oromo nationalism, I respond that he has misread my previous article in which I state the following: “if the Oromo had really wanted to separate from the rest of the country, no force on earth could have stopped them.” Obviously, the problem is elsewhere. Jawar reminds me of the sacrifices that Oromo are paying for Oromia. He forgets one important thing, to wit, that more Oromo have died for the integrity of Ethiopia than for Oromia. A superficial look at the ethnic composition of the Derg’s army is enough to evince the enormity of Oromo sacrifices. Instead of one-sided affirmation, let us talk of dual commitment, that is, of ethnic self-assertion but also of common aspiration with other ethnic groups toward a nation based on citizenship or territory.

5. Speaking of Medrek, Jawar says: those who created the organization “have made a U-turn by embracing the reality as it is shown with their swift acceptance of Afaan Oromo as a national language.” Jawar fails to mention that this acceptance was made possible by the unconditional commitment to Ethiopia’s integrity, forcefully expressed through the rejection of secession. In my previous article, I have argued that the ground for mutual concessions is commitment to unity, which I portrayed as the building of a common house. What secessionists refuse to understand is that the so-called right to self-determination up to secession creates a dissimilarity that hinders democratic decisions, as it allows one group to practice political blackmail through the threat of secession unless it obtains all what it wants.

6. For Jawar, the nationalist awakening of the Oromo is a major transformational force, for “without the awakening of the giant, oppressed minorities of the South would still be called “bariya,” “Shanqilla,” “Walamo.” I do not deny that the pressure of Oromo identity constitutes a major force in the Ethiopian politics. However, I ask one more time that credit be given where credit is due. The terms “galla”, “wollamo,” etc., were banned, not by an ethnic political party, but by the Ethiopian student movement and the Derg, which both had multiethnic views. You do not have to be a member of an ethnic party to fight for the equal treatment of peoples’ culture and beliefs. There are no ethnic parties in the US, and yet people are protected in their diversity. As to the main inspiration behind ethnic politics, it is not justice and the equal treatment of peoples; rather, it is the control of state power by elites vying to monopolize scarce resources.

7. I agree with Jawar when he says that “Ethiopia is an unfinished project.” I will even go further by stating that it is a failed project. The reasons for the failure need not preoccupy us here. Even so, I find it hard to believe that ethnonationalist discourse of the kind I am hearing is liable to resume the project. When the whole issue is to marry a native attachment with a transcendent identity, the affirmation of an exclusive form of nationalism is not to finish the project; it is to sabotage it.

8. To underscore the force of nationalism, Jawar asks: “Why did “ethnic” movements outlive class struggle?” In other words, why in Ethiopia did the ethnic movements of the TPLF and EPLF defeat the defenders of socialist revolution? The notion that blood is thicker than interest is precisely the manipulative argumentation that elites use to mobilize the people. I say “manipulative” because it taps natural sentiments associated with relatedness but for the purpose of empowering elites. Both the failures of Leninist socialism and fascist regimes teach us that giving more power to states and elites, whatever their declared aims are—class interest or kinship––is not the road to liberation; the latter occurs through the containment of power. Political liberation is not a family affair. People become free when they limit and divide state power, not when they let it become boundless under the pretext of achieving a cherished goal. What is true of ethics is also true of politics: the end never justifies the means.

9. That is why we should establish political systems in which the primacy of individual and universal rights overtops the criteria of blood, class interest, religion, etc. Unlike the other criteria, individual and universal rights work toward the containment of state power by protecting the individual against unfriendly and seemingly friendly forces. Despite talks of liberation, neither the TPLF nor the EPLF has provided their respective ethnic groups with anything resembling democratic governance. Most disconcerting here is Jawar’s inconsistencies: he speaks of the TPLF and EPLF as models of liberation movements while perfectly knowing their failure, which has only exacerbated Oromo frustration. I conjure Jawar to read Dr. Negasso Gidada’s article portraying the functioning of a Stalinist political system in Wallaga. The spectacle of Oromo elites suppressing the Oromo people in the name of liberation forcefully shows the danger of ethnic politics and the need to place individual rights at the center of the struggle. What the people of Wallega needs is a federal protection of their individual rights. The height of the paradox is that, no less than the Oromo and other ethnic groups, the Tigrean people too need to be rescued by a trans-ethnic state. This is to say that Ethiopian nationalism is none other than the preeminence of individual rights over ethnic states effected through the erection of a trans-ethnic or national federal power.

10. To the question why ethnic movements outlived class struggle, the ultimate answer is that Ethiopian nationalism has been seriously undermined by the failures of socialist ideology. What explains the defeat is not the strength of the ethnic movements, but, as the great Ethiopian historian, Gebru Tareke, puts it in his recently published momentous book, “the revolutionary government ultimately lost because it failed to deliver on its big promises: freedom, equality, and prosperity” (The Ethiopian Revolution: War in the Horn of Africa, p. 2). Indeed the dictatorial method, the divisive goals, and the economic failures of the Derg combined to shatter the efficiency of the armed forces. Contrary to Jawar’s claims, here is a pertinent case of nationalist defeat that was caused by a dissolving ideology. Jawar should have seen the pertinence of the case since he maintains that the Eritrean issue could have been solved if the Derg had “negotiated for ‘Federation.’” Precisely, the inability to negotiate was how Ethiopian nationalism was made inefficient by a totalitarian ideology.

11. Jawar makes me say that “leftist ideology is responsible for growth of ‘ethnic’ nationalism, secessionist demand, and armed struggle” and then contests my alleged statement by citing liberation movements that are not leftist. Yet, my reference to leftist ideology was only echoing his own analysis of the legacy hampering the OLF. To quote him, “OLF is a foster child of the student movement that brought the revolution; as such it shares some common organizational behaviors and characteristics with all other organizations that came out that era, such as the EPRP, TPLF and EPLF”; “the political forces that emerged from the student movement were led by individuals who worshiped Mao Zedong and Stalin, so they embraced such undemocratic, rigid and control freak organizational model.” True, there are non-leftist nationalist movements, but in the particular case of Ethiopia, ethnonationalist movements have originated from a split of the student movement with which they share extremism and a vision of political struggle modeled on a zero-sum game. All the events and tragedies that occurred since 1974 are various manifestations of the rise of elites with ideologies advocating the exclusive control of state power as a means of appropriation of scarce resources. Secessionism or ethnonationalism is one of such manifestations, since it is how elites take up the cause of cultural particularism (language, religion, common descent, etc.) and argue for the natural correspondence between state and culture. In this way, they exclude their rivals as aliens and establish an exclusive entitlement to power.

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

World Bank provides $480 million to the terrorist regime in Ethiopia

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

World Bank continues to finance the tribal junta in Ethiopia that is terrorizing the people in the name of development. The following is a press release by the World Bank.

WASHINGTON – The Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank today approved a $350 million grant and a $130 million credit from the International Development Association to the Government of Ethiopia to support an innovative program that is keeping millions of families out of extreme poverty and helping them to achieve food security.

This financing is for the third phase of the Government of Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) which provides transfers to 7.6 million rural citizens in 292 woredas in Afar, Amhara, Dire Dawa, Harare, Oromiya, Somali, Southern Nations and Nationalities (SNNP) and Tigray Regions.

Families participating in the Safety Net Program are the poorest and most food insecure in their communities. They earn a monthly transfer by working on public works projects for six months each year. For those participants who are physically unable to work, the Program provides direct grants. Transfers are predictable and timely, thereby enabling families to plan ahead to meet their food needs and preventing the sale of productive assets.

The PSNP goes beyond providing safety nets; it aims to address the underlying causes of food insecurity. Planned within an integrated watershed management framework, the public works under PSNP are designed to reverse a long history of environmental degradation and increased vulnerability to adverse weather. Since 2008, the Program became more flexible, able to scale-up the coverage, level, and duration of support to households in response to shocks in PSNP areas.

Recent reviews demonstrate that the Safety Net Program has registered some impressive results since its launch in 2005. Household food security has improved, especially when transfers are predictable and delivered on time. PSNP households reported a smaller food gap and consumed more calories (19.2%) in 2008 as compared with 2006.

Households participating in the PSNP have also invested in assets and have increased their use of education and health services. Growth in livestock holdings was 28.1% faster among PSNP households than non-participants. An estimated 73% of PSNP participants reported increased use of health facilities compared to the previous year, and the majority attributed this to the Safety Net Program.

There is strong evidence that the combination of the PSNP and investments in productive assets can improve agricultural productivity. Maize yields increased by 38% among households receiving both PSNP transfers and investments through the Government’s Food Security Program (FSP). Households that received FSP investments alone enjoyed only marginal increases in productivity.

But more needs to be done. The third phase of the PSNP will strengthen implementation to maximize the impact of the Program and will institutionalize the risk financing component of the PSNP, which allows the Program to scale up in response to shocks.

The World Bank will also provide financing to support the Government’s Household Asset Building Program (HABP), which is designed to assist food insecure households in PSNP woredas to transform their productive systems by diversifying income sources, improving productivity and increasing productive assets. The support to the HABP aims to make the program more efficient and effective, thereby maximizing the combined impact of the HABP and PSNP so that together they can support sustained graduation from food insecurity for the poorest households.

“Food aid to Ethiopia in the past was often too little, too late, which meant families were often forced to sell livestock, tools or other productive assets to meet their daily needs,” said William Wiseman, the projects’ task team leader. “These programs are different because they provide support that families can count on – and the infrastructure, credit, and training that they need for long-term food security.”

The Safety Net Program is supported by a consortium of donors, namely, the Governments of the United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United States, as well as by the European Union and the World Food Program.

The British criminal legacies still plague Africa

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

By Amanuel Biedemariam

If one asks what the contributions of the United Kingdom, Great Britain, England, Britain or The UK is in Africa, the answer will be a long list of crimes against humanity! That is an undeniable historical fact.

Britain divided Africa into pieces along ethnic, religious lines to divide and rule. They stole African resources reaping the benefits and giving nothing back to Africans. They enslaved Africa and used the human resources to develop England. For centuries they plundered, pillaged and raped Africa ruthlessly without any accountability. The British hunted African animals for financial benefits and games leaving a terrible legacy that impacts Africa to this day. They belittled Africans with arrogance and pomposity that reverberates into the psyche of present day Africa like tsunami-waves. They redrew African boundaries in ways that are unfit and unnatural for the people of Africa leaving a negative legacy with consequences that linger to date.

All in all, the impact of Great Britain in Africa has been one horrendous experience for Africans without any consequences for England. The legacies still plague Africa but what is incredible is the relentless audacity of the British to continue on the path of the dead empire. They are unapologetic and straight faced as they pursue their ill-conceived hegemonic agendas using the bully pulpit at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). One such example is what is happening in the Horn of Africa, particularly in Somalia.

Great Britain and Italy partitioned and colonized Somalia for extended duration. Following World War II and after independence, Somalia remained united until 1991. At the end of the Cold War, its president, Siad Barre, was ousted and Somalia became a failed state. Since then peace has eluded the Somalis and they are going through one horrific period at this moment in their history. This is a result of divisions Great Britain and other colonialists sewed as well as the legacies of the Cold War that littered Somalia with armaments.

The West has always been interested in the Horn of Africa region for different reasons. But, over the last ten years the focus has sharpened and the tact has been getting extremely aggressive. The West uses terrorism, regional stability, conflict resolution, democracy, peace, piracy and a host of humanitarian – related issues that arise from inner-conflicts as pretexts to get involved.

Historically and in reality no outside actor can solve problems between two brothers. Conflicts that take place within a country are best left to be resolved by the people. The Europeans as well as the US went through their own struggles and came up with their own solutions. But when it comes to Africa must the Europeans and the US get involved? Are they the best guardians for the interest of African people? Are Africans not capable to solve their own problems? Europeans, England and the US care better about the Somalis than the Somalis and Africans who are directly impacted? Is it crocodile tears?

On Thursday October 08, 2009 Britain’s U.N. Ambassador John Sawers called for sanctions against Eritrea for allegedly supplying weapons to the opponents of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Somalia in violation of a U.N. arms embargo. He cited the African Union, IGAD and a UN monitoring group (a group formed by the former failed Bush Administration diplomat Dr. Jendayie Frazer, avowed enemy of Eritrea) who provided the supporting evidence and the call to action. Previously, in an effort to link Eritrea to terrorism, the same group made-up stories about Eritrean arms shipment to Somalia as well as the claim of 2,000 Eritrean troops fighting alongside the Somali Islamic Court Union (ICU), which turned out to be a fabrication.

The fact is the TFG that is being promoted as a legitimate representative of the Somali people was formed in Djibouti by Dr. Frazer in the wee hours of the Bush Administration by pressuring IGAD and other African leaders. Dr. Frazer excluded the major stake holders and Eritrea from the so called Djibouti-Process and used a weak UN and AU to legitimize it. Dr. Frazer also established a parliament in exile without the participation of the main stake holders, Somali people. Eritrea was vocal in her opposition because the process failed to include the key stake holders and did not allow the Somalis to come with solutions to their own problems.

Eritrea is not the arms supplier of Somalia. The country is awash with arms supplied by Ethiopia. In violation of UN resolutions, Ethiopia sells arms to various Somali factions to fan the flames because the conflict serves its interest. In fact, Ethiopia invaded a sovereign Somali nation occupying it for over two years and committed major crimes against humanities. In addition, The Obama Administration is openly sending arms to Somalia. The US is also openly involved in the Somalia conflict under the pretext of fighting terrorism and piracy. In fact, citing the Grand Rapids Press, Press TV reports US is to make Blackwater-style entry into Somalia.

Eritrea is not a problem, is not the cause of the instability in Somali and not in a position to influence the situation in Somalia in the way they are claiming Eritrea could. Somalia is entirely surrounded by US and her allies making it nearly impossible for any other nation or entity to infiltrate Somalia.

So, why is the British calling for sanctions against Eritrea? Why do the British want to punish the people of Eritrea who are struggling to come out from years of exploitation by the West and from natural calamity?

The Purpose behind the Sanction Call

One of the most useful and important tool the West uses against the people of Iran or countries that don’t tow the line is sanctions or the threat of it. The threat of sanctions is equally as potent as the actual sanction because it discourages investment by scaring investors. If and when investors’ sense uncertainty, they may hesitate to invest. That is how they apply pressure to bring change by frustrating the leadership and people. It also puts pressure on countries like Russia and China for supporting countries the West labels rogue giving the West a PR upper-hand. It is a multi faceted approach that has proven effective and has been working for decades, flawlessly. For that purpose there is no a single day that passes-by without the US or UK talking about Sanctioning Iran.

Conversely, for the first time since her independence Eritrea is openly inviting and attracting foreign investment in various areas. Eritrea is going through some visible and inevitable economic transformation as a result of rich resources the country possesses. Eritrea is undeniably full of resources ready to exploit. Eritrea is also one of the most important strategic locations and very important because she sits in the middle between Sudan and Ethiopia. How Eritrea tilts will impact the geo-political games being played by the US and China. Eritrea is the foundation because if Eritrea falls in the hands of the West the Sudan will fall in a short time because Port Sudan is located very close to Karora in the border of Eritrea and Sudan on the Red Sea.

Therefore Eritrea is a natural buffer for Sudan. The Sudanese understand this and are working closely with Eritrea. This is also taking place in the back drop of the issues in Southern Sudan, Somalia and other fluid dynamic political situations in the region. The stakes are high because it can influence Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and South-Sudan countries that are client states for the US. It possesses far reaching implications than is publicly admitted by the US and the West who are totally focused in the area.

The reality is that there is a renewed scramble for African resources. As the need for these resources grows the desperation of some countries is growing larger. That is precisely what is happening in this case. The strategy they applied in Iraq, though erroneous, was nonetheless effective and they are trying the same strategy in Africa, in this case Eritrea.

Therefore, the British calling for sanctions against Eritrea is a desperate cry that is bound to get louder. All the client regimes in the region spearheaded by the alms-dependent Ethiopia are parroting the sanction song like a new song ad-nauseam. There are new names for Eritrea in think-tank circles names like Eritrea the”Spoiler”. These are the facts.

The Sun Never Sets for the British Empire

Are the British forgetful of the fact that it is their evil design that led to thirty year war for independence costing thousands of Eritrean lives? Do the British truly care about the Somali people?

First of, Britain has no moral authority to call for sanctions against any nation in Africa. If any one should be sanctioned it is Great Britain for all the crimes of humanities it committed, for crimes they have not atoned for, for stealing from Africans for centuries, and most importantly, for the exploiting Africans as slaves.

Secondly, Great Britain needs to return back the goods it looted from Eritrea. The Italian colonizers in Eritrea had built a functional railroad and ropeway (Teleferica) that was an engineering marvel of its time as well as an operational Marine Overhaul Station (Dry Dock) in Massawa. After defeating Italy in World War II, the British Military Administration (BMA) was solely responsible for destroying and looting major part of that system. The BMA also tried to partition Eritrea along religious and ethnic lines unsuccessfully.

Furthermore, The British have no credibility. The Blair Administration openly and blatantly misled the international community with a hoax claim of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) leading up to the Iraq WAR. The whole charade was designed to serve as a pretext to get access to the huge oil reserves in Iraq. It had nothing to do with justice, democracy or concern for the Iraqis.

In addition, The British does not support the Eritrean economy in any way. They don’t import any goods from Eritrea or provide any assistance to the people of Eritrea to make calls like that. Their main contribution is and has been to create problems for the people of Eritrea.

Throwing Stones from a Glasshouse

The mistake the British could make in Africa is to remind Black people of the terrible deed the British committed in Africa. It is also a mistake to call for sanctions to a country one has no economic connection with because that exposes British products worldwide as targets for boycott and rejection unnecessarily.

For example: Eritreans, Ethiopians and Africans in general are major consumers of British products. Smoothly, and for decades the British have sold many products around the globe. In Africa, Johnny Walker is one of the best selling high-end status-drinks that has turned into liquid Gold for the British. The same with cigarettes like Rothman, Dunhill and other cigarette brands. In addition The British do not grow tea but they have sold tea grown in poor countries like Kenya as English tea for decades. These are popular tea products like Twinings of London and many the like.

The government of Eritrea and others could simply prohibit the entry of Johnny Walker into their countries and set a precedent and effectively apply unspoken sanction against these products. It also empowers Africans because they now know they have leverage because they have the power to say NO to British products.

Conclusion

The people of Eritrea have never committed any crimes against the British people. It is arrogant, belittling, racist and stupid to instigate hostility simply because they think Eritrea should be subservient to their whims. The British do not hold the moral authority and they are not better than their Eritrean counterpart in any way.

The Eritrean people are humble, brilliant, hard working, independent, fierce and ready to make history by creating their own path. Eritrea is a nation born in defiance from the hurdles placed by the US and British for decades. Eritreans have no illusion to believe a just view can emerge from Great Britain, United Kingdom, England or Britain because history attests otherwise.

The British need to look at their history and make amends with the past by compensating Africans of lost resources both human and natural that was unlawfully attained. They don’t need to recycle hate and thuggish behavior that is unproductive and inhuman. Hence, it is incumbent upon the British people to engage better by treating Africans equally and live with Africans in peace because they stand to lose a lot if they keep pressing on the wrong path just as they have lost their imperial prowess.

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

Misunderstanding nationalism in Ethiopia

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

By Jawar Siraj Mohammed

A Rejoinder to Messay Kebede’s Response

Although this debate began because Professor Messay claimed the ideology of self determination is to be blamed for OLF’s lack of success in the past two decades, he has not shown any evidence to back up his assertion. He has not provided us with a single case where the “right” ideology resulted in success and “bad” ideology led to the failure of insurgency, nor does he explain how exactly advocating for the right to self determination weakened the OLF. Even though I have shown cases where organizations advocating similar ideology produced different results, he refuses to accept that organizational efficiency is primarily a result of strategy and committed leadership. Instead his two articles focused on pointing out the deficiency of self determination as an ideology and he seems to be attempting to drag me into this ideological debate. I refused to engage in such a debate because my article which he reacted to took no side on the ongoing ideological debate. I concluded that ideology was not among the major factors that hindered the organization’s performance.

Reading through Professor Messay’s two essays I have come to realize that the various points he discussed arise from his distaste for “ethnic politics” in general and for the OLF in particular. I believe it is unhelpful to assess organizational performance based on our ideological preferences as doing so would take away our objectivity. Failure or success of an organization should be evaluated based on stated objectives not using what the analyst thinks is a right objective. In my views it is this lack of objectivity that leads many individuals and groups to underestimate, misunderstand and mishandle nationalist movements. In this essay I would like to briefly discuss this issue.

Underestimating Nationalism: OLF’s Ideology, Success beyond Expectation or Bankruptcy?

I challenge Professor Messay’s repeated declaration that OLF’s ideology is bankrupt. I think such an assumption is quite far from reality. Assuming that the ideology he is referring to is the “nationalist agenda”, neither me nor the professor would have been interested in debating this issue had Oromo nationalism not been the most powerful political mobilizing force that is likely to determine the future of the Ethiopian state. Had the OLF ideology failed, there would not exist a land known as Oromia in country where once it was shameful to identify yourself as an Oromo. Had this ideology bankrupted, some 20 million children would not be studying in Afan Oromo, in a place where it was taboo and a sign of backwardness to speak this language.

It’s my understanding that a political ideology is said to be bankrupted when it fails to attract supporters. Yet when we look at OLF’s “nationalist agenda”, it enjoys an incredible level of support across all sectors of the Oromo people despite the very poor performance of the organization. In fact, one can rightly argue that OLF’s biggest accomplishment(“s”) since its inception is artfully articulating and developing Oromo nationalism. The evidence for this is the fact that, although they differ on ways and means of achieving the goal, all Oromo political forces share a unanimous rejection and determination to fight cultural domination, political repression, social alienation and economic exploitation. That is why Oromo nationalists remain the number one threat to the current regime for the last two decades and as a result they make up over 95% of political prisoners as testified by several Ethiopians. This fact will continue to be the case as long as identity based injustice remains the rule of the game.

Hence, unless one kid himself/herself for the sake of the argument, OLF’s ideology has been a success beyond expectation. What led to success of this ideology is clear, it is incredible level of cultural, economic and social repressions by successive tyrants that backfired and broadened alienation of the Oromo and strengthened the spreading of nationalism.

Anyone interested in making practical influence on Ethiopian politics knows that it has long become impossible either to maintain or change the status quo without taking this force into consideration. That is why forces who oppose the demands of Oromo nationalism, both the ruling party and opposition groups, continue to make gradual concession to soften the nationalist position and win their alliances. Cornered with ever increasing uprising, the regime has been instituting reforms such as increasing local autonomy in Oromia and allowing expansion of Afaan Oromo both in academia and in the media. It is to be remembered that hundreds of students were killed in the last decade for these demands to be met. On the other side, opposition groups who in 2005 used the excuse of “no ethnic politics” either to ignore the issue or rally against the gains of the Oromo movement, now have made a U-turn by embracing the reality as it is shown with their swift acceptance of Afaan Oromo as a national language.Remembering that a few years back, some of those individuals organized a rally in Washington DC opposing the extension of time for Afaan Oromo on the VOA, their current move is an encouraging step that should be embraced by Oromo nationalists.

I encourage people to take off their vale of fear for the rising tide of Oromo and acknowledge the many positive contribution this movement had brought for Ethiopians as a whole. Its the awakening of the giant that forced successive regimes to remove state sponsored cultural and linguistic genocidal policy against the South. Without the awakening of the giant, oppressed minorities of the South would still be called “bariya” , “Shanqilla”, “Walamo” and so on by the state media who degrades them while relying on their wealth for financing.

When we speak of Oromo nationalism and its demands, the ‘self-mutilation’ the Professor wants to discuss also has to be analyzed historically. The Oromo are only a demographic majority but has always been a political and social minority. Just 35 years ago a majority of “Ethiopians” never acknowledged that a people called the “Oromo” lived in the greater part of Ethiopia, and that it constitutes of humans with certain dignities and inalienable rights. Thanks to the Oromo nationalists and the Ethiopian student movement, and as well as the sacrifices made by the Left, now the “Gimatam Galla” is accepted as a dignified “Oromo”. There are still remnants of the old, including the Woyane security, who push for an anti-Oromo stand-up comedy in Finfine, but their days are closing. Now, in the third millennia, after notable achievements by the struggle, if Ethiopians demand that Oromo nationalists move to the center and take leadership of democratizing and strengthening unity of the country, that is an understandable quest. But this demand for ‘taking the leadership’ will not echo as genuine, if one purports to demean and destroy Oromo nationalism which brought the movement to the respected position it finds itself now. Oromo nationalist will heed the call for “move to the center” if and only if that ‘call’ is supported by empathy and understanding the sacrifices they made up to this point. Otherwise it sounds like an “Arada”call that lacks genuinety.

That is also why Professor Messays’ call for unity while accusing me of an Amhara hater, without any evidence whatsoever, is a wrong approach. In the typical paternalistic fashion of elites of the dominant culture, he advises me saying “what keeps you in chains is the diatribe against Amhara, Abyssinians and the correlated discourse on the Ethiopian colonization of the Oromo.” Since the Professor is willing to sacrifice facts and along the way his honor, to defend his own ‘ideology’, he seems to have been forced to misrepresent me, while I am alive. I have no diatribe against the Amhara, nor a hang-up on a colonial theory, these are just mind creations of the Professor to appear as the ultimate defender of Ethiopia’s unity. One thing I want to say, however is that, Ethiopia is an unfinished project. All of us have a role in its final shape. But for this to happen the minimum code of conduct is to listen to each other, to feel each other’s pain, and to represent the facts as they are without misrepresenting them. The tactics and machinations which foiled the Ethiopian Student Movement and all the political movements that came in its wake are outmoded and tested by our joint failure to advance mutual understanding. We should try a new way, a new beginning.

Misunderstanding Sources of Nationalism: Elite Manipulation or Manifestation of Grievances?

Highly dismissive of the real cause of nationalism – which is identity based injustice – Professor Messay repetitively accuses “ethnic” elites for manipulating their people. Speaking of Oromo nationalism he asserts that “… what Jawar presents as a fact is not yet a fact; it is an elitist manipulation that uses past mistreatment to justify partition.” What I do not understand is how about the state backed, institutionalized and often violent “counter manipulation” orchestrated by those who oppose these “ethnic” elites? Wasn’t the entire field of academia and state institution exclusively controlled by the “unity or death” group for most part of the 20th century? Has the professor ever thought why a bunch of young college kids were able to convert peasant grievance into nationalism fueled revolutionary force and topple the guys with the “right” idea and the finest army? Why did “ethnic” movements outlive class struggle? It is too easy to dismiss nationalism as “elite manipulation” but we know that such approach has not helped in the past forty years. What those who advocate “unity-at-all-cost” fail to understand are that their violent, disrespectful and often chauvinistic approach to quell ethnic discontent helps fuel nationalism rather than defuse it.

I argued that, it’s not some abstract ideological aspiration that gave birth to ethnic based rebellion, but rather it was identity based political repression, economic exploitation and cultural subjugation. Thus, Eritreans, Tigreans, Oromos and others supported their perspective liberation front’s not because their elites were so effective in making the peasants study Stalin’s work, but because the people were yearning for an end to repression by any means necessary.

It’s this misunderstanding of the source of nationalism which leads the professor to give too much credit to Stalin on the raise of nationalism. For instance he says “According to the Stalinist vision, the liberation of the ethnic group has precedence over the consideration of unity with other groups” I am not a student of Stalin, but I never came across any research that puts Stalin as a good friend of nationalists. On the contrary, Stalin is well known for persecuting his own “Georgian” nationalists, because he ardently believed that the class solidarity of the workers takes precedence over the nationalist interest of the bourgeoisie. As an old student of Stalin, how could the Professor miss this fact? When fact and logic are thrown out the window, it seems there is no turning back but misrepresenting others is also acceptable because it serves a ‘higher purpose’ that of ‘maintaining unity at all costs’. But when trust is sacrificed to win, we will make ourselves the second Meles Zenawi of a different brand.

In connection to this, another issue which the professor keeps bringing up, but fails to substantiate with evidence, is the correlation between leftist ideology, nationalism, secessionism and armed struggle. He asserts that leftist ideology is responsible for growth of “ethnic” nationalism, secessionist demand, and armed struggle. This theoretical argument could have been persuasive four decades ago when the debate was based on assumptions, but now all those assumptions and theories have been tested and we have the benefit seeing real case studies that have made constructing imagined theories unnecessary. The world has been full of secessionist movements that do not advocate Leninist politics. There have been leftist movements who are not secessionist. There have been several secessionist struggles that are not armed. Here are some of the examples that debunk the said correlation.

* The Tibetan movement is a secessionist one but it is neither Leninist nor armed, the same is true for Quebecois secessionist movement in Canada.
* The Farc in Columbia is a leftist armed group but it is not secessionist, the same is true for the Moist in Nepal
* The BJP in India is an ultra-right wing Hindu nationalist movement which is neither armed nor leftist.
* Far left movements have taken power in several Latin American countries without armed struggle.
* At home front, EDU was a feudal party engaged in armed struggle opposing socialism, while EPRP was a leftist armed movement but it was not “ethnic” nationalist.

Many more of such cases can be listed. Therefore the reality is that movements, be it secessionists or those who want to reform an existing state, pick up guns when they think that all other venues and means of advancing their cause are no longer on the table or they avoid armed struggle when they do not see comparative strategic advantage in violent uprising. Hence, Professor Messay is making a very wild conclusion.

The issue of armed struggle leading to subordination has not been the rule as well. The Zimbabweans and South Africans were trained by Ethiopia, but never made them Ethiopia’s satellite. The EPLF was assisted by the West, but it never succumbed to their interest. Maoist China was assisted by Stalin’s Soviet Union, but it didn’t lead to China’s subordination as well. Hence Professor Messay’s argument that getting assistance from foreigners during the armed struggle will necessarily lead to subordination is not supported by life and experience. It’s worth noting here that my criticism of OLF’s relation with Eritrea is based on the nature of the relationship whereby there is neither strategic benefit due to distance from the battlefront, nor has there been tangible financial and logistical support. Worse, being in Eritrea, the leadership insulated itself from pressure and also became a hostage that cannot make independent strategic and institutional decisions.

Mishandling Nationalism: Redress or Repress Grievance

Nationalism is like boiling water, the pot is the repressive system, the heat is repression and grievance is its steam. The solution to such a problem depends at what stage the movement is or how hot the pot is. At an early stage, for instance, you defuse the tension by reducing the heat so you can prevent stream formation. If you miss the first stage and steam has formed, then you must use a combination of strategies which might include reducing the heat, adding cold water and loosening the cover. If it passes that stage, you have no control over the situation as either the pot will explode or the cover could be blown off.

Unfortunately, those who oppose nationalism often increase the pressure instead of systematically defusing such tension. At every stage they increase the heat by stepping repression which helps spreading resentment and galvanizing the oppressed. This often happens because of the gross underestimation of the potential force of grievance. By the time rulers realize their backers the real nature of the problem, they are no longer in the position to influence the outcome.

For instance so much resource and sacrifice was paid to keep Eritrea as part of Ethiopia but the effort was fruitless. Every attempt to crush the movement backfired, strengthening the rebels and further radicalizing their determination. To defuse the Eritrean nationalism and maintain the integrity of the country, Mengistu Hailemariam and his “Abiyotawi Ethiopia or Death” supporters could have negotiated for “Federation”, well before the political will for such consideration became null. And such an outcome wouldn’t have become considered a ‘defeat’ as the Professor suggested. It would have been a win-win situation. In fact, in 1981 EPLF had made the proposal for such negotiation, but was not accepted by the Dergue because it was believed EPLF was initiating a “referendum” talk because it was weakened militarily. The Professor should have learnt from his own experience from the Dergue years, that ‘politics is the art of compromise’ and not a place to shine with high sounding slogans.

The Way A Head

One might dislike the OLF or another might wish that Oromo nationalism never came to surface. These are good wishes given we add that the repressive systems that gave birth to the movement should have never existed at the first place. Now we have to deal with the reality. Oromo nationalism is a reality and we better come to terms with it and develop a strategy so that it can be channeled towards the common good. I believe that Oromo nationalism, properly understood, effectively organized and led by committed and visionary leadership, could be the greatest force, in cooperation with other movements, that can uplift the country and the wider region from the never ending crisis.

Towards this I propose that opponents and proponents of the movement understand the situation for what it is: Oromo Nationalism is borne out of identity-based injustice by successive regimes that culturally subjugated and ridiculed the Oromo reducing them to subhuman condition on their own land. It’s also a manifestation of grievance from economic marginalization of these people by forces who exploit their resources. Thus, opponents of this movement should understand that such social dynamics cannot fade away under repression or by condescending slogans such as extremism, tribalism or cover up of historical injustice. If those Ethiopians who genuinely lose their sleep over the balkanization of their country, love it earnestly and wish for a better future, they must embrace reality and work towards bringing a democratic, fair and integrated country. In short a justice based on fairness. Oromo nationalists should also know that the objective of the movement is not to “defeat” the oppressor, but to uplift our people. As such we need to overcome our bitterness that was caused by fresh scars of a century long process of dehumanization. As Paulo Freire nicely put it “the great humanistic and historical task of the oppressed is to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well”. It is not enough to blame others for all the wrongs and expect difference; we must take leadership to bring about mutual understanding. I hope to say more on this in my upcoming essays.

(The writer can be reached at jawarmd@gmail.com)

Can democracy be salvaged in Ethiopia by the 2010 elections?

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

By Alemayehu G. Mariam

While U.S. attention is fixed on Afghanistan’s contested elections and the need to insure a democratic process, in another part of the world, democracy has been under siege at the ballot box with terrible consequences.

African elections have devolved into rituals of absurdity. In the last five years we have witnessed attacks on democracy in Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

In Ethiopia in 2005, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s Ethiopian People’s Democratic Revolutionary Party was thumped in parliamentary elections by the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy. Zenawi hijacked that election and bushwhacked the opposition by simultaneously declaring victory and a state of emergency. In the following months, his security forces killed nearly 200 protesters and imprisoned over 30,000 others.

In Kenya in 2007, the opposition Orange Democratic Movement swept the political landscape, cleaning out the incumbent President Mwai Kibaki’s cabinet, including his vice president, foreign and defense ministers, and a host of plutocratic parliamentarians. Yet Kibaki held on to power, leading to riots that killed 1,500 people and displaced more than 250,000 Kenyans.

In Nigeria, after nine months of legal wrangling, a presidential election tribunal in 2008 upheld Umaru Yar’Adua’s declared victory, despite evidence of widespread rigging and fraud. In the same year Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF suffered massive defeat in Zimbabwe’s national elections. After intimidating supporters of his opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai, with violence, Mugabe, at 84, “won” an uncontested runoff election.

Warnings from the West have had no effect. For example, in response to Zenawi’s crackdown on the opposition, European governments temporarily withheld aid, and multilateral institutions suspended loans to the regime. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill (H.R. 2003) to hold Zenawi’s regime accountable, but it failed to clear the Senate. And in Kenya and Zimbabwe, though the West pressed Kibaki and Mugabe to form coalition governments, the country remains more divided than ever.

Spanish philosopher George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” Because of Africa’s failure to implement reforms, we are ready to restart that cycle, as parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place in Ethiopia in May 2010.

This time Zenawi seems even more determined to circumvent Ethiopia’s democracy. In April, his regime announced that in local elections, the opposition won a paltry three out of 3.6 million “contested” seats.

Elections in Ethiopia under Zenawi’s dictatorship, now spanning two decades, have manifested two recurrent patterns. First, Zenawi has spared no effort to eliminate his opposition. He has used intimidation, threats, arbitrary arrests and detentions, bogus prosecutions, extreme violence, fraud and trickery to wipe out his opposition. Recently, Zenawi invited the opposition for 2010 election talks, but promptly demanded that they sign a “code of conduct” before discussions could be held. Leaders of an alliance of opposition parties under an umbrella organization known as Forum for Democratic Dialogue in Ethiopia walked out of the talks, plainly sensing a trap. Zenawi retaliated by initiating a campaign of harassment and intimidation that sent nearly 500 opposition members to detention.

Zenawi has succeeded in distracting the opposition from making the election about issues or a referendum on his regime to inconsequential issues about personalities and individual grievances. There is little discussion by the regime or the opposition about the formidable and apocalyptic issues facing the country.

Famine threatens to wipe out one-fifth of the Ethiopian population. There are thousands of political prisoners held in regular and secret prisons without trial. Gross abusers of human rights walk the streets free. Ecological catastrophes, including deforestation, soil erosion, over-grazing, over-population and chemical pollution of its rivers and lakes, threaten the very survival of the people. Galloping inflation has made life unbearable for most Ethiopians. Rampant corruption and plunder of the public treasury has left the country with only a few weeks of foreign currency reserves. And there has been no accountability for the reckless intervention in the Somali civil war, the squandered resources and wasted young lives, among many other issues.

Can Ethiopian democracy be salvaged by the 2010 elections? Many of us think it can be saved, but only if we restore the pre-2005 opposition. Back then, there were real opposition parties that were allowed to campaign vigorously. There were free and open debates throughout the society. A free private press challenged those in power and scrutinized the opposition. Civil society leaders worked tirelessly to inform and educate the voters and citizenry about democracy and elections. Voters openly and fearlessly showed their dissatisfaction with the regime in public meetings. On May 15, 2005, voters did something unprecedented in Ethiopian history: They used the ballot box to pass their verdict. That’s how the 2010 election can be saved – by letting the people pass their sovereign verdict.

Only a transition to a constitutional democracy can end the kind of dictatorship that robbed Ethiopians of a chance to advance. As President Barack Obama said, “Africa needs strong institution, not strong men.” Ethiopia’s history is full of strong men on horses, in tanks and boardrooms. As a result, Ethiopia has weak legislative, judicial and electoral institutions.

Clues to saving Ethiopia and other African countries from strongmen may be found in Ghana’s nascent democracy. Since Ghana’s military dictatorship ended in 1992 when it adopted a new constitution, Ghanaians have shown the essential prerequisites for a successful multiparty democracy in Africa. They institutionalized the rule of law and conformed their laws to meet international human rights standards. They created a strong judiciary with extraordinary constitutional powers that made failure to obey a Supreme Court order a “high crime.” They included strong protections for civil liberties, allowing Ghanaians to freely express themselves without fear of government retaliation.

Ghana established an independent electoral commission responsible for voter registration, demarcation of electoral boundaries, conduct and oversight of all public elections, referenda and electoral education. Above all, Ghana’s uncompromising constitutional language made it illegal to have tribal or ethnic-based political parties, the root of most conflicts in Africa.

The glimmer of hope shimmering in the Ghanaian experiment proves that multiparty democracy can be successfully instituted in Ethiopia and elsewhere in Africa, without bloodshed. Failure to do so may once again force Africans to prudently heed Victor Hugo’s admonition: “When dictatorship is fact, revolution becomes a right.” If it gets to that point, it’s going to be a quagmire too difficult to get out of this time.

(Alemayehu G. Mariam, is a professor of political science at California State University, San Bernardino, and an attorney based in Los Angeles. For comments, he can be reached at almariam@gmail.com.)

9000 Ethiopians may soon immigrate to Israel

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

By Uriel Heilman

Israeli government representatives returned to Ethiopia to assess the eligibility for aliyah of approximately 3,000 Ethiopians who may be entitled to immigrate but had never filed petitions. Advocates had pressed Israel to expand its assessment to a much larger group of Ethiopians—8,700 people in all—but Israel had demurred.

Now, however, a campaign by advocates that stresses the health risks facing the 8,700 Ethiopians, along with the support of Israel’s interior minister, Eliyahu Yishai, may throw open the aliyah gates for all of them.

If that happens, mass Ethiopian immigration to Israel likely would continue through 2017, at a rate of 100 immigrants per month, officials say.

The group at issue is comprised of so-called Falash Mura—Ethiopians who claim links to descendants of Jews who converted to Christianity generations ago, but who now seek to return to Judaism and immigrate to Israel.

A major sign of change came last month when Yishai, who became interior minister when Benjamin Netanyahu’s government took office six months ago, sent a letter to a U.S. Jewish aid group saying there were “steps in place” to consider the aliyah eligibility of 5,700 Ethiopians in addition to the 3,000 the ministry already was checking.

The letter, sent to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, urged the JDC to reopen its medical clinic in the northern Ethiopian city of Gondar, where the 8,700 people live. The JDC had shuttered the clinic in July after those the Israeli government deemed eligible for aliyah had moved to Israel.

At the same time, the North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry, or NACOEJ, an aid organization and the main advocacy group for Ethiopian aliyah, stepped up efforts portraying the 8,700 aliyah hopefuls in Gondar as at grave medical risk.

NACOEJ took a prominent Israeli physician to Ethiopia to assess the medical condition of the Gondar community, whose members NACOEJ considers Jewish but whose Jewish links remain unverified by Israel. While the assessment did not include any physical exams, the physician, Dr. Arthur Eidelman, told JTA he saw “clear signs of malnutrition in children, particularly under age 6.”

Eidelman, formerly the chief of pediatrics at Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem, produced a report calling for the reopening of the JDC clinic.

Once the JDC, which says it takes its cues from the Israeli government on Falash Mura-related issues, received Yishai’s letter, it began taking steps to reopen the medical clinic in Gondar, JDC officials said. Now the organization says it needs $250,000 to operate the clinic.

In the meantime, NACOEJ says children are dying of malnutrition.

“Many children in the Jewish community of Gondar, Ethiopia have already become ill or died from hunger this year,” said a fund-raising e-mail NACOEJ sent to its mailing list in mid-September, on the eve of Rosh Hashanah.

The group has sent similar e-mails throughout the past decade, even when the JDC clinic in Gondar was open. During that time, JDC officials maintained that accounts of children dying of malnutrition were untrue or unverified.

But with the shuttering of JDC’s clinic and the decline in food aid at NACOEJ-sponsored aid centers in Gondar—due to budget cuts from federation sponsors in North America, NACOEJ officials say—the health of the Gondar population has grown more precarious, according to NACOEJ.

The group’s director of operations, Orlee Guttman, told JTA that several children from the community had died in the last year from hunger, malaria and tuberculosis.

NACOEJ does not conduct medical assessments or perform autopsies; Guttman said it relies on parents to determine cause of death.

In response to JTA’s inquiries, NACOEJ disclosed the names of five toddlers it said had died over the past year. Four died of malaria and one, 2-year-old Benyam Derebie Abere, had “hunger” listed as cause of death, according to the organization.

There appears to be little dispute that reopening the JDC clinic in Gondar for the 8,700 aliyah hopefuls would improve their ability to receive considerably better health care. What is in dispute is who they really are and whether they truly are linked to Ethiopian Jews.

Many Israelis believe they are mostly Christian Ethiopians deceptively claiming Jewish links and adopting Jewish observances in a bid to escape Africa’s desperate poverty for the relative comfort of the Jewish state.

“We are creating a hell of a job for ourselves because of political correctness or trying to be nice,” Israel’s previous interior minister, Meir Sheetrit, told The Jerusalem Post in a 2007 interview about the 8,700.

Advocates say the people in Gondar are Jews who have been left behind by Israel.

Ethiopian immigration long has vexed successive Israeli governments. On several occasions, Israel has committed to bringing in a finite number of immigrants that they believed constituted all the remaining Ethiopians eligible for aliyah, only to be told once the number had been reached that thousands more had been left behind.

Israel completed the most recent phase of mass Ethiopian aliyah in the summer of 2008, when the last of some 16,095 immigrants arrived under a 2003 decision by Ariel Sharon’s government to bring those eligible from a 1999 Israeli census of possible Ethiopian olim.

But in September 2008, then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert asked the Interior Ministry to return to Ethiopia to check the eligibility for aliyah of those from the 1999 census who had never filed petitions—a group said to comprise approximately 3,000 people. The Interior Ministry representatives left for Ethiopia this summer and are still there.

Due to the difficulty of proving Jewish lineage among the Falash Mura, those who wish to make aliyah must meet several conditions: They or their spouse must demonstrate Jewish maternal links at some point in their provenance; they must have had a relative in Israel file a petition on their behalf by July 31, 2009; they must be listed on the 1999 census; and they must be among the group in Gondar.

Designed to limit the number of Ethiopians who qualify, the conditions also are more relaxed than those that apply to would-be immigrants from elsewhere in the world, such as the United States or the former Soviet Union. While Americans or Russians would be disqualified for aliyah for being less than “one-quarter” Jewish or if their only Jewish grandparent converted out of the faith, Ethiopians are not disqualified for ancestral conversion to Christianity—as long as they can demonstrate maternal links to a Jew.

Ultimately, the battle over these 5,700 additional people—an Interior Ministry list puts the total number, with the 3,000, at approximately 9,300—is part of a debate that has raged in Israel and among American Jews since the beginning of the aliyah of the Falash Mura over where to draw the line.

The line has changed with nearly every Israeli government. Where, exactly, it is drawn under Benjamin Netanyahu remains to be seen. (Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

Ethiopian scientist receives award

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Des Moines, IOWA — World Food Prize laureate Gebisa Ejeta says he’s “greatly optimistic” that Africa can have its own green revolution because of improving national leadership and increased international support.

However, the Ethiopian-born plant breeder warned that outside aid agencies and governments need to let Africans take the lead in deciding how best to improve farming.

“An African green revolution need not be a mirage,” he said Friday at the final day of the annual World Food Prize conference.

But he said boosting crop production will “require an uncommon recognition of the empowerment of local people, local institutions and local governments.”

Ejeta, who was raised by illiterate parents in a thatch hut, discovered ways to dramatically increase yields of an African staple crop, sorghum, by making the plant resistant to drought and a parasitic weed.

He followed his achievements in genetics by setting ways to get the high-yielding seeds widely distributed to poor farmers.

Ejeta argued that small farmers in Africa could increase production of other crops and pull themselves out of poverty with training in simple agronomic practices, such as fertilizer usage and correct timing of planting.

He said an erosion in agricultural expertise in rural Africa in the past few decades fostered a reliance on aid agencies for assistance.

Ejeta also faulted the United States and other countries for reducing agricultural development assistance in favor of shipping their own food into African countries, a practice that hurt local farmers.

U.S. farm groups have traditionally pressured Congress to buy U.S. crops and ship them to areas with food needs rather than provide assistance to farmers in those countries.

However, that approach may be starting to change as result of the sharp increases in commodity prices in 2008. The United States and other members of the G-8 group of developed countries earlier this year pledged $20 billion in agricultural aid.

Although it’s unclear how much of that aid will be new money and how much was already planned, Ejeta welcomed the new emphasis on helping small farmers.

But he said “no amount of external assistance” can improve African farming without the support of an “inspired citizenry” and the commitment of political leaders.

Whether the United States and other rich countries maintain their interest in agricultural aid is an open question.

“Much of this attention is owed to the price spike of mid-2008,” said J.B. Penn, a senior official in the U.S. Agriculture Department during George W. Bush’s administration and now the chief economist for Deere & Co.

“That was a wake-up call to lots of people and lots of governments, not so much because of the hunger concern, I’m afraid to say, but because of fear of political instability.”

But he said that interest in agricultural development typically wanes once commodity prices fall. “We have to see now if the interest is going to be sustained.” (Des Moines Register)

Andargachew Tsige makes 2nd trip to Eritrea

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Ginbot 7 Secretary General Andargachew Tsige arrives in Asmara to meet with other Ethiopian opposition groups and Eritrean government officials.

This is Ato Andargachew’s second trip to Eritrea. In his first visit last May, he held discussions with high-level Eritrean officials, including President Isaias Afwerki.

Brian Stewart's skewed reports on Ethiopia

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

By Aie Zu Guo

In 1984 Brian Stewart of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported Ethiopia’s worst famine of the 20th century putting the blame squarely on the communist regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam. Canadian taxpayers took his report at face value. On the contrary he praised the Tigrian People Liberation Front (TPLF) guerrillas of Meles Zenawi for distributing food aid to famine victims. Unfortunately, he never reported to us that TPLF was a Marxist-Leninist group identical to Enver Hoxha of Albania. Then one wonders about Brian’s motive of hiding the true faces of the TPLF. For those who are familiar with Ethiopian politics, then and now, two reasons remain outstanding. First is to discredit the military cum communist government of Ethiopia. Secondly is to help TPLF assume power in Addis Ababa.

In 1991, seven years after the famine, the communist military regime came to its demise. Another communist group called TPLF assumed state power. For Brian mission is accomplished. Soon he became the most favored journalist of Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia. His reports are often skewed to appeasing a dictatorial regime in Africa. The journalist’s regular mantras are that Ethiopia’s social, economic and political situation improved under Meles. Since his retirement in early 2009, many Ethiopians assumed that they are free from his claptrap cyber information about their country. Unfortunately, he comes out from his retirement cell in Toronto and feeds the Canadian public and the international community with news about Ethiopia’s rulers and on the famine looming over Ethiopia.

Instead of It is time to stop gibberish reports on famine, we would request Brian tell Canadians on the state of human rights, democracy, and governance in Ethiopia. If he can’t, we have the temerity to tell this reporter about the true nature of the Government of Ethiopia (GoE), and the underlying causes of famine in Ethiopia as follows.

Frequency of famine and its causes:

Under the TPLF rule of Meles, famine occurs every 3 years (in 1993, 1997, 2007, and 2009) against that of once every ten years during the military regime.

The causes of famine are both natural and man made. Ethiopia’s fully rain fed subsistence agriculture is dependent on the vagaries of nature for which even tyrants have no control. But with the right agriculture policy, this could be offset through the introduction of irrigation. If Ethiopia has gained economic and social transformation (as Brian prophecies), the GoE would have contained famine by transforming Ethiopia’s rain-fed agriculture to irrigated agriculture.

Disjointed priorities:

Monthly the GoE pays US$50,000 (US$ 600,000/year) to DLP Piper a US lobbying firm since the 2005 popular election that revealed the emptiness of the communist rule of TPLF. Over the past 5 years the regime has paid DLP US$3 million Dollars. At Birr 3500/Mt4, this money would buy 12,857 MTs of wheat from local markets.

In Ethiopia Agriculture is a crucial activity that contributes to more than 60% of exports, 46.3% of GDP, 80% of foreign exchange revenues, and a massive 80% of employment5. It is a sector dominated by the poor and who are extremely vulnerable to natural disasters and famine. Unfortunately the GoE’s priorities are different from people’s immediate needs. TPLF uses donor money to buy guns instead of making butter. Meles invaded Somalia to spend $1 million a day to sustain the invasion all in the name of terrorism.

International Aid:

The Honourable Hugh Segal reported to The Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade that bags of Canadian wheat are stored in a warehouse in the city of Mekele, Tigray province to serve TPLF HQs when food aid is needed to starving children in the southern regions of the country. This journalist must remain honest to his profession and the organization he works with and tell us the truth about the GoE.

Population doubled yes it has doubled. Brian need to understand that international (including Canadian) aid to Ethiopia has also doubled. The G8 countries including Russia and China right off Ethiopia’s debt almost one hundred percent. This should have given GoE the momentum to contain famine and invest on food self sufficiency programs.

Governance, democracy and good government:

Lack of good governance and lack of democracy hinder development and food self sufficiency. In today’s Ethiopia a one party dictatorship has been the norm for nearly two decades. Three federal elections were held and won by the incumbent regime with 99.9% vote since 1991. In the 2005 election, the TPLF gunned down at close range 193 peaceful and innocent demonstrators, jailed leaders of the opposition and sent 70,000 to concentration camps to the south of the country. The seasoned journalist did not utter a word to the Canadian public when such gross human tragedy takes place at the door steps of the Canadian Embassy in Addis Ababa. Yet still, Canada spends millions of Tax payers’ money for human rights, governance, democratization and rule of law. Is it not that ‘Good governance is perhaps the single most important factor in eradicating poverty and promoting development7.’ In our view good governance is also one of the important factors of eliminating famine and hunger in Ethiopia and elsewhere for that matter.

The 4th federal election is scheduled for June 2010. Unlike the past, this election is won before people cast their votes. If Brain asks why, we have the audacity of telling him that public media is 100% controlled by TPLF. Private and independent media is paralyzed by draconian press law. Opposition leaders and supporters are harassed and imprisoned. For example Birtukan Midekas, a female opposition leader is imprisoned for life. Human rights are of abysmal failure. We advise Brian to refer to Amnesty International8 and State Department reports.

Let it be known that 4% of the 80 million people are ruling Ethiopia with a tyranny and impunity unparalleled in Ethiopia’s history. Ethiopians die of famine in thousands, but the most lethal one that kills the poor is bad government.

In developmental economic theory democracy, good governance, rule of law and respect of human rights are the fundamental pre-requisites of development, eradicating famine and poverty. These are also important ingredients of political, social and economic stability. Rightly so Pranab concludes that “if we take a suitably broad concept of development to incorporate general well-being of the population at large, including some basic civil and political freedoms, a democracy which ensures these freedoms is, almost by definition, more conducive to development on these counts than a non-democratic regime.”

Social Image:

True Ethiopians hate their nation’s image as perpetual victim of disasters. They are protective of their image and decency. There is high level cultural and traditional sensitivity to be called beggars. During the 1984 famine, mothers carrying their dieing toddlers waited for their cue to receive food ration with at most discipline. In many parts of the world such a situation would end in a stampede or riot. Ethiopians prefer to die of hunger than telling lies and get food rations. It is shocking to see those who are not hungry and wealthy enough to feed themselves continue feeding their audience with false information.

Since Brian and CBC are blinded by their self aggrandizement, Ethiopia appeared to them as a difficult problem for the world to fix. Fixing Meles and his Marxists tyrants is harder than fixing Ethiopia’s famine and underdevelopment. With the right leadership and governance in place, Ethiopia’s famine and poverty can be fixed without fanfare. For the moment the time to fix Ethiopia takes longer than necessary, because some media outlets like CBC are not telling their taxpayers the true causes of famine and underdevelopment in Ethiopia. So long as the truth and the only truth about the causes of famine are not told, Ethiopia’s problems continue to be hard to fix and Ethio-Canadians remain worried about Brian’s reports. In the midst of this worrisome reporting it is important for CBC to remember that of all the ills that kill the poor, none is as lethal as bad government.

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

ONLF denies defection of a high-level official

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), an Ethiopian rebel group that is operating in eastern Ethiopia, denied that a weapons cache displayed by the government Woyanne regime belonged to them and accused the authorities of trying to tarnish their image.

On Saturday, state television showed what it said was more than four tonnes of explosives and thousands of bullets discovered by security forces after an ONLF leader surrendered and showed them the location of the arms dump.

The report said he had defected after refusing to work alongside neighbouring Somalia’s hardline al Shabaab insurgents — but on Monday the Ethiopian rebel group said that was a lie.

Ethiopia Woyanne constantly parades fictitious ONLF deserters in front of the cameras … to get some semblance of credibility for its wishful claim of victory,” the ONLF said in a statement.

The ONLF is fighting for independence for the ethnically Somali Ogaden region, but it denies any links to al Shabaab, which Washington accuses of being al Qaeda’s proxy in Somalia.

Both the ONLF and Ethiopia’s government the Woyanne regime accuse each other of committing atrocities in the remote Ogaden region, which is believed to sit on top of significant mineral and oil deposits.

The ONLF has often warned foreign companies against working in the area, and in April 2007 its fighters killed 74 people at an oil exploration field run by a subsidiary of Sinopec, China’s biggest refiner and petrochemicals producer.

But the ONLF rebels said the latest allegations by the authorities in Addis Ababa were just an attempt to tarnish their reputation by linking them to Islamist insurgents in Somalia who are notorious for suicide bombings and assassinations.

“If Ethiopia Woyanne thinks that the countries it is trying to get more aid from have no intelligence services that are capable of knowing who is with whom in the Horn of Africa, it is in for a mighty shock,” the ONLF said in its statement.

The Madness of Ethiopia's 2010 "Elections"

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Alemayehu G. Mariam

In part I, we explore whether, given the current circumstances in Ethiopia today, a free and fair election is possible in May 2010. In part II, we aim to explore the necessary preconditions for free and fair elections.

Free and Fair Elections in a Police State

“Is it possible to have a fair and free election in a police state?” That is the inescapable question one must answer after reading former Ethiopian President Dr. Negasso Gidada’s recent reportage on his visit to Dembi Dollo in Qelem Wallaga Zone of Oromia Region [1]. In his recent widely read analysis, Dr. Negasso flatly declared that there is “no level playing field” in Dembi Dollo, and by implication anywhere else in Ethiopia, to have a free and fair election in 2010.

Dr. Negasso’s account of his visit to Dembi Dollo evokes the farcical theatricality of a low budget political horror film: The former president shows up for a visit in Dembi Dollo and is promptly shooed away and stonewalled by local functionaries. He is told he can’t hold mass public meetings or engage in other forms of discussion or dialogue with the public. In disbelief, he hastily arranges individual meetings with local businessmen, community elders, teachers, health workers, church leaders, qa’bale officials, private professionals, university students, NGO employees and members and supporters of the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM). He is horrified to learn that the individuals who have met or spoken with him could be abused and victimized by local security operatives. He becomes aware of the a ubiquitous and omnipotent local security apparatus with its tentacles planted firmly into individual households.

To describe Dr. Negasso’s account on the “current situation” in Dembi Dollo as “downright chilling” would be a gross understatement. He depicts a local party organization nestled within an oppressive security apparatus consisting of layered and operationally interlocking committees (which could be best described as “commissariats”), mimicking Stalin’s NKVD (Peoples Commissariat for Internal Affairs) in the 1930s. Households, hamlets, villages, districts, towns and zones are hierarchically integrated into a commissariat for the single purpose of coordinating command and control over perceived “enemies of the people”. There is a network of informants, agents and secret police-type operatives who rely on heavy-handed methods to harass, intimidate, gather intelligence and penetrate opposition elements with the aim of neutralizing them.

The integrated overlay set up of the local security structure with the dominant OPDO/EPDRF party in Dembi Dollo is quite intriguing. According to Dr. Negasso’s reportage, there is no structural or functional separation of political party and public security in Dembi Dollo. The two are morphed into a single political structure which totally controls and dominates the local political and social scene. The special Woreda Town Administration is sub-divided into four large “Ganda” or villages with their own councils, each consisting of 300 members. Each qa’bale has representation in the Woreda Council, which is further sub-divided into zones and even smaller units called “Gare”. There are 30 to 40 households in a “Gare” group, which is overseen by a commissariat consisting of a chairperson, a secretary, a security chief and two other members. There are up to 17 “Gare” in each zone with branches in every village, schools and health institutions. There is also a larger network of 24 qa’bales under a Sayyo Rual Woreda. Public employees, farmers, local youth, women, members of micro-credit associations and others are involuntarily inducted into the security-party structure.

The security network is so sophisticated that it has Stalinesque quasi-directorates consisting of party and security organizations working together to maintain around the clock surveillance and generate and distribute real time intelligence on individual households through an established chain of command. It is clear from Dr. Negasso’s reportage that the local commissariats have expansive powers of investigation, arrest, interrogation and detention. They maintain a network of anonymous informants and agents who provide tips for the identification, investigation and arrest of local individuals suspected of disloyalty to the regime. They control and regulate the flow of information and visitors in and out of the town. Apparently, they have the power to deport anyone considered persona non grata from the town. In general, there is little question that the commissariats and the interlocking quasi-directorates engage in widespread human rights abuses against the local population.

One of the common methods of local control described by Dr. Negasso involves the use of highly intrusive security structures called “shane”, which in Oromo means “the five”. Five households are grouped together under a leader who is responsible for collecting information on the households every day and passing it on to the “Gare” officials. For instance, the “shane leader knows if the members of a household have participated in ‘development work’, if they have contributed to the several fund raising programs, if they have attended Qabale meetings, whether they have registered for election, if they have voted and for whom they have voted.” The “Gare” security chief passes information he has received from the security network to his superiors right up the chain of command.

Here are some excerpts from Dr. Negasso’s reportage:

The OPDO/EPRDF… seems determined not to allow any other political organization which could compete against it in the area. This goes as far as not welcoming individual visitors to the area. Visitors are secretly followed and placed under surveillance to determine where they have been, whom they have visited, and what they have said… Local people who had contact with visitors that are summoned and grilled by security officials. In my case, my brother-in-law, with whom I stayed, … received telephone calls from the Dembi Dollo and Naqamte security offices. He was asked why I came, whether I came for preparation for the coming election or for any other purpose.

[A USAID visiting group received the same treatment.] They were followed from the time it arrived in Naqamte. After the group returned, several security officials interrogated leaders of the Dembi Dollo Bethel-Mekane Yesus Church… One of the church leaders was even summoned to the zonal administrator’s office and asked detailed questions about the visitors from Addis.

[Individuals who came to greet] Dr. Belaynesh (member of the OFDM and an MP) were arrested, interrogated and held in custody for 24 to 48 hours. The houses of some of these individuals were also searched.

OPDO/EPRDF in Dembi Dollo, besides using the police and security offices and personnel, also collects information on each household.

Each household is required to report on guests and visitors, the reasons for their visits, their length of stay, what they said and did and activities they engaged in.

The “Election Code of Conduct” Game

The ruling dictatorship has been peddling the idea of an “election code of conduct” to entice the opposition to field candidates for the 2010 “election”. Foreign embassies have been enlisted to do cheerleading for such a “code”. Medrek, a forum for eight political parties, walked out of “election code” talks sensing a surefire trap down the road as the “election” date nears.

Lately, there has been talk of “boycotting” the “election”. The unjust imprisonment of Birtukan Midekssa and release of all political prisoners has become a central issue. Ato Gizachew Shiferaw, a member of the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party and vice-chairman of Medrek stated unambiguously: “Unless we take some sort of remedy toward these political prisoners, it will be difficult to look at the upcoming elections as free and fair.” Medrek is also demanding the establishment of an independent electoral board, an immediate stop to harassment of opposition candidates and supporters; it has also called for the presence of international election observers. Bereket Simon, the Machiavellian demiurge of the dictatorship, dogmatically pontificated: “We invited them to a dialogue in the presence of the British and German embassies. We invited them to join negotiations. They declined. The party who walks away from the negotiating table doesn’t have a moral right to accuse us of closing political space.”

Free and Fair Election: No Need to Re-Invent the Election Wheel

A free and fair election is possible only where the rule of law prevails and fundamental human rights are respected. There is no mystery to having free and fair elections. To be sure, in theory, there is no logical reason why there could not be free and fair elections in Ethiopia in May 2010 or at any other time. Its “constitution” which describes itself as the “supreme law of the land” guarantees voters and candidates (and citizens in general) full freedom of speech and expression; ensures freedom of press, which guarantees the right to publicly disseminate political messages and information in the run up to elections and post-election period; the right to vote and the secret ballot are secured; guarantees of an electoral level playing field accessible to all voters, parties and candidates with an independent, non-partisan electoral organization to administer the process are belabored in the constitution; freedom of association to form political parties and civic organizations are held inviolable; and freedom of assembly to hold political rallies and to campaign freely are upheld as hallowed rights.

Further, there are purported legislative and regulatory safeguards in place to ensure fair access to the public media by opposition candidates and parties, penalize the improper use of the police, the military, the judiciary and civil servants and elections officials. Use of public funds and equipment for partisan political purposes are strictly prohibited. The electoral process is guaranteed to ensure unencumbered voter registration, accessible polling places, dignified treatment of elections officials, open and transparent ballot counting and verification processes, oversight of elections by trained and politically independent election officials and prevent election fraud. Administrative and judicial challenges of election results are guaranteed by law.

Most importantly, it has been established beyond the shadow of doubt that Ethiopian voters are second to none in their understanding of the democratic electoral process. In 2005, an estimated at 90 percent of the 26 million registered voters in the country voted, according to the Carter Center. Ethiopian voters have gained solid experience in the electoral process. What is needed now is to replicate and improve the 2005 electoral process for 2010. There is no need to re-invent the election wheel.

The Fox Guarding the Hen House: Is an Election Code of Conduct Needed?

When the fox is guarding the election hen house, it is rather meaningless to talk about election housekeeping rules, which is what an “election code of conduct” is. Ultimately, the fox rules the henhouse with an iron fist; and though he may agree to “fair” rules of the electoral game, he knows that in the final analysis he holds all the cards and the opposition none. In other words, in a police state the “chief of police” knows that he is guaranteed victory in all of the zero sum games he plays because he owns the game. He also knows that his opposition is powerless to break his perpetual streak of “victory”. In all of the talk about elections, one question relentlessly gnaws the mind of the dictator: How to buy time and cling to power indefinitely while stringing along the opposition by trickery, false promises, double-dealing, double-crossing, shenanigans, razzle-dazzle using foreign embassies as intermediaries, duplicity and whatever gimmicks remain hidden in the dictatorship’s bottomless repository of political dirty tricks.

Towards an Election Code of Conduct?

The idea of an “election code of conduct”, at first blush, is appealing because it points in the direction of a peaceful and civil electoral process. Such “codes” have been used successfully in different countries. In principle, they are useful and facilitate an electoral process that is clean, and free from violence and vote rigging. But we must remain acutely aware of one fact: Those who clamor for an election code of conduct usually champion it to cloak and shroud the dirty political tricks they have concealed up their sleeves.

If such a code is to be had, it must be devised along the same lines as the criminal code. Just as the criminal code is designed with criminals and the criminal classes in mind, an election code should be designed with vote riggers, ballot stuffers, and election thieves in mind. As Dr. Negasso’s reportage plainly indicates, it is the ruling “EPDRF” party that has misused and abused official public resources, equipment, machinery or personnel for improper electioneering work. They are the ones who have improperly used public places to hold partisan political meetings and election rallies and prevented or made inaccessible such places on the same terms and conditions to opposition parties and candidates. It is the party in power that totally and completely dominates the print and electronic media, and misuses it to advance its partisan political agenda. It is the ruling party and its leaders that make illegal and corrupt offers and promises of financial payoffs, grants, fertilizers, roads, projects etc, in exchange for votes, not the opposition. It is the ruling party members who can travel everywhere, distribute pamphlets and posters, hold rallies and meetings at any location of their choice while opposition parties and candidates are at the mercy of the local police authorities who routinely deny them permission to engage in ordinary political activity. It is the ruling party that uses election propaganda that appeals to ethnic prejudices, inflames historical grievances and passions and heightens tension among different communities and groups, not the opposition.

Seeking to offer an answer to the question of whether a code of conduct can be drafted to bring sanity to elections in a police state — or hold the fox guarding the hen house accountable — may appear to be an exercise in futility given the dictatorship’s history of elaborate machinations and shenanigans, total lack of transparency and zero-sum blame games. So, the question needs to be emphatically re-phrased: Will the dictatorship agree to and in good faith abide by an election code of conduct that is based on the principle of respect for the rule of law and human rights, and conforms to its own constitution and election laws?

In part II, we shall explore this question.

[1] http://ethioforum.org/wp/archives/1451

The writer, Alemayehu G. Mariam, is a professor of political science at California State University, San Bernardino, and an attorney based in Los Angeles. For comments, he can be reached at almariam@gmail.com

EPPF's Nebelbal Commando attacks Woyanne targets

Friday, October 16th, 2009

EPPF’s Nebelbal Commando unit attacks Woyanne targets… and more News. Watch below:

Ethiopia 2010 elections will not be free and fair – Negasso Gidada

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

By Negasso Gidada

I visited Dembi Dollo, in Qelem Wallaga Zone of Oromia Region from September 18-28, 2009. During my visit, I tried to gather as much information as possible on the current political situation. I was unable to hold public meetings because the local administration was unwilling to cooperate. I therefore tried to meet as many individuals as I could. During the 10 days, I talked to over two dozen individuals, including cadres of the OPDO/EPRDF, business leaders, community elders, government workers (teachers and health workers), local qabale officials, vacationing university students, church leaders, private professionals, NGO employees and members and supporters of the OFDM.

This descriptive analysis summarizes and focuses on a few major issues. My general conclusion is that the OPDO/EPRDF totally controls and dominates the local political arena, and therefore, there could be no level playing field for the opposition in the Dembi Dollo area. Unless the situation changes dramatically in the next few months, I do not expect the 2010 election will be fair, free or democratic. The first step in correcting the current situation is by appointing well trained election officers to different levels of the election administration.

Strict Security Control and Surveillance

The OPDO/EPRDF which claims to have won the 2005 and 2008 elections seems determined not to allow any other political organization which could compete against it in the area. This goes as far as not welcoming individual visitors to the area. Visitors are secretly followed and placed under surveillance to determine where they have been, whom they have visited, and what they have said. The visitors would rarely be called for interrogation or approached by the security people. It is the local people who had contact with visitors that are summoned and grilled by security officials. In my case, my brother-in-law, with whom I stayed, made a copy of the letter I brought with me from the parliament and gave it to the security office. He also received telephone calls from the Dembi Dollo and Naqamte security offices. He was asked why I came, whether I came for preparation for the coming election or for any other purpose.

About two months ago Professor Haweitu Simeso of the USAID visited Dembi Dollo with colleagues from the Irish and Canadian embassies. The visiting group was followed from the time it arrived in Naqamte. After the group returned, several security officials interrogated leaders of the Dembi Dollo Bethel-Mekane Yesus Church who had spoken to Haweitu and his colleagues. One of the church leaders was even summoned to the zonal administrator’s office and asked detailed questions about the visitors from Addis. Three weeks before I went to Dembi Dollo, Dr. Belaynesh (member of the OFDM and an MP) was in Dembi Dollo. After she returned to Addis, all the people who went to her father’s house to greet her and others she greeted on the streets in the town were arrested, interrogated and held in custody for 24 to 48 hours. The houses of some of these individuals were also searched. A building contractor who arrived in Dembi Dollo on September 28 to inspect the construction of the new Bethel Church was also followed. He left the next day fearing that he will be summoned to the security office. OPDO/EPRDF in Dembi Dollo, besides using the police and security offices and personnel, also collects information on each household through other means. One of these methods involves the use of organizations or structures called “shane”, which in Oromo means “the five”. Five households are grouped together under a leader who has the job of collecting information on the five households every day and pass it on to a higher administrative organ called “Gare”. There are 30 to 40 households in a “Gare” group which has a chairperson, a secretary, a security chief and two other members. The security chief passes the information he collected to his chief in the higher administrative organs in the Qabale, who in turn informs the Woreda police and security office.

Each household is required to report on guests and visitors, the reasons for their visits, their length of stay, what they said and did and activities they engaged in. The “shane” leader knows if the members of the households have participated in “development work”, if they have contributed to the several fund raising programs, if they have attended Qabale meetings, whether they have registered for election, if they have voted and for whom they have voted. The OPDO/EPRDF runs mass associations (women, youth and micro-credit groups) and party cells (“fathers”, “mothers” and “youth”). The party cells in the schools, health institutions and religious institutions also serve the same purpose.

Organizational Structures

Understanding how the OPDO/EPRDF itself and its Woreda administration are organized is very important. There is the OPDO/EPRDF Qellem Wallagga Zonal office in Dembi Dollo. This office receives information and instruction from the regional office in Addis Ababa. It passes messages to the lower structures and oversees the propaganda and organizational activities of the party. This office has branches in every village, schools and health institutions. These branches are subdivided into basic cells. The branches of these cells are organized into supporter groups, candidate groups and full members groups.

Additionally, the party has organized the people into youth, women and micro-credit associations for tighter control and easy dissemination of its propaganda and to do party activities. Dembi Dollo town is a special Woreda Town Administration. The Administration is sub-divided into four large “Ganda” (villages). The town used to have seven Qabales but was restructured just before the Qabale election in 2008. Each Qabale has 15 in the Woreda Council. It is said that the OPDO/EPRDF presented the names of pre-selected council members to the Qabale Council and had them endorsed. There is also the Sayyo Rual Woreda (24 Qabales). The administration of Sayyo Woreda also has its seat in Dembi Dollo town. These are all appointees of the party and are believed to be “strongly committed” to it. The four “Ganda” (villages or some times called Kifle Ketema) have each their own councils. A council has 300 members. The members were “elected” in 2008. All the people I talked to confirmed to me that the party pre-selected the candidates. The Qabale has its own cabinet and these are also party members. A Qabale is further sub-divided into different zones. The zones are sub-divided into “Gare”. There are up to 17 “Gare” in each zone.

Misuse of Public Property, Finance and Civil Servants

The party’s propaganda and organization committees are located in the Zonal, Woreda and Qabale Administration building. The party does not pay rent for the rooms it uses. The committee members are party cadres but their monthly salaries and per diems are paid by the administration from public treasury. Their secretaries, cleaners and messengers also get their salary from public treasury. All civil servants are also members of the party. Monthly contribution of the members to the party are collected by the Woreda finance office at the time they pay the workers their monthly salaries. The party officials use government office materials, supplies and equipment, including official transport vehicles. The party uses town and qabale halls without paying rent. Meeting halls in health and educational institutions are also used without any payment and at will. This system is practiced from Zonal to “Gare” levels. But opposition to the OPDO/EPRDF are not allowed to rent rooms for offices from private owners or rent public halls in the town for meetings. Plasma televisions supposed to be used for school-net and Woreda-net are used for dissemination of party propaganda.

Dissemination of OPDO/EPRDF thoughts

All adults in the qabales and government employees are forced to participate in different seminars and workshops. The same is true of all school children who are in high schools and vocational training institutions. University students on vacation are also required to participate in such programs. Lessons in “Tarsimo” (Strategy) and “Bulchiinsa Gaarii” (Good Governance) are given to all residents (school children, college and university students, and private and government employees). Workshops on BPR have been held and each government employee is given Birr 25 for participation. The seminar for university students lasted five days. The per diem for this seminar was supposed to be Birr 35 per day for each participant for nine days. Every two weeks on Friday afternoon, all government employees participate in study circles of the party and cell meetings during work hours and in the public meeting rooms. No rent is paid for the use of the rooms. Fund raising programs are organized once in a while for support of the party. It is the administration’s finance officers who deduct the pledged amount from employees and transfer the money to the party.

Elections

During the 2005 election, I have witnessed that civil servants were deployed for two weeks for election campaign for the OPDO/EPRDF and that government vehicles (cars and motor cycles) were used for this purpose. OPDO/EPRDF members and cadres were busy disrupting public meetings I called in the field. One of my observers was bribed with Birr 200 and agreed to give the votes I received to my opponent (OPDO/EPRDF). In one qabale, I was prevented from holding an election campaign meeting 500 meters away from a market place. The qabale officials told me that my meeting will disturb “their market”. My posters were removed from several places and leaflets I distributed were collected and destroyed. I persistently appealed to the election officials to correct the OPDO/EPRDF illegal activities or cancel it from the election in accordance with the election law but no one heeded my appeals.

According to the people I talked to, the chief of an election office during the 2008 election was also a member of the OPDO/EPRDF. There is a rumor that the same person is being appointed to the office by the OPDO/EPRDF for the 2010 election. The OPDO/EPRDF appointed a supporter or a member to each polling station to stand by the voters and tell the voters in which box they should put voting signs or signatures.

Situation of the Opposition

The office of the OFDM has remained closed since 2005. Members and supporters were beaten up and imprisoned several times. They were intimidated or bribed. During the three weeks before my visit to Dembi Dollo, 60 people in Sayyo and 15 people in Dembi Dollo were arrested and kept in police custody for up to 48 hours. They had to pay one hundred Birr as bail before being released. They were reprimanded and warned for the 2010 election. They were told, “Be careful! Don’t support, or join or vote for the opposition as you did in 2005. We shall not give in like then. We defend ourselves even with guns.” OFDM is equated with OLF while the CUD or the “Qindomina” as it is called in Oromia, is equated with the “Nafxagna”. The campaign against the UDJ as a “Nafxagna” organization has already begun.

Media

No private or independent newspapers exist in Dembi Dollo. Alternative news sources to the Federal and Oromia public media are only VOA and Deutche Welle. The Oromia information office and the OPDO send their press media to the area by bus. These are picked up by a government employee and distributed to different institutions and offices. All workers are forced to buy these news papers.

Conclusion

It is plain to anyone who has been to Dembi Dollo and surrounding areas that there is no political level playing field. I can not imagine how the opposition can enter into an election process under such conditions. If the ruling party is serious about having a peaceful, fair and democratic election in 2010 it has much to do, including the release of all political prisoners and putting a stop to new illegal arrests, intimidation, detentions and bribing opposition member, immediate reopening of offices of the opposition, providing immediate equal access to the public media, allowing public meetings organized by the opposition to take place freely, amending the Election Law so that neutral election officials can be appointed and making it possible for international election observers free access to ensure fair elections, and putting into place control mechanisms so that its supporters and members respect the constitution and the election laws. It must also start repaying rent for offices and halls it has used for its party activities over the past several years as well as for use of government office materials and equipment, fuel, telephone and electricity, and return the money it took out of the public treasury and paid as salaries to its members.

(Dr. Negasso Gidada is former figure-head president of Ethiopia from 1995 to 2001.)

Window dressing of Ethiopia's coffee exchange

Monday, October 12th, 2009

By Wondwossen Mezlekia

The next few days are full of activity for the executives of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX) and the government as they get ready for the big day — the day they hope will earn the exchange the much needed acceptance by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) and favorable media coverage for the government. This confidentially held event is, according to a document that briefly appeared on ECX’s website and removed early last week, currently scheduled for October 20 – 24, 2009. ECX, the government run company that touts transparency, is tightlipped, for no apparent reason, thus this scrutiny of its negotiations with SCAA, the changes it made to address concerns of the specialty coffee trade, and its roles in the corrupt control of the coffee sector.

Early this year, when ECX’s system was hastily utilized by the government to take control of the coffee trade, the problems of the commodity trading mechanism caught the attention of the international media. The government scrambled in vain to contain the unexpected shift in the media’s position from praising ECX to criticizing it. ECX’s leader, Dr. Eleni Gebre-Medhin, even went to as far as risking a futile face-off with the Seattle Times business reporter, Melissa Allison in an attempt to defuse the hostile criticism without realizing the driving forces behind the media frenzy. ECX didn’t comprehend the complexity of the coffee trade and the powers of the international stakeholders until it encountered the Specialty coffee importers at SCAA’s 21st annual exposition held in Atlanta, GA in April, 2009.

The issue with ECX was one of the sideline agenda at the SCAA conference. On April 15, 2009, Ethiopia’s delegation led by Dr. Eleni, Phillip Schluter, and Tadesse Meskela held an information delivery session regarding ECX and the new coffee trading system to a group of importers. A heated engagement erupted between participants and the presenters as soon as they presented the last slides about the implications of the system. The intense dialogue continued next day at a roundtable meeting between the parties. One of the attendees of the discussions described the situation in an email to this writer as:

“The roundtable today was intense. So much complexity. Dr. Eleni is assuring SCAA and buyers [that] she is here to listen and gather information to bring back and devise a way for a “second window”. Currently there is none (except coops). Buyers are very upset. They have so much invested – and so do farmers! This season is pretty much done, very few got the coffee. Next season… maybe. Everyone needs to work together.”

At the end of the exposition, Dr. Eleni wrote an open letter to SCAA and buyers summarizing her experience at the event and a proposal to establish a joint working group formed by SCAA and ECX to resolve the problems. SCAA, the most influential body in the market, had already written a letter to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi expressing its concerns and demanding immediate solutions.

The joint working group was formed and has been at work for the past six months under strict confidentiality. The ECX event scheduled for later this month hints the culmination of the dialogue. ECX is expected to announce some changes to its trading mechanism but the detail is withheld from the public to this day. The only word from ECX is what Dr. Eleni casually mentioned last month during her appearance on Tefera Gedamu’s show Meet ETV on the Ethiopian Television. She stated that SCAA and ECX had reached an agreement and they will publicize late in October the changes that ECX made to its coffee grading system.

SCAA is more transparent and accessible than ECX. In an email response to this writer, Ric Rhinehart, Executive Director of SCAA said, “We have been actively engaged since April of this year with the ECX in addressing the concerns of the specialty market and how the commodity trading mechanism has impacted our access to coffees.” Mr. Rhinehart, along with other members of SCAA, is traveling to Ethiopia to attend the event. He said, he can’t give details of the matter at this time but, “I can say that we have had input from virtually every part of the trade and feel that we have a good grasp on what success will look like… We have assembled a working group from the specialty trade that has defined the objectives from the consumer perspective and that is committed to working with the ECX and the Ethiopian trade to develop viable solutions to meeting those objectives.”

After all, SCAA may get what it wants. Mr. Rhinehart said, “I am very pleased to say that we have had an excellent working relationship with ECX and that together we continue to pursue solutions that will meet the needs of the specialty coffee sector but more importantly deliver the highest and most sustainable value back through the supply chain to the working coffee farmers of Ethiopia.” The details of the said change including whether it satisfies SCAA and its members, and whether it alleviates the burden on the farmers will be known shortly. Regardless, ECX’s gesture in addressing SCAA’s concerns is a step in the right direction.

In the mean time, as we prepare to embrace another wave of media stunt from ECX and the government, it is necessary to be aware of the root causes of the coffee controversy and define what success looks like from Ethiopia’s perspective. If delivering the value to the farmers “through the supply chain” means disenfranchising individual farmers, it is unacceptable. If the new system addresses only one end of the equation (without allowing direct contact between buyers and farmers), such a change is nothing more than window dressing the current coffee exchange. At a larger scale, if the market doesn’t accommodate the needs of all participants in the value chain, including private businesses and benefits only the government and the parastatals, sustainability of the sector will be in jeopardy. This view is shared by many in the coffee sector.

Emebet Taffesse Kidanemariam, Vice President of the Ethiopian Coffee Exporters Association recently told the Ethiopian Reporter that “the sector is not benefiting the country at its current level,” and called up on authorities to work together with the private sector. She said, “Many exporters are returning their licenses. We, the remaining ones, are in trouble too.” Emebet is not opposed to ECX as a market. In fact, she says, “I am [one] of those who strongly appreciate the importance of such a market. … But what I notice here is that when exporters are not able to enjoy a fair benefit, they shift their businesses to some other area.” She added, “Previously, when the New York market fluctuated, our prices also fluctuated. But now, this is history. You are expected to buy on the basis of the daily high selling price.”2

Likewise, coffee farmers say the burden is unbearable. Last month, Addis Fortune quoted Alemayehu Teshome, coffee and tea development team leader at the ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development saying: “farmers in areas that have access to transport are dropping coffee in favour of khat, which is contributing to reducing the total coffee harvest the country expects.” The article also sites Abdulkadir Mohammed, a former coffee farmer who said: “I used to grow coffee previously, [but] when the price declined, I cleared the coffee plantation and substituted khat plants.” Fortune noted, “He [Abdulkadir] is not only making more money from the khat, but he is also a two time winner for best farmer in the Harari regional state. Abdulkadir makes 300 to 500 Br per kilogram of export quality khat, for which the consumers pay up to 1,000 Br. When he grew coffee, he said that export quality coffee only brought him 25 to 35 Br.”

Yet, the government is all about controlling the trade. The state owned Ethiopian Grain Trade Enterprise (EGTE) is planning to supply 10,000 tons of coffee for local and foreign markets during the current year, according to Birhane Hailu, General Manger and a member of ECX’s Board of Directors. Guna Trading, PLC, a member of the largest conglomerate EFFORT, which is reportedly owned by leaders of the TPLF (Tigrian People Liberation Front), had already announced its plans to export 10,000 tons of coffee and 30,000 tons of sesame this year. Guna is joining the coffee export trade club for the first time after “it stopped the business (coffee export) for five years.”

Ethiopia produces an average of 330,000 tons of coffee per year and about half the amount is exported; the rest consumed locally. During the last fiscal year (July 2008 – June, 2009), the country exported 134,000 tons, sharply down from 170,888 tons exported in the previous year. The government wants to increase the volume of exported coffee but it plans to do so by controlling the marketing chain and forcefully routing coffee stocks to ECX. Any attempt by coffee growers and traders to shop around for better prices outside of the government controlled channel is illegal. Walta Information Center (WIC) recently reported the establishment of 37 coffee trading centers in Jimma zone to control “illegal coffee trading and alleviating wastage of coffee produce.” WIC quoted Nezif Abachebsa, Jimma zone Agriculture and Rural Development Office Deputy Head, saying “individuals found dealing coffee out of the centers will receive a 20 year prison term and up to 50,000 birr fine.”

The total annual production in the country is not commensurate with the needs of the government and the coffee drinking public. Because of the imbalance of supply and demand, local prices are generally higher than export prices. When the government imposes mandatory exports, it never considers the idea of compensating farmers, suppliers, or exporters, for the price differential between domestic and export markets. The government wants to generate foreign exchange without investing a dime to earn it. This practice is perpetuating the vicious cycle of low quality, low productivity, and low production on one hand and low selling prices, insignificant or no profit margins, and shortage of foreign exchange earnings on the other. The root causes of the problems in Ethiopia’s coffee sector are complex but the major ones include: low productivity (less than a quarter of the average productivity in the world), lack of incentives for quality production, inexistent access to capital and infrastructures including roads and coffee washing facilities, and lack of institutional capabilities. These systemic problems cannot be resolved by introducing superficial and cosmetic changes in the marketing platform.

In the short and medium term, the government’s policies and donors’ funds are best directed at increasing productivity by spending on research, and at enticing quality production by compensating farmers and traders for exporting coffee at the petty international prices. The government’s continued engagement in micromanaging the coffee trade will only exasperate the sector. By the same token, ECX also had better focus on building a principled marketing system, and stick to its stated goals of helping eliminate famine and increasing the value of domestic commodity grain trade rather than facilitating for such short-sighted government policies that legalize coffee exploitation.

(The author can be reached at wondwossen.mezlekia@gmail.com)

Teddy Afro rocked Ethiopia's capital Sunday night

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Details are still coming from Ethiopian Review sources in Addis Ababa regarding Teddy Afro’s concert last night. By some estimate, tens of thousands of Addis Ababa residents attended the show. The photo below tells it all.

The concert ended with no major incident, but some wondered if it was an entertainment event or a political rally. Others are heard asking how did Woyanne allow Teddy to organize such a big event right under its nose. Was there some kind of deal between Woyanne and Teddy Afro’s managers for Teddy to stay clear of any thing that may antagonize the vampires in power? We are digging into that.

Until then let’s just say that Teddy did not disappoint the audience with his magnificent performance. Sunday’s night event was the mother of all concerts for Addis Ababa. [read more in Amharic here]

Teddy Afro, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
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Teddy Afro, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Woyanne vs. Woyanne in June 2010

Monday, October 12th, 2009

The stage is now set — it will be Woyanne vs Woyanne in 2010. With the announcement on Saturday by the newly formed “opposition” alliance in Addis Ababa that it will participate in the June 2010 elections, it will be a match between one Woyanne-led group (EPRDF) vs another Woyanne-led group (FDD). EPRDF is a cover for Meles and gang, while FDD is a cover for Seye and gang. Every one else who are giving them cover such as OPDO are useful idiots. The following is a report by Sudan Tribune.

(ST) — With Ethiopia’s national election approaching, some opposition groups have reportedly begun to hint boycott from the upcoming election, accusing Ethiopian government Woyanne of already stepping up harassment against them.

Despite opposition’s growing claims of “harassment” and “undemocratic actions” perpetrated up on them by the ruling EPRDF party Woyanne, Ethiopia’s biggest alliance of opposition political parties on Sunday said that it will contest in the country’s [fake] election scheduled for May 2010.

“Currently the party has no intention to boycott election nor did it yet set any preconditions on to it” Gebru Asrat (Woyanne and former President of Tigray Republic), the person in charge of public relation and vice chairman of the group, Forum for Democratic Dialogue (FDD) told Sudan Tribune.

Gebru Asrat, a former ally of Meles Zenawi, said that his party’s primary efforts are to engage in negotiation with government on key election issues ahead of the election but he said that Meles Zenawi-led government is being reluctant to take his party’s offer.

“We are pushing the ruling party to tolerate negotiations for a binding election rule to be set” Gebru said adding “if a fair and democratic election is to be held in Ethiopia, it will highly depend on whether or not the ruling party is willing to hold talks on the binding law of election.”

FDD is insisting to engage in a pre-election negotiation with the ruling party on 10 key subjects, among which the issues of access to Media for campaigning, supremacy of law, free flow to international observers, establishment of independent electoral board and a stop to harassment on opposition members.

Gebru Asrat further said that the Ethiopian government Woyanne last month hinted a little interest toward the offer but on second thought changed its minds.

The Ethiopian government Woyanne has repeatedly guaranteed its commitment to conduct a fair and democratic election but when asked if this is likely, FDD chairman, Dr. Merara Gudina, told Sudan Tribune that he strongly doubts that promise.

“I can’t be certain on that pledge. But with the reality going on ground, a fair and peaceful election is unlikely to happen.” He said adding “Why don’t you go ask the government? The government knows that answer.”

The opposition official further said that his party, Forum for Democratic Dialogue (FDD) has been appealing to the international community to put pressure on the Ethiopian government to stop harassing opposition parties and also to release political prisoners, including potential candidates jailed in the recent “wave of arrests.”

“Calling to the international community is our daily bread but responds we have are either deaf ears or not satisfactory” Dr. Merara added.

Recently the opposition group has accused the Ethiopian government of arresting as much as 480 opposition members on false allegations and the opposition chairman now says that the mass arrests to opposition members, candidates and supporters are still being carried out but on “on and off bases.

Recently FDD, the coalition of 8 Opposition group and two prominent politicians, including former president, has pulled out of talks on election code of conduct, demanding separate talks with government to negotiate on what they said was election binding law.

In an interview, Bereket Simon, government communication office Minister Woyanne propaganda chief on Thursday said that the opposition group this week has rejected an offer by the government for negotiation.

“We invited the opposition group for a negotiation in the presence of Germany and British Embassies but they declined” Bereket said adding “a party which walks away from a negotiating table doesn’t have a moral right to accuse us for shutting down political space.”

Last month, Ethiopian Prime Minister tribal warlord Meles Zenawi, at a press conference blasted some opposition groups that demanded a release of an opposition leader Birtukan mideksa, as having an intent to discredit the election process from day one. Meles stressed that her re-arrest is a legal matter and has no any political motive.

Since last December, Birtukan mideksa is serving a life term in prison for denying a pardon that let her freed in 2007. She was jailed after the 2005 post-election violence for attempting to overthrow constitutional order.

Mothers of Ethiopia, Mother Ethiopia

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

Alemayehu G. Mariam

Mother of All Troubles

It is not only Mother Ethiopia that is in deep trouble today but also the millions of mothers in Ethiopia. Hanna Ingber Win, the World Editor of the Huffington Post, was “invited by the U.N. Population Fund to visit its maternal health programs in Ethiopia, which has one of the world’s worst health care systems.” Her investigative findings are shocking to the conscience; her analysis is compelling and convincing, and her conclusions are profoundly distressing but not lacking in cautious optimism. In a five-part series entitled, “Mothers of Ethiopia”, Ms. Win paints a portrait of a country that is the epicenter — the ground zero– of Africa’s maternal and child health crises . Here are snippets from her report[1]:

Zemzem and her husband, a poor farmer, collected 50 birr (US$4) from their neighbors for the trip to a hospital… and traveled 20 hours, while in labor, from her rural village to get to the hospital in the closest big town. By the time she arrived at the hospital, her uterus had partially ruptured. A resident and health officer were able to save her life and that of her baby… If she [had been delayed] two or three hours more, the baby – and even the mother – would have lost her life… No one else in the ‘Septic Room’ can empathize with Zemzem’s joy. The other three patients all had fully ruptured uteri and lost their babies…. When I enter the maternity ward at Jimma Hospital, the stench practically smacks me in the face. The smell, a combination of urine and feces and other bodily fluids, overpowers all my other senses…

Ethiopia ranks among the top 10 countries for child marriage, according to the International Center for Research on Women’s Analysis… Early marriage can cause higher rates of maternal and infant mortality, vulnerability to HIV/AIDS, abuse, isolation and long-term psychological trauma from forced sex, according to UNFPA… Two centers in Addis serve about 600 girls between the ages of 10 and 19, says Habtamu Demele, the project coordinator of the center. Most of them have escaped early marriage. Even though the legal age to marry in Ethiopia is 18, more than 30 percent of girls living in rural parts of the country are married by age 15, according to the Population Council…

The white tile floors in the Ayder Referral Hospital in Mekelle, a large city in northern Ethiopia, look so clean they practically sparkle. Unlike the maternity ward in Jimma that wreaks of human waste and sickness, this hospital smells sterile and clean. Nurses gather at their station writing down their patients’ information in orderly files, and a small handful of visitors wait patiently in the corridors. The multistory hospital with a manicured garden and televisions in the hallways looks so modern and fancy it could easily belong in New York. There’s just one problem: many of its new beds go empty. The hospital, which opened in September 2008, does not have enough doctors or medical equipment for the facility to be fully used. Of the 450 beds in the hospital, only about 65 percent can be filled…

In Ethiopia, the maternal health statistics suggest that the nation’s health care system needs an overhaul. Less than six percent of women have access to a health professional while giving birth, according to Ethiopia’s 2005 Demographic and Health Survey. The maternal mortality rate is one of the worst in the world. For every 100,000 live births, 673 women die giving birth, according to the survey.

In the United States, eight women die during childbirth for every 100,000 live births, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). In Ethiopia, 673 women die, making the maternal mortality rate 84 times higher. UNFPA considers every single maternal death preventable. In the U.S., a woman has a 1 in 4,800 chance of dying from complications due to pregnancy or childbirth in her lifetime.

‘This government has failed at the very important task of training the professionals,’ says Dr. Beyene Petros, chairman of the opposition United Ethiopian Democratic Forces party and a member of the Ethiopian House of People’s Representatives. ‘You can put up huge buildings, but if you don’t have a program to properly train and maintain the manpower, what’s the value?’

Win’s Anecdotal Data is Consistent With the Macro Level Health Data

One may be tempted to critique Ms. Win’s report as anecdotal based on episodic observations of a few isolated cases. That would be erroneous because the general statistics on the country’s health system are more frightening than the reports in individual cases. According to World Health Organization (WHO) (2006) data Ethiopia’s population was estimated to be 77 million. To serve this population, there were 1,936 physicians (1doctor for 39,772 persons); 93 dentists (1: 828,000); 15,544 nurses and midwives (1: 4,985), 1,343 pharmacists (1: 57,334) and 18,652 community health workers (1: 4,128). Total expenditure on health as a percentage of gross domestic product was 5.9 per cent. General government expenditure on health as a percentage of total expenditure on health was 58.4 per cent, and private expenditures covered the balance of 41.6 percent. Hospital beds per 10,000 population was less than 25. Per capita expenditure on health was US$3 at an average exchange rate. WHO’s minimum standard is 20 physicians per 100,000 population, and 100 nurses per 100,000 population. What more can be said? The numbers speak for themselves!

Health and the Empty Rhetoric of Economic Development

If empty political rhetoric and grandiose claims of double digit development were medicine, Ethiopia would have been the healthiest country in the world. Addressing the opening session of Ethiopia’s “parliament” recently, Girma Wolde Giorgis, the putative president, repeated the cockamamie fabrication of runaway economic development over the past half dozen years: “The fact that our economy has been able continuously to register growth rates of more than 10 percent annually for the last six consecutive years in such difficult global and domestic circumstances is an attestation of the success of our policies and strategies designed to speed up our development.” But Girma and his confederates seem to be clueless about the singular importance of heath in economic growth and development. In fact, health is considered so important that five of the eight targets of the Millennium Development Goals (adopted by 189 nations and signed by 147 heads of state in September 2000) to be achieved by 2015 are directly related to improvements in health care services and nutrition: eradication of extreme hunger and poverty, reduction in child mortality, improvements in maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability, achievement of universal primary education, promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women and development of global partnership for development.

It is a cruel joke to talk about runaway economic development in “one of the world’s worst health care systems”. There can be no economic development in a society that is ravaged by pandemics, suffers from a high incidence of child and maternal mortality from child birth, devastated by preventable and vector-borne diseases and abysmally lacks basic maternal and prenatal services and rational public health policies. To believe in the fantastic blather about a “10 percent plus annual economic development for the last six consecutive years” is to believe in the purple cow that no one has ever seen and the pink elephant that some see too often in the Land of Living Lies.

The empirical data overwhelmingly shows that heath is a fundamental determinant of economic development and poverty reduction. The health status of a population affects economic growth directly through labor productivity and the negative effects of morbidity (i.e. fewer worker illnesses, lower absenteeism rates, diversion of scarce resources for treatment of ill health from other activities, etc.). There is vast scientific evidence to show that improvements in health care services lead to significant increases in per capita income directly as each individual is able to produce more per unit of labor input. Beyond the immediate effects of poor health care services on productivity, the impact of child malnutrition and poor maternal and children health services as evidenced in Ethiopia has a devastating impact on the country’s future. It is well established that malnutrition-related health problems of children have lifetime functionality effects. Simply stated, sick children perform poorly in school and that poor performance negatively impacts on future individual income and overall labor productivity of citizens in society. Without massive investments in health care services, training of health care providers, improved child nutrition and maternal care and establishment of clinics, health centers, hospitals, dispensaries, etc., Ethiopia’s future economic growth, labor productivity, and most importantly, its precious youth, are doomed.

“What is the Value of…?”

So, we must ask some obvious questions: “Why does Ethiopia have ‘one of the world’s worst health care systems’?” What is the value of “economic development” that completely ignores the heath care needs of the vast majority of its citizens? What is the value of an alleged 10 percent plus economic growth if 85 percent of the population has little or no health care services? What is the value of exporting flowers but not importing basic pharamaceutical drugs and essential medical equipment? What is the value of putting up shiny new buildings that offer little health care services but stand as magnificent political show pieces? Is there anything that has more value than ensuring the good health of a nation’s citizens? Is there even a ghost of a chance that Ethiopia will meet its Millennium Development Goals?

What is Ms. Hanna Ingber Win Really Saying?

Ms. Win’s manifest purpose was to investigate certain projects supported by the U.N. Population Fund and report her findings. Her report sheds considerable light on the fact that the country’s health care system is terminally under-staffed, under-resourced, under-developed, mismanaged, over-bureaucratized and over-politicized, and its few health professionals under-trained. But her findings also focus a laser beam of scrutiny on some stark policy questions: Why are scarce resources being wasted on shiny buildings and not in the recruitment, training and retention of physicians and other health care providers in Ethiopia? Why isn’t there a comprehensive program of retention of Ethiopian doctors and other health professionals fleeing the country? Why is health care dominated and controlled by centralized planning in a country that is allegedly “federalized”? Why isn’t health care planning decentralized to empower local communities? Why is there little investment in health education, prevention and disease control? What happens to all of the aid money given by donor countries earmarked for health?

There are major policy prescriptions that flow Ms. Win’s findings. First, it is clear that something must be done to stave off the exodus of Ethiopian doctors and other health professionals. It is a national tragedy that there should be a pervasive belief among health professionals in Ethiopia that there are “are more Ethiopian doctors practicing medicine in Chicago than in Ethiopia” as Ms. Win reported. But Ethiopian doctors are leaving the country for many compelling reasons: they do not want to practice medicine in unsafe and wretched conditions; they are frustrated by their inability to meet even the most basic needs of their patients; they do not want to work in a health system that lacks basic medical equipment, medications and trained providers; they object to being overworked, underpaid and underappreciated; and they would like to earn fair compensation for their services.

In March 2007, Zenawi, responding to a question on the Ethiopian “doctor drain” shocked health officials and physicians attending a conference by declaring, “We don’t need doctors in Ethiopia… Let the doctors leave for wherever they want. They should get no special treatment.” When the life and well-being of 80 million people hangs in the balance, such callow reaction and arrogant attitude must condemned. No effort must be spared to retain Ethiopian doctors to remain and serve in the country, particularly in the rural areas. It is also an obvious fact that the flight of Ethiopian doctors necessarily means importation of expensive foreign ones; or the vast majority of Ethiopians will continue to die from common preventable diseases and lack of basic health services.

It would be misleading and unfair to leave the impression that Ethiopian doctors who have left the country have been totally disengaged. There are indeed some Ethiopian Diaspora physicians and other health professionals who have done their share to help out. These unsung heroes have organized periodic medical mission trips to Ethiopia with colleagues from other countries. Some have even gone to extraordinary lengths to establish foundations for the principal purpose of acquiring much needed medical equipment and supplies to meet critical medical needs. They are refreshing points of light on the dark sky of “one of the world’s worst health care systems.”

The second area of policy concern underscored in Ms. Win’s report is the need to undertake a broader initiative to establish a more equitable health system between the urban and the vast rural areas where health services are virtually nonexistent. Something has to be done to provide incentives to health care professionals to work in underserved rural areas. Instead wasting scarce resources on state of the art half-empty hospitals that have few doctors and other health professionals, it makes more sense to use those resources to build rural clinics, train health officers and community health workers, attract students from rural areas who are likely to remain in their communities to be engaged in public heath services and supplement the salaries and benefits of other health care providers to go into the rural areas. Donors may be in the best position to help bridge the urban-rural gap and improve the overall quality of rural medicine. What is also implicit in the interview responses of Ethiopian health workers is the need to reassess the roles of nurses, mid-level health workers, and community health workers and explore ways of diversifying their responsibilities through training.

Speaking Truth to Dictatorship

Ms. Win deserves our gratitude and appreciation for calling attention to the massive health care problems plaguing the mothers of Ethiopia. She told her story as she saw it. Her findings may prove embarrassing to the dictatorship which seeks to paint a portrait of a country panting for air from galloping economic development. The fact of the matter is that when the lives of millions of mothers and their children is at risk, there is only one way to tell the story: The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. That is what Ms. Win has done in her anecdotal report visiting facilities supported by the U.N. Population Fund. Her report will ultimately serve to empower Ethiopian women by forcing the dictatorship to face the fact that it needs to provide resources to protect Ethiopian women’s basic right to maternal and reproductive health — one of the cornerstones of the Millennium Development Goals.

There is another fact that we can not afford to gloss over. Ms. Win’s report showed an apparent gap in the location and sophistication of health infrastructures. For instance, the stark contrast she draws between the state of the art hospital in Mekelle and the deplorable conditions in Jimma could potentially leave a bitter aftertaste in the mouth of a reader who had digested all of the other facts about “one of the world’s worst health care systems.” It would be an egregious mistake to dwell on such distinctions without focusing on the real outcomes of the health system. It is therefore necessary to belabor the obvious: The residents of Jimma and Mekele are in the same boat. Neither one is getting basic medical care. Even with a state of the art modern hospital (with 450 beds, — of which 157 beds could not be used due to staffing shortages — and 14 doctors, (consisting of 1 surgeon, 1 pediatrician, 1 gynecologist, 2 internists and 9 general practitioners), people still do not have access to the most basic clinical procedures!

Save Mother Ethiopia!

It is simply preposterous and irrational to talk about economic growth or development when a country has ‘one of the world’s worst health care systems’. The ultimate question is whether a regime described by the Economist magazine as “one of the most economically illiterate in the modern world” is capable of meeting the dire health challenges facing the Ethiopian people. No need to hold our breaths waiting for an affirmative response to that question. But there is no question on what we need to do: We must work together in unity — with malice towards none and charity for all — to save Mother Ethiopia and the mothers of Ethiopia!

[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hanna-ingber-win

The writer, Alemayehu G. Mariam, is a professor of political science at California State University, San Bernardino, and an attorney based in Los Angeles. For comments, he can be reached at almariam@gmail.com

Japan provides $18 million for clean water in Tigray

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

The government of Japan said it will provide 180 million Birr support to implement safe water units in Raya Azebo Woreda, Southern Tigray Zone.

Japanese ambassador to Ethiopia, Kinichi Komano and President of Tigray, Tsegay Berhe on Wednesday visited rural areas exposed to safe water shortage in the woreda.

[After 18 years of rule and billions of dollars in foreign aid, the Tigrean People Liberation Front (Woyanne) cannot even provide clean water to Tigray.]

Experts of the woreda mines and energy office on the occasion said safe water service coverage stands at 43 per cent at present in the woreda.

The ambassador on his part said the fund will be used to dig water wells, install water pipelines and construct reservoirs.

Tsegay also said the regional government will work together with the Japanese government in the efforts to curb shortage of safe water. (Source: state-owned ENA)

Ethiopia loses millions from livestock smuggling

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

Ethiopia should take urgent steps to curb animal smuggling that is cutting into export earnings worth tens of millions of dollars to the poor country every year, a senior official said.

Livestock exports are an important source of hard currency for Ethiopia, which boasts 50 million cattle, 50 million sheep and goats and more than half a million camels. It made $53 million from exports last year, but Berhe Gebreigziabher, at a top official at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said smuggling was slashing revenue.

“A significant number of live animals … are being smuggled to neighboring states to be re-exported to Middle Eastern countries,” he told Reuters on Friday.

“Our animal sector resources are being stolen and taken to other nations. The government must adopt strict policies and control mechanism to stop the illegal trade undermining us.”

Berhe, who heads the ministry’s Animal and Plant Regulatory Department, said the authorities should support economic growth by adding value to their exports, not just selling livestock.

The government has converted tens of thousands of acres in the Oromia, Amhara and Somali regions to rangeland for the leather goods sector, which it hopes will earn $200 million from exports in 2009/10 (July-June), up from $100 million in 2008/09.

The country used to export mostly raw hides and skins to markets in Europe and Asia, generating about $30 million a year in the late 1990s. It has since built dozens of tanneries, shoe factories and other leather-working facilities.

Among the major buyers of Ethiopian-made shoes are Germany, Italy, China, India and the United States. (Reuters)

Egypt warns any attempt to irrigate Nile is an act of war

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopia, being the source of 85 percent of the total Nile waters flow, claims that it could self-support its hungry people off foreign food aid if granted to irrigate from the Blue Nile river.

However, a 1929 treaty between Egypt and Britain, the then regional power, awarded most of the Nile’s water to Egypt. Veto power over upstream projects as well.

Despite the fact that Ethiopia generates the lions share to the river, the horn of Africa’s nation uses only less than 1 percent of it because Egypt resists any attempt from Ethiopia to launch any large scale irrigation project and warns that any attempt to adjust the river’s status would be regarded as an act of war.

With devastating drought year-to- year endangering the lives of millions of people in Ethiopia and in the East of African region in general, Ethiopians now strongly argue that it is time that the ’ancient’ treaty must be reviewed.

Binyam Tekle is an Architect and an Environmentalist at a University and a research institute in Ethiopia. He argues that Egypt is a hidden factor to food crises in the east African region.

“Why do we always blame rain short or aid short to food crises in Ethiopia, while next door we have a major contributor to food shortage in Ethiopia-Egypt?” Binyam told Sudan Tribune.

“Unless the old, unfair treaty is soon reviewed by the international community and Egypt accepts to loosen its current rigid stand, once off hand the strain could lead to wrong but dangerous direction,” he added.

In recent years failing rains have constantly made crops in Ethiopia impossible to grow as much as the country needs to outreach the increased food need of its 80 million people, Africa’s second most populous country.

“People in some East African countries entirely depend on Nile water for their annual supply to agriculture when rainfalls luck, so increasing water demand could lead to political tensions in the entire region, unless new compromise is reached for fair distribution” said researcher Endashaw Belay.

“To realize a peace full united Africa, countries must be able to jointly work together to solve own problems and in this case Nile states must have political will to reach comprehensive consensuses despite what past treaties.”

Many analysts say that Egypt is blocking any funds to Ethiopia’s Nile project. Though Ethiopians might be tempted to circumvent the anachronistic arrangement, they can’t. Egyptian officials work behind “closed doors” to block funding for upstream projects, according to David Shinn, former US ambassador to Ethiopia.

Nile states have sought to re-negotiate the old treaty but Egyptian officials have stalled it for years. (Source: Sudan Tribune)

Ethiopian taxi mogul Solomon Bekele defends himself

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

In his column on the Washington D.C. taxi industry, LL mentioned the name of Solomon Bekele—calling him “almost a mythic figure, a bogeyman, in local taxi circles.”

LL was not able to speak to Bekele — a native of Ethiopia — prior to his Tuesday deadline, but he has since gotten in touch.

In the course of interviewing various figures in the taxi industry, Bekele’s name came up repeatedly— not, mind you, as anyone who is directly involved in the ongoing scandal, but as someone who cuts a wide swath in the taxicab world.

Bekele these days is the proprietor of Crown Captive Insurance Co., one of a small handful companies operating in the city that specialize in taxi insurance, which is quite different from the six-month policy you might buy from GEICO or State Farm. Taxi policies are rarely more than two weeks in duration, and are usually sold to drivers through the taxi companies most affiliate with.

But Bekele’s reputation outgrows merely owning an insurance company—time and again, figures in the cab industry, speaking anonymously, mentioned his name with a mixture of awe and suspicion. Much of that can be traced to his history in Atlanta, where Bekele controlled a large share of the taxi market through companies he owned. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution called him “Atlanta’s taxi king” in 2001.) Still, Bekele says there’s no basis for any suspicions.

Asked about his involvement in stumping for a Atlanta-like medallion system, he says: “None whatsoever. I’m in the insurance business.”

Bekele, a Potomac resident, explains that some people had approached him to inquire about how medallion systems work in cities like Boston, New York, and Atlanta—that’s it; no contact with elected officials or policymakers on the matter. “I have from time to time, when requested by interested cab drivers or companies, expressed my experience in the matter of medallions,” he would write in an e-mail to LL, referring to his advice as “considered opinion.” (That’s not necessarily at odds with what LL reported—that Bekele is a “strong backer” of such a system, which was based on conversations with several anonymous sources, who recall Bekele advocating for a shift.)

So what accounts for all the mentions of his name? “You call this jealousy,” he says. “These are people from the same hometown….These kind rumors are politically motivated.” To wit, connected to his advocacy for human rights and open elections in Ethiopia, not his involvement in the taxi industry.

And regarding his connection to Yitbarek Syume, indicted as a ringleader in the alleged bribery scheme, Bekele says there’s barely any. Syume bought his insurance, he says, and he went to Syume’s garage on 5th Street NE “maybe three to four times a year” to get his cars fixed. “He knows the cars,” he says.

Bekele called LL again this afternoon, saying his mention in the column was unfair. “It’s almost a riot out there,” he declared, saying that the column had only served to stoke suspicions. “You’re flaring up a lot of emotions here!” (By Mike DeBonis | Washington City paper)

Woyanne crosses into Somalia in pursuit of rebels

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

MOGADISHU — Several hundred Ethiopian soldiers from the Woyanne army in Ethiopia crossed into neighbouring Somalia over the weekend, arresting dozens of villagers suspected of having links with Islamists, elders and residents told AFP.

The Ethiopian Woyanne forces, accompanied by Somali pro-government clan-based militias, entered three villages west of Beledweyn, some 300 kilometres (186 miles) north of Mogadishu, on Saturday afternoon.

“I saw dozens of armed vehicles belonging to the Ethiopian Woyanne army with some Somali militias, they entered Wagada village and detained several people before getting out of the village this morning,” Husein Farah Gomey, an elder near Beledweyn told AFP by phone.

Mohamed Nur Adan, another elder in a nearby village also said that his cousin was among dozens detained for questioning.

“Hundreds of them entered the area late Saturday, they detained 13 people including my cousin but they later released him after questioning him for several hours,” he said.

The residents said that while the Ethiopians Woyannes let some of their detainees go, they took others with them.

Some of the residents told AFP the Ethiopian Woyanne forces crossed from the border town of Ferfer tracing members from the Ogaden rebel group.

Over 100,000 expected to show up for Teddy Afro concert

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Tens of thousands of people are lined up starting early Sunday morning to buy tickets for Teddy Afro’s concert tonight.

This concert, which will be held at the Addis Ababa Stadium, will be the first one for Teddy since he was released from prison last August.

The popular singer was thrown in jail for 2 years by the Woyanne tribal junta after being falsely accused of hit-and-run accident which claimed the life of a homeless man.

Awramba Times has the following report (Amharic):

አውራምባ ታይምስ (አዲስ አበባ)፡- ከእስር ከተለቀቀ በኋላ የመጀመሪያው የሆነውና ዛሬ ምሽት ከ12፡00 ሰዓት ጀምሮ በአዲስ አበባ ስታዲየም የሚካሄደውን የድምጻዊ ቴዎድሮስ ካሳሁን (ቴዲ አፍሮ) ኮንሰርት ለመታደም ከአዲስ አበባና ከመላው አገሪቱ የተሰባሰበ በመቶ ሺህ የሚቆጠር ህዝብ ከንጋት አንስቶ በአዲስ አበባ ስታዲየም ዙሪያ ተጥለቅልቋል፡፡

በሺህ የሚቆጠሩ የቴዲ አፍሮ አድናቂዎች ከባለፈው ሳምንት ጀምሮ የኮንሰርቱን ትኬት ለማግኘት ብዙ ጥረት ቢያደርጉም አውራምባ ታይምስ ያነጋገራቸው የኮንሰርቱ የፕሮሞሽን ኃላፊ አቶ ምትኩ ግርማ ግን ‹ትኬት አስቀድመን አንሸጥም የትኬት ሽያጩ የሚከናወነው ኮንሰርቱ በሚካሄድበት ዕለት በስታዲየም ነው ይህ የሆነበት ምክንያት ደግሞ ትኬቱ በህገወጥ መንገድ ዋጋው እንዳያሻቅብ ነው› ማለታቸው ይታወሳል፡፡ በዛሬው ዕለት በአዲስ አበባ ከጧት ጀምሮ ከባድ ዝናብ እየጣለ ቢሆንም በመቶ ሺህ የሚቆጠሩ የኮንሰርቱ ታዳሚዎች ግን ለዝናቡ ቦታ ሳይሰጡ በረጃጅም ሰልፎች እየተጠባበቁ ነው፡፡

Symposium honoring Haddis Alemayehu of Ethiopia

Saturday, October 10th, 2009

A symposium is being organized in honor of the great Ethiopian writer, public servant and patriot Haddis Alemayehu in Washington DC, Saturday, October 17, 2009.

Ato Assefa Gebremariam, one of the organizers of the event, informed Ethiopian Review that the event will be held at Howard University’s College of Engineering, 2366 6th Stree NW, Washington DC.

The symposium will also celebrate Ato Haddis Alemayehu’s 100th birthday.

The family and friends of Ato Haddis invite every one in the Washington DC area to join them in celebrating his life and achievements. (For more info write to: assefagmt@gmail.com)

Haddis Alemayehu (15 October 1910 – 6 December 2003), was a Foreign Minister of Ethiopia and novelist. His Amharic novel Fiker Eske Mekaber (Love to the Grave, 1968) is considered a classic of modern Ethiopian literature.

He was born in the Endor Kidane Miheret section of the city of Debre Marqos, Gojjam, the son of an Orthodox priest, Abba Alemayehu Solomon.

As a boy, he began his education within the system of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, including at the monasteries of Debre Elias, Debre Worq, and Dima.

Later, he moved to Addis Ababa where he enrolled at the Swedish Mission and later at the Ras Taffari Makonnen school for further education. He was eventually awarded an honorary doctorate by Addis Ababa University. (Source: Wikipedia)

(For more info write to: assefagmt@gmail.com)

Ethiopia opposition coalition presents joint election platform

Saturday, October 10th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA — A coalition of eight Ethiopian opposition parties presented a common manifesto for the planned June 2010 general elections.

The coalition said it will field candidates in the elections.

The Forum for Democracy and Dialogue, an amalgam of eight parties, unveiled their 65-page manifesto in Addis Ababa on Saturday.

“We have agreed to move this country forward. For the last 150 years, political change has only come through the barrel of the gun. We want to break that tradition and change power through the ballot box,” said one of its leaders, Gezachew Shiferaw.

Ato Gizachew said the manifesto is based on the programs of all eight parties.

“We hope on that basis to be able to lead in unity.”

The coalition chairman Professor Merara Gudina said the new forum mirrored “Ethiopia’s multi-ethnic composition” with representatives from Tigray to the Somali border.

The new coalition has appealed to the government “to negotiate genuinely with us on the modalities of the coming elections” that should be “free, fair and transparent” and monitored by observers from the European union, Merara continued.

The forum, or Medrek as it is known in Amharic, has called for the “release of political prisoners”, notably Birtukan Mideksa, who has been jailed since December 2008, Merara said.

The forum said last month that almost 200 of its supporters had been arrested amid what it called a campaign of government harassment.

The issue currently blocking talks between the government and Medrek is the drawing up of rules governing the conduct of the electoral campaign.

Meles also said last month that international observers would likely be invited for the polls.

At least 200 people were killed when police brutally repressed riots after the opposition refused to accept Meles’ victory in the last elections in 2005. (AFP)

Ethiopia's tyrant express frustration over Eritrea

Saturday, October 10th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopian Prime Minister tribal warlord Meles Zenawi accused Eritrea on Saturday of sowing havoc in the region and reiterated calls for sanctions over Asmara’s alleged support for Somalia’s rebels.

“It is going on and on with its creating havoc agenda. The character of this regime is not changing,” Meles told parliament.

He said that Ethiopia Woyanne has done its best to establish a dialogue with the government of Eritrea.

“We believe in dialogue, we have actually knocked on the door many times and they haven’t responded,” he said.

Ethiopia Woyanne accuses Eritrea of backing Islamist rebels fighting to overthrow the Somali transitional government, which Ethiopia Woyanne is helping to prop up. Eritrea denies the accusations.

The African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a six-nation regional grouping, have also called for sanctions against Asmara in recent months. [These vampires should sanction themselves out of power.]

“The evidence (of Eritrea’s involvement) is definitive, the need (for sanctions) is undeniable,” Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

“Every day the crisis worsens. Neither the region as a whole, nor Somalia in particular, can afford the consequences of failure. Peace and security issues affect domestic as well as regional considerations and all the IGAD states need a solution in Somalia, and quickly.” (Source: AFP)

Ethiopia: Much Ado About An Already Won Election!

Friday, October 9th, 2009

By Alemayehu G. Mariam

Déjà Vu: Here We Go Again With the Charade

Last April, we commented that the whole business of elections in Ethiopia is “much ado about nothing”. We offered a catalogue of reasons why the whole election rigmarole and ritual under the current dictatorship was an exercise in futility and absurdity:

The insufferably meaningless [2008] election ritual is now almost over. But for a few more days, we’ll have to put up with the regime’s self-congratulatory blabber and vacuous sloganeering about Ethiopia’s unstoppable march on the road to democracy. Mercifully, in another week or so, no one will even remember there was an ‘election’ in Ethiopia in 2008.

Perhaps we spoke too soon. Here we go again with another election charade!

We are once again being finessed into talking about “the 2010 election” as though it is a real election. It is as real as Mickey Mouse, Pinocchio, Bugs Bunny and Mr. Magoo. It is just crazy: How is it possible that we fall for the same old trick over and over and over…? How can one conceive of contesting an “election” in 2010 that has already been won in 2009? How does any reasonable person believe that the same crooks that rigged the 2005 election will sit in their rocking chairs on the front porch watching a real election being held? Didn’t the same gang of election thieves tell us last April that opposition party members won ONLY 3 seats out of 3.5 million elected seats won by their party? What they call an “election” is the three ring circus where they will be formally announcing their landslide victory in May 2010.

But the charade goes on. It was reported that Ethiopia’s arch dictator “has set up talks with the opposition about drawing up a code of conduct for [elections] next year.” As usual, he tried to pull a fast one by trying to get opposition party leaders to sign it. Ato Seeye Abraha, a former defense minister who is now in the Forum for Democratic Dialogue in Ethiopia [FDDE] (a coalition of eight opposition parties) said, “The code of conduct assumes a context where there will be independent administration of elections, freedom of movement, freedom of expression, no intervention by security forces.” FDDE members pulled out of the talks. It was a simple case of “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

Jamais Vu: What in the World is Going on in Ethiopia?

When the familiar seems new or bizarre, psychologists call it “jamais vu”. Something strange is going on in the relationship between the pro-democracy opposition parties and the one-man, one-party dictatorship in Ethiopia. They seem to have finally come to a complete agreement on political strategy. They have all become Ghandians. Ethiopia’s arch dictator has threatened to use the collective numerical power of African countries and walk out of the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen in December if the “rapists” of Africa do not pay up $67 billion a year as “blood money” for their centuries-long abuse of the continent:

If need be we are prepared to walk out of any negotiations that threatens to be another rape of the continent… While we reason with everyone to achieve our objective we are not prepared to rubber stamp any agreement by the powers… We will use our numbers to delegitimise any agreement that is not consistent with our minimal position… Africa will field a single negotiating team empowered to negotiate on behalf of all member states of the African Union…

The FDDE “using its numbers” wants to negotiate with the ruling “Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front” to contest the “2010 elections”. But they walked out of the negotiations when the dictatorship began a campaign of arrest and intimidation against their members. Ato Bulcha Demeksa, leader of the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement bitterly complained, “The ruling party cadres throughout the country are jailing our potential candidates on false charges… We want to negotiate with the government and ask them to stop arresting and jailing our potential candidates.” The capo dictator in his polished Orwellian gobbledygook was sarcastically dismissive: “Those parties that apparently are concerned about harassment are not concerned enough to participate in the devising of a code of conduct that is designed to put an end to it, if it exists, or to prevent it if it doesn’t… The intent of these individuals is to discredit the election process from day one, not to participate in it.” The dictator’s reptilian consigliere, Bereket Simon, with his signature condescension, contempt and mockery of the opposition quipped, “Nobody is being jailed for being a politician… To walk away from [the talks] is disastrous and is to walk away from democracy.”

Ghandi Rules!

We are now witnessing an epic Ghandian confrontation over how to use “numbers”. To use or not to use one’s numbers, that is question in Ethiopia and Africa today: Whether African countries or opposition political parties in Ethiopia should “use their numbers” in negotiations for a fair outcome in climate change or election negotiations? Whether a group of countries or political parties should “use” their “numbers” to delegitimize a concocted climate change deal agreement or a bogus code of conduct to facilitate rigged elections? Whether “numbers” should be used to resist and fend off Africa’s and Ethiopia’s “rapists”? Whether African countries should rubberstamp a lopsided climate deal agreement with the West or opposition political parties a one-sided code of conduct with a dictatorship?

In a Ghandian confrontation, there are no losers, only winners. Africans will certainly win if they use their “numbers” in the climate change negotiations. So will Ethiopian opposition political parties if they use their “numbers” to insist on holding an open and free election.

Climate Change and Regime Change

Climate change and regime change are actually two faces of the same coin. Think about it. Climate change affects the ecological well-being and survival of the entire planet; regime change is about the political ecology and welfare of human beings in a small corner of the planet. The mechanism for positively transforming both is the same: Attain moral clarity and act decisively and courageously on sound and unassailable moral grounds. If walking out of negotiations is a good and prudent moral act to save Africa from the “Western rapists”, it is also good and prudent enough to rescue Ethiopia from her rapists. If it is moral and prudent for “Africa to field a single negotiating team empowered to negotiate on behalf of all member states of the African Union,” it is moral and prudent for the FDDE to do the same in Ethiopia. If it is a moral act to “delegitimise any agreement that is not consistent with minimal positions on climate change” using one’s “numbers”, why would it not be an equally compelling moral act to delegitimize any “code of conduct,” “election” or “regime” that does not meet “minimal positions” of universally accepted standards of human rights and democratic practices? Those who point an index finger at the Western predators and “rapists” of Africa for hypocrisy, chicanery and underhandedness should look at their own clenched fists and see that three fingers are pointing directly at them. Regime change before action on climate change!

Just in passing…

What is the “2010 election” about anyway?

Is it about famine that is now voraciously consuming one-fifth of the Ethiopian population? The confinement of hundreds of thousands of political prisoners in prisons and secret detention facilities without trial? Prosecution of torturers, murderers and other human rights abusers? The ecological catastrophes facing Ethiopia? The galloping inflation? The rampant corruption and plunder of the public treasury? The complete lack of legal accountability of Ethiopia’s dictators? The millions of dollars worth of gold bars that walked straight out of the bank in 2007? The lack of access to clean safe water (only 24% of the total Ethiopian population has access to “clean and safe water”)? The reckless intervention in the Somali civil war, the squandered resources and wasted young lives? The massive human rights violations and absence of the rule of law? The establishment of an independent judiciary, freely functioning of civil society organizations and press? Improving one of the worst educational systems in the world (only 33% of boys and less then 20% girls are enrolled in school in Ethiopia)? Improving one of the worst health care systems in the world (only about 20% of Ethiopians have any access to some form of primary care, one physician for every 40,000 people, one nurse for every 14, 000 people)?

Or is it about “None of the Above”?

Remember 2005?

Real elections took place in 2005. Back then there were real opposition parties who campaigned vigorously. There were free and open debates. The private free press challenged the dictators and scrutinized the opposition. Civil society leaders worked tirelessly to inform and educate the voters and citizenry about democracy and elections. Voters openly and fearlessly showed their dissatisfaction with the regime in public meetings. On May 15, 2005, the voters did something that had never been done in recorded Ethiopian history. They used the ballot box to clean house. That was a lesson in real elections!

It is time for all Ethiopian pro-democracy forces to wake up and refuse to be pawns in the dictatorship’s silly little game of “elections”. The dictators want the opposition to participate in their “election” so that they could use the “participation” as a stage prop when they go panhandling Western donors for aid. The key to Ethiopia’s future is based on building coalitions and organizations that strive to create strong bonds and linkages across ethnic, linguistic, political, regional and ideological lines. FDDE holds great promise in this regard. Until pro-democracy forces inside and outside Ethiopia develop a consensus and a plan of action for democratic change, the dictatorship will continue to put up election circuses and make puppets of us all in its freak show.

It is foolish to believe the “2010 election” will make any difference in the lives of Ethiopians. It is an election about NOTHING; and we should condemn it as a travesty and caricature of democracy and a shameless mockery of popular sovereignty. We are entertained by Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, Pinocchio and Mr. Magoo, but we do not believe any one of them is real. And so it is with the “2010 elections” circus in Ethiopia….

(The writer, Alemayehu G. Mariam, is a professor of political science at California State University, San Bernardino, and an attorney based in Los Angeles. For comments, he can be reached at almariam@gmail.com)

Several Ethiopians arrested in Washington DC taxi bribery scandal

Friday, October 9th, 2009

WASHINGTON DC — Investigation of taxi bribery by U.S. federal authorities involving several Ethiopians in the Washington DC area is widening. Authorities have arrested 27 people and indicted 39 so far in a massive bribery case tied to the D.C. taxicab industry.

Two indictments released on October 2 accuse a total of 39 individuals of conspiring to bribe city officials in order to obtain fraudulent taxi licenses between 2007 and 2009.

Taxicab Commission Chairman Leon Swain was the man who first alerted federal authorities to the conspiracy, and the Post reports that Swain was working undercover for the FBI on the case as recently as last month. Mike DeBonis has more on Swain, who so far has not publicly commented on his involvement.

First word of the investigation broke last week, when Ted Loza, chief of staff to Ward 1 D.C. Council member Jim Graham, was arrested and charged with accepting $1,500 in cash and other gifts from taxicab lobbyist Abdulaziz Kamus. Kamus’s name does not appear in today’s indictments, and it’s been previously reported that he was cooperating with the FBI as an informant.

The payments involved on the taxicab commission’s end appear to be much larger: first $14,000 in cash, then $8,000, and even a shopping bag filled with $59,880, plus numerous smaller payments of around $3,000, all totaling up to ultimately hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The apparent ringleaders named in today’s charges are Yitbarek Syume, Berhane Leghese, and Amanuel Ghirmazion, but scores of others are also alleged to be involved, and both indictments refer to co-conspirators “both known and unknown to the Grand Jury.” This case appears poised to grow only larger.

Interview: Ethiopian religious leaders who defected to Asmara (P. 2)

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Interview with Two Ethiopian Religious Leaders that defected to Asmara (Part 2) and more News. Watch video below,

Ethiopian Pianist Girma Yifrashewa to perform at UCLA

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

Girma Yifrashewa will perform at a UCLA-sponsored international symposium and festival under the title of Africa Meets North America (AMNA), October 22-25, 2009.

Girma is Ethiopian pianist and composer of classical music. He is profiled at AfriClassical.com and has been featured on AfriClassical frequently.

The event is being organized by the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, Department of Ethnomusicology, Azusa Pacific University, Music Research Institute (MRI), and the
Center for Intercultural Musicology at Churchill College, Cambridge (CIMACC).

More info: www.amna.ethnomusic.ucla.edu

Drought threatens over 6 million Ethiopians

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA – As many as 6.2 million Ethiopians need emergency humanitarian assistance due to severe drought, an official from the Oxfam charity said Monday.

[Yesterday, the tribal junta in Ethiopia that is led by the Tigrean People Liberation Front (Woyanne) has claimed that the country's gross domestic product (GDP) has grown by 10 percents.]

The Ethiopian government puts the number in need at 5.3 million. Pastoralist communities in the country’s southern Borena area have been particularly hard hit by the lack of rain.

[Borena is one of the most fertile areas in Ethiopia. The problem in Borena is not drought. It is the ethnic-apartheid based agricultural policy of Meles Zenawi's regime that is causing food shortages in regions of Ethiopia that are fertile.]

“Some 6.2 million Ethiopians hit by two-year recurrent drought are facing starvation and need emergency assistance,” Abera Tola, head of Oxfam America in east Africa, told Reuters.

Oxfam warned last week that severe drought is driving more than 23 million east Africans in seven countries towards severe hunger and destitution.

It said the worst affected nations were Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Uganda, and that the situation was being exacerbated by high food prices and conflict in some areas.

(Reuters: Reporting by Tsegaye Tadesse; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

Ethiopia's junta claims 10% GDP growth, Opponents disagree

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA (VOA) – Ethiopia’s [tribal junta] says its economic growth rate has topped 10 percent for the sixth year in a row, and could do it again in the current year, despite the global economic turndown. But international economists and Ethiopia’s political opposition are questioning the figures.

President Girma Woldegiorgis says Ethiopia’s economy grew at a 10.1-percent rate during the past year, even though poor rains crippled the dominant agriculture sector and curtailed power generation, forcing a partial shutdown of factories. [Ato Girma is not a real president. He is Meles Zenawi's puppet.]

Speaking to the opening session of Ethiopia’s [rubber-stamp] parliament, Mr. Girma called the growth “a remarkable achievement.”

“The fact that our economy has been able continuously to register growth rates of more than 10 percent annually for the last six consecutive years in such difficult global and domestic circumstances is an attestation of the success of our policies and strategies designed to speed up our development,” he said.

The Ethiopian president chided economists who had warned that Ethiopia could not achieve double-digit growth without fueling inflation. He suggested, but stopped short of predicting, that government policies would succeed in achieving the same economic feat this year.

“Our objective will be to continue the pace of rapid economic growth by registering a growth rate of 10-percent for the 7th consecutive year, and while controlling inflation at less than 10 percent,” he added.

Mr. Girma’s announcement came just weeks after Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi pegged the growth rate for the past year as low as 9.2 percent. As recently as April, the government had forecast 11.2 percent growth.

Ethiopia’s political opposition immediately rejected Mr. Girma’s figures. Prominent opposition leader Merera Gudina accused the government of ‘cooking’ (changing) the data. He said average Ethiopians would know the figures were false because their standard of living has failed to improve.

International Monetary Fund and World Bank officials were not immediately available for comment, but the IMF earlier estimated an increase of 6.5 percent or less for Ethiopia during the fiscal year that ended in July.

Ethiopia is among the world’s poorest countries. Its agriculture sector, which supports more than 80 percent of the population, has been hit by a third consecutive year of drought.

The government’s latest figures suggest one out of six Ethiopians, or nearly 14 million people, are in need of food aid.

Seize the time: Challenge the dictator

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

By Yilma Bekele

The Ethiopian Prime Mister has been a very visible figure lately. If there is such thing as frequent flyer marketing by Ethiopian Airlines Ato Meles is sure to have enough to go to the moon and back. Stop wishing it were a one-way ticket ok? The period after the 2005 general election has not been good to Ato Meles.

The sure win situation was spoiled by the upstart and spoiled brat called Kinijit. Kinijit took the wind out of Ato Meles and his ethnic entourage. TPLF (EPDRF) was shown to be a house built on sand. A little strong wind and the whole thirteen years Hollywood style façade were shattered to pieces. Kinijit victory was total. The Ethiopian people knew it. The foreign observers concurred. The only one denying reality was TPLF.

Ato Meles always keeps something in his back pocket for a rainy day. He was able to whip out the predicted ‘Interhawme’ scenario to overcome the defeat. He used the threat of Interhamwe (conspiracy to kill all Tigreans by Kinijit) to declare state of emergency. Of course one evil deed leads to another and in a panic he ordered the murder of unarmed protesters by his security force, imprisoned over forty thousand fellow citizens and jailed the whole opposition including human right advocates and civic leaders. The charge included ‘attempted genocide’.

It was a return to the yesteryears of African strong man scenario. Sham elections, rejection by the population, the use of force to change the natural outcome and finally hiding to sit out the shame associated with such barbaric and ugly deed against fellow human beings. The illegal acts ushered in a long winter of exile and lock down. Ato Meles went into hibernation. Let alone Europe and America he was not welcome in most parts of the country. He settled for Adwa as a vacation spot. Talk about downgrading. His party used the down time to fine-tune the repressive machine. The ‘kind’ image cultivated for the election was jettisoned to be replaced by the ‘mean’ not forgiving TPLF.

New programs were designed to satisfy the donors and the Diaspora was actively cultivated to bring needed dollar and euro. Elections were held with new safeguards to assure victory. There is nothing better than to run unopposed and win resoundingly. The ferenjis were happy and were able to fill the necessary forms to continue business as usual. TPLF was happy that once again victory was snatched from the jaws of defeat. The Ethiopian people were depressed and started their geography lesson to scan for a quick way out of the Africa.

Ato Meles emerged from his cocoon around 2007. The world was flush with money and the ferenjis were throwing it out as if it grew on trees. The job market was such that new immigrants were working two jobs. It was planet wide party time. The fantastic amount of remittance flowing into the country and the surge in commodity prices were making the TPLF regime delirious. No one was willing to challenge the fantasy of 12% economic growth thrown around by the regime.

The fight against terror came at an opportune time too. Ato Meles jumped on the bandwagon and declared Jihad on ‘Islamists’ wherever they are. In a split second he was re incarnated as defender of the faith and slayer of Al Qaeda and whatever dada. Not bad for an old Marxist whose religion was dialectic materialism. Jesus was in Marx was out. Condoleezza Rice and Jendayi Frazier were happy to declare Ato Meles No. 1 Jihad fighter in Africa. The fearless leader promised the Pentagon Somalia on a silver platter. It was supposed to be a weekend excursion, a quick jaunt with enough time to be home for dinner. Well, the drive to Mogadishu was a freeway. In fact our Somali friends waited at roadsides to wave at the invaders and wished them a quick trip to the Indian Ocean resort.

Something went wrong. After the heroic arrival in Mogadishu those tricky Somalis closed all the exits. The African Union solders dug in and refused to budge out of their camp. The West said ‘you broke it, you fix it.’ The UN said not now we got more pressing problems. There goes your name, your reputation and the little savings in the coffer. Life is not fair.

At least something good came out of this debacle. Ato Meles was out and about. The Chinese turned out to be real friends in times of need. They were willing to forward loans and collaborate with TPLF and World Bank to show economic activity. Remember most are not sustainable enterprises but who is to complain. Ato Meles leveraged Ethiopia’s position as the seat of African Union to get involved in environmental and aid issues.

By hiring advisors and lobbyists in the West he was able to rehabilitate his image. He started by visiting fellow African dictators. Then he moved in to the periphery like China, Russia or the Middle East. He was worming his way. He always made sure that it was a locality with no civil liberties where his people are not allowed to confront him. For a time it was a days visit to Europe. It was never announced and was done fast. Then he ventured to America under the guise of attending the UN. The ice was broken.

The last year we have seen him in London, Rome and now Pittsburgh. He is seating with who is who on this planet. He wants to be admitted into the Major league. Play with the big boys. All attending G8, G20 meetings are legitimately elected heads of states. None have served more than two terms. Except for the Russian and the Chinese all are dependent on the good will of their people to maintain their status as a leader. In all major meetings Ato Meles is the only ‘leader’ that has clung to power for more than ten years. The vast majorities are new to the job. The meetings are a venue where they jockey to score good deals for respective countries. Ato Meles can sit and watch.

Ato Meles was happy to sit on the same table. He can have his picture taken, attend dinners and such but he cannot speak or vote. Sitting with the big boys have its price. There is certain behavior that is not tolerated unless of course one is either strong or rich neither of which Meles can claim to be. Yes there are always exceptions. That is real life. On the other hand a complete disregard of basic decency is not tolerated even for the rich. The Chinese leaders were shunned after the Tienamen affair. They are very careful and conscious about their dark side since that incident. Despite the ugly display before the dinner in Pittsburgh, I am sure he is happy with his performance.

In that case let us take him for his word. Let us agree that he has matured enough as a leader that he can be included in such gathering. I believe deeds should follow the rhetoric regarding the rule of law, the need for a free and fair elections and observance of the declaration of human rights that Ethiopia is a signatory of. That is good enough for starters. Democracy is the price to sit on that table unless of course you got a few nuclear warheads in your back yard. Suffice to say Ato Meles couldn’t even whip a disorganized Somali rag tag police force. He can only bully un armed civilians.

I believe we should seize the time and use this opportunity for the Ethiopian people to take advantage of the many liberties and rights promised by the Constitution. Meetings by political party’s, associations and organization should be automatic and free. Political parties should be free to lobby the system by using such methods as marches, sit ins and public gatherings.

We know that Ato Meles is preparing to position himself as a selfless leader to assume some positions in international organization when he retires. It is to be commended. Surely a leader that sits with the Barrack Obamas, Angela Merkels and Gordon Browns will not allow his solders to shoot and kill citizens demanding justice. It will definitely affect the next G20 meeting or next climate conference. You just don’t wash your hands with people’s blood and expect a seat with the big guys. It is highly unlikely such deed will go unnoticed. It is definitely a conundrum. This is what is called between a rock and a hard place. Leadership sometimes calls for tough solutions.

It is a tough choice isn’t it? To do the right thing and live in harmony or commit a transgression that will result in being ostracized once again. The decision to use the iron fist will add a lot of uncertainty in what comes after. The call for the International Criminal Court to act will be loud. Other matters that have been pushed under the rug will start to surface. Do we really want that? There are some forces urging Ato Meles to stay the course, but aren’t they sacrificing him to save their behind?

I hope the real opposition will use this opportunity to call Ato Melese’s bluff regarding democracy and freedom and test how real the promise of Woyane ‘Constitution’ is. I hope Ato Meles realizes his legacy is on line. I hope the nightmare decade will be replaced by a long period of prosperity and real peace. With TPLF in charge there is no such thing as a sure bet. Anything is possible.

Washington Post reporter in Ethiopia escaped to Kenya

Monday, October 5th, 2009

The correspondent for Washington Post and Time Magazine in Ethiopia, Kassahun Addis, has fled to Kenya last week.

Kassahun had told his colleagues that the U.S.-financed tribal dictatorship in Ethiopia was harassing him and that he faced danger.

Patriots and Trying Times

Monday, October 5th, 2009

Alemayehu G. Mariam

Trying Times

“These are the times that try men’s souls,” said Thomas Paine, one of the Founders of the American Republic, at the onset of the American Revolution. It could be said equally that these are times that try a nation’s soul. Ethiopia today is stranded in a sea of political, economic and social troubles; and it continues to be strafed by the slings and arrows of wicked villains, thugs and scoundrels, to paraphrase Shakespeare. But before Ethiopia became the playground of outlaws, she was the land of patriot-soldiers who protected her boundaries from foreign invaders, defended her honor and dignity against the insolent and cowardly hordes, and guaranteed her independence and freedom from enemies who sought to slice and dice her. Those patriots were the members of her armed forces of yesteryears who marched the arid lowland deserts in the blistering heat, endured the biting cold of the craggy highland mountains and defended against the aggressor in the bushes, the swamps, the valleys and the once-dense forests. They were underpaid and overworked, under-funded and overburdened. They were under-appreciated. They faced unimaginable hardship in their decades of selfless service. Many suffered hunger, thirst, disease and isolation in their remote outposts. But they marched on, sailed the sea and flew over the glorious skies to make sure Ethiopia kept her independence for another 3,000 years.

A couple of weeks ago, an event was held in Washington, D.C. to honor former members of Ethiopia’s armed forces. The event, dubbed “Evening of Ethiopian Heroes” (Ye Jegnotch Mishet), was organized by the Committee to Honor Ethiopian Heroes. The purpose of the event was to pay homage to the brave patriot-soldiers, to show them the high respect and appreciation they have earned for their sacrifices, and to express to them profound gratitude for their long service. The sample list of named soldiers [1]  was drawn to represent all ranks of the hundreds of thousands of veterans, fallen soldiers and those missing in action. For the occasion two legendary retired generals, Tesfaye Habte Mariam and Kassaye Chemeda, were honored for their exemplary and extraordinary service to their country. Ali Berke, a militia fighter known for his heroism in various theatres of conflict, was honored in absentia. Last year General Legesse Tefera and others were honored by the Committee. Truth be told, these generals and many of their officer colleagues proved to be extraordinary military leaders because the troops they commanded made them so; and the honor goes to their loyal troops as well.

True Courage and True Colors

Ethiopian history offers accounts of mercenaries who took up arms against their country and people dreaming of riches and political power. There were those who betrayed the honor and dignity of their uniforms to advance their political ambitions and to grab power, along the way abusing and misusing professional military institutions as tools of repression of the civilian population. But there were also the true soldiers, the soldiers’ soldiers, like the ones honored in Washington who performed their duties with skill, professionalism, integrity and honor. These were a special breed of soldiers who had mastered not only the art of war and the ways of peace, but also lived the values of country, duty and honor everyday of their lives.

Military skills can be taught and learned, but courage, integrity and humility are the specialty of the patriot-soldier. These honored soldier took up their profession for one purpose only: to defend their people and their homeland. In peace time or at war, in good times or bad, these patriot-soldiers never wore their ethnic stripes, and never displayed their tribal marks. Under fire, they showed only two things: true courage they inherited from their forefathers and their true colors — the Green, Yellow and Red. They put their flag and country above all things, including their own safety and their families’ well being; and they did it all with unquestioning devotion and unconditional love.

Never Was So much Owed By So Many To So Few

History will tell of the great sacrifices and courage of these patriot-soldiers when freedom rings in Ethiopia. But we know a lot from reading the autobiographies and battlefield accounts of the generals honored at this event. We are moved to tears by the horrible toll war exacts on the mind, the soul and body of the soldier, and the unfortunate civilians caught in the tragedy of conflict. We know these patriot-soldiers carry with them the emotional and spiritual burdens and scars of their battlefield experiences; and we can only imagine their great sacrifices from the injuries and disabilities they suffered defending their country.

We are familiar with the efforts that have been made to slander, defame and shame these patriot-soldiers. We know these soldiers were put in jail by criminals who sought to cover up their own crimes. The criminals tried every treacherous means to demoralize, discredit and dishonor them. But the patriot-soldiers marched on; they harbor no grudges and ill will to those who have mistreated and abused them. They stand tall above all as patriot-soldiers, and we can say to them from the depths of our hearts: “Never have so many owed so much to so few.”

What Goes on in the Minds of Old Patriot-Soldiers?

Old patriot-soldiers are good at hiding their pain, heartache and suffering. It is a professional virtue they have developed from experiencing years of hardships few of us can imagine, let alone endure. Those of us who have not walked a mile in their boots — never tasted life in the windswept deserts, never held sentry in desolate mountain outposts, never set eyes on the horrors of war, never heard the “crash of guns, the rattle of musketry and the strange and mournful mutter of the battlefield” — often wonder: “What goes on in the minds of old patriot-soldiers?” What do they think of their legacy of decades of dedicated service and sacrifice to their country? What do they say to each other when they see the land they defended with their blood, sweat and tears cut up like a slab of meat and handed away to the enemy? What do they think when thy see their people forced into ethnic corrals like cattle; and their lifelong sacrifices for the unity, harmony and territorial integrity of their country turn into a faint memory. What do they see in their dreams about the country they loved so much and the people they served so selflessly?

How do old patriot-soldiers survive in these trying times?

Those of us who never answered the call to service, we have learned some very hard lessons. These old patriot-soldiers have taught us that the unity, security and integrity of Ethiopia can never be taken for granted. Our burden is to deliver the lesson we have learned to the new generation: “There is a price to be paid to have a country united under the rule of law. That price is eternal vigilance against enemies foreign and domestic.”

Old Soldiers Never Die, They Live in Our Hearts Forever

It has been said that “men love their country, not because it is great, but because it is their own.” These patriot-soldiers love Ethiopia even though she is very poor and down on her luck; and her skin is covered with ticks that suck her lifeblood away. They love her because she is all they have got.

Most of us spend our lives asking whether we could have done this thing or that for our motherland; we question ourselves in the deep of the night if we could have made this contribution or that sacrifice. These patriot-soldiers do not have to ask themselves any questions. Unlike us, they have answered the call.

It has been said that “old soldiers never die, they just fade away.” Not our patriot-soldiers. They never die, and they never fade away. They just live in our hearts forever. I have no doubts that when these old patriot-soldiers rest their heads for the last time, just before they close their eyes for eternity, in their last breaths will be the words: “God bless Ethiopia, my home, sweet home!”

We owe them an eternal debt of gratitude (Ye Mairesa Wulleta). May God bless them all!!!

[1] http://www.addisvoice.com/article/ethiopian_war_heroes.htm

More on OLF leadership

Monday, October 5th, 2009

By Messay Kebede

I would like to thank Jawar Siraj Mohammed for the civility with which he engaged my article, “The OLF: Ideological or Leadership Bankruptcy?” Some Oromos responded to the article with emotional outcries and personal attacks, thereby displaying not only their alarming deficiency in sound arguments, but also their refusal to even discuss the issue. Some even went to the extent of saying that the Oromo issue is none of my business, as though Oromia had already become a foreign country. The happy contrast is that Jawar argues and wants to show that what failed the Oromo is not the ideology but the leadership. Since his sober and argued reply denotes an opening to dialogue, I reciprocate with an even higher longing for a rapprochement.

Jawar’s arguments are as follows: (1) there is no ideological bankruptcy since the large majority of the Oromo people supports the nationalist agenda of the OLF. (2) It is not true to say that the OLF operates in geographical conditions that are inimical to armed insurgency. (3) The success of the TPLF and EPLF highlights the importance of leadership. (4) The failure of the EPRP was due less to ideology than to strategic mistakes of its leadership.

What we get from these factual arguments is that “ideology does not play much role in determining the failure and success of an insurgency.” Jawar adds that, so long as an insurgency is not strong enough, it cannot consider reformist options, for it is suicidal for an organization to give up its mobilizing ideology. In other words, the Oromo nationalist or secessionist agenda should be preserved until the movement is strong enough to reform itself. Let me examine one by one these arguments.

Who Wants Secession?

Is it true to say that the Oromo people supports the secessionist agenda of the OLF? For that matter, let us extend the issue and ask whether the Eritrean people has supported the secessionist goal of the EPLF and whether the Tigrean people has agreed to the secession of Eritrea and the fragmentation of Ethiopia along ethnic lines. If both movements led to dictatorial regimes, is it not because the so-called popular support was actually imposed on the people they claim to represent? True, both Eritreans and Tigreans wanted self-rule, but it is one thing to fight against centralization and quite another to advocate secession. The latter is none other than a resurgence of the elitism of the 60s when Western-educated Ethiopians usurped the right to speak in the name of the people.

The only way by which Jawar can convince himself and other Ethiopians about the popular support for secession is through the implementation of a free and fair democratic process that begins by making serious reforms. If, after a time of power-sharing and democratic relationships, the Oromo people still expresses the desire to secede, only then can we speak of popular support. But all theoreticians, including ethnonationalists, know that in a truly democratic setup secession is unlikely. Put otherwise, what Jawar presents as a fact is not yet a fact; it is an elitist manipulation that uses past mistreatments to justify partition.
I add that if the Oromo had really wanted to separate from the rest of the country, no force on earth could have stopped them. Then, what is Jawar’s hurry? Let democracy sets in and you will have what you want if the grievances are still real. Incidentally, Jawar accepts that the OLF does not own the monopoly of representing the Oromo people, since he accuses me of “categorizing all Oromos under one ideology and under one organization.” Another mishap is when he calls my position “centrist,” even though all the books and articles I have written on Ethiopia unravel centralization as the main reason for Ethiopia’s failure to modernize.

Comparing Apples with Oranges

I leave out Jawar’s assumption that the OLF operates in conditions conducive for insurgency because it cannot be decided by people who write from America. However, there remains the issue of finding a neighboring country that provides political and military assistances, especially, that can serve as a shelter. In his reply, Jawar completely overlooked a detrimental outcome that he had vigorously and correctly denounced in his first article, to wit, the growing subordination of the OLF to the Eritrean regime. Yet the ideology of secession which, of course, leads to the choice of armed struggle, is responsible for the subordination.

Once it is said that the OLF has appropriate geographical conditions, the question is why it is still failing. Jawar’s answer is unequivocal: the severe shortcomings of the leadership. He uses a comparative approach to prove his point, namely, the military success of the TPLF and EPLF against the Derg. Unfortunately, the comparison is defective from various angels. One cannot compare the secession of Eritrea with that of Oromia. Not only different historical and geographical reasons intervene, but also minority groups, as was the case with Eritrea, have often no other option that the threat of secession.

When it comes to Oromia, we are presented with the unheard case of a group that wants to secede, even though it claims to be the largest ethnic group of the country. It is the unfeasibility of the case that derives me to speak of ideological bankruptcy. In the records of history, majority groups have defended the nation so that secession has always been the ideology of overpowered peoples. That is why I spoke of “self-mutilation” in that a group is degraded into thinking and acting like a desperate minority group. The Oromo need an ideology that is commensurate with their potential. Only then can they emerge victorious.
Who is the Winner?

As to the TPLF, its success should be taken with a grain of salt in light of the fact that Tigray is historically and culturally one of the cornerstones of Ethiopia. As such, any ideology that supports the breakup of Ethiopia is contrary to the historical role and identity of Tigrean people. That is why every time I hear about the victory of the TPLF’s insurgency, I cannot contain my perplexity. If the success of the TPLF depended on the secession of Eritrea, then I do not see where the victory is. Mengistu Haile Mariam could have also stayed in power by letting Eritrea go. Such an outcome would have been considered, not as a victory, but as a defeat. Moreover, how is the fragmentation of Ethiopia along ethnic lines an expression of victory? When Ethiopia is diminished and put in a condition close to disintegration––which is the only way by which an anti-Ethiopian Tigrean clique can dominate the country––I do not shout victory for the Tigrean people.

In place of victory, I see defeat, as no amount of military prowess will remove the bare fact of Ethiopia as a landlocked country. What was the main source of Ethiopia’s weakness and isolation in the past, that is, since the control of the Red Sea by Muslim forces, is back again thanks to the TPLF. Some years ago I posted an article in which I asked Ethiopians to let Assab go because it would only mean continuous war against Eritrea. I argued that the best option is to work toward the return of Eritrea through some form of federal arrangement. The TPLF government is now fully experiencing the huge impediment of being landlocked. The ethnic paradigm and victory at all costs, even by sacrificing Eritrea, combined to bring disaster and despair on Ethiopia. In light of these monstrous costs, is “victory” really a proper term?

Ideology and the Choice of Means

I am confused by Jawar’s statement that “ideology does not determine the failure and success of an insurgency.” How can it be so when we know that strategic choices are dependent on ideological inspirations? The OLF and EPLF opted for guerrilla warfare because of their secessionist ideology. Consequently, they allied with forces opposed to Ethiopia and refused to work with Ethiopia’s progressive forces. Likewise, to associate with the EPLF, the TPLF had to invent the ideology of Tigray as a nation and adopt ethnic references as the highest norms of political struggle. This ideological orientation explains why it could not ally with the EPRP and other progressive forces. Instead, it went in the direction of helping Eritrea to become independent in exchange for military and political support. You cannot explain the TPLF’s “victory” without its alliance with, nay, its subordination to the EPLF. In short, vision commands strategy as well as the degree of commitment.

To explain the defeat of the EPRP by the failure of its leadership is correct, provided it is added that the leadership failed because of ideological extremism. The choice of urban guerrilla struggle, which is believed to be the main blunder of the organization, is not separable from the slogans demanding a people’s government and socialism. If the EPRP had focused on democratic struggles for freedom of association and expression and for the establishment of a national government of reconciliation, etc., it would not have embarked on the wrong path of urban guerrilla. Contrary to Jawar’s statement, at that time, people, including the bureaucratic elites, the peasantry, the workers, and the Amhara population, expressed democratic demands as opposed to the socialist ideology of students and intellectuals. The EPRP and other leftist movements fought for the control of the state in order to impose their vision on the society. The Derg foiled the project and adopted socialism, not because it was forced to do so by the civilian left, as some authors claim, but because socialism exactly fitted its dictatorial interests.

The debate over the primacy of the national question over class interest in the Ethiopian student movement is the typical ideological battle that led to the formation of the TPLF and the OLF. According to the Stalinist vision, the liberation of the ethnic group has precedence over the consideration of unity with other groups. The detrimental consequence of this reasoning fully transpires in today’s Ethiopia, since the vibrant student movement in Ethiopia is now practically dead, undermined as it is by the dividing impact of ethnic ideology. This death is a palpable proof of how deeply ideology can be paralyzing. My message to Jawar is thus clear: what keeps you in chains is the diatribe against Amhara, Abyssinians and the correlated discourse on the Ethiopian colonization of the Oromo, which discourse undermines the gestation of common goals and actions.

Here and there Jawar’s reply seems to suggest that self-determination and secession are used for their mobilizing power rather than their intrinsic merit. He writes: “just because an ideology makes it simple to mobilize support, it does not mean it should be adapted without careful and rational evaluation of its short term and long term impact after liberation.” A merely tactical purpose diminishes the mobilizing power: not only does the secessionist ideology divide people, but also a tactical usage means that the leaders do not really believe in the ideology they are preaching. If that is the case, weigh the for and against, and it becomes clear that the best option is to simply drop the ideology.

But neither Jawar nor the leaders of the OLF are willing to drop the ideology. Why? Because it would allow extremist groups to rise and marginalize the present leadership. This is the inevitable price for cultivating and spreading for such a long time a divisive ideology. At one point a situation is created where it becomes impossible to reverse course. All the more reason for allying now with Ethiopia’s moderate and progressive forces, for only the engagement of the country in the path of resolute democratization can block the rise of extremist groups.

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

Behind Meles Zenwai's obsession with G8/G20 summits

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

By Selam Beyene

Shunned by most of the world for his crimes against humanity, isolated as a despot because of his brutal treatment of peaceful protesters following the May 2005 elections, and reviled as a leader of one of the most corrupt and racist regimes in the world today, Zenawi has incessantly been lobbying unscrupulous African diplomats in Addis and other groups in the West for a sympathy invitation to every summit held by the G8 and G20 economies over the last several years.

Through systematic control of almost all aspects of the economic activities in the land, including the aid intended to alleviate poverty and famine, and brutally suppressing basic freedoms, Zenawi has essentially classed Ethiopia at the bottom of the list of developing countries with respect to every conceivable index of development and human rights.

In total disregard of common morality and decency, he exploits the poverty he inflicted on the people as a justification for an invitation of compassion to G8, G20 and related summits. This is a hypocrisy that in comparison makes sagacious even the proverbial man “who murdered his parents, and then pleaded for mercy on the grounds that he was an orphan.”

As outlined below, a closer examination of how the tyrant and his repressive regime operate, however, reveals sinister motives that transcend sheer obsession to be present among world leaders.

1. Zenawi’s Insatiable Appetite for Aid Money

Since the dictator Mengistu Haile-Mariam handed power to Zenawi in 1991, the TPLF regime has received over 30 billion dollars in aid and billions more in loans from donor nations and financial institutions. According to one estimate, Zenawi has been receiving well over $2 billion in foreign assistance alone every year. Apart from the superficial construction projects in the capital and other selected areas — projects that are mostly awarded to TPLF shadow organizations and intended to impress the naïve visitor — the dictator has nothing tangible to show for all the money received.

With no clear accountability, the money has mainly been used, through dubious endowment rules and regulations, to prop up the repressive regime and to enrich the foreign bank accounts of leaders of the minority government as well as their illegal business conglomerates, like EFFORT.

Ensuring the flow of aid money has thus been a major obsession of the tyrannical regime. One obvious platform for accomplishing this is, of course, by securing a backseat, however unglamorous, at G8/20 summits using the famine and poverty of one of the most populous countries in Africa as a sufficient credential for attendance eligibility.

Regrettably, donor nations have repeatedly failed the people of Ethiopia by feeding the dictator with money that he has looted and blatantly used for repressive purposes. As L. Leicht, the EU director for Human Rights Watch, noted earlier this year:

“On 30 January, European Union policymakers sent a clear signal …. no matter how repressive the government becomes, vast sums of aid will continue to flow. This is emerging as a case study in bad donor policy.”

Leicht further declared:

“In January Ethiopia’s government passed a law that is an attempt to muzzle local activists and prevent them from scrutinizing the government’s human-rights record. Among other things, the new law ….. makes it illegal for … Ethiopians to scrutinize the government’s record on human rights, policing, conflict resolution and a range of other issues… It also provides the government with bureaucratic tools to shut down groups the government dislikes.”

Despite the reluctance of certain EU nations, a general awareness of the need to change the “bad donor policy” is noticeable in most parts of the world.

In a well-researched report, B. Bruton, an International Affairs Fellow in Residence of the prestigious foreign policy think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations, recently wrote:

“… cooperation with an authoritarian Ethiopia presents looming challenges to U.S. policy objectives. … the Ethiopian government’s attempts to minimize political competition in the run-up to the 2010 elections are likely to fan ethnic tensions in the country. The government’s ruling party, the Ethiopian People Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), is perceived by many Ethiopians to be dominated by a single minority ethnic faction, the Tigre, and its consolidation of political power may be read as an assault on the majority ethnic Amharic and Oromo populations. Public dissatisfaction with the government is high in the wake of the 2005 elections and a violent explosion is not out of the question.”

These are important developments that suggest the West has finally recognized the true nature of the dictator, and that the despot is running out of options. Thanks to the vigilance of the Diaspora and the illuminating reports of investigative journalists and human rights activists, the tyrant is now in no position to continue to swindle the donor community, begging for alms, hat in hand, at major summits.

2. Summits: A Last Resort to Gain Recognition and Legitimacy

Following the 2005 elections, Zenawi has been desperate to gain a semblance of legitimacy, having been deserted even by his once ardent supporters like former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. A group picture at the G 8/20 summits, however awkward and embarrassing, was Zenawi’s only avenue to get the attention of leaders of the developed world and the international media.

Paradoxically, every summit that Zenawi attended since the May 2005 debacle has instead further exposed his atrocities and laid bare the apartheid system of government he has instituted.

A case in point is the humiliation Zenawi experienced following the April 2009 G20 meeting in London, as reported by H. Gombya of The Black Star News:

“Although Meles Zenawi the Ethiopian Prime Minister and also current NEPAD chair was here, he abruptly canceled a press conference he was about to give. His people gave no reasons for this. But insiders in the press center said Zenawi was worried about the kind of questions that were going to be put to him concerning human rights violations within Ethiopia and his dealing with his opponents and Ethiopia’s neighbours.”

As “Prime Minister Zenawi cowered in the shadows,” the report indicated, “[t]he African continent really wasn’t heard.” Affirming the lack of legitimacy of Zenawi’s government, the paper expressed alarm: “…, it was rather absurd that no representative of the African continent was at hand to put their case to the world media at such a major global setting.”

Summits as a Magnet for the Gallant Diaspora

Ironically, as an unintended consequence, Zenawi’s obsession with sympathy invitation to the summits, instead of earning him legitimacy, has provided an effective medium to the ever-vigilant Diaspora to expose his crimes and corruption to world leaders and the international media.

From the summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, in 2005, to the recent gathering in Pittsburgh, Ethiopians in the Diaspora braved the elements and trekked the terrains to further expose the despot through penetrating slogans and placards.

As Carl Prine of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported, organizers of the recent protest in Pittsburgh declared to the world [11]:

“The U.S. taxpayers are paying money to a regime that is used to terrorize its own citizens …. The people in the G-20 … should not deal with an Ethiopian regime that was not legally elected.”

The damage to the dictator caused by the relentless protests of the Diaspora has been quite significant, both in terms of humiliating the despot and raising awareness globally about the egregious crimes he has committed against his people.

A Call to Action

With the growing realization of the moral, ethical, economic and political difficulties of supporting dictators against the will of the people they brutally suppress, world leaders are seeking alternative means of channeling their material and political support away from the despots.

The Obama administration has at least in principle declared its disassociation with dictators. In his speech in Ghana, Obama sent an unmistakable signal to dictators like Zenaw when he said:

“This is about more than holding elections — it’s also about what happens between them. Repression takes many forms, and too many nations are plagued by problems that condemn their people to poverty. No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves,…. No business wants to invest in a place where the government skims 20 percent off the top, or the head of the Port Authority is corrupt. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. That is not democracy, that is tyranny, and now is the time for it to end.”

Opposition groups and the Diaspora should seize this opportune moment and fight vigorously to deny the despot another fake victory in the 2010 elections. A concerted effort should be made to demand free and fair elections, with systematic and effective measures that include:

i) Mobilization of all resources to stage demonstrations inside and outside the country effective immediately;
ii) Steadfast lobbying of policy-makers in the US and EU to use aid as a leverage for the prompt and unconditional release of all political prisoners;
iii) Persistent campaigns to boycott all Woyanne-controlled business enterprises, including use of the EAL; and
iv) Unswerving support to initiatives that attempt to bring disparate opposition groups under one umbrella.

Having learned a painful lesson from the 2005 elections, Zenawi would undoubtedly take brutal measures to shut out any and all credible opposition. However, history has shown without fail that no force can withstand for long the wrath of a people so viciously impoverished, humiliated, oppressed and looted as the people of Ethiopia have been at the hands of the despot.

(The writer can be reached at Beyene50@gmail.com)

Ethiopia gears up for malaria outbreak

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) — Ethiopia is stockpiling medicine to counter an expected surge in malaria cases due to hotter weather, its health ministry said on Saturday.

In a statement, Kesetebirhan Admasu, head of the disease prevention directorate, said the El Nino effect would raise temperatures, reduce rain and generally aggravate conditions for the spread of malaria.

In response to the threat, he said, “there is sufficient medicine in store that could treat 12 million people,” for which 12.6 million birr (685,000 euros, one million dollars) has been spent.

The government has already purchased malaria diagnosis kits and medicines, insecticides and spraying equipment, and plans to distribute 13 million mosquito nets, he added.

General Demissie Bulto and the coup d'etat of May 1989

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

A new Book by Derege Demissie
“Abate Yachin Se’at”: Major General Demissie Bulto and the coup d’état of May 1989

In “Abate Yachin Se’at,” author Derege Demissie narrates the story of his late father, Major General Demissie Bulto. Derege’s story is about the private and public life of his father as well as a number of other high-ranking officers whose life run in tandem with the rise and fall of the post-WWII Ethiopian military history.

Derege’s book follows the arc of his father’s life and career from this period of Ethiopian history until his fateful death in 1989, by which time General Demissie had reached the pinnacle of his career as a Major general in command of the largest single military unit in Ethiopia. But Derege’s book is more than a son’s narrative of a beloved father’s public life. Throughout the book an intimate portrait of the private life of a father and a husband is threaded expertly on the large canvass of great historical moments that have shaped the attempt to establish and maintain a modern African nation-state. The promising ascent and catastrophic demise of the Ethiopian military under the otherwise inept leadership of the revolutionary Derg regime closely trace the triumphs and failures of the many campaigns of the country’s military, in all of which General Demissie participated.

General Demissie’s career began more or less with the very first attempt by the late Emperor Haileselassie to transform the Ethiopian military into a modern, thoroughly westernized fighting force. Demissie joined the emperor’s own Kibur Zebegna (honor guards) as an officer candidate of the third intake. It was a novel experiment in Ethiopia’s storied martial history, and Demissie’s time as a cadet was perhaps the most formative years of his life.

After a giddy, joy-filled three years as an officer candidate, Demissie and his fellow cadets were hastily shipped to the USS Radford, a United States Navy destroyer, and were unceremoniously commissioned as first lieutenants en route to the Korean peninsula. It was the Korean War, and the Ethiopian emperor, eager to impress western powers, had volunteered four successive reconnaissance battalions to be attached to the U.S. 7th Infantry Division as part of United Nations forces. The Korean War was to be the first of innumerable campaigns in which Demissie participated in his military service of more than three decades.

The story Derege narrates, is at once a story of personal courage and conviction as well as the moral dilemma inherent in war. Fade up with the dictatorial ruler that continually ignored their informed and professional counsel to institute crucial policy changes to end the war in the North and the government’s refusal to seek political solution to the internal problems the country faces, three high-ranking officers decided to design a daring plot to overthrow the government. These officers were: Maj. Gen. Merid Negussie, the Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. Fanta Belay, the Minister of Industry and former Commander of the Air force, and Maj. Gen. Demissie Bulto, the Commander of the more than 200, 000 strong Second Revolutionary Army (SRA). They convinced many others to join them and attempted the May 1989 coup d’état against Mengistu Halemariam.

When the attempt organized at the capital city failed in the first day of the coup, Gen. Demissie continued the effort in Asmara, then Ethiopia’s second largest city. For three days, Gen. Demissie continued his call for the end of dictatorship and for the formation of a representative government. The EPLF agreed to a 15-day cease-fire and preparations were underway to send troops to the Capital to crush the Palace Guard that was protecting the dictator. It was a daring plan, but one with increasingly diminishing chance of success. Yet, Gen. Demissie chose to fight to the end instead of boarding one the many planes under his control at the Asmara Air force base and saving his life. At that critical hour, Derege intimately examines the intense challenges his father faced and the personal courage he displayed.

The bloody massacre of the ablest generals and imprisonment of hundreds of officers, during the coup and its after math, became one of the major factors that contributed to the demise of the Ethiopian armed forces. Decapitated off its highly professional and brave leaders and officers, the Ethiopian army was now unable to withstand the continued push of the rebel forces. Engulfed with multifaceted contradictions, and ever alieniated from deeply dissatisfied populace, it took mere two years after the May 1989 aborted coup for Col Mengistu Hailemariam’s regime to finally succumb to the coordinated assault of the EPLF and TPLF. The collapse of the regime was to be followed by another era of tyranny under the dictatorial and ethnocentric TPLF/EPRDF that continues to date.

Other writers have written about General Demissie Bulto in most flattering words extolling his farsighted and brilliant military mind and the decisive leadership he provided. In “The Ethiopian Revolution,” a newly published work of scholarship in English and focused on the modern military history of Ethiopia, Dr. Gebru Tareke, characterized General Demissie’s leadership during the war against Somalia as follows:

“…The operation was directed by Brig General Demissie Bulto, Commander of the First Revolutionary Army and an officer with a well merited reputation for strategic vision, integrity, discipline, and decisiveness. These qualities had earned him the admiration and dedication of his staff and troops, who in turn fought with high motivation and determination. Demisse allowed his field commanders sufficient freedom of action while demanding full accountability. This calibrated responses to a complicated situation proved to be extremely effective.”

General MacArthur, the American general who led the defeat of the Japanese in the pacific front during WW II and under whose command General Demissie served in Korea while still a Lieutenant of the then Royal Guard of Ethiopia, once said “old soldiers never die, they just fade away.” In his book, Derege has brought back to life the legacy of General Demissie and the heroic officers who served Ethiopia with him in vivid detail. It is a testimonial about Ethiopian patriotism, heroism, and professionalism of a generation from whose life the current generation and posterity should draw strength and inspiration.

Like all good works of literature, the book has a quality of keeping one in suspense. It narrates the intricacies of the plot from many angles based on eyewitness accounts, interviews with key individuals who were involved in the coup attempt, and seventeen years of research from various published and unpublished sources, including information obtained from the United States Department of State through the Freedom of Information Act.

The book also contains a daily diary of Gen. Demissie Bulto taken during two of the most successful campaigns waged against the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) in then Northern Ethiopia. Zemecha Bahire Negash and Key Bahir Zemecha were often singled out for the sophistication of their planning and operation. Gen. Demissie, who was temporarily transferred from his position as head of the First Army in Harar, was assigned as a head of The Armed Forces Coordinating Committee that planned and executed the two campaigns. The daily notes the General took provide rich details of the coordination, planning, and execution of the campaign against EPLF forces that were entrenched in the town of Barentu and the mountains of Nakfa. Gen. Demissie’s notes give rare insight into how the ground forces, the Airborne, the Navy, and the Air Force collaborated in these campaigns as well as the many logistical and structural challenges they faced.

Derege Demissie, the author, is an attorney at law and a partner at the law firm of Demissie & Church. He graduated from George Mason University in Political Science in 1994 earned his Juris Doctor Degree from Suffolk University Law School in Boston. He is the fourth child of the late General Demissie Bulto. Married and with a son and daughter, Derege currently lives in Boston, MA.

(Publisher: Neamin Zeleke. “ABATE YACHIN SE’AT” IS AVAILABLE ON-LINE and Washington DC Ethiopian stores. To purchase a copy on-line, go to: www.demissiebulto.com)

Obama appoints an Ethiopian to key administration post

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key administration posts:

* Daniel W. Yohannes, Chief Executive Officer, Millennium Challenge Corporation
* Arun Majumdar, Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, Department of Energy
* Gustavo Aranavat, United States Executive Director to the Inter-American Development Bank

President Obama said, “These individuals have proven that they will bring skill, dedication and expertise in these important areas to my administration, and I look forward to working with them in the coming months and years.”

Daniel W. Yohannes, Nominee for Chief Executive Officer, Millennium Challenge Corporation

daniel-yohannesDaniel W. Yohannes is President and CEO of M&R Investments, LLC, a privately-held investment firm specializing in real estate, financial institutions and the green energy sector. Previously, he served as Vice Chairman of U.S. Bank for the Commercial Banking Group, Consumer Banking Group and as Head of Integration for Community and Public Affairs. In this role, his responsibilities included leading the integration of U.S. Bank and Firstar, which resulted in the 6th largest bank in the country. From 1992 to 1999, Yohannes was President and CEO of U.S. Bank (formerly Colorado National Bank), where he grew the Colorado franchise from $2 billion to $9 billion in assets. From 1977 to 1992, he worked at Security Pacific Bank (now Bank of America), where he held a number of leadership roles. Yohannes is on the Board of the National Jewish Hospital and Research Center, the Denver Art Museum, the University of Colorado Medical School and Project C.U.R.E., which provides medical supplies to 110 countries. Yohannes holds a B.S. in Economics from Claremont McKenna College and a M.B.A. from Pepperdine University.

Arun Majumdar, Nominee for Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, Department of Energy

Arun Majumdar is currently the Associate Laboratory Director for Energy and Environment at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. He has had a highly distinguished research career in the science and engineering of energy conversion, transport, and storage ranging from molecular and nanoscale level to large energy systems. For his pioneering work, he was elected as a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 2005. At Berkeley Labs and UC Berkeley, he helped shape several strategic initiatives in the areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy as well as energy storage, and testified before Congress on how to reduce energy consumption in buildings. He has served on the advisory committee of the National Science Foundation’s engineering directorate, was a member of the advisory council to the materials sciences and engineering division of DOE’s Basic Energy Sciences, and was an advisor on nanotechnology to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Dr. Majumdar has also been an entrepreneur, and has served as an advisor to startup companies and venture capital firms in the silicon valley. He received his Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay in 1985 and his PhD in 1989 from the University of California, Berkeley.

Gustavo Aranavat, Nominee for United States Executive Director to the Inter-American Development Bank

Gustavo Arnavat most recently served as Director and Senior Legal Counsel of the Citi Private Bank in New York, where he was Legal Co-Head of the Latin America market region. At Citi, he managed a wide range of legal, regulatory and policy issues in connection with banking, investment management and brokerage services. Arnavat also spent several years as an investment banker, focusing on the origination and execution of public offerings and private placements by Latin American issuers, and provided strategic advice relating to M&A transactions and joint ventures. Prior to attending law school, Arnavat served as a Presidential Management Fellow, working at the National Security Council as the Latin America regional analyst, the State Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration, where he worked on domestic and international law enforcement and anti-money laundering initiatives. He serves on the Boards of the DEA Museum Foundation, the Westchester Community Foundation, and TeatroStageFest. Arnavat received a B.A., cum laude, from Cornell University, an M.P.P. degree from the Harvard Kennedy School, where he was an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow, and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, where he was an editor of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review.

Interview with an Ethiopian Fighter

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

Interview with Southern Ethiopia People’s Front for Justice and Equality (SEPFJE) Fighter and more News. Watch video below,

Oldest "Human" Skeleton Found in Ethiopia; Older than Lucy

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

By Jamie Shreeve | National Geographic

ardiScientists today announced the discovery of the oldest fossil skeleton of a human ancestor. The find reveals that our forebears underwent a previously unknown stage of evolution more than a million years before Lucy, the iconic early human ancestor specimen that walked the Earth 3.2 million years ago.

The centerpiece of a treasure trove of new fossils, the skeleton—assigned to a species called Ardipithecus ramidus—belonged to a small-brained, 110-pound (50-kilogram) female nicknamed “Ardi.” (See pictures of Ardipithecus ramidus.)

The fossil puts to rest the notion, popular since Darwin’s time, that a chimpanzee-like missing link—resembling something between humans and today’s apes—would eventually be found at the root of the human family tree. Indeed, the new evidence suggests that the study of chimpanzee anatomy and behavior—long used to infer the nature of the earliest human ancestors—is largely irrelevant to understanding our beginnings.

Ardi instead shows an unexpected mix of advanced characteristics and of primitive traits seen in much older apes that were unlike chimps or gorillas (interactive: Ardi’s key features). As such, the skeleton offers a window on what the last common ancestor of humans and living apes might have been like.

Announced at joint press conferences in Washington, D.C., and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the analysis of the Ardipithecus ramidus bones will be published in a collection of papers tomorrow in a special edition of the journal Science, along with an avalanche of supporting materials published online.

“This find is far more important than Lucy,” said Alan Walker, a paleontologist from Pennsylvania State University who was not part of the research. “It shows that the last common ancestor with chimps didn’t look like a chimp, or a human, or some funny thing in between.” (Related: “Oldest Homo Sapiens Fossils Found, Experts Say” [June 11, 2003].)

Ardi Surrounded by Family

The Ardipithecus ramidus fossils were discovered in Ethiopia’s harsh Afar desert at a site called Aramis in the Middle Awash region, just 46 miles (74 kilometers) from where Lucy’s species, Australopithecus afarensis, was found in 1974. Radiometric dating of two layers of volcanic ash that tightly sandwiched the fossil deposits revealed that Ardi lived 4.4 million years ago.

Older hominid fossils have been uncovered, including a skull from Chad at least six million years old and some more fragmentary, slightly younger remains from Kenya and nearby in the Middle Awash.

While important, however, none of those earlier fossils are nearly as revealing as the newly announced remains, which in addition to Ardi’s partial skeleton include bones representing at least 36 other individuals.

“All of a sudden you’ve got fingers and toes and arms and legs and heads and teeth,” said Tim White of the University of California, Berkeley, who co-directed the work with Berhane Asfaw, a paleoanthropologist and former director of the National Museum of Ethiopia, and Giday WoldeGabriel, a geologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

“That allows you to do something you can’t do with isolated specimens,” White said. “It allows you to do biology.”

Ardi’s Weird Way of Moving

The biggest surprise about Ardipithecus’s biology is its bizarre means of moving about.

All previously known hominids—members of our ancestral lineage—walked upright on two legs, like us. But Ardi’s feet, pelvis, legs, and hands suggest she was a biped on the ground but a quadruped when moving about in the trees.

Her big toe, for instance, splays out from her foot like an ape’s, the better to grasp tree limbs. Unlike a chimpanzee foot, however, Ardipithecus’s contains a special small bone inside a tendon, passed down from more primitive ancestors, that keeps the divergent toe more rigid. Combined with modifications to the other toes, the bone would have helped Ardi walk bipedally on the ground, though less efficiently than later hominids like Lucy. The bone was lost in the lineages of chimps and gorillas.

According to the researchers, the pelvis shows a similar mosaic of traits. The large flaring bones of the upper pelvis were positioned so that Ardi could walk on two legs without lurching from side to side like a chimp. But the lower pelvis was built like an ape’s, to accommodate huge hind limb muscles used in climbing.

Even in the trees, Ardi was nothing like a modern ape, the researchers say.

Modern chimps and gorillas have evolved limb anatomy specialized to climbing vertically up tree trunks, hanging and swinging from branches, and knuckle-walking on the ground.

While these behaviors require very rigid wrist bones, for instance, the wrists and finger joints of Ardipithecus were highly flexible. As a result Ardi would have walked on her palms as she moved about in the trees—more like some primitive fossil apes than like chimps and gorillas.

“What Ardi tells us is there was this vast intermediate stage in our evolution that nobody knew about,” said Owen Lovejoy, an anatomist at Kent State University in Ohio, who analyzed Ardi’s bones below the neck. “It changes everything.”

Against All Odds, Ardi Emerges

The first, fragmentary specimens of Ardipithecus were found at Aramis in 1992 and published in 1994. The skeleton announced today was discovered that same year and excavated with the bones of the other individuals over the next three field seasons. But it took 15 years before the research team could fully analyze and publish the skeleton, because the fossils were in such bad shape.

After Ardi died, her remains apparently were trampled down into mud by hippos and other passing herbivores. Millions of years later, erosion brought the badly crushed and distorted bones back to the surface.

They were so fragile they would turn to dust at a touch. To save the precious fragments, White and colleagues removed the fossils along with their surrounding rock. Then, in a lab in Addis, the researchers carefully tweaked out the bones from the rocky matrix using a needle under a microscope, proceeding “millimeter by submillimeter,” as the team puts it in Science. This process alone took several years.

Pieces of the crushed skull were then CT-scanned and digitally fit back together by Gen Suwa, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Tokyo.

In the end, the research team recovered more than 125 pieces of the skeleton, including much of the feet and virtually all of the hands—an extreme rarity among hominid fossils of any age, let alone one so very ancient.

“Finding this skeleton was more than luck,” said White. “It was against all odds.”

Ardi’s World

western afar rift ethiopiaThe team also found some 6,000 animal fossils and other specimens that offer a picture of the world Ardi inhabited: a moist woodland very different from the region’s current, parched landscape. In addition to antelope and monkey species associated with forests, the deposits contained forest-dwelling birds and seeds from fig and palm trees.

Wear patterns and isotopes in the hominid teeth suggest a diet that included fruits, nuts, and other forest foods.

If White and his team are right that Ardi walked upright as well as climbed trees, the environmental evidence would seem to strike the death knell for the “savanna hypothesis”—a long-standing notion that our ancestors first stood up in response to their move onto an open grassland environment.

Sex for Food

Some researchers, however, are unconvinced that Ardipithecus was quite so versatile.

“This is a fascinating skeleton, but based on what they present, the evidence for bipedality is limited at best,” said William Jungers, an anatomist at Stony Brook University in New York State.

“Divergent big toes are associated with grasping, and this has one of the most divergent big toes you can imagine,” Jungers said. “Why would an animal fully adapted to support its weight on its forelimbs in the trees elect to walk bipedally on the ground?”

One provocative answer to that question—originally proposed by Lovejoy in the early 1980s and refined now in light of the Ardipithecus discoveries—attributes the origin of bipedality to another trademark of humankind: monogamous sex.

Virtually all apes and monkeys, especially males, have long upper canine teeth—formidable weapons in fights for mating opportunities.

But Ardipithecus appears to have already embarked on a uniquely human evolutionary path, with canines reduced in size and dramatically “feminized” to a stubby, diamond shape, according to the researchers. Males and female specimens are also close to each other in body size.

Lovejoy sees these changes as part of an epochal shift in social behavior: Instead of fighting for access to females, a male Ardipithecus would supply a “targeted female” and her offspring with gathered foods and gain her sexual loyalty in return.

To keep up his end of the deal, a male needed to have his hands free to carry home the food. Bipedalism may have been a poor way for Ardipithecus to get around, but through its contribution to the “sex for food” contract, it would have been an excellent way to bear more offspring. And in evolution, of course, more offspring is the name of the game (more: “Did Early Humans Start Walking for Sex?”).

Two hundred thousand years after Ardipithecus, another species called Australopithecus anamensis appeared in the region. By most accounts, that species soon evolved into Australopithecus afarensis, with a slightly larger brain and a full commitment to a bipedal way of life. Then came early Homo, with its even bigger brain and budding tool use.

Did primitive Ardipithecus undergo some accelerated change in the 200,000 years between it and Australopithecus—and emerge as the ancestor of all later hominids? Or was Ardipithecus a relict species, carrying its quaint mosaic of primitive and advanced traits with it into extinction?

Study co-leader White sees nothing about the skeleton “that would exclude it from ancestral status.” But he said more fossils would be needed to fully resolve the issue.

Stony Brook’s Jungers added, “These finds are incredibly important, and given the state of preservation of the bones, what they did was nothing short of heroic.

But this is just the beginning of the story.”

Alabama's A&M University gets $13 million for Ethiopia project

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

Alabama A&M University’s work to improve basic education in Ethiopia has received a $13 million boost from the federal government.

The grant from the U.S. International Development Agency was one of three federal contracts announced Thursday by the university.

A&M also received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation for research in advanced materials and nanophotonics and a $2.2 million foundation grant to strengthen science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.

The three-year Ethiopia grant is part of a larger $600 million initiative to pair historically black colleges with African nations. A&M’s grant funds its Textbooks and Learning Materials Program, which puts books and other materials in Ethiopian schools.

“Day to day, African nations confront horrendous obstacles in their quest to properly educate their children,” said A&M President Dr. Andrew Hugine Jr. “The textbook program offers (A&M) an opportunity to appreciatively give back to Ethiopia, a country with an ancient and rich heritage, while furthering our mission on an international scale.”

“The textbooks are used by 100 percent of the children of the country,” said Lamin Drammeh, manager of a similar program for Tanzania based at South Carolina State University. “The learning materials reflect what’s needed for the country’s work force, are culturally relevant, and are published in Africa by local African publishers using African distribution centers.”

A&M has developed English-as-a-second language textbooks for children in grades 1, 6, 7 and 8. The university has also trained teachers.

The science grants will help upgrade A&M research facilities and equipment and develop programs in nanoscience, nanotechnology and other areas of engineering.

Ethiopia's tribal junta stifles information technology growth

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

Ethiopia’s regime continues to monopolize telecom services including fixed, mobile, Internet and data communications. This monopolistic control has stifled innovation and retarded expansion.

The U.S. and WorldBank-financed tribal junta led by its genocidal leader Meles Zenawi, tries to encourage foreign investment in a broad range of industries by allowing foreigners up to 100% equity ownership. However, there is no official schedule for the privatisation of the national carrier and the introduction of competition, but once this happens, the potential to satisfy unmet demand in all service sectors is huge.

Ethiopia has the second lowest telephone penetration rate in Africa, but it recently surpassed Egypt to become the second most populous nation on the continent after Nigeria. [This is done on purpose by the U.S.-backed regime to keep the people of Ethiopian in the dark age]. However, it is also one of the poorest countries in the world with approximately 80% of the population supporting themselves through subsistence agriculture, which accounts for more than half of the country’s GDP.

Despite the monopoly situation, subscriber growth in the mobile sector has been excellent at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of almost 90% since its inception in 1999 and more than 100% in the past six years. However, demand has been even stronger, and ETC has been unable to satisfy it. Ethiopia’s mobile market penetration is still one of the lowest in the world at little more than 3%. Fixed-line penetration is even lower, and this has also impacted on the development of the Internet sector. Prices of broadband connections are excessive.

Improvements are beginning to develop following massive investments into fixed-wireless and mobile network infrastructure, including third generation mobile technology, as well as a national fibre optic backbone. Ethiopia is investing an unusually large amount, around 10% of its GDP, into information & communication technology (ICT). However, telecommunications revenue has grown only moderately in comparison, at around 16% per annum. It has remained under 2% of GDP, a low figure in regional comparison.

Are African Dictators Becoming Environmentalists?

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

By Alemayehu Gebremariam

Recently, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi warned that the African delegation he is expected to lead to the climate change talks in Copenhagen in December would walk out of any “negotiations that threaten to be another rape of the continent.”

The Ethiopian dictator, who was speaking in Addis Ababa at a meeting arranged by United Nations Economic Commission for Africa to promote the African negotiating position, demanded that the West pay billions of dollars annually in exchange for Africa’s acquiescence to a global warming agreement. African Union Chairman Jean Ping took an even harder line, threatening to “never accept any global deal that does not limit global warming to the minimum unavoidable level, no matter what levels of compensation.”

It is unprecedented for African dictators to take the moral offensive against the “evil” Western imperialists, who for centuries have exploited Africa and ruptured its social fabric. In the climate change debate, Africa’s leaders – many with blood on their hands – profess to capture the moral high ground and name and shame the West for its abuse of Africa and the planet in general. The strategy is refreshingly Ghandian: Use moral outrage and international civil disobedience to make the West squirm into doing right by Africa. Ghandi taught “Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as cooperation with good.” He exhorted that the only way to get the British to abandon their evil ways in South Africa and India was to actively resist their colonial rule through civil disobedience, particularly through a campaign of non-cooperation. For Zenawi and company, that message translates into a very public act of non-cooperation with the Western overlords on issues of fair play, equity and environmental justice.

But are African leaders genuinely concerned about climate change, or are they motivated by the sheer potential for billions of dollars of annual compensation to line their pockets. Are they engaged in non-cooperation or political extortion?

The answer is obvious. The bluster about “walking out” and “delegitimizing” the Copenhagen talks is nothing more than a cynical appeal to lofty moral virtues in order to guilt-trip and shakedown Western countries into paying billions in “blood money.” That is certainly the conclusion of the Economist magazine, which in its recent issue stated that the wrath of African leaders is aimed at “making the rich world feel guilty about global warming. Meles has made it clear he is seeking blood money—or rather carbon money—that would be quite separate from other aid to the continent.”

In the end, all of the climate change pontification is about African dictators extorting a $67 billion bribe every year to enrich themselves. It has very little to do with remedying the ecological disasters facing Africa.

Consider the case of Ethiopia. While Meles has managed to convince other African leaders to make him the point man at the global warming negotiations, he has ignored the ecological apocalypse facing Ethiopia. Though he speaks with moral fervor and indignation about the negative role of the West in aggravating the environmental consequences of climate change on Africa, he has not made a single statement or offered a single policy initiative on environmental issues in Ethiopia.

The environmental facts on Ethiopia are incontrovertible. Ethiopia is facing ecological collapse caused by deforestation, soil erosion, over-grazing, over-population, desertification and loss of biodiversity and chemical pollution of its rivers and lakes. Even the Ethiopian Agricultural Research Institute – a government agency – admits that the country “loses up to 200,000 hectares of forest every year.” The Institute has warned that “if the trend continues the country would lose all of its forest resources by the year 2020.” Other studies have also shown that between 1990 and 2005, Ethiopia lost 14 percent of its forest cover and 3.6 percent of its forest and woodland habitat.

Just a few kilometers outside the capital, Lake Koka has attracted considerable international attention and become the iconic image of the country’s environmental decline. A community of 17,000 people is facing severe illnesses and high morbidity from drinking and using the lake’s water. Massive pollution caused by the sugar factories in the country have resulted in illness and deaths of tens of thousands of people. Nothing has been done to hold criminally or civilly accountable the parties responsible for the environmental crimes.

Africa’s knights in shining armor should take care of environmental disasters in their own backyards – lakes, rivers and factories – before mounting their steeds on a crusade to save Africa from global warming. As for Ethiopia’s arch dictator and Africa’s chief climate change negotiator, he is merely trying to rehabilitate his image from the continent’s foremost human rights abuser to its chief environmental redeemer. Before Africa can be rescued from the ill effects of climate change, it needs to save itself from predatory dictators like Zenawi. For Ethiopia and most of Africa the rallying cry should be, “Regime change before action on climate change.”

(Alemayehu G. Mariam is a professor of political science at California State University, San Bernardino and an attorney based in Los Angeles. He can be reached at almariam@gmail.com.)