Archive for the ‘Ethiopian News’ Category

UN mourns Ethiopian engineer who is killed in Afghanistan

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009
Teshome Mandefro Egrete

Teshome Mandefro Egrete

NEW YORK (UNICEF) – The familiar blue flag flew at half mast in front of United Nations headquarters a few weeks ago. Its emblem of peace – a global map cradled by olive branches – flapped in a brisk autumn breeze. The flag had been lowered in memory of the five UN staff and others killed in the 28 October attack on an international guest house in Kabul.

After confirming his identity and notifying his family, UNICEF has now disclosed that one of the fallen was Teshome Mandefro Egrete, 56, an engineer from Ethiopia who was working with the agency on an assignment that began in September.

Mr. Egrete’s funeral was held in Addis Ababa this past weekend. He leaves behind a grieving wife and teenage son, and an extended family in deep shock.

That shock extends to all of Mr. Egrete’s colleagues at UNICEF and other UN agencies, and to the entire humanitarian aid community. Although he had lived and worked in Afghanistan for just a short time, he died there under the banner of peace and human development.

For this, we honour his memory and that of the others who were lost.

A life-saving legacy

Mr. Egrete leaves behind a legacy of saving and improving lives with his grit and intelligence, and the sheer skill of his hands.

He was in the drilling business by trade, starting out as a mechanic in the late 1970s and honing his skills over three busy decades. Trained in his home country and the United Kingdom, he became a drilling instructor and superintendent, and a senior advisor on complex water-supply projects operated by the government and private companies across Ethiopia.

Mr. Egrete had travelled to Afghanistan to assist the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development with the operation and maintenance of drilling rigs used to construct wells for communities in need. It was not a political mission but a practical one: to provide safe water for Afghan families – thereby saving the lives of thousands of children under the age of five who could otherwise die from diarrhoea and other waterborne diseases.

It was a worthy mission that tragically became his last.

‘In service to humanity’

Executive Director Ann M. Veneman expressed outrage and grief over the human toll of the Kabul attack. “UNICEF extends its deepest condolences to Teshome’s family and friends,” she said on 30 November, after his remains had been formally identified through genetic testing. “He died in the service of humanity.”

Despite such attacks, UNICEF and its partners continue that service, not only in Afghanistan but throughout the developing world.

By continuing our work, we carry on the legacies of colleagues like Mr. Egrete and Perseveranda So, the UNICEF educator who died in a bombing in Pakistan six months ago. By looking ahead, we build on the achievements of at least two dozen other UN aid workers who have been killed in violent attacks this year alone. By refusing to yield, we hold high the ideal of peace symbolized by the familiar blue flag flying outside the UN in New York.

Today, in memory of Teshome Mandefro Egrete, we rededicate ourselves to that ideal.

UNICEF

Why has Ethiopia's regime locked Birtukan in jail?

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

By Abiye Teklemariam Megenta

Bertukan Mikdesa

Birtukan Mikdesa

One blazing hot Sunday afternoon in December, I drove my old BMW 316i to Ferensay Legacion, an area in North East Addis Ababa dotted with clusters of shanties. The roads were layered with unevenly carved cobble stones and red sand which made driving nearly impossible. Outside most of the small hovels, which were made of mud walls and corrugated tin roofs, stood people–mostly women, talking to each other and fetching water from public spigots. Most of them were dressed in threadbare clothes and dust-covered sandals. A young woman with a baby tied on her back waved her right hand as I drove by. Birtukan Mideksa, the young, charismatic leader of Ethiopia’s biggest opposition, had lived in the village all her life except when she was in Kaliti, the notorious Ethiopian jail. “This is who I am. Ferensay is not just a village to me. It represents the ethos of solidarity, self-sacrifice and fighting to succeed in spite of adversity,” she told the crowd of adoring villagers, who gathered to celebrate her courage and leadership in late August 2007.

Birtukan, who is 35, lived in a three room house set behind a crumbling tin fence with her three year old daughter, her mom and niece. She met me just outside of the house where I parked my car and led me to her room. She was dressed ordinarily; tight jeans and blue linen shirt. No make-up. Her hair was pulled back tightly, and her high cheek bones and soft facial features were fully exposed. Her eyes were wet and lined in red. “Sleepless nights?” I asked her. She proffered an inscrutable smile in response. A neatly organized shelf lined by books with broad ranging themes occupied the left corner of the room. There were Jean P. Sarte’s “Being and Nothingness,” Messay Kebede’s “Survival and Modernization,” and John Austin’s “The Province of Jurisprudence Determined.” “Most of them were sent to me by friends and people I don’t even know when I was in prison,” she said, pointing to the shelf. The right side of the room was dominated by a big poster of Aung San Suu Kyi, her idol. She directed me to her bed and said, “You can sit there if you don’t mind, or I will ask them to bring you a stool.” She sat on the opposite end of the bed.

This was one day before a re-arrest which would condemn her to life in prison, and she knew what was coming. Did she think they would put her in jail? “You have to know that they are paper tigers. They are weak, but want to appear strong. They would think caging a woman with a three year old daughter who lives under their firm surveillance every day demonstrates their toughness.” She smiled nervously. “I don’t want to go to jail. It is terrible, but defiance is the only way to beat them.” Birtukan has a well-earned reputation of fearlessness, but here she seemed shaken. She folded her arms over her stomach, and disappeared into herself for a few minutes. “I am apprehensive of prison,” she said as her daughter poked her head in and looked playfully at her mother. “I have a daughter who needs me, a mother who is old.” Then her passion flares. Her hands unfold; her face frowns. “They forcefully make people hostage to their family and social commitments. They compel you to choose between freedom and family.”

Over the past 15 years, Ethiopians have become accustomed to politico-criminal arrests and trials. Journalists accused of threatening the national security of the country, opposition politicians put in trial for treason and attempted genocide, regime-opponent artists jailed for crimes petty and serious, and government officials charged of corruption- coincidentally, most of them after they started raising their voices against Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. But no affair has befuddled and stunned as many as the Birtukan case. Why have they imprisoned her?

A month earlier, Birtukan arrived in London in a driving downpour, hustling through umbrella-wielding political friends to reach the car awaiting her. This was the start of her two-week trip to Europe. She would visit supporters of her party, raise funds, explain her party’s political objectives and strategic choices, and meet officials of different countries. She had delayed her trip for weeks because she wanted to follow the US elections from home. “Obama dazzled her. She read his two books, listened to his speeches and, like millions, thought he was the real deal,” said journalist Tamerat Negera. “She saw herself in him. Her political ambition has always been to seek a common ground in a country which is polarized by ethnicity, conflict and ideology.”

The trip to Europe was one of the biggest challenges to this ambition. After the internal feud which rent apart the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), a party to which numerous Ethiopians pinned their hopes, many Diaspora Ethiopians had become frosty and suspicious towards opposition politicians. Her newly- minted party’s claim of the mantle of a CUD successor had serious doubters. In the ten months since the split of the CUD, even her ardent supporters questioned whether she had the necessary leadership skills and toughness to revive the opposition movement. Critics accused her of “surrender” to the EPRDF when she declared that her party had chosen “peaceful struggle”. Ethiopianreview, an influential website published in America, declared that the “Lady Liberty became Lady Surrender.” Europe was experiencing one of its coldest autumns in history; Birtukan hoped her political trip didn’t mirror the weather.

She also knew she had to walk a tightrope. Critics of the Meles government would blow horns in support if she made high-pitched, passionate anti-government remarks. But she cared about the consequences of her actions. She thought she was in a long-term political game and there was no reason to endanger her new party.

Generally, the European trip went well. Her critics were polite; her unenthusiastic supporters were galvanized. There were a few spats with activists, but they were all behind the screen. But a statement she uttered at a meeting in Sweden would trip her up. She told an audience of not more than 30 Ethiopians that the pardon she and other opposition leaders signed as a condition for their release from prison was the result of a political process and had no formal legal force.

On December 12, 2008, Birtukan was summoned by Workneh Gebeyehu, Ethiopia’s Federal Police Commissioner, and asked to issue an apology for the statement she made in Sweden. Workneh, a man of considerable bulk, is regarded by his colleagues as “a small time boss with big title.” The real power behind the curtain at the Federal Police is the lesser known Tesfaye Aberha, the assistant commissioner. Workineh is, however, the force’s public face. “He does all the dirty laundry and the floor-sweeping as Tesfaye makes decisions out of public and media sights,” said one of Workine’s close friends. He also has a reputation for ruthlessness and Byzantine intrigue, so atypical of the place he came from, the swinging Shashemene.

With him was one of the Prime Minister’s trusted men, Hashim Tewfeik, former State Minister of Justice, now working as a legal advisor to the Federal Police. I first met Hashim in December 2005 at his office in the green and white boxy building which housed the Ministry of Justice. The newspaper I edited was closed by the government and I had submitted a complaint to the Ministry of Justice. Hashim’s secretary arranged the meeting. He was skinny with tapered fingers and thin lips. He wore a blue suit and white shirt. Soft-spoken, articulate and with owlish visage, there was nothing to hint about him the EPRDF official who deliberated in decisions to terrorize the press and opposition leaders and supporters.

Hashim, a close relative of former Supreme Court Chief Justice and Election Board President, Kemal Bedri, was a popular lecturer of law at the Civil Service College before he left to Australia to study constitutional law at the Melbourne Law School. His doctoral dissertation, Ethiopia: the challenge of many nationalities, was a rather unabashed defense of EPRDF’s system of ethnic federalism. In 2004, he returned to Ethiopia; a year later, he was appointed State Minister of Justice, and quickly transformed into one of the regime’s most ardent political operatives.

“I am a student of this constitution and I defend it with all my capacities,” he spoke to me in modest whisper. It was a concealed suggestion that my newspaper had gone over the constitutionally prescribed limits of free speech. When I met Hashim again two years later in a barber shop around Sar Bet, he was already on the verge of leaving the Ministry of Justice to the Federal Police. Befitting such transfer, he was reading “At the Center of the Storm: My Ten Years at the CIA,” a book by former CIA boss, George Tenet.

Birtukan sat in the room, listening patiently to the two talking about her transgression of the law as they delivered the ultimatum: retract her Stockholm statement within three days, or she would face life imprisonment. She didn’t interrupt them, but her demeanor suggested that she was unfazed. When she spoke, her statement was a question packaged in mischievous brevity. “By what authority are you giving me this ultimatum?”

Two days later, she wrote her last word on the issue in Addis Neger, a weekly newspaper. This was Birtukan in her defiant and fearless mode. “Lawlessness and arrogance are things that I will never get used to, nor will cooperate with,” she penned. “…For them, a peaceful struggle can only be conducted within the limits the ruling party and individual officials set, and not according to the provisions of the constitution. For me, this is hard to accept.” In less than 72 hours, her pardon was revoked and she was dragged to Kaliti federal prison to serve a life sentence.

Why have they arrested her? For many Ethiopians, the entire Stockholm controversy was a grand ruse. Other opposition politicians, including former CUD leader Hailu Shawel, had questioned the credibility of the process of pardon even more forcefully. But not a finger was raised against them. Her accruing days in prison reinforced that suspicion. Even by Ethiopian standards, her treatment has been harsh. She spent more than two months in solitary confinement; she was denied access to books, newspapers and radio. The only people who are permitted to visit her are her mother and daughter; her lawyers have been refused to see her several times. “She is not a normal political prisoner. I have never seen the prime minister so infuriated as when he is asked about her arrest,” says Tamrat Negera. “The notion that her arrest is related to the pardon stuff was hogwash.”

In mid-January, two lawyers appeared on State TV to defend the decision of the government to re-arrest Birtukan. One of them was Shimeles Kemal, a tall man with a narrow face and long chin. Shimeles is such a complex and contradictory character that if he didn’t exist, someone would be obliged to invent him.

At the end of 1970s, Shimeles was a radical, rebellious teenager who dreamed of the formation of an Ethiopian socialist republic. He distributed propaganda leaflets of the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Party, a Marxist group which was battling a powerful military junta, and agitated his friends for struggle. But like most of his compatriots, he paid dearly for his views and actions. In 1991, the same year armed rebels toppled the junta, the former teenage idealist added a law degree to a CV which included seven years of prison life. His relationship with the new leaders was a roller coaster. As a judge, Shimeles convicted and sentenced the famous dissident Professor Asrat Woldayes, who died of a debilitating disease he acquired in prison. Then he was disgracefully removed from his judgeship while he was presiding over the case of another prominent dissident, Taye Woldesemait.

At the end of 1990s, he turned himself into a defender of free speech, writing brilliant legal and philosophical articles in the weekly newspaper, The Reporter. His friends claimed that the new image he tried to cultivate was so contrary to the decisions he made while in black robe that people stopped taking him seriously. With no allies, he ran into the embrace of Bereket Simon, the ruling party’s powerful propaganda man, and effortlessly turned back the clock. By 2006, he had already started drafting laws which would unduly constrain free speech and freedom of the press, prosecuted political detractors, journalists and human rights activists and overseen the expulsion of foreign journalists. His victims included his best friends and ex-girlfriends. Commingled in his brilliant mind are the ideas of the law as an instrument of political power and an utter contempt for political opposition. He has turned into the quintessential lawyer who has no moral qualms, the Jacques Vergas of the Ethiopian government.

In the TV appearance, Shimeles shook his fists threateningly and declared that the members of the press who tried to “patriotize and beatify” her would face criminal prosecution. After the interview, he rushed to his office to prepare a propaganda manual for political discussion. The right side of the first page of the manual was marked in black ink with these words: Attn: to all federal civil servants and regional public relations bureaus. The manual served as a document of discussions which were held in government offices, public corporations and regional public relation offices in February and March. The main theme of the discussions was: Why was Birukan rearrested? The answer was unlikely to emerge either from Shimeles’ TV interview or the manual he had prepared. Both doggedly stuck to the official line. In Addis Ababa, a city given to conspiracy theories, the discussions inflamed speculations and questions: why would they force civil servants to discuss Birtukan’s arrest?

Saturday, March 14, 2009, was the day of off-putting tasks. I had to clear my office desk, pack my bags, and call my friends to say goodbye. A day later, I would board an Ethiopian airlines plane leaving to the US. I put my books and some documents in the trunk of my car and went back to the second floor of my newspaper’s building to fetch old newspapers. Before I left the documentation room, my phone rang. It was my informant, Ashu – name changed to protect his security – who had close contacts with people high up in the EPRDF’s power hierarchy. He wanted to meet me before I left Ethiopia. “Can I see you at Chinkelo Butchery in 30 minutes?” he asked.

When I arrived 15 minutes late, Ashu was already half way through his raw meat, cutting the meet systematically with falcate-shaped knives and eating the slices with injera and spicy awaze sauce. When I told him I couldn’t cut meat, he rolled his eyes in disbelief. Ashu is a plump, moon-faced man with a proclivity for sybaritic life. His “business”, never clearly defined, gave him access to many of the country’s corrupt elite, including some of the biggest officials of the ruling party. As he sat in the butchery wearing a brown Aston Nappa leather jacket and track pants, drinking a bottle of Gouder wine and eating raw meat, many people going in and out of the butchery stopped to greet him, or at least waved at him. His reactions revealed that he loved the attention. In January, I asked Ashu to find out the real reason behind Birtukan’s arrest and he was here to tell me what he discovered. “If you want to know why Birtukan was arrested, follow Siye,” he said.

Birtukan had a gibe she used often in her conversations about politics. “Ethiopia,” she would say, “is the country of the future.” Demographically, her statement makes sense. More than 70% of Ethiopians are less than 30 years old. Politically, young Ethiopians wonder when the supposed generational power shift would occur. “Our politics is all the continuation of the psychodrama of the 60s and 70s,” said Dagnenet Mekonnen, a journalist. “Birtukan is one of the very few exceptions.”

Siye Abraha is among those old political elites. Before the split within the ruling party’s core political group, the Tigrayan Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF), Siye was one of the most powerful Ethiopian politicians, known for his dismissive political statements. In 2001, his opposition to Prime Minister Meles landed him in jail. After six years in jail, he came back to the country’s political scene a changed man, both physically and mentally.

His hair was buzzed to a gray stubble; his forehead speckled with a plethora of lines. He speaks with the calmness and patience of a Scandinavian scholar. Over tea and biscuits in his house in early January 2008, he confided to me that he thought the way forward for Ethiopian politics was consociationalism. A former defense minister and the leader of the military wing of TPLF during its days of armed struggle, talk was cheap for him. He started plotting the creation of a consociational party immediately.

Birtukan was integral to his plans. She was young, energetic, articulate and charismatic. She was the de facto leader of the integrationist movement in Ethiopian politics. But more than anything else, she was regarded as authentic, a person who could rally people. Even after the daily flogging in the headlines, there were few who questioned her integrity. The two started a long political discussion. He wanted to unite all major opposition parties, regardless of their ideologies, based on common minimal principles. She wasn’t entirely convinced of its practicality, but wanted to listen. “I like this guy. Although he may not be telling me all what I want to know, I will patiently listen,” she told me in June 2008. Siye helped create a coalition of some of the major political groups under an umbrella called Medrek, but by the time Birtukan was arrested, the coalition was sorely missing the membership of an important group–Andinet, Birtukan’s party. “It is very close to happening. I don’t know in which form we join Medrek, but we will join them eventually,” she told me a week before her arrest.

“They knew that. They were worried about the two forming a political partnership. He would appeal to members of the EPRDF. She would appeal to a lot of Ethiopians, and with all major groups in it, they thought Medrek would be a formidable coalition,” Ashu said. “I heard that from a top official.” I was skeptical. “So they arrested her just to thwart the formation of a strong political alliance?” His answer was firm. “Yes!”

“But why her? Why not him?” I asked.

He shook his head in irritated disbelief. “You seem to have no clue about the internal dynamics of the TPLF, and I am not going to recite the alphabet with you.”

On April 28, 2009, Washington presented me with a contrary hypothesis. Addis Neger asked me to write about the government’s allegation of a “Ginbot 7” orchestrated attempt to topple it. I rang a Horn of Africa expert whom I met while reporting the 2008 US elections. Sitting at the Thai Coast restaurant near Foggy Bottom, we walked through Ethiopian politics. “Do you think Meles will leave office?” “No.” “What is the perception of Birhanu at Foggy Bottom?” “Mixed, but not enough information.”….And then Birtukan “I think Birtukan grew too big too quickly. She was turning into a darling of foreign diplomats,” he said. “Meles might have wanted to show who was in charge.”

Among the foreign diplomats, nobody loved Birtukan more than Stephane Gompertz, the articulate, ex-French Ambassador in Addis Ababa. Gompertz is an Ethiopia-enthusiast. A skinny man in his late 50s with a retreating hairline, he collected Ethiopian art even before he became his country’s ambassador in Addis. For a person who just served as a Minister Counselor at the French embassy in London, an ambassadorship to Ethiopia might not feel like a promotion, but Gompertz tried hard to get the post. In late 2005, a few months after his arrival in Addis Ababa, he found himself in the middle of one of the country’s worst political problems. Diplomatic efforts to solve the stand-off between the government and the CUD failed, opposition leaders were jailed and the democratic space narrowed significantly. Gompertz continued to push the Meles government to relent. At the same time, he was also making visits to Kaliti prison to meet with Birtukan.. A strong bond developed. “Birtukan could be a great leader of the country in the future. She has some great qualities. She just needs to be a smart political player,” he told me during a lunch at Hotel de Leopol in Kazanchis in April 2008.
And then there was Donald Yamamoto, the diminutive, soft-spoken ex-US ambassador in Addis Ababa who was the classic citizen of the deceptively smooth diplomatic world. But when it came to Birtukan, Yamamoto occasionally meandered off script. “Ladies and Gentlemen,” he said to politicians in one of the US embassy’s famous cocktail receptions, “I am proud to introduce you to the rock star of Ethiopian politics.” At the time when the media buzz about the rock star appeal of Barack Obama, the ambassador’s statement was interpreted by most guests as a masked comparison of the then Illinois Senator and Birtukan. Similar sentiments were echoing throughout other diplomatic offices in Addis Ababa. Even Vicki Huddelston, the former US charge D’affairs, who had no sympathy for the Ethiopian opposition was said to be in awe of Birtukan.

But Birtukan never let the soft air kisses touch her face. One evening, I watched her talk to a group of young activists from her party at their office in Meshulekiya, a village in South East Addis Ababa. Her clear, distinctive voice flowed at a consistent volume with varying pitch; her hands sliced angular patches through the air. There was no prepared text; rather, a stream of passionate, flowery words gushing from the lips and heart of a politician who was living her life on a dramatic scale.

“When I was at the beginning of my political career,” she began and then paused.
“When did I begin politics? Was it last week?” she said, poking fun at herself and her short political career and provoking laughter from her audience. “I thought that diplomatic battle was a major part of the non-violent struggle. In politics, as they say, a week is too long. I have learnt my lessons. This is our fight. We ask them to join the fight for freedom and justice. We ask them to live up to their rhetoric and supposed creed. But we don’t beg them. This is our fight, not theirs. They would come running when they think they think that we have won it.”

Later in her office, she was drinking strong coffee, one demitasse after another. I asked her about the speech. “We have to stop overemphasizing their value,” she answered. “They like winners. They have strategic objectives which only winners can help them achieve. We should show them that we are winners, not beggars.” If Birtukan had, in talks to activists and private conversations, discounted the role of western countries and their diplomats in Ethiopia, she nonetheless did sometimes flirt with them. They had to be seduced, not trusted.

But are words of affection from diplomats enough to be Birtukan’s ‘La Brea Tar Pits’? In February this year, Meles seemed to lay out the terms. In a characteristic outburst, he contemptuously suggested that Birtukan had thought deliverance would come from “powerful people in powerful positions.” It was a clear finger pointing towards Western diplomats and politicians. “Had we indulged her assumptions, the message that we would have conveyed would be ‘nothing happens to you no matter what you do. If you have friends in higher places, you can ride roughshod with everything. That message I think is a very dangerous political message to convey in an emerging democracy. The rule of law and equality involves everyone.”

Scratch the surface and his statement might not be as significant as it seemed. The Ethiopian prime minister had used explosive accusations against Western nations when he arrested dissidents at home to preempt them from pressuring him to release the jailed. In truth, Meles had given the diplomats an opportunity for that deliverance. Days before her arrest, some asked Birtukan if they could help her escape the country-no doubt on Meles’ nod. Her emphatic “nay” to the offer brought much disappointment. Meles had told them ‘what’ was to come. He had used them as a conduit for communicating his intention to Birtukan, and these actions spoke louder than his calculated outbursts. Birtukan is as far removed from Melesian political values and behavior, but in the understanding of the actions and objectives of the West and its diplomats, they shared the same hemisphere.

“It was never more than ‘she is a decent woman; we like her’ stuff,’ said a political analyst in Addis Ababa, in reference to the statements of the diplomats. “Look, this is about tough-minded realism. No sentiments. While they were blowing kisses to Birtukan, these guys were bedwetting with the thought that Meles was going to resign. Meles knew that. So hopefully did Birtukan. There was no reason for him to arrest her owing to their comments. There must have been other factors. ”

At the beginning of the year, Birtukan’s name was on the lips of many people and the pages of international newspapers. With only days remaining before the first anniversary of her arrest, the outcries have quieted and the ink has dried up. Meanwhile, robbed of Birtukan’s leadership, the opposition coalition is struggling to gain attention and credibility. Western diplomats have also hit the refresh button. The political consequences of her arrest are becoming clearer. The question is: Were they designed?

(Abiye Teklemariam Megenta was the Executive Editor of Addis Neger newspaper which announced its closure owing to harassment last week. He can be reached at abiye.megenta@gtc.ox.ac.uk)

Advocacy for Ethiopia holds press conference on Copenhagen

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Copenhagen Conference WASHINGTON — Advocacy for Ethiopia, an Ethiopian civic group based in the U.S., held a press conference Sunday to air its views on the Copenhagen Climate Conference in Denmark that has started today.

The group’s main message was: “The importance of Human rights, good governance, and poverty reduction for a sustainable protection of our planet”

The panel of experts who participated in the press conference include Dr Seid Hassan, Dr Robsan Itana, Dr Minga Negash, Wz. Meron Ahahu, Ato Neamin Zelleke, Wz. Wassi Tesfa, and Dr Gezahegn Bekele.

The panelists explained, among other things, that Ethiopia’s tyrant Meles Zenawi has no mandate to represent Ethiopia and Africa at the conference. A letter sent to all participants of the conference states:

“… we are disappointed that the African Union has selected and the Climate Summit has given an opportunity to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia to represent the African continent. We believe that Meles Zenawi is the wrong person to represent Africa, since his policies are the causes and drivers for the incalculable environmental degradations currently taking place in Ethiopia.”

Advocacy Ethiopia has released the following statement, which is signed by 21 Ethiopian political and civic groups:

No Blank Checks for African Despots at Copenhagen Climate Conference

From December 6 to 18, 2009, leaders and representatives of nations around the world, international organizations, and prominent individuals will convene in Copenhagen, Denmark at the much anticipated Summit on Climate Change. We look forward to a positive outcome of this gathering and are hopeful that the conference achieves its objectives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to avert the colossal implications of climate change globally. We also recognize that those who would be most affected by ongoing damaging climate change are the people of developing nations, particularly those living in the continent of Africa.

Nevertheless, we are disappointed that the African Union has selected and the Climate Summit has given an opportunity to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia to represent the African continent. We believe that Meles Zenawi is the wrong person to represent Africa, since his policies are the causes and drivers for the incalculable environmental degradations currently taking place in Ethiopia.

Under Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s regime, Ethiopia is facing an ecological catastrophe: deforestation, recurrent drought, and desertification. Water pollution, air pollution, soil erosion are becoming alarmingly high due to Zenawi’s regime lacks both sustainable development plans and non-transboundary environmental policies. It is due to this fact that UNDP and other environmental organizations have been reporting about the alarming state of the ecological degradation in Ethiopia. Mr. Meles Zenawi’s colossal failures in environmental policies are highlighted by his regime’s land tenure policy and his relentless suppression of civil and economic rights. Millions of Ethiopians are exposed to periodic hunger and famine in part due to his regime’s land tenure policy. After almost two decades of Zenawi’s rule, in 2009 over ten million Ethiopians are exposed to hunger and malunitrition.

As is customary, Meles Zenawi’s regime has signed numerous international and environmental treaties that it never implements. To add insult to injury, Mr. Meles Zenawi even chairs Ethiopia’s Environmental Council. It is partly due to his control that the existing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lacks the political clout to discharge and enforce the duties and responsibilities vested in it. To those who pay attention to what is going on in Ethiopia, the story of the EPA’s feebleness is a direct byproduct of profuse lip service given by the regime of Zenawi about its concern for the environment– as is the case about good governance, democracy, human rights, etc,. In addition, Mr. Zenawi’s hostile attitude towards Environmental NGOs – and civil society organizations, in general, has created enormous hurdles for those who want to mitigate the colossal environmental crisis facing Ethiopia.

According to the government’s own Ethiopian Agricultural Research Institute, Ethiopia has been losing up to 200,000 hectares of forest every year. In a very recent statement, the head of the same Institute, stated: “deforestation has continued at an alarming rate in several parts of Ethiopia as a result of illegal logging, deforestation and other human induced activities”. Forty percent of the land covered by forest by the turn of the 20th century had gone down to 5.5% in 1987 and only 0.2% in 2003. If the current trend continues, Ethiopian forest covers would be extinct along with the loss of the country’s uniquely rich wildlife, fauna, flora, and a broad and general loss of its biological diversity.

The governance problem is one of the main causes of the environmental distress taking place in Ethiopia Soil erosion, which is linked with deforestation and Meles Zenawi’s land tenure system, continues to contribute to the drying up of the country’s lakes. Major Ethiopian Lakes such as Haro Maya (Alemaya), Adele, Awasa, and others have dried out totally. Acute shortages of water afflict major towns such as the city of Harrar and the capital city, Addis Ababa. As a result of the shortage of water resources, thousands of Ethiopians are affected by water born diseases.

The use of pesticides, untested and unfitting fertilizers, other toxic chemicals, some of them long abandoned by the industrialized countries, are now common in Ethiopia. The excess chemicals that are being washed off from the farms to rivers, streams, and lakes, are causing a plethora of problems including the poisoning of inhabitants, increasing algae blooms, and excessive plant growth leading to eutrophication, thereby making the water bodies and vegetation harmful to humans, wild and aquatic life and polluting the underground water. The level of environmental destruction caused by the chemicals used by foreign and party owned commercial flower farms and the leather industry is among the worst in the world. The environmental destruction and its hazardous impacts on human life and other inhabitants at and around Lake Koka, for instance, are captured by a few investigative reports and were televised recently by the members of the International media such as the Al-Jazeera Television Network and detailed by an eminent British Scientist.

Vehicular emissions in the capital city of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, are alarmingly high. The presence of lead and sulfur in imported fuels, despite a ban since 2002, and the absence of emission inspection clearly indicate that the laws Zenawi passes only give lip service to clear and present dangers to the lives of Ethiopians.

Ethiopia’s government human right abuses and suppression of press freedom are well-documented, by Human Rights Watch; The US State Department Annual Report on Human Rights, Amnesty International, the New York based Center to Protect Journalist (CPJ), Journalists without Borders, and many other creditable international and regional human rights and press freedom organizations. The organization–Genocide Watch– has called on the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to initiate an investigation against the atrocities committed by the government of Meles Zenawi. Wide spread corruption also adds to the malaise of ordinary Ethiopians. Transparency International’s most recent report has ranked Ethiopia as 126th most corrupt country in the world.
Periodic ethnic conflicts in the country are destroying and weakening the institutions and these in turn are prohibiting the citizens and the NGOs to make informed decisions about the environment. The governance problem is one of the main causes of the environmental distress taking place in Ethiopia.

We believe that in an age of Globalization humanity’s interest, wellbeing, and destiny are directly intertwined. In view of this, we urge you to take tangible steps that include the following concerns of ours:

1.Mr. Meles Zenawi must be held accountable to the massive environmental degradtion in Ethiopia. We urge you not to ignore the environmental damages that the Zenawi’s regime has committed inside Ethiopia. For doing so sends a very bad message to all of us who care about the environment. Zenawi should not be rewarded for the seemingly non-transboundary environmental degradation he has brought to Ethiopia.

2.Emphasize the crucial roles of a representative’s records in environmental protection, social justice, good governance, human rights, and the rule of law that are important in shaping and averting Global crisis in climate change.
3.Ensure the appropriate use of any climate change financing package to nations with non representative leaders with bad track records on environment, human rights, good governance, and social justice by binding conditions tied to strict measures that would ensure that the funds would not be siphoned off by corrupt leaders such as Mr. Meles Zenawi and others in Africa.
4.Refrain from giving funds to a corrupt regime such as Zenawi as doing so would be a waste of resources and tantamount to committing the same mistakes that the world community has made during the 1983/4 Ethiopian famine when., as recently revealed by Zenawi’s rebel comrades, the food aid and money was used to build his Red Army. Mr. Zenawi will use the same international funds, as in the past, to keep political and ethnic cronies to continue suppressing the Ethiopian people.
5.Do not undermine the importance of social justice, good governance, human rights, and the empowerment of citizens, and their civil societies in shaping and in averting Global warming

We urge countries of the industrialized world attending the conference not to write a blank check and reward dictators, such as the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, who have abysmal records of human rights and the environment.

(More information: AdvocacyEthiopia.org)

Historic EPPF meeting in Washington DC

Monday, December 7th, 2009

The Washington DC Metro Chapter of Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front (EPPF) is hosting a meeting for former members of the Ethiopian armed forces to discuss current political developments in Ethiopia.

This is the first meeting of its kind. For several years most former Ethiopian soldiers have been demoralized and were staying out of politics. Currently, the soldiers are increasingly rallying in support of EPPF. It is a big boost to the resistance group as their experience is needed to instill discipline and professionalism in the organization.

Let’s not forget that the Ethiopian soldier did not lose the fight against Woyanne. The corrupt and incompetent leadership at the top is squarely responsible for the loss.

The Saturday meeting is organized in collaboration with Former Members of the Ethiopian Armed Forces Committee to Support EPPF.

EPPF’s mission and its current activities, as well as how former soldiers can join the movement, will also be discussed at the meeting, according to Ato Demis Belete, EPPF-DC spokesperson.

The meeting is scheduled for Saturday, December 12, starting at 4 PM in Washington DC at the Unification Church.

EPPF-DC and Armed Forces Committee are inviting all members of the Ethiopian armed forces to come to the meeting.

In a related story, representatives of EPPF chapters in the U.S. and Europe held a meeting on Sunday, Nov 29, to brief members on the recent conference that was held in the field. The October 17-18 conference passed a 7-point resolution that rearranged EPPF’s activities in the Diaspora. Accordingly, EPPF’s International Committee has been disbanded and all chapters have been instructed to report directly to the EPPF main office.

(For more information write to: eppfwashington@gmail.com)

Testimony of a former Woyanne on abuse of U.S. aid to Ethiopia

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

The following is a testimonial letter from Amare Mammo — a former cadre of the ruling TPLF/EPRDF regime — who used to work for the Ethiopian Agricultural and Food Organization.

Letter addressed to: Dr. Seid Hassan – Murray State University
Received: November 23, 2009.

ከውጭ በርዳታ የሚገኘው በሙስና የተዘፈቀው ድጎማ (Safety Net) በኢትዮጵያ ምን ይምስላል?

ጤና ይስጥልኝ ዶ/ር ስይድ።

ኢትዮጵያን እያሽመደመደ የሚገኘውን ሙስና በሚመለከት ትኩረት ሰጥተው በመያዘዎ አመሰግናለሁ። በድጎማ መልክ ለገበሬው የሚሰጠውን ገንዘብ በሚመለከት ግንዛቤ እንዲኖረዎትና፤ መረጃ እንዲሆንዎት የግሌን ለማበርከት/ለመወጣት ይህችን ደብድዳቤ ጽፌአለሁ። ስለ እኔ ትንሽ ለማለት ያህል፤ ወደ አሜርካ ከመጣሁ ይኸውና ሁለተኛ አመቴ ነው። በግብርና እና የምግብ ድርጅት የገበሬዎች የእርሻ አማከሪ ሆኘ በተለያዩ የደቡብ ኢትዮጵያ ወረዳዎች ሠርቻለሁ።

ከላይ በተገለፀው አርዕስት ያለውን ሁኔታ ከመግለፄ በፊት፤ ከ1997 ዓ/ም ምርጫ በኋል፤ የገጠሩ ሕዝብ ኢሕአደግን የመረጠው ለማስመስልና ከተሜውን ለማሸበር ይነገሩ በነበሩት ግጥሞች መካክል ልጀምር፤

መራቡን ይራበው – የከተማ ሕዝብ፤
የዋህ ገጠሬ ሕዝብ – ይብላ ይደልብ።
ንብ ትነድፋለች አለ – የከተማ ሰው?
በልቶ ይመርቃል – ድሀ ገበሬው።

እንደሚታወቀው በብዙ ሚሊዮን የሚቆጠር የኢትዮጵያ ገበሬ በርሀብ ተጠቅቶ እንዳይሞት ከውጭ አገር በሚደርግ ድጎማ ሳያሰልስ “እየተረዳ” ነው። ይህ ድጎማ በእንግሊዝኛው ሴፍቲ ኔት (Safety Net) የሚባለው ተቋም ነው። ፕሮጀክቱ በአብዛኛው የሚመራውም በመንግሥት ካድሬዎች ሲሆን የድርጅታዊ አወቃቀሩና አከፋፈሉም እንደዚህ ነው።

ሀ) ሴፍቲ ኔት (Safety Net) ከ7 ተኩል እስከ 14 ሚሊዮን የሚሆነውን የገጠር ሕዝብን ያቀፈ ፕሮግራም (ተቋም) ነው። ፕሮግራሙ ከ1997 እስከ 2002 ዓ/ም ለአምስት ዓመት የሚቆይ ነው። [ለአንባቢያን ማሳወቂያ፡ – የዚህ ድጎማ ለጋሾች በአብዛኛው የዓለም ባንክና የአሜሪካ መንግሥት ሲሆኑ፤ በቅርቡ የዓለም ባንክ ያደርግ የነበረውን ድጎማ አሁን እንደገና አዲሷል። በድጎማው 292 ወረዳዎች እነደሚረዱም ገልጿል።] ድጎማው የሚያተኩርባቸው አካባቢዎች ድርቅ ያጠቃቸው ቢሆኑም በየክፍለ ግዛቱ ለሚጋኙት ሁሉ ነው። ለዚህ ድጎማ ተጠቃሚ የሚሆነውን አርሶ አደር የመመልመያ መለኪያዎች እነዚህ ናቸው፤

1. ብዙ ልጅች ያለው ቤተሰብ፤
2. ኑሮው ዝቅተኛ የሆነ -ድህነት ያጠቃው – ለምሳሌ ክብቶችና የቤት እንስሳት የሌለው፤
3. ቤቱ የተቃጠለበት፤
4. አባት ወይም እናት የሌላቸው ልጆች፤
5. በእድሜ የገፉ አዣውንቶች፤
6. አካለ-ስንኩላን የሆኑና መሥራት የማይችሉ።

ለ) በድጎማው ተጠቃሚ ከሚሆነው አርሶ አደር የሚጠበቅበት ሥራ፤ አንድ የድጎማ (ሴፍቲ ኔት) ተጠቃሚ አርሶ አደር በወር ስድስት (6) ቀን ፤ በቀን 8 ሰዓት በራሱ ስም መሥራት አለበት። ባለቤቱም እንደዚሁ 6 ቀናት በቀን 8 ሰዓት መሥራት አለባት። እሷ መሥራት ካልቻለች፤ ባሏ በወር 12 ቀናት መሥራት አለበት።

ሐ) የሥራው ዓይነት፤ አብዛኛው ሰው የሚሠራው ለመኪና መሄጃ የሚሆን የመንገድ ሥራ ነው። የሚሠራ መንገድ ከሌለ የድርጅት ጽሕፈት ቤትን መሥራት፤ ይህ ካልሆነ ለአርሶ አደሩ መሰብሰቢያ የሚሆን የፖለቲካ ድርጅት ጽ/ቤትን በመሥራት በተለይም የዉሃ ማቆር ጉድጓድን በመቆፈር ይከናወናል።

መ) የአከፋፈል ዘዴ- ፓኬጅ ይባላል። በሰው (ነፍስወከፍ) 30 ብር፤ ለምሳሌ አንድ አባዎራ 5 ቤተሰብ ካለው 150 ብር በወር ይከፈለዋል። ክፍያው ለአንድ ዙር ለ6 ወራት ይቆያል።

ሌላው ደግሞ፤ የመጀመሪያው ፓኬጅ ተብሎ የሚጠራው 1,600 ብር ለአንድ አርሶ አደር በሁልት ዓመት የሚመለስ ተብሎ በብድር የሚሰጠው ነው። ነገር ግን ይህንን ብድር የሚያገኙት ገበሬዎች ሁሉም ሳይሆኑ ለሌላው አርዓያ ይሆናሉ ተብለው የተመረጡት ናቸው። የዚህ ብድር ተጠቃሚዎች አብዛኞቹ እርዳታው የማያስፈልጋቸው ከሌላው ገበሬ ጋር ሲወዳደሩ “ሀብታም” ናቸው ሊባሉ የሚበቁ ናቸው። በሁለተኛው ፓኬጅ 4,000 (አራት ሽህ) ብር ይሰጣል — ከላይ እንደተጠቀሰው በብድር ነክ ሆኖ አርዓያ ይሆናሉ ተብለው ለተመረጡት ነው የሚሰጠው።

ለዚህ ገንዝብ አከፋፈል እንደ መመሪያ ሆኖ የሚያገለግል ተጠርዞ የሚታደል “መጽሀፍም” አለ። እንግዲህ ከላይ እንደተገለጸው፤ ለአንድ ሰው የሚሰጠው ክፍያ በቤተሰብ ልክ ስለሆነ፤ አንድ አባወራ በፕሮጀክቱ የሚሰጠውን ብር ለማበርከት በርከት ያሉ ልጆችን እንዲያፈራ ይጋብዘዋል ማለት ነው። ልጅ የሌለውም አንዳንድ ጊዜ ብሩን ለማግኘት ሲል ከጎርቤት ልጅ ይዋሳል/ያሳድጋል። እርዳታው የሚሰጠው “ከብት ለሌለው” ነው ስለሚልም፤ አንዳንድ ገበሬዎች እርዳታውን ለማግኘት ከብቶቻቸውን ይሸጣሉ። ቤቶቻቸውን አቃጥለውም ተጠቃሚ የሆኑም አልጠፉ።

ለሚሠራው የመንገድ፤ የዉሀ ማቆር፤ የፓርቲና የገበሬ ጽ/ቤት ሥራ አስተባባሪዎቹና አዛዦቹ ካድሬዎች ናቸው። እነዚህም ካድሬዎች በተለይ የግብርናን ሥራ አስመልክቶ ችሎታ የሌላቸው ስለሆኑ፤ ይጥቀምም ይጉዳ እነሱ ከመሰላቸው ገበሬውን በማዘዝ ማስቆፈር ነው። ገንዘቡ የግድ ለገበሬው እየተሰጠ ነው መባል ስላለበትም ገበሬዎች መቆፈር አለባቸው። በሀላፊነት የተሾሙት ከሚያስቆፍሩትም አንዱ የውሀ ማቆር (ጉድጓድ) ስለሆነ የሚቆፈሩት ጉድጓዶች እንዳው ይብዙ እንጂ ዉሀ የማይቆጥሩ ናቸው። እንዳውም “መሠራት አለበት” ተብሎ የሚቆፈሩት የውሃ ማቆሪያዎች ከመብዛታቸውም በላይ ስለማይታጠሩ ባልታጠሩት ጉድጓዶች ውስጥ ከብቶች እየገቡ በመሠበራቸውና በመሞታቸው የተነሳ ገብሬዎቹ በጣም ይማረራሉ። ገበሬውችም “ጉዷዶቹ ይደፈኑልን” ብለው ለካድሬዎቹ ጥያቄዎች ሲያቀርቡ በአብነት እኔ እመሰክራለሁ።

ለውሀ ማቆር መገንቢያ ተብሎ አንድ ጊዜ እኔ በነበርኩበት ቦታ በ8 የአይሱዙ (Isuzu) መኪናዎች 250 ኩንታል ሲሚንቶ ተልኮ ነበር። ሲሚንቶውን ፈርሞ የተረከበውም እንደኔ የግብርና ባለሙያ የተባለው እኔ የማውቀው ግለሰብ ነበር። ነገር ግን ተከምሮ የነበረው አብዛኛው ሲሚንቶ የካብኔ አባላት ቤቶችን ማደሻና ማስጨረሻ ነው የሆነው። [ካብኔ ማለት በኢሕአደግ (በየወረዳው) የሚሾም ሥራ አስፈጻሚ ሰው ነው።] አብዛኛውን ሲሚንቶ የግብርና ባለሙያው ለካድሬዎቹ (ለካብኔ አባላቱ) በርካሽ ሸጠላቸው። የቀረው ለሙከራ ተብሎ ወደ የውሀ ማቆር ቦታ ተወስዶ ተከምሮ ለብዙ ጊዜ ስለቆየ ደርቆ ተበላሸ። በአጠቃላይ ሲታይ፤ በሀላፊነት ሲሚንቶውን የተረከበውም ሆነ የካብኔ አባላት ተጠቃሚ ስልሆኑ “ለጥፋቱ ተጠያቂ ማነው?” ብሎ የሚጠይቅ ማንም የለም ማለት ነው።

ከላይ እንደገለጽኩት አንዱና ዋናው ሥራ በየቀበሌው የሚገነባው የፖለቲካ ጽሕፈት ቤት ነው። ገበሬውን በነዚህ መሰብሰቢያ ቤቶች እያጎርን እንጨቀጭቀዋለን። እኛ ወደ ገጠር የተላክነው ዋናው ሥራችን ይህ ነው። እንዳውም አንድ ጊዜ አንዱ ፀሀፊያችን ይህንን አስመለክቶ በቀልድ አስመስሎ እውነቱን ለመናገር ሲነግረን “ኢትዮጵያ ሥብሰባ ማድረግን ስለምትችልበት ይህን ችሎታችንን አሽገን (“ስብሰባን ፓክ” አድርገን) ለውጭ ገበያ ብናቀርብ ብዙ ትርፋማ እንሆናለን እና ይታሰብበት” ብሎ ተናገረና በጣም አሳቀን።

በሴፍቲ ኔት ተጠቃሚ የሆኑትም የኢሕአደግ አባላት እንዲሆኑ በምርጫም ጊዜ ለዚሁ ፓርቲ ድጋፋቸውን እንዲሰጡ (እንዲመርጡ) ይጠየቃሉ፤ ይነገራቸዋል፤ ማስጠንቀቂያም ይሰጣቸዋል። ባይጠየቁም እራሱ ጥቅሙ ይገዛቸዋል ብየ አስባለሁ። ይህንንም በከፊል ተገንዝቤአለሁ። ድጎማውን አስመልክቶ ዋና ተጠቃሚና የከበሩ የካብኔ አባላት ለገበሬው ድጎማውን ሰጥተው እያባበሉም ገና የምርጫ ጊዜው ሳይደርስ እነሱንና የእነሱን ፓርቲ ተዎካዮች እንዲመርጥም ያዋክቡታል። እነሱን ከመምረጥ ሌላ ምርጫ የለውም፤ በቃ!

ሌላው መረሳት የሌለበት ደግም እንደኔ ላሉት ወደ ገጠር ለሚላኩት “ሙያተኞች” የሚሰጠው የቀን አበል (per dime) ነው። የዚህ አበል እኔም ተጠቃሚ ነበርኩ። ይህንን በሚመለከት እስቲ አንድ ጊዜ የሆነውን ላጫውተዎ። አንድ ጊዜ ለሥራ ወደ ገጠር ተላክን። የተላክነው ለሁለት ቀናት ብቻ ነበር። ነገር ግን ተጽፎ የወሰድነው አበል ለ10 ቀናት ሆኖ አገኘነው። ከ5 ቀናት በኋላም (የመጀመሪያውን ሳንጨርስ) ወደ ሌላ ቀበሌ ለተመሳሳይ ሥራ የ12 ቀናት አበል ተፃፈልን። እንደገናም ወደ ሌላ ቀበሌ ተልከን የ8 ቀን አበል ወሰድን። በአጠቃላይ ሣንሠራ ሠርታችኋል፤ ባልሄድንበት ቦታ ሄዳችኋል ተብለን የ30 ቀናት አበለ ወሰድን ማለት ነው። በጋምቤላ አካባቢ አንድ የካብኔ አባል በአንድ ዓመት ውስጥ የ458 የቀን አበል፤ ሁለተኛው ደግሞ የ378 የቀን አበል በመውሰዳቸው ሁለቱም ከሥራ እንደተባረሩ አውቃለሁ። እንደዚህ አይኑን ያፈጠጠ የሙስና ተግባር ላይ በግልጽ የተሠማሩትና የታወቀባቸው “ሙያተኞች” “ከሥራቸው ተባረዋል” ቢባልም ነገር ግን አብዛኞቹ ቅጣት ሳይሆን ወደ ሌላ ወረዳ እንዲዛወሩ ነው የሚደረገው።

ረ) ሌሎችንም ልጨምርልዎ፤

1. አንዳንድ ገበሬዎች ምርጥ የዘር በጎች፤ የወተት ላሞች፤ የመሳሰሉትን ተገዝተው ይሰጣቸዋል። እነዚህን የቤት እንሥሳዎች ገበሬው ፈርሞ ሲወስድ ከተገዙበት በላይ ተጨምሮበት ነው። አንዳንድ ጊዜ ገበሬው የተገዙበትን ዋጋ ቢያውቅም አፉን ሸብቦ ከመቀበል ሌላ አማራጭ የለውም። ካጉረመረመ ሊያገኛቸው የሚችላቸውን እንሰሳዎች ከናካቴው ማጣት ስለሚሆንበት።

2. ሌላው ደግሞ ለድጎማው (ሴፍቲ ኔት) ተብሎ የተመደበውንና የሚላከውን ገንዘብ አስከትሎ ለፕሮጀክቶች (የፕሮግራሞች መጠቀሚያ) ተብሎ የሚከፍለው/የሚፈሰው የገንዝብ መባከን ነው። ይህን ለማስረዳት አንድ ምሳሌ ልጠቀማም፤ አንድ ጊዜ በርከት ያሉ ለገበሬዎች የሚሰጡ ምርጥ የዘር በጎች ተገዝተው ወደተፈለገበት ቦታ ጭኖ ለመውሰድ አንድ የግል የጭነት መኪና (Isuzu) ተከራየን። መክፈል የሚገባን የገበያ ዋጋ 1,800 (አንድ ሺህ ስምንት መቶ) ብር መሆን ሲገባው፤ ለነጋዴው 6,000 (ስድስት ሺህ) ብር ተሰጠው። ታዲያ ይህን ያህል ገንዘብ የተከፈለው የመኪና ነጋዴ በተዘዋዋሪ ለአለቆቻችን ያካፍል ይሆን፤ ወይስ ገንዘቡ የግል ስላልሆነ ነው እንደዚያ የሚረጨው? ድርጊቱ ሁለቱም ሊሆን ይችላል። ነገር ግን ሁለቱም ጥፋት ነው። የመጀመሪያው ሙስናውና ከሱም ጋር ተያይዘው የሚመጡት የፖለቲካ፤ የኤኮኖሚና የባሕል የተወሳሰቡ አባዜዎች ሲሆኑ፤ ሁለተኛው ድርጊት በተናጠል ሲታይ ደግሞ ሀገሪቱን ወጥሮ ለያዛት ግሽበት ችግር አባባሽ ነው። ይህንን ጉድ በአርባ ምንጭ ዞን በኮምባ ወረዳ ከታዘብኩ በኋላ ወደ ሌላ ቦታ ለተመሳሳይ ሥራ ተዘዋወርኩ። ቦታው ወደ አዋሳ ቀረብ ያለ፤ በሲዳማ ዞን ቦርቻ ወረዳ ይባላል። እዚህም ሆኘ እያየሁት ያለው ተመሳሳይ ጉድ ነው። በተጨማሪም፤ በዚህ አካባቢ አንድ ጊዜ የአህያና የፈረስ ጋሪዎች ከአዋሳ ከተማ ተሠርተውና ተገዝተው ለገበሬዎች እንዲሰጡ የሚያደርግና በተግባር ላይ የዋለ ፕሮጀክት ነበር። ነገር ግን ገበሬው እነዚህን ጋሪዎች ሲረከብ፤ ከተገዙበት ዋጋ ከ400 እስከ 500 ብር ድረስ ተጨምሮበት ነው። 500 ጋሪዎች ተገዝተው ሲታደሉ በዓይኔ አይቻለሁ። ይህንን ፕሮጀክት የቀረፀውም፤ በሥራ ላይ ያዋለውም ገንዘብ ያዡ ነው። ገበሬው ጋሪ ባያስፈልገውም፤ ወይም የጋሪው ብዛት ጥቅሙን ዋጋ-ቢስ ቢያደርገውም፤ የከብኔ አባላት ችግራቸው አይደለም። ለገበሬው ችግር አዋቂውች እነሱ ብቻ ስለሆኑ የገብሬው ሃሳብ ወይም ፍላጎት ከቁጥር አይገቡም። ቁም ነገሩ ግን በዚህ የጋሪ ማደል ፕሮጀክት ቢያንስ ወደ 200,000 (ሁለት መቶ ሽህ) ብር ለግል ጥቅም ስለሚሰበሰብ፤ በዚህ አንድ ፕሮጀክት ብቻ 16 የሚሆኑት ተባባሪ የካብኔ አባላት መካፈላቸው ነው። ከሥር ያሉት ደግሞ የሚካሄድውን ሙስና እንዳያጋልጡ ከ20 እስክ 30 የሚሆን የቀን አበል ይጻፍላቸውና አፋቸው ይሸበባል። በነገራችን ላይ እኔ የአንድ አምስት የካብኔ አባላት መኖሪያ ቤቶችን ጎብኝቸ ነበር። የቤቶቻቸው ውበት ምን ልበለዎ! አንዳንዶቹም እስከ አምስት ቤት ድረስ እንዳላቸውም ተገንዝቤአለሁ። ብዙና ትርፍ ቤቶች አላችሁ እንዳይባሉም ትርፍ ቤቶቻቸውን በልጆቻቸው ስም እንዲመዘገቡ ያደርጋሉ።

3. በሄድኩበት ወረዳ ሁሉ በግብርናው ጽ/ቤት ሆነው የሚሠሩት አብዛኞቹ (ሁሉም ማለት ይቻላል) የአንደኛ ደረጃ ት/ቤት አስተማሪዎች ከሌሎቹ የሥራ ባለድረቦቻቸው ጋር ሲመጣጠኑም ብቃት ያነሳቸው፤ ይህንኑም ችሎታ/ብቃት ማነስ የተገነዘቡ፤ ነገር ግን በጋለ ምጣድ ላይ ሆኖ እንደሚቆላ ነገር ምላሳቸው የሚንጣጣ አፈኞች ናቸው። አንዳቸውም የግብርና ሙያ የላቸውም። እኔ እንደሚመስለኝ፤ አሁን ለተፈጠረው የእህል ዋጋ መናር እንደነዚህ ያሉት በደሎች ሁሉ ተጨማምረው ነው። ፖለቲካውም እንደዚህ አላግባብ በሆነ መልክ በከበሩ ጥቂት ነቀርሳዎች ተወጥሮ ነው የተያዘው።

4. የገጠሩን ጉዳይ በዚህ ላይ ላቁምና በከተማው፤ በተለይ በአዲስ አበባ እያጋጠመን ያለውን ችግር በጥቂቱ ላካፍለዎ። እኔ እኖርበት በነበረው አካባቢ በሳምንት እስከ 5 ቀናት ድረስ መብራት ይቋረጣል። እንዳው ችግሩን ዘርዝሮ መግለጽ ስለማይቻል፤ እስቲ አንዳንዱን ልበል። በርካታ የቤተሰብ አባላት ያሏቸው ሰዎች ሥጋ ገዝተው ቤተሰቦቻቸውን በአንድ ሙሉ ኪሎ ሥጋ መመገብ ስለማይችሉ አንዱን ኪሎ ሥጋ ለ3 ሲቃረጡ ይታያል። ሁለት ጊዜ በልቶ ማደር ብርቅ እየሆነብን ነው ብለው የነገሩኝ ብዙ ናቸው። አንድ ጊዜ ብቻ በልቶ የሚያድረውን የሕብረተሰብ ክፍል ፈጣሪ ይወቀው። የጤፍ እንጀራን በዓመት አንድ ጊዜ እንኳ ያልቀመሰ ሰው እየበረከተ መምጣቱንም ተግንዝቤአለሁ። ከጥቂት አመታት በፊት አንድ “ደረቅ እንጀራ ይሸጣል?” ተብሎ ይጠየቅ የነበረው አሁን ያ ቋንቋ ተለውጦ “ደረቅ ምሳ ይሸጣል?” በሚል ተቀይሯል። ወጥ ከተጨመረበት ከአቅም በላይ ሰለሚሆን! በአንፃሩ ግን፤ ቡና ቤት ገብተው ውስኪያቸውን የሚያንቆረቁሩ፤ ምግብ ቤት ገብተው ጮማቸውን የሚቆርጡም አሉ። እንደነዚህ ያሉትን ጥጋበኞች የትካሻ/ጫንቃ ማበጥ የተመለከተ ሰው፤ የተራቡትን 5 ሰዎች ሊሸከም ይችላል ብሎ ማሰብ ይችላል።

እንግዲህ ሕዝባችን እንደዚህ ባለ የርሀብ ቸነፈር እየተቆላ ነው “ጀግናው መሪያችን” ጠቅላይ ሚኒስቴር መለስ አይናቸውን ፍጥጥ እያደረጉ “ኢኮኖሚአችን በ 11.8% አድጓል” ብለው ሲናገሩ በሰሙትም ሆነ ባልሰሙት ጉዳይ ላይ ሁለት እጃቸውን በጣም ከፍ አድርገው አውጥተው (ማጨብጨባቸው እንዲታወቅላቸም ይሆናል) የፓርላማ አባላት ሲያጨበጭቡላቸው፤ አቶ መለስ መነጽራቸውን ከፊታቸው ወረድ-ቀና፤ በእጃቸው ከፍ-ዝቅ እያደረጉ በጋለ መልክ ሲናገሩ ይታያሉ። ይህ እየሆነ እያለ፤ በአንፃሩ ደግሞ በርሀብ የተቆላው ሕዝብ አንጀቱ እርር ይላል! በነገራችን ላይ የ97ቱን ምርጫ አስገድፎ የተመረጡት የተቃዋሚ ፓርቲ አባላትም የጭብጨባው ውድድር ተካፋይ ስለሆኑ በጭብጨባው ያላቸው ፉክክርና ትብብር አሳፋሪ እንዳይሆን ማስጠንቀቂያ ተሰጥቷቸዋል ተብሎ በሰፊው ይነገራል። ማስጠንቀቂያውም፤ “ማጨብጨባችሁን ቀጥሉበት ነገር ግን እንደበፊቱ ሳይሆን ትንሽ የሚባለውንም እያዳመጣችሁ አድርጉት” ተብለዋል ነው የሚባለው።

እንግዲህ በአዲስ አበባ (እኔ እዚያ እንደነበርኩም ሆነ አሁን) በከተማው ሕዝብ የሚባለውን፤ ከእርሰዎ ሙያ ጋር የሚስማማውን ትንሽ ብየ ልጨረስ። ኢኮኖሚያቸውን በ11.8% ያሳደጉት የ”ጀግናው መሪያችን” መለስ ዘናዊ እውቅና በጣም እየናረና እየገነነ መጥቷል። በዚህም የተነሳ ተፈላጊነታቸው በዝቶ “ጀግናው መሪያችን” ግን የሚያናግሯቸውን ሰዎች ለመምረጥ ተገደዋል። የኢትዮጵያን ኤኮኖሚ 11.8% ያሳደጉት፤ ይህንንም በድፍረትና በመደጋገም የተናገሩትን “ጀግና” ለማናገር ተሠልፈው ከየሚገኙት መካከልም፤ የሀገራቸው ኤኮኖሚ ያሽቆለቆለው፤ የምዕራብ አገሮች ታላላቅ መሪዎች — አቶ ኦባንም ጨምሮ እንዲሚገኝ እየተነገረ ነው ያለው። እነዚህም የታላላቅ አገሮች መሪዎች እንደዚህ የደቀቀውን ኤኮኖሚያቸውን ለማቅናት ደፋ-ቀና እያሉ ከሚኳትኑ፤ እልቁንስ በ12% የሀገሩን ኢኮኖሚ እያሳደገ ያለውን “ጀግናውን የኢትዮጵያ” መሪ ጥቂት ደቂቃዎች ባልሞላ ጊዜ አማከረው መፍትሄ ቢያገኙ አይሻላቸውም? ይባልና፤ እንዳውም አንዳንዶቹ፤ ታወቅን የሚሉ የኤኮኖሚ ጠበብቶችም፤ የኤኮኖሚ እድገት ትምህርታቸውን ከልሰው እውቀታቸውን ለማዳበር “ከጀግናውና ከታላቁ የኢኮኖሚ ምሁር” ከአቶ መለስ ለመውሰድ ቦታው ሳይሞላ ተራቸውን ቢይዙ/ቢመዘገቡ ይሻላቸዋል! ብለው በድፍረት የሚናገሩም አልጠፉ።

አዎ፤ ይገባኛል! “የኢትዮጵያ የኢኮኖሚ እድገት ቀመሩ ተዥሞልሙሎ የተሠራው በነ አቶ መለስ መኝታ ቤት ስለሆነ የእነዚህ የታላላቅ አገሮች መሪዎች ሕዝብ ይህንን ሲያውቅ እንደሚቆጣባቸው፤ ከሥልጣን አሽቀንጥሮም እንደሚጥላቸው የአዲስ አበባ ሕዝብ እንዴት ይህንን ማሰታዎስ አቃተው?” ብለው ይጠይቁኝ ይሆናል። ቁጣን ካነሱማ፤ ከኛስ ሕዝብ ምን ቀርቶ። በወያኔ ካድሬ እየተገረፈ፤ እየተቃጠለ ያለ የኢትዮጵያ ሕዝብ፤ አንድ ቀን መገንፈሉ ይቀራል ብለው አያስቡም? በአገራችን አነጋገር፤ “ቡና እንኳ እሳት ላይ ብዙ ከቆየ መገንፈሉ አይቀርም” ይባል የለ?! ፈጣሪ ይርዳን።

በሌላ ርዕስ በሌላ ጊዜ እስከምንገናኝ እስከዚያው ቸር ይገጠመን።

አማረ ማሞ።

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አንባቢ ሆይ፤

ከሚደርሱኝ ደብዳቤዎች መካከል ይቺ የአቶ አማረ ማሞ ደብዳቤ በገጠሩ አንሠራፍቶ ያለውን የፖለቲካና የኢኮኖሚ እውነታ ያንፀባረቀች ስለሆነች አቶ አማረ በፋክስ የላከልኝን በእጅ የተጻፈ የስምንት ገጽ ደብደቤ እንደገና በኮምፑተር ጽፌ (ታይፕ አድርጌ) ለማካፈል ወስንኩ። የዚህ ፀሀፊ ደብዳቤ ወደ ገጠሩ ወሰድ አድርጎን፤ እየሆነ ያለውን ለሌሎቻችን ከማቅረቡም በላይ ለምሳሌ “ድጎማ” ተብሎ የሚሠጠው “እርዳታ” ምን እንደሚመስልና የሚያደርሰውን የለማኝነትና የጥገኝነት ስሜት አባዜ፤ አሁን የተቃዋሚ ፓርቲ መሪዎች እንደሚነግሩንም፤ “ድጎማው” የፖለቲካ መጠቀሚያ መሆኑን፤ በገለማው ሙስና የከበሩና እየከበሩ ያሉ ግለስቦች እንዳሉ፤ በሕዝብ ሕይዎት የሚጫወት የአውሬነት/አረመኔነት ጠባይ ያለው የሕበረተሰብ ክፍል (ክላስ) እንደተፈጠረ፤ ለ”ድጎማ” ተብሎ የሚሰጠው ገንዘብ ለግሽበቱ አንዱ ምክንያት እንደሆነ፤ ወ.ዘ.ተ. ያሳያል።

ምስጋና ለአቶ አማረ ማሞና ኢትዮጵያን ወጥሮ እያብጠለጠላት ስላለው ሙስና መረጃን ለምትልኩልኝ ሁሉ!

(I can be reached at africanstudies@murraystate.edu or Seid.hassan@murraystate.edu)

Environmental destruction in Ethiopia (video)

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

For the next few days the eye of the world will be focused on the City of Copenhagen, Denmark. Leaders from 192 counties will gather to discuss how to protect the earth’s climate from heating up. African leaders thieves and murderers have appointed one of their own, Meles Zenawi, to represent them at the Conference. The minute he was named to represent African despots, Meles has started to accuse developed countries of producing climate-warming pollutions and demanded billions of dollars in compensation. Transferring blame is second nature to Ethiopia’s genocidal tyrant. In 2005, after he ordered his death squads to gun down pro-democracy protesters, he blamed the massacre on the opposition party leaders and put them in jail. The following 2-part film shows the environmental disaster that is being caused by Meles Zenawi’s regime at one of Ethiopia’s many lakes. It is a must watch documentary for all the participants of the Copenhagen Climate Conference.
Part 1 (see Part 2 below)

Part 2

Over 1,000 Ethiopians entered Yemen in November

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

Yemen’s Ministry of Interior said today that 1,048 Ethiopians have illegally entered the country by smuggling boats last November. Many of the refugees are women and children.

The Ethiopians were fleeing from the U.S.- and World Bank-financed brutal dictatorship in Ethiopia.

The regime in Ethiopia, led by Meles Zenawi, is currently waging a genocidal war in Ethiopia’s Ogaden region where entire villages are being burned down.

Interior ministry voiced its concerns about the escalating flow of refugees from Ethiopia, ordering the security authorities in coastal provinces to close of inlets the Ethiopians used to enter the country.

Ethiopia's tyrant faces opposition in Copenhagen (video)

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

Opposition grows against the participation of Ethiopia’s brutal tyrant Meles Zenawi at the Copenhagen Climate Conference this month. Some are suggesting that his place should be rerouted to The Hague for trial at the International Criminal Court.

Freelance journalist Doug McGill, a former New York Times reporter, argues that Meles Zenawi should not be allowed to represent Africa at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15). Also interviewed in the video below: Ethiopian immigrant Magn Nyang, PhD, who speaks of the genocide in his native Anuak region of Ethiopia in 2003.

Filmed at the Humphrey Institute for Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, 4 December 2009 by Chuck Olsen for The UpTake: theuptake.org.

Tsegaye Kebede lives up to expectations in Japan

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

By Brett Larner | Japan Running News

Tsegaye Kebede Fukuoka Japan 06dec2009Beijing Olympics and Berlin World Championships double bronze medalist, defending champion and Japanese all-comers record holder Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia lived up to expectations and more with a history-making 2:05:18 win at the 2009 Fukuoka International Marathon. Kebede’s time was a PB by two seconds and a new course and new Japanese all-comers record, no doubt pleasing race organizers and his accountant by keeping Fukuoka among the world’s very best courses. Most significantly, though, Kebede’s performance was the 10th of the year to break 2:06, the first time the top ten fastest times of the year have cleared this former barrier. Coming in the last first-rate marathon of the year worldwide, it seals 2009 as the start of a new era in men’s marathoning.

Kebede breaks the sound barrier. Click photo for more great pictures, detailed splits and more from race broadcaster TV Asahi’s Fukuoka website.

Japanese ace Yu Mitsuya (Team Toyota Kyushu), acting as pacemaker, took the pack through 5 km right on 3:00/km pace. Shortly afterwards fellow pacemakers Samson Ramadhani (Tanzania) and John Kales (Kenya) picked things up to 2:57, leading away a pack of six: Kebede, Ethiopians Tekeste Kebede and Dereje Tesfaye, 2005 Fukuoka winner Dmytro Baranovskyy (Ukraine), 2008 Chicago Marathon winner Evans Cheruiyot (Kenya) and Japan-resident marathon debutant Mekubo Mogusu (Team Aidem). Mitsuya held on at a credible 3:00 pace leading a pack of five: Japanese runners Tomoyuki Sato (Team Asahi Kasei) and Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama T&F Assoc.), Russian Oleg Kulkov, Korean Kyo-Jick Lee, and Kenyan first-timer Joseph Gitau (Team JFE Steel).

After a moderate 1:03:05 first half, exactly on pace to match his 2:06:10 course and Japanese all-comers record from last year’s Fukuoka, Tsegaye Kebede broke away with a slowly building surge from 27 km. To the disappointment of Japanese fans, the popular Mogusu was the first to falter, dropping back at 26 km and eventually out at 31 km. Cheruiyot and Baranovskyy were the next to lose touch, leaving the three Ethiopians up front. In the second pack things strung out after halfway, Lee dropping out at 25 km and Gitau and talented amateur Kawauchi losing contact. As the only elite Japanese runner in the field, stalwart 2:09 man Sato pressed ahead on track for a sizeable PB.

After 30 km only his training partner Dereje Tesfaye could keep up with Tsegaye Kebede’s continuous acceleration, pacing him through 32 km before losing touch. You could almost see the checklist going through his mind as Kebede ran on over the final 10 km: “First 2:05 in Japan, check. PB, check. 2:04: question mark.” In the end the PB was as far as he went, and barely. He had to run the final lap of the track in 66 seconds to get there, but he made it. In his post-race interview Kebede was elated, animated and charismatic, pointing first to the clock and then to himself as he posed for pictures.

Tesfaye faded to 4th but ran a solid PB of 2:08:36. Overtaking him were Tekeste Kebede, creating no end of headaches for broadcasters by running a 2-minute PB of 2:07:52 for 2nd (A Kebede 1-2 finish!), and 2005 winner Baranovskyy, who ecstatically beat his Fukuoka-winning time with his 2nd-best-ever mark of 2:08:19. Cheruiyot came in slow for 5th in an unremarkable 2:09:46, failing again to capitalize on the promise of his 2:06:25 in the heat of the 2008 Chicago Marathon.

In the second pack things got ugly. Sato did his best to live up to the pressure of being the top Japanese man in the field but couldn’t sustain the strain of his 1:03:35 first half, staggering in to an agonizing 2:23:59 31st-place finish back among the amateurs. The little-known Tadashi Shitamori (Team Yasukawa Denki) came up through the pack after a modest 1:04:52 first half to take the top Japanese spot, 9th overall in 2:14:42. Whether he is selected for next year’s Asian Games national team on such a performance remains to be seen. Takayuki Ota (Team Fujitsu) was the 2nd Japanese runner, 11th in 2:15:23.

More notable, perhaps, were the 3rd and 4th Japanese runners, amateurs Kawauchi, 13th in 2:17:33, and Nobuaki Takata (Hirakata Masters AC), 14th in 2:19:00. Kawauchi was clearly in trouble at 25 km after a screaming (for an amateur) 1:03:44 first half just 31 seconds off his half-marathon PB, but gutted out a 45 second PB in his third marathon of the year. Takata, aka the Tokyo Marathon Man in the Wig, ran with seriousness and focus through a 1:08:10 first half en route to a 31 second PB. 60+ world record holder Yoshihisa Hosaka (Natural Foods), dealing with seasonal asthma, banged out a 1:15:48 first half before struggling in to a 2:40:39.

Sitting on the sidelines, Mogusu was a sad figure. An undeniably talented runner with his own drive and motivations, Mogusu seemed to lack the fire that made him so popular as a Hakone Ekiden star. His predecessor at Yamanashi Gakuin University, Ombeche Mokamba (Kenya), went on to train solo at the non-ekiden-oriented Team Aidem but never acheived any marathon results worthy of his name. Mogusu’s throroughly lackluster debut raises the depressing spectre that he may follow Mokamba down the same road.

2009 Fukuoka International Marathon – Top Finishers
click here for complete results in English
1. Tsegaye Kebede (Ethiopia) – 2:05:18 – PB, CR, Japanese all-comers record
2. Tekeste Kebede (Ethiopia) – 2:07:52 – PB
3. Dmytro Baranovskyy (Ukraine) – 2:08:19
4. Dereje Tesfaye (Ethiopia) – 2:08:36 – PB
5. Evans Cheruiyot (Kenya) – 2:09:46
6. Luis Feiteira (Portugal) – 2:13:07
7. Oleg Kulkov (Russia) – 2:13:49
8. Harun Njoroge (Team Komori Corp.) – 2:14:17 – debut
9. Tadashi Shitamori (Team Yasukawa Denki) – 2:14:42
10. Vitaliy Shafar (Ukraine) – 2:15:07
11. Takayuki Ota (Team Fujitsu) – 2:15:23 – PB
12. Thomas Payn (U.K.) – 2:17:29
13. Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama T&F Assoc.) – 2:17:33 – PB
14. Nobuaki Takata (Hirakata Masters AC) – 2:19:00 – PB

Ethiopian soccer great Italo Vassalo speaks out

Friday, December 4th, 2009

Italo Vassalo is one of the most beloved Ethiopians of this century, on a par with Tilahun Gessesse, Abebe Bikila and others. From Emperor HaileSelassie on down, every Ethiopian loved him and his elder brother Lucciano, the captain of Ethiopia’s National Team in 1960s. Italo helped win Ethiopia’s first African Cup in 1962 by scoring against then powerful Egyptian team.

In 1991, the anti-Ethiopia tribal junta led by Meles Zenawi came to power. A few years later, using its war with Eritrea as an excuse, the junta stripped off Italo Vassalo’s citizenship and kicked him out of Ethiopia, along with tens of thousands of other Ethiopians of Eritrean origin.

In the interview below, Italo expresses his affection for the people of Ethiopia and Emperor HaileSelassie, while indicting Meles Zenawi’s regime for committing a campaign of ethnic cleansing, which is a crime against humanity, against Eritrean-Ethiopians.

Foreigners are buying stolen Ethiopian land

Friday, December 4th, 2009

By Fekade Shewakena

southern ethiopia farm land 2008If you are wondering why the government of Meles Zenawi in Ethiopia is doing the secretive land deals with Arab and Asian tycoons and agribusiness corporations without any public discussion and scrutiny, and why the officials are handling it in much the same way like thieves who sell their stolen stuff on street corners and dark alleys, you have asked a serious question and probably have almost gotten some of your answers. This is pure theft and burglary sugarcoated as investment — only in this case that the burglar has someone to open the door from inside. It is a dangerous venture that has little to do with solving Ethiopia’s economic problems but bound to negatively impact the country’s most strategic resources, land and water, and its posterity. It appears that we have reached a point where we are selling out our last belongings just like the desperate peasants I once saw in 1984 sell their last belongings for scrape as they fled their villages to escape an impending famine.

This land deal, now popularly known as “land grab” among other names, and becoming epidemic in desperately poor, irresponsible and corrupt African countries, is a neocolonial venture where land is being sold to foreigners at bargain prices. The “investors” are salivating over the cheap access to agricultural land, water and cheap labor which would definitely make them even richer in the lucrative food markets whose growing trends they are very aware of. This is in addition to helping them find a solution to the problem of serious food insecurity in their own countries. The Meles Zenawis of Africa are salivating over the quick cash that will go to temporarily solve their hard currency crunch and the opportunity of swelling their individual bank accounts. Those who likened these secret deals to the colonial scramble for African land, where some local chiefs signed and sold off tract after tract of land to colonialists under the influence of alcohol supplied by the colonialist and some glittering gifts, are not very far from an accurate description of these transactions.

The Ethiopian land grab, as we are gradually learning now, is such a huge undertaking, which according to various sources, involves millions of acres of fertile land, nearly the size of the former province of Arsi. The land for sale is spread across all regions of the country except Tigrai and the Somali region. Interestingly, this is being done in the dark, without a minimal of discussion, even a symbolic one, at least in that rubberstamp parliament, or on any national media. It is very ironic that an English newspaper in Addis Ababa named Addis Fortune, which also has an online version and hardly an opponent of the government, has to raise the more suspicious aspects of the land deal on its gossip column while also reporting on the same day about the activities of Shiek Mohammed Al Amoudi who is serving as a salesman to his wealthy Saudi friends that are heavily backed by Saudi Royal officials. I also saw an Amharic editorial on the Reporter the contents of which speak volumes about how the authors feared to directly talk about the land deal than the deal itself. But these papers should be commended at least for raising the issue.

I am sure the Ethiopian officials will sugarcoat this venture with such jargons as development needs, poverty alleviation, generating capital, and all the language of development they seem to have mastered. I am also sure many members and supporters of the ruling clique and its ethnic associates who are following the regime blindfolded would call me or any critic of this deal as anti-investment, anti-development or extremist, Tigre hater, as they often do when challenged with serious and substantive questions and criticisms. I know the drill. I am all for investment and opening the country to foreign capital. Our poverty is so real and tragic that I am not even romanticizing that my country, once a place where foreigners were asked to shake of their feet before they leave the country lest they take our sacred soil on their shoes, has come to this level of disgrace; nor am I troubled by the morally reprehensible thought that some of these investors are planning to grow barley to feed their camels when at the same time the children of the Ethiopia are dying of hunger. I believe this venture is distasteful on basic economic grounds and the long term problems it is bound to create.

I am one Ethiopian who feels deeply humiliated by the kind of poverty our people live under and the worsening spread of unmitigated hunger and famine. More importantly, I see the indicators and worry that the worst may be yet to come. So, I am not against investment in Ethiopia. But this secret deal is not an investment in Ethiopia’s interest by any stretch of imagination. For a starter, name me a country that has ever developed or solved a single major problem by selling itself to the highest bidder and I will buy you a pig that can fly.

Granted, some of the money may raise hard currency to buy fuel oil for the country for a year or two. Even some economy may trickle down to make a handful of people wealthy. But it may not also be worth the cost to be paid for the security of the farms which are likely to be targets of angry people that are being fenced off of their ancestral land. It is not difficult to predict that these people will organize and fight back or feed into some of the insurgencies that already vow to fight. In Madagascar, where the regime sold nearly half the country’s arable land for $12 an acre to a Korean agribusiness company, much more than what Meles is said to be ready to sell ours for, it did not take a long time before the people saw both their fortunes and their country going down the drain and rose in resistance, overthrew their government out of power and nullified the shoddy agreements. Responsible, intelligent, and patriotic citizens of that country saw the deal was incompatible with and dangerous to their fragile ecology and environment as well as the country’s posterity. I hate to see our problems solved though violence but I will be one Ethiopian who will not speak against any which may arise as a result of this theft.

A report cited here states that Shiek Mohammed Al-Amoudi is charged by the Saudi King to spearhead and facilitate the venture in Ethiopia and that the shiek has gained the support of Meles Zenawi. His agribusiness company has recently sponsored some 50 Saudi companies to attend an expensive promotional exhibition and party in Addis Ababa though his company, Saudi Star Agricultural Development Plc. which is already producing rice for the Saudis. I have seen many people who hated the Shiek for being a supporter of the TPLF regime, for corrupting officials with generous gift, and giving extravagant parties. To be frank, I argued in his favor and considered all of those his rights. As a wealthy person he has every right whatever he wants to do with his money. But buying and selling our country is not one of them. Now this Shiek has crossed the line by turning himself into a salesman of our land to his fellow rich petrodollar swollen sheiks. It appears that he has crossed the Rubicon.

Who are this wealthy individuals and corporations and what drives them into this dangerous scramble on our land? These are basically people and entities from the oil rich Middle East and from rapidly industrializing East and South Asia. Most of the Asians are from countries heavily populated. They have virtually little land for extensive agriculture and a huge and growing population to feed. Most have chemicalized their soil to perdition over three decades of green revolution but have fortunately helped themselves to industrialization. The others are from wealthy oil rich Middle East and Arab Sheikdoms that are alarmed by the dwindling ground water in their own countries to support agriculture and a growing population to feed. More importantly they are attracted by the lucrative market and the rising trend of the cost of food products. Over the last several years, they have made their studies and consulted economists who delivered this “innovative” idea of land grab. That is when they began roaming the continent of Africa looking for corrupt and desperate governments that would sell agricultural land along with scarce water and cheap labor to meet their consumption needs. That is how they met the Meles Zenawi’s of Africa. Mr. David Hallam, deputy director at FAO, who I believe is privy to these transactions is quoted on a Washington Post Article as saying that the contracts being signed “ are thin” and “have no safeguards” adding that he sees “ statements from ministers where they’re basically promising (to the wealthy foreign companies) everything with no controls, no conditions”. This is from the mouth of an expert of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization.

What is happening in Ethiopia is sad on another very important level. Ethiopia has an economic geographic advantage it potentially enjoys in the part of the world it is located. With its huge agricultural potential it is strategically located in close proximity to reap the benefits of exporting food to these oil rich but agriculturally poor customers most of which survive by importing their food. Their demand and Ethiopia’s potential for supply was a perfect match. In the past, Ethiopia had not had the opportunity to harvest this potential. It is a failure of all past governments including this one. Had Ethiopian rulers were wise and thinkers beyond their political shelf lives, they could have already exploited it. But this potential can be maximized only if we Ethiopians are the producers and sellers of our own agricultural products. What Meles Zenawi is doing now is putting this upside down. He, in effect, made our potential buyers the sellers of our commodity. He is helping them sit on both the demand and supply side of the equation. Have you heard of a saying in Amharic- “kemogn dej Mofer Yikoretal”. This is an economic suicide that no country with rational people living inside it should even think of doing. I think Ethiopians need to seriously discuss impending problem and create public awareness before it is too late and too costly.

Some points we need to understand clearly:

1.The idea of unused land, idle land or virgin land is a complete misnomer. True, there is a lot of uncultivated arable land in Ethiopia. That doesn’t make it unused or idle. Land must not necessarily be cultivated to be classified as utilized. The term I am comfortable with is underused or underutilized. Anybody who has seen these areas identified as unused understands that there is no land in Ethiopia that has no owners and users. In areas where we have more land relative to the inhabitants in the area, it is often that the way of life of the population requires more land per person. Nomadic areas and food gatherers in west and southwest Ethiopia need more land per person to survive for the type of economy they practice. But even in situations where land is least economically utilized, if often helps keep the ecological balance in the area and the region. I should add that these lands are not used to their maximum potential mostly because of the wrong or misguided government policies and interventions and that seems to be where the central problem is located.

2.Second, for agriculture to prosper, it is not necessary that we have large scale commercial farms. Small holder farms of reasonable size can be economically as effective. If we are, for example, able to produce organic food products by small holder farmers, it is possible to get as much money or even better money than large scale plantations that use chemical fertilizers. In other words, you don’t need billionaire investors to cultivate the underutilized land. It is not difficult to find some 50 Ethiopians that will amount to one Arab millionaire investor. The problem is that the government policies are faulty and unattractive to Ethiopians. There was a time in the early seventies where fresh graduates from Haramaya University were able to start farms in the Awash valley with loans from government banks who did it with brilliant success. Does anybody remember AMBASH, a farm operated by a group of young graduates of Agriculture from Haramaya College? If it was possible thirty five years ago, it should be more possible today.

3.The land currently under intensive cultivation which is mostly overused and becoming unproductive, as in northern and north central Ethiopia, needs to rest and remain fallow for many years if we want the soil to regenerate and become supportive again. We also currently farm a lot of marginal lands that should not be cultivated at all. Farm lands are running uphill in most parts of Ethiopia as farmers try to bring more and more land to cultivation in response to population pressure. This is a big rational for resettlement programs and developing underused arable lands. Selling more existing underused land apparently means more pressure on existing peasant farms which are already being pressure. So the impact of selling this land to foreigners reverberates throughout the agricultural system and is not limited to the areas where the farms for sell are located.

4.Water is increasingly becoming a scarce resource and global trends are that it will get more and more scarce and expensive. When we are selling land to these so called investors we are also selling water that comes in the form of precipitation, overland flow and ground water. In some cases the water is more expensive than the land. Allowing foreign investors to engage cultivating water intensive crops such as rice is a bound to create a disaster.

5.Economic prosperity, even in poor countries like Ethiopia, does not necessarily have to depend on farming land alone. Only stupid minds think that the region of Gambella is more useful when cultivated than left for the tropical forest that it is. Rich people in the west who live in concrete jungles and monotonously humanized landscapes would pay a lot of money to pass weekends in that beautiful wilderness if we do some investment. If we do the thinking as to what we can do with the forest without destroying it, I am sure we can come up with something to generate the hard currency that being worshipped in Ethiopia. If we develop a good hospitality industry and promote it, it is possible to make much more hard currency than what Al Amoudi pays us for his rice farms.

Conclusion:

The ultimate solution to the country’s economic woes, to this grinding poverty, to the hunger and famine that is eating down into our humanity, must begin with an honest reexamination of the failed agrarian and all economic policies in the country. It has to be a reexamination that is dispassionate and free of politics. We are a people that have gone though enough hardships to learn from our past. We are a textbook case of how bad governance and misguided policies can crush a country with rich agricultural potential. Unfortunately, we live under a dictatorship that is willing to believe its own lies than learn from these experiences. That we are the original home of some of the worlds cultivated crops and still beg to feed our people should be unconscionable to all decent Ethiopians irrespective of their politics. Meles Zenawi and Bereket Simon do not seem to have any sense of humiliation. Their narcissism is over their head. That we are selling out our land to others to produce their food while parading our own famine stricken bodies is downright shameful but more importantly economically senseless. Yes, there is a need for hard currency and there is a need to plug into the globalizing economy. As others, including the aspiring new colonizers are showing us, financial and capital strength can be achieved in various ways. Some did it by educating their people for the future. If Meles, for example, folds down these jokes he calls universities and chooses to work on having one or two good institutions where you teach good math and science and finds some way of retaining the educated people in the country, we can do much to generate foreign currency than sell our last belonging.

The most crucial policy is one that makes the country attractive first and foremost to its own citizens. This means freedom and the rule of law. The scary regulations being issued by the TPLF and the ethnicization of politics may have served TPLF’s success in staying in power for long, but it is not helping the country and the people a bit.

If we have a government that works extra time to resolve internal conflicts, potential investors would come in droves and will be willing to pay large sums of money. We see them do it on a daily basis in other countries where that is the case. Capital moves to where it gets a higher rate of profit and safe and secure operation zone. Unfortunately, the TPLF is the biggest manufacturer of conflicts in the country and the source of all potential instability.

By providing incentives for Ethiopians at home and abroad to engage in agriculture it is possible to transform the country’s food production and the general economy. Many returnee Ethiopians who open go-go clubs in Addis would not hesitate to take their money to agriculture if they are given appropriate incentives. It is not necessarily expensive to engage in farming at least as compared to engaging in extractive industries such as mining.

When Meles Zenawi landlocked the country and told us that losing direct access to the sea “is not going to affect us 5 cents worth” with a straight face, we sat back and listened and perhaps laughed. Now we are told we are paying a billion dollars a year for the port to Djibouti. The cost is rising every year.

We have seen our beautiful sisters travelling to the Middle East as domestic workers. We are sitting and watching as our sisters are abused and dehumanized in these countries and the government that eats their remittance refuses to say a pip or anything on their behalf. We are watching this unfold under our eyes helplessly.

Now the rich guys from the Middle East themselves are coming to buy our land at bargain prices, suck up our water, fence off our children from the land of their forefathers, in order to produce food for themselves and their camels using our cheap slave labor. All of this while we beg food for 13 million destitute people!

These deals are like dragging your mother by her hair to give her to a rapist for scrape money. I don’t know how many of you would contemplate doing this and for what amount of money. Yet this is what is happening to Ethiopia right now. I was once a kid who was crying “land to the tiller” on the streets of Addis fighting to make life better to exploited peasants. Some of the TPLF people now in power were there singing the same song. How regressive is it that our children are to sing the same song three and half decades letter?

How did we come to this? When is this going to end? And, by the way, what kind of people are we?

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

What is Khat?

Friday, December 4th, 2009

(USDOJ) — Khat, Catha edulis, is a flowering shrub native to Ethiopia, East Africa and the Arabian-Peninsula. Khat refers to the leaves and young shoot of Catha edulis. It has been widely used since the thirteenth century as a recreational drug by the indigenous people of East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and throughout the Middle East. There is no legitimate medical use for khat in the United States.

Chemistry and Pharmacology:

Khat contains two central nervous system (CNS) stimulants, namely cathinone and cathine. Cathinone (alpha-aminopriopiophenone), which is the principal active stimulant, is structurally similar to d-amphetamine and almost as potent as a CNS stimulant. Cathine, also called d-norpseudoephedrine, is about 10 times less potent than cathinone as a CNS stimulant. Cathinone levels are highest in the freshly cut khat plant. Once cut, levels of cathinone start declining. Cooling the plant material will reduce the rate of decline in cathinone levels such that detectable levels may be found at least out to 10 days post cutting. Over the last few years, exhibits of dried or dehydrated khat have been encountered. In these samples, cathinone may be detected for many months or even years. Cathine remains stable in khat after the plant has been cut.

Khat produces amphetamine-like effects. They include: euphoria, a feeling of increased alertness and energy, hyperactivity, anorexia, and lack of fatigue. The users also feel relaxed and talkative. Sympathomimetic effects may include elevated blood pressure, dilated pupils, hyperthermia, arrhythmias, and increased respiration. The effects of khat usually last between 90 minutes and 3 hours. After-effects of khat use have been reported as lack of concentration, numbness and insomnia.

Khat abuse leads to psychological dependence. Chronic abuse of khat can lead to behavioral changes and impairment of mental health. Clinical manifestations include manic behavior with grandiose delusions, violence, suicidal depression, or schizophreniform psychosis characterized by paranoid delusions. Chronic abuse can also produce physical exhaustion, anorexia, periodontal disease and disturbances of the gastrointestinal system.

Illicit Uses:

Khat is abused for its stimulant and euphoric effects. Most often the fresh leaves and shoots of the khat shrub are chewed, and then retained in the cheek and chewed intermittently until all the juices are extracted. To counter the bitter taste of the plant, copious amounts of water or sweet soda are drank. Dried khat can be made into tea or a chewable paste. Rarely other modes of self-administration include smoking or sprinkling on food.

User Population:

Abuse of khat in the United States is most prevalent among immigrants from Somalia, Ethiopia, and Yemen. Abuse of khat is highest in cities with a substantial population of these immigrants. These cities include Boston (MA), Columbus (OH), Dallas (TX), Detroit (MI), Kansas City (MO), Los Angeles (CA), Minneapolis (MN), Nashville (TN), New York (NY), and Washington D.C.

Illicit Distribution:

Individuals of Somali, Ethiopian, and Yemeni descent are the primary transporters and distributors of khat in the United States. The khat is transported from Somali into the United States and distributed in the Midwest, West and Southeast (Nashville, Tennessee) regions of the United States. According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, Somali and Yemen independent dealers are distributing khat in Arbor Ann, Detroit, Lansing and Ypsilanti, Michigan; Columbus, Ohio; Kansas City, Missouri; and Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota. Due to a limited shelf life, the khat needs to be transported quickly to the intended market. Thus shipment by air is the most common method of transport. The khat is often transported through the United Kingdom and Canada primarily via package delivery services and to a lesser extent by couriers aboard commercial aircraft. Khat is typically shipped package into bundles that are wrapped in plastic bags or banana leaves to retain moisture and freshness.

Khat has been widely available in the United States since 1995. According to recent Federal-wide Drug Seizure System (FDSS) data, law enforcement seized 40,244 kilograms of khat in 2006 and 33,384 kilograms in 2007. In 2008, the amount increased to 74,672 kilograms.

The National Forensic Laboratory Information System (NFLIS) data indicate that 40 drug items submitted to DEA laboratories in 2007 were identified as cathine and 49 items submitted in 2008 were identified as cathine. DEA laboratories also identified 49 cathinone items submitted in 2007 and 51 cathinone items submitted in 2008. According to NFLIS, state and local laboratories received 58 cathine items in 2007 and 71 cathine items in 2008. There were 157 cathinone items submitted to state and local laboratories in 2007. In 2008, state and local laboratories received 143 items of cathinone.

In 2004, Kansas City Police Department (KCPD) reported the emergence of a new form of khat within the Somali community. Graba, a dried form of khat that is similar in appearance to marijuana, has been seized by KCPD. Graba is produced in Ethiopia and is commonly dried before it is transported into the United States. In two separate incidents in January 2004, KCPD officers seized 13.2 pounds of graba from an Ethiopian national and 38 grams from a Somali national.

Control Status:

Cathinone and cathine are in Schedules I and IV, respectively, of the Controlled Substances Act. Missouri placed khat in schedule I of state law. California placed khat in schedule II of state law.

(Comments and additional information are welcomed by the Office of Diversion Control, Drug and Chemical Evaluation Section. Fax 202-353-1263, telephone 202-307-7183, or Email ODE@usdoj.gov.)

Haile Gebreselassie to build new training center in Ethiopia

Friday, December 4th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA — Yaya Africa Athletics Village PLC, a new company established in 2009, has begun the construction of a modern athletics village in Sululta, 11 KM outside Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

The project is worth an estimated 80 million birr and will be constructed in three phases.

The shareholders of the company include two prominent athletes — Haile Gebrselassie and Belay Welasha, as well as an Ethiopian born Canadian businessman and former athlete Joseph Kibur.

The facility will include a running track, hotel, restaurant, gymnasium and sports clinic. It is to be built on 50,000 sq. meters of land and the first phase of the project is expected to be operational by September 2010.

“Haile, who has been making athletics history for the better part of two decades is about to make a new history by building the first private athletics village in the country. I am happy and excited to be
part of this history”, says Joseph Kibur, President and major shareholder of the company.

“our aim is to have the facility ready well before the London Olympics so that there will be enough time to produce new talent and continue Ethiopia’s winning tradition”.

Once the facility is fully operational, selected individuals will be provided with the range of services required for world class athletes.

This would include proper diet created by professional nutritionists, psychological training, climate controlled training rooms to simulate high humidity and hot conditions, and physical therapists for injury prevention and treatment.

In addition to providing services for local athletes, the hotel in the facility will also be used to house foreign athletes interested in high altitude training. By making the facility a tourist destination it will earn the country foreign currency.

(For more information please contact: Joseph@kibur.com or mobile +251911-570432)

A major newspaper in Ethiopia shuts down due to harassment

Friday, December 4th, 2009

Addis Neger Publishing today announced that its major publication, Addis Neger Newspaper, ceased circulation due to constant harassment and intimidation by the ruling Woyanne junta in Ethiopia. Saturday November 28, 2009 saw the final edition of the paper.

“Addis Neger, one of the few leading independent voices in Ethiopia, became the victim of yet another crackdown on free speech and the freedom of the press in Ethiopia,” said Mesfin Negash, Managing Editor of the Paper. “Our newspaper was one of the country’s best examples of what independent journalists can accomplish in being the platform of public opinion. Unfortunately, the regime had made our task impossible.”

Three of Addis Neger’s editors left the country this week after the paper learned that the regime was preparing criminal charges against its top editors, reporters and owners based on the new anti-terror law and the criminal code. The decision of the publishing company to close down the newspaper was made to protect its owners and journalists from this onslaught by the regime government.

“This is the culmination of months of persecution and harassment” by the regime in Ethiopia, said Abiye Teklemariam, the paper’s Executive Editor. “The preparation to use the new anti-terror law against our journalists and editors was just throwing the last wood in the chimney.”

Addis Neger was established in September 2007. Its twin editorial plans had been “the Idea of Public Reason” and “Integrity and Independence.” In the last two years, these pillars served as the backbones of the paper’s interaction with the public, helping it to register phenomenal growth in its circulation, influence and investment.

Addis Neger also introduced a new model of media ownership. Founded by six former journalists who were victims of the media crackdown following post election crisis in 2005, it was expanding its ownership base to other journalistic members of the paper. It was hoped that the model would bring sustainability to the press as an institution.

Addis Neger Publishing Company promised to be back to the media scene in the future. According to Mesfin Negash, the company would venture into a new multimedia format whenever is possible. “We hope that things will change and we will be back to our country. But our immediate plan is to ensure the physical security of our staff members. Let’s keep the spirit of freedom alive.”

Ethiopia's tyrant threatens to walk out of Copenhagen

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

By Douglas McGill | The McGill Report

A mind-boggling usurpation of moral authority at the highest global level is set to unfold at the United Nations Climate Change Conference that begins in Copenhagen next Monday.

Meles Zenawi, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia and one of the world’s worst dictators, is preparing to use that global platform to scold other nations for their irresponsible energy policies – and to demand hundreds of billions of dollars for African nations to compensate for global warming damage done to the continent.

The hypocrisy of Meles playing a role in Copenhagen – indeed a leadership role where he could potentially block a global agreement – is outrageous.

As Africa’s top negotiator in Copenhagen, Meles in recent weeks has already begun posturing as the moral environmental voice of Africa by criticizing industrialized countries for their “lack of seriousness” on global climate policy, and by threatening to lead a walk-out of the 52 African countries at the conference (out of 190 total participating nations) if their demands for compensation aren’t met.

Gulag Prisons

This theft-in-plain-sight of a critical global role is being carried out by a man who runs his own country by a “divide and conquer” strategy – hardly the best model for global collaborative decision-making.

Not to mention the specific tools that Meles has used for 18 years to maintain his grip on power, namely genocide, ethnic cleansing, gulag prisons, a sham court system, medieval property laws and the jailing, torture and lawless execution of civilians and political opponents.

Why would Denmark even allow this man to step foot in their country?

Directly to the point of the hypocrisy of Meles’ role as Africa’s chief climate change negotiator, Ethiopia is now facing one of the worst famines in its history as a consequence of his own environmentally disastrous laws and policies.

These include property laws that prevent farmers from owning their own land; that forbid foreign research and aid groups from entering the country; and a governing system that prevents any orderly agriculture and environmentalism, because Meles stays in power by keeping his country mired in a permanent state of war.

Ethnic Cleansing

By now the evidence for Mele’s crimes is far too extensive, public, and exhaustively well-documented to summarize in detail here.

Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Genocide Watch, the International Crisis Group, Oxfam, Doctors Without Borders, countless other aid groups and even the U.S. State Department have all for years now published report after detailed report on Meles’ crimes – reports stuffed with details of collective punishmentprison torture, slaughter of street protestors, on and on.

The picture collectively painted is a tyrant who stays in power through total control of the political, economic, legal, media and military systems.

Here in Minnesota, where thousands of Ethiopians refugees have fled Meles’ brutality, tales of personal witness to all of these crimes, and many more, abound.

Minnesota, and other centers of the global Ethiopia diaspora, are often the best  sources of close-to-firsthand information about Meles’ savage rule, because refugees stay in constant contact with friends and family at home while foreign journalists, aid workers and human rights workers are banned from the country.

Unstoppable Hatred

By no means least in the way of evidence against Meles is the Ethiopian blogosphere which is a bitter veil of tears, a deeply wounded cry of the heart.

In this global forum thousands of Ethiopians every day figuratively rend their garments, cry out to God, offer first-person testimonials of beatings and torture, and maintain online records of Meles’ crimes against humanity. Sometimes, overflowing with unstoppable hatred, they violently attack each other with words.

The only mystery that remains is why the world appears simply not to notice, to respond, or even to care in the least about the Ethiopia’s abysmal suffering.

It’s Rwanda and Darfur all over again. And it has been that way, although getting progressively worse, since 1991, the year that Meles took power in a coup and immediately began ethnic cleansing as a central tactic of his governing style.

And now the world’s leaders at Copenhagen have embraced this man into their highest deliberative council, and given him voice. What are they thinking?

Absolute Power

Meles’ 18-year rule of terror in Ethiopia has easily earned him a place alongside dictators such as Kim Jong-Il, Slobodan Milosevich, Muammar Qaddafi, Robert Mugabe, Omar al-Bashir, Than Swhe, and Ali Khamenei.

Would any of these despots be welcomed in Copenhagen?

Would any be given the chance to potentially veto a global climate accord?

Of course, Meles won’t do that. What he will do, though, is maximize his leverage through every means possible to further secure what for 18 years he has ruthlessly sought and won in Ethiopia, which is absolute power.

He’d let the world burn to a crisp before he relinquished that.

2 Colorado women travel to Ethiopia on medical mission

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

By Alicia Gossman-Steemes | MetroWest Daily News

COLORADO — In the developing world, a person born with cleft palate, cleft lip or other facial deformities will suffer not only from medical issues but also from social censure. That’s why organizations like Operation Smile exist — to bring a smile and to give life to people who otherwise would not be able to have one.

“The problem is no worse in developing countries than in developed countries, said Carol Lockhart, a teacher at Swink High School in Swink, Colo. “In a developed country the problem is taken care of soon after birth. A developed country can give the needed surgery because of the strength of its finances.”

Lockhart and Swink junior Jolysa Gallegos recently traveled to Jimma, Ethiopia, on a 14-day medical mission with Operation Smile to help entertain children and adults who were awaiting the longed-for surgery. Children and adults who are eligible for the free surgery must sit for hours in hospital waiting rooms, so volunteers play games with them and draw pictures. They even share personal pictures and a little about their lives.

“Many of the people they helped are poor and can’t go home so they hang around the hospital waiting,” Lockhart said.

“Some traveled 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles) to get there and that was a big shock,” Gallegos said. “Some came from Somalia. One little girl had an abscess on her cheek and had to be given antibiotics so that it would go down before she had the surgery. We were just cheering for her because she had come so far.”

Cleft palate and cleft lip cause problems with breathing, talking and eating. Also, because the deformities are so prominent, they have a “huge psychological effect.”

“One little boy wouldn’t let me take a picture of him until he was in pre-op,” Gallegos said. Another 15-year-old boy was eager to receive an education after his surgery. He had never been denied education, Lockhart said, but he had been made to feel “uncomfortable and remorseful about his appearance.”

In Ethiopia, education is free to the public.

“The people are obsessed with education,” Lockhart said. “They want to be engineers, architects and doctors to make their country better.”

The cause of cleft palate and cleft lip is unknown. Some believe that the deformity may be caused by a lack of folic acid during pregnancy or because the mother smoked during pregnancy. Mothers of children receiving surgery are asked about their pregnancies. They are also asked why they believe their children were born with the deformity.

“The vast majority of people responded that it was the will of the true God or they believed that when the mother was pregnant, she saw someone with a cleft lip or palate,” Lockhart said.

During their mission, Gallegos said that she played a lot of volleyball with the kids, using beach balls that they had brought.

“The Ethiopian children are natural volleyball players,” Lockhart said. “They also play soccer, so they never catch the ball.”

Funds to purchase toys, including bubbles, funny sunglasss and beach balls, were donated by local chapters of Operation Smile’s Student Youth Programs. Both Swink School and Otero Junior College in La Junta, Colo. have chapters.

Gallegos and her partner Nicky from Colorado Springs had fun painting finger nails, an activity that the women from Somalia especially enjoyed. The people also enjoyed wearing paper crowns from Burger King.

“Nicky asked Burger King for donations and they gave her 80 crowns,” Gallegos said. “Both parents and kids wanted the crowns.”

“I also learned that the teddy bear is not a universal thing,” Gallegos said. “We had brought stuffed animals and we wanted to give one to a little girl. When I gave it to the father he and the other men in the room started laughing at me. They didn’t know what it was.”

Gallegos got to watch a surgery. She and her partner also made presentations at local schools about hygiene and dental care. The children, Gallegos said, were very excited to receive toothbrushes and kept getting back in line to get more. The small group also toured a Missionaries of Charity Home for the Sick and Dying Destitutes, an organization founded by Mother Theresa.

“They said no pictures,” Gallegos said. “The sicknesses were so bad. It was a very tough situation and hard to accept the fact that the people were there because they were dying and they didn’t have money.”

Although there was not much chance for tourism, Lockhart and Gallegos learned much about the people and their surroundings. They found that wherever they went, the people “swarmed” them, some just wanting to touch them. One little boy, a street child in the marketplace, wouldn’t let go of Gallegos’ hand.

“It’s hard to walk away from that,” she said.

“The people are very proud of their country,” Lockhart said. “Normal, everyday people are printed on their money because they believe that the future of the country lies in its people. They were very interested in us because we are blessed beyond measure. We didn’t see any obvious discrimination. The parents loved their children and there was lots of love and acceptance in the hospital.”

“They are a quiet and beautiful people,” Gallegos said.

A British journalist relives his kidnapping in Ethiopian desert

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

By Jon Swain | Times Online

I last saw Aregawi Berhe in the summer of 1976. The big news gripping Britain was the heatwave — back then, the hottest since records began — and the dramatic Israeli commando raid on Entebbe airport in Uganda to rescue 100 hostages held by pro-Palestinian hijackers.

My mind was focused on neither. Aregawi Berhe had kidnapped me, and I was concentrating on survival.

At the time, Aregawi was a fierce young guerrilla leader in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray province. I was a young reporter on assignment for The Sunday Times, covering Ethiopia’s separatist wars.

On June 1, 1976, I was on a local bus on a winding mountain road between the towns of Axum and Mkele when Aregawi’s men ambushed it. Finding me on board, they seized me on suspicion of being an “imperialist spy”. My protestations that I was a journalist came to nothing.

For three seemingly interminable months, from June to September, they held my life in their hands as they marched me under guard through the rugged hills and barren deserts of Tigray and through the breakaway province of Eritrea.

We trudged at night under the stars to escape the unforgiving sun and to avoid being spotted and fired on by patrols of the Ethiopian army. In moonlight, we panted up steep, bare, eroded hills, scrabbled over rocks, pushed our way through thorn bushes.

On one occasion, worn out and parched in an area of desert, I had to suck water from cactuses to keep going. My 500-mile forced march under armed guard was the toughest thing I had ever done.

I was not alone. They had also kidnapped an entire British family, the Tylers. Lindsey Tyler was a veterinary surgeon working in Ethiopia on an aid project, vaccinating cattle against rinderpest. He was on a trip with his wife, Stephanie, and children, Robert, 8, and Sally, 5, when the guerrillas fired on their Land Rover. “We have children, for God’s sake … we have little children,” Stephanie shouted as bullets ricocheted off the stones.

Ultimately, we were freed unharmed. But being kidnapped was a jarring experience — physically exhausting, mentally dispiriting and, above all, lonely.

After my release, I buried Aregawi in my memory. I wanted to forget the whole sorry experience. My life was the future, not the past. But some things one does not ever quite forget. Being kidnapped is one of them.

The tangled memories have come and gone over the years, sometimes so vivid that they hurt. Those three months as a prisoner in Ethiopia taunted and haunted me — until last week, when I met Aregawi again for the first time in more than three decades.

I had considered sometimes going back to Ethiopia to find and confront my captors; but in that vast land, I thought, I would never find them. In any case, I suspected most of them had been killed in their long struggle against the Derg, the Soviet-armed military committee that ruled Ethiopia after it overthrew Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974.

One of Africa’s worst military dictatorships, the Derg held onto power until it was itself toppled in 1991 by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the guerrilla organisation that had kidnapped me.

Back in 1976 the TPLF was still a ragtag group of about 130 fighters whose goal was autonomy for Tigray province. Over the years it grew in strength, numbers and ambition, until it became the backbone of a revolutionary movement that took over the country with between 60,000 and 70,000 fighters. Aregawi, a founder member who rose to army commander, played no small part in its success. Then he vanished.

In 2004 the Ethiopian driver of a taxi I hailed in Washington DC revealed that not only was Aregawi alive; he was living in exile somewhere in Europe, after losing out in an internal TPLF power struggle. Perhaps I could find him after all.

A few weeks ago a chance discussion with Martin Plaut, the BBC’s Africa editor, put me onto my quarry. Plaut had met Aregawi recently in Holland and said that he wanted to meet me to say sorry.

I did not hesitate. After all these years I wanted to meet Aregawi again and discover what made him tick. I wanted to believe that, somewhere, there was an honourable man. I think it is a basic instinct that one does not want one’s suffering to be in vain. I wanted there to be some purpose to the hardships he had put me through.

When I telephoned Aregawi, I recognised his voice immediately. But I was surprised by his next words: “Come and stay.”

We laughed at the absurdity of it. While I bore him no grudge now, I would have liked to choose whether to be his guest or not 33 years ago.

Last week I drove in a taxi through the tranquil streets of the Hague to confront him. I never dreamt I would find my old kidnapper in this lawabiding city where the international criminal courts are trying Radovan Karadzic and Charles Taylor, the former leader of Liberia, for crimes against humanity.

I felt a twinge of apprehension as the taxi approached Aregawi’s flat in a working-class district. I need not have worried. In 1976 Aregawi was a strange, taciturn man. A political science graduate at Addis Ababa University, he had become a fanatical Marxist. Tall and thin with a wispy beard, he spouted wooden communist jargon and fiercely defended kidnapping as a legitimate political weapon. He gave me the impression that the sacrifice of an innocent life was less important than his own political ideals. His opinion of Britain seemed to have been fashioned by the day he stood in a line of Boy Scouts and welcomed the Queen, opening Axum cathedral during her royal visit to Ethiopia.

Now, instead of the rabid revolutionary I remembered, an avuncular figure stood before me, his hand held out in friendship. He said he was genuinely sorry for the hardship and trouble he had put me through.

We talked in his flat. On the wall was a small reproduction of that famous portrait of Che Guevara in his beret. It was clear Aregawi could not quite bring himself to turn his back on the revolutionary hero of his youth, even if he had ditched communism and no longer believed in armed struggle as the way to change Ethiopia.

“If I calculate the cost benefit, I would say gradual change would have been better than revolutionary change when I look back,” he said. “Revolutionary change was meant to transform society quickly, abruptly. But we were naive. You cannot switch on change like electricity; it has its own dynamics. We were not mature enough to see these things.”

Later, as we walked on a windy Dutch beach — I used to dream wistfully of the sea while I was being held in the hot Ethiopian desert — I asked Aregawi to give me his side of the kidnapping story. He was anxious not to be put in the same league as the vicious kidnappers who behead their hostages today. These vile killings horrified him.

“These days kidnapping has been given a religious dimension. There is no reasoning at all,” he said. “Today’s kidnappers are broken, blinded by hatred, not even merciful for their own life. You cannot compare their kidnappings with ours, which were for publicity, for a bit of money.”

Aregawi was adamant that he wished no harm to me or the Tylers. Of course I did not see it like that at the time. I was concentrating on surviving from one day to the next, on building the sort of relationship with my captors that would make it harder for them to kill me if I outlived my purpose.

As we talked, he seemed mildly hurt at having read in a book I wrote after my release that being his prisoner had been a low point in my life. “Nothing bad happened except taking you against your will,” he said, with a plea in his voice. “I had rough words for you. We had a cause. We had certain objectives. But I felt we were handling you as best we could.”

He still did not see that there were moments when, as a prisoner, I had feared circumstances might arise, as the unexpected tends to do in guerrilla struggles, that meant I might not survive. I don’t think Aregawi realised how difficult it sometimes was to feel I could be struck from the book of life and nobody would ever know what had happened to me.

After that interminable march through the mountains, I ended up in a guerrilla encampment in the northern desert of Eritrea, living under a bush, still under guard, while Aregawi decided what to do with me.

There followed more weeks of despair, during which I exchanged hardly more than three sentences a day with my captors. But on that long march I had begun to appreciate the misery and injustices that had driven Aregawi to rise up in armed rebellion at great personal cost to himself.

One in three children born in the villages we passed through died in infancy from disease or malnutrition. The nearest health and educational services were at least two days’ walk away, the nearest well three miles.

As the son of a district judge, Aregawi had been brought up with a sense of right and wrong. His social conscience made him aware of these glaring inequalities, and he wanted to change them. The pity of it, as he now recognises himself, was that he chose to do it by armed struggle. Despite thousands of deaths and regime change, that part of Ethiopia is about as backward and impoverished now as it was then.

My captivity went on and on until one day, after a long camel ride through a sandstorm, I was finally freed into Sudan. Soon the Tylers were released too, after being held even longer than I was. The guerrillas did not collect the $1m ransom they had demanded from the British government.

So, after all these years, what is Aregawi’s story? In exile, unable to go back to Ethiopia for fear of losing his life at the hands of his former comrades, he wonders whether the huge sacrifices he and other young idealists made were worthwhile.

Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country, is still confronted by extreme poverty and massive rural starvation. Its leader is one of Aregawi’s old revolutionary comrades, Meles Zenawi. This former medical student has turned into a virtual dictator — little better, said Aregawi, than those he replaced.

The need to strive for a brighter future for his people still dominates Aregawi’s life, although the reasons “are not the same”. He is driven by the memory of those countrymen whom he brought into the struggle and who “paid with their lives” for something good to come. “I must not betray these people,” he said.

He and his comrades shared a fine, idealistic vision, but, he admitted, none had a clue how to implement it. For a while their politics was inspired by Enver Hoxha and his mad Albanian “road to socialism”. Soon there came years of infighting within the TPLF, and disillusionment set in.

In the mid-1980s, during one of those terrible famines that have gripped Ethiopia in the past 30 years, millions of dollars flowed from western donors into Rest, the so-called Relief Society of Tigray, which was purportedly the humanitarian wing of the TPLF.

Aregawi told me that, instead of using the money to save lives, Rest gave it to the TPLF. He remembers sitting with central committee members preparing a budget; they agreed that 95% of the Rest money should be used for the cause.

“It bought weapons, ammunition and clothes for the fighters and paid for TPLF propaganda work,” he said. “It was very depressing. It made me very angry. The leadership literally had no sympathy for the people.”

Aregawi noted that western aid organisations had allowed their money to be misappropriated and that massive armaments flowing into Ethiopia from outside made the conflict more deadly. No power had offered the help that, in Aregawi’s view, they really needed to “give them the correct orientation to help themselves to establish a stable government”.

When, after building up a secret power base of loyalists within the TPLF, Meles Zenawi seized control of it in an internal coup, Aregawi finally split from the movement he had helped to build. He had enough friends to be able to escape with his life, first to Sudan and then to Holland.

Others were not so fortunate. Shawit, the handsome young fighter who in 1976 had led the attack on my bus and made me a prisoner, was imprisoned and killed by Zenawi for opposing his control, Aregawi said.

The TPLF developed into the mighty military machine that took over Ethiopia, and now “again we are in a situation where another dictator is in power. Getting rid of one dictator does not mean bringing justice, fairness and democracy. In fact we ended up changing the face of the dictator only. That is a tragedy”.

By kidnapping me, Aregawi caught me up for a very short time in his struggle for Ethiopia. If I feel personally disappointed that the struggle has not led to something better, how much stronger must the feelings be of a man who has devoted his life to this cause?

He confessed he had no real family life as such. He had had a fiancée when he was fighting in the bush, “but we couldn’t agree on many things so we separated”. He married much later in life, but the woman he calls the “mother of my kids” lives separately in Geneva with his two children. He visits regularly, but it is clear that family takes second place to Ethiopia.

He still harbours a strong vision for his country and a driving sense of duty to see this vision through.

The last time Aregawi and I parted — in 1976 — neither of us knew what the future held, but both of us had hope. Mine was immediate and selfish: I wanted to be free to get back to my own life. His was generous: he wanted democracy for his people and was prepared to make tremendous personal sacrifices for them.

Our parting this time was different. I am glad to have met him again. Hearing his side of the story helped to lay my old ghosts to rest. At the same time there was something sad about this goodbye.

He hopes his dream of a better future for the Ethiopian people can still be realized, and as I walked away I hoped so too. But the world, I felt, had let him down. It has, over the years, backed wrong-minded rulers in Ethiopia, set on repression and dictatorship, instead of supporting those who reject violence.

It is my strong wish that this aging revolutionary, who once held my life in his hands, should be able eventually to go back to Ethiopia in peace. That would be a clear sign that one of Africa’s many shameful scars had begun to heal.

Some private schools in Israel still refuse to accept Ethiopians

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

By Or Kashti | Haaretz

Eleven new immigrants from Ethiopia have yet to be placed in Petah Tikva schools, and some have been waiting as long as three weeks for an assignment.

Municipal officials claim that the city’s private religious schools – which sparked a nationwide outcry when they refused to accept Ethiopian students at the start of the school year – are also refusing to accept these new students. However, the schools rejected this charge.

A few hours after Haaretz submitted inquiries to the relevant agencies, the municipality announced that all the children would be sent to a school today, and “we hope they’ll be admitted.”

However, the problem is unlikely to go away: Later this year the city is expected to get another group of 15 to 30 school-age immigrants from Ethiopia, and it is not clear where they will study.

“We get up in the morning, drink tea and watch television. There’s nothing else to do,” said Temasgen Mola, 12, who came to Petah Tikva with his parents and older brother two weeks ago from the Mevasseret Zion absorption center. On Wednesday, like many of the other immigrants, he was once again sitting in the municipality’s offices, hoping for a school placement.

Arega Gaton was also there, hoping to receive a placement for his 7-year-old daughter. “They keep telling us there’s no school for the girl,” he said. “We thought everything would be good here – that there would be a school and work. But she sits at home, and I can’t go to work because I need to take care of her.”

Under an Education Ministry decision that stemmed from an agreement reached before the start of the school year, most of the new immigrants were supposed to be absorbed by the town’s three private religious schools. But according to the municipality, all three have evaded this commitment using various pretexts.

“One principal said the last open slot in the class had just been filled, and afterward it turned out that this was inaccurate,” a municipal official said. “Another agreed to accept only 4th-grade boys, but there aren’t any in this group. The third simply refused to return phone calls.”

Only the mayor has the legal power to order the private schools to accept students. But Petah Tikva educators said that Mayor Yitzhak Ohayon has political obligations to certain National Religious Party activists who are also involved in the three schools, and has therefore refused to exercise this power.

The schools, however, deny that they are to blame.

“We’ve been absorbing [Ethiopian immigrants] for three years now, and will continue to do so,” said Hagai Unger, principal of the Darchei No’am school. “We will gladly accept anyone the city sends us.”

Another school, Merhav, said it had been asked to accept only one student, and did so.

An official at Da’at Mevinim, the third school, said it has already accepted 20 Ethiopian immigrants this year and will continue to comply with any “reasonable” request. “But so far, we haven’t received the financial support the Education Ministry promised us,” he charged.

President Isaias urges Ethiopian opposition to get serious

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

By Elias Kifle

isaias afewerki 26320When it comes to the ruling tribal junta in Ethiopia, there is no one who has as much clarity as President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea. He knows their real nature, what and how they think, their weaknesses, strength, and modus operandi. This is hardly surprising since he is the one who guided them all the way to Menelik’s palace in Addis Ababa. A few years later they turned around and stabbed him in the back and waged a war of attrition against Eritreans. Simply put, to Isaias and the Eritrean leadership, Woyanne is an experiment that went terribly wrong. To Ethiopians, it is a long nightmare. This monster must be eliminated soon in order for peace to prevail in Ethiopia, Eritrea, and whole Horn of Africa region.

Meles Zenawi and members of his Woyanne junta know full well Isaias Afwerki’s intention and what he is capable of. They live in constant fear with the realization that their treachery, as well as the ethnic cleansing they perpetrated against Eritreans will not go unpunished. That is why mere mention of the name Isaias, and discussions about cooperation between Ethiopian opposition groups and the Eritrean government send chills through their spine.

To protect themselves from Eritrea’s wrath, Woyannes have stationed over 80,000 troops right at the border in Tigray and moved most of their air force from central Ethiopia closer to Eritrea. They are also laboring day and night to have the U.S. Government and European Union to label Eritrea as a terrorism sponsoring state, to no avail so far.

Meles and gang, however, need not worry too much about Eritrea, because when the time comes, they will face fire not just from the north. Even the Agazi, Meles and Azeb’s Praetorian Guards, could turn against them. A few months ago the Deputy Commander of Agazi, Col. Alebel, has defected and he is now advising EPPF and Ginbot 7. We all remember what happened to Romanian dictators Nicolae and Elena Ceauşescu in not too distant past. They appeared invincible, protecting themselves with layers of secret and intelligence services, while perpetrating horrible crimes against their people. The two monsters were later executed by their own special forces after a hasty trial and conviction on genocide and corruption charges when the people of Romania finally said enough.

Meles and Azeb are similarly responsible for genocide and massive corruption. They have committed mass murder against the peoples of Ogaden and Gambela where they burned entire villages, and in Somalia where Meles Zenawi’s soldiers raped Somali women, slit the throats of religious leaders, slaughtered over 20,000 Somali civilians and made 2 million Somalis homeless. Woyanne crimes in Addis Ababa, Gonder, Gojjam, Wollo, Ambo, Beninshangul, and other cities and regions of Ethiopia are too numerous to list. A time will come to account for all of them.

Discussion with Isaias Afwerki

It is with all this in mind that I met with President Isaias for the second time last month at his office in Eritrea’s capital Asmara. I went to Asmara on my way to visit leaders and fighters of the Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front (EPPF) and attend their 2-day conference. The President invited my colleague Sileshi Tilahun and I for tea, which turned into a long conversation that took almost 3 hours. A few months earlier, in May this year, he gave us a 4-hour interview that has created a political wave in both the Ethiopian and Eritrean communities.

What I found striking when I met with Isaias Afwerki on both occasions was how humble, casual, and approachable he is. In describing President Isaias, the Woyanne propaganda machine tries to draw a picture of a power crazed madman, some one like Stalin or Idi Amin — chest full of medals, protected by a battalion of heavily armed, bulking bodyguards, living in huge palaces. I have seen none of that. There is no pomp and circumstance around Isaias Afwerki, and I did not see a horde of assistants circling him. I saw only one secretary who let us into his office. There is a spartan simplicity to the office itself — little decoration and some very uncomfortable chairs. I was told later that he made the chairs himself in his workshop.

The president received us warmly, with a broad smile and genuine sense of friendship. Sipping tea, we began our conversation. Sileshi and I started out by discussing the effect of his May 2009 historical interview. We delved into specific examples of the impact it is having. We summed it up by saying that there is now a much more improved atmosphere between Ethiopians and Eritreans as a result of what the president said in the interview. For many Ethiopians, the president’s words had a transformational effect on their view of Eritrea and its current leadership.

As some one who keeps himself well informed (some say he is an information addict), President Isaias is well aware of what is being said and discussed in the Ethiopian community. And he seems to be encouraged by the numerous positive comments he has heard and read, many of which were coming from some of his harshest critics in the Ethiopian community. He said that awareness of the need to come together “is now better than a year ago.”

The president is eager to build on the success of his outreach to Ethiopians. He urged us to help organize dialogue — similar to the public meeting that was held in Washington DC on August 9, 2009, by the EPPF chapter — between Ethiopians and Eritreans around the world.

On Ethiopian opposition parties

In this our second meeting with Isaias Afeworki, the other main topic of discussion was the current state of the Ethiopian opposition movement. The President is straightforward about it. He said that “the leadership is detached from the people.”

Indeed, the only reason Woyanne continues to cause havoc in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa is that there is no viable opposition party that is prepared to take over power from Woyanne. Most of the Ethiopian opposition leaders are halfhearted about the struggle. As the president put it, “there has to be an effective leadership in the field. The country is vast. You can lead an opposition group from right outside of Addis Ababa. There needs to be action on the ground.”

President Isaias told us that “Ethiopian political leaders continue to fail their people.” He recommends that the opposition leaders need to leave their comfortable homes in Europe and the U.S. and relocate to Ethiopia’s mountains and jungles, if they are serious about bringing change. Any opposition leader who is not willing to do that cannot and should not be taken seriously.

“Woyanne will collapse through evolution. Let’s revolutionize the process,” the president said. To that end,  Ethiopian opposition groups need to come together and craft a “common political platform, which is lacking today.”

He expressed his hope that such a common political agenda and an inclusive united front of Ethiopian opposition parties will be formed before the end of this year (European calendar).

President Isaias says that his government is not shy about supporting Ethiopian freedom fighters. But the actual struggle must be waged by Ethiopia’s opposition groups themselves. What Eritrea wants to get in return  is a “safe neighborhood,” a peaceful region, according to the president. He also envisions the creation of an economic integration among Horn of African nations. That is not possible as long Ethiopia continues to be ruled by a ravenous tyranny that attacks any thing it cannot control and leach on.

Even though currently there are some encouraging signs — such as an increased effort to form a united front — the foot-dragging by many of the leaders of the opposition parties continue, unfortunately. If they don’t come together and form an effective united front before Woyanne’s fake elections in May 2010, there needs to be a revolution in the opposition camp itself — all the leaders of these parties must resign and give a chance to the younger generation to take the lead.

What kind of music do you like, Fuhrer?

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Would a Jewish, Russian, or Polish journalist ask Hitler such a question? Unthinkable.

It is what EthiopiaFirst.com editor recently asked Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia’s Hitler, who is currently carrying out a campaign of genocide against our people in the Ogaden region, not to mention the countless crimes he has perpetrated against all Ethiopians. A more apt question would be, “How many babies did you kill today?”

Ben 164344Ethiopia is being ruled by thugs and murderers because our so-called elite, those who are educated and fare better in life, have a conscience comparable to that of a pig — i.e., purely selfish, no sense of justice, no moral compass.

Meles, arrogant as ever, did not want to answer the idiotic question, but when Ben pressed him if he likes Tilahun, he said “yes, and foreign songs, too.”

The hate Meles has for any thing Ethiopian would not allow him to call out Ethiopian singers.

But what is new? We all know that Meles is thoroughly anti-Ethiopia. What irks many Ethiopians is the blase attitude of individuals like Ben — those who claim to care about their country — toward an individual who is systematically destroying Ethiopia and commits gruesome crimes against Ethiopians (watch these photos).

The interview serves only to  expose Meles Zenawi’s contempt for Ethiopia. But it is also an indictment against the likes of Ben who are trying to humanize a monster and give legitimacy to his murderous regime.

Angry readers asked me to remove the interview from the comment section some one posted yesterday (click here to see). I feel differently. Let every one watch the monster and get angry enough to take action — such as starting to support those resistance groups that are fighting to overthrow him. – Elias Kifle

Ethiopia's national team pushed out by Zambia

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

By Kalumiana Kalumiana | The Post

Zambia edged closer to the quarterfinals of the Orange CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup after a 1-0 win over Ethiopia at Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi this afternoon.

Herve Renard’s side now lead Group A with a maximum six points from their opening two matches after beating hosts Kenya 2-0 in their opening game last Saturday at the same venue.

Chipolopolo took the lead in the 30th minute through striker James Chamanga who finished off an effort after Ethiopian goalkeeper Assefa Dawit fumbled with the ball.

The goal was Chamanga’s third of the tournament following his brace against Kenya over the weekend as Chipolopolo head into their final Group A match against Djibouti tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the first half hour of the opening half against Ethiopia was an even affair.

Sebastian Mwansa also wasted a chance with a poorly taken free-kick in the 10th minutes from the edge of the penalty area.

Ethiopia had a chance to level scores five minutes before the break after an Emmanuel Mbola handball but goalkeeper Jacob Banda saved the resultant penalty.

And Kenya were by press time in action against Djibouti at the same venue in the second kickoff in Group A.

Both Kenya and Djibouti were on zero points after losing 2-0 and 5-0 to Chipolopolo and Ethiopia respectively in their opening Group A matches.

Silent Cry

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

A documentary film The Silent Cry, produced by a team of young passionate British students, in partnership with African Rights Monitor, hosted a special screening in Toronto, on Saturday November 28, 2009. Over four hundred people from the Greater Toronto area attended the screening.

The Silent Cry is based on stories depicting the shattered lives of Somali refugees from the Ogaden region of Ethiopia. These stories were discovered by the Silent Cry producers when they visited Nairobi, Kenya, during their last Spring break. This group of students’ initial purpose to vacation in Kenya was fundamentally altered after they had met, “Omar” a local taxi driver, who shared with them his personal tragic story. Omar fled the Ogaden after losing his children and wife to the brutalities of the Woyanne regime soldiers in the Ogaden. This team of students then made a trip to Ifo Refugee Camp, in Northern Kenya, which is a destination for many survivors fleeing the devastating circumstances in the Somali region of Ethiopia.

A picture conveys thousand words, thanks to this team of students. We now can see images of the hidden truth about the suffering of the people of Ogaden shown through this powerful documentary, Silent Cry. The atrocities in the Ogaden have been compared to the atrocities in Darfur, with zero media attention due to the total lack of access by international media and NGOs, and as such been termed the “Hidden Darfur” of the Horn of Africa.

Three members of the Silent Cry team, Abdallah Abdi, Ahmed Abdalle, and Abdi-Shukri Omar who is the narrator of the documentary, were present in Toronto for the screening of the documentary. After a warm welcome by the a member of the Greater Toronto Community, Huda Yusuf, the Executive Director of the African Rights Monitor (ARM), a non profit group, presented a brief presentation on rights and responsibilities of citizens in democratic societies and some of the responsibilities and obligations on the part of governments to protect their citizen.

Then the Silent Cry team delivered passionate presentations before the screening, sharing with audience the impact filming this documentary had on them and how it changed their lives. Then when the audience watched Silent Cry, they were moved to tears by the stories of these refugees.

Followed by the Silent Cry team, highlighting some next steps, and emphasizing their commitment now to raising awareness and breaking the silence around the suffering of the people of Ogaden, and have asked the audience to join in this journey. The team have challenged the participants to join this campaign of advocacy and assist in bringing the attention of the international community to the plight of the people of this region. To drive the point home, Fowsia Abdulkadir, an independent researcher and human rights activist, put the Silent Cry stories in a historical context, underlining the fact that Somalis have historically been marginalized in Ethiopia. Somalis have been oppressed and discriminated against by successive Ethiopian regimes; however, under the current regime led by Meles Zenawi, human rights abuses and the suffering of Somalis in Ethiopia have reached a level it has never reached before.

The evening was concluded with poetry reading by young Somalis, who recited poems dedicated to some of the refugee children in the documentary. The screening of Silent Cry in Toronto was overwhelmingly successful, and the event was positively received by the Toronto community.

(Further information: info@silentcry.co.uk)

Enraged father kills son over child rape admission

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

MICHIGAN (AP) — A 15-year-old Michigan boy admitted raping a 3-year-old girl, so enraging his father that the man couldn’t control himself when witnesses say he forced the teen to strip, marched him to an empty lot and shot him through the head, a defense lawyer said Tuesday.

jamar pinkneyThe lawyer for Jamar Pinkney Sr., 37, said he will pursue an insanity defense as a judge in the Detroit enclave of Highland Park ruled Pinkney should stand trial on first-degree murder, assault and firearms charges in his son’s Nov. 16 death.

Defense attorney Corbett O’Meara said Pinkney’s son’s confession would have driven anyone crazy.

“There is no rational response to the rape of a child,” O’Meara said after the hearing. “He was immediately remorseful and didn’t seek to hide. He turned himself in to the police.”

Pinkney acted “under heat of passion,” O’Meara said, and should be found “not guilty by reason of insanity” or found guilty of manslaughter.

During questioning of witnesses, Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Christine Kowal tried to establish that Pinkney had time to think about what he was going to do as he forced his son out of the boy’s mother’s home on North Street before killing him.

No evidence of sexual penetration was introduced at the hearing, despite testimony about the girl being taken to Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit a day before the shooting.

O’Meara said the defense would introduce medical reports that indicate the girl had evidence of vaginal tearing. He said Jamar Jr. had at first denied he molested the girl, then later said he only lay on top of her but they had their clothes on.

O’Meara said after the hearing that the teen finally admitted to his father that he had sex with the girl, causing his father to snap.

He said his client is now devastated and under the care of a psychiatrist at the Wayne County Jail, where he is being held without bond.

“He doesn’t understand how any of this could have happened,” O’Meara said.

Authorities haven’t said if they believe the teen raped the girl, his half-sister, and police have said the matter is not part of their investigation. Wayne County prosecutor’s office spokeswoman Maria Miller declined to comment Tuesday on the nature of the sexual contact.

Pinkney’s confrontation with his son came a day after the 3-year-old underwent an examination at Children’s Hospital of Michigan. Results of the exam haven’t been released, but the teen’s mother said they indicated her son “had molested” the girl. The Associated Press is not naming the girl or detailing her relationship to the teen to avoid identifying a victim of sexual assault.

Lazette Cherry testified Tuesday that her son talked to her about his contact with the girl after her exam. Cherry said her son called his father about 3 a.m.

“Daddy, can you please forgive me in your heart, forgive what I did?” she quoted Jamar Pinkney Jr. as asking his father.

The mother said the elder Pinkney agreed to come to the house later to talk further. Cherry’s sister, Yolanda Cherry, testified that Jamar Pinkney Sr. arrived about 10 a.m.

Yolanda Cherry said she and her sister talked about getting help for the teen, while Pinkney Sr. said he spoke with the 3-year-old’s mother and she wanted to press charges.

“Jamar, is there something you want to tell me?” Yolanda Cherry quoted Pinkney Sr. as asking his son.

“He got on his knees in front of his dad and said, ‘I’m sorry,'” the aunt said.

“What did you do?” she quoted the father as asking.

“I humped (the girl),” the teen replied. “I need counseling.”

Pinkney Sr. didn’t immediately respond, Yolanda Cherry said, and she left to visit her mother’s upstairs apartment. She later heard screaming and banging and rushed down to find Pinkney Sr. holding a handgun and beating his son.

Both sisters testified Pinkney Sr. ordered his son to undress and marched him outside. The teen’s mother said Pinkney Sr. ordered the boy to kneel in the grass, ignoring his pleas for mercy.

“I said, ‘Jamar, stop. Don’t do this. Think about what you’re doing,'” Lazette Cherry testified.

She said Pinkney Sr. stood behind the boy and shot him in the head, then walked around still grasping the gun.

“He didn’t want anybody to go back and help him,” the mother said. After Pinkney Sr. left, she rushed to her son’s side.

“He’s bleeding, blood coming out of his mouth,” she said. “Somebody said, ‘Get some covers, cover him up, keep him warm.’ So that’s what we did.”

Jamar Pinkney Sr. is being held in the Wayne County Jail without bond, charged with first-degree murder in the Nov. 16 shooting. If convicted, he faces life in prison without parole.

Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital needs doctors

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital (AAFH) in Ethiopia is in the process of building 5 new centers around the country to extend the work to those unable to get to the city. To do this the Hospital seeks increase the number of available trained doctors.

The Hospital was started over thirty years ago by Drs Reg and Catherine Hamlin. It was the first hospital of its kind and is a world leader in the treatment of Obstetric Fistula. AAFH has greatly expanded over the past 5 years, treating over 1300 patients per year at the hospital and at other sites around the country.

Currently in Ethiopia there are only 104 registered OB/Gyn doctors for a population of 80 million.

The Hospital’s strategy is to attract doctors from overseas who will train at the AAFH for 3-4 months, and then spend time in one of the regional centers, assisting to ensure that there is quality care and systems in place, while AAFH sponsors the training of local people to take up these roles.

All patients are treated completely free of any charge and the hospital is dependent for its finance on the generosity of its donors and Partner Trusts.

(Further information: hamlinfistula.org)

Using teff for bread

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

By Susan | Wild Yeast

Here’s what we did six or seven weeks ago: We raised bread with sourdough starters made from several ancient grains: amaranth, sorghum, quinoa, millet, and teff.

My favorite of these was teff. It’s best known for the Ethiopian staple flatbreadinjera, but it makes a wonderful addition to loaf breads as well (although it contains little or no gluten, so a 100%-teff bread would require some of that gluten-free expertise that I don’t have yet). I’ve heard the flavor variously described as chocolate-y coffee-y, nutty, earthy. You could just call it tasty and leave it at that. And it imparts a lovely reddish crust color in the bargain.

teff poolish baguettes

So, enamored of this tasty and cute grain (Did I say cute? Well, yes, I think any grain whose diameter is less than 1 mm qualifies as cute, don’t you?), I was inspired to give it a whirl in my own kitchen. I picked up a 1.5-pound bag of teff flour for about $7. Add expensive to teff’s personality profile.

My first attempt was a teff sourdough. I took a portion of my starter, fed it with teff flour for a few days and proceeded to mix up a simple bread dough with it. The dough was too dry. I added water. It was still too dry. I added more water. It was the perfect consistency. Then in the next breath, it was soup.

This was when I remembered that teff is not only cute and tasty and expensive, buttemperamental. It drinks and drinks up water, and suddenly lets it go (kind of like having an infant in the house again). I decided to try to work with the soup; this was a bad idea. I wound up with flat boards that could serve as cricket bats in a pinch:

I’ll do teff sourdough again some day, but in the meantime I took another tack — with a teff poolish this time. This was also one we had made in class. Determined not to overhydrate again, I held back quite a bit of water (more than I usually do) when mixing the final dough — and realized as I was cleaning up that I had not added any of it back in. I weighed it and it turned out to be a whopping 70 grams — about 10% of the total water in the formula. So instead of 68% hydration, this one came in at about 62%. On paper, practically a bagel.

And yet, the crumb was not super dense and dry. Not the most open I’ve ever done, for sure, but not terrible either. Go figure.

teff bread crumb

My final analysis: teff is tasty, cute, expensive, temperamental, and enigmatic. Now I dare you to try it.

This enigmatic bread goes to IDania (El Aroma de IDania) and Zorra (1x umrühren bitte) for BreadBakingDay #24, Mixed Breads, along with my appreciation for creating and hosting this wonderful monthly event.

Teff Poolish Bread
(adapted from SFBI)

Yield: 1930 – 2000 g. I made two baguettes and two boules with my 1930 g of dough.

Time:

  • Ferment teff poolish: 12 hours
  • Mix final dough: 10 minutes
  • First fermentation : 1.5 hours with a fold, if needed, at 45 minutes
  • Preshape, rest, and shape: 30 minutes
  • Proof: 45 minutes – 1.25 hours
  • Bake: 20 minutes or more (depending on size and shape of loaves)

Desired dough temperature: 75F

Teff Poolish Ingredients:

  • 273 g flour
  • 82 g teff flour
  • 355 g water
  • 0.4 g (1/8 t.) instant yeast

Final Dough Ingredients:

  • 818 g flour
  • 373 – 443 g water (I used the smaller amount; the original formula calls for the larger. You figure it out.)
  • 6.7 g (2-1/8 t.) instant yeast
  • 23.5 g (scant 4 t.) salt
  • All of the teff poolish

Method:

  1. In a bowl, combine the poolish ingredients. Cover and ferment for 12 hours at room temperature.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook, combine all of the final dough ingredients. Mix on low speed until incorporated.
  3. Continue mixing in low or medium speed to a medium level of gluten development.
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled container. Cover and ferment for 1.5 hours, with a fold after the first 45 minutes if the dough seems very slack.
  5. Turn the dough into a lightly floured counter. Divide into 250 – 350 g for baguettes, 500 – 700 g for boules or batards. Preshape  into cylinders (for baguettes) or balls and let rest, covered, for 20 minutes.
  6. Shape the dough into its final shapes and place it, seam-side-up, on a very well-floured couche or linen-lined baskets.
  7. Proof, covered, for 45 minutes or longer, until the indentation left by a fingertip springs back very slowly. Baguettes will take less time to proof than boules or batards, so bake them first.
  8. Meanwhile, preheat the oven, with baking stone, to 475F. You will also needsteam during the initial phase of baking, so prepare for this now.
  9. Just before baking, slash the loaves as you like.
  10. Once the loaves are in the oven, reduce the temperature to 450. Bake for 8 minutes with steam, and another 12 – 25 minutes or so without steam. Then turn off the oven and leave the loaves in for another 5 – 10 minutes, with the door ajar.
  11. Cool on a wire rack.

(Susan is currently a student in the professional bread and pastry program at SFBI)

Top 10 electronic gadgets of the past ten years (ABC News)

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

ABC News released its top 10 electronic gadgets of the past ten years.

By Ki Mae Heussner | ABC News

Maps. Compact disk players. Film. Paperback books. Ten years ago, we couldn’t live without them. Today, they’re inching closer and closer to obsolescence. The past decade has delivered a bounty of consumer electronics that make our lives easier, keep us connected and ensure that we’re endlessly entertained.

But a few have gone above and beyond, altering the way we organize, experience and share our daily lives.

Here are 10 of the gadget world’s greatest hits from the past 10 years.

The iPod

The digital music player was already on the scene when Apple introduced the iPod in 2001. But it wasn’t exactly hyperbole when Apple CEO Steve Jobs said, “Listening to music will never be the same again.”

The iPod — and its signature white earbuds — quickly became a cultural icon. But its impact was hardly cosmetic. Along with iTunes, the iPod popularized the mp3 player and changed the music industry forever.

Stacks of CDs? Gone. Trips to the record store? Gone.

Apple made buying music, TV shows and videos as easy as logging on to your home computer and clicking your mouse a few times.

In 2007, the company announced that it sold its 100 millionth iPod unit, making it the bestselling digital music player of all time.

And the iPod has come a long way. Since the original iPod that could hold 1,000 songs, Apple has updated the model nearly every year, expanding the line to tiny workout-friendly Shuffles and Nanos and, of course, the iPhone-like iPod Touch. The current iPod classic (the model closest to the original) can hold 40,000 songs.

GPS Devices

Oh, those folding maps. For a time, they were a staple car accessory, not to mention a road trip necessity. But now, they’re almost quaint reminders of a bygone era.

In 2000, the United States discontinued a feature that deliberately degraded GPS signals available to the public.

Overnight, civilian users of GPS devices could pinpoint locations up to 10 times more accurately than before. And in the years that followed, led by Garmin, GPS devices found their way on to dashboards across the country.

Drivers retired their maps, letting voice-enabled GPS devices (or in-car navigation systems) lead them to their destinations.

Now, turn-by-turn directions and information about the nearest gas station and other points of interest are available on car dashboards, iPhones and more.

The BlackBerry

They’re known to be so addictive that they’re often called “CrackBerries.”

Research in Motion’s highly popular BlackBerry mobile device was first introduced as a two-way pager in 1999, but the now-common BlackBerry smart phone was introduced in 2002.

The handheld devices, which were initially the gadget of choice for executives and jetsetters, let users send and receive e-mail, access the Internet, take pictures, make phone calls and more.

As the price dropped, their popularity surged, and BlackBerrys found their way into the hands of everyone from urbanites to college students to stay-at-home moms.

When President Barack Obama ascended to the White House, he famously fought to keep his precious BlackBerry, despite national security concerns and a tradition of e-mail-free presidents.

Though the launch of the touchscreen iPhone challenged its share of the smart phone market, BlackBerry has held its own with an easy-to-use keyboard and sophisticated office applications and security features.

Digital cameras

Think back to 10 years ago. Did you get married? Graduate from college? Welcome a new child into the world?

Chances are, you didn’t get to see images of those major milestones until at least a few days later. Now, thanks to the proliferation of the affordable digital camera, memories are captured — and in many cases, shared — nearly instantaneously.

Though the digital camera was introduced in the 1990s, it really came into its own in the 2000s, finding its way into the hands of millions around the world. Even little kids have their own digital cameras.

Unfortunately, the downside of digital photography’s expansion is that your most embarrassing moments might live on the hard drives and Facebook accounts of countless family members and friends.

But the upside is that if you’re fast enough, you can delete those pictures before they ever see the light of day.

TiVo Digital Video Recorder

Remember when you had to make appointments with your living room television? If you wanted to watch “Friends,” “Lost” or “Monday Night Football,” you had to adjust your schedule accordingly.

The TiVo Digital Video Recorder and its more recent competitors now let you record those programs and watch them at your leisure — commercial-free

TiVo pioneered the device in 1997, but it was in the 2000s that the ad-skipping DVR really took off, sending advertisers and television programmers back to their drawing boards.

LG now offers a DVR-integrated television and some cable providers also provide DVR services.

Nintendo’s Wii

When Nintendo launched the Wii and Wii Sports in 2006, it pulled gamers off the couch and into the action, revolutionizing video game play in the process.

Using a wireless controller, players actually simulate actions such as playing tennis, baseball and boxing.

But the game has had successes beyond gaming, including teaching school children music and helping people lose weight.

The USB Flash Drive

The memory disk, the jump drive, the pendrive — or the USB.

It goes by many names but always serves the same crucial function: storing mountains of information on a miniscule device.

More durable and with more memory than its predecessor the floppy disk, flash drives help us carry documents, photos and more between work and home and school. They may be among the more humble items on this list, but simple can also be significant.

The iPhone

In June 2007, diehard Apple fans camped out on city sidewalks for days to be among the first to score the hotly anticipated iPhone. The first iPhones dropped on June 29, and within 74 days Apple had sold 1 million of its new devices.

Now it’s said that the number of iPhone and iPod touch units sold has climbed to 40 million.

Whether it’s with iPhones, BlackBerries, Android-powered phones or Palm devices, consumers increasingly send and receive e-mail, play games, watch video and access the Internet from mobile phones.

Thanks to the advent of the mobile application, like those in Apple’s App Store and the Android Marketplace, consumers also look to their handheld devices for a host of other practical — and frivolous — functions.

Whatever our desire, be it finding the closest public toilet, tracking stocks or starting a car remotely, we now know that “there’s an app for that.”

What’s behind the growth of the ever-smarter phone? Technologists say the answer is easy: the iPhone.

E-Book Reader

Bye bye, books? Maybe not quite yet, but as e-readers, such as Sony’s Reader and Amazon’s Kindle, gain in popularity, printed novels, textbooks and even newspapers and magazines are slowly retreating into the background.

Sony was the first this decade to offer an e-book reader in 2006 and Amazon’s Kindle quickly followed in 2007. But since then, as prices fall and content options rise, the market has continued to grow.

This month, research firm Forrester said 2009 has been a “breakout year” for eReaders and eBooks. By the end of the year, sales will have more than tripled with content sales up 176 percent for the year.

Netbooks

Earlier this year, some analysts predicted that the PC industry would experience its sharpest shipment decline in history. But the industry’s fate was changed largely because of one key new computing species: the netbook.

Smaller and cheaper than its cousins the laptop and desktop, the netbook has emerged as an increasingly popular PC option.

The netbooks, or mini-notebooks, can’t compete with fully-functional laptops and desktops when it comes to memory, power and battery life. But they can be had for below $300, a price closer to that of some smart phones than traditional computers.

In addition to the price, their compact size and mobility make them attractive options for consumers.

Taiwan-based Asus introduced the first netbook of the decade in 2007 when it launched the Asus Eee PC (the three “Es” stand for “Easy to learn, Easy to work, Easy to play).

But its competitor, Acer Inc. (also from Taiwan), popularized the category with its 2008 launch of the Acer Aspire One. Analysts say Acer’s version was the first to do well among retail customers, as its operating system and overall look more closely resembled traditional PCs.

In March, research firm Garter predicted that PC shipments would fall in 2009 by 11.9 percent. Now, boosted by netbook sales, the firm expects shipments to actually grow by 2.8 percent this year.

Israeli school directors head to Ethiopia

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

By Israel Moskovitch | YNet

Dozens of youth village directors have organized a joint trip to Ethiopia in which they will travel through various cities,villages, immigrant camps and Jewish centers.

The trip is not for recreation, nor is it being sponsored by the Ministry of education – these leaders will pay for their own visit to Ethiopia in the upcoming Hanukkah holiday, in hopes to better understand their students who emigrated from the African country.

“It’s the initiative of the youth village directors,” said David Elboim, director of Tom Herev Le’et, a youth village in the central Hefer Valley Regional Council, who was behind the initiative.

“The route will pass through all the areas from which students arrived: from Addis Ababa to Axum and all the way to Gondar,” Elboim added.

As part of the trip, which is filled with domestic flights and long commutes, the directors will visit the villages, immigration camps and Jewish schools where their students hail from.

“Over 50 Ethiopian students attend the Wizo Nir HaEmek youth village. This trip will allow us to better understand where these kids come from and help satisfy their needs,” explained Esti Choen, the Manager of the Wizo Nir HaEmek village, which is located near the northern city of Afula.

“We will meet with students that will study with us after making aliyah. Our current students already gave us addresses of family members, synagogues and cemeteries where their family members are buried. They are very excited about our trip,” said Cohen.

Tanzania police detains 28 Ethiopians

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Dar es Salaam (ThisDay) — Police in the east African nation of Tanzania has arrested 28 immigrants from Ethiopia yesterday. The Ethiopians were heading to  an unknown destination, probably South Africa.

The immigrants were traveling aboard a bus with registration number T245 BDD and were being escorted by two officials from the immigration department, one from the headquarters and the other from an immigration office in Temeke.

According to sources, human trafficking is now a lucrative business in border towns.

Officials from the immigration department who were escorting the Ethiopian immigrants told the police that the immigrants had just finished a one-year-term in jail at Babati Prison after being arrested living in the country illegally.

“This is a business for some officials within the immigration department who are earning money by trafficking Ethiopians and Somali people to South Africa,” sources said. After the bus had been held at Urafiki Police Post for some hours, directives from the immigration office were given to allow the bus to continue with the trip and there were no more explanations.

One of the officials escorting the immigrants said the immigrants were to take another vehicle to the border with Malawi where they will be escorted again by other officials.

Illegal immigrants from Ethiopia and Somalia are coming into Tanzania in droves taking advantage of the country’s porous borders.

Hardly does a month pass without the police and Immigration officers nabbing scores of illegal immigrants not only at border posts but deep in the inner towns of Tanzania.

British singer and humanitarian Bob Geldof opens school in Ethiopia

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

LONDON — Sir Bob Geldof fought back tears as he visited Ethiopia on a recent trip to open a school funded by the profits of his 2004 Band Aid 20 record.

Do They Know It’s Christmas? was re-recorded to raise funds five years ago, with stars including Chris Martin, Robbie Williams and Will Young participating on the record. The money raised has gone to the poorest parts of Africa, and Geldof was delighted to return to the country to open an education facility in Hagere Salaam, southern Ethiopia, which was paid for with some of the proceeds from the track.

Ethiopia visit ... Bob Geldof and Birhan Woldu with Oliver Harvey (Bob Geldof reunites with Birhan Woldu)

He reunited with Birhan Woldu, who featured in the video for the original 1984 release, and the rocker admits she has had an overwhelming affect on him since they first met. Geldof tells Britain’s The Sun newspaper, “Many people here, like beautiful Birhan, wouldn’t have been around but for the massive outpouring of generosity by the British public.”

“Birhan is the daughter of Band Aid. I feel like her stepfather. You do stupid things like a record and a concert and it really does save lives. I saw people here 25 years ago starving and on the brink of being wiped out – but now their kids are playing rock ‘n’ roll and going to school. This is a different country now. The economy is growing at seven per cent and it needs an educated workforce.”

Haile Gebreselassie invited as guest of honor at the World Cup

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

haile gebreselassie berlin marahon 2009 photo by victah sailerBy Marleen Rennings | IAAF

World marathon record holder and Ethiopia’s famous athlete Haile Gebrselassie travels this week to South Africa’s Cape Town to assist at the FIFA World Cup draw on 4 December.

In acknowledgment that Haile Gebrselassie is one of the African continent’s most celebrated and decorated athletes of all time, the multiple Olympic and World champion and world record breaker has been invited to assist Secretary General Jérôme Valcke on this important night for the 32 countries competing at the football World Cup next year.

Gebrselassie will be joined on stage by sport celebrities such as David Beckham, Makhaya Ntini who was the first black player in the South African cricket team, John Smit who is the captain of Rugby World Champions, South Africa, and Bafana Bafana defender Matthew Booth.

The Final Draw will be beamed live to an estimated audience of more than 350 million people in more than 200 territories.

Little Addis in South Africa (video)

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

A visit to Little Addis, Johannesburg, South Africa

The Ethiopian district in town is affectionally known as Little Addis. Amazing cheap food can be enjoyed. But we’re talking amazing, and amazingly cheap. We’re slowly starting to explore the area more. One place to start is Joburg Mall accessible on Jeppe Street. The first place we recommend you hit is a cute little spot called cafe Addis. Just down the passage is a spot to get dam near the finest coffee in the world. Now Im not talking Italian espresso nonsense. This stuff is roasted in front of you over a pile of burning coals, and then placed in large traditional pots that brew the coffee till it reaches amazingness. (JoBusy.com)

Ethiopia: 6 high ranking officers defected

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Six high ranking military officers of the Woyanne regime in Ethiopia have defected, Ogaden Online reports.

Recent attacks by the Ogaden National Liberation Front’s (ONLF) army may have played a role in the defection of these high ranking officers, the report adds.

All six officers who were based in a military garrison around Addis Ababa from where they had been scheduled to be deployed in Ogaden.

The names and the ranks of the officers who defected are 1. Col. Tadesse, 2. Cap. Abraha, 3. Cap. Haylo, 4. Lt. Daud, 5. Lt. Gebre, 6. Lt. Yohannes

Aside from the defections, Ogaden Online reports that there is an increased infighting within Woyanne militias “following the spectacular losses” in the hands of the ONLF fighters in the many parts of Ogaden in recent fights.

Seye Abraha's trademark arrogance endures

Monday, November 30th, 2009

The following Amharic article by editor-in-chief of Awramba Times analyzes recent political developments in Ethiopia involving the Addis Ababa-based opposition parties, particularly the joining of UDJ by two former high level Woyanne officials — Defense Minister Seye Abraha and President Negasso Gidada. The writer hammers Seye Abraha as incurably arrogant.

ስዬ ወደ አንድነት፤
የገነቡትን ለማፍረስ ወይስ ያልዘሩትን ለማጨድ

በዳዊት ከበደ

[pdf]

የቀድሞው የኢህአዴግ ፕሬዚዳንት ዶ/ር ነጋሶ ጊዳዳና የቀድሞው መከላከያ ሚኒስትር ስዬ አብርሃ አንድነት ፓርቲን በይፋ መቀላቀለቸው የሰሞኑ ዋነኛ መነጋገሪያ አጀንዳ ሆኗል፡፡ ባለፈው ሐሙስ አቶ ስዬና ዶ/ር ነጋሶ አንድነት ፓርቲን በይፋ የመቀላቀላቸውን ዜና በውጭ ድረገጾች ሲቀርብ ኢትዮጵያዊያን በዜናው ላይ የተለያዩ አስተያየቶች ሰጥተዋል፡፡ በኤሊያስ ክፍሌ የሚመራው ‹ኢትዮጵያን ሪቪው› ድረገጽ ለምርጫ እየተዘጋጁ ያሉ የኢትዮጵያ ፓርቲዎች በሁለት ጎራ ይከፍላቸዋል፡፡ በሁለቱም ጎራ ያሉ ተፋላሚዎችም ኢህአዴግ መሆናቸውን ገልጾ መጪው ምርጫ በሁለት ኢህአዴጎች መካከል የሚደረግ ምርጫ ነው ብሎታል፡፡ እሱም በአንድ በኩል መኢአድን ያቀፈውና በስልጣን ላይ ያለው ቡድን ሲሆን በሌላ በኩል ደግሞ የቀድሞ ኢህአዴግ አመራሮችን ያቀፈው አንድነት/መድረክ ነው ይላል፡፡

‹ናዝሬት› ድረገጽ በኩሉ በመላው አለም የሚገኙ ኢትዮጵያውያን በዚህ ዙሪያ አስተያየት እንዲሰጡ ባቀረበው ጥሪ መሰረት በመቶዎች የሚቆጠሩ ኢትዮጵያውያን አሰተያየታቸውን ሰጥተዋል፡፡ ከጥቂቶቹ በስተቀር የበርካቶቹ አስተያየትም አሉታዊ ነበር፡፡ በተለይ አንድ አስተያየት ሰጪ ‹እነ ስዬ የአዲስ አበባ ዩኒቨርስቲ ጓደኞቼን ያስጨፈጨፉና ለበደኖና አርባጉጉ እልቂት ተጠያቂ ናቸው፡፡ እነሱ አንድነት ፓርቲ ሳይሆን ዘ ሄግ ፍርድ ቤት ውስጥ መግባት አለባቸው የሚል አስተያየት አስፍሯል፡፡ በአንፃሩ ደግሞ ደሳለኝ አስፋው የተባሉ ፀሐፊ በ‹ኢትዮፖለቲክስ› ድረገጽ ላይ እርምጃውን በጎ ጅምር ሲሉ አድንቀዋል፡፡ በእለቱ ‹ኢትዮፎረም› ላይ አስተያየት ከሰጡ ኢትዮጵያውያን መካከልም ብዙዎች ለግለሰቦቹ ድጋፋቸውን ሰጥተዋል፡፡

ምርጫው እንደመቃረቡ መድረክ በአንድ የመወዳደሪያ ምልክት ግለሰቦቹን አቅፎ ምርጫ ውስጥ ለመግባት ሰዎቹ ከመድረክ አባል ፓርቲዎች ውስጥ ወደ አንዱ መቀላቀላቸው የግድ ነበር፡፡ በብዙዎች ዘንድ የነበረው ግምት ዶ/ር ነጋሶ ኦፌዴንን አሊያም ኦብኮን አቶ ስዬ ደግሞ ከህዋሀት የተሰናበቱ ጓዶቻቸው በመሰረቱት አረና ፓርቲ ውስጥ ይቀላቀላሉ የሚል ሰፊ መላምት ነበር፡፡ ምክንያቱም ሁለቱም ከቀድሞ ጓዶቻቸው ጋር የዘር ፖለቲካ በሀገሪቱ ስር እንዲሰድ አይነተኛ ሚና የተጫወቱ እንደመሆናቸው ከዚህ ማዕቀፍ ወጥተው አገር አቀፍ ፓርቲ ውስጥ በመግባት ደጋፊን ለማሰባሰብ መሞከር ‹ያልዘሩትን እንደማጨድ› ስለሚቆጠር ነው፡፡ እንደውም ቀላል በማይባሉ አክራሪ ደጋፊዎቻቸው ዘንድ እንደ ክህደት ሊያስቆጥርባቸው እንደሚችል ብዙዎች ግምታቸውን ይሰጣሉ፡፡ ስለሁለቱም ይህን ያህል ካልኩኝ ወደ ዋናው ርዕሰ ጉዳይ ልግባ፡፡

ከበርካታ ወራት በፊት፥ ሚያዝያ 15 ቀን 2000 ዓ.ም ረፋዱ ላይ አቶ ስዬ ስልክ ደወሉልኝና ‹ጊዜ ካለህ እቤት መጥተህ በአንዳንድ ጉዳዮች ላይ እንዲሁ በግል እንድንወያይ ፈልጌ ነበር› አሉኝ እኔም ደስተኛ መሆኔን ገልጬ ወደ አቶ ስዬ መኖሪያ ቤት አቀናሁ። ስለ አገራችን ወቅታዊ የፖለቲካ ሁኔታ፣ በወቅቱ ስለነበረው የተቃዋሚዎች እንቅስቃሴ፥ እንዲሁም ስለገዢው ፓርቲ አንዳንድ ሀሳቦች አንስተን ተወያየን። ዛሬ ስለ ያኔው ውይይታችን ሳስብ የአሁኑ የአቶ ስዬ ውሳኔ ግራ አጋብቶኛል፡፡ በወቅቱ የነበረው የተቃዋሚዎች እንቅስቃሴ የጠራ መስመር አልያዘም ነበር፡፡ እነ ወ/ት ብርቱካን አንድነትን አልመሰረቱም። እነ ኢንጅነር ኃይሉም በይፋ ወደ መኢአድ አልተመለሱም፡፡ ዶ/ር ብርሃኑም በሰላማዊ ትግል ተስፋ መቁረጣቸው ይገለጽ እንጂ ግንቦት 7 ንቅናቄን አልመሰረቱም ነበር፡፡ ሁሉም ግን በየፊናቸው በሚያደርጉት እንቅስቃሴ (ስማቸው በኢህአዴግ ቢነጠቅም) የቅንጅት አመራሮች እየተባሉ ነበር የሚጠሩት፡፡ ከአቶ ስዬ ጋር በነዚህና ሌሎች ጉዳዮች ዙሪያ ሀሳብ ከተለዋወጥን በኋላ አቶ ስዬ ‹ምናልባት ከዶ/ር ብርሃኑ ጋር መግባባት ይቻል ይሆናል፤ ከሌሎች ጋር ግን አብሮ መስራት የማይታሰብ ነው፡፡› አሉኝ፡፡ ለዚህም ሁለት ምክንያቶችን አስረግጠው ነገሩኝ፡፡ አንዱ ምክንያታቸው ይደግፈኛል ብለው የሚተማመኑበት የትግራይ ህዝብ በ1997 ምርጫ ሙሉ ድጋፉን ለህወሓት የሰጠ ከመሆኑም በላይ ገዥው ፓርቲ ቅንጅትን ከ‹ኢንተርሃምዌ› ጋር በማያያዝ ትግራይ ውስጥ ሰፊ ቅስቀሳ ማካሄዱን አስታውሰው ዛሬ ከቅንጅት አመራሮች ጋር ጥምረት ፈጥሮ ትግራይ ውስጥ ድጋፍ ለማሰባሰብ መሞከር ከባድ እንደሚሆን ስጋታቸውን ገለፁልኝ፡፡ ከዚህ ጋርም አያይዘው አሜሪካ ውስጥ ከዶ/ር ብርሃኑ ጋር ፖለቲካዊ ውይይት ስለማካሄዳቸው ኢህአዴግ ሆን ብሎ የነዛው እና ስዬ ቅንጅት ሆነ ብሎ በትግራይ ህዝብ ዘንድ እንዲጠሉ ለማድረግ የሸረበው ሴራ መሆኑን አጫወቱኝ፡፡ በውይይታችን መሀል ያነሳነው ሁለተኛው ነጥብ የተቀዋሚዎች መንደር ‹የንትርክ አውድማ› የመሆኑ ጉዳይ ነበር፡፡ በዚህ ዙሪያ አቶ ስዬ እስከ ቅርብ ጊዜ ድረስ ተመሳሳይ አቋም እንደነበራቸው ግልፅ ነው፡፡ በዚህ አመት መጀመሪያ ላይ ከአንድነት ወጣቶች አባል እንዲሆኑ ለቀረበላቸው ጥሪ ‹አንድነት ያልተሰራ ቤት ነው፡፡› በማለት ጥያቄውን ውድቅ ማድረጋቸው አይዘነጋም፡፡ ታዲያ ያ ያልተሰራ ቤት ከመቼው ተሰርቶ ዛሬ ለአቶ ስዬ ዝግጁ ሆነ? መልስ የሌለው ጥያቄ ነው፡፡

እንደ አንድ ኢትዮጵያዊ ዜጋ ሁለቱም አንድነት ፓርቲ ውስጥ መግባታቸው አልቃወምም፡፡ ከዛ ባሻገር ግን ዶ/ር ነጋሶ በይፋ የሰሩት ስዬ ግን ‹በመቃበሬ ላይ› የሚሉት አንድ ወሳኝ የቤት ስራ መኖሩን ግን መጠቆም እፈልጋለሁ፡፡ አቶ መለስ ባለፈው አመት የተከሰተውና መጠነ ሰፊ ኢኮኖሚያዊ ምስቅልቅል ያስከተለውን የኤሌትሪክ መቋረጥ አስመልቶ የኢትዮጵያን ህዝብ ይቅርታ እንዲጠይቁ ከተቃዋሚ የፓርላማ አባላት ጥያቄ ሲቀርብላቸው ‹ድህነት ይቅርታ ይጠይቃችሁ እንጂ እኔ አላደርገውም› ማለታቸውን እናስታውስ፡፡ በመሰረቱ የምትመራውን ህዝብ ይቅርታ መጠየቅ የአክብሮት እንጂ የሽንፈት መገለጫ አይደለም፡፡ ለኢህአዴግ መሪዎች ግን ይቅርታ መጠየቅ የአለም ፍጻሜ ነው፡፡ አቶ ስዬም በይቅርታ ላይ ያላቸው አቋም ተመሳሳይ ነው፡፡ ይህ ደግሞ የህወሓት አክራሪነት ባህሪ እስካሁን እንዳልለቀቃቸው ከማሳየት ውጪ ሌላ መልዕክት የለውም፡፡ አቶ ስዬ ከ1968 ዓ/ም ጀምሮ እስከ 1993 ዓ/ም ድረስ በከፍተኛ ወታደራዊ አመራርነት ደረጃ ጥሩ አዋጊና ተዋጊ እንደነበሩ ይነገርላቸዋል፡፡ ከ1983 ዓ/ም እስከ ተሰናበቱበት 1993 ዓ/ም ድረስ በተለያዩ የመንግስትና የፓርቲ ኃላፊነት ላይ አገልግለዋል፡፡ መከላከያ ሚኒስትር፣ የኢትዮጵያ አየር መንገድ የቦርድ ሊቀመንበር፣ በአሁኑ ወቅት በአዜብ መስፍን የሚመራው ኤፌርት ዳይሬክተር፣ የፓርላማ አባል፣ የህወሓት ፖሊት ቢሮ አባል እንዲሁም የሌሎች በርካታ ሹመቶች ባለቤት ሆነው ‹ጦርነትን መፍጠር እንችላለን› እስከማለት የደረሱት ሰውዬ ‹ንፁህ ሰው ነኝ ይቅርታ አልጠይቅም› ሲሉ አሳማኝ አይደለም፡፡

በሌላ በኩል ዶ/ር ነጋሶ ባለፈው ሀሙስ የኢትዮጵያን ህዝብ በይፋ ይቅርታ ጠይቀዋል፡፡ በርግጥ ከዛም በፊት በተደጋጋሚ ‹ሳላውቅ ተታልዬ መጠቀሚያ ሆንኩ› ሲሉ ብዙ ጊዜ ተደምጠዋል፡፡ ብዙ ሰዎች የዶክተሩን አባባል ‹የመለስ መጠቀሚያ ነበርኩ› የሚል አንድምታ እንዳለው አድርገው ይመለከታሉ፡፡ በኔ እምነት ይህ የዋህነት ነው፡፡ ነጋሶ ኢህአዴግ ውስጥ በነበሩበት ወቅት ስዬ ከመለስ ባልተናነሰ ሁኔታ የህወሓት አድራጊ ፈጣሪ እንደነበሩ መዘንጋት የለብንም፡፡ እናም ነጋሶን መጠቀሚያ በማድረጉ ሴራ ውስጥ ስዬ ጭራሽ የሉበትም ማለት ዘበት ነው፡፡ ነገር ግን ነጋሶ ይቅርታ ሲጠይቁ ስዬ ግን እምቢተኛ የሚሆኑበት ምክንያት ግልጽ አይደለም፡፡ በ2000 ዓ/ም መጀመሪያ ወራት አቶ ስዬ ወደ አሜሪካ አቅንተው ኢትዮጵያዊያንን ባነጋገሩበት ወቅት ይቅርታ ይጠይቁ ዘንድ ሀሳብ ቀርቦላቸው ነበር፡፡ ስዬ ግን አስቂኝ ምላሽ ነበር የሰጡት፡፡ እንዲህም አሉ ‹እዚህ አዳራሽ ውስጥ የኢህአፓ አባላት የነበራችሁ፣ ደርግ ውስጥ ያገለገላችሁ፣ መኢሶን የነበራችሁ ልትኖሩ ትችላላችሁ፡፡ ሁሉም በየፊናው ስህተት ሰርቷል፡፡ ነገር ግን ሁላችንም የይቅርታን ሂሳብ በማወራረድ ጊዜ ከምናጠፋ ለወደፊት ምን ማድረግ እንዳለብን ብንወያይ ይሻላል፡፡› ነበር ያሉት፡፡ ይህ አባባል ለኔ አሳማኝ አልመሰለኝም፡፡ የራስን ጥፋት የደርግ አባላት ከሰሩት ጥፋት ጋር እያነፃፀሩ እናንተ ካልጠየቃችሁ አልጠይቅም ማለት በትጥቅ ትግል ከተፋለሟቸው ሰዎች ጋር ራስን ማወዳደር ብቻውን ይቅርታ ያስጠይቃል፡፡

አንድ ነገር ግልጽ መሆን ያለበት ይመስለኛል፡፡ ጉዳዩ የስዬ ይቅርታ የመጠየቅ ያለመጠየቅ ግለሰባዊ ጉዳይ ብቻ ሆኖ መታየት የለበትም፡፡ የኢትዮጵያን ህዝብ አመኔታን አግኝቶ ወደ ፊት ለመራመድ ምርጫው ይሄ ብቻ ስለሆነ እንጂ፡፡ አለበለዚያ ግን ‹ቂም ይዞ ፀሎት› ይሆናል፡፡ ይቅርታ የመጠየቅ ክቡር ስብዕና የተመካው ለኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ ከሚኖረው አክብሮትና እንዲፈጠር ከሚፈለገው የመቻቻል ሰርዓት አንፃር እንጂ በተለያየ ተሳትፎ ውስጥ ያለፉ ሌሎች ወገኖች ለጉዳዩ በሚሰጡት ምላሽ የሚሆንበት ምንም ስነ አመክንዮ የለም፡፡ ሌሎች አካላት ይቅርታ አለመጠየቃቸው ከደሙ ንፁህ የመሆንን ዋስትናም አያጎናጽፍም፡፡

ሰሞኑን አንዳንድ የተቃዋሚ ፓርቲ አባላት የሚጠበቅብንን ያህል አልሰራንም ብለው ይቅርታ እየጠየቁ ባሉበት ሁኔታ የገዥ ፓርቲ ከፍተኛ አመራር የነበረ ሰው ‹ድሮም አሁንም ትክክል ነኝ› ብሎ የተቃዋሚዎችን መንደር በነፃነት ሲቀላቀል አንድም የተቃውሞ ጎራውን ከልቡ አላመነበትም አሊያም ደግሞ እራስን በሰማየ ሰማያት ላይ ከማስቀመጥ የመነጨ ግለሰባዊ ጀብደኝነት ነው፡፡

አንድነት ፓርቲም ህዝብን የሚያከብር ከሆነ እንዲህ አይነቱን ውዥንብር አጥርቶ መሄድ ያለበት ይመስለኛል፡፡ ፕሬስ የህግ የበላይነት እንዲሰፍን፣ ተጠያቂነት እንዲኖር፣ አምባገነኖች የሚያራምዱትን ኢዴሞክራሲያዊ አሰራር እንደሚኮንን ሁሉ ተቃዋሚዎች ውስጥም ችግር ሲኖር ፕሬሱ ችግሩን ማጋለጥ አለበት፡፡ በግሌ አንድነት ውስጥ አንድ መሰረታዊ ችግር ይታየኛል፡፡ ፕሬስ ገዥውን ፓርቲ ብቻ እንዲኮንን፣ እንዲያጋልጥ አንድነት ውስጥ ያለውን ድክመት ግን አይቶ እንዳላየ አድበስብሶት ብቻ እንዲያልፍ ግዴታ ያለበት አድርጎ እንዲገነዘብ የማድረግ ችግር ይታየኛል፡፡ የውስጥ ችግራችንን ማንም አይስማው፤ የፕሮፌሰር እከሌን መጣጥፍ ለምን አተማችሁ ብሎ ፕሬስን ማሳቀቅ ፓርቲው ከቅንጅት ይልቅ ‹የኢህአዴግ ሞራላዊ ወራሽ› እየሆነ መሄዱን ያሳያል፡፡

ለዚም ይመስላል አቶ ስዬ ከባህሪያቸው ጋር የሚጣጣም ፓርቲ መርጠው የተቀላቀሉት፡፡ በጥር ወር 2000 ዓ/ም ፕሮፌሰር መስፍን ወ/ማርያም የስዬን ቃለምልልስ መነሻ በማድረግ በፃፉት መጣጥፍ ‹ስዬ ተለውጧል› ብለው ነበር፡፡ እኔ ግን በፕሮፌሰሩ አባባል አልስማማም፡፡ ስዬ በጭራሽ አልተለወጡም፤ አሁንም አምባገነን ናቸው፡፡

በሚያዝያ እና ግንቦት 2000 ዓ/ም ከአውራምባ ታይምስ ጋር ሁለት ጊዜ ሰፋፊ ቃለምልልስ አካሂደው ነበር፡፡ በወቅቱ የአንባቢ አስተያየት ምን እንደሚመስል በየሰዓቱ እየደወሉ ይጠይቁኝ ነበር፡፡ ነገር ግን የተስፋዬ ገ/አብ የጋዜጠኛው ማስታወሻ መፅሐፍ የካቲት 10 ቀን 2001 ዓ/ም ዳሰሳው በአውራምባ ታይምስ ጋዜጣ ላይ ሲሰራ ስዬን በተመለከተ ደራሲው ያሰፈረውን ፅሁፍ በጋዜጣው ላይ በከፊል መጠቀሱ ክፉኛ አበሳጭቷቸዋል፡፡ አጋጣሚ ሆኖ ደራሲው አቶ ስዬን በመልካም ሁኔታ አልጠቀሳቸውምና ጋዜጣው ዳሰሳውን ሲሰራ ምን ማድረግ እንደነበረበት ባይገባኝም፤ አውራምባ የሳቸውን ‹መልካም ገፅታ› ብቻ የመፃፍ ግዴታ የተጣለበት ይመስል መበሳጨታቸው እጅግ አስገርሞኛል፡፡ በርግጥ አቶ ስዬ ለረጅም አመታት ካካበቱት ‹ነገሮችን በጉልበት የመፍታት ልምድ› አንፃር ለሰላማዊ ትግል አዲስ ስለሆኑ ለእርሳቸው የሚቀርብ የትግል ስልት ከሚከተሉ ወገኖች ጋር መቀላቀል ነበረባቸው፡፡ ነገር ግን በሰላማዊ ትግል ቆርበናል ከሚሉት ጋር እስከቀጠሉ ድረስ ትእግስት የግድ ነውና በተለይ ሀሳብን በነፃ የመግለጽ መብትን ሊያከብሩ ይገባል፡፡ የትግል ስልትም ቢቀይሩ ይህንን መሰረታዊ መብት ማክበር ግድ ይላልና::

(ዳዊት ከበደ የአውራምባ ታይምስ ጋዜጣ ማኔጂንግ ኤዲተር ነው)

Human rights defenders under siege in Ethiopia

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Soon to be Implemented, Ethiopia’s Civil Society Law is the Most Restrictive of its Kind in Sub-Saharan Africa; Law Draws Inspiration from Similarly Repressive Laws in Zimbabwe, Russia and Singapore

Chicago, Ill. – The Northwestern University School of Law’s Center for International Human Rights, in a report released today and available at northwestern.edu, has found that Ethiopia’s new Civil Society Law violates Ethiopia’s human rights obligations by effectively silencing independent civil society organizations, particularly human rights defenders and advocates of democratic governance that provide critical services to Ethiopia’s most vulnerable citizens.

The report, entitled Sounding the Horn: Ethiopia’s Civil Society Law Threatens Human Rights Defenders, concludes that the new CSO law violates Ethiopia’s human rights obligations as well as the Ethiopian Constitution and thus should be rescinded immediately. Upon implementation of the new law in January 2010, all foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will be prohibited from engaging in activities pertaining to human rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, disability rights, citizenship rights, conflict resolution or democratic governance. Even local NGOs that receive more than ten percent of their funding from foreign sources are considered “foreign” under this law. The report finds that: “Since the vast majority of domestic NGOs in Ethiopia receive the bulk of their funds from foreign sources, the new CSO law will force them to either close their doors or drastically alter the scope of their work.”

The Ethiopian government has long been hostile to human rights defenders. For decades the government has harassed civil society organizations and their leaders. In fact, the director of the Ethiopian Women Lawyers’ Association (EWLA) recently fled the country after the government retaliated against the EWLA for its description of the government’s human rights record.

Unless the Ethiopian government repeals the CSO law, it will be implemented one year after its enactment, on January 6, 2010. The report calls upon the Ethiopian government to rescind the law as soon as possible.

(The Center for International Human Rights is part of the Northwestern University School of Law’s Bluhm Legal Clinic. The Center provides a comprehensive range of classroom courses on the norms and mechanisms of international human rights law, international criminal law, and international humanitarian law, provides valuable clinical experiences for students interested in the protection of human rights on a global scale, and engages in research and other projects regarding emerging human right norms and related issues. Contacts: Sandra Babcock, s-babcock@law.northwestern.edu; Nicolas Martinez, n-martinez@law.northwestern.edu)

More on Col. Mengistu and Prof. Mesfin

Monday, November 30th, 2009

The Addis Ababa-based weekly Awramba Times has more details on former President of Ethiopia Col. Mengistu Hailemariam’s soon-to-be-released book in its latest issue that came out today.

Quoting inside sources, Awramba writes that the book touches many unanswered questions and controversial issues, such as who killed Atse HaileSelassie, and the circumstances under which he left Ethiopia.

Awramba also reports about the political circus at Addis Ababa’s Imperial Hotel Saturday where Prof. Mesfin Woldemariam’s supporters forced the cancellation of UDJ’s general assembly meeting by blocking the entrance to the meeting hall. The general assembly was expected to elect former defense minister Seye Abraha and president Negasso Gidada to the party’s executive committee. Click here to read.

Prof. Mesfin and followers disrupt UDJ meeting (video)

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

A general assembly meeting called today in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, by the opposition Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJ) was canceled when supporters of Prof. Mesfin Woldemariam, who recently resigned from the leadership, blocked entrance to the meeting hall. Watch the video below:

Ethiopians sweep Obudu

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

LAGOS, NIGERIA (APA) — Ethiopia’s Habtamu Awash was the winnner of Nigeria’s 5th Obudu Ranch Mountain race, beating 2008 champion, Ababe Dinkesa, also of Ethiopia to the fifth position on Saturday.

With a time of 42.03 minutes, Awash beat more than 160 mountain runners in the 11km race from Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt, Cameroon, Rwanda, Holland and the host country Nigeria to clinch the first position and a cash prize of US$50,000.

The second position in the male category was won by Geoffry Kusuro of Uganda with a time of 42.11 minutes and received US$20,000, while the third position went to MacDonald Ondara with a time of 42.14 minutes and received US$9,000.

In the female category dominated by the Ethiopians, Manilu Daska of Ethiopia won the race with a time of 49.12 minutes and a cash prize of US$50,000.

The second position was won by another Ethiopian Mastawet Tufa with a time of 49.31 minutes and she received US$20,000, while the third position went to Meselech Hileyesus, also an Ethiopian, with a time of 49.54 minutes.

In local runners category, Danjuma Gyang of Nigeria won the first position in the male race with a time of 48.57 minutes and Janet Dung came first in the female group with 59.56 minutes.

U.K. police renews appeal to find missing Ethiopian woman

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Konjit AssefaHARTLEPOOL, UK (Hartlepool Mail) — POLICE have renewed their appeals to find a missing Ethiopian woman who vanished three months ago during an exchange programme.

Konjit Assefa, 22, was visiting Hartlepool as part of a nine-strong group of Africans when she went missing at around noon on Tuesday, August 25.

Three other Ethiopian members of the Global Exchange programme, all men in their 20s, also disappeared during a trip to London, though one later made contact and was deported.

A Cleveland Police spokesman said: “We are appealing for information regarding a missing Ethiopian woman.

“She had been living in the Headland area of the town as part of an exchange programme.

“At the time of her disappearance she is believed to have been wearing stone washed jeans with a black and grey hooded top and was carrying a small black and red rucksack.”

The Mail reported how Hartlepool Police joined forces with London’s Metropolitan Police in searching for the missing men who disappeared during a tour of the Houses of Parliament on July 15.

Zerihun Weldeyohans Alaro, 24, later contacted organisers after staying with family in London, but was deported.

Exchange visitors Habtamu Debella, 27, and Muluneh Tilahun, 21, are still missing with the UK Border Agency saying they are now as all of the group’s visas ran out on September 9.

The Global Exchange programme involves 18 volunteers, nine from the UK and nine from Ethiopia, living in Hartlepool while working for community organisations.

The team had just finished the second part of the exchange, having already spent three months in Africa.

Programme leaders told the Mail in the summer that they will seriously think about which countries they work with in the light of the disappearances.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Hartlepool Police on (01642) 302126.

Saudi military detains 75 Ethiopians

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

JEDDAH (Arab News) — Prince Khaled ibn Sultan, Saudi Arabia’s Assistant Minister of Defense, announced that 75 Ethiopians and 70 Somalis were caught during military operations along the country’s southern borders.

He did not provide details about where and when the Ethiopians and Somalis were arrested but said they would be interrogated and added that the Kingdom deals with prisoners of war according to Islamic teachings.

Prince Khaled ibn Sultan also cast doubts on the veracity of news reports on several Yemeni websites that six wounded Saudi soldiers are currently undergoing medical treatment in Yemen.

“These reports are not confirmed. I do not think they are correct. We only consider authentic reports. The only true thing so far is that nine Saudi military men are missing. We have announced them by name and we cannot say where they are now,” he told reporters after a tour of the Saudi southern borders Saturday.

A number of Yemeni websites said Yemeni forces came across six wounded Saudi soldiers in Yemeni territory and took them to hospital for treatment. The Yemeni authorities have not confirmed or denied these reports.

“These reports have not been confirmed. I do not think they are truthful,” Prince Khaled said confirming that the Saudi forces are in complete control of the Al-Dood Mountain and its strategically important peak.

Asked when the purging operations would end, Prince Khaled said: “We are not in a hurry. The fighting situation is good. Our objective, set by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, is to minimize human losses and inflict maximum damage possible on the enemy.”

Prince Khaled on Sunday visited the injured Saudi soldiers at the Armed Forces Hospital in Jazan wishing them quick recovery and congratulating them on the Eid Al-Adha.

Mengistu Hailemariam writes a memoir

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

0000159391-001Former president of Ethiopia Mengistu Hailemariam writes a new book — a memoir — that is expected to be released in a few weeks.

Woyanne journalist and publisher Amare Aregawi is also releasing a new book soon, according to Tesfaye Gebreab. It would be interesting to read what he says about his arch nemesis Al Amoudi.

Mengistu’s books is a tell-all account of his 17 years of bloody rule, Ethiopian Review has learned. However, Tesfaye, in his report below, expresses doubt as to how much Mengistu will reveal. We will find out soon.

No matter what, it is a good thing that books and memoirs are being written by Ethiopians who have played a role in shaping the country’s history — whether their role was good or bad.

Aregawi Berhe’s recently released book, A Political History of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, is one such book.

I recently met with Tesfaye Gebreab in Asmara where he is currently doing research for his new book. It happens that Woyanne has a lot of secrets burried in Eritrea.  Tesfaye hopes to release his book, “Ye Derasiw Mastawesha,” in January 2010. If you think “Ye Gazetegnaw Mastawesha” was a shocker, wait until you read the new book. It lays bare some of Woyanne’s most closely guarded secrets. – Elias Kifle

ዜና መፃህፍት – ከተስፋዬ ገብረአብ

ሁለት ዜናዎች ሰማሁ።

መንግስቱ ሃይለማርያምና እና አማረ አረጋዊ መፃህፍት ፅፈዋል። እንደሰማሁት የሁለቱም መፃህፍት ማተሚያ ቤት ገብተዋል። ድንቅ ነው!

ምን ፅፈው ይሆን?

ኮሎኔል መንግስቱ እንዲያው የአበሻ ነገር ካለሆነበት፤ ያበጠው ይፈንዳ፤ ያላበጠው ይበጥ! ብሎ ሁሉን እንደወረደ ቢነግረን አዲስ የግልፅነት አብዮት ማፈንዳት ይችል ነበር። እንደሰማሁት ከሆነ ግን መንጌ ቴክሱ አሁንም በጥቁር አንሶላ ራሱን ለመሸፋፈን ሞክሮአል። ረቂቅ ፅሁፉን ያነበቡ ሰዎች እንደሚሉት ኮሎኔሉ ከበፊቱ በተሻለ ሁኔታ ግልፅ ለመሆን ቢሞክርም ገና ልቡን ከፍቶ ሁሉን ሊነግረን ዝግጁ አይደለም። የሆነው ሆኖ መፅሃፉ ታትሞ እሳከነበው ቸኩያለሁ።

የቀድሞ ወዳጄ አማረ አረጋዊም እንዲሁ፤ “አደገኛ መፅሃፍ ፅፌያለሁ” ብሎ ለጋራ ወዳጃችን ነግሮታል። አማረ እንደተናገረው ሁሉን ፍርጥርጥ አድርጎ ፅፎ ከሆነ፣ ሊደብቀን ካልፈለገ በቀር፤ ብዙ ምስጢርና አዲስ ነገር ሊነግረን እንደሚችል ተስፋ አለኝ። ምክንያቱም አማረ ከህወሃት ነባር ታጋዮች አንዱ የነበረ፤ በፕሮፓጋንዳው ክፍል ከመለስ ዜናዊና ከአለምሰገድ ገብረአምላክ ጋር በተመጣጣኝ አቅምና ስልጣን ላይ የነበረ፤ አሁንም ከህወሃት ያሻውን መረጃ ማግኘት የሚችል በመሆኑ ብዙ ያውቃል ብቻ ሳይሆን ሁሉን ያውቃል! ጥሩ የስነፅሁፍ ችሎታ እንዳለውም አውቃለሁ። በአናቱ ደግሞ ፈሪ አይደለም።

የሆነው ሆኖ በቅርቡ ሁለት መፃህፍት የምናገኝ ከሆነ ጠቃሚ ነው። መልካም ንባብ ለሁላችን!

Girma WoldeGiorgis hosts dinner for Hailu Sheweden

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

hailu shawel lidetu ayalew and bereket simon nov 2009_145323.jpg-145749Woyanne puppet and fake president of Ethiopia, Girma WoldeGiorgis, hosts a dinner party for Hailu Shawel, Lidetu Ayalew and other traitors and hodams at the Menelik palace.

It seemed from the video that Girma, the 400-pound fat pig, could not wait to finish his short speech and start stuffing his face with all the food piled on his table.

During the dinner, while sharing a bottle of Whiskey with Bereket Simon, Hailu Sheweden may have been dreaming about taking over Girma’s place as another fake president.

The photo above shows Hailu, Lidetu and Bereket sharing a table at the dinner, feasting on the blood of those innocent Ethiopians that Bereket and Meles slaughtered. Watch also a video of the reception at EthioTube.net (click here).

A big loss to DC area bars and night clubs

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

Woyanne ambassador to Washington, Dr (Drunkard) Samuel Assefa, departs. However, it is rumored that he may not return to Ethiopia. He is contacting some colleges in the U.S. for a teaching position.

Samuel AssefaWASHINGTON DC (VOA) — Ethiopia’s [Woyanne] ambassador to the United States, Samuel Assefa, said his goodbyes last week at a reception at the Ethiopian embassy. Today is his last official day in Washington.

“Farewell,” said the former professor of philosophy and Addis Ababa University vice president, who took the hot seat when Ethiopia was suffering the aftermath of the 2005 election crisis. The diaspora was carrying the green-yellow-red national flag to protest the government arrest of members of the opposition in Addis.

The former academic also had to face Congress on a bill that would strong-arm his government into sweeping democratic reforms. “I thought it would be difficult, I had no idea what difficult meant,” he recalls. Speakers at his reception said the ambassador did a good job in a tough situation, but reports are that a replacement is not coming anytime soon.

Five months after Yamamoto left Addis to become principal deputy assistant secretary in the State Department Bureau of African Affairs, there is no new ambassador in Addis.

“It is a mistake,” says former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia David Shinn, “that Washington has not assigned a full-time ambassador to Ethiopia. “The administration should have named someone several months ago.

“They are behind the curve already and the longer this drags out, the more difficult it is going to be for the United States to play the role it should be playing in Addis Ababa in the run-up to the election,” said Shinn. The embassy is currently headed by Ambassador Roger Meece, who is retired from a lengthy career as a foreign service officer in embassies in central and western Africa. He is on temporary assignment to Addis as charge’ d’affaires.

Ambassador Vicki Huddleston, who is now deputy assistant secretary of defense at the Pentagon, served as charge’ in Addis in the aftermath of the 2005 elections. She said Meece has the confident of the State Department. “So, I think he can do whatever a full-time ambassador can do.”

Shinn said unless the White House names a candidate in the coming two weeks, the process of Senate confirmation will not come in time to place a new ambassador in Addis before the May 2010 elections.

Ethiopia's Tekeze Dam fiasco

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

The recently completed Tekeze hydroelectric dam in Ethiopia is said to be the largest public works project in Africa. It also could turn in to the biggest blunder with disastrous environmental impact, as the investigative report below tries to illustrate. There is so much secrecy surrounding the project that it is not even clear who really paid for it, although the ruling Woyanne junta claims that it has provided all the funding.

By Brady Yauch | Probe International

The vastly over-budget and long-delayed Tekeze hydro-electric in Ethiopia is finally finished. The project, which was first proposed seven years ago and was scheduled to be competed in 2008, in the end cost $360-million—$136-million over budget.

At 185 metres, the dam—developed and built by the state-owned Chinese National Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering Corporation, now known as Sinohydro—is the largest of its kind in Africa and is expected to produce 300 MW of electricity.

Who financed the dam, is not entirely clear.

According to the World Bank, in 2002, China’s state-owned Export-Import (Exim) Bank provided $50 million in concessional financing for this US$224 million dam. But a Taiwanese news source said the China National Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering Corporation that built the dam, financed it entirely.  Nor is it clear yet, who will pay for the cost overruns, delays, and lost revenue: according to one report, the Ethiopian government is demanding compensation from the consortium for these losses.

The secrecy surrounding the financing of the Tekeze dam is not unusual. World Bank researchers had to comb Chinese language sources to scrape together enough information to conclude that relatively little is known about the value of Chinese finance for African infrastructure projects in general. They did manage to conclude, however, that most of the financing goes through China’s Ex-Im bank on concessional terms which are better than private sector terms, but not as heavily subsidized as official development assistance from old-time aid agencies like the World Bank. China often gives infrastructure financing in return for natural resources, such as oil, to feed its booming domestic economy.

Though it isn’t exactly clear whose taxpayers—Ethiopia’s or China’s—are paying for this dam, it is clear that the problems Chinese dam builders are having with their dams at home are being visited on their Ethiopian customers: plans to raise the reservoir of the massive Three Gorges dam to its maximum height are on hold because of fears of massive landslides caused by rising and falling reservoir levels. Experts are now beginning to question whether the Three Gorges dam will ever be able to reach its maximum power generating capacity.

At the Tekeze dam, dubbed with the unfortunate moniker the “Three Gorges of Africa,” the same problem is occurring: a massive landslide in April 2008 forced developers to spend an additional $42 million on retaining walls to keep the slopes from eroding.

The Tekeze dam is just the first of many more hydro-electric projects that the Chinese want to build in Ethiopia. The state-run Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo) is building, or has plans to build, at least six other hydro electric projects in the country and the Gezhouba Group Company and Sinohydro Corporation have agreed to build two of the six hydro electric projects: the $408-million Genale Dawa 3 hydropower project and the $555-million Chemoga Yeda hydropower project, respectively. Ethiopian officials expect that once all the hydro electric projects are completed, the excess power will be exported to neighboring countries.

Patricia Adams, Executive Director of Probe International, and a long time critic of foreign aid and export credit says Ethiopia should beware of free lunches, whether in the form of heavily subsidized foreign aid from the West or subsidized export credit from China.

“Subsidized project financing is usually given for political reasons, not because an investment is economically viable,” she says. “It usually distorts decisions and locks governments and consumers into ongoing costs. African governments would do better to let the discipline of the market choose projects that will truly generate enough wealth to pay investors back.”

India commits $4.2 billion to buy farm land from Ethiopia

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

Didn’t the dumb regime in Ethiopia say that 6 million people are currently facing starvation because of rain shortage? If so, how are the Indians and Saudis going to grow crops on the land they are buying from the regime — the same land that we are told cannot produce food for Ethiopians?

How about the question of sovereignty? These land leases and international agreements that are signed by the illegitimate regime in Ethiopia that has no mandate to govern are serious threats to Ethiopia’s long term interest. In early last century, the British signed away the Nile River to Egypt without Ethiopia’s knowledge and now if Ethiopia tries to adjust or cancel the treaty, it will face war, as the government of Egypt warned recently. When the Woyanne regime goes away, if a new regime tries to adjust or terminate all these ill-advised land lease treaties, Ethiopia may face war from the 1-billion-strong India, not to mention Saudi Arabia, Korea and the other countries that are taking over Ethiopia’s land at “bargain-basement prices.” Woyanne’s land giveaway in such a manner is the worst kind of treason.

Washington Post reports the following on the scramble for Ethiopia’s land.

Ethiopia — In recent months, the Ethiopian regime began marketing abroad one of the hottest commodities in an increasingly crowded and hungry world: farmland.

”Why attractive?” reads one glossy poster with photos of green fields and a map outlining swathes of the country available at bargain-basement prices. ”Vast, fertile, irrigable land at low rent. Abundant water resources. Cheap labour. Warmest hospitality.”

This impoverished and chronically food-insecure nation is fast becoming one of the world’s leading destinations for the booming business of land leasing, by which relatively rich countries and investment firms are securing 40-to-99-year contracts to farm vast tracts of land.

Governments across South-East Asia, Latin America and especially Africa are trying to attract this new breed of investors, creating land-leasing agencies and land catalogues to display their offerings of earth.

In Africa alone, experts estimate more than 20 million hectares have been leased in the past two years.

The trend is driven in part by last year’s global food crisis. Wealthy countries are shoring up their food supplies by growing staple crops abroad. The desert kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for instance, is shifting wheat production to Africa. The government of India, where land is crowded and overfarmed, is offering incentives to companies to carve out mega-farms across the continent.

Increasingly, though, purely profit-seeking companies are snatching up land, making a simple, grim, calculation. As one Saudi-backed businessman here put it: ”The population of the world is increasing dramatically, so land and food supplies will be short, demand will be higher and prices will rise.”

The scale and pace of the land scramble have alarmed policymakers and others concerned about the implications for food security in countries such as Ethiopia, where officials recently appealed for food aid for about 6 million people as drought devastates East Africa.

A code of conduct to govern land deals was discussed on the sidelines of last week’s UN Food and Agriculture Organisation food security summit in Rome. ”These contracts are pretty thin; no safeguards are being introduced,” David Hallam, a deputy director at the FAO, said. ”You see statements from ministers where they’re basically promising everything with no controls, no conditions.”

The harshest critics conjure images of poor Africans starving as food is hauled off to rich countries. Some express concern that decades of industrial farming will leave good land spoiled even as local populations surge. And sceptics also say the political contexts cannot be ignored.

”We don’t trust this government,” said Merera Gudina, a leading opposition figure who accuses the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, of using the land policy to hold on to power. ”We are afraid this government is buying diplomatic support by giving away land.”

But many experts are hopeful, saying that big agribusiness could feed millions by industrialising agriculture in countries such as Ethiopia, where about 80 per cent of its 75 million people are farmers who plow their fields with oxen.

”If these deals are negotiated well, I tell you, it will change the dynamics of the food economy in this country,” said Mafa Chipeta, the FAO’s representative in Ethiopia, dismissing the worst-case scenarios. ”I can’t believe Ethiopia or any other government would allow their country to be used like an empty womb. The human spirit would not allow it.”

Few countries have embraced the trend as zealously as Ethiopia, where hard-baked eastern deserts fade into spectacularly lush and green western valleys fed by the Blue Nile. Only a quarter of the country’s estimated 70 million fertile hectares is being farmed.

Desperate for foreign currency, the government of former Marxist rebels who once proclaimed ”land to the tiller!” has set aside more than 2.5 million hectares for agribusiness. Lured with 40-year leases and tax holidays, investors are going on farm shopping sprees, crisscrossing the country to pick out swathes of Ethiopian soil.

”There’s no crop that doesn’t grow in Ethiopia,” said Esayas Kebede, who works for a government agribusiness agency, adding that too many requirements on investors might scare them off. ”Everybody is coming.”

Especially Indian companies, which have committed $US4.2 billion ($4.6 billion).

Anand Seth, director general of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations, described Africa as ”the next big thing” in investment opportunities and markets.

As he stood on a hill overlooking 12,000 hectares of rich, black soil, Hanumantha Rao, chief general manager of the Indian company Karuturi Agro Products, agreed. So far, he said, the Ethiopian Government has imposed few requirements on his company. ”From here, you can see the past and the future of Ethiopian agriculture.”

From there – a farm just west of Addis Ababa – it was possible to see a river designated for irrigating cornfields and rice paddies; it is no longer open for locals to water their cows.

Several shiny green tractors bounced across the field where teff, the local grain, once grew. Hundreds of Ethiopian workers, overseen by Indian supervisors, were bent over rows of corn stalks, cutting weeds tangled around them with small blades. Many of the workers were children.

The day rate: 8 birr – about 70 cents.

”The people are very happy,” Rao said. ”We have no problems with them.”

As a worker spoke to one of his supervisors, he whispered that the company had refused to sign a wage contract and had failed to deliver promised water and power to nearby villages.

Supervisors treat them cruelly, he said, and most workers were just biding time until they could go work for a Chinese construction company rumoured to pay $2 to $4 a day.

”We are not happy,” said the man, a farmer-turned-tractor driver who did not give his name because he feared being fired.

”I’m a machine operator and I make 800 birr [about $65] a month. This is the most terrible pay.”

Rao said he had trained about 60 Ethiopians to drive tractors; others would learn to run shellers and how to fertilise and irrigate land. If things work as they should, he said, Ethiopians will adopt the modern techniques in their own farms.

Along a muddy road leading to Karuturi farm, people said they were hopeful that might happen. But they were not sure how. Ethiopians cannot own land, instead holding ”use certificates” for their tiny plots, making it difficult to get loans, or to sell or increase holdings.

”We think they might be beneficial to us in the future,” said Yadeta Fininsa, referring to the new companies coming to town. ”But so far we have not benefited anything.”

(Souce: The Washington Post)

Wither Ethiopia?

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

By Yilma Bekele

The Russians and East Europeans have definitely made their opinions known. They would rather forget about it. The Cubans have always experimented with it and continue to craft their own version. The Chinese are fine tuning it or trying to bend it to their will. You can feel the Chairman shaking in his grave. The Vietnamese do not want to talk about it. Only the North Koreans are forging full steam ahead. What I am talking about is dictatorship and the absence of the rule of law. The questions for us is why is poor Ethiopia flirting for the umpteenth time that one-man rule is the way forward?

All indications are our country is withering away as we speak. How could a country with over three thousand years of history decay and shrivel? Well, it is not unheard of. It has happened before. We have no idea where the early Egyptians went nor do we know what happened to the Mayan civilization. The Roman Empire is no more and the Greeks are a shadow of their former self. Ethiopia as we know it is on its way out if this trend continues.

It is not good to dwell so much on the negative is a good saying. On the other hand pretending life is good and everything is dandy is postponing the inevitable clash with reality. Speaking from experience, if I might be presumptuous enough to generalize about us in the Diaspora we have learnt that reality is unforgiving. No amount of pretension, glossing over problems or side steeping over issues will make it go away. Life forces each one of us to grow and accept responsibility. We learn not to panic when faced with failure or shortcoming. Our strength comes from getting up and forging a new path. There is no recipe for success as failure.

The problem is our current Ethiopia does not seem to have the capacity to learn from the past. We are the poster country for repeating failure. We change the language but not the action. We think renaming the problem is like coming up with a new solution. We have a saying ‘gulechawen bekeyayerut wotun ayattafetem.’ How true, the secret is in changing the recipe or the cook.

We are at it again. I mean repeating what does not work. Suffice to say we brave Ethiopians expect a different result. We seem to say ‘why not it did not work last time, we will just pray and leave it to fate and it will work this time.’ After over thirty years of the same solution to the same problem we find ourselves where we started. The problem is getting bigger while our solution stays constant.

What brought about this rumination is the constant unceasing jabber regarding the so-called general elections scheduled in our country. Even the term ‘election is a misnomer; it should be referred to as a ‘coronation’. I have no idea where everyone has been the last four years but the preparations by the ruling TPLF party not to repeat the ‘calculated risk’ taken in 2005 started the same day as the voting ended. The following laws were enacted to unlevel the playing field of free and democratic elections.

1. The free independent media was crushed. Methods used were killing of editors, jailing and intimidation of journalists, forced exile, increase the price of paper and ink and using the judiciary to bankrupt news organizations by forceful seizure of property.
2. Enact new ‘laws’ to make the news business expensive and the process lengthy to start a newspaper or any independent journal.
3. Enact new laws to restrict the role of NGO’s.
4. Jail and intimidate the opposition. Use all government resources to create disarray in the opposition by means of blackmail, bribery and character assassination.
5. Enact new laws under the cover of fighting ‘terrorism’ to restrict political activity.
6. Come up with a so-called ‘code of conduct’ to further confuse intimidate the opposition.
7. Use the judiciary to imprison opposition leaders and party members.
8. Use foreign diplomats to meddle in our internal affairs and water down our demands while keeping our country in a state of perpetual poverty and welfare.

For those who are willing to listen, brave enough to accept reality the TPLF regime has made it abundantly clear that the idea of free and democratic election in Ethiopia is not acceptable. The Prime Minister has made it crystal clear that the only way he will vacate the palace is by force and on several occasions he has invited his countrymen to go ahead and try it. So much for participatory democracy.

The current TPLF regime in power has shown that it is not capable of solving the many problems facing our country. It is not for lack of trying; rather it is about lack of basic practical knowledge and know-how. It was not long ago when the regime declared ‘agriculture will drive modernization’. You would think that they will revisit the infantile idea of the state ownership of land and change the policy. No they were referring to ‘leasing land’ to grow flowers for the European market. Poor farmers were evicted from their ancestral land and a generous tax benefit was given to the foreign investors and their local agents. The theory was the income in foreign currency would be used to buy food items to feed the country or something like that.

What was the net effect of this adventure? The poor peasant farmers joined the unemployed migration to the city, the use of banned chemicals was a disaster on the eco system and the few young women workers in this hazardous environment were poisoned for life. The melt down of the European economy rendered the project useless while the long-term negative effect on our country and people is immeasurable. Future generations will pay the price. You don’t hear the regime-touting flower as a savior anymore.

Now the talk is all about ‘leasing’ agricultural land to foreigners. We are in the process of clear-cutting our national resource so the Saudis can harvest wheat and barley. A Reuters report said:

‘The three investors met Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi late last month, Mohamed al-Musallam, who chairs Dar Misc Economic and Administrative Consultancy firm, “They approved to lease us the farm land. They will exempt us from paying taxes and lease fees in the first years of production and they will allow us to export all our production,” Musallam told Reuters.

Our ancestors escaped the scrooge of colonialism our generations is selling our land to the new breed of colonialists. What they could not do with weapons they are doing it with dollars and Euros.
Both solutions prescribed by the regime have something in common. The need for dollars is what drives the TPLF machine. The Ethiopian government is a very expensive venture. Remember the regime is the number one employer in the country. Loyalty is paid for. Like a drug addict needs his fix and will do anything to acquire drug, so will the TPLF regime sell land, sell children, sell sovereignty to acquire dollars and Euros.

Do we have to sell our land and our children to build a better Ethiopia? There is no precedent where countries have traded sovereignty to improve the life of their people. The lesson for us is to follow the example of India where investment was made in education and the Diaspora was encouraged to invest in knowledge based ventures. The example by South Korea where the government systematically nurtured the big conglomerates (Chaebols) like Hyundai-Kia, Samsung, LG and others to grow big and strong to be able to compete in the international scene. Both India and South Korea are ancient country like us. Both value nationalism and sovereignty very much. Unlike us, both are blessed with forward looking, people and culture loving leaders.

How come our solutions do not require our involvement? Why are we relying on foreign benefactors to develop our country? Why are we allergic to crafting our own solution to our problem? Again we in the Diaspora are familiar with such mentality. There are those who work hard and build a prosperous business a successful carrier and energize their people. We are also aware of the welfare bums, the short cut artists, the fast talkers and flimflam swindlers. The Ethiopian regime falls in the second category. Intoxicated by its own lies and always stretching its hands for a spare change from the foreigners.

All we need is one example to show the bankruptcy of the TPLF regime and the hopelessness of counting on the clueless regime to get us out of the hole we are in. Let us take the Internet. It is only twenty years old. The new technology is what is driving the economies of the advanced countries.

Here in California the new technology of computer hardware, World Wide Web and its many application software with the venture capitalists have been driving the economy at a very fast pace. Is this something our Ethiopia can emulate? The answer is a resounding YES we can! The proof is the many Diaspora Web sites populating cyber space. They are the result of our people’s capacity to master the new technology and the fertile ground of freedom that allows us to soar like an eagle. You open any one of our Web sites and you are bound to find hundreds of destinations to go to.
How does this compare with Woyane land? Like day and night. We got Walta for the cadres and Aiga for their children in the Diaspora, nothing else! They are not willing to innovate and they block our people from learning.

If the Ethiopian people are free to learn and experiment with the new technology where would our country be? How many jobs will be created? All this can be accomplished with no cost to the regime. But that is not what they want. Information and knowledge is the number one enemy of a totalitarian system. They would rather invest in purchasing Internet traffic filtering technology to block knowledge.

Our fearless leader is going to Copenhagen representing African dictators. He is going to blame the world for the impoverished state the Africans are in. He is going to demand reparations to be paid over many years. The people of Africa will not see a cent. The money will be used to buy weapons and useless trinkets. What is left will be deposited in the West. The developed countries will laugh all the way to the bank while the poor impoverished Africans will cry all the way to the grave.

World Food Program looks for more delivery routes to Ethiopia

Friday, November 27th, 2009

wfp food supply rout in to ethiopiaADDIS ABABA (WFP) — Every day dozens of World Food Program (WFP) chartered vessels ply the oceans of the world en route to distant ports. Laden with food the vessels steer their course towards the continents of Asia, South America and Africa where the need is often greatest. The beautiful highlands of Ethiopia have long struggled to support that proud nation’s burgeoning population but have often been unable to meet the demand. As a result WFP has been asked to step in and establish a vital food lifeline from countries around the world whose grain surpluses can meet the needs of the Ethiopian people.

For years the Port of Djibouti served as the main port of call for all food flowing into landlocked Ethiopia. Following the separation of Eritrea from Ethiopia in 1993, Ethiopia, which once had the privilege of using the ports of Asab and Massawa along the Red Sea coast, suddenly found itself reliant upon the tiny nation of Djibouti for access to the Gulf Of Aden, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. An increase in commercial cargo, humanitarian cargo and government cargo led to congestion in the Port of Djibouti and strained the overland transport capacity to Ethiopia.

While some years were worse than others, the past two years have presented additional challenges. The Ethiopian government’s request for support of over 11 million people has suddenly pushed the supply chain to its limit. (The amount of food WFP estimates it will need to move into Ethiopia is nearly 800,000 metric tonnes.) As a result of this request, WFP undertook an assessment to determine the feasibility of using the ports of Sudan and Berbera, located to the north and south respectively, as alternate supply routes into the landlocked nation. Early test shipments proved successful so additional shipments of bulk grain were sent into the two alternate ports.

We have been lucky enough to receive images from these early shipments to the remote port of Berbera and of the overland convoys moving into Ethiopia from Sudan. We took the liberty of compiling the images into a multi-image show complete with a custom audio track. It highlights the process involved with moving food into some of the world’s most remote regions. Hopefully, the new routes will prove to sustainable new passages into the heart of Ethiopia.

ECA workshop discusses 'dry ports' for Ethiopia

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (ECA) – The expansion of existing and the creation of new dry ports in Ethiopia was the subject of a day-long workshop held at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) this week.

With no direct access to the sea, landlocked Ethiopia appears to be at a disadvantage when it comes to efficiency of transportation of goods. However, dry ports could be a solution to this problem. ECA, on behalf of the Ethiopian Dry Ports Services Enterprise, has undertaken a feasibility study for dry ports in the country. The meeting was to review the feasibility study with a variety of stakeholders from across the country.

With a dry port, goods being transported to a landlocked country, rather than undergoing customs procedures at the seaport, would instead be transported directly to the country’s dry port, where customs clearance would take place.

Mr. Stephen Karingi, Chief of Trade and International Negotiations at ECA, said the importance of dry ports for landlocked countries could not be overstated. ECA studies have shown that, keeping distance constant, transport costs for landlocked countries are on average $2000 USD higher than those for non-landlocked countries owing to delays at seaports and border posts. Efficient dry ports could help reduce these transport costs and make them better able to compete commercially.

“The ability of landlocked countries to trade does rely on the existence of efficient and easily accessible transit corridors of which dry ports constitute a vital component,” he said. “The benefits of efficient dry ports could be enormous for Ethiopia.”

Ethiopia currently has two dry ports – one in Mojo, the other in Samera. In addition to the review and input into the final report, participants discussed the feasibility of expanding these two dry ports as well as possible locations for others.

Tesfa making things happen for kids in Ethiopia

Friday, November 27th, 2009

This is a really inspirational story. It is about Tesfa Foundation. Tesfa has founded five schools serving 800 children in Ethiopia and has recently established a program in Addis Ababa for at risk teenage girls.

Dana Roskey founded the Tesfa Foundation in 2004 with inspiration from his fiance Leeza Woubshet. A Minnesotan Ethiopian, Leeza died in 2003 in an auto accident before she could realize her dream of going back to Ethiopia to open a school for children. Because Ethiopia has no publicly funded options for pre-school or kindergarten, Tesfa has specialized in early childhood education. As the organization develops, they hope to continue offering education and opportunity to children throughout Ethiopia and spread to its neighboring countries.

Ethiopia's junta not ready to liberalize economy – Trade Minister

Friday, November 27th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s regime is not ready to bow to pressure to liberalize its telecoms and banking sectors while negotiating terms to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO), its trade minister said on Wednesday.

Analysts say the giant Horn of Africa country’s hopes for WTO membership hinge on calls for the authorities in Addis Ababa to open those areas to international competition.

“There is a demand from some WTO member countries for Ethiopia to liberalise some of our service sectors and it will be subject to discussion in future negotiations,” Trade Minister Girma Birru told Reuters in an interview.

“But from what we see now, we are not convinced it will be appropriate for our own economic policies to liberalise at this stage.”

[In this information age, the stupid minister has no reason for trying to keep Ethiopia in the 19th century. His boss, Meles Zenawi, wants to control the flow of information. That is the only reason.]

Girma said his ministry was answering questions about the Ethiopian economy from WTO members. U.S. officials have publicly said the nation should liberalise those sectors.

The country is one of Africa’s largest potential markets — with a population of about 80 million — and most of its people have no telephones or bank accounts.

It is attracting growing interest from foreign investors in agriculture, hydropower, and oil and gas exploration, and has recorded growth of more than 10 percent for the last five years.

Opposition parties, however, dispute those statistics.

The country remains one of the world’s poorest and it has suffered high inflation, power cuts and a shortage of foreign currency this year.

Girma said Ethiopia’s economic growth rate was the best argument against liberalisation.

“The policies we have in place prove themselves. They mean sustainable growth,” he said. “If liberalisation is not done in the right way and at the right time it will harm us.”

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, a former Marxist rebel, told Reuters in an interview in July that he hoped negotiations to join the WTO will be finished within three years and admitted that competition may be inevitable.

Ethiopia's patriarch to inaugurate a new church building in NY

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Saint Mary of Zion Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church New York Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church (EOTC), His Holiness Abune Merkorios, will officially open the St. Mary of Zion Church’s new building in New York Saturday, Nov. 28.

The inauguration program will start at 6 AM tomorrow in the presence of His Holiness as well as Abune Melketsedik, Abune Elias, Abune Samuel, Abune Baslios, and other religious leaders and guests from all over the United States.

Location: 77 High Street Yonkers, New York, 10703 (Click here for map)

The event will also celebrate the annual Saint Mary’s Day, according to Melakegenet Gezahegn G. Kirstos, the Church’s administrator.

New York’s St. Mary of Zion Church was first established in 1991 by the late Abune Yesehaq, Archbishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Western Hemisphere. It is the first Ethiopian church that took a stand against the illegal take over of the EOTC by a cadre of the ruling Woyanne junta, Ato Gebremedhin (formerly Aba Paulos).

(For further info call (917) 837-8245, (203) 645-0275, (631) 671-6090. Also visit stmaryofzion.com)

11 companies receive oil exploration licenses in Ethiopia

Friday, November 27th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s [tribal junta] will offer up to 14 licenses for oil and gas exploration over the next three years despite threats from rebels who say they will attack oilfields run by foreigners, the government said on Tuesday.

“We have 11 companies exploring in Ethiopia now,” said [Woyanne] Minister for Mines and Energy Alemayehu Tegenu.

“We are still inviting companies to come talk to us about licensing and we hope to have a total of 25 in three years time, and that will be enough,” he told Reuters in an interview.

The 11 foreign companies exploring the Horn of Africa nation include Africa Oil Corporation, South West Energy and Malaysia’s state-owned Petronas .

Apart from a small discovery of natural gas, which Petronas has signed a $1.9 million deal to extract, Ethiopia has not uncovered significant oil or gas deposits.

The government says, however, that the Ogaden basin may contain gas reserves of 4 trillion cubic feet and points to nearby countries such as Sudan and Yemen as evidence there could be major oil deposits under Ethiopia’s deserts.

The minister said Ethiopia would offer incentive packages to companies on a case-by-case basis, depending on the size of their investment.

“Incentives that we can discuss include duty-free imports of machinery and refunds of exploration costs should oil or gas be discovered,” Alemayehu said.

NO REBEL THREAT

Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) rebels in 2007 attacked an oil exploration field owned by a subsidiary of Sinopec, Asia’s biggest refiner and China’s second-largest oil and gas producer.

Sinopec then pulled out of the Ogaden region. Most of Ethiopia’s exploration activities have centred on the vast province, which borders unstable Somalia.

Insurgents this month said they had seized seven small towns in Ogaden and again warned foreign firms not to invest.

Alemayehu dismissed the rebel threat and said Ethiopia was also offering companies the chance to explore in five basins outside of Ogaden.

“There was an attack in 2007 but companies exploring Ogaden are now secured by our military,” he said. “We don’t see any problems near our camps and exploration areas. The rebels make claims that aren’t reflected on the ground.”

The ONLF wants autonomy for the region, whose population is ethnic Somali, and the group has been waging an on-and-off campaign for more than 25 years.

Addis Ababa says the ONLF does not have the support of the local population and is being funded by arch enemy Eritrea to try to overthrow the government.

Amhara region Ground Zero for trachoma in Ethiopia

Friday, November 27th, 2009

trachoma in Ethiopia 231652Ethiopia has the highest proportion of people at risk of getting trachoma (85% of its population, about 65 million people), according to a report by The Carter Center. Ethiopia has also the greatest number of people in the final, blinding stage of trachoma (more than 1 million). It has the greatest number of people who have gone blind from trachoma (138,000).

The predeterminants of trachoma are poverty, which manifests as poor access to sanitation, poor access to hygiene, high density living conditions, and a general poor health. All of those go together, then trachoma gets laid on top of it. It used to be the slums of London, now it’s the rural areas of populous countries, like Ethiopia. – Dr. Paul Emerson, director of The Carter Center Trachoma Control Program

The Carter Center has launched trachoma control programs in Ghana, Mali, Niger, Sudan and Nigeria, but its most challenging location is Ethiopia. The Ethiopia program began in 2001, in partnership with the federal Ministry of Health and the Lions Clubs of Ethiopia. It has focused its efforts on the country’s most affected region: the northwestern state of Amhara. Two thirds of its work there has been funded by money raised by the Lions Clubs of Ethiopia, through the Lions Clubs International Foundation. The antibiotic it has distributed, Zithromax, has all been donated by Pfizer. The Center aims to effectively control trachoma in the region by 2012.

Trachoma affects the lining of the eyelid, causing it to form granule-like bumps, and to appear red and irritated.  Repeated infections over the years cause the underside of the eyelid to scar. The scar tissue pulls the eyelid inward, so that the eyelashes scratch against the cornea, a condition known as trichiasis.  The constant rubbing against the globe of the eye is painful, and causes sensitivity to light and particulate matter, like dust and smoke.  Within just 18 months, it can begin to cause irreversible visual impairment.  If not surgically corrected, it causes blindness.

Amhara region: Ground Zero

Amhara region, which accounts for roughly 20% of Ethiopia’s population, carries 45% of the country’s trachoma burden.

More than 85% of Amhara’s 17 million people live in rural areas, situated in the mountainous highlands. They are overwhelmingly subsistence farmers, growing teff, a grain that is used to make injera, a spongy, flat bread typically served with Ethiopian meals.

In Ethiopia, Amhara region has the highest rate of active trachoma in children aged 1-9 (62%), and the highest rate of adults who have reached the final, blinding stage of trachoma (5.2%). The prevalence is attributed mainly to the area’s poverty, poor access to water, and poor sanitation. Families live in small huts, crowding a small space in which it’s easy for disease to spread from children to the parents. And in some areas of the rural mountains, mothers or children have to walk hours to get water, and then lug it back home. After cooking, drinking, and feeding the animals, there often isn’t enough left to wash hands, or children’s faces. This contributes to the spread of trachoma.

The other major contributing factor in Amhara is the presence of swarming flies, Musca sorbens, that thrive in places of poor sanitation. The flies like to breed in outdoor human stool, and they feed off of discharge around the eyes and nose. As they feed, they transmit the microorganism that infects they eyes with trachoma, from one person to the next. Sanitation facilities have historically been lacking in Amhara — another effect of the region’s poverty. Since 2003, however, hundreds of thousands of household latrines have been built with the help of The Carter Center and other development groups.

The World Health Organization endorses a four-pronged approach to trachoma control, known as the S.A.F.E. strategy.

S – Surgery to correct inverted eyelids, which occur in the most advanced stage of trachoma.
A – Antibiotics, namely azythromicin, to treat trachoma infection.
F – Facial cleanliness, particularly important for children, to clear off infectious ocular and nasal discharge that attracts eye-seeking flies, and which they spread to other people.
E – Environmental improvements, such as the building of latrines and access to water. Latrines help to reduce the population of flies that spread trachoma, and access to water promotes cleanliness.

Marcus Samuelsson on Thanks Giving

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

By Steve Inskeep

(NPR) – Marcus Samuelsson was born in Ethiopia, raised in Sweden and now is a world-renowned chef in New York City. His cooking style is as international as his life story.

He sat down with NPR’s Steve Inskeep to discuss his multicultural Thanksgiving traditions.

“Like most immigrants, we roast turkey — we have turkey on the table,” said Samuelsson. “But our table is filled with people from all over the world that are Americans like us, new Americans … [So] there’s also the dishes from our [home] country.”

“I have Swedish potatoes au gratin,” said Samuelsson. “I have gravlax on the table. Then my wife makes a mean doro wat, which is this chicken stew from Ethiopia. She will always have some injera bread there.

“I think Thanksgiving is this incredible, great example where we as immigrants, we as Americans, bring in the culture or the history of where we come from,” said Samuelsson. “And then we serve it to our family, and I just think it’s a perfect marriage where you can show your identity, and you’re really proud to be an American.”

“Cooking for me is also a way of looking back,” said Samuelsson. “When I make the apple cake, I see my mother.

“So much of cooking and eating is about, ‘Where do we want to go in our memories?’ ” said Samuelsson. “We want to revisit the vacation. We want to revisit our college years. We want to revisit our childhood years.”

Growing up, he’d help his mother make her classic apple cake. “My job was always to sort of make the clock,” Samuelsson said, in describing the way the apples were arranged on top of the dessert. “My mom always cut 12 pieces.

“I always wanted to mess it up — I wanted to put apples all over,” he said. But his mother made sure the apples were adorned properly, because each person should get a slice of apple on their slice of cake.

Samuelsson feels everyone has a food story like his apple cake one.

“We all have food stories,” he said. “We all come from incredible backgrounds. And we can … share those memories … through food. And that’s the reason I love living in this country.”

Marcus Samuelsson’s Apple Cake Recipe

“I always joke about how bad my mom’s cooking was, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that a lot of what I know about cooking came from her. I can’t even count how many times she made this honest, simple apple cake — it seems as if we always had one in the refrigerator and another in the freezer, just in case we had unexpected company. Even now, when we are all out of the house, she always has apples on hand, just in case she needs to whip up a quick dessert for visitors.”

Ingredients

2 tablespoons unseasoned bread crumbs

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

2 Granny Smith apples

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan

1 large egg

1-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2/3 cup half-and-half

2 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and coat with the bread crumbs.

2. Toss together the granulated sugar and brown sugar. Set aside.

3. Peel and core the apples, then slice one apple into 16 wedges. Combine the cinnamon and 1/3 cup of the sugar mixture in a medium bowl. Add the apple wedges and toss to coat. Roughly dice the remaining apple.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and the remaining sugar mixture on medium speed until light, fluffy, and lemon colored, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and mix until combined. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour and baking powder. Slowly add the half-and-half, and mix until combined. Fold the diced apple into the batter.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Arrange 14 of the apple wedges fanned along the outer edge of the pan and place the 2 remaining wedges in the center. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the center is golden brown.

6. Remove from the oven to a wire rack to cool completely. Run a small offset spatula around the edges to release the cake from the pan and remove the springform. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar, then cut into 12 wedges.

Seye Abraha, Negasso Gidada join UDJ

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

seye abraha 21115 Ethiopian Review had reported 6 months ago that former Woyanne defense minister in Ethiopia, Ato Seye Abraha, was planning to join the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJ). He and former figurehead president Negasso Gidada today have announced that they are now members of UDJ whose head, Wz. Birtukan Mideksa, is currently in jail as a political prisoner.

Before joining UDJ, Seye had already become an influencial figure behind the party. He has brought with him his supporters and disgruntled members of the ruling Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) to UDJ. Now that he is officially a member, he is the de facto leader of the party. Thus the stage is set for a face off between Woyanne + AEUP vs. Woyanne + UDJ/Medrek. This is not a real choice for the people of Ethiopia.

No one takes former fake president Negasso Gidada seriously, despite BBC’s report that he is a popular figure. He is popular only among comedians. BBC and Reuters reported the following:

Ethiopia’s former President Negasso Gidada has joined an opposition party, as the country builds up to a [fake] election scheduled for next May.

Mr Negasso, in power [what power?] between 1995 and 2001, said he had joined the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJ) to try to unite Ethiopia.

Analysts say his defection and that of ex-Defence Minister Seye Abraha are likely to boost the UDJ’s popularity.

Its leader Birtukan Medeksa is in jail over protests after the last poll, in 2005.

She was arrested after violence broke out when opposition parties organized protests, citing election fraud.

Some rights groups have accused Prime Crime Minister Meles Zenawi of trying to ensure election victory by suppressing opposition — allegations he denies.

Pardons

The BBC’s Uduak Amimo in Addis Ababa says the two defections are a significant symbol of opposition to the government.

But she says the UDJ and its allies are unlikely to overhaul (?) the governing party in next year’s election.

Mr Negasso, whose role as president was largely symbolic, is said to be a popular politician. [According to who?]

He told Reuters news agency: “Our joining the UDJ sends a signal that we have to work hard for the unity of the country and the Ethiopian people.”

Some 200 people were killed after security forces opened fire during the protests which followed the 2005 elections. More than 100 opposition leaders, activists and journalists were convicted and jailed but most have since been pardoned.

Ethiopian ex-president, ex-minister join opposition

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – A former Ethiopian president and a former defense minister have joined the same opposition party, strengthening it against a government accused of suppressing critics before national elections in May.

Negaso Gidada, president from 1997 to 2001, and Seye Abraha a former rebel leader who became defense minister for four years from 1991, joined the Unity for Democracy and Justice party (UDJ) on Thursday.

The UDJ is part of an eight-party coalition called Medrek, or the Forum, that most Ethiopians view as the most significant threat to the government at the ballot box. The UDJ’s leader Birtukan Mideksa, 36, has been in prison since last December.

“Our joining the UDJ sends a signal that we have to work hard for the unity of the country and the Ethiopian people,” Negaso told Reuters, adding that if Ethiopian political parties were not ethnically diverse then the country could split.

Ethiopia has about 80 ethnicities and parties have traditionally been formed along ethnic lines. UDJ leaders now come from the three most prominent groups.

Seye was jailed for corruption in 2001 after falling out with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and, after his release in 2007, he became a vocal opponent of the government, which has been in power for nearly 20 years.

“POLITICAL PRISONERS”

Meles and Seye come from the Tigrayan ethnic group, who make up just 6 percent of the population but dominate politics.

Most analysts agree Meles’ Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) will win easily at the ballot box, despite growing allegations of squashing political criticism.

“They say that because the landscape is unfavourable for free and fair elections,” Seye told Reuters. “There are laws that can be used against voices of dissent. We will be making the release of political prisoners a campaign priority.”

Meles says the opposition is trying to discredit an election that it has no chance of winning and therefore provoke the West into stopping the aid which the poor country relies on.

Opposition leaders told Reuters this month that their members were being refused food aid to force them to join the ruling party. The government denied it.

Ethiopia’s last national elections in 2005 ended violently when security forces killed about 200 protesters in the capital Addis Ababa after the opposition said the government rigged the poll. Seven policemen were also killed.

Birtukan was jailed after a 2005 poll, pardoned in 2007 and sent back to prison for violating the terms of that pardon.

The country has never seen a peaceful change of government. Meles took power in 1991 after rebels led by him, Seye and others overthrew a Soviet-backed regime.

California: 2 men plead not guilty to killing Ethiopian immigrant

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA (Mercury News) — Two San Jose men suspected in the shooting death of a 25-year-old immigrant from Ethiopia, whose body was found in South San Jose, pleaded not guilty on Nov 23 to murder charges, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.

Samuel Rose, 20, and Ronald Correa, 20 , have been charged with the murder of Fisseha Isaac Gebremichael, 25, of San Jose, whose body was found Feb. 9 on the curb in the 600 block of Braxton Drive, located south of Hellyer Avenue.

Prosecutors allege Rose and Correa were armed with a .22 caliber handgun at the time of the murder, according to the charging documents.

Ashley Phelps, 20, of San Jose, pleaded not guilty to charges of accessory, according to the district attorney’s office. Prosecutors allege that Phelps harbored and concealed Rose after the murder, according to the charging documents.

Gebremichael died of a gunshot wound and was found by a resident early in the morning, according to San Jose police. Court documents that would provide more details surrounding the crime have been sealed by the court at the request of the district attorney’s office.

Rose, Correa and Phelps have a preliminary hearing scheduled for Jan. 25, a process in which a judge will determine if there is sufficient evidence to force the defendants to stand trial.

Isaias Afwerki on how to bring change in Ethiopia

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

In our second meeting with President Isaias Afework last month, the other main topic of discussion was the current state of the Ethiopian opposition. … “Woyanne will collapse through evolution. Let’s revolutionize the process,” the president said. To that end, all the opposition groups need to come together and craft a “common political platform, which is lacking today.” He expressed his hope that such a common political agenda and an inclusive united front of Ethiopian opposition parties will be formed before the end of this year. … the full article will be posted shortly

New DVD teaches Woyannes to eat less

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

A British film-maker and an Ethiopian doctor are producing a film that teaches Ethiopians to eat less so that they can avoid becoming obese, the report below explains. What the report fails to mention is that these fat Ethiopians are very few and belong to the ruling class, and they are commonly known as Woyannes. And the stupid doctor, Dawit Mengistu, who is involved in making the film, is best described as aggasses. The report is full of factual errors written by a lazy reporter named Dave Himelfield. Click here to see some photos of Woyanne kids for a glimps into their obscene lifestyle. The photo below is Meles Zenawi’s daughter and Sebhat Nega’s son partying and getting drunk.

HUDDERSFIED, UK (The Huddersfield Daily) — TWO Huddersfield men are out to save the lives of Ethiopians – from gorging, drinking and smoking themselves to death.

In a total U-turn from the haunting images of the 1984 famine which sparked Live Aid, parts of Ethiopia are now becoming affluent and some of its wealthier people are falling victim to Western-style excesses – including obesity.

Film-maker John Edmonds and public health expert Dr Dawit Mengistu – who was born in Ethiopia – have realised there is a growing health problem in the African country due to growing wealth and fast food restaurants opening.

Now the Examiner can exclusively reveal their move to tackle a problem no-one could have dreamed would ever exist in Ethiopia.

Old images of starving Ethiopian children – which prompted the 1985 Live Aid appeal spearheaded by pop star Bob Geldof – still haunt many people’s perception of that country.

But 24 years later Ethiopia has a growing affluent population which is gorging on western-style fast food, smoking and drinking.

‘White-collar’ sit down jobs are on the increase in urban areas – as is car ownership.

Mr Edmonds said: “Urban areas in Ethiopia teeter on the edge of yet another new crisis – diseases of affluence. Sadly, the western diet and lifestyle are becoming more and more popular with everyone who can afford them.

“Cars are in demand, western-style high-fat fast food outlets are multiplying, the use of tobacco and alcohol is increasing and, with all these changes, so is the incidence of diseases.”

“The average Ethiopian knows little of the dangers of fast food, lack of exercise, high-fat food and the like and the amount of public information on these issues in the Ethiopian language is rare.

“As the result, low-income countries such as Ethiopia are seeing shocking increase in obesity, heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Ethiopian art gallery opens in Atlanta

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Hanatzeb Ethiopian Art GalleryHanatzeb Ethiopian Art Gallery, the first of its kind in Atlanta, celebrated its grand opening on November 1. The Gallery also hosted a 2-day art and litrature event this past weekend, Nov. 20 – 22, where Ethiopian traditional bread and coffee were served.

Located in the Buckhead neighborhood, Hanatzeb Gallery adds to the City of Atlanta’s growing art scene.

Along with paintings, the gallery carries Ethiopian artifacts, such as traditional crosses,  masks, books, and household items.

The Gallery also hosts poem reading events and receptions for Ethiopian painters and artists to help them introduce their works.

The owner, Anteneh Girma, says that one of the objectives of the gallery is to introduce Ethiopia’s still undiscovered, but incredibly talented artists to the world.

Indeed many of the paintings currently on display in the gallery are stunningly beautiful. Most of them are brought from Ethiopia. Some have been produced by Ethiopian artists who are residing in the U.S.

The gallery is open from 10 AM – 6 PM from Monday through Saturday. It is located at 49 B Bennett Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30309.

(More information: Tel 404-352-4373 or visit Hanatzeb Gallery’s web site: hanatazeb.com)

USAID helps a Woyanne company win $30m contract

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has brokered a $30 million contract between a U.S.-based business and a company owned by Ethiopia’s tribal junta, according to a report by Jason McLure of Bloomberg News. This should not be a surprise since USAID and the World Bank, poverty mongering organizations, are as corrupt as the 3rd world vampires such as Meles Zenawi they support. These “development” organizations are the worst perpetuators of corruption and bad governance in Africa. Read the full report below.

(Bloomberg) — An Ethiopian opposition party has criticized a U.S. aid program for helping a textile plant with ties to the country’s ruling party win a multimillion dollar contract from an American company.

The program, known as the AGOA Plus project, is designed to help link African manufacturers to American buyers in order to take advantage of preferential tariff treatment under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. The so-called AGOA program, started by the U.S. government in 2000, allows about 6,500 products from Africa to enter the U.S. free of duties or quotas.

On Nov. 19, the U.S. Agency for International Development- (USAID) funded AGOA Plus said it brokered a contract worth as much as $30 million annually between Jackson, Mississippi-based Atlas Manufacturing Group and Almeda Textile. Almeda is part of a group of companies that was founded and is controlled by members of Ethiopia’s ruling party, [the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (TPLF)].

[Alameda and 60 other mega-million-dollar companies are under the direct control of Meles Zenawi’s wife Azeb Mesfin through a conglomerate named EFFORT.]

“The American government is using public money to support a dictatorial government,” Beyene Petros, an opposition lawmaker from the Forum for Democratic Dialogue, said in a phone interview on Nov. 23. “This is simply crazy. I don’t know who is advising them or why they are doing this.”

As part of the deal, Almeda will produce restaurant uniforms and other garments for Atlas, which specializes in importing textiles to the U.S. from African countries eligible under AGOA. Ethiopian textile exports under AGOA were $18 million in 2008, lagging countries such as Lesotho, which exported $340 million in goods under the trade pact.

Economic Development

Michael Gonzales, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia, said the goal of the project was to foster economic development, not help political parties. In matching U.S. buyers with Ethiopian manufacturers, it didn’t provide American companies with information about the ownership of Ethiopian factories, Gonzales said in a phone interview yesterday.

The U.S. works with the Ethiopian Textile and Garment Manufacturers Association, Gonzales said.

“Almeda is a member of this association,” he said. “Almeda is one of relatively few Ethiopian factories with the capacity to fill an order of this volume.”

Razvan Ionele, general manager of Almeda, said in an e- mailed response to questions that the deal would consolidate the image that Ethiopia is a possible sourcing location for producing textiles. He declined to comment on the company’s ties to Ethiopia’s ruling party.

James Langford, chairman of Atlas Manufacturing, declined to comment, when contacted via e-mail yesterday.

Elections

Foreign aid to Ethiopia has emerged as an issue ahead of national elections scheduled for May, which the opposition has warned may not be free and fair. Earlier this month, the Forum for Democratic Dialogue said its members had been denied access to a food aid program funded by the U.S., the U.K. and the World Bank as well as Ethiopian government jobs funded by foreign donors. The government has denied the allegations, and the American and British governments have said they are probing the claims.

Almeda, located in the northern city of Adwa, the birthplace of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, is owned by the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray, or Effort, one of Ethiopia’s largest business groups. It comprises more than a dozen companies established by former guerrillas from Meles’s Tigray Peoples Liberation Front that seized power from the Communist Derg government in 1991.

Effort’s CEO, Abadi Zemu, is a senior official in the TPLF, which has ruled Ethiopia for the past 18-years in an alliance of pro-Meles parties known as the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front. Effort’s deputy chief executive, Azeb Mesfin, is Meles’s wife.

Opaque

Last year, the World Bank’s Ethiopia country director said the finances of Ethiopia’s endowment businesses were opaque and a bank report this year called on policy makers to ensure that endowment firms are managed at arms-length to the government.

Effort is using the profit from Almeda and its other businesses for economic development and projects like schools and housing in Ethiopia’s ethnic Tigray region and not for political purposes, said Abadi.

“The initial money of course was from the TPLF,” he said in phone interview yesterday from the northern city of Mekelle. “But since then the ruling party cannot make any claim on its resources.”

Addis Alemayehu, the director of the AGOA Plus project, said his organization had been working on the deal for 18 months and said its intent was to create jobs.

“For me, you go to the factory and you look at the 2,000 to 3,000 Ethiopians working, that’s all I care about,” he said in a phone interview on Nov. 23 in Addis Ababa. “There’s always going to be a negative side when it comes to deals like this.” [Wushetam. How much commission did you, Addis Alemayehu, receive from the deal?]

Moral bankruptcy in Ethiopia's opposition leadership

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Currently there exists a moral bankruptcy of opposition political leadership in Ethiopia. Hailu Shawel is the embodiment of such bankruptcy.

By Neamin Zeleke

“In our time, political speech and writings are largely the defense of the indefensible.” So wrote George Orwell, one of the great public intellectuals of the 20th century who spoke truth to both left and rights powers. No matter all the posturing and attempts to justify it with so much and contradictory statements and interviews by the actors and supporters alike, the recent act of singing the so-called “code of conduct” remains nothing but a grand betrayal. A betrayal is the name that could aptly characterize the document that does not meet the criteria to hold free, fair and credible elections in Ethiopia.

Chairman of All Ethiopian Unity Party (AEUP) Ato Hailu Shawl’s recent action is nothing less than reneging on the loftiest goals of the democratic movement, under whose banner thousands paid the ultimate price, including those who followed him and believed in him during the 2005 national elections that was rigged by the ruling party and the bloody aftermath. As a result of such betrayal, the movement to liberate Ethiopia from Woyanne has been forced to take a step backwards as the ruling party is using him — and that of the so-called “third way” “critical supporters” like Ato Lidetu and Ato Ayele Chamiso, the very men who betrayed Ato Hailu and the rest of Knijit leaders when they were thrown in prison — to tell the international community that now it has made an agreement with opposition forces.

By signing on this lame “code of conduct,” Ato Hailu has compromised the strategic objective of even those who struggle via peaceful means, i.e., the widening of the political space in order to hold free and fair elections by forcing the ruling party to compromise and given in to serious concessions. If Hailu Shawel can make an agreement with the Woyanne with whom he has an ocean of differences, as he made it clear in the public declarations of AEUP objectives, why can’t he agree with other opposition groups in order to increase their bargaining power? Doing so would enable him and the other groups to attain the bargaining muscle and political clout. At the end of the day, the more the political space and real democratic political order materialize, the more all players benefit to compete freely once the playing field is leveled.

What is also sad, as others have pointed out, is the fact that he did not put on the table even half of the 8 point preconditions that the Kinjit presented to the Woyane during the massive fraud committed by the ruling party following election 2005. The damage goes even further: The agreement he entered into with the regime and the two parties has blunted the attempt by Medrek to get at least better concessions as they have made known that a free and fair election cannot be held while the ruling TPLF/EPRDF controls the Election Board and appoints the 200,000 election workers at nearly 40,000 polling stations. They have also demanded the release of all political prisoners.

In addition, the absences of these demands, the lack of even the gesture to negotiate about the release of all political prisoners is a tragic, callous and immoral act. One cannot talk of struggling against dictatorship when he or she clearly knows that political prisoners, irrespective of their affiliation, are political prisoners including his former colleague, Judge Birtukan Midekesa, who is currently languishing in Meles Zenawi’s prison.

Ato Hailu Shawel has found it better to come to an agreement with the ruling party in the hope of carving his own little political space and concerned only about his political future — a breathing space for his organization at the expense of the overwhelming majority of Ethiopians hungry for rule of law, democracy, respect for human rights, their empowerment in the political and economic affairs of their country.

Let us recall that Ethiopians supported Kinjit and its leaders during the 2005 elections due to its forceful demands and clear alternatives to Woyanne and its promise to deliver democracy and rule of law for the people of Ethiopia. It was not the persona of Hailu, Lidetu, Berhanu… that did the magic of what was then called “Sunami”. It was their unified and unifying message and the vision that did the magic. It was not even the details of the program that people rallied behind. I doubt if the majority of Ethiopians even read much of it. Instead, it was Kinjit’s clear and simple message of change and alternative to the ruling party that won it a widespread support throughout Ethiopia. As observers aptly said, it was a “protest” support and vote by an electorate that wanted real change and saw Kinjit at its rightful agent.

Where then is the moral leadership that is expected of opposition leaders under conditions of dictatorship? Is opposition political leadership, under the context of a dictatorship, simply about making calculated moves to benefit single organizations or few organizations? Ato Hailu discussed only about AEUP’s political prisoners. Even then, I am not sure how many of them are released, if ever the harassment has stopped. But we would not even know as he said that the “EPRDF does not like it when we make too much noise; we find it better to write letters and follow up their case” (his interview on the Reporter).

Tomorrow the TPLF/EPRDF will tell him to stop writing the letters and then he would do so, if we take his logic. Where does it stop? What then can we call such an organization that abandons its own methods of exposing human rights abuses, even those enshrined in the so-called constitution under whose ambit it claims to operate?

This last point brings us to the heart of the matter. The constitution is said to be the supreme law of the land. But the TPLF/EPRDF has trampled on it time and again, violating each and every article for the past 16 years since its adoption. There is no reason to expect that, the agreement, a mini version along with few purported benefit to a “privileged” opposition groups, could not be violated by the TPLF.

Nothing better should have been expected from Hailu Shawel, considering his track record of throwing a monkey wrench amidst the democratic movement since 2003. This was the time when he decided to leave UEDF (coalition of 15 political parties formed in 2003) without solid reasons. He left just ten days after his delegates Major Getachew Mengistie, and the late Dr. Mekonnen Bishaw made a public statement that they would play a great role in strengthening UEDF. Hailu Shawel lied in a statement made public while the real issue was that he was unhappy due to the fact that the conference held for seven days did not elect him as the chairman in his absence. Had he been at the all party conference he would have been elected. But he gave the lame excuse that he was sick, to show up in DC in just about a week to start dismantling UEDF and pull AEUP out. The other causality in that incident was Ato Wondayehu Kassa, AEUP North America representative who was found to be an obstacle to the devious act of Ato Hailu’s decision of withdrawing AEUP from UEDF.

For anyone involved in the details of what was going on then, one can safely reach to a conclusion that the man is not amenable to political compromise among opposition forces and one who is incapable of handling contradictions in a farsighted and statesmanlike manner as our struggle demands from those who claim to be leaders of the struggle of our people for democracy and freedom.

The root of Kiniji’s split and its collapse has much to do with such a character, if not the only reason. When the problem of Kinjit surfaced, several elder groups genuinely tired to reconcile the minor differences between him and the rest of the Knijit leadership. It is a very well known fact that he was the one who obdurately refused to make peace. He even refused to respond to messages and phone calls from those who tried to reach and talk to him about reconciliation to save Kinjit from the impending collapse. As well known, the split of Kinjit took a heavy toll on the hope and aspiration of several millions of Ethiopians for change and freedom.

Tragic, indeed, that he has the heart sit, negotiate, and agree on a non-essential document that cannot add an iota to bring about a positive change in Ethiopia. Indeed, he had the stomach to shake hands with a dictator whose hands are drenched with the blood of thousands without getting substantial concessions to hold free and fair elections in Ethiopia.

If our struggle is for raw political power and under a condition where there is a democratic system, I can understand and go along with the view that some have argued in recent days that each party acts and calculates its steps to maximize its position in relative to other players on the political landscape. But when it is done under a dictatorship such as our ever miserable people are, and when our central quest is to win our freedom denied to us Ethiopians by successive dictatorships including the TPLF/EPRDF, it becomes a cynical pursuit at the expense of the broader struggle of the Ethiopian people for genuinely democratic and free Ethiopia.

Let us leave all the past evil and wrongs that the TPLF has wrought on Ethiopia and our people. Just think for a single moment of all those teenagers, mothers, elders, and men and women, who were savagely gunned down after the May 2005 elections by Agazi forces under Meles Zenawi’s direct command. Why did they die? Why did mothers lose their loved ones? Sons and daughters, children and the new born lost their loved ones. Why and why indeed? All the bloody massacre against unarmed protesters and non-protesters alike and whose innocence was proved by the report made public thanks to the courageous move of the Inquiry Commission Meles himself appointed.

Think of all those tens of thousands who were tortured and subjected to inhumane treatment following the May 2005 elections. Recall all the brutalities, humiliation, and debasement tens of thousands of Ethiopians had to endure. Was it for individuals and political organizations to calculate as to how to maximize their individual and organizational power, increase their sits in an impotent rubber stamp parliament? Was it for a being “privileged” than other opposition groups?

The brutal reality remains that one should not have any illusion that a minority dictatorship like the TPLF will ever give up political power through peaceful means only. Even if defeated at the polls, it will not give up all its economic, political, and military domination of Ethiopia that it has amassed during the past 18 years. There are too much at stake for the TPLF, its ethnic supporters and their cronies from other ethnic groups.

Having said that, I do not have any objections towards those organizations waging their struggle through peaceful method of struggle so long as they genuinely promote the establishment of real multi-party democracy and the rule of law, and equality of all citizens and ethnic groups in our country by replacing the dictatorship of the TPLF/ERPDF and the hegemony and domination of an elite of a minority ethnic group and their surrogates from other ethnic groups in all realms of Ethiopia’s national life at the expense of the rest of the Ethiopian people. In other words, as long as these opposition forces struggle peacefully and legally with a view of democratizing Ethiopia, as opposed to having a limited end to shilly-shally in order just to get crumbs and increase their seats in the lame duck parliament by the “good will” of the ruling party and serve it as junior partners of the status quo.

In view of what has transpired in recent weeks, it is safe to argue that there exists a moral bankruptcy of opposition political leadership under the current Ethiopian condition. Ato Hailu is the embodiment of such moral bankruptcy. In the meantime, our people are under the yoke of a corrupt ethnic dictatorship that will leave no stone unturned, no tactic unused, no cleaver games from being played out to perpetuate its hold on to state power by all and any means.

(The writer can be reached at neaminz@aol.com)

Ethiopia's Gebre-Egziabher Gebremariam victorious in Portugal

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Gebre-Egziabher Gebremariam Portugal Nov 21 2009Lisbon, Portugal (IAAF) – Reigning World Cross Country champion Gebregziabher Gebremariam opened the IAAF Cross Country Permit season with a victory at the Oeiras Cross Country on Saturday.

The 25-year-old Ethiopian proved his power in Oeiras over the elements – strong winds and hard rains – as well as his opponents. From the outset a group of six ran together at the front and followed a strong pace: Gebremariam, his countryman Tariku Bekele who won in Oeiras in 2004 (and was second in 2005), the Kenyans Edwin Kuambai and Kiprono Menjo (third in Oeiras in 2006), Italian cross country champion Andrea Lalli, and the surprise in the field, the Portuguese Eduardo Mbengani.

Lap after lap, the lead group grew smaller and in the last of the five laps we saw a strong finish sprint between the young Portuguese and the world champion. At the line, Gebremariam take the victory, just one second ahead of Mbengani.

“This wasn´t as easy as some may think,” Gebremariam said. “I’m pleased with the course, it was very good. But the weather was not so good – too much wind and rain – but I’m training to achieve my goals and this event was wonderful for my preparation». He also said that he was pleased to pull off the win over a long sustained sprint against Mbengani. “I’m happy to see that are good runners in Portugal. I tried to help him, but in the final I made my move.”

“This was a surprise,” said Mbengani. “I didn’t expect to be second in this cross, but this was the mirror of my preparation, which wasn’t so good at all because of some injury problems. I’m very happy to achieve my first goal: to make a good showing to get on the national team for the European Cross Country Championships.”

Finishing in third place was Kiprono Menjo, repeating his finish from 2006, followed by the European hope, Italy’s Andrea Lalli, who was fourth ahead of Edwin Kuambai. In fifth place was the Portuguese veteran (41 years old) José Ramos, one second ahead of José Rocha, the winner of last weekend’s contest in Torres Vedras. Bekele was a distant eighth, more than 50 seconds behind the winner.

Portuguese podium sweep – women’s race

In the women’s event, as with predicted, the Portuguese women lived up to their billing as the favourites. Jessica Augusto, who failed to start last weekend in Torres Vedras, moved herself to the lead and showed everybody why she was last year’s European championships runner-up. With a solid pace she moved ahead a created a strong advantage between the following group, which included Inês Monteiro, the European bronze medallist last year, and Anália Rosa. Upping the tempo, they left Kenyan Milka Jerotich more than 90 metres behind.

After them Ana Dias, fifth here the last two years, repeated this place and prove her candidature to the national team.

”The win wasn’t easy,” Augusto said. “It’s never easy win in Oeiras, because this is a tough course. I’m very happy to win today, I expect to get to the national team and I’m doing my best to go there and try to get another medal.”

António Manuel Fernandes for the IAAF

Leading Results –

MEN (9000m):
1. Gebre Gebrmariam ETH 24.41
2. Eduardo Mbengani POR 24.42
3. Kiprono Menjo KEN 24.45
4. Andrea Lalli ITA 24.56
5. Edwin Kuambai KEN 25.19
6. José Rocha POR 25.24
7. José Ramos POR 25.25
8. Tariku Bekele ETH 25.30

WOMEN (5000m):
1. Jessica Augusto POR 15.39
2. Inês Monteiro POR 15.49
3. Anália Rosa POR 15.51
4. Milka Jerotich KEN 16.11
5. Ana Dias POR 16.14
6. Sara Moreira POR 16.17
7. Leonor Carneiro POR 16.23
8. Mónica Rosa POR 16.28

277 Ethiopians arrested in Yemen's Abyan and Hajjah provinces

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

SANA’A, (Saba) — Yemen Ministry of Interior reported that police arrested 277 Ethiopians on Monday, including 18 women, as they tried to illegally to enter the country.

The Ministry quoted security sources as saying that that 202 Ethiopians disembarked at the coast of Abyan Province in south Yemen from a smuggling boat.

In Medi city of the Hajjah Province, additional 72 Ethiopians, including five women, were arrested.

In the City of Mahweet, Yemeni authorities have arrested three Ethiopians aged 18-20 who reached Yemen by smuggling boats.

Woyanne seeks to execute recently convicted 'coup plotters'

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Spokesman for the inJustice Ministry in Ethiopia, Ato Mekonnen Bezabih, said today that his regime is seeking death penalty against most of the 46 individuals who are accused of plotting coup d’etat and convicted by the Woyanne kangaroo court last week.

VOA’s Peter Heinlein reported the following:

ADDIS ABABA — Prosecutors in Ethiopia are seeking the death penalty for 40 people found guilty of conspiring to overthrow the government. Twenty-seven of the defendants were tried and convicted last week. Thirteen others, most of them living in exile, were earlier found guilty in absentia. This VOA correspondent was in the courtroom as the 27 in custody pleaded for reduced sentences.

One by one, the 27 convicted conspirators were given a chance to explain to a three-judge panel why they should not be executed for planning a campaign of violence aimed at bringing down Meles Zenawi’s government.

The group was convicted of five charges. Among them were trying to incite rebellion within the army, plotting to kill senior government officials and destroy strategic facilities.

All were said to be members of the outlawed Ginbot 7 Movement led by exiled political leader Berhanu Nega.

Berhanu, now a university professor in the United States, was among the 13 convicted in absentia. He has denied the existence of a plot, but has repeatedly called Meles’s government ‘illegitimate’ and said it should be removed by any means.

Many of 27 convicted last week are current or former military officers. Speaking to the court, they pointed to their decades of decorated service. Some spoke of fighting with the forces that overthrew the previous Marxist regime. Several listed the medals they had won and the wounds they suffered fighting for Ethiopia in its Woyanne’s war against Eritrea a decade ago, or serving in Somalia, or in the counterinsurgency campaign against rebels in the independence-minded Ogaden region.

Two defendants, both former army majors, admitted their guilt and threw themselves on the mercy of the court.

Ethiopia’s inJustice Ministry spokesman Mekonnen Bezabeh says while the death penalty is being sought for all 40, the two who pleaded guilty would get special consideration.

“We asked the court for the death penalty, but we also asked the court to minimize the penalty for two persons who told to the court their activities,” Bezabeh said.

The other defendants, including the lone woman among the 40, maintained their innocence throughout the trial, though some said they respect the court’s decision.

Several defendants, including the few represented by attorneys, questioned whether the death penalty is appropriate in a case where the charge is simply planning a coup, not carrying it out. Presiding judge Adem Ibrahim was silent on the matter, but Justice Ministry spokesman Mekonnen said the cumulative weight of all the charges calls for the maximum punishment.

“According to our procedure law, if there are so many charges, each penalty will be added and they will be penalized the sum of the penalties, so when we see their convictions, by acting contradiction with the constitution, and also they conspired to make a crisis between army forces, the penalty would be the highest penalty point, which is the death penalty,” Bezabeh said.

Those facing the maximum penalty include Melaku Teferra, a senior member of Ethiopia’s opposition UDJ, or Unity for Democracy and Justice Party. Melaku was among the scores of political leaders convicted of inciting post-election violence in 2005, then later pardoned.

In outlining the charges Tuesday, Chief Prosecutor Berihun Tewoldeberhan singled out Melaku, saying he should have learned from his past mistakes.

Melaku is one of two top UDJ officials in prison as next May’s elections approach. The party’s main leader, Birtukan Mideksa, was also among those jailed after the 2005 election and then pardoned. But she was sent back to prison last December and ordered to finish serving a life sentence after denying that she had asked for the pardon.

Ethiopian farmers substitute coffee for khat and corn

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

A museum is being erected in Bonga, Ethiopia — the birthplace of coffee. But because small-scale farmers are fragmented and disorganized, they are not reaching the potential of the coffee crop.

Worldfocus correspondent Martin Seemungal reports from Ethiopia’s coffee country, where farmers are deciding to plant corn and khat, a leafy drug that is chewed with stimulating effects somewhere between caffeine and cocaine. Watch the report below:

What is an ethnic Jew?

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Ethiopians face racism in Israel Non-violent demonstrations in Israel by once warmly welcomed Jewish Ethiopian immigrants were shut down by police while political leaders sought an 11th hour deal to allow black students into schools, reminding many of the anti-segregation struggles in the U.S. in the 1950s and 60s. Ethiopians were brought into the country in celebrated covert operations during the 1980s and 90s, but now find that racism trumps the shared religion that brought the to Israel in the first place. The root of the problem is made evident in a recent book’s title, One People, One Blood: Ethiopian-Israelis and the Return to Judaism.

“We came here because we thought Israel was our country. We didn’t expect this,” said Demelash Belay, a 36-year-old English teacher who moved to Israel in 2006 in a CSM interview. “We heard in Ethiopia that Israel is a democratic country. We found discrimination. And because of it Ethiopians are suffering.” Protest leader Uri Kabadeh wore a T-shirt reading “We want equality, we’re all Jewish” as he led a crowd chanting in both their native Amharric and adopted Hebrew. “Down with racism, down with discrimination.” 100,000 Ethiopians now live in Israel , with more arriving each year. Non-violent demonstrations an police responses are nothing new.

Some say the difference between this situation and U.S. segregation is that the latter was state-supported and this one comes from institutions like schools and the native ethnic Jewish population. But wait a second. “Native ethnic Jewish population”? That’s a term deserving of a bit of deconstruction: the Jews in Israel came and come from every nation in Europe and the Americas, as well as different parts of Asia. What is an ethnic Jew? Is not the identity of Jews based in religion not race, a dangerous conflation that often repeated events of the 20th century make clear? Not for Ethiopian immigrants there.

The Apartheid-like treatment of Palestinian based on Arab ethnicity and religious affiliations (mostly Muslim, also Christian), the actual “native” population, is explicitly supported by the Israeli state. Is the feigned “acceptance” of Ethiopians meant as a palliative or a smokescreen? Israel’s sole Ethiopian parliamentarian rushed to the state’s defense, forgetting that what is happening to his constituents is but a pale reflection of ongoing, racist and religionist current events creating the future of Palestinians, the Middle East region and the world their grandchildren will inherit.

Ethiopia on sale: children, land, gold, oil…

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Last week we heard from a U.S. official, Assistant Secretary of State Michele Bond, that this year 2,200 Ethiopian children were imported to the U.S. on adoption. They were sold by the adoption agencies in Ethiopia that are affiliated with Meles Zenawi’s wife Jezebel Mesfin at $30,000 each. Yesterday, it was reported that Meles Zenawi’s regime sold an Indian company 765,000 hectares of fertile land in Ethiopia to grow crops and export them to India. All the while, millions of people in Ethiopia have nothing to eat.  Today, it is reported that the Meles junta has sold gold mines in western Ethiopia that contain 40 tonnes of gold deposit to a Saudi company that is owned by Ethiopian billionaire Al Amoudi. In order to extract the gold, they had to wipe out the population in the area first. Ethiopian women are being sold into slavery in Arab countries. Meles and Jezebel are selling every thing in Ethiopia and when they run out of things to sell, they will implement article 39 and take off for the Republic of Tigray.

The following is a report by Reuters about Woyanne-Saudi gold extraction deal.

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia signed a deal on Tuesday for a Saudi firm to extract an estimated 20 tonnes of recoverable gold found in the Horn of African country last month, the mines and energy minister said.

Two firms — Saudi Arabia’s Midroc Gold Co. and Britain’s Golden Prospecting Mining Co. — discovered deposits estimated to contain more than 40 tonnes of gold last month and applied for extraction licences.

“We will sign an extraction agreement with the Saudi company today,” Minister for Mines and Energy, Alemayehu Tegenu, told Reuters in an interview, adding it would be mined over 11 years.

“We hope to sign an agreement with the British company next year,” he said.

The minister said Sakaro, a mining company wholly-owned by Midroc Gold Co., discovered an estimated 20 tonnes in the Lege-Dembi gold belt. Midroc is owned by Ethiopian-born Saudi business tycoon Sheik Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi.

Golden Prospecting Mining’s find of about 23 tonnes is in western Ethiopia.

Under the terms of the deal, Ethiopia gets 5 percent of royalties, takes 2 percent equity and will charge 35 percent tax. The extraction licence expires once 20 tonnes of gold has been extracted.

The Ethiopian government says it has identified possible reserves of up to 500 tonnes in different regions.

The country now makes $105 million a year from gold exports and that could double when Midroc starts its extraction, Alemayehu said.

The Horn of Africa nation has made $450.5 million from about 48 tonnes of gold exports in the last 10 years, according to the National Bank of Ethiopia.

Ethiopia: Our shame cannot be covered up

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

We, the current generation of Ethiopians, as a society should be ashamed of our inability to provide food for millions of our children. The latest estimate is that over 6 million Ethiopians are facing starvation and millions of children are malnourished, while the so-called “government” of Ethiopia is selling the country’s fertile land to Saudi Arabia and India so that they can secure food for their people. And yet a group of Ethiopian tour companies, 25 of them, are currently up in arms against BBC’s coverage of the food shortage in Ethiopia (see below a report by Ash Smyth). These companies could be owned by Ethiopia’s vampire regime that is sucking the life blood of our country. BBC is doing a good job in exposing the starvation in Ethiopia that the regime and its opportunist friends try to hide. The ongoing starvation in Ethiopia should put the regime, and every Ethiopian, to shame.

Ethiopian tour operators attack BBC’s doom-laden coverage

By Ash Smyth (The First Post): Ethiopian tour operators, in London for this month’s World Travel Market, have addressed a furious open letter to the BBC’s Director General, concerning the Corporation’s recent coverage of the drought in Ethiopia. The letter, signed by some 25 companies, accuses the BBC of casually dramatising its broadcasts with footage from the infamous 1984 famine.

“Ethiopia,” they wrote, “has changed beyond all recognition since 1984, yet the BBC insists on showing images from that time. They are very intrusive and are deeply upsetting to many millions of Ethiopians.”

[Ethiopia has changed only for the few Woyannes and their collaborators.]

But beyond the matter of stung pride, the tour operators insist that the “doom-laden scenario” implied by the BBC’s use of old newsreel damages the national image, deterring foreign investment and scaring off tourists. “Investment, trade and tourism are key to Ethiopia’s development,” they claim ­ “more so than aid.”

[BBC runs old newsreel because the regime does not allow reporters to videotape the current famine.]

Which is true. The tourism industry currently accounts for approximately five per cent of Ethiopia’s GDP and tourism is a “featured component” of the government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. With about 400,000 tourists a year, the country is still not exactly a hotspot, but adroit marketing of events like the 2007 ‘millennium’ and the annual Addis ‘Marathon’ (10km) have seen visitor numbers increase steadily over the last five years (visitors, incidentally, who invariably comment on how green the country is).

[It is true, the country is green and fertile. So do not say the starvation in Ethiopia is due to rain shortage and drought. That is a lie told by the regime and repeated by poverty-mongers like the World Bank. The problem is that the regime is busy stealing the country’s wealth, instead of governing.]

The Ethiopians are not hiding the scale of the current problem, either – ­ they can’t afford to. Poor rains in the first six months of this year, above-average food prices, and shrinking levels of routine foreign aid, have resulted, by the government’s own figures, in 6.2 million empty mouths. [This is a lie. poor rain is not the cause of food shortage in Ethiopia. If so, why do Saudi and Indian companies come, grow wheat and corn in Ethiopia and export them to their countries?]

Just to see out the rest of 2009, Ethiopia will need some 350,000 metric tonnes of additional foodstuffs: $120m worth.

But “there will not be famine again in Ethiopia,” promises Prime Crime Minister Meles Zenawi. The state has built (with Chinese assistance, of course) more than 100,000km of new roads to facilitate distribution, shelled out for more food, arranged for the berthing of extra supply ships in Djibouti, and increased trucking capacity. “The government has an efficient early warning system and keeps stores of food for times of shortfall.”

[Is that why millions of children are malnourished in Ethiopia?]

Unfortunately, though, Ethiopia’s shortfall policies can still only cater for a couple of million people in a good year. Moreover, these are all emergency measures, addressing the results of food crises, not the causes.

Ethiopia’s constant need for aid stems largely from increasingly frequent droughts, wars both internal and external, and a population (thanks, ironically, to all the improvements of the last quarter-century) expanding by two million a year. But it is also the result of bad agricultural policies.

[There is no drought in Ethiopia. The problem is mismanagement and only mismanagement of the country by the regime that is run by village idiots.]

Chief among these is the fact that all land is state-owned (a hangover, perhaps tellingly, from previous famine-struck eras). This stifles growth, since farmers can’t take out loans against the land, and fosters inefficient subdivision as plots are endlessly divided through the generations.

The result is that, in one of the fastest-growing economies in the world (according to Economist [false] predictions), the agricultural sector employs 80 per cent of the workforce and yet 40 per cent of the country lives below the poverty line; agriculture accounts for half of Ethiopia’s GDP ­ and one of her chief imports is food.

Ethiopians, meanwhile, tend to blame donor nations for dumping grain on them, rather than giving them cash to buy it locally. My enquiries also met with a reminder that more than 12m Britons receive government subsidy of some kind (which would have been a neat comeback if, given the circumstances, the correspondence hadn’t also sported the line: “Ethiopia, the water tower of Africa”).

But whatever the immediate cause of the current crisis, the BBC’s lazy Geldof-ite coverage certainly isn’t helping its effect. Worse, it is not the first time this has happened. In 2004, Michael Buerk’s ’20th anniversary’ broadcasts prompted a raft of cancellations from prospective visitors under the impression that famine was once again rife. Again, Ethiopian tour operators complained.

To date, neither letter has had a response. The BBC well deserves the rap on the knuckles ­ and the Ethiopians deserve an apology.

Kenyans head to Ethiopia to discuss investment in hydropower

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

hydroelectric power planBloomberg reports that the Government of Kenya wants to invest in hydroelectric plants in its northern neighbor, Ethiopia, to ensure the country secures enough energy imports to cover a domestic supply shortfall.

Kenya Electricity Generating Corporation’s CEO Eddy Njoroge and Kenyan Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi will hold meetings with government officials in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, next week to discuss the proposal, according to the report.

“We want to be equity holders,” said Njoroge. “Ethiopia has good hydropower potential and it’s very cheap.”

Kenya is also turning its attention to renewable energy, with backing from the World Bank. Speaking during a tour of the Olkaria Geothermal Power Plant on Tuesday, World Bank Vice President for Africa Obiageli Ezekwesili said as the world shifts focus on mitigating effects of climate change, renewable sources of energy such as geothermal was the way of future power production.

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has already indicated that Kenya has the capacity to produce its entire electricity requirements from clean energy sources.

The UN agency puts the potential wind energy at 2,000MW and 7,000MW from geothermal and substantial biomass resources.

Ms Ezekwesili revealed that geothermal development was one of the key energy projects the bank would be ready to finance to help boost power production.

“Over a period of 10 years the government would need to invest $4.5 billion in up-scaling the contribution of geothermal energy to 49 percent of its energy mix which we would be willing to partner with the government to make it possible,” she said.

Ms Ezekwesili was however quick to add that the government should not rely on direct foreign investments to finance energy projects adding they should be in the forefront of generating its own funds.

“I am therefore pleased when I hear that KenGen recently had a public infrastructure bond offer to raise its own capital for infrastructure development.”

Also speaking during the tour, Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) Managing Director Eddy Njoroge pointed out they were keenly looking towards Solar Thermal energy to further strengthen power production capacity that is also environmentally friendly.

“I will be going to Spain with a team from KenGen to learn from them since they are a world leader when it comes to harnessing solar and thermal energy,” he revealed.

The government has also revealed it was keen on importing hydropower from Ethiopia to stabilise power supply and demand. Mr Njoroge welcomed the move saying it would offer Kenya cheap hydro energy (pegged at four US cents per kilowatt-hour) which could be added on to the national grid.

Ms Ezekwesili further stressed this point adding that Kenya had the potential to solve its energy crisis, which she noted was a major constraint to economic development.

“I have had the opportunity to look at your economic blue print and see that energy is one of the key areas the government is addressing the energy situation,” she said in reference to Vision 2030.

She however urged the government to focus on enhancing its distribution capacity, to make power more accessible to Kenyans as they seek to improve their social status.

Woyanne shops for anti-riot gear ahead of election

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Woyanne shops for anti-riot gear ahead of election and more news. Watch below:

Indian company acquires 765,000 hectares of land in Ethiopia

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Ethiopian farm wheatEthiopia’s autocratic leader Meles Zenawi has embarked on a controversial policy of leasing huge amount of land to foreign private investors in an attempt to boost agricultural production for the local market and for export. However, environmentalists and agricultural policy planners fear the leasing of huge tracts of land to private developers in some countries could harm the environment. They are concerned that land which is already under strain from years of degradation will suffer more. They say the loss of trees in particular has caused an imbalance in the eco-system, resulting in regular drought and famine.

By Billie O’Kadameri

(RFI) — Indian businessman Ramakrishna Karuturi, managing Director of Karuturi Global Ltd, one of the world’s top agribusiness transnational corporations, has acquired nearly 765,000 hectares of land in Ethiopia. His company is involved in flower and food production.

Karuturi told Radio France International (RFI) that the world should applaud instead of vilifying efforts by people like him. “When you look at the last ten years of world food production vis-à-vis consumption, I think over six of those ten years, we in the world have eaten more than we produced, and world food stocks are at a debilitatingly low 67-day stock. 67 days of food is disastrous and I don’t think in the history of mankind, the world has ever come this close.”

With very low per capita electricity coverage, nearly 85 percent of Ethiopia’s rural population relies on wood fuel for domestic energy for cooking, according to Dr Gemedo Dalle, Head of Forest Genetic Resources Department at the Ethiopian Institute for Biodiversity and Conservation in Addis Ababa.

This already constitutes an emerging crisis for the government and policy planners. Yet more land tree cover will be under pressure as large-scale land investors flock to Ethiopia taking advantage of the country’s land policy that makes it easy to acquire huge land areas.

Professor Kwadwo Asenso-Okyere, Director of the Addis Ababa-based Knowledge, Capacity and Innovation Division of the International Food Policy Research Institute opposes the leasing of huge tracts of land to foreign investors:

If you are acquiring say hundreds of thousands of hectares of land and you clear all of this land, the impact on the environment is very severe, because you are going to cut all the trees. […] Sometimes they don’t grow food, sometimes it is for bio-fuel plants and other things so it is not going to improve the food security of the people. Sometimes they even cultivate food but the food is shipped completely out.

But 43-year old Karuturi rejects the claims that his investment will not address food security problems in Africa. “Africa is the world’s largest market for food. Africa imports 16 billion dollars worth of food every year. Out of 25 million tonnes of rice that is traded globally per year, 10 million tonnes is imported by Africa. Of course I will sell my food in Africa because Africa is the best place to sell food […] people are acutely short of food here.”

The Ethiopian government insists that its policy will seek to balance investment in agriculture, with a strict regime for protecting the environment.

Abera Deressa is Ethiopia’s Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development. “They cannot harm the environment. We are very clear on this. We in the Ministry of Agriculture are developing an environmental code of practice for the private sector. […] We are also advising them not to cut trees, they have to manage soil erosion.”

“As you know very well the global climate change crisis is because of poor management of the environment in developing countries; the other is by emission of carbon dioxide into the air by developed countries through industrialisation process.”

“But but here in Africa, in our country pollution of the environment is by poor management of agricultural practices; deforestation, degradation, improper land management; these are the factors that we have to control”.

Yemen police arrest 25 Ethiopians

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

ABYAN, YEMEN (Saba) — Yemen police arrested 25 Ethiopians, including 2 women, who had arrived in Ahwar District in Abyan Province, Interior Ministry has reported.

The refugees, who entered Yemen illegally, were sent to a refugee camp where currently hundreds of other Ethiopians are housed.

Furthermore, 45 Somali refugees, including 4 women and 4 children, have arrived in Ahwar Coast.

Ethiopian emperor's watch sold to unknown buyer in Geneva

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Menelik II of Ethiopia GENEVA — A rare historical pocket watch made for an Ethiopian emperor Menelik II has sold to an unknown buyer for £30,000 at an auction in Geneva, Switzerland.

The historically important clock — which is known as ‘The Negus Watch’ and is made from 18K yellow gold — was a gift from Emperor Menelik II to Léon Chefneux in recognition of his contribution to building Ethiopia’s first railway line.

It is thought the watch was probably presented as a welcome gift before the commercial agreement was signed between the emperor and the railway designer.

Menelik pocket watch The watch stands for progress, innovation and modernity and has remained in the same family for over 100 years.

It has a white enamel dial and is paved with rubies and diamonds.

This was the first time it had appeared at auction and it was sold with its presentation case and the original First Class Geneva Observatory Certificate.

Ethiopian anthropologist who found Ardi to speak at Indiana Univ.

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Yohannes Haile-SelassieIndiana University in Bloomington USA announced today that Ethiopian anthropologist Yohannes HaileSelassie, who found the first fragment of the newly reported Ardipithecus ramidus skeleton nicknamed “Ardi,” will talk about the discovery and its implications at the University’s Whittenberger Auditorim on December 1 next month.

The lecture is sponsored by the Stone Age Institute and Indiana University’s CRAFT Research Center.

Dr Yohannes HaileSelassie is curator and head of physical anthropology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at Case Western Reserve University.

“This is one of the most important fossil hominid discoveries of our lifetime and gives us critical evidence about the origins of upright walking and what our early ancestors looked like,” said Nicholas Toth, co-director, with Kathy Schick, of the Stone Age Institute. “This is a great opportunity for people to hear, first hand, about the circumstances of the Ardi discovery and analysis and get a feel for the rigors and excitement of fieldwork in the Afar region of Ethiopia.”

Dr Yohannes is a member of the research team that discovered and analyzed a 4.4 million-year-old partial skeleton of the early hominid ancestor Ardipithecus ramidus in the Afar Rift region of Ethiopia. Results of the 17-year investigation were published Oct. 2 in a special issue of the journal Science, opening a new chapter on human evolution by extending knowledge to a period only a few million years after the human line diverged from that leading to chimpanzees.

It was Yohannes who, in November 1994, found the first piece — a hand bone — of the female skeleton that would become known as Ardi. The partial skeleton, including the skull with teeth, arms, hands, pelvis, legs and feet, was recovered through excavations between 1994 and 1997.

The research team found a total of 110 hominid fossil specimens representing at least 36 different individuals, along with fossils of dozens of animal and plant species. The results are helping scientists discern in greater detail the basic steps in the evolution of modern humans from ancient apes.

The Stone Age Institute, directed by Indiana University Department of Anthropology professors Schick and Toth, also carries out anthropological field research in Ethiopia’s Afar triangle. In 2005, Institute researcher Sileshi Semaw and colleagues reported the discovery of 4.5 million-year-old Ardipithecus ramidus skeletal fossils, including parts of jaw bones, teeth, part of a toe bone and intact finger bones. The fossils were retrieved from the Gona Study Area in northern Ethiopia.

The Stone Age Institute is an independent research center dedicated to the archaeological study of human origins and technological development. It has strong ties with Indiana University, especially CRAFT (the Center for Research into the Anthropological Foundations of Technology) and the Human Evolutionary Studies Program.

U.S. Senate confirms Ethiopian to head MCC

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Daniel W YohannesWashington, D.C. — The United States Senate on Nov. 20, 2009, unanimously confirmed President Barack Obama’s nomination of Daniel W. Yohannes, a native of Ethiopia, as the new Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). As CEO, Mr. Yohannes will undertake MCC’s mission to reduce poverty through economic growth.

MCC is an innovative and independent U.S. foreign aid agency that is helping lead the fight against global poverty. Created by the U.S. Congress in January 2004, with strong bipartisan support, MCC is changing the conversation on the delivery of U.S. foreign assistance by focusing on good policies, country ownership, and results.

During his confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Yohannes said, “I welcome the opportunity to lead MCC. I will work as a good emissary for MCC to partners around the world, to U.S. Congress, and to all stakeholders, with the input of MCC’s professionals, the Board of Directors, the development community, partner countries, and the private sector. I’m confident that MCC’s anti-poverty partnerships worldwide will generate sustainable economic growth and opportunity, and this is fundamental to enhancing our collective security and common humanity for a more prosperous, peaceful world.”

Mr. Yohannes continued, “We have a lot to accomplish in order to advance our government’s vision to reduce global poverty. It is challenging to replace patronage with partnership to deliver smart aid that matters by encouraging some policies, country-led development, and sustainable results. MCC offers some important lessons on where to start. MCC lays an innovative foundation to address the complex problem of global poverty.”

Following is Mr. Yohannes’ biography:

Daniel W. Yohannes, Chief Executive Office, Millennium Challenge Corporation
Daniel W. Yohannes, a former banker and active philanthropist from Englewood, Colorado, was nominated by President Obama as Chief Executive Officer of MCC on September 18, 2009.

Since retiring from his post as Vice Chairman of U.S. Bank in 2003, Mr. Yohannes has been a private investor specializing in real estate, financial institutions, and the renewable energy sector. From 1992 to 1999, Mr. Yohannes was President and CEO of Colorado National Bank (part of U.S. Bank), and before this held a number of leadership roles at Security Pacific Bank (now Bank of America).

Mr. Yohannes is active in his community and serves on various boards and civil organizations, including the Board of the National Jewish Hospital, the Denver Art Museum’s Board of Trustees, and the Board of Directors for the University of Colorado Medical School. He was a board member of Project C.U.R.E. (Commission on Urgent Relief & Equipment), which provides medical supplies for needy people around the world, and chairman of the Mayor of Denver’s Greenprint Council, a leadership group focused on improving the environment of cities and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Mr. Yohannes graduated from Claremont McKenna College with a B.A. in Economics and earned an M.B.A. from Pepperdine University. Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, he is fluent in Amharic.

Israeli official calls for segregation of Ethiopian students

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

“The Education Ministry should educate itself first,” says Gadi Yevrakan, who directs the headquarters for the struggle for social equality for Jewish Ethiopians. “If I hadn’t seen the symbol of the state of Israel on the letter I would have thought it had been taken from the 1950s of the previous century in the US, when there was segregation on buses.”

By Yaheli Moran Zelikovitch | YNetNews

The Education Ministry has sent out a letter to religious boarding schools in Tel Aviv saying there have been reports of misbehavior by “Ethiopian born” students in the city’s central bus station.

The letter obtained by Ynet asks principals to make sure the students take “alternate routes” home in order that they do not disrupt the peace.

The letter is signed by the ministry’s supervisor of religious boarding schools, Shmuel Dukov. It was sent to principals of boarding schools all over Israel as well as their supervisors, just a week ahead of the Ethiopian Jews’ national Sigd festival in Israel.

The letter indicates that the students should ride separate buses from their friends upon returning home from their respective schools in order not to pass through Tel Aviv’s central bus station.

“This letter is outrageous,” says a counselor at one of the schools that received the letter. “I instruct a group of Ethiopian students, and have no trouble with them. They are adorable. What is the meaning of this obtuse language?” He said he had no intention of telling the students they should use alternate routes.

“The Education Ministry should educate itself first,” says Gadi Yevrakan, who directs the headquarters for the struggle for social equality for Jewish Ethiopians.

“If I hadn’t seen the symbol of the state of Israel on the letter I would have thought it had been taken from the ’50s of the previous century in the US, when there was segregation on buses.”

Yevrakan said the ministry had crossed a “moral and educational red line”, and that he hoped Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar would cancel the letter’s instructions.

“The Education Ministry, instead of educating youth, is educating society towards racial stigmatism regarding an entire race,” he said. “Now you can really see the ugly face of education in Israel. We will fight this with all our means.”

The Education Ministry responded to the outrage by stating: “Israel Police has alerted the attention of the ministry to the fact that some of the teens traveling home from their boarding schools for vacation are subjected to violence. For this reason a representative of the Education Ministry has decided to examine alternative ways to secure their safety.”

Ethiopia: Meles Zenawi's Ploy for Copenhagen Conference

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

By Selam Beyene

Copenhagen Conference

Ethiopia’s dictator Meles Zenawi, who has no respect for fundamental human rights and who has one of the worst environmental records in the history of Ethiopia, has no moral authority to rear his head as a champion of climate change for the people of Africa.

As the rest of the world awaits a successful outcome of the Climate Conference in Copenhagen, Ethiopia’s tyrant Meles Zenawi has been honing a Machiavellian gambit to exploit his hard-earned role as a representative of Africa to advance his vicious political and economic agenda.

It is hard to disagree with the notion that industrialized countries have much to atone for with regard to their contribution to the environmental catastrophe in countries like Ethiopia. However, these countries should not exacerbate the hardship their actions have wreaked on the people by handing over in haste compensatory money to dictators who would only use it to buttress their oppressive machinery and to fatten their foreign bank accounts.

Indeed, the environmental and humanitarian damage caused by Meles Zenawi’s autocratic and corrupt regime in Ethiopia is incalculable. Below are a few examples that give a glimpse of the relentless onslaught of the dictator against the fragile environment of the country in his tragic crusade to oppress the people and plunder the wealth of that poor nation.

Massive deforestation, thanks to Zenawi’s insatiable desire to amass hard-currency, has contributed to continued environmental degradation, poverty and famine in the country. According to one report, in the first few years of Zenawi’s repressive rule, “… between 1990 and 2005, Ethiopia lost 14.0% of its forest cover, or around 2,114,000 hectares.” A case in point is his recent campaign to sell the more fertile parts of the country to multinational farmers without regard to the ecological consequences. As reported in the November 22, 2009 issue of the New York Times Magazine [2]:

“Zenawi, a former Marxist rebel who has turned into a champion of private capital, has publicly said he is very eager to attract foreign farm investors by offering them what the government describes as virgin land. An Ethiopian agriculture ministry official recently told Reuters that he has identified more than seven million acres. The government plans to lease half of it before the next harvest, at the dirt-cheap annual rate of around 50 cents per acre.”

The dictator has banned private ownership of land and used it as a tool for the subjugation of the rural population. As a consequence, he has encouraged unsustainable land utilization and inevitable environmental degradation, as affirmed by the aforementioned New York Times Magazine report.

“This land-tenure policy has made it possible for a one-party state to hand over huge tracts to investors at nominal rents, in secrecy, without the bother of a condemnation process.”

The problem was summed up in the October 26, 2009 issue of the Herald Scotland, which stated:

“Ethiopia’s land, post-Mengistu, still belongs to the state and cannot be sold. ….. One consequence is that state land gets divided and sub-divided among the families who sit on it. Plots become so tiny and the soil so exhausted that it cannot feed the families who work it – even in times of normal rainfall.”

Utilizing famine as a weapon of mass repression, Zenawi has systematically instituted policies that contributed in major ways to the recurrent drought and human tragedy in that country. According to a recent UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report, 35 million Ethiopians or about 44% of the total population are malnourished, and that the country has the largest proportion of malnourished people in the world!

The dictator has instituted draconian laws to restrict the activities of NGOs who work in the field of human rights and other areas that are incompatible with the corrupt and repressive policies of the regime. In particular, the law has severely curbed the ability of environmental NGOs to educate the public at large on climate change issues and to expose the destructive environmental policy of Zenawi’s deceitful government.

Why has Zenawi desperately campaigned to secure invitation at the Copenhagen Climate Conference?

The dictator’s resourcefulness when it comes to hoodwinking donor nations through appearances at major summits has been well documented. At G8 and G20 summits, he has insolently and callously exploited the famine and poverty that he has inflicted on the people as means of shaming wealthy nations into giving him billions of dollars in aid.

Predictably, he has now seen even greater opportunity in the Copenhagen Conference, and has assiduously lobbied corrupt African diplomats to nominate him as an African Union’s chief negotiator. As reported in the November 20, 2009 issue of the Daily Nation, Zenawi, true to form, was quick to ask “…the rich industrialized nations to compensate the less developed Africa for the impact of global warming.”

Having been rejected by the people of Ethiopia in successive elections, another even more sinister motive for his obsession about invitation to major meetings is the desire to earn legitimacy and to divert attention from his appalling human rights records and crimes against humanity. The timing of the upcoming Climate Conference is particularly opportune as the venue is expected to provide much needed visibility at home and abroad while he intensifies his blatant attacks to cripple any potential opposition in the May 2010 elections.

Just a few weeks before the Climate Conference, the dictator gave a deceiving gesture of rapprochement by orchestrating a highly publicized and theatrical ceremony of reconciliation with a prominent leader of one of the opposition groups. He quickly used the occasion to silence international critiques and to appease those donor nations who only needed a pretext to prop up his repressive regime. After an intensive barrage of propaganda to publicize the event to gullible international observers, he has now embarked on an even more terrifying campaign of sniffing out any viable opposition and squashing it ruthlessly. As acknowledged by Karl Wycoff, deputy assistant secretary of state for East African Affairs, after a recent visit to the country, even the US is concerned by the “… reduction in political space and the ability of opposition parties to operate and do what opposition parties should do.”

Thus, in view of the proven crimes of Zenawi and his regime against humanity, his continued assault on the environment and his contempt for good governance and rule of law, the presence of the dictator at a conference of considerable significance to mankind is not only a trivialization of the noble cause for which those concerned with climate change stand, but also an affront to human decency.

We, therefore, call upon industrialized nations not to rush to reward dictators with compensatory money knowing that the money would be used to cause even graver hardship on the people who must be helped.

We also call upon the hosts of the Climate Conference to take extra measures so that the venue would not be exploited by unscrupulous dictators as a cover for their crimes and as a platform to gain visibility.

Ethiopians in the Diaspora are asked to heighten their vigilance and expose the tyrant, as they have admirably done so in Gleneagles, Scotland, in 2005; Pittsburgh, PA, in 2009; and in numerous other places over the years. Through effective demonstrations, well-researched publications, and constructive engagement of the Conference organizers, they should expose the depravity of the tyrant and ensure that the dictator does not use the august occasion as a forum to strengthen his repressive machinery and to divert attention from the crimes he is committing against the people.

Albert Camus wrote: “The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience.” For almost two decades, Zenawi has used the predicament of the people of Ethiopia to bolster his repressive machinery and to plunder the wealth of the nation. This time, the world must awaken to the vile ruse of the dictator, and stop him before he inflicts more devastating human suffering in the name of development, democracy, and now climate change.

(Selam Beyene, Ph.D., can be reached at Beyene50@gmail.com)

Famous Ethiopian singer Manalemosh Dibo passed away

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

manalemosh dibo One of Ethiopia’s most popular singers, Manalemosh Dibo, passed away today from natural causes, according to news sources in Ethiopia.

Manalemosh died in South Africa where she went to receive medical treatment after suffering from intestinal cancer for over a year.

Before going to South Africa Manalemosh was receiving treatment at Tikur Anbessa (Black Lion) Hospital in Addis Ababa. When her condition deteriorated, Tikur Anbessa doctors recommended that she gets treatment abroad. Ethiopian billionaire Al Amoudi covered her expenses to travel to South Africa.

Manalemosh was a young singer who’s popularity grew with each song she released. She is particularly well-known for her traditional songs such as Asabelew, Awdamet, and Minjar.

Below is a video of one of her most popular and Ethiopian Review’s favorite songs:

Hailu Shawel condemned at the Great Ethiopian Run

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

Great Ethiopian Run Nov 21 2009a ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Thousands of people have participated in the 9th annual Great Ethiopian Run that was held Sunday in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa. World marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe and Ethiopian long distance star Derartu Tulu launched the race as guests of honor.

Today’s overall winner was Tilahun Regassa, while Koreni Jelila won the women’s race. Each received $2,100 award.

The Great Ethiopian Run, which was started by Haile GebreSelassie in collaboration with Toyota Motor Company, is the biggest road race in Africa attracting tens of thousands of runners.

Today’s run was broadcast live for the first time by major international sport channels, according to event organizer Haile GebreSelassie.

Since 2006, the Great Ethiopian Run has been used by Addis Ababa residents to voice their anger and frustration at the Woyanne regime, as they have no other outlet. Public meetings and opposition rallies are prohibited by the U.S.-backed brutal regime of Meles Zenawi.

Today’s event was a little different. The Woyanne regime was not the only target. The 76-year-old opposition party leader Hailu Shawel was the focus of protest. He was condemned by the runners for signing an agreement with Meles Zenawi on the upcoming general election without any tangible change on the part of the Woyanne regime, such as the release of political prisoners, including Birtukan Mideksa, leader of one of the main opposition parties. (Read more in Amharic by Awramba Times here.)

Over 2,200 children were adopted from Ethiopia this year

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

United States Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, Michele Bond, expresses concern over the sharp increase in adoption from Ethiopia.

QUESTION: Which countries do you see the sharpest increase in children ready for adoption? Is it related to conflict or poverty such as Zimbabwe?

MS. BOND: Well, the – one country that I could point to that had a sharp increase this year is Ethiopia, where the numbers that – it was up about 30 percent, and let me just – the – it was just over 2,200 children who were adopted this year from Ethiopia. That is not related to conflict. By and large, conflict is not one of the issues that tends to lead to a spike in adoptions, because children may be separated from their families but haven’t necessarily permanently lost those families as a result of population movements.

So we are watching adoptions and examining the situation in Ethiopia very carefully, because it’s a very serious concern when you – if you see the number of adoptions start to increase sharply, you want to be sure that the infrastructure if that country is equipped to monitor and carefully vet every one of those cases. Rapid growth isn’t necessarily a good thing.

QUESTION: You are mentioning experiences from other continents. How is the experience here in the Western Hemisphere between Latin American countries and the U.S.?

MS. BOND: When the United States joined The Hague Convention in April 2008, that made us a Hague partner for quite a few countries which prefer to limit their adoption interchanges with fellow – to fellow Hague countries. So there are some countries where we – American are now eligible to adopt that they might not have been before. And developing those contacts and those relationships is not something, again, that happens overnight. But I think that we may see a shift in some countries of more interest in looking for homes for children in the United States if they haven’t been able to have them adopted locally.

More generally, we have Guatemala, which is a country in which new adoptions cannot begin at this point. Guatemala is a Hague country and they are working to establish Hague-compliant procedures —

QUESTION: In Mexico?

MS. BOND: Mexico is a country where there are surprisingly few adoptions to the United States, and that is – it’s surprising in the sense that we have – we share such a long border. But there is a pretty strong reluctance in Mexico to allow children to be adopted by foreign families, even Mexican American families. And so by and large, the majority of the adoptions that we see are intra-family adoptions, not adoptions by people who are unrelated to the child.

QUESTION: On Ethiopia, you’re not entirely clear what’s causing the spike of adoptions?

MS. BOND: Well, I think what’s causing the spike of adoptions is that there are, first of all, many children in the country who are homeless and/or living in institutions and need homes. And there are people who are working to try to identify those children and match them with people in the United States and in other countries who are interested in adoption. Our concern about it is that you can easily find yourself in a situation where it’s difficult to tell the difference between children who genuinely don’t have a family and those who have been documented to look like they don’t.

And unless you have the host government with – well equipped to investigate itself, to document, to lock in the identity of these children, then it can be very hard to prevent the missed documentation of children, and situations where, for example, birth parents are coerced or persuaded to relinquish their children for money or not, but – when it’s something that they wouldn’t have considered doing if someone hadn’t been pressuring them to do it. Obviously, that’s not something that we want.

QUESTION: So there are some suspicions maybe that there’s a racket going on or –

MS. BOND: It’s something that the Ethiopian Government is carefully looking at and so are we and so is every other government whose citizens are adopting there. Ukraine, as it happens, is another country where we saw a 30 percent increase in adoptions last year. In the case of Ukraine, however, that’s not – it’s not something that we see as a trend. The numbers tend to go up and down a bit. So it can be hard to know whether you’re definitely seeing a movement in one direction or the other.

QUESTION: Let me just follow on quickly, if you don’t mind, please. What we want to know clearly, not just from one particular country (inaudible), let’s say from around the globe. As far as criteria for – like it’s a conflict or poverty or what causes or brings those children for adoption basically to the U.S.? Is it the regional conflicts? You are saying (inaudible) or elsewhere, war or homeless or the parents are dying and that – I mean, what are the major causes of the adoption of people (inaudible) of people, or children coming here?

MS. BOND: All right. The question is what are the typical reasons that children are placed for inter-country adoption. And when you talk about countries around the world, including the United States, which also has children that are adopted by foreign families and leave here to go and live in a foreign country —

QUESTION: Yeah. I’m sorry, let’s say India or let’s say sometimes they say – they seek asylum. What’s the difference between asylums or other adoption for children, let’s say? Are there children also in that category or for —

MS. BOND: Okay. Let me get to that question in a moment, if I may. The reasons that children are available for adoption by foreign citizens vary in different countries. In China, typically the reason has been that there were children, little girls, who were born and placed for adoption by families who were hoping that they might have a son.

And the fact is that – there was a reference in one question to age requirements and other requirements being imposed on adopting parents – the number of children available for adoption in China has diminished. And the number of people who are interested in adopting in China is much higher than the number of children that are – that need homes. And that’s one reason that the Chinese Government imposed the changes and the requirements for adopting parents. They were simply trying to reduce the pool of all well-qualified people who were applying to adopt. They had many more than they could vet and many more than they needed.

In some other countries, the children are in care because of local poverty. But what’s important is that in some countries, children may be placed in institutions by their families because the families know that’s a place where the children will be fed and cared for and educated. And there are countries where the families then anticipate that the children will return home when they’re a little bit older, maybe 10 or 12, old enough to contribute to the family and help their parents.

And so that’s one of the things that we have to be on guard against. The fact that a child is in an orphanage and has been there for some time doesn’t make him an orphan in the sense – well, in any sense, he’s not a child who needs a home. He has a family.

I think – I hope that that’s helpful in terms of the —

QUESTION: Yeah, only about asylum, if – if you had any case of the child or somebody had asked asylum for a child rather than adoption.

MS. BOND: The question is about whether children also come into the United States as asylees, as people who are seeking asylum from our government as opposed to adoption. Getting asylum is a very different sort of process. And in order to apply for asylum, a person has to show that he is facing some sort of persecution or threat in his own country. Typically, unaccompanied children would not be likely to apply for asylum. That would be rare.

MR. TONER: We have time for just one more question.

QUESTION: Can I just ask very quickly for you to speak in a little more detail about your comment that some other countries are approaching the United States about adopting American children? Who are those countries and how many American kids are adopted overseas?

MS. BOND: Since we joined The Hague, so since April of 2008, there are 71 American children who have been adopted by foreign families. Thirty-seven of those were adopted under The Hague, so that means that they were adopted to Hague partner countries and the adoption began after April 1, 2008 – the work on it, because as you know, it takes months to complete these things. So we’re still at a stage where the majority of outgoing adoptions are non-Hague, but we anticipate that they’re going to be primarily Hague.

The typical countries – Canada, Western Europe, Australia, countries that are our Hague partners and where local adoption opportunities are very limited, they’re very – relatively few children available for adoption. To their credit, several of the governments that have approached us have said that they are particularly interested in identifying waiting children in foster care as candidates for adoption by their citizens. They are not trying to compete for healthy newborn infants.

MR. TONER: Thank you very much, I appreciate it.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The above is part of the briefing by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Michele Bond on National Adoption Day on November 20, 2009. Read the full transcript here)

EDP officials in Tigray resign over Meles-Lidetu deal

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

Except one, all members and officials of Lidetu Ayalew’s Ethiopian Democratic Party (EDP) in Tigray have resigned en mass protesting the deal Lidetu signed recently with Meles Zenawi on the conduct of the May 2010 general elections in Ethiopia.

In an interview with the VOA, Ato Tekle Bekele, chairman of EDP in Tigray and member of the party’s central committee, said that EDP has turned itself into a supporter of the TPLF/EPRDF regime, instead of a genuine opposition party.

Click here to listen: [podcast]http://www.ethiopianreview.com/audio/voa-november-20-2009.mp3[/podcast]

Ato Tekle said that he and his comrades decided to take a stand and resigned after repeated discussions with the party’s leadership failed to bring result.

Lidetu is not the only surrenderist who is facing rebellion inside his organization over the traitorous deal with Woyanne. Ethiopian Review sources in Addis Ababa are reporting that trouble is also brewing for Hailu Shawel inside his All Ethiopian Unity Party. Two weeks ago, a senior member of AEUP, Major Argaw Kabtamu, has resigned after expressing disgust over the agreement of surrender to the Woyanne tribal junta.

Memher Zebene, Ethiopia's Jimmy Swaggart?

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

Memher (Preacher) Zebene Lema has started out as a charismatic young preacher at the Ethiopian Orthodox Medhani-Alem and St. Mary churches in DC and Maryland. Then he opened his own bible class so that he can keep all the donation from his students. After making loads of money, 2 years ago he went to Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa to get married at the Sheraton Hotel — Al Amoudi’s whorehouse. The fake patriarch, Ato Gebremedhin (formerly Aba Paulos), was the guest of honor. (Zebene says he did not invite him.)

Following the wedding, Ato Gebermedhin’s lackeys awarded him Abune Petros’ Cross. It is the cross this great Ethiopian hero and religious father used to compel the people of Ethiopia to resist Fascist Italy’s invasion in 1935. Italians executed Abune Petros. Now Memher Zebene walks around with Abune Petros’ cross in his pocket. He has been advised by Ethiopians inside the country and abroad to return the Cross to the Church, as it is a national treasure. He arrogantly refused.

After returning from his lavish wedding at the Addis Sheraton (a favorite spot for Arab sheiks to molest underage girls), all the money and fame became too much for Memher Zebene to handle. The “servant of God,” became a power-crazed thug who insults the elderly and antagonize senior Orthodox Church priests.

Zebene is currently using his blind young followers to harass and intimidate church leaders in the Ethiopian Community. Any one who criticizes Zebene is labled “pente” (a follower of the Pentecostal denomination) by him and his followers. Ironically, Zebene attends classes at the Howard University School of Divinity in Washington DC, which is run by adherents of the Baptist and Pentecostal denominations.

If Zebene keeps up what he is doing, he will soon become Ethiopia’s Jimmy Swaggart. He is bringing upon himself his own downfall through corruption and hubris.

Zebene just needs to follow what he preaches, and he can save himself. He is indeed a talented preacher. He started out great, particularly attracting young Ethiopians to the Church, but sudden fame and wealth have corrupted him.

The following article about Memher Zebene is sent to Ethiopian Review by a concerned Ethiopian and member of the Orthodox Church in Washington DC.

መምህር ዘበነ፥ መስቀሉን መልስ

ከታሪኩ ይበልጣል (ዋሽንግተን ዲሲ)

“ይህንን ባታደርጉ ትቀሰፋላችሁ፣ ይህንን ብታደርጉ ደግሞ የመንግስተ ሰማያት ቤታችሁ ይሰራላችኋል፤ ቤታችሁ በገነት ይሆናል” እያሉን ነገር ግን እራሳቸው በምድራዊ ቤት የዘቀጡ፣ መቀሰፊያውን የሚፈጽሙ ዓለመኞች፣ ከጎስቋሎች በይሁዳ ኮሮጆ በምጽዋት በፈለጉት መንገድ በተሰበሰበ ገንዘብ ሸራተን ሰርግ የሚሰርጉ፣ ዘመኑ ባፈራው የቅንጦት ዕቃና ተሽከርካሪ የሚንፈላሰሱና ቪላ የሚሰሩ በአንፃሩ ደግሞ ሌላው ግን ዳዋ ለብሶ፣ ድንጋይ ተንተርሶና ጤዛ ልሶ በደበሎ እንደተጠቀለለ ለቀኑ ቆሎ አሮበት ስለ አገሩና ህዝቡ በቁርና በጸሃይ ሳይዝል በጸሎት ተጠምዶ ጉድ የሚታይበት የጉድ ዘመን በኢትዮጵያ ሰፍኗል። “እኔ አውቃለሁ መንፈሳዊ ነኝ” የሚሉ ዳሩ ግን በምዝበራ የደለቡ የዓለም ሰንጋዎች፣ ግን መንፈሳዊ ተብየዎች በተናቀ ሥራቸው እውነተኛ ካህናቶችን አሰዳቢዎች ክርስቶስ መስቀሉን የተሸከመው ለመላው የሰው ዘር መሆኑንን በሆዳቸው የካዱ ጉደኛ ሹመኞችና ነጠላ ያጣፉ ጀሌዎችና ዱልዱሞች ተዋህዶ ተጥለቅልቃለችና መላ ይሻላል። ካህናት ነን እያሉ በካህናት ሥም ዛሬ በቤተክስቲያናትና በልጆቿ ላይ እየተፈጸመ ያለውን ተንኮልና ደባ ሰይጣን እራሱ ቢጠየቅ “ከእነርሱ ተማርኩበት እንጅ ተንኮላቸውንና ከፋፋይነታቸውን በፍጽም አልደረስኩበትም” የሚል ይመስለኛልና ልብ ያለው ልብ ይበል!

ዘበነ (መምህር) እራሱ በተግባር የማይፈጽመውን አስተምራለሁ የሚል፤ በድህነት ከተነነ ቤተሰብ ውስጥ ወጥቶ ግን በሙዳይ በተቀፈፈ የምዕመናንና የመበለቶች ገንዘብ ሰርግ ሸራተን ያደረገ ዓለመኛ ሳባኪ በማይፈጽመው ግን የእምነት ንጉስ ነኝ ባይ ጮሌ እንደ እኩዮች ዓለም በዘረጋቻቸው የዕውቀት ዘፎች ሁሉ አውቃለሁ የሚል እውነት የሚናገሩትን ያለስማቸው ስም የሚሰጥና የሚፈርጅ ቤተክርስቲያንዋ በታሪክ ያላየቻቸውንና የማታዋቃቸውን ‘የቡድሃ’ አይሉ ‘የኒንጃ’ ወይንም የኦሎምፒክ መወዳደሪያ ወይም ሌላ ቀለም ባፅሸበረቁ የጳጳስ፣ የቆሞስ፣ የመነኩሴ፣ የቄስ ወይንም የዲያቆን አሊያም የምዕመን አይሉት የሌላ የሥልጣን ተዋረድ ያልጠበቀ ልብስ አጥላቂ “ምንቸት ጋን ነኝ” ያለበት የመለያየትና የስድብ ፊታውራሪ ፍቅርን ሳያውቀው ስለፍቅር፤ አንድነትን እየናደ ስለአንድነት፤ የውንድማማችነትን መንፈስ እየገደለ ስለወንድማማችነት መምህር ነኝ የሚል፤ አዛውንት አባቶች ወደ ኋላ እንዲቀመጡ ተደርጎ እሱ አሳራጊ፤ ይህች ከንቱ ዓለም እንኳን የቅደም ተከተል ተዋረዷን ታውቃለች ይገርማል! ግን ይህንን አያስተውለውም።

በጣም የሚገርመው የማይለው ስለሌለ “ሁለት ሶስተኛውን እልፍ ሲልም ሶስት አራተኛውን የኢትዮጵያ ሕዝብና የሰሜን አሜሪካን የኢትዮጵያ ኦርቶዶክስ ክርስቲያን አድርጌያለሁ” ያለ ደፋር፤ ለመሆኑ ይህንን አድርጌያለሁ ካለ አመዛኙ የኢትዮጵያ ሕህብ እምነት ምን ይሆን የነበረው? አይን አውጣነት ወይንስ ሌላ? ከዚህ ቀደም እስከ አሁን የሚያንገበግበን በኢትዮጵያ የነጻነት ተጋድሎ ለዓለ ህብረተሰብ በዓለም አደባባዮች ለኢትዮጵያ እንዳንጮህ ለአገር የመጮህን ተስፋ ለማመንመን ያደረጋቸው መሰሪና አደናጋሪ ሰበካዎችና በማር የተለወሱ መርዛማ እንቅስቃሴዎች ታሪክ ይቅር የምይለው በደል ነው። አንድ ነገር ግን እናረጋግጣለን የኢትዮጵያ ትንሳዔም ቅርብ ነው!!! ይህንን ለጊዜ ፍርድ እንተወዋለን ያኔ ማጣፊያው ያጥራል።

ግለሰቡ ተመክሮ የማይሰማ ነው። ከዚህ ቀደም በቅዱስ ሚካኤል ቤተክርስቲያን ከእየሩሳሌም በመጡ የዕድሜ ባለጸጋ መንፈሳዊ አባት “አባቶችን አትዳፈር፣ ትህትና ይኑርህ” ብለው በእማኝ ፊት ያሉትን ባለመቀበል እነሆ ዛሬ ተመክሮ የማይሰማ ትዕቢተኛ፣ ቀናተኛ የሆነና ያለአግባብ ሰዎችን በመዝለፍ አባቶችንና እናቶችን በማዋረድና በመዘርጠጥ በሚከፍተው አፍ ጭንቅላቱ የሚታይ እራሱ የቆብ፣ የልብስና የአፍ ምሩቅ መሆኑን ማወቅ ለማንም አያዳግትም። የቤተክርስቲያንዋ መከፋፈል በውግዘት መለያየት ተጠቃሚዎች እርሱና መሰሎቹ ሆነዋልና። የኢ.ኦ.ተ. ቤ/ክር አንድ ከሆነች ሊቅውንተ ቤ/ክር ስለሚሰባሰቡና ፍቅር ሁሉን ስለሚገዛ ተራራ ነኝ ያለው ኩይሳም ስለማይሆን ጠላት ዲያብሎስም ስለሚያፍርና ጥቅም ስለሚቀር የቤተክርስቲያንዋን አንድነት አይወዱትም። ያልሆነ ስም ልጠፋና ስድብ ግን ይቀናቸዋል። ስድብ ባዶነት ነው። ስድብ ከዲያብሎስ ጋር ሕብረት መፍጠር ነውና ልታቆም ይገባሃል! አደራችን የጌታችን የመድሃኒታችንን ኢየሱስ ክርስቶስ መስቀል እንጂ የመከፋፈልና የስድብ፣ የጩኽትና የልፍለፋ የመሳለቂያ የሥጋ ገበያ ሊሆን አይገባም እንልሃልን።

ኃይላችን ስለሆነው መስቀል ስናነሳ ጌታችን፣ መድኅኒታችንና አምላካችን ኢየሱስ ክርስቶስ መከራን በመቀበል በመስቀል ላይ ባፈሰሰው ደም ሰላምን እንዳወጀልን ሁሉ አባታችን ኢትዮጵያዊ ሰማዕቱ ቅዱስ አቡነ ጴጥሮስም የእምነት የተዋህዶ አርበኛ ስለ እምነቱና ስለውድ ሃገሩ ኢትዮጵያ፣ ከአምላኩ እንዳየው መስቀሉን እንደጨበጠ ጠላትን በመገሰፅና በማውገዝ በባንዳዎች ትብብር በጨካኞች እጅ ተረሽኗል። ጌታችን በመስቀሉ ዲያብሎስን እንደገደለና እንዳሸነፈ ሰማዕቱ ኢትዮጵያዊ ጴጥሮስም በመስቀሉ ፋሽስትን ገደለና አሸነፈ። የእዛ የእምነት ፅናት የተዋህዶ አርበኝነት ምልክት ቅርስ መሆኑ ተዘንግቶ “በእከከኝ ልከክልህ” የስጋ ገበያ ለከንቱ ውዳሴ በአባ ቀውስጦስ አማካይነት ለዘበነ (መምህር) በመሰጠቱን ከዚህ በፊት እንዲመለስ በየጊዜው በኢንተርኔት ከአገሪቱ ዜጎች መጠየቁን እኛም እንደ ኢትዮጵያዊ ዜግነታችን የሃገር ቅርስ በመሆኑ ያንገበግበናልና በአስቸኳይ ያለቅድመ ሁኔታ መመለስ አልበት። ግልሰቡ አልወሰደም እንዳይባል አፍ ሲያመልጥ እንዲሉ “ለሰርጌ መመረቂያ ከአባ ቆውስጦስ ተሰጥቶኛል” በማለት በደብረ ገነት መድኃኔዓለም ቤተክርስቲያን ሲመጻደቅ የተናገረውን ማውጣት ይቻላል። የአባ ቆውስጦስ ስጦታ ቤተክርስቲያኒቱን ለሶስተኛ ሲኖዶስ አሳልፎ ለመስጠት የተደረገ ውስጣዊ ደባ ነው ሲሉ አንዳንድ የቤተክርስቲያኒቱ አባላት በጊዜው ሲናገሩ ተደመጠዋል። ታዲያ እንግዲህ ታላላቅ አባቶችን ሳያፍሩ “ሆዳሞች” ያሉና ያዋረዱ፣ ከሆዳሞች ያገኙትን ማረጋገጫ ያልቀረበበትን አለኝ የሚሉትን ክህነት እንዴት እንቀበለው? ስሊዚህ የኢትዮጵያ ቤ/ክር በቀደሙ አባቶች አማካይነት ተዋህዶ በቤዛነት ለሃገሯና ለዜጎቿ ለመላ የዓለም ክርስቲያን የተከፈለ የመስዋዕትነት ቋሚ ምስክር ነውና ዘበነ (መምህር) የመመለስ ኃላፊነትም ግዴታም አለብህ።

የተዋህዶ አርበኛ ሰማዕቱ አባታችን ቅዱስ ጴጥሮስ በምላስ፣ በልብስና በዘር ከፋፋይነት ሳይሆን የተመካው በጌታችን በመድኃኒታችን ኢየሱስ ክርስቶስ መስቀል ማለትም እንደቃሉ እኔስ ከጌታችን ከኢየሱስ ክርስቶስ መስቀል በቀር በሌላ ትምክህት ከእኔ ይራቅ (ገላ 6-14) ብሎ በዛች በመጨረሻዋ የጭንቅና ፈታኝ ሰዓት የክርስቶስን ዓርማ መስቀሉን መንፈሳዊ ክብሩን በቀኝ እጁ እንደጨበጠ ጽናትን እስከሞት ታላቅ ምስክርነቱን ስለኢትዮጵያ ስለህዝቡና ስለእምነቱ ደሙን በማፍሰስ ፍቅሩን የእግዚያብሔር ጽናቱን የገለጠበት የተሰዋውን የዛን የተዋህዶ አንበሳ መስቀል ለግል መውሰድና በማስኮብለል ከሀገር በማስወጣት ወደ ኪስ መክተት የመጨረሻ ነውርና ወደ ታች መዝቀጥ ነው። መመለሱ ግዴታ ነው። “ሀገሬ ኢትዮጵያ ሞኝ ነሽ ተላላ የሞተልሽ ቀርቶ የገደለሽ በላ” ካልሆነ በስተቀር አንተና መሰሎችህ በመጀመሪያ ገዝታችሁ ያንጠለጠላችሁትን መስቀል በቅጡ ያዙ! የሰማዕቱን ፈለግ ተከተሉና ከከንቱ ውዳሴ ይልቅ እውነቱን የቤተክርስቲያን አንድነት ጩሁ። መጀመሪያ በዓለም ካለ ህይወት እንደ ሸራተን ከመሰለው ውጡ። አባታችን የተገኘው በመስቀሉ ስር ከቤተክርስቲያን እንጅ ሸራተን በሳንቲም መልቀሚያ ጉባዔ አልነበረም።

ስለአባ እከሌ መኖር ይብቃችሁ። ነገሩ የእናንተ አባእገሌ ሆዳችሁ ጥቅማችሁ ነው።እስኪ የእውነት ሰው ሁኑና ስለ አገር የማይነገርበትና ከእውነት ከራቀው አደንቋሪ ጩኸት ውጡና ሰማዕቱ ጴጥሮስን ልትሆኑት ባትችሉም መሰሉት። ይህ መስቀል እንዲመለስ ሕግም ያስገድዳል። ቅርስን መዝረፍና ለግል ማድረግ የማየገባውን ማድረግ ወንጀል ነውና!!! ምን ይታወቃል አሊያም አንድ ቀን እንደ ድንቅነሽ (ሉሲ) ታከራዩትና ገንዘብ ትሸቅጡበት ይሆናል። ሕዋርያው ቅዱስ ጳውሎስ ፊሊጶ 3-10 በመልዕክቱ “የእነሱ መጨረሻ ጥፋት ነው፣ ሆዳቸው አምላካቸው ነው። ክብራቸው በነውራቸው ነው፣ አሳባቸው ምድራዊ ነው” እንዳለን መጨረሻቸው ጥፋት የሆነ የስም ክርስቲያኖች ፊሊጵ 3-10 ታንኩንና የመርዝ ጭሱን እየባረኩ በመላክ በባንዳዎች ትብብር ኢትዮጵያ ሀገራችንና ህዝቧን በወረሩበት በዛ የመከራ ቀን ብዙ ተጎድተናል፤ ከጉዳታችም አንዱ የአቡነ ጴጥሮስ በባንዳዎች ትብብር መረሸን ነው። መስቀሉ የዚህ ምስክር ነው። ቫቲካንም ይቅርታ ልትጠይቅበት ይገባል። እውነተኛ አባቶቻችንም ይህንን ጥያቄ እንድትጠይቁ ጩኽታችን ይድረሳችሁ።

አባታችን ካህን አሮንና ልጆቹ የእስራኤልን ልጆች እንደባረካቸው፣ ያዕቆብም በሸመገለ ጊዜ ኤፍሬምንና ምናሴን እንደባረካቸው አባታችን ሰማዕቱ አቡነ ጴጥሮስም የኢትዮጵያን ልጆችና ምድሯን ሁሉ ስለእውነትና ነጻነት የባረከበት የኢትዮጵያ ሕዝብ ሀብትና ቅርስ የሆነው ያ ታሪካዊ መስቀልም ትናንትም ዛሬም ወደፊትም የማይሸጥ፣ የማይለውጥና የሀገርና የህዝብ ሀብት ነው። ይህ መስቀል አቡነ ጴጥሮስ የነፍሳችን መዳኛ እንዲሆን እንድናስተውል ለኢትዮጵያ አለኝታ እንዲሆነን ትቶልን ያለፈ የእውነት ቅርስ ነውና ዘበነ (መምህር) መልስ! በሀገርና በዓለም ዙሪያ የምትገኙ ኢትዮጵያውን ይህ መስቀል እንዲመለስ የበኩላችሁን ጥረት ታደርጉ ዘንድ ጥሪ ይድረሳችሁ። በተለይም የአሜሪካ ድምፅ ሬዲዮ፣ የጀርመን ድምፅ ሬዲዮ፣ ነፃነት ለኢትዮጵያ ሬዲዮ፣ የህብረት ሬድዮ፣ አዲስ ድምፅ ሬዲዮ፣ የኢትዮጵያ ሴቶች ድምፅ ሬዲዮ፣ የኢትዮጵያዊነት ሬዲዮ፣ የሀገር ፍቅር ሬዲዮ፣የኢትዮጵያ የዘውድ ምክር ቤትና እንዲሁም ሌሎችም የህዝብ መገናኛ አውታሮችና ድረ ገጾች የሀገርን ቅርስ ከማስመለስና የሀገርን ታሪክ ለተተኪው ትውልድ ከማቆየት አኳያ በጉዳዩ ላይ ጥሪ አድርገንላችኋለንና ምላሻችሁን እንጠብቃለን። ስለሁሉም ነገር ልዑል እግዚያብሔር ይመስገን።

Meles Zenawi: Ethiopia's Idumaean

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

By Lemma Nathan

“A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” – Matthew 2:18

His name was Herod, but latter they called him Herod the Great. The contemptuous referred to him formally, as Herod I. He was born in Jericho. His father was a high-ranked {www:Idumaean} officer. At the age of 25, he was already appointed Governor of Galilee. Although “gentile” by origin, he publicly confessed to adhere to Judaism. But most never considered him as a true Israelite, specially the scribes; and that created in him a consuming feeling of rejection with which he had to fight all his life – half a century ago, the Edomites were forced to Judaism (or leave their place) when the Maccabean John Hyrcanus conquered their regions. Since then, it was never easy to judge whether an Edomite had truly converted.

In 43 BC, his father conspired to murder Caesar. The young Herod, a shrewd mathematician, decided to collaborate with the Romans and poisoned his own father -– with a professional aloofness. His own life had been sought by so many, by friends and by enemies alike, but he plied the troublesome tides of Near Eastern politics with uncanny success. Josephus describes him as a mad man, “a man … of great barbarity towards all men equally, and a slave to his passion … for from a private man he became a king; and though he were encompassed with ten thousand dangers, he got clear of them all.” [F. Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, Book 17, chapter 7].

Perhaps he was notoriously known to mankind as the monster of the first Christmas -– for the murder of the children of Bethlehem, according to Matthew 2:16. But in his record of murder, the list is endless -– his wife, her mother, her grandfather, two brothers-in-law, three of his own sons, and uncountable foes as well as subjects.

Among his people, he was vicious and lonely, often depressed and paranoid. But for the Romans, Herod was an extraordinary leader, a crucial bridge between the Jew and the gentiles; an indispensable ally…

But Herod was also a colossal and passionate builder of highways, fortresses, palaces, temples, and aqueducts — in Judea, Samaria, and Galilee, and beyond the river Jordan. He built the magnificent port of Caesarea; and renewed the great temple of Jerusalem (Herod’s temple).

It will be unfair to compare this monstrous figure with contemporary tyrants, including our own Meles Zenawi. To do so will be an overstatement. But I have been reading lately a book written by W.H. Auden [W.H. Auden, For the time being, Faber and Faber, 1964]. In this book, Auden tries to fathom what threads of reasoning were woven in the mind of Herod at the eve of the Massacre of the Children of Bethlehem. To my own great surprise, and quite involuntarily, I was unable to discard the image of our own “Prime Minster,” the present day tyrant of Ethiopia…

On this fateful day, Herod begins his reasoning thus:

“Because I am bewildered, because I must decide, because my decision must be in conformity with Nature and Necessity…”

Then Herod, as if to clear the way for a clean confrontation with his own ambition, begins to honour the people who were most significant in his life – his father, his mother, his nurse, his brother, his professors, and his secretary.

Why should someone die tomorrow? Remarkably, thoughts flow like a river. Herod sums up the situation soberly, like a seasoned politician, I mean, like our Meles, when he was confronted by the decision to kill innocent people with live bullets and sharpshooters. Herod counts his achievements, not to praise himself, of course, but to justify his case for staying on power.

“…The highway to the coast goes to straight up over the mountains and the truck-drivers no longer carry guns. Things are beginning to take shape. It is a long time since any one stole the park benches or murdered the swans…” [W.H. Auden, For the time being, Faber and Faber, 1964].

Then he tries to imagine what will happen if he let go of power:

“…if this rumor is not stamped out now… Reason will be replaced by Revelation …Idealism will be replaced by Materialism… Justice will be replaced by Pity as the cardinal human virtue, and all fear of retribution will vanish.” [W.H. Auden, For the time being, Faber and Faber, 1964]

Herod does not stop there. He knows that fear of disorder, real or imagined, is not a necessary prerequisite to hold fast to power. This time, he tries to count the unfinished work. If everything were accomplished, then there would be no need for a transformer:

“In twenty years I have managed to do a little. Not enough, of course. There are villages only a few miles from here where they still believe in witches. There isn’t a single town where a good bookshop would pay. One could count on the finger of one hand the people capable of solving the problem of Achilles and the Tortoise…”

Unfinished work gives him purpose in office. And an excuse not to process one’s own guilt. But in the end, Herod has to return to himself.

“I have worked like a slave. Ask anyone you like. I read all official dispatches without skipping. I have taken elocution lessons. I have hardly ever taken bribes. … I have tried to be good. … I am a liberal. I want everybody to be happy…” [W.H. Auden, For the time being, Faber and Faber, 1964].

As much as I dislike comparing Prime Minster Meles with Herod the Great, I cannot escape the images I picture in my mind as the Prime Minster stares out of the window on the eve of the massacre of Addis in that fateful November Day, 2005. Besides, I find great and irresistible parallels between the two men. It is common knowledge that many Ethiopians do not consider Meles as one of them. Secondly, Meles feels rejected by the intelligentsia, notably by the Addis Ababa University.

The unconcealed bitterness reveals itself in his manifest contempt to and rejection of the intelligentsia. As if to compensate the void, the last two decades have seen world class intellectuals and Nobel laureates in Addis giving lectures and seminars at a high cost to our leaders. Several American and British scholars have been invited to drop by just for tea on their way to India or South Africa.

Josephus tells us Herod was choleric in temperament. Any one who has been with Prime Minster Meles for a while knows his choleric temperament. Moreover, psychologists tell us that many tyrants are choleric in temperament. According to Tim Lahay, choleric leaders have a remarkable ability to see their destination, but they don’t know how to reach there [T. Lahay, Spirit controlled temperament, Tyndale House Publishers (Revised edition), September 7, 1994]. Well, one needs little to add to this statement, as far as the leadership in Addis is concerned.

The {www:TPLF} leadership has been, and deservedly, proud of its construction. For the killing of the innocents; the imprisonment of the multitudes; and the ruthless dealing with opponents, the relentless justification is its hard work. And this has been most gladly and thankfully taken by our diplomats in Addis.

Most important of all, Herod had no real friends. The people he counted as friends were remote, in Rome, and he sees them only occasionally. As if to purchase their love, his gift to them was always expensive and rare. But truly speaking, these were not his friends. Once a friend who knew our Prime Minster well told me that he has no real friend. He has his {www:TPLF} comrades, for certain. And he has his “friends” in the West. But “ordinary” Ethiopian friend, he has none. That is unfortunate and that is the cost of the road he chooses to go through.

Josephus tells us that Herod was suffering from an excruciating pain. He describes his illness as “fire glowing”, “which did not so much appear to the touch outwardly, as … inwardly”, “ulcer”, a pain in the “colon”; “an aqueous and transparent liquor… in his feet and at the bottom of his belly”, “his genitals were rotting, and produce worms”, etc.

Based on these descriptions, some medical experts believe that Herod had chronic kidney disorder, potentially complicated by Fournier gangrene. Others report that the visible worms and putrefaction are likely to have been scabies, a contagious ectoparasite skin infection characterized by superficial burrows and intense itching [H. Ashrafian, Herod the Great and his worms. Journal of Infection, Volume 51, Issue 1, Pages 82-83]. Scholars also believe that Herod suffered throughout his lifetime from depression and paranoia.

Since we have little access to the private life of Our Prime Minster, it is hard to say much about his illness. But recent report about repeated treatments to different counties cannot be ignored. For many are longing for change.

“Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.” Matthew 3:20.

Should this be the only way we Ethiopians in the Diaspora get back home?

(The writer can be reached at leannney@googlemail.com)

Ethiopian family of Canadian Citizen on the run from persecution

Friday, November 20th, 2009

The family of Bashir Makhtal, a Canadian citizen, continue to face persecution in Ethiopia. “This isn’t just something personal with respect to Bashir Makhtal, although he clearly is one of the figures at the center of this drama,” said Alex Neve, secretary-general of Amnesty International Canada, which has monitored Mr. Makhtal’s case since his arrest. “It’s family-based persecution, and I think that also underscores the nature and the severity of the repression the Ogadeni population is experiencing in Ethiopia.”

By David Macdougall | Special Report by The Globe and Mail

KENYA — During the first month of her imprisonment in Ethiopia, Rukiya Ahmed Makhtal was blindfolded and beaten. “You are Makhtal’s family,” she recalled her persecutor saying. “If you are Makhtal’s family, that means you are one of the problems.”

Ms. Makhtal, 53, is the older sister of Ethiopian-born Bashir Ahmed Makhtal, the Canadian citizen and former Toronto information technologist who has spent the past three years in Ethiopian prisons. Convicted of terrorism-related charges, he was sentenced in August to life in prison, but is scheduled to appear before an appeal court today. His family, who maintain his innocence, say they have been persecuted because of the actions of his grandfather.

After spending 14 months in various Ethiopian prisons where she says she was bound, blindfolded and badly beaten, thrown in isolation, raped and told she would be executed, Ms. Makhtal was at last transferred to a crowded low-security prison where family scrounged for 1,000 birr (roughly $80) and paid the guards to look the other way while she walked through the prison gates and, like so many of her kin, away from Ethiopia for good.

For two days, she trudged across the Ethiopian desert, struggling from poor health and the wounds on her body, trying to blend in with a train of nomads and fearful she might be spotted before reaching the border.

During the past year, others in Bashir Makhtal’s family have trickled into Hagadera, a notoriously squalid and overcrowded refugee camp at Dadaab in Kenya’s North Eastern Province.

Ms. Makhtal, who is asking for resettlement in Canada as a refugee and whose case is being followed by Amnesty International, is now among 16 people sleeping in the sand under scant shelter, all of whom say they are related to Bashir Makhtal and the victims of persecution in Ethiopia.

Bashir Makhtal and his sister, Rukiya, are the grandchildren of a founding member of the Ogaden National Liberation Front, a separatist movement in the ethnic Somali region of eastern Ethiopia, though both deny having been involved in the group.

“He was my grandfather,” Ms. Makhtal says. “We didn’t even know him.”

After an April, 2007, ONLF attack on a Chinese oil field at Abole in eastern Ethiopia that left 70 Chinese and Ethiopian workers dead, Ethiopia drastically stepped up a brutal counterinsurgency campaign in the region.

A 2008 Human Rights Watch report accuses Ethiopian soldiers of burning down entire villages, mass detentions and even demonstration killings, “with Ethiopian soldiers singling out relatives of suspected ONLF members,” and of conducting widespread “military attacks on civilians and villages that amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

Abdi Mohamed Ahmed, 29, who says Ms. Makhtal is his aunt and who denies ever being involved with the ONLF, remembers the night in late 2007 the Ethiopian National Defence Forces came for his family, circling his house before dragging out his entire family, beating them and hauling them off to different jails.

“They used to tie our eyes, torturing and beating. They used to tie our hands and legs together and they hang us up from the ceiling. And everybody was alone.”

This was when Bashir Makhtal’s sister, his older brother Hassan Ahmed, and several of their children were also arrested.

Last Thursday, Hassan Ahmed Makhtal, who had been imprisoned for 22 months and was serving a life sentence, died in the Ethiopian capital after being released early to receive medical attention. A press release issued by the Ogaden Human Rights Commission claims he “died from wounds sustained during his detention,” though the cause of his death could not be independently verified.

According to several family members, two of Hassan Makhtal’s children – a 27-year-old son and a 25-year-old daughter – were beaten to death in military prisons less than a month after their arrest in 2008.

“They are not targeting ONLF. Our army is very strong now,” said Abdirahman Mahdi, a central committee member of the separatist group, who spoke during a recent interview in Toronto. “What they do is they target the weak spot, the civilians, the women and children.”

“This isn’t just something personal with respect to Bashir Makhtal, although he clearly is one of the figures at the centre of this drama,” said Alex Neve, secretary-general of Amnesty International Canada, which has monitored Mr. Makhtal’s case since his arrest. “It’s family-based persecution, and I think that also underscores the nature and the severity of the repression the Ogadeni population is experiencing in Ethiopia.”

Mr. Makhtal was arrested by Kenyan authorities in December, 2006, as he attempted to flee the suddenly rising violence in neighbouring Somalia, where friends and family say he had travelled for business.

He was among 90 prisoners, including American, British and Kenyan nationals, who were forcibly deported, in violation of both Kenyan and international law, first to Mogadishu and then to Ethiopia. While every other Western country managed to secure the release of its citizens, Mr. Makhtal, the only Canadian arrested, alone remains in Ethiopian custody.

Said Makhtal, Mr. Makhtal’s cousin in Hamilton, Ont., says he’s optimistic about tomorrow’s outcome, but added: “I don’t know how much more I can count on the Ethiopian court system.”

In the meantime, many of Mr. Makhtal’s family are left to wait in the refugee camp while Amnesty International Canada puts forward their case to the Canadian High Commission in Nairobi.

“The life of Hagadera is too difficult,” Mr. Ahmed said. “There is no life, there is no health. There is not even enough water, the air of that place is not even good.”

“And still this moment we live under fear because there may be Ethiopian security,” he added, pointing out that Kenya already delivered his uncle, Mr. Makhtal, to Ethiopian authorities.

“Obviously, Canada continues to face difficulties in ensuring the safety of Mr. Makhtal himself,” Mr. Neve said. “At least we do have the opportunity to try and ensure safety for these other family members.”

The missing 8.6 million Ethiopians, where art thou?

Friday, November 20th, 2009

By Yilma Bekele

I couldn’t sleep all night. I kept turning and tossing to no avail. What was bothering me was what I heard on VOA yesterday afternoon. VOA is Voice of America for those of you not in the know. I found out I can listen to VOA on my smart phone and things haven’t been the same. My phone has become my best friend. I can surf the web, send email, watch You Tube, shoot a video, listen to the radio and oh yes talk too. My phone has become indispensable. Back to my story.

Dispersed among the many important stories of the day I heard the announcer discussing food, rather the lack of food in East Africa. Looks like the FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization) was passing out the plate to collect donations to feed poor Africans and the pledge from the Europeans fell short and the director and African delegates were crying about the indifference of the rich countries. This is what you call aggressive begging. It takes balls to sit on such virgin land and blame others for your own stupidity so I didn’t pay that much attention to the story.

What came next was what piqued my interest. UNFPA (UN population fund) was discussing the state of human population growth. According to them there are eighty-two and half million Ethiopians. Plenty of us if you ask me. On the other hand the Ethiopian government count shows seventy-three point nine million Ethiopians. Quiet a discrepancy wouldn’t you say. We are talking about eight point six million Abeshas an accounted for. Now you know why I couldn’t sleep.

I don’t mind if we are missing a few thousand of us. You know how African borders are. It is possible the day or week of the count some have ventured far following rich grazing grounds or even gone to the market in a neighboring country. It is also possible so many are escaping and temporarily situated in Sudan, Kenya, Somalia, Eritrea or Djibouti. I doubt if they will stop for the census bureau to be counted. Believe me eight point six million is not a small number. For crying out loud it is larger than a whole bunch of countries entire population.

Staying up all night has its rewards. As the sun was rising over the rolling hills of East bay, the birds chirping signaling a new day the answer came to me, we Ethiopians have a problem with numbers! We just don’t know how to count. That is not idle talk my friend, I got proof.

Let us just start with famine. According to the UN, US Aid, Oxfam and other professionals who do this sort of stuff for a living there are over ten million Ethiopians in need of food. According to the Meles regime the number is less than four million. It sort of bizarre to haggle over the number of your own people condemned to die of hunger but that is what has become of our country. Why this obsession with numbers you might ask. It is because the TPLF regime is always interested in the degrees of suffering of our people.

They start with the great famine of 1973 and compare that with the famine of 1983 and arrive at the startling conclusion that says less are dying thus we are doing better. With TPLF the question is not how to avoid famine but how to manage famine. Thus they spend time, energy and try our patience playing with numbers.

How about the much heralded 12% growth. Again it is a number TPLF throws with abandon gets quoted by Reuter or Bloomberg ergo it becomes a fact. The question is does reality on the ground jive with fantasy in the collective brain of TPLF cadres? I am afraid not. Putting up some concrete structures using Diaspora money, paving roads with IMF and Chinese loans is not an example of sustainable growth. It is just feel good economics or voodoo economics. The numbers are repeated again and again purposely to etch them in our mind.

Even the so-called Federal budget is not immune to this number challenge we face. After the 2005 elections the TPLF regime was printing money as if it was going out of style. The money was used to bribe the different EPDRF minions and buy their temporary loyalty. When the Federal Audit Report showed the truth about the minority regimes borrowing of billions of Bir the Prime Minster was not amused. Our fearless leader called the report a ‘junior accountants error’ and rejected the findings. His handpicked teams of investigators were able to shift a few zeros and bring the report in line with his wishes.

The mother of all ‘number challenged’ problems was the 2005 general elections. It was a situation where electorate and the ballot were in complete and total dis-harmony. It took more than six months of the best TPLF cadre’s brain to reconcile what really happened with what was supposed to happen. Even our favorite Woyane Bereket Semeon’s Wollo constituency was in disarray. The second balloting ordered by TPLF showed more people than what turned out to vote during the first free and euphoric election. Go figure that out!

Numbers and facts came to clash during the recent ‘Tekeze dam’ inaugaration. The prime Minster was proud and precise when he said Tekeze was built by “berasachin genzeb” Again does this jive with reality or does it leave many un answered questions. According to some knowledgeable sources ‘The Tekeze Dam Project financing is by China National Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering Company (CWHEC), 49pc, and China Gezhouba Water and Power (group) Ltd, 30pc, and Sur Construction, subsidiary company of EFFORT, 21pc. (TPLF) So what is it? Does it belong to us or the bond holders? Is this a new formula of financing? Questions, questions.

I will leave you with one number problem we encountered a while back as told by our own Tamagne Beyene. He tells it a whole lot better but I will do my best. The TPLF radio, yes they used to have a radio station during their armed struggle for the liberation of Tigrai, in its reports of their heroism was throwing increasable numbers regarding the number of Derg solders they have killed. Unfortunately when the numbers were added up at the end of the day they showed that they have killed more solders than all the Derg military combined.

The question for us is shall we get out of this numbers business? Shall we bring in outsiders to do any and all counting business in our country? Can Ethiopians be trusted with numbers or is it a localized TPLF problem? No matter it still leaves us with eight point six million Ethiopians out there with no one to claim them. Misplacing that many Abeshas is nothing to sniff at, I want my people accounted for.

U.S. official gives lips service on repression in Ethiopia

Friday, November 20th, 2009

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Bureau of African Affairs Karl Wyckoff and Woyanne Foreign Affairs Minister Seyoum Mesfin held talks on Thursday in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

On Friday, in a meeting with reporters, Mr Wyckoff expressed concerns about the restrictions on opposition parties in Ethiopia ahead of elections next year, which is scheduled to be held on May 23, 2010.

“The US is concerned by what we see as reduction in political space and the ability of opposition parties to operate and do what opposition parties should do,” Karl Wyckoff, who arrived is in Ethiopia for an official visit, told reporters.

The Forum for Democratic Dialogue in Ethiopia (FDD, or Medrek in Amharic) has also accused Meles Zenawi’s regime of arresting its members and supporters in a bid to discourage its following ahead of the polls, a charge the government has repeatedly denied. (Sources include AFP, Reuters)

The following is how the ruling party Woyanned-owned WIC reported Wyckoff’s visit:

Addis Ababa (WIC) Minister Seyoum Mesfin held talks with US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Bureau of African Affairs, Karl Wyckoff here on Thursday.

The two officials discussed ways of enhancing bilateral relations between the two countries, according to Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

They also exchanged views on the efforts being made by the government of Ethiopia to ensure peace in the Horn of Africa particularly in Somalia.

Speaking on the occasion, Seyoum said America and others need to extend the necessary support to the Somali Federal Transitional Government.

He also informed the US official that Ethiopia has been making efforts to ensure peace in Somalia.

Seyoum also briefed the official on the upcoming national elections.

He said the government of Ethiopia has been striving hard to make the forthcoming election peaceful, democratic and fair.

Wycoff said told journalists after the talks that America and Ethiopia have longstanding friendly relationships.

He further said America and Ethiopia have discussed on various issues ranging from economic development to human rights as well as democratic issues.

They also talked on regional and sub-regional issues including the Horn of Africa and Somalia.

He said IGAD and AU are good partners of America in ensuring stability in the Horn of Africa and Africa as a whole.

Expressing appreciation to economic development Ethiopia has registered in the last couple of years, Wycoff said America would work with the government of Ethiopia in this regard.

Ethiopian 'virgin land' for sale

Friday, November 20th, 2009

According to the World Bank, as much as three-quarters of Ethiopia’s arable land is not under cultivation, and agronomists say that with substantial capital expenditure, much of it could become bountiful. Since the world food crisis, Meles Zenawi, a former Marxist rebel who has turned into a champion of private capital, has publicly said he is “very eager” to attract foreign farm investors by offering them what the government describes as “virgin land.”

Dr. Robert Zeigler, an eminent American botanist, flew to Saudi Arabia in March for a series of high-level discussions about the future of the kingdom’s food supply. Saudi leaders were frightened: heavily dependent on imports, they had seen the price of rice and wheat, their dietary staples, fluctuate violently on the world market over the previous three years, at one point doubling in just a few months. The Saudis, rich in oil money but poor in arable land, were groping for a strategy to ensure that they could continue to meet the appetites of a growing population, and they wanted Zeigler’s expertise.

There are basically two ways to increase the supply of food: find new fields to plant or invent ways to multiply what existing ones yield. Zeigler runs the International Rice Research Institute, which is devoted to the latter course, employing science to expand the size of harvests. During the so-called Green Revolution of the 1960s, the institute’s laboratory developed “miracle rice,” a high-yielding strain that has been credited with saving millions of people from famine. Zeigler went to Saudi Arabia hoping that the wealthy kingdom might offer money for the basic research that leads to such technological breakthroughs. Instead, to his surprise, he discovered that the Saudis wanted to attack the problem from the opposite direction. They were looking for land.

In a series of meetings, Saudi government officials, bankers and agribusiness executives told an institute delegation led by Zeigler that they intended to spend billions of dollars to establish plantations to produce rice and other staple crops in African nations like Mali, Senegal, Sudan and Ethiopia. “They laid out this incredible plan,” Zeigler recalled. He was flabbergasted, not only by the scale of the projects but also by the audacity of their setting. Africa, the world’s most famished continent, can’t currently feed itself, let alone foreign markets.

The American scientist was catching a glimpse of an emerging test of the world’s food resources, one that has begun to take shape over the last year, largely outside the bounds of international scrutiny. A variety of factors — some transitory, like the spike in food prices, and others intractable, like global population growth and water scarcity — have created a market for farmland, as rich but resource-deprived nations in the Middle East, Asia and elsewhere seek to outsource their food production to places where fields are cheap and abundant. Because much of the world’s arable land is already in use — almost 90 percent, according to one estimate, if you take out forests and fragile ecosystems — the search has led to the countries least touched by development, in Africa. According to a recent study by the World Bank and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, one of the earth’s last large reserves of underused land is the billion-acre Guinea Savannah zone, a crescent-shaped swath that runs east across Africa all the way to Ethiopia, and southward to Congo and Angola.

Foreign investors — some of them representing governments, some of them private interests — are promising to construct infrastructure, bring new technologies, create jobs and boost the productivity of underused land so that it not only feeds overseas markets but also feeds more Africans. (More than a third of the continent’s population is malnourished.) They’ve found that impoverished governments are often only too welcoming, offering land at giveaway prices. A few transactions have received significant publicity, like Kenya’s deal to lease nearly 100,000 acres to the Qatari government in return for financing a new port, or South Korea’s agreement to develop almost 400 square miles in Tanzania. But many other land deals, of near-unprecedented size, have been sealed with little fanfare.

Investors who are taking part in the land rush say they are confronting a primal fear, a situation in which food is unavailable at any price. Over the 30 years between the mid-1970s and the middle of this decade, grain supplies soared and prices fell by about half, a steady trend that led many experts to believe that there was no limit to humanity’s capacity to feed itself. But in 2006, the situation reversed, in concert with a wider commodities boom. Food prices increased slightly that year, rose by a quarter in 2007 and skyrocketed in 2008. Surplus-producing countries like Argentina and Vietnam, worried about feeding their own populations, placed restrictions on exports. American consumers, if they noticed the food crisis at all, saw it in modestly inflated supermarket bills, especially for meat and dairy products. But to many countries — not just in the Middle East but also import-dependent nations like South Korea and Japan — the specter of hyperinflation and hoarding presented an existential threat.

“When some governments stop exporting rice or wheat, it becomes a real, serious problem for people that don’t have full self-sufficiency,” said Al Arabi Mohammed Hamdi, an economic adviser to the Arab Authority for Agricultural Investment and Development. Sitting in his office in Dubai, overlooking the cargo-laden wooden boats moored along the city’s creek, Hamdi told me his view, that the only way to assure food security is to control the means of production.

Hamdi’s agency, which coordinates investments on behalf of 20 member states, has recently announced several projects, including a tentative $250 million joint venture with two private companies, which is slated to receive heavy subsidies from a Saudi program called the King Abdullah Initiative for Saudi Agricultural Investment Abroad. He said the main fields of investment for the project would most likely be Sudan and Ethiopia, countries with favorable climates that are situated just across the Red Sea. Hamdi waved a sheaf of memos that had just arrived on his desk, which he said were from another partner, Sheik Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a billionaire member of the royal family of the emirate of Abu Dhabi, who has shown interest in acquiring land in Sudan and Eritrea. “There is no problem about money,” Hamdi said. “It’s about where and how.”

A long the dirt road that runs to Lake Ziway, a teardrop in the furrow of Ethiopia’s Great Rift Valley, farmers drove their donkey carts past a little orange-domed Orthodox church, and the tombs of their ancestors, decorated with vivid murals of horses and cattle. Between clusters of huts that looked as if they were constructed of matchsticks, there were wide-open wheat fields, where skinny young men were tilling the soil with wooden plows and teams of oxen. And then, nearing the lake, a fence appeared, closing off the countryside behind taut strings of barbed wire.

All through the Rift Valley region, my travel companion, an Ethiopian economist, had taken to pointing out all the new fence posts, standing naked and knobby like freshly cut saplings — mundane signifiers, he said, of the recent rush for Ethiopian land. In the old days, he told me, farmers rarely bothered with such formal lines of demarcation, but now the country’s earth is in demand. This fence, though, was different from the others — it stretched on for a mile or more. Behind it, we could glimpse a vast expanse of dark volcanic soil, recently turned over by tractors. “So,” said my guide, “this belongs to the sheik.”

He meant Sheik Mohammed Al Amoudi, a Saudi Arabia-based oil-and-construction billionaire who was born in Ethiopia and maintains a close relationship with the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s autocratic regime. (Fear of both men led my guide to say he didn’t want to be identified by name.) Over time, Al Amoudi, one of the world’s 50 richest people, according to Forbes, has used his fortune and political ties to amass control over large portions of Ethiopia’s private sector, including mines, hotels and plantations on which he grows tea, coffee, rubber and japtropha, a plant that has enormous promise as a biofuel. Since the global price spike, he has been getting into the newly lucrative world food trade.

Ethiopia might seem an unlikely hotbed of agricultural investment. To most of the world, the country is defined by images of famine: about a million people died there during the drought of the mid-1980s, and today about four times that many depend on emergency food aid. But according to the World Bank, as much as three-quarters of Ethiopia’s arable land is not under cultivation, and agronomists say that with substantial capital expenditure, much of it could become bountiful. Since the world food crisis, Zenawi, a former Marxist rebel who has turned into a champion of private capital, has publicly said he is “very eager” to attract foreign farm investors by offering them what the government describes as “virgin land.” An Ethiopian agriculture ministry official recently told Reuters that he has identified more than seven million acres. The government plans to lease half of it before the next harvest, at the dirt-cheap annual rate of around 50 cents per acre. “We are associated with hunger, although we have enormous investment opportunities,” explained Abi Woldemeskel, director general of the Ethiopian Investment Agency. “So that negative perception has to be changed through promotion.”

The government’s pliant attitude, along with Ethiopia’s convenient location, has made it an ideal target for Middle Eastern investors like Mohammed Al Amoudi. Not long ago, a newly formed Al Amoudi company, Saudi Star Agricultural Development, announced its plans to obtain the rights to more than a million acres — a land mass the size of Delaware — in the apparent hope of capitalizing on the Saudi government’s initiative to subsidize overseas staple-crop production. At a pilot site in the west of the country, he’s already cultivating rice. Earlier this year, amid great fanfare marking the start of the program, Al Amoudi personally presented the first shipment from the farm to King Abdullah in Riyadh. Meanwhile, in the Rift Valley region, another subsidiary is starting to grow fruits and vegetables for export to the Persian Gulf.

Al Amoudi’s plans raise a recurring question surrounding investment in food production: who will reap the benefits? As we drove down to the waterside, through fields dotted with massive sycamores, a farm supervisor told me that the 2,000-acre enterprise currently produces food for the local market, but there were plans to irrigate with water from the lake, and to shift the focus to exports. In the distance, dozens of laborers were bent to the ground, planting corn and onions.

Later, when I asked a couple of workers how much they were paid, they said nine birr each day, or around 75 cents. It wasn’t much, but Al Amoudi’s defenders say that’s the going rate for farm labor in Ethiopia. They argue that his investments are creating jobs, improving the productivity of dormant land and bringing economic development to rural communities. “We have achieved what the government hasn’t done for how many years,” says Arega Worku, an Ethiopian who is an agriculture adviser to Al Amoudi. (Al Amoudi declined to be interviewed.) Ethiopian journalists and opposition figures, however, have questioned the economic benefits of the deals, as well as Al Amoudi’s cozy relationship with the ruling party.

By far the most powerful opposition, however, surrounds the issue of land rights — a problem of historic proportions in Ethiopia. Just down the road from the farm on Lake Ziway, I caught sight of a gray-bearded man wearing a weathered pinstripe blazer, who was crouched over a ditch, washing his shoes. I stopped to ask him about the fence, and before long, a large group of villagers gathered around to tell me a resentful story. Decades ago, they said, during the rule of a Communist dictatorship in Ethiopia, the land was confiscated from them. After that dictatorship was overthrown, Al Amoudi took over the farm in a government privatization deal, over the futile objections of the displaced locals. The billionaire might consider the land his, but the villagers had long memories, and they angrily maintained that they were its rightful owners.

Throughout Africa, the politics of land is linked to the grim reality of hunger. Famines, typically produced by some combination of weather, pestilence and bad governance, break out with merciless randomness, unleashing calamity and reshaping history. Every country has its unique dynamics. Unlike most African nations, Ethiopia was never colonized in the 19th century but instead was ruled by emperors, who granted feudal plantations to members of their royal courts. The last emperor, Haile Selassie, was brought down by a famine that fueled a popular uprising. His dispossessed subjects chanted the slogan “land to the tiller.” The succeeding Communist dictatorship, which took ownership of all land for itself and pursued a disastrous collectivization policy, was toppled in the aftermath of the droughts of the 1980s. Under the present regime, private ownership of land is still banned, and every farmer in Ethiopia, foreign and domestic, works his fields under a licensing arrangement with the government. This land-tenure policy has made it possible for a one-party state to hand over huge tracts to investors at nominal rents, in secrecy, without the bother of a condemnation process.

Ethiopia’s government denies that anyone is being displaced, saying that the land is unused — an assertion many experts doubt. “One thing that is very clear, that seems to have escaped the attention of most investors, is that this is not simply empty land,” says Michael Taylor, a policy specialist at the International Land Coalition. If land in Africa hasn’t been planted, he says, it’s probably for a reason. Maybe it’s used to graze livestock, or deliberately left fallow to prevent nutrient depletion and erosion.

There is an ongoing debate among experts about the extent of the global land-acquisition trend. By its nature the evidence is piecemeal and anecdotal, and many highly publicized investments have yet to actually materialize on the ground. The most serious attempt to quantify the land rush, spearheaded by the International Institute for Environment and Development, suggests that as of earlier this year, the Ethiopian government had approved deals totaling around 1.5 million acres, while the country’s investment agency reports that it has approved 815 foreign-financed agricultural projects since 2007, nearly doubling the number registered in the entire previous decade. But that’s far from a complete picture. While the details of a few arrangements have leaked out, like one Saudi consortium’s plans to spend $100 million to grow wheat, barley and rice, many others remain undisclosed, and Addis Ababa has been awash in rumors of Arab moneymen who supposedly rent planes, pick out fertile tracts and cut deals.

Of course, there have been scrambles for African land before. In the view of critics, the colonial legacy is what makes the large land deals so outrageous, and they warn of potentially calamitous consequences. “Wars have been fought over this,” says Devlin Kuyek, a researcher with Grain, an advocacy group that opposes large-scale agribusiness and has played a key role in bringing attention to what it calls the “global land grab.”

It wasn’t until Grain compiled a long list of such deals into a polemical report titled “Seized!” last October that experts really began to talk about a serious trend. Although deals were being brokered in disparate locales like Australia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Vietnam, the most controversial field of investment was clearly Africa. “When you started to get some hints about what was happening in these deals,” Kuyek says, “it was shocking.” Within a month, Grain’s warnings seemed to be vindicated when The Financial Times broke news that the South Korean conglomerate Daewoo Logistics had signed an agreement to take over about half of Madagascar’s arable land, paying nothing, with the intention of growing corn and palm oil for export. Popular protests broke out, helping to mobilize opposition to Madagascar’s already unpopular president, who was overthrown in a coup in March.

The episode illustrated the emotional volatility of the land issue and raised questions about the degree to which corrupt leaders might be profiting off the deals. Since then, there has been an international outcry. Legislators from the Philippines have called for an investigation into their government’s agreements with various investing nations, while Thailand’s leader has vowed to chase off any foreign land buyers.

But there’s more than one side to the argument. Development economists and African governments say that if a country like Ethiopia is ever going to feed itself, let alone wean itself from foreign aid, which totaled $2.4 billion in 2007, it will have to find some way of increasing the productivity of its agriculture. “We’ve been complaining for decades about the lack of investment in African agriculture,” says David Hallam, a trade expert at the Food and Agriculture Organization. Last fall, Paul Collier of Oxford University, an influential voice on issues of world poverty, published a provocative article in Foreign Affairs in which he argued that a “middle- and upper-class love affair with peasant agriculture” has clouded the African development debate with “romanticism.” Approvingly citing the example of Brazil — where masses of indigenous landholders were displaced in favor of large-scale farms — Collier concluded that “to ignore commercial agriculture as a force for rural development and enhanced food supply is surely ideological.”

In Ethiopia, Mohammed Al Amoudi and other foreign agricultural investors are putting Collier’s theory into practice. Near the southern town of Awassa, in a shadow of a soaring Rift Valley escarpment, sits a field of waving corn and a complex of domed greenhouses, looking pristine and alien against the natural backdrop. On an overcast July morning, dozens of laborers were at work preparing the ground for one of Al Amoudi’s latest enterprises: a commercial vegetable farm.

“For a grower, this is heaven on earth,” says Jan Prins, managing director of the subsidiary company that is running the venture for Al Amoudi. Originally from the Netherlands, Prins says he assumed that Ethiopia was arid but was surprised to learn when he came to the country that much of it was fertile, with diverse microclimates. The Awassa farm is one of four that Prins is getting up and running. Using computerized irrigation systems, the farms will grow tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, melons and other fresh produce, the vast majority of it to be shipped to Saudi Arabia and Dubai. Over time, he says, he hopes to expand into growing other crops, like wheat and barley, the latter of which can be used to feed camels.

The nations of the Persian Gulf are likely to see their populations increase by half by 2030, and already import 60 percent of their food. Self-sufficiency isn’t a viable option, as the Saudis have learned through bitter experience. In the 1970s, worries about the stability of the global food supply inspired the Saudi government to grow wheat through intensive irrigation. Between 1980 and 1999, according to a study by Elie Elhadj, a banker and historian, the Saudis pumped 300 billion cubic meters of water into their desert. By the early 1990s, the kingdom had managed to become the world’s sixth-largest wheat exporter. But then its leaders started paying attention to the warnings of environmentalists, who pointed out that irrigation was draining a nonreplenishable supply of underground freshwater. Saudi Arabia now plans to phase out wheat production by 2016, which is one reason it’s looking to other countries to fill its food needs.

“The rules of the game have changed,” says Saad Al Swatt, the chief executive of the Tabuk Agricultural Development Company, one of the kingdom’s largest farming concerns. Al Swatt’s company was one of those that met with Robert Zeigler about farming rice; he says that with government encouragement, he is looking at expanding into countries like Sudan, Ethiopia and Vietnam. “They have the land, they have the water, but unfortunately, they don’t have the system or sometimes the finance to have these large-scale agricultural projects.” Al Swatt says. “We wanted to export our experience and really develop those areas, to help people.”

About 10 percent of the more than 80 million people who live in Ethiopia suffer from chronic food shortages. This year, because of poor rains, the U.N. World Food Program warns that much of East Africa faces the threat of a famine, potentially the worst in almost two decades. Traditionally, the model for feeding the hungry in Africa has involved shipping in surpluses from the rest of the world in times of emergency, but governments that are trying to attract investment say that the new farms could provide a lasting, noncharitable solution. (“It’s better than begging,” one Ethiopian official recently told the African publication Business Daily.) Whatever the long-term justification, however, it looks bad politically for countries like Kenya and Ethiopia to be letting foreign investors use their land at a time when their people face the specter of mass starvation. And many experts wonder whether such governments will go through with the deals. Ethiopia, after all, was one of the countries that banned grain exports during the recent spike in world food prices. “The idea that one country would go to another country,” says Robert Zeigler, “and lease some land, and expect that the rice produced there would be made available to them if there’s a food crisis in that host country, is ludicrous.”

The hyperinflationary spiral that caused the world food crisis had multiple causes. The harvests in 2006 and 2007 were the worst of the decade, hedge funds and other players in the commodities markets appear to have driven up prices and government subsidies for biofuels encouraged farmers to grow crops that ended up as ethanol. But the environment and demography are more lasting issues, and experts predict that prices, which have declined since their peak, are likely to stabilize significantly above precrisis levels. This represents a danger to the developing world, where the poor spend between 50 and 80 percent of their income on food, but it may also present an opportunity. If one good thing has emerged from the crisis, it’s a growing awareness of Africa’s unrealized agricultural potential. Because where there are appetites, there are profits to be made.

In late June, several hundred farmers and investment bankers came together in Manhattan to survey the landscape at a conference on global agriculture investment. The food crisis has served as a catalyst for the sleepy agricultural sector, spurring financial firms like Goldman Sachs and BlackRock to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in overseas agricultural projects, so the mood was heady for business, though depressing for humanity. There much talk of Thomas Malthus, the 19th-century prophet of overpopulation and famine.

“Beware of 2020 and beyond, because we think there could be genuine food shortages by that period,” Susan Payne, the chief executive of Emergent Asset Management, told the audience during a talk on Africa’s agricultural potential. She showed a series of slides citing chilling statistics: grain stocks are at their lowest levels in 60 years; there were food riots in 15 countries in 2008; global warming is turning arable land into desert; freshwater is dwindling and China is draining its reserves; and the really big problem that contributes to all the others — the world’s population is growing by 80 million hungry people a year. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that in order to feed the world’s projected population in 2050 — some nine billion people — agricultural production needs to increase by an annual average of 1 percent. That means adding around 23 million tons of cereals to the world’s food supply next year, a little less than the total production of Australia in 2008.

“Africa is the final frontier,” Payne told me after the conference. “It’s the one continent that remains relatively unexploited.” Emergent’s African Agricultural Land Fund, started last year, is investing several hundred million dollars into commercial farms around the continent. Africa may be known for decrepit infrastructure and corrupt governments — problems that are being steadily alleviated, Payne argues — but land and labor come so cheaply there that she calculates the risks are worthwhile.

The payoffs could be immense. In a country like Ethiopia, farmers put in backbreaking effort, but they yield about a third as much wheat per acre as do Europe, China or Chile. Even modest interventions could start to close this gap. One small example: the black soil I saw throughout the Great Rift region. Known as vertisol, it’s a product of volcanic activity and possesses the nutrients to produce enormous harvests. Because of its high clay content, however, it becomes sticky and waterlogged during the rainy season, which makes it very difficult to plow by traditional methods. With the addition of advanced implements, improved seeds and fertilizer, you can double the amount of wheat it yields. Ethiopia, like all of Africa, is full of such opportunities, which is one reason the World Bank says that investing in agriculture is one of the most effective ways to speed economic development on the continent.

Yet agriculture has historically been a tiny item in foreign-aid budgets. For years, governments, private foundations and donor institutions like the World Bank have been urging African governments to fill the spending gap with private investment. Now, at the very moment a world food crisis has come along, creating the perhaps fleeting possibility of an influx of capital into African agriculture, some of the same organizations are sending conflicting messages. The Food and Agriculture Organization, for instance, co-sponsored a report calling for a major expansion of commercial agriculture in Africa, but the organization’s director-general has simultaneously been warning of the “neocolonial” dangers of land deals. “We’re making them feel that it’s sinful,” says Mafa Chipeta, a Malawian who oversees Ethiopia and the rest of eastern Africa for the organization. “Why are we not saying, here is an opportunity?”

One focus of agricultural investment in Ethiopia is the region of Gambella, near the border with Sudan. The World Bank says it has more than four million acres of irrigable land. “It’s emerald green, the whole place is fertile and they have only 200,000 people down there,” says Sai Ramakrishna Karuturi, head of an Indian commercial farming company. Earlier this year, Karuturi signed an agreement with the government to lease close to 800,000 acres on which he will grow rice, wheat and sugar cane, among other crops. Karuturi told me he doesn’t have to export the food to make money; there’s plenty of profit potential in the East African market. He has flown in John Deere tractors, agricultural experts from Texas A&M and commercial farmers from Mississippi to help him get things going. He says he’s raising $100 million in capital from private equity firms for the first phase of the project, which he estimates will ultimately cost well over a billion dollars. “Recently, I saw a lot of articles . . . where they referred to me as a food pirate,” Karuturi says. “This whole thing is so elitist, it’s ridiculous. They want Africa to remain poor.”

But the argument against enormous land concessions needn’t be based solely on appeals to human rights, environmental warnings or romanticism. It’s possible to be a believer in development without endorsing Paul Collier’s view that the small landholders stand in its way. In fact, there’s a whole school of economic thought that says that Collier is wrong, that big is not necessarily better in agriculture — and that the land deals therefore might be unwise not because they’re wrong but because they’re unprofitable. A recent World Bank study found that large-scale export agriculture in Africa has succeeded only with plantation crops like sugar and tea or in ventures that were propped up by extreme government subsidies, during colonialism or during the apartheid era in South Africa.

This record of failure is one reason that the government of Qatar, in addressing its food-security concerns, has chosen to concentrate on investing in existing agribusinesses rather than just acquiring land. That’s just one of many ways to invest in farming without removing the African farmers. On a bright Rift Valley afternoon, I went to see another option, a cooperative scheme under which a group of around 300 Ethiopians, working plots of 4 to 10 acres, were getting into export agriculture. During the European winter, they grew green beans for the Dutch market. The rest of the year, they cultivated corn and other crops for local consumption. The land had been irrigated with the help of a nonprofit organization and an Ethiopian commercial farmer named Tsegaye Abebe, who brought all the produce to market.

As a breeze riffled through a tall field of corn, a group of farmers, wearing sandals made from old tires, told me the arrangement, while not perfect, was beneficial in the most crucial respect: they weren’t toiling for someone else. Not far away, a Pakistani investor had taken over a government cattle ranch, once an area free for grazing, and had put fences and trenches in place to keep out the local livestock. The Ethiopians who worked there were miserable.

The farmers had heard rumors that foreign investors were eyeing still more Ethiopian land. Imam Gemedo Tilago, a 78-year-old cloaked in a white cotton shawl, shook his finger, vowing that Allah would not allow the community to remain passive. But that was a problem for the future, and the farmers had more grounded concerns. I noticed, driving down the rural paths that led to this farm, that the earth looked parched in places, and the cattle were showing their ribs through their dull brown hides. The worried farmers told me that this year, the seasonal rains were late in coming to the Rift Valley. If they didn’t arrive soon, there’d be hunger.

(The above article is written by Andrew Rice, a contributing writer and the author of “The Teeth May Smile But the Heart Does Not Forget,” about a Ugandan murder trial.)

Ethiopian wins Oklahoma State University pageant

Friday, November 20th, 2009

Freweini Hadera Freweini Hadera, a construction management graduate student from Ethiopia, is crowned as Miss International at the Oklahoma State University International Student Organization’s annual Mr. and Miss International pageant.

By Danielle Davis

Oklahoma, USA (OSU) — It was a full house for the International Student Organization’s annual Mr. and Miss International pageant Wednesday night.

Students, families and friends gathered in the OSU Student Union Little Theater to support the contestants of this year’s pageant.

With charismatic hosts, Brittnee Cooks and Joseph Jones, the atmosphere was thick with excitement and eagerness to see who would be crowned OSU’s Mr. and Miss International.

The hosts introduced the four judges before the contestants took the stage for their opening dance.

The opening dance, which Nash McQuarters choreographed, was a montage of three Michael Jackson songs; “The Way You Make Me Feel,” “Remember the Time” and “Black or White.”

On an overhead above the stage, the video for “Black or White” played as each contestant performed a brief dance symbolizing his or her culture.

Following a performance of a three-man team of Malaysian drummers, each contestant shared a traditional outfit with a brief explanation of its symbolism.

Contestants performed with traditional and contemporary music.

Miss India Neetha Sindhu started the talent portion with a dance called Dashavatar, which displayed India’s elegant traditions. Mr. India Bharathwaj Gopalakrishnan played a fusion of classical Indian and Western music on an Indian bamboo flute.

Mr. China Zongkai Tian displayed his Chinese calligraphy and the delicate and powerful art of Kung Fu.

Mr. Nepal Bigyan Koirala and Miss Nepal Preety Mathema gave separate energetic customary and modern dances.

Mr. Vietnam Danh Pham Phan ended the talent section with an acoustic guitar and vocal performance of “Winter Lady.”

The last round before crowning Mr. and Miss International required each contestant to answer questions such as, “How can you help incoming students with culture shock?” or “How would you showcase your culture among the vast international population at OSU?”
Mr. and Miss India were second runners-up. First runners-up Miss Nepal and Mr. Vietnam were each rewarded with a scholarship check for $150 and a glass plaque for their achievements.

Crowned as Mr. and Miss International were Miss Africa Freweini Hadera, a construction management graduate student, and Mr. Nepal, a media management graduate student.
Hadera and Koirala each received a scholarship check for $350 and a glass plaque for their new titles as Mr. and Miss International.

Hadera said she was exceedingly happy with her win, proud to represent her country and looks forward to putting her new title to good use.

“I am so happy,” Hadera said. “I look forward to being on ISO’s side to help international students achieve whatever they want and also help international students battle their challenges.”

Koirala had some of the same aspirations but with a slightly broader view.

“What I see here at Oklahoma State is that we need to gather up more people to come to events like this,” Koirala said. “I saw a few empty seats. We need to reach out to more professors, more students. We’ve got 32,000 people all across the state that are apart of OSU. We can bring them all together.”

What do you expect from the coming elections in Ethiopia?

Friday, November 20th, 2009

By Messay Kebede

Articles fulminating against Hailu Shawel’s signing of the code of conduct proliferate on Ethiopian websites. For these articles, the unilateral and hasty agreement with Meles while other opposition groups, such as Medrek, are still in contention about some important issues, constitutes nothing less than betrayal on Hailu’s part. This act of sabotage suggests, according to some articles, a prior agreement with the Meles regime promising Hailu a post in the future government in exchange for his contribution in dividing and weakening the opposition.

I am not yet ready to endorse this kind of analysis, though I admit that the agreement looks fishy indeed. I also wonder why those who used to oppose Hailu’s leadership of the AEUO are surprised at the “betrayal”: not only they should have expected his reversal, but also they should have seen it as a blessing in disguise finally precipitating his discredit among his own followers. Be that as it may, there is no doubt that the agreement rests on a common interest: as it stands, it keeps Birtukan in jail to the delight of the EPRDF, Hailu, and his cronies; it also handicaps the rising multinational opposition known as Medrek.

Rather than adding to the general consternation, I would like to express my surprise at the ferocity of the criticisms, as it seems to reveal an expectation that I thought people had put behind them once and for all. To give a huge importance to negotiations with Meles strikes me as a naïve attitude. If anything, the reversal of the 2005 elections, the violent crackdown of protesters, and the imprisonment of the leaders of Kinjit have underscored the futility of reaching agreement with the present regime. So long as an autonomous power able to enforce mutually agreed documents is not in place, negotiations mean nothing. Those who blame Hailu Shawel seem to say that a fair and just election is possible in Ethiopia provided that the correct agreement is reached. In other words, it is hoped that tough negotiations will force Meles to respect the agreement. Is there an Ethiopian of sane mind really ready to give Meles such a vote of confidence?

The only broker that could have forced Meles to stick to the agreement is the international community. That is why some commentators argue that the signing of the code of conduct removed the possibility of obtaining more concessions in the direction of fair election from Meles through the pressure of the international community, not to mention the fact that said agreement with a major opposition group provides him with some “democratic” respectability.

I find the argument weak. The 2005 elections have taught us that the international community is unwilling to accompany its verbal condemnations with concrete punitive measures. Meles know this more than anybody else, especially now that the American administration seems again reluctant to add deeds to words. As to the democratic appearance that Meles might put on, I don’t think that Western governments are so gullible that they will fail to see that the agreement is yet another maneuver to divide and cripple the opposition.

Does this mean that the best option is not to participate in elections that we know are but fake? Such a conclusion would miss that elections have their own dynamics that even the most repressive regimes cannot totally control. They create events that lead to unforeseen outcomes, as witnessed by the 2005 elections and the recent Iranian elections. Moreover, fake elections generate deep frustrations that compel people to look for alternative forms of expression, perhaps even to show their discontent through non-cooperative forms of resistance, such as strikes and demonstrations.

My position is thus the following: let us continue to play the game of elections, but without creating the illusion that something decisive that would have brought victory was jeopardized by Hailu’s “betrayal.” Such an implication entertains the illusory hope that fair elections are possible under the TPLF. Instead, the elections should serve us to emphasize the extent to which the TPLF government does not even respect its own constitution. For, negotiations would have been unnecessary if the constitution had any force of law. Repeated exposures of the regime’s inconsistencies can convince people to try alternative means so as to have their voice respected.

One thing is clear: everything depends on the goal that each opposition party sets to itself. If an opposition party targets the toppling of the TPLF, then I understand that it sees negotiations as a means of creating the optimal condition for its success. Unfortunately, such a goal is unrealistic: assuming that victory is still possible, it will only lead to a repeat of the 2005 crackdown. By contrast, if an opposition party pursues the modest goals of increasing its seats in the parliament and becoming an opposing partner of the government rather than an expeller standing outside it, I understand that such a party sees negotiations with the TPLF from a different angle. This political option looks more realistic: it is based on a long-term strategy of being part of the government that it means to influence while strengthening the party and removing insecurity from those who now control power in the case of a loss of majority in the distant future.

I am not suggesting that Hailu Shawel has opted for the long-term strategy for the simple reason that I have no information concerning his motives. I raise the issue because I want us to be clear about our expectations. Put otherwise, when opposition parties decide to participate in elections, they must tell us clearly what their objectives are. If, under the present conditions, their main objective is to oust the TPLF government by winning the majority of votes, I tell them that they are obviously using the wrong method, and so should adjust the means to the end by, for instance, embracing armed struggle. Hence my question to those who castigate Hailu Shawel: What do you expect from the coming elections?

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

ONLF killed 985 Woyannes, burned 6 vehicles

Friday, November 20th, 2009

The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), an Ethiopian rebel group that is operating in eastern Ethiopia, is reporting more Woyanne regime casualties in a renewed offensive that took place since November 10. The following is a military communique:

Military operations related to the 10 November 2009 offensive have concluded in Ogaden. In total, 6 military vehicles belonging to the regime have been destroyed thus far by ONLF forces. The death toll from all fronts now stands at 985 of Woyanne regime troops killed, including 12 officers, with a large number wounded.

Military hardware was captured on all fronts of the offensive, including small arms, ammunition, communications equipment and other materials of intelligence value.

By all measures, the 10 November offensive has resulted in a resounding defeat for Meles Zenawi’s regime where our ONLF deployed.

Reliable sources confirm that the regime is now planning a counter-offensive and intends to target civilians in particular. The regime plans to resettle civilians by force and particularly target
communities near the active fronts of the 10 November offensive.

Orders have also been issued by the regime to deny international food aid to large areas of Ogaden. This denial of international food aid to the civilian population for political reasons and the forceful planned resettlement of the people into what could lead to modern day concentration camps is unacceptable and clearly a war crime.

Donor nations bear a responsibility to hold the regime accountable for their humanitarian assistance which is being used to subjugate rather than support the civilian population of Ogaden.

The regime continues to deny these actions but is clearly fearful of independent media coming to Ogaden to see for themselves the resounding victory of ONLF forces during the 10 November offensive.

The ONLF welcomes all independent individual journalists and international media organizations who wish to come to Ogaden and report on events here.

ONLF challenge the regime to allow independent media into Ogaden if it has nothing to hide from the international community.

Politicizing of U.S. aid to Ethiopia ahead of election

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

WASHINGTON DC (VOA Editorial) — The United States is committed to helping people in need all over the world, and it takes this mission very seriously. With billions of dollars spent on humanitarian, economic and other forms of assistance every year, the U.S. wants to be sure that the aid is properly and effectively distributed. So it is that U.S. officials are concerned about recent reports that the Ethiopian government may be politicizing humanitarian assistance ahead of next year’s national elections.

Amid wide-spread food shortages caused by a long-running drought across much of East Africa, Ethiopia receives considerable aid from the U.S. and other nations. It is estimated that more than 6 million of the country’s 80 million people rely on aid to survive, with another 7 million relying heavily on on the Productive Safety Net Program, a food-for-work program administered by the government and supported by foreign assistance.

A spokesman for the major opposition political coalition, the Forum for Democratic Dialogue, recently complained that the government was allowing only ruling party members to take part in the Productive Safety Net Program. To eat, he said, desperate people are forced to join the ruling party. A top government spokesman, however, flatly denies the charge.

Though unproven, the allegations echo a similar charge by the opposition that in 2005 officials in Oromiya denied food aid from international donors to residents of some communities that had voted for opposition candidates in elections that year.

The U.S. Government is aware of the recent complaints. All U.S. government humanitarian assistance agencies have monitoring systems in place to prevent or expose such activity which we are continually reviewing and working to improve. Discussions are also taking place with nongovernmental partners to ensure full compliance with the U.S. strict monitoring standards. USAID personnel in Ethiopia are increasing field visits to observe distribution dynamics with specific attention to these allegations.

The U.S. is committed to the people of Ethiopia and ensuring that its humanitarian aid does reach those most in need.

A U.S. citizen survives 107 days in Ethiopian prison

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

By Douglas McGill

jailed in Ethiopia(The McGill Report) — Okwa Omot is sleeping safely in a warm bed at his home in Washington, D.C. this week. That is something of a miracle considering that only a week ago –- and for 107 days before that -– he was sleeping on freezing cold concrete floors in Ethiopian prisons, accused of treason and threatened with execution.

The 32-year-old hotel housekeeper and U.S. citizen had traveled to Ethiopia in July to visit family members he hadn’t seen for nine years.

Instead, he was arrested for inciting revolution and shut away in prison.

He was released last Tuesday after friends in Minnesota and U.S. Embassy officials in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, worked for weeks to convince Ethiopian authorities that Omot posed no threat to their government.

The prison system of Ethiopia is one of the world’s great, dark secrets.

The Ethiopian government denies that systematic human rights abuses occur there, even as , with support from the U.S. State Department, claim that Ethiopia runs one of the most brutal penal systems on earth – a system that is a linchpin in a dictatorship that rules Ethiopia through raw fear under Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

Omot’s experience supports that bleak view of Ethiopia’s prisons, and the story of his three-month ordeal offers a rare inside glimpse into that world.

Ethnic Cleansing

On July 26, Omot was arrested near the village of Dimma, Ethiopia, by nine Ethiopian police who grabbed him under a tree where he was resting.

“We heard you were coming,” the police told him. “We know that in America you plot against Ethiopia, but we have our supporters in America too, and they told us to expect you.”

Omot is a member of the Anuak tribe, whose indigenous territory  straddles southeast Sudan and western Ethiopia. Since 1991, when the present Ethiopian regime took power, the Anuak have been the target of intense ethnic cleansing by the Ethiopian government according to Human Rights Watch and other groups.

Omot fled that ethnic cleansing in 1992, spending three years in refugee camps in Kenya before settling in the U.S. in 1995. He became a U.S. citizen last year.

Never politically active, Omot raised suspicions on his recent trip by entering Ethiopia not through airport customs in Addis Ababa, but rather by the traditional Anuak way, which is walking across the border from an Anuak village in Sudan, to the Ethiopian Anuak village of Dimma.

Old-Timers

Omot feared for his life every moment in prison.

‘“You will die like a dog now there is no one to defend you,”’ Omot recalls his jailers in Dimma taunting him. “They said, ‘In America, black people are treated like slaves and there are no white people who will come from America to save your life.’ I told them, ‘Did you see that in America we now have a black president?’ They said ‘Shut up!’”

After five days in Dimma, Omot was moved to a bigger prison in the town of Gambella, the capital of the western state of the same name, and the heart of the Anuak’s indigenous homeland.

The Gambella prison has for many years housed hundreds of Anuak men accused of plotting against Ethiopia.

Although Omot was not able to count the number of prisoners himself, old-timers in the prison told him there were 475 prisoners being held there, of whom only 20 or so were not Anuak.

“One night a group of soldiers came to me and said ‘We are going to teach you something,’” Omot recalls. “They blindfolded me and shoved me into a pickup truck. When they took off my blindfold they pushed me to the ground and I was surrounded by dead bodies. They were mostly skeletons but with pieces of clothing still stuck on.

“The soldiers told me, ‘Unless you confess you will look like those bodies. You will die just like they did. We will kill you right now.’”

Independent Reports

Instead of collapsing, Omot became calm.

“‘A man can never live to 200 years,’” Omot told his captors. “‘Life comes to an end for everyone. I have nothing to tell you. If you want to kill me, kill me.’ They put the blindfold back on and drove me back to the prison.”

Another day in Gambella, Omot was snatched from his cell and taken to the office of Omot Olom, the governor of the region.

Olom is deeply feared among the Anuak as a planner of one of the worst massacres ever carried out against their tribe, on Dec. 13, 2003, when uniformed Ethiopian soldiers moving door to door executed some 425 Anuak men and boys in Gambella on a single day.

The fact of the massacre, and Olom’s involvement in it, have been corroborated by independent reports including a 2004 report by Genocide Watch, and a 2005 report by Human Rights Watch connecting Olom to “crimes against humanity” committed against the Anuak.

Now meeting Olom face-to-face, Omot again feared for his life.

“He called me an American terrorist,” Omot said. “He said, ‘Omot, we know your history. You killed Ethiopian people before you left to live in America, and you have been sending money from America to kill Ethiopians. And now you are coming back to support terrorists living in Gambella. We are either going to kill you or destroy your passport.’”

Maekelawi Prison

A ray of hope appeared for Omot when a consular official from the U.S. embassy, who had been alerted to Omot’s arrest by Anuak friends living in Minnesota, flew from Addis Ababa to visit him in the Gambella prison.

That visit saved his life, Omot said. Thanks to the embassy’s intervention, he was transferred to the Maekelawi federal prison in Addis Ababa, where U.S. embassy officials were able to visit him more often.

But his trials were not yet over, as Maekelawi is an infamous dungeon of horrors.

Tales of torture, extrajudicial execution, solitary confinement in shackles, and brutal conditions at Maekelawi are legion in Ethiopia.

Tens of thousands of street protesters, journalists, and opposition politicians over the years have spent long stretches in Maekelawi – sometimes never leaving.

Lights Off

At Maekelawi, Omot was thrown into a dark basement cell, which he shared with another inmate.

“It was cold as a refrigerator,” Omot said. “I thought I was going to die from the cold. I had one thin blanket but I needed much more to stay warm.”

In his 17 days underground, the dim overhead lights mysteriously went off on four different occasions, after which each time he heard shuffling sounds in the darkness.

His cellmate told him that when a person died in prison, the lights were turned off while the body was picked up and taken away.

Michael Gonzales, a U.S. embassy spokesman in Addis Ababa, confirmed that Omot is a U.S. citizen and that a consular official in Addis Ababa met with him in Gambella and the Maekelawi prison in Addis, to win his release last week. Senior U.S. embassy officials also contacted Ethiopian officials on Omot’s behalf, Gonzales said.

Apee Jobi, an Anuak American who lives in Brooklyn Park, MN first alerted the U.S. embassy in Ethiopia about Omot’s arrest in early August, and worked with embassy officials towards his release.

Jobi said Omot’s arrest and imprisonment was standard operating procedure today in Ethiopia, as part of the system of fear that supports the regime of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

Many ethnic groups in Ethiopia are suppressed using these tactics, Jobi said.

“From the point of view of the government, loyalty means innocence,” Jobi said. “But if you are a stranger, you are guilty.  But it doesn’t mean you have committed a crime.”

Ethiopians in Israel celebrate Sigd

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Sigd-festival-IsraelThe Beta Israeli Sigd festival falls on the 29th of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan. It is the 50th day, starting with Yom Kippur (analogous to counting 50 days from Pesach to Shavuos), and is a festival unique to the Beta Israel community.

For their forebears in Ethiopia, the Sigd was a religious holiday renewing their covenant with God and expressing longing for Zion. But for many among the thousands marking it in Jerusalem on Monday, the festival was more of a day of ethnic pride.

“The sigd is very empowering,” said Aviva Nagosa, 32. “It is the only thing left that joins us all together.”

While in Ethiopia, the Sigd highlighted the uniqueness of the Beta Yisrael — the ancient Jewish community — amongst their Ethiopian neighbours, today it defines them as a distinguished group among other Israeli Jews.

The government last year recognised Sigd as an official Israeli holiday, meaning no one gets penalised for taking time off work to attend. And indeed the buses came from all over Israel.

As white turbaned holy men, or kessim, holding up colourful umbrellas, recited prayers in the ancient Ge’ez language, Natan Biadglin, a 25-year-old Ethiopian youth counsellor from Haifa, said that “Ninety-five per cent of people here do not understand Ge’ez.”

Still, the prayers are significant as a part of the community’s heritage.

“Young people need to know where they come from. This strengthens them and helps them because Israelis do not accept them so much.”

White-robed women prostrated themselves at key points of the prayers and a kes offered blessings — this time in Amharic — for peace, livelihood and “that god will hear our prayers”.

Soldiers given the day off strained to take pictures of the holy men with their cellphones and cameras.

Despite some gains, Ethiopian Jews remain the poorest segment of Israel’s Jewish population and are at times stereotyped as a social burden. The sense of not being accepted by other Israelis was accentuated in September when religious schools in Petah Tikva refused to accept Ethiopian children.

“Even if they do not accept us at work or in school, we are here,” Shlomo Mola, an MK from the Kadima party, told the gathering. “We do not need a kosher certificate from anyone.”

Some in the crowd walked up to the kessim and gave them money, fulfilling vows they made during last year’s Sigd to donate money if their prayers came true. “Today I made a vow for next year,” said Tzahi Ezra, 36. “My mother is sick and if she becomes healthy, I will bring her here.”

The word Sigd is from the semitic language Amharic for prostration and the root letters s-g-d are the same as in Mesgid (etymologically related to Masjid in another semitic tongue – Arabic), one of the two Ethiopian Jewish terms for synagogue. During the celebration, members of the community fast, recite Psalms, and gather in Jerusalem where Kessim read from the Orit. The ritual is followed by the breaking of the fast, dancing, and general revelry. In February 2008 MK Uri Ariel submitted legislation to the Knesset in order to establish Sigd as an Israeli national holiday, [2] and in July 2008 the Knesset officially “decided to formally add the Ethiopian Sigd holiday to the list of State holidays.”

(Source: Wikipedia, TheJC.com)

Former Commercial Bank of Ethiopia manager gets 9 years

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — The state-controlled news service, WIC, reports that a former general manager of the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia and two other individuals received stiff prison sentence for corruption.

(WIC) – The Federal High Court sentenced three corrupt offenders on November 16 and 17 to rigorous imprisonment ranging from 5-9 years and ordered them to pay from 1, 000-15,000 birr in fine.

According to a press release the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (FEACC) sent to WIC, the court found Tibebu Robi, former General Manager of the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia at the China-Africa Avenue Branch guilty of misappropriating 400, 000 birr and 1,000 USD, which went missing.

The Court, therefore, sentenced him to nine years of rigorous imprisonment and fined him 15,000 birr on 16 November 2009.

Similarly, Aklilu Alemayehu, former Head of the Customers Service Department with the same Branch, was found guilty of being part of the above-mentioned crime and was, therefore, given eight years of rigorous imprisonment. He was also fined 10, 000 birr.

In a related development, the Court found Genet Tadesse, former Employee of Kebelle 07/14 was found guilty of embezzling 18,514 birr. As a result, it sentenced her to five years of rigorous imprisonment and fined her 1,000 birr. FEACC filed the charges in 2008.

Woyanne kangaroo court convicts alleged coup plotters

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — An Ethiopian court on Thursday convicted 26 people who were accused of taking part in an alleged coup plot earlier this year and acquitted five others.

Judge Adem Ibrahim said most of the defendants in the case had said they were tortured by police into submitting false testimonies. But he said the witnesses had not convinced the court of the torture allegations.

In April, Ethiopia said the suspects were found with weapons, plans and information that linked them to a prominent opposition group started after the country’s disputed 2005 elections. Ethiopia has acknowledged that its security forces killed 193 civilians protesting alleged election fraud that year.

The defendants had faced charges of attempting to dismantle the constitutional order, assassinate officials, destroy infrastructure and agitate anarchy. The court said Thursday there was insufficient evidence brought against five of them.

In August, a Pennsylvania economics professor was found guilty in absentia, one of 13 previous convictions in the case. Berhanu Nega, who teaches at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa., has denied any involvement.

Berhanu was elected mayor of Addis Ababa in 2005 but was arrested afterward along with more than 100 other opposition politicians and stood trial for treason. He and the others were freed in 2007 in a pardon deal.

More from Reuters:

ADDIS ABABA, Nov 19 (Reuters) – An Ethiopian court convicted 27 serving and former soldiers on Thursday of planning a coup and found them guilty on other charges which also carry the death penalty.

“The men were convicted of various offences including conspiring to kill government officials and conspiring to instruct the army not to obey government orders,” Mekonnen Bezabeih, Justice Ministry spokesman, told Reuters.

“The maximum sentence for the offences would be the death penalty.”

A further 13 men were convicted in absentia on the same charges in August. That group included Ethiopian-born U.S. citizen, Berhanu Nega, who teaches economics at Philadelphia’s Bucknell University.

Six more men were acquitted on all charges.

Judge Adem Ibrahim warned relatives not to “wail or show emotion” when the verdict was announced but several people cried as the men were convicted.

Scores of police ringed the courtroom and escorted the men to waiting vans.

Berhanu was elected mayor of capital Addis Ababa in Ethiopia’s last elections in 2005, but was jailed with other opposition leaders after disputing the government’s victory in the election and were accused of orchestrating street protests.

Security forces killed about 200 protesters who Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said were marching on government buildings to overthrow him.

“BEATEN AND BEATEN AND BROKEN”

Berhanu was pardoned in 2007 and went to the United States where he set up his “May 15″ opposition group named after the date of the 2005 election.

Prosecution lawyers said Berhanu led the 40 “May 15″ members from the United States.

Addis Ababa says the group had planned to blow up power and telecoms facilities to provoke protesters who would then march on government buildings and try to topple the government.

The arrests have worried rights groups, who say the Ethiopian government has been cracking down on dissent ahead of national elections next May.

Opposition parties say the charges have been trumped up as an excuse to arrest their members. Relatives of the men say they have been tortured in prison.

“They have been brutalised in prison and so have all the other men,” one relative told Reuters after the conviction.

“Our loved ones have been beaten and beaten and broken so that we don’t even recognize them when they come to court. One man has been blinded.”

Rights group Amnesty International says relatives of “May 15″ members have been unfairly arrested. The Ethiopian government denies that.

The men will be sentenced on Nov. 24. (Editing by Louise Ireland)

The Meaning of Hebret

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

By Teddy Fikre

I love this word. However, as an Ethiopian who lived the overwhelming majority of my life in America, I did not understand that this word has been tainted due to the origins of a propaganda campaign back in Ethiopia. Ironically, this word represents the very essence of a regime that forced my family to immigrate to America back in 1983 at the age of seven. This very word—Hebret—is a word that represented the suffering of countless many and the reason why Ethiopians are the second largest community of immigrants from Africa. But still….

Hebret.

The word, irrespective of history, is one that I love. To me, Hebret means unity; it means a collective effort for a collective success. The Chinese have a saying that goes “you can break on straw easily, you can’t break a hundred straws bonded together”. One man alone can accomplish little, a hundred men working together for one goal can profoundly change the world. That is the very meaning of a community, thus the saying “it takes a village to raise a child”. Let me put it another way, “50 Lomi Le 1 Sew Sekimu, Le 50 Sew Getu New”. It basically means that 50 lemons when one person is carrying is it heavy, but when carried by 50 people is enjoyable.

So is this the missing link in Ethiopia, is this the missing link in Africa, and is the missing link within the African Diaspora and African-American community at large. When I was a child in Ethiopia, I used to notice a certain inferiority complex in the community. Shocked? You should not be, I remember that certain doctors that were not from Ethiopia would be flocked to, meanwhile, doctors Ethiopian doctors would have a certain connotation—a certain stigma as if though you only go to them if your literally in dire straits. It makes me wonder why I romanticized the fact that I attended Lycee in Ethiopia. Or why, as a child, I deferred to non-Ethiopian instructors a thousand times more than my Ethiopian instructors.

Thus I came to America, and what I have noticed the utter dearth of Hebret not only in the Ethiopian community but in the African Diaspora overall. I took note of the many instances of an African-American that would try to start a business and would struggle to get support from his/her own community. How else can you explain when a black man starts a business and he goes to service his own for support and he literally gets almost no support. Oh how many times I have you witnessed a black plumber who would visit an African-American to fix his leaking toilet. Upon entrance to the house, the first question he would often get asked is “Bruh can I get a discount”? Yet these very people would NEVER ask a non-minority for a discount. Or how about an African-American mechanic who has to put up with the menace of “dude seriously I can only pay $25 for the oil change”. Yet these very obstinate consumers would gladly fork over $60 for an oil change at Jiffy Lube.

Is it no wonder that successful Ethiopians specifically or those from the African Diaspora generally often get frustrated and feel alienated from the community. And then they get blamed for being “sell-outs” when they choose to move to the suburbs and no longer feel a bond to their community. When you call them sell-outs because they made it big, did you support them when they were struggling? Thus, who is the sell-out, the person that tried to provide you a service that you neglected when he was struggling or that very same person who—out of frustration, anger, or experience—finally says good riddance when he makes it big.

This happens time and again. Through my work last during last year’s presidential campaign, what I encountered over and over again were whisper campaigns about this person or that person. “Oh you can’t trust him, he is a leba (thief)”. “Esu ma, lerasu becha new emiseraw.” “He is only using Ethiopia for his own good”. I shake my head, here is a man who is offering something profound for his community, a visionary that can advance the cause for everyone. Yet, he is a leba aydel? I am forever grateful for the many people I met during last year’s presidential campaign who worked endlessly to organize the Ethiopian community. And I know that there were countless others who did the same without me knowing about them. However, as much as we broke out back to offer our community a voice, the vast majority of our own did not support. Yet, when Obama got elected on November 4th, I could not count how many Ethiopians I saw dancing in the streets of DC.

And yet, as I point a finger, there are three pointing back at me. I recall many times of my own personal failings. There was a particular moment when it crystallized in me how my own judgments are infected with the germ of self-hate. When was this? Well, I never had a problem giving a dollar to none minority kids who were selling donuts for a basketball camp or a weekend getaway. However, one particular day, after buying groceries from Safeway, a couple of African-Americans kids asked me to give them money so they could go to football camp. My first though, to my own shame—“yeah right, I wonder what you will really do with this dollar?” I got in my car, and I ran smack dab into a cognitive dissonance. Did I ever have this question for those kids that were not minorities? Did I have this question to those children who were selling Girl Scout cookies? Most have these types of thoughts, but bury them behind facades of enlightenment and smiles of indifference.

Yes, this is uncomfortable to discuss, but truth is needed. How many of us have these types of judgment, and it’s not a one way street where Ethiopians have stereotypes about African-Americans. When I came to America in the 1980s, growing up I was called jungle monkey, antelope chaser, vine swinger, by whom you say, by my African-American classmates. The first friend I had was a white girl who asked me about Ethiopia and wanted to know my name. So lest you think that the biases and judgments are only one way, think again, it is a strain that strains the whole lot.

This is the plight of our community. We don’t trust, we don’t support. I cannot paint everyone with the same brush of mistrust, but my own experiences have taught me that this is not an isolated incident. When someone comes around tying to make a change, she is instantly questioned—her motives judged not for the facts but by the opinions of poisoned minds. I wonder if we really knew how much inherent power we have in our own community. Although we have no quantitative idea of how many Ethiopians live in America, we know that there are enough of us to make a profound change and improve the lives of many if we worked together. However, we choose to sip buna and talk about what if and what is not right. Inertia is a rule of thumb, action is always given the thumbs down.

We question and procrastinate before we support. We suspect before we accept. Guilty until proven innocent, and even then guilty regardless. Any Ethiopian who sets out to try something new is instantly branded with the scarlet letter of either greed or a some overseas political affiliation. So I circle back to the original premise. What exactly is wrong with using Ethiopia for our own benefit. After all, it’s all semantics; what one would call using others would say unity. What one would label as “using”, others would say it’s Hebret—a collective success based on a collective work.

“One man may hit the mark, another blunder; but heed not these distinctions. Only from the alliance of the one, working with and through the other, are great things born.” (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)

So how much longer shall we continue to question every man or woman who espouses to do something different—to make a change. Do we continue to brand a visionary who dares to have the audacity to believe in making an impact that will help his own people—and so what if he benefits financially while doing so? Sure there are times I can recount when my very people were selling bottles of water for four dollars while we were marching for freedom in 1996, and do I put these people (hustlers) in league with the someone who dares to dream the dream that he can make a profound impact on humanity—to achieve the impossible and to think he can make a difference in even one person’s life?

So next time you see a man or woman—Ethiopian, Nigerian, Kenyan, Jamaican or other—who starts his own business. The next time you encounter kids at Safeway who are selling cookies to go to football camp. The next time you see a visionary who just might make your life better. Pause. And ask, is what he is doing going to make my life better, or will you ask “bruh can I get a discount?” or “What do you get out of it”. Will you ask, “Is he using Ethiopia”, or will you ask, “Is he going to make a difference for Ethiopia?” Maybe, just maybe, his idea can unload some of the lemons off your back.

(Teddy Fikre isw an organizer with Ethiopian-Americans for Change, www.EA4C.org)

EPPF strives to fill the leadership gap

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

By Elias Kifle

I have just returned from a 30-day field trip during which I visited and held meetings with leaders and fighters of the Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front (EPPF), as well as the Tigray People Democratic Movement (TPDM), Benishangul People Liberation Movement (BPLM), Gambela People’s Democratic Movement Front (GPDMF), and Ethiopian People’s Front for Equality and Justice (EPFEJ — formerly known as Southern Ethiopian People’s Front for Equality and Justice). These five organizations are currently coordinating their activities after signing a cooperation agreement over a year ago. Their cooperation includes joint military missions against the Woyanne tribal junta.

Elias Kifle with EPPF fighters

Elias Kifle with EPPF fighters

eppf-2009-10-142926

I had also participated in a 2-day EPPF conference, from October 17-18, which was attended by members of the EPPF executive committee and central council, and representatives from the U.S., U.K., Germany and Denmark.

During the trip, I spent most of my time following EPPF activities and holding discussions with its leaders and members, both at the organization’s headquarters in Asmara and in the field.

I am not sure whether it is a coincidence, but while I was there visiting with EPPF fighters, the Woyanne-controlled TV aired a 4-day program about the elimination of EPPF “bandits” by “government” forces. (Derg also used to call Woyannes “bandits.”) A couple of days later I was a few hundred meters from the Tigray border with a unit of EPPF fighters taking photos and recording video. I told the fighters, who had recently returned from a military mission, what the Woyanne media was saying about them. The unit leader smiled and told me “here is the proof,” pointing to his comrades.

Such claims by Woyanne do not surprise the battle-hardned EPPF fighters. They are used to the Bereket Simon lie factory. But one thing is clear — Woyanne is increasingly concerned about EPPF. Otherwise, why air a 4-day TV program on an organization that it claims doesn’t exist? The answer is clear.

It is not only Woyanne that is questioning EPPF’s role as a viable opposition group. It is joined by others with different motives who are desperately arguing that EPPF should not be taken seriously. There is even a web site that is dedicated to telling people that EPPF doesn’t exist. As an eye witness, what I have seen is to the contrary. EPPF is becoming a leading Ethiopian opposition group that is poised to fill the current leadership gap in Ethiopian opposition camp.

Having said that, the organization is not without its own share of problems and difficulties. Its political wing is terribly ineffective and for a long time its public relations effort has been weak. With the recent launching of its own radio program — YeArbegna Dimts — and a web site, eppfonline.org, EPPF is attempting to improve its shortcomings as far as PR is concerned.

In the political sphere, a recent attempt by the leadership to restructure its political wing has failed due to the selection of an incompetent individual who was appointed as head of political affairs. That person has now been replaced and a new political affairs office is being considered.

EPPF’s activities in the Diaspora has also been facing recurring problems. The EPPF International Committee has been disbanded for the second time after it was concluded at the October conference that the group was doing more harm than good. The conference decided that there will no longer be an “international committee” that is tasked with coordinating the Diaspora activities. From now on, each chapter in the Diaspora will report directly to EPPF’s main office. The October conference unanimously passed a resolution to this effect.

Additionally, the conference has authorized local chapters to engage in diplomatic and political activities on behalf of EPPF. Representatives in Europe and the U.S. can now contact government officials and explain to them the mission and objectives of EPPF, particularly its clear stand on international terrorism, which is one of the main concerns of the U.S. and EU governments when it comes to political activities in Ethiopia, and the Horn of Africa, in general. EPPF has made it clear in its political program that it is waging a struggle to defend the people of Ethiopia from Woyanne regime’s brutal repression. EPPF strives to maintain good relations with all governments around the world, including those in the Horn of Africa.

With all the difficulties it is facing, EPPF’s track record as an opposition force shines better than any other Ethiopian opposition group. During the past 10 years of its tumultuous existence, EPPF has been able to survive many dangers that could have splintered the organization into several small factions. Unlike many other Ethiopian opposition parties, EPPF is forging ahead as a united resistance group. With some minor adjustments and restructuring, EPPF has the potential to transform itself in to a leading opposition force that can help bring about positive change in Ethiopia.

Before I returned to the U.S., my colleague Sileshi Tilahun and I had the opportunity to meet with President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea. It is our second meeting with him. The first one was in May 2009 for an interview. I have also held discussions with the Minister of Information Ali Abdu and other officials. I will post a report shortly about the meeting with Prsident Isaias, in which he shared with us his views about cooperations between Ethiopian opposition groups and Eritrea, and his vision on normalizing Ethiopia-Eritrea relations.

ከአቶ ምትኩ ይመር ለቀረበ ጽሁፍ የተሰጠ ምላሽ

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

ከሙታን ሰፈር ከሚሰማ የቅኔ ዘረፋ ይልቅ የሕያው አምላክን ተግሳጽ መርጠናል

ከአቤል ጋሼ

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(“ሥልጣነ-ክህነት የቂም መወጫ በትር አይደለም” በሚል ርዕስ ከአቶ ምትኩ ይመር ለቀረበ ጽሁፍ የተሰጠ ምላሽ)

አቶ “ምትኩ ይመር” የተባሉ የዋሽንግቶን ዲ.ሲ ነዋሪ በሰሞንኛው “(“ሥልጣነ-ክህነት የቂም መወጫ በትር አይደለም”) በሚል ርዕስ ባስነበቡን ጽሁፋቸው በአሜሪካን ሀገር በሜሪላንድ ክፍለ-ግዛት፣ በቴምፒል ሂል ወረዳ በደብረ ገነት መድኃኔ ዓለም ቤተ ክርስቲያን የሚገኙ ሁለት የቤተ ክርስቲያኗን ታዋቂ ሰዎች ማለትም የእናታችን የወ/ሮ ውድነሽ አምሳሉንና የቀሲስ መምህር ዘበነ ለማን ስሞች ጠቅሰው በእሳቸው አስተሳሰብና፣ ቁጣና በቀል በተመላ ስሜታዊነት የሚያውቁትንና የመሰላቸውን የሞት ቃላቸውን ሰብከውናል፣ የቤልሖር መንፈስ የሞላው የጠብ ግብዣቸውን ጋብዘውናል፣ በልዩነትና ባለመግባባት እንድንተራመስ በራዕይ 6 የተጠቀሰውን ዓይነት ባለጥቁር ሰንደቅ የሀመር ፈረሳቸውን እየጋለቡ ፊታውራሪ ሆነው ለጦርነት ሊያሰልፉን “ሳይቃጠል በቅጠል” በሚል ቋንቋ በአዝማችነት ተነሳስተዋል። ጽሁፉ ለኢትዮጵያውያን ስለሚሰጠው ማህበረሰባዊ ጠቀሜታ፣ የኢትዮጵያ ኦርቶዶክስ ተዋሕዶ ቤ/ክርስቲያን ያለባትን ፈተና ለማቃለል የሚኖረው አስተዋጽኦና ‘እውነትን እፈልጋለሁ” ከሚል፣ የሀገር ተቆርቋሪ ተዘግቦ እንደሆነ አንባቢ ሁሉ በራሱ አስተያየትና ሚዛን እንዲመዝነው እተዋለሁ። ሆኖም አንባቢው ለመመዘን እንዲችል ብዬ በማሰብ በተወራው ጉዳይ ላይ ብርሃን የሚፈነጥቅ የአጸፋ መልስ እንደሚያስፈልገው አምኜበታለሁ። ለዚህም ያነሳሱኝ ቢያንስ ሶስት አበይት ምክንያቶች ስላሉ እነሱን ልግለጽ።

1ኛ) አቶ “ምትኩ ይመር” በደብረ ገነት መድኃኔ ዓለም ቤተ ክርስቲያን ውስጥ ተፈጠሩ ያሏቸው ክስተቶች ተፈጸሙ በተባሉበት ወቅት የቤተ ክርስቲያኑ አስተዳደር ውስጥ አገልጋይ ሆኜ እሰራ ነበር።፣ የቤተ ክርስቲያኑ አባላት ስብሰባ አደረጉ በተባለበት ወቅት ስብሰባውን በመምራት በቀጥታ በጉዳዩ ውስጥ ስለተሳተፍኩ የጠቅላላውን ጉዳይ አስተዳደራዊ ነክና መሰረታዊ የክስተቶችን አንኳር ጉዳዮች ሁሉ በቦርድ ጸሐፊነቴ ከሞላ ጎደል እውቅና ነበረኝ። ስለዚህም የገጠመኞችን ግራና ቀኝ ለመመልከት እድልም ስላጋጠመኝ እንዲሁ በጥራዝ ነጠቅነት፣ “እውነት”ና “ሰላም” በአደባባይ እንደ ሰንጋ ሲታረዱ ስመለከትና ትክክል ባልሆነ ወሬና አሉባልታ ሕዝብ እንዲተራመስ፣ ሰላም እንዲጠፋ፣ የኢትዮጵያውያንን የህብረት ተስፋ የበለጠ እንዲቀብጽ የሚያደርግ መልዕክት ያዘለ ጽሁፍ በዘመኑ የድረ-ገጽ መስኮት ተበትኖ ስመለከት፣ “ማን ያርዳ የቀበረ፣ ማን ይመስክር የነበረ” እንዲሉ አስፈላጊውን መረጃ ለአንባብያን በማቅረብ ስለሚገባው ነገር መስክሮ የተሰነዘረውን የሰብቅ ጦርነት በእምነት ጥሩር መመከትና መፋለም አስፈላጊ መሆኑን ስላመንኩበት ነው።

2ኛ) በሁለተኛ ደረጃ ዛሬ (ጉዳዩ ከተፈጸመ ከ6 ወር በኋላ) በእግዚአብሔር የተባረከ የሰላም መንፈስ በቤተ ክርስቲያናችን እንዳለን የደብረ ገነት መድኃኔ ዓለም ምዕመናን የምናምነውና በግልጽ የምናየው ነገር ነው። አልፎ ተርፎም አቶ “ምትኩ ይመር” ከጠቀሱት ገጠመኝ ወዲህ በርካታ ለቤተ ክርስቲያናችንንና ለሌሎችም የሚጠቅሙ ጉዳዮች በቤተ ክርስቲያናችን እየተፈጸሙ መሆኑ በግልጽ የሚታይበት፣ የቤተ ክርስቲያኗ ጠቅላላ ሰላምና አካሄድ በአይነቱ የላቀ መሆኑ በአብነት የሚጠቀስና ሌሎችም አብያተ ክርስቲያናት ከቤተ ክርስቲያኗ አሰራር ሊማሩ የሚያጠይቁበት ወቅት ነው። ታዲያ በዚህ ሁኔታ ላይ እያለን ይኸንን የመሰለ ዕቡይ መንፈስ የተጠናወተው ጽሁፍ በአለም አቀፍ ደረጃ በሚተላለፍ ድረ-ገጽ ላይ አስፍሮ የግለሰቦችን፣ የቤተ ክርስቲያናችንንና አልፎ ተርፎም የኢትዮጵያ ኦርቶዶክስ ተዋሕዶ ቤተ ክርስቲያንን ክብርና ገመና በአደባባይ ለአፈርሳታ ማውጣት በግለሰብ ላይ የተቃጣ ይምሰል እንጂ የኦርቶዶክስ አማኝነትንና የኢትዮጵያዊነትን ክብርና መንፈስ የሚጻረር ስለሆነ እንዲህ እውነታውን አንጋዶና በውሸትና በአሉባልታ በክሎ “ድንጋይ ዳቦ ነው” የሚል ሲመጣ ዝም ማለት ሕሊና ስለሚቆጠቁጥና በተለይም ባለማወቅ ከሙታን ምድር የተላኩ ደብዳቤዎችን አንብበው ውዥንብር ውስጥ የሚገቡ ወገኖች ሊኖሩ ስለሚችሉ በጉዳዩ ላይ ብርሃንን መፈንጠቅና የአቶ “ምትኩ”ን ጽሁፍ ማህበራዊ እሴቱን ማሳየት ለማህበረሰባችን የሚጠቅምና፣ የቤተ ክርስቲያናችንንም ክብር መጠበቅ የሚራዳ እንደሆነ ስላመንኩበት ነው።

3ኛ) በጠቅላላው ዛሬ የኢትዮጵያና የልጆቿ ፈተና ከምንጊዜውም በላይ ከፍቶ፣ በሀገራችን ረሀብ፣ በሽታ፣ የአስተዳደር መዛባት፣ ወዘተ.. ወገኖቻችንን በሚፈትንበት ወቅት እያንዳንዳችን እጅ ለእጅ ተያይዘን በሰከነ አእምሮ፣ በቀና መንፈስ፣ የልዑል እግዚአብሔርን ታጋዥነትን ተማጽነን ወደ ብርሃኑ ጎዳና መጓዝ ሲኖርብን “ከድጡ ወደ ማጡ” እንዲሉ በየቀኑ የምናነበው ጽሁፍ፣ በሬዲዮ ሞገዶች የምንሰማው አብዛኛው ሁካታ የክፋት፣ የሀኬት፣ የሰውን ስብዕና የማጣጣልና የማንቋሸሽ መሆኑን እያየሁ ከልብ አዝናለሁ። ታዲያ ምንም እንኳን ስለቤተ ክርስቲያን ጉዳይ የጠለቀ ዕውቀት ባይኖረኝና፣ ስለ ስነ መለኮት ሂስ ለመስጠት ችሎታው የሌለኝ ቢሆንም፣ ግን ኢትየጵዊነቴና፣ የኦርቶዶክስ እምነት ተከታይነቴ እያስገደደኝ እንዲህ በሕዝብ ዓይን ላይ የበርበሬ ዱቄት የሚበትን ዓላማ ያለው ጽሁፍ ሳነብ ስለጉዳዩ በቅርብ የማውቀውን በመንተራስ መልስ መመለስ እንዳለብኝ ግዴታ ተሰምቶኝ ነው። በተለይም ከሙታን ሀገር በሚላኩልን ደብዳቤዎች የሚተላለፉ የክፋትና የአሉባልታ ዝባዝንኬዎችን እየተመረዝን በመካከላችን ሰላምን ስላጣን፣ የሀገራችንንም ትንሳዔ እየራቀብን ስለመጣ፣ በኢትዮጵያዊነት ስም “እባካችሁ ገንቢ በሆነ ጉዳዮች ላይ እንነጋገር፣ መሰዳደብ፣ መዘላለፍ፣ ሰዎችን አውርዶ መጣልንና፣ የሰዎችን ስብዕና ዱቄት ማድረግ፣ አልፎ ተርፎም የማናውቀውን ነገር ቀነጣጥበን በወሬ የ”ባቢሎን ግንብ” እየሰራን የሞት አዝመራ ማዝመሩን ይብቃን፣፡ ይልቅስ አባቶች ያወረሱንን የኢትዮጵያዊነት አብነት ማለትም ስለሕያውነት፣ ሰውን ስለማዳን፣ ስለ መልካሙ፣ ስለቀናው ጉዳይ፣ ስለይቅርታ፣ በብርሃን ስለመመላላስ፣ ስለመማርና ጥበብን ስለመገብየት እንሽቀዳደም” ብዬ ለወገኖቼ የዜግነት ጥሪ ለማስተላለፍና ይኸንን የሚያሳዝን አጋጣሚ ቢያንስ የምንማማርበትና ወደፊት ከተመሳሳይ ማህበራዊ ዝቅጠት ውስጥ እንዳንወቅድ የምንመለከትበት ጥሩ መነጽርና፣ አስረጅ መጠቀሜ ነው።

ለ. በጽሁፉ ስለቀረቡት ግለሰቦች።

1ኛ. እናታችን እማማ ውድነሽ አምሳሉ፦ በእውነት እኒህ እናት ታላቅ ኢትዮጵያዊና የሀገር አንጡራ ሀብት ናቸው። ጸሀፊው በጽሁፋቸው ስለእኒህ ግለሰብ ማንነት ካሰፈሩትም በላይ እናታችን አንደበተ ርቱዕ፣ የውስጥ ነጻነትን የተቀዳጁ፣ የሚመስላቸውን የሚጠይቁ፣ እውነትን ለማግኘት፣ የእምነት ትጥቃቸውን ታጥቀው፣ የእውነትን ጦር በተገኘው ሁኔታ ከመስበቅ ወደ ኋላ የማይሉ፣ በመምሰል ካባ ተጀቡኖ በሚኖር አለም ውስጥ ራሳቸውን ሆነው የሚኖሩ ኢትዮጵያዊ ናቸው። እንደ እውነቱም እማማ ውድነሽ ኢትዮጵያውያን በበለጠ ለያውቋቸው የሚገባ የጠለቀ የመንፈሳዊና የአለም እውቀት ያካበቱ የነጠሩ ምሁር፣ ታላቅ እናት፣ የቤተክርስቲያናችን ዋልታ፣ መካሪ፣ ዘካሪ ናቸው። ስለኢትዮጵያ ያላቸው መቆርቆር፣ ለኢትዮጵያ ኦርቶዶክስ ተዋሕዶ ቤተ ክርስቲያን ያላቸው ቀናኢነት፣ ወጣቱ ትውልድ ሊማረው የሚገባ ሲሆን ደከመኝ፣ ታከተኝ ሳይሉ ወገንን ለመርዳት፣ የአለም ፈተናና ዕድሜ ሳያግዳቸው በነፍስ አድን የወገን ጥሪ፣ ለልጆች ተስፋ ለመሆን፣ በቤተ ክርስቲያን ደህንነት ዙሪያ፣ በደብረ ገነት መድኃኔ ዓለም መጠንከር አቢይና ለተቀባይ ትውልድ የሚዘከሩ ጉልህ ስራዎችን የሚሰሩ እናት ናቸው። በዚህ ሁኔታ በሚያደርጉት ሁሉ የሚመለከተውና ኣርኣያ የሚሆነው ላጣው ትውልድ ተምሳሌት የሚሆኑ ታላቅ ኢትዮጵያዊ ናቸው። የዛሬው ትውልድ ኢትዮጵያውያን አለመታደላችን ከሚገለጽበት አንዱ መንገድ እንደዚህ ያሉ ሊመክሩንና ሊገስጹን የሚችሉ እናቶችንና አባቶችን እየቀረብን አውቀናቸው ከአንደበታቸው የሚገኘውን ፍሬ ከናፍር አዳምጠን መማር ጥበብን መገብየት አለመቻላችን ነው። ሲነግሩንም አናዳምጣቸውም። ልዑል እግዚአብሔር እናታችንን በጤንነት፣ በዕድሜ በጸጋ ይጠብቅልን!

2ኛ. መምህር ቀሲስ ዘበነ ለማ፦ በደብረ ገነት መድኃኔ ዓለም የቤተ ክርስቲያኑ አስተዳዳሪ ናቸው። ጸሀፊው አቶ “ምትኩ” ኢትዮጵያዊና ክርስቲያናዊ ትሕትና በጎደለው አጻጻፍ “ዘበነ” እያሉ በስድና በብልግና አጠራር እንዳቃለሏቸው ሳይሆን መምህር ቀሲስ ዘበነ ለማ በወጣትነት ዕድሜያቸው “አንቱ” መባልን ያተረፉ፣ በወንጌል ገበሬነታቸው ብዙ ሺ ወጣቶችን ወደ ሕያው ጎዳና መልሰው በክርስቶስ የመዳንን ተስፋ ያስጨበጡ፣ ደከመኝ ሰለቸኝ ሳይሉ የህይወትን ቃል የሚዘሩ፣ በደብረ ገነት መድኃኔ ዓለም መንፈሳዊ ጉባዔ ውስጥ ካላቸው ሃላፊነት ባሻገር በሁለት የተለያዩ ቦታዎች (በአሌክዛንደሪያ፣ ቨርጅኒያና በሲልቨርስፕሪንግ ሜሪላንድ) የወንጌል ስብከት የሚሰጡባቸው ወንበሮች ዘርግተው ለብዙ ሺ ወጣቶች የመንፈስን ትጥቅ የሚያስታጥቁ፣ በቤሪያ ጉባዔ የወንጌል ትምህርት ለብዙዎች የነፍስ ምግብ እየሰጡ የኮተኮቱ፣ እንዲሁም ዛሬ በክርስቶስ ተከታዮች ላይ ከጨለማው ሰፈር በተለያዩ ሜዲያዎች የተቃጣውን ነፍስን የሚሰቅዝ ከፍተኛ የሆነ የመንፈስ ጦርነት ለመዋጋት በሬዲዮና በኢንተርኔት የወንጌልን ስብከትን እያካሄዱ ለኢትዮጵያ ኦርቶዶክስ ቤተ ክርስቲያንና ለአማኞቿ አለኝታና በመሆን ስማቸውንና አንገታቸውን በአደባባይ አውጠው ሰጠው ራሳቸውን በመንፈሳዊ እስጢፋኖስነት አቅርበው ሰማዕት እየሆኑ ያሉና ከየአቅጣጫው በኦርቶዶክስ ቤተ ክርስቲያን ላይ የሚዘምቱ የሞት ፊታውራሪዎችን የሚፋለሙ ዕንቁ የቤተ ክርስቲያን ልጅ፣ የሚመኩባቸው፣ የሚያኮሩ ኢትዮጵያዊ የመንፈስ ወንድም ናቸው።

መምህር ዘበነ ዛሬ ከምዕራቡ ዓለም በሚመነጩ የእምነት ሰደዶች ከፍተኛ የሆነ ጥቃት እየተሰነዘረባት ያለችዋን የኢትዮጵያ ኦርቶዶክስ ተዋሕዶ ቤተ ክርስቲያንን ለመታደግ የነፍስ ጥሪ ሆኖባቸው ከላይ ታች የሚማስኑና የሚደክሙ፣ እንደ መጥምቁ ዮሐንስ በምድረ በዳ ከሚጮሁ እፍኝ የማይሞሉ ወጣት ወንጌላውያንና ሰባኪያን አንዱ ናቸው። በርግጥም የጎደለውን ከመቁጠርና የግለሰቡን ስብዕና ከማጥቆር፣ የሞላውንና ያደረጉትን ሙከራ ለሚመለከት መምህር ዘበነ ለኦርቶዶክስ አማኞች ባለውለታ ናቸው። አሁንም እኒህን ታላቅ ወጣት መንፈሳዊ መሪ በዕድሜ፣ በጤና ጠብቆ፣ በመክሊታቸው ላይ መክሊትን አብዝቶ፣ ለኛም የበለጠ እንዲመግቡን፣ ለሳቸውም የበለጠውን ሰማያዊ የድል አክሊል እንዲያጎናጽፍልን ሁሉም ነገር የማይሳነውን ቸሩን መድኃኔ ዓለምን እማጸናለሁ፡፡ እኒህ መንፈሳዊ አባት ለቤተ ክርስቲያኑ በሰጡት ላቅ ያለ አገልግሎት ከቤተ ክርስቲያኗ ምዕመናን በተመረጡ ታላላቅ አባቶችና እናቶች ተመርጠው ለላቀ አገልግሎት ዕውቅና ካገኙ አራት ካህናት ውስጥ አንዱ መሆናቸውን መገንዘብ ከፈለጉ ከ2007-2009 በስራ ላይ የነበረው የባአደራ ቦርድ ለአባላቱ ባቀረበው የስራ አፈጻጸም ሪፖርት ላይ ሊመለከቱ ይችላሉ። በነገራችን ላይ መምህር ዘበነ እንደ ሁላችንም የሚሳሳቱ ሰው ናቸው፣ ይኸንንም ስለሚያውቁ በግልም ይሁን በአውደ ምህረት ላይ ለሰራሁት፣ ለበደልሁት “ይቅር በሉኝ” ብለው ይቅርታን የሚጠይቁ፣ ይቅርታን የሚያስተምሩ፣ መክሊታቸውም እንደ መጽሐፉ አባባል “30፣ 60፣ 100” የሚሆን ያማረ ፍሬ የሚይዝላቸው መምህር ናቸው።

3ኛ. ጸሀፊው አቶ “ምትኩ ይመር”፦ “ምትኩ ይመር” በሚል ስም የሚታወቁ በደብረ ገነት መድኃኔ ዓለም ቤተ ክርስቲያን አባል የሉም። የተጠቀሱት ጉዳዮች ሲፈጸሙና ሲነገሩ በአባልነት ተሳትፈው ጉዳዩን የተከታተሉና የሚያውቁ ግለሰብ አልነበሩምም፣ የሉምም። እንደመሰለኝ ጸሀፊው የብዕር ስም ተጠቅመው እነደጻፉት አስባለሁ። በእውን በዚህ ስም የሌሉ ግን በብዕር ስም ተደብቀው የሚጽፉ ከሆነ ከወዲሁ የጻፉበት አላማና ሊያስተላፉ የሞከሩት መልዕክት ሁሉ ጥያቄ ውስጥ ይገባል። ምክንያቱም መደበቁ የፍርሃትና የሸፍጥ ብሎም የሸንጎኛነት ምልክት ስለሆነ ነው።
የብዕር ስም በሥነ-ጽሁፍ አለም ውስጥ ለጥቅም የሚውልበት የራሱ ምክንያት አለው። የስነ ጽሁፍ አለም እውነትንና የፈጠራን ስራ ስለሚያካትት የብዕር ስም ደራሲያን ቢጠቀሙበት ስራቸው ፈጠራም ስለሚኖርበት ተቀባይነት ያለውና አንዳንዴም ገበያቸውን ለመጨመር ነው። እውነት አርነት ታወጣሃለች የሚል ሀይማኖት ለሚከተልና እውነትን ለሚሻ ጸሀፊ ግን ብርሃኑን ሸሽቶ ከጨለማ አምባ ስሙኝ ማለት ይቸግራል። እንደገባኝ ጸሀፊው “ምትኩ ይመር” የሚል የጨለመ ትንቢትን የተሸከመ ስም ያወጡት ካስተላለፉት መልዕክት አንጻር የመምህር ዘበነ ለማን ከደብረ ገነት መነሳትና በሌላ መተካት አጥብቀው ስለሚመኙ “በሱ ምትክ የሚመጣው ይመርልን” በሚል ከንቱ የልባቸውን ፍላጎት በውስጠ ታዋዊነት ማስደመጣቸው ይመስለኛል። ተሳስቼ ከሆነ ይቅርታ እየጠየቅሁ “ምትኩ ይመር” በሚል ስም የሚታወቁ በእውን ታውቀው የሚኖሩ ግለሰብ ካሉ በክርስቶስ ወንድም አድርጌ የማከብርዎ፣ መሆኑን እንዲያውቁልኝ እፈልጋለሁ። ይኸንን የአጸፋ መልስ እንድሰጥዎ ያስገደደኝ ያስነበቡን የጭንቀትና የጠብ ድግስን የሚነግር ደብዳቤ በ”ሀመር ፈረስ” ተጭኖ የመጣ ከሙታን ምድር የተቀኘ ያልተዋጣለት ቅኔ ሆኖ በጥላቻና በክፍፍል መንፈስ ተሞልቶ ከጥቅሙ ጉዳቱ አመዝኖ ስላየሁትና እኩይነቱ ስለሚያውክና ስለሚያስተክዝ ብሎም ወደ ነፍስ ውስጥ ገብቶ ስለሚመርዝ ለአንባቢያን የጽሁፉን ማህበራዊ እሴትና ጠቀሜታ መመዘን የሚያስችላቸው ተጨማሪ መረጃ ለማቀበል ነው። በዚህ አጋጣሚ የደብረ ገነት መድኃኔ ዓለም ምዕመናን በይቅርታ መንገድ ወደ ሕያዋንን ሀገር መጓዝን መርጠን፣ በይቅር ምንተእግዚአብሔር ፍቅርን ተላብሰን የሰላም የወይን ፍሬ እየተመገብን መሆኑን አቶ “ምትኩ ይመር” እንዲያውቁትም ለመግለጽ እፈልጋለሁ።

ሐ. መታረም የሚገባቸው አቢይ ስህተቶች
1ኛ. ጸሀፊው በጽሁፋቸው ላይ በደብረ ገነት መድኃኔ ዓለም የአባላት ስብሰባ ላይ እናታችን እማማ ውድነሽ “….በስብሰባው ላይ ልትገኝም አይገባህም፣ በነጻነት እንወያይበት” ብለዋል የሚል ሀረግ አስቀምጠዋል። በቅድሚያ የተከበሩ እናታችን ይኸንን አላሉም፣፡ “ይኸን አልሽ ተባለ” ቢባሉ እንኳን በጣም ያዝናሉ። አንድም ካህናት በስብሰባችን ሊገኙ አይችሉም የሚል መንፈስም በንግግራቸው ውስጥ ስላልጨመሩ፣ በሁለተኛ ደረጃም ህጉን ጠንቅቀው ስለሚያውቁት ይኸንን አይነት ያለአዋቂ አባባል ሊሉ እንደማይችሉ ስለሚያውቁት ነው። ጸሀፊው በዚህ ግድፈታቸው እናታችንን ያለቦታቸው ከማዋል ባሻገር የቤተ ክርስቲያናችንን የአባላት ጉባዔ የሌለውን ስም ሰጥተውታል።እማማ ውድነሽ ቤተ ክርስቲያኗ አሁን የምትተዳደርበትን መተዳደሪያ ደንብ ሲዘጋጅ በጸሀፊነት አገልግለዋል።በዚሁ ለ3ኛ ጊዜ ተሻሽሎ በቀረበው የቤተ ክርስቲያኗ መተዳደሪያ ደንብ ውስጥ አንቀጽ 3፡ሀ፡ክፍል 4፡ “ጠቅላላ ጉባዔ ማለት ይህን ደንብ የሚያከብሩ ካህናቱንና አባላቱን ያጠቃለለ ነው።” ይላል። በዚህ ህግ መሰረት ለአመታት በርካታ ስብሰባዎች ሲካሄዱ የካህናት በጠቅላላ ጉባኤ ሙሉ ተካፋይነታቸው ጥያቄ ውስጥ ገብቶ አያውቅም። የእናታችን አስተያየትም ይህ አልነበረም። አቶ “ምትኩ” ይኸንን ያህል ለደብረ ገነት ዋቢ ጠበቃ ሆነው ሲናገሩና የቤተ ክርስቲያናችንን አሰራር እንዲህ በቅርብ የሚያውቁ ከሆነ እንዴት የቤተ ክርስቲያኗን መተዳደሪያ ደንብ በትክክል ማወቅ ተሳናቸው? ካህናት ሳይኖሩበት የተደረገው ስብሰባ መቼ ነው? እናታችንን እንዲህ ካወቋቸው እንዴት በዚህ ስብሰባ የተናገሩትን አቢይና ትክክለኛ መልዕክት ለአንባቢያን ማቅረብ ቸገራቸው? በጣም ይገርማል!

የማናውቀውን ስንጽፍ ለኛም ለሌሎችም ፈተናንና ውዥንብርን የምንፈጥረው ለዚህ ነው። በርግጥም ጸሀፊ የሚጽፈው የሚዋጣለትና ፍሬ የሚይዝ የሚያውቀውን ሲጽፍ ብቻ ነውና ወደፊትም ስለሚያውቁትና በትክክል በማስረጃ በሚቀርብ ነገር ዙሪያ ቢጽፉ ድካምዎ ጣፋጭ ፍሬ እንደሚይዝ እመክራለሁ።

2ኛ. ጸሀፊው አቶ ምትኩ “የቤተ ክርስቲያኒቷ ምእመናን ላይ “ነግ በኔ” የሚል ከፍተኛ ጭንቀትና ሥጋት አሳድሯል።” ብለው ስላሰፈሩት ጉዳይ ይመለከታል። አቶ “ምትኩ ይመር” የደብረ ገነትን መድኃኔ ዓለምን ምዕመናን ቢያውቋቸው ኖሮ ይኸንን ደግመው አይጽፉትም ነበር። “እሱ ነው የጻፈው” ተብለውም መታወቅም አይፈልጉም። ምናልባትም በብዕር ስም ጽፈው ከሆነ ስለማያውቁን ምዕመናን ያለዎት ግምት ኃፍረትን ስለሚያመጣ የጨለማ ስም መምረጥዎ ጥሩ መደበቂያ ይሆንዎታል። ቤተ ክርስቲያናችን እንደ እማማ ውድነሽ የከበሩና ከፍተኛና የጠለቀ እውቀትንና ጥበብን ያካበቱ ምዕመናን አምልኮተ እግዚአብሔር የሚፈጽሙበት፣ በጠቅላላው ምዕመናኑ ሰላምን ፈላጊ፣ ጠንካራዎች፣ ለጋሶች፣ ያላቸውን ሁሉ ለቤተ ክርስቲያናቸው በመስጠት የኢትዮጵያ ኦርቶዶክስ ተዋሕዶ ቤተ ክርስቲያን በሀገረ አሜሪካ አብርታ የምትታወቅበትን መንገድ የሚያመቻቹ ናቸው። የቤተክርስቲያኗ አስተዳደርም በቀለጠፈና በተመሰከረለት ሁኔታ ስራውን የሚያከናውንና በዘረጋው የሰከነነና የተደራጀ አካሄድ የሚደነቅ ሲሆን በጠቅላላው የቤተ ክርስቲያኑ ማህበረሰብ ሰላምን በመሻት ረገድ የሚያደርገው ጥረትና ስኬታማ የተመላበት ጉዞው ለሌሎች በፈተና ላይ ላሉ አብያተ ክርስቲያናት አርኣያ የሚሆን ነው።

የደብረ ገነት ምዕመናን በጥቃቅኑ ጉዳይ ሁሉ የጽሁፉ አቅራቢ እንደጠቀሱት “በከፍተኛ ጭንቀትና ሥጋት” እንቅልፍ የሚያጡ ሳይሆኑ፣ በቤተ ክርስቲያኗ ውስጥ በተዘረጉት የመስተዳድር ዘርፎች ማለትም የአስተዳደር ቦርድ፣ የካህናት ጉባዔና የመንፈሳዊ ጉባዔ አማካኝነት የቤተ ክርስቲያኗን ጉዳዮች በተገቢው መንገድ እልባት እየሰጡ ሰላማቸውን የሚያራምዱ ድንቅና ግሩም ሰዎች ናቸው።

የደብረ ገነት መድኃኔ ዓለም ምዕመናን ቤተ ክርስቲያናቸው በግለሰቦች የምትመካ ሳትሆን ክርስቶስ መሰረቷ ሆኖ የጸናች፣ አለም ሳይፈጠር የነበረው፣ አለምን አሳልፎ የሚኖረው ኃያል ፈጣሪ ክቡር ስሙ ተጠርቶ መንፈስ ቅዱስ የሚከብርባት፣ ማንኛውንም የሰው ሰውኛ ፈተና መቋቋም የምትችል መሆኑን ያምናሉ። ብዙ ውጣውረድም አሳልፈዋል። በአሸናፊነትም ተወጠዋል። እንዲህ “መድኃኔ ዓለም ረድኤታችን ነው” ብለው የሚያምኑ ምዕመናንን ነው ጸሀፊው በጭንቀትና በሥጋት የሚወጥሯቸው። በእውነት እንዲህ ማሰብ የምዕመናኑን ጉባዔና እያንዳንዱን አባል (አቶ “ምትኩ” አባል ከሆኑ ራሳቸውንም ጨምሮ) መተረብ ነው። ይህ የምዕመናን ጉባዔ ነው ዛሬም መምህር ዘበነ ለማን የቤተ ክርስቲያኗ ምክትል አስተዳዳሪ እንደሆኑ ተቀብሎ፣ አምኖበት፣ ጉባኤው አለቃ እስኪሰይም ድረስ መንፈሳዊውን ክፍል እንዲመሩ አውቋቸው የሚኖረው። ይህ እኔ ስለጻፍኩት ሳይሆን ላላንቀላፋ (ከሙታን ምድር ላልሆነ) የሚያየው የሚመሰክረው ጉዳይ ነው። የደብረ ገነት መድኃኔ ዓለም ምዕመናን ይኸንን ባይፈልጉ ለቤታቸው የሚበጀውን ከማድረግ እጃቸውን የሚይዘው፣ ወይም የሚያስፈራቸው አንዳች ነገር የለም።

3ኛ. ጸሀፊው ስለዘገቧቸው በቤተክርስቲያናችን ስለተፈጠሩት ክስተቶች፦
“በምኒልክ ዘመን የደነቆረ ምኒልክ ይሙት እንዳለ ይኖራል” ሆኖ ነው እንጂ ዛሬ ስለደብረ ገነት መድኃኔ ዓለም መዘገብ ለሚፈልግ የወገን ተቆርቋሪ የሆነ ማንኛውም ግለሰብ የዛሬ 6 ወር ያለፈ ያረጀ ዜና ከመተረክ ዛሬ በዚህ አስቸጋሪ ጊዜ ቤተ ክርስቲያኗ በመተዳደሪያ ደንቧ እየተመራች እንዴት በሰላም መንገድ እንደምትጓዝና በማኔጅመንትና አስተዳደር አሰራር የዘረጋቸውን ቅልጥፍና የተመላበት አሰራር ምን እንደሚመስል በማጥናት ለሌሎች አብያተ ክርስቲያናት ትምህርት በሚሆንበት ሁኔታ ላይ በተቸና፣ በጻፈ ነበር። ግን ለዚህ አልታደል ብለን ገና ከሙታን ምድር የተላኩ ደብዳቤዎችን እያነበብን ያለን ትውልድ ነን። ለዚህ የአጸፋ ምላሽ ጽሁፍ መነሻውም እንዲሁ ሁከትን ያነገበ የሙታን ምድር ደብዳቤ በኢንተርኔት መበተኑ ነው። አቶ “ምትኩ ይመር” በዘገቧቸው ጉዳዮች ዙሪያ ቤተ ክርስቲያናችን ውስጥ ከ6 ወር በፊት የተፈጠሩትን ጉዳዮች በተመለከተ የቤተ ክርስቲያኑ አስተዳደር፣ የቤተ ክርስቲያኑ የሽምግልና ኮሚቴና፣ የካህናት ጉባዔ በአንድነትና በህብረት መክረውና ዘክረው ለቤተ ክርስቲያኗ የሚበጀውን መፍትሔ ነድፈው፣ በይቅር ምንተእግዜአብሔር ዕርቀሰላም ወርዶ፣ ሁለቱ ግለሰቦች የመንፈስ እናትና የመንፈስ ልጅ ሆነው የሚኖሩበት ጊዜ ነው። (ተሰራ ለተባለው ስህተትና መተላለፍ ሁሉ የጠብ አታሞ የሚያስመታ ነገር፡የለውም። ሁለቱም ታላላቅ የቤተ ክርስቲያናችን ሰዎች ናቸው። በሰውነታቸው ጥፋት ሰርተው ከሆነ ሁሉንም በሚያጥበው በክርስቶስ ደም ተወግዶ ዛሬ የሰላም ዘንባባ በቤታችን ተንዠርግጓል። ወደፊትም ሰዎች በሰውነታቸው የሚሰሯቸው መተላለፎች ይኖራሉ፣ አሉም፣ ሰው ከስህተት ውጭ ታስቦ አያውቅም። እግዚአብሔር ብቻ ፍጹም ነው። ይኸንን አቶ “ምትኩ” አስረግጠው ሊያውቁት ያስፈልጋል።) እንዲህ ያለ የሰላምና የይቅርታን ጥሩ መንፈስ በቤተ ክርስቲያናችን ያለ መሆኑን መዘገብ ለአንባብያን ጆሮ የሚጣፍጥ ዜና ማቀበል ይሆን ነበር። ከዚህ ይልቅ አቶ “ምትኩ” በምትኩ ለግርግርና ለፍጥጫ ጋብዘውናል – “ሳይቃጠል በቅጠል” እያሉ! የሚቃጠል ነገር አላየንም። ክብር ምስጋና ይድረሰውና ቸሩ መድኃኔ ዓለም ሁልጊዜም ወደ ብርሃኑ እየመራ ዛሬ ከደረስንበት አድርሶናል።

መ. የቤተ ክርስቲያናችንን ችግር ማን እንደሚፈታልን …
ጸሀፊው በቤተ ክርስቲያናችን አሰራር ዙሪያ አንተርሰው በመምህር ዘበነ ሥልጣን ዙሪያ ያሉብንን ችግሮች ለመፍታት የሊቃውንትን – ስም ጠቅሰው ሲጋብዙ ተነበዋል። ዛሬ ሊቃውንት የሚሰባሰቡ የደብረ ገነት መድኃኔ ዓለምን ችግር ለመፍታት ነው? “ዝሆኑን አስወስዶ በጭራው መጣላት” እንዳይሆን ያስፈራል። ዛሬ የኢትዮጵያ ኦርቶዶክስ ተዋሕዶ ቤተ ክርስቲያን ከላይ እስከታች ፈተና በዝቶባት በምታቃትትበት ወቅት የሊቃውንት መጋበዝ በአንዷ ቤተ ክርስቲያን ችግር ላይ ለመፈላሰፍና ለመጠበብ ነው? ይልቅስ ቤተ ክርስቲያናችን በሲኖዶስ ችግር ስትፈተን ሊቃውንት ስለበጎው ነገር ስለቀናው ነገር ቢመካከሩ አይሻልም? በነገራችን ላይ ቤተ ክርስቲያናችን ያላትን የመስተዳደር ጉዳይ፣ መንፈሳዊም ይሁን አስተዳደራዊ በሚገባ በተዘረጉት የመስተዳድር መዋቅሮች በመጠቀም የምትፈታ ስለሆነች የተጋበዙትን ቀሲስ ምክር አትሻም። ጸሀፊው ለጠቀሷቸው ክስተቶች መፍትሔ ለመፍታት ደግሞ ከሰው ይልቅ የልዑል እግዚአብሔርን አጋዥነት ለምነን ብዙ ወደፊት ገስግሰናል።

በርግጥ ከእከሌ ከእከሌ ሳይል በጠቅላላው በኦርቶዶክስ ቤተ ክርስቲያናችን ዙሪያ ያለው ችግር እንዲፈታ የሊቃውንትና የጠበብት፣ የካህናትና በሙሉ የቲኦሎጂ ተመራማሪዎች፣ የላቁ አባቶችና እናቶች መምከርና ከፈተናው መውጣት በሚቻልበት ጉዳይ ላይ ህብረትን አንድነትን መሻት መወያየት አልፎ ተርፎም ውጤት ማስመዝገብ ያሻል። ከሁሉም በላይ ግን ለችግሩ ሁሉ መፍትሔ ለሆነው “ሰላማችሁን እንኩ” ለሚል ክርስቶስ ሁላችንም የምንገዛ ከሆነ ከጳጳሳት እስከ ዲያቆናት እስከ ምዕመናን ድረስ በደሙ የዋጃት የአንዲት ቤተ ክርስቲያን ልጆች የሆንን ሁሉ በተቀደሰና በሰከነ፣ ትሕትና በተመላበት መንገድ ወደ አምላካችን እጆቻችንን ዘርግተን፣ እንደ ነነዌ ሰዎች አልቅሰን ጾመን፣ ቤተ ክርስቲያናችንን ወደ ቀደመ ክብሯ የመመለስ ሰማያዊና ምድራዊ አደራ፣ ሃላፊነትና ግዴታ አለብን።

ይህ አንኳር የሆነው የጠቅላላ የቤተ ክርስቲያኗ ችግር ሳይፈታ በጎን ግን እከሌ የእከሌን ችግር ይፍታው፣ እከሌ ጠበብት ይጠየቅ እያሉ አንዱን በአንዱ ላይ ማነሳሳት ግን ለሰላም ከቆመ ዜጋ የሚጠበቅ አይደለም።

ሠ. እውን የመምህር ዘበነ ቅስና ተቀባይነት አለውን?
የመምህር ቀሲስ ዘበነ ለማንም ሆነ የእያንዳንዱን ካህን ብቃት በተመለከተ በኢንተርኔት የሚያፈራርድ ምንም ምክንያት የለም። ሁላችንም የማንዘነጋው ከሁሉም በላይ የአንድን ካህን ሥልጣነ-ክህነት የሚያጸድቅለት ዋና ሿሚና፣ ቅባቱን የሚያፈስ የህያውነት ምንጭ ሊቀ ካህናቱ ጌታችን አምላካችን ኢየሱስ ክርስቶስ ነው። በክርስቶስ ስም ያልከበረ ሊቀ ካህናቱ ያልተቀበለው ክህነት ሲነባበር ቢውል የፈሰሰ ውሀ አያቀናም። በርግጥም ፍትሐ ነገስቱና የቤተ ክርስቲያናችን ሥርዓትና ቀኖና በሚፈቅደው መሰረት ካህናት ክህነታቸውን መቀበል፣ ማክበር፣ ተገቢውን የክህነት ብቃት ማሟላት ይኖርባቸዋል። ለኛ ምዕመናን ግን ለዘመናት በካህናት ፊት ቀርበን፣ በእጃቸው ተባርከን፣ የያዙትን የክርስቶስ መስቀል ተሳልመን ስንሄድ የበለጠውና በመንፈስ አይናችን የምናየው “ከበደን” ወይም “አበበ” ወይም ‘ሙሉጌታ” ወዘተ የተባለ ሰው ሰርቲፊኬት ይዞ ቆሞ ሳይሆን የሊቀ ካህናቱን ውክልና ይዞ የዘላለማዊ ሕያውነትን መንፈስ ተላብሶ፣ መስቀል ይዞ፣ በልዑል እግዚአብሔር ስም “ይፍታህ” ብሎ የክርስቶስን የድህነትን የተስፋ ቃል የሚመግበንን የክርስቶስ ወኪል ነው። ለምዕመናን ወደ ቤተክርስቲያን ስንመጣ፣ ለጸሎት፣ ለምስጋና፣ ለንስሀ እጃችንን ስንዘረጋ በልባችን ጽላት የተጻፈው ሰማያዊውን ውል የተፈራረምነው ከአንዱ አምላክ ከመድኃኔ ዓለም እንጂ ከግለሰቦችም አይደለም። እንደ እውነቱም በየደብሩ፣ በየቤተ ክርስቲያኑ በየገዳሙ ሄደን ለነፍሳችን አስቤዛ ስንሸምት ነፍሳችንን ሐሴት የምታደርገው እከሌ የሚባለውን ሰርቲፊኬት ያለውን ለማግኜት ሳይሆን በሁሉም ቦታ ሆኖ ለሚጠብቀን ለሚታደገን ኤልሻዳይ አምላክ ባለን መታመን ተከልለን ነው።

የኢትዮጵያ ኦርቶዶክስ ተዋሕዶ ምዕመናን ካህናት እከሌ ሰርቲፊኬት አለው የለውም የሚል አይነት ቋንቋ እየተነጋገሩ ካህናትንም ኑ እንመርምራችሁ፣ እናጣራ እያሉ የጠየቁበት ታሪክ የላቸውም። እምነታቸው በቂ ጋሻ ናትና!! በእምነት ድልድያቸው እየተሸጋገሩ በካህናት ላይ ሙሉ እምነት እያሳደሩ አምላካቸውን እያመለኩ ኖረዋል። በርግጥ ካህናት በቂ የሆነ ለክሀነት የሚያበቃ ስልጠና፣ ትምህርት፣ መባረክ፣ መመረቅ፣ ሊኖራቸው ያስፈልጋል። ካህናት የኢትዮጵያ ኦርቶዶክስ ተዋሕዶ ቤተ ክርስቲያን ባላት አሰራር ውስጥ አልፈው ክህነታቸውን ማግኘት ይኖርባቸዋል። ይህ የቤተ ክህነት የአሰራር መዋቅር በሚፈቅደው መንገድ የሚሰራ ነው።( በርግጥ ዛሬ በቤተ ክርስቲያናችን ውስጥ ያለው የአመራር መፈረካከስና ያስከተለውን ግርግርና ውዥንብር ከግምት ያስገቧል። ችግራችን እዚያም ላይ አለ፣ ይልቅስ ይኸን ነው መፍታት፣ እንዴት ወደ አንድ መንፈስ እንደምንመጣ!)።

የቤተ ክርስቲያናችን አንዱ ጥንካሬዋና የመጎልበቷ መገለጫም ሊቃውንቶቿ የረቀቁና የመጠቁ መሆናቸውና ኢትዮጵያዊ የሆነ ወጥ አስተሳሰብና የሐይማኖት ፍልስፍናና እይታ ያላቸው ስለሆኑ ነው። በጸሀፊው ጽሁፍ ውስጥ አንድ አውሮፓዊ ስለ ኢትዮጵያውያን ሊቃውንት ባሉት ነጥብ እስማማለሁ። ሊቃውንቶቻችን ያወቁ፣ የነቁ፣ የተጠበቡ ናቸው። ወደፊትም ይኸው አካሄድ በበለጠ ተጨምሮበት፣ መቀጠል አለበት። የእድገት ምልክቱ ባለው ላይ አሻሽሎ መገኘት ነው። ለቤተ ክርስቲያናችን መበልጸግ አሁንም ለሙያው ብቃት የሌላቸውና በአግባቡ የክህነት ሥልጠናና ሹመት የሌላቸው ካህናት ካሉ ልቦና እንዲሰጣቸውና ወደሚችሉት ሙያ እንዲሰማሩ ያስፈልጋል።

የደብረ ገነት መድኃኔ ዓለም ምዕመናን የቀሲስ ዘበነን ሥልጣነ-ክህነት እንደሌሎች ካህናቶቻችንና በሌላም ደብር እንደሚባርኩን ካህናት አውቀነው ተቀብለን፣ አምነንበት ካህኑ የአምላካችንን ስም ጠርተው “አሀዱ አብ…” ብለው ቅዳሴ እየቀደሱ፣ እየባረኩን ፣ ነፍሳችን ኃሴት እያደረገች አለን፣ ሰላምም አለን። በአጋጣሚ ደግሞ ዛሬ (11/15/09) ቀሲስ ዘበነ በዋና ቀዳሺነት አገልግለው፣ ባርከውን፣ አቁርበውን ደስ ብሎን ወደ ቤታችን ተመልሰናል። ታዲያ እውነታው ይኸ ሆኖ ሳለ፣ እኒህ ካህን ፍሬያቸውን እያየን በምንኖርበት በአሁኑ ሰዓት አቶ “ምትኩ” የሚያደርጉት በእምነታችን ውስጥ የጥርጣሬ መርዝና፣ የወሬ “H1N1” የሚበትን የነገር ቋት ከደጃችን ላይ አምጥቶ መጣል፣ ትርጉም የሚያጣ የጨለማ ጩኸት ነው። ቀሲስ መምህር ዘበነ ለማ እንደሌሎች ካህናት በእምነት ካህናችን አድርገን ተቀብለናቸው፣ በደስታ እያገለገሉን ነው። አቶ “ምትኩ’ ራሳቸው መምህር ዘበነ በሚያገለግሉበት ጊዜ እየተሳተፉ ግን ሥልጣነ ክህነታቸው “አልዋጥ” ስላላቸው ከሆነ የሚጽፉትን የጻፉት ራስን መቃረን ይመስለኛልና ከራሳቸው ጋር እንዲታረቁ ያሻል። የመምህር ዘበነን የክህነተ ሥልጣናቸውን እሴት ዝርዝሩና ውስጠ ነገሩ በካህኑ፣ ዕልቅናውን በሰጧቸው አባት፣ በኢትዮጵያ ኦርቶዶክስ ተዋሕዶ ቤተ ክርስቲያን ሲኖዶስና በተለይም በሊቀ ካህናቱ በኢየሱስ ክርስቶስ እጅ ያለ ነው። እኛ መንፈሳዊ ዕውቀት የሌለን ግን የማንችለውን ነገር ከምንቧጥጥና የሀገራችንንና የቤተ ክርስቲያናችንን ጉዳይ በማይገባው አይነት ለአፈርሳታና ለአሉሽ አሉሽ ከምንዳርግ በቦታችን ሆነን የመድኃኔ፡ዓለም ክርስቶስን ጥበቃ እንለምን። የሚያዋጣው እሱ ስለሆነ!

ጠቅላላውን ጸሀፊው ለእኛ እንኳን ባያስቡልን ለራሳቸው የውስጥ ሰላም ለምን እንደማይጨነቁ አጠይቃለሁ። ምን ለማትረፍ ነው ይሆን? እላለሁ። ግዴለም እኛስ የምድር ሰዎች ትቢያ ስለሆንን ብዙ አያሳስብ ይሆናል። በታላቁ ጌታ በክርስቶስ ስም ተሰይሞ የሚቀድስን አንድ ካህን ሰርቲፊኬት አለው ወይም የለውም ብሎ ለማከራከር በድህረ ገጽ አፈርሳታ ከማውጣትስ በፊት ስለጉዳዩ እውነትነትና አግባብ ያለው አካሄድ በሕሊና ማመላላስ ተገቢ አይሆንም ወይ? እውን እንዲህ የአምላካችንን ስም በከንቱ ለአእምሮአዊ አጠይቆና አሉሽ አሉሽ መዳረግ በእሳት መጫወት አይሆንም ወይ? ሆኖም እንኳን ቢሆን ምነው የቤተ ክህነት አዋቂዎች በአርሞሞና በጸሎት ቢመክሩበት? እኛ ምዕመናን ስለሰማያዊው አለም ያለን ግንዛቤ በጣም ውሱን እንደመሆኑና ካህናት በሚመግቡን የመንፈስ “ወተት” የምናድግ ሆነን ሳለን፣ የከበረውን የቤተ ክርስቲያናችንን ክብርና፣ ህልውና ምነው በአለም ቋንቋ በአደባባይ ባንዘባበትበት? ለእኛ ብዙ ለማናውቀው እምነታችንን ያጠነጠነባቸውን የቤተ ክርስቲያን ምሥጢራት እንዲህ ውል እንደሌለው ልቃቂት ሲጎለጎሉ ስናይ ውስጣችን በውዥንብር እንዲጋይ የታሰበ ይመስላል። ለምን? ማንን ለመጥቀም? አቶ “ምትኩ” እንዲህ ያስነበቡንን ነገር ሲዘክሩ በምን አይነት መልኩ የኢትዮጵያ ኦርቶዶክስ ተዋሕዶ ቤተ ክርስቲያንን ትጠቀማለች ብለው አስበውት ነው? ምነው ነገራችንንና የሕይወት መገለጫችንን ሁሉ “ያላዋቂ ሳሚ” ባናደርገው። በነገራችን ላይ እኒህ ጸሀፊ ለምን እንዲህ ያለ ጽሁፍ ጻፉ ብየ ሳስብ ያገኘሁት በቂ መልስ ባይኖርም፣ ቅዱስ ጴጥሮስ በ1ኛ መልእክቱ ምዕራፍ 5፡(8-9) ላይ፣ “እንግዲህ ዐዋቂዎች ሁኑ፣ ትጉም፣ ጠላታችሁ ጋኔን የሚውጠውን ፈልጎ፣ እንደሚያገሳ አንበሳ ይዞራልና። እርሱንም በእምነት ጸንታችሁ ተቃወሙት፣ እንዲህም ያለ መከራ በዓለም በአሉ ወንድሞቻችሁ ላይ እንደሚፈጸም ዕወቁ” ብሎ የመከረው ትዕይንቱ ከፊቴ ድቅን አለብኝና አዘንኩ። ምናልባት በዓለም በአሉ ወንድሞች ላይ ይፈጸማል የተባለው ፈተና እንዲህ ይሆን ይሆን?፣ የሚውጠውን የሚፈልገውስ የተባለው ጋኔንስ ተሳክቶለት እየዋጠን ይሆን? ብዬም ፈራሁ።

ረ. ምነው የጎደለውን ማጉላት መረጥን?
በጠቅላላው ከዚህ ትርምስምስ ውስጥ ጎልቶ የሚወጣው አንድ ነገር ለምንድነው እንዲህ መራር የሆንነው የሚል ነው፡ ሁላችንም እኮ ስህተት እንሰራለን። ግን የይቅርታ ቋንቋ የት ሄደ? ምነው ጌታችን አምላካችን ኢየሱስ ክርስቶስ “ከባቴ አበሳ” አይደለምን? እውን እንደ ቸርነቱ ስለሚምረን እንጂ የስንታችን ኃጢአት ቀላል ሆኖ በእርሱ ፊት ያቆመናልን? የተበዳደልነውስ ነገር ካለ አጋጣሚውን እየፈለግን በደመኛችን ላይ በጀርባው ጦር ለመውጋት ከምናሰፈስፍ፣ ለምን የበደለንን ሰው መስቀል ተሸክመንለት አንጓዝም? በሮሜ 12፡20-21 ሐዋርያው ጳውሎስ የመከረን በፍቅር ጠላትን የማሸኘነፍን አብነት መቼ እንተረጉመው ይሆን? ክርስትና ትርጉሙስ ከቂም በቀል ነጻነትን ማወጅ አልነበረምን? ታዲያ እንዲህ ቂም በቀልን የሚተፋ ብዕር እንደምን በክርስቶስ ስም ይጽፋል? እውን የኢየሱስን ስም ኃይል ያወቀ እንዲህ ይደፍራል? ለመሆኑ ስንቶቻችን ነን ከኃጢአት ሳንነካካ እንደ በረዶ ነጭ የሆንነው? ስንቶቻችን ነን የመምህር ዘበነን የሰውነት ድክመቶች ናቸው የምንላቸውን በኩራዝ እያፈላለግን እየተነተንን በድረ-ገጽ ትራጂክ ተውኔቶችን ስንጽፍ ሕሊናችን ብሩህ የሚሆንና ሀገራዊ አስተዋጽኦ አደረግን ብለን የምንኮራ? ማነው በማን ላይ የመጀመሪያውን ደንጋይ የሚወረውር? በንጹሐን ደም የታጠቡት እነ ኮሌኔል መንግሥቱና ተባባሪዎቻው በአውሮፓ፣ በአፍሪካ፣ በአሜሪካና በሌሎችም አለማት አለማቸውን እየቀጩና አብረውን እየኖሩ ባሉበት ዘመን ጥሩ የሰሩልንንና ሊያድጉ የሚችሉ ወጣት መሪዎችን የአፍ እላፊያቸውንና ትንንሽ ድክመታቸውን እየቆጠርን በዘመኑ የ”ዲጂታል ድንጋይ” በቁም ስንወግራቸውና በነጋታው ደግሞ ለኢትዮጵያ ትንሳዔ ወደፈጣሪ እሮሮ ስናሰማ የትኛውን ሰምቶ ፈጣሪ አቤት እንደሚለን ለማሰብ ይቸግራል። አንዳንዴ ስራችን አህያውን ትቶ ዳውላውን ይመስላል! የኢትዮጵያን ሕዝብ በቁሙ የሚቀብሩ ስንቶች የሉምን? ለነገሩ “ባልንጀራው ቢያጠቃው ወደሚስቱ ሮጠ” ይባል የለ። ይሁንና እንዲህ እርስ በእርስ እየተጠላለፍን፣ ወንድማችን የሚወድቅበትን ጉድጓድ እየቆፈርን ቀናችንን ስናጠፋ በረከቱም እንደራቀን፣ እንደተቸገርን ውሉ እንደጠፋብን እንቀጥላለን። …..ኦሮማይ!

ሰ. ከሙታን ምድር ቅኔ ዘረፋ የሕያዋን ሀገር ሀ፣ ሁ.. ነፍስን ያለመልማል።
“ሥልጣነ-ክህነት የቂም መወጫ በትር አይደለም” በሚል ርዕስ አቶ “ምትኩ ይመር” የዘገቡልን ጽሁፍ ከየት ሀገር የተላከ ነው ቢባል “ከሙታን አለም” ይሆናል ብዬ እወራረዳለሁ። ምክንያቱም በሕያዋን አለም መድኃኒታችን ኢየሱስ ክርስቶስ በሚገዛው መንግሥት ውስጥ “የአሳደህ በለው” ቋንቋ የለም። በወንጌሉ የሰፈረው ትምህርት ሁሉ ወደቀራንዮ መስቀል፣ ለእኛ ሲል ደሙን ያፈሰሰውን ክርስቶስን ያመለክተናል። እርሱም ዘላለማዊ ሕይወት ለማግኘት ህግጋቱን ፈጽሙ ይላል። የህግጋቱ ሁሉ የበላይ አድርጎ ሁለቶችን ሲመርጥልን፣ አምላክህን ውደድ፣ ጎረቤትህንም ውደድ፣ በእነዚህ በሁለቱ ላይ ህግጋትና ነቢያት ይፈጸማሉ ነበር ያለን። ከሁለቱ የትኛውን ህግ ተጠቅመው ይሆን አቶ “ምትኩ ይመር” ጽሁፋቸውን ያስነበቡን? የትኛው ህግ ነው እራሳቸው አንጋፋ ባሉት ቤተ ክርስቲያን ውስጥ ከፍተኛ አድናቆትን አትርፎ የሚሰብክን ሰባኪ መምህር ከዚህ በታች ለናሙና የተጠቀሱትን ጸያፍ ገለጣዎች ተጠቅሞ ለመናገር የሚያደፋፍራቸው?
“ለስጋ ለገበያና የሚለፈልፍና የሚቀባጥር ካድሬ አይደለህም”
“ሸቀጥ ለተጠቃሚዎች ለመሸጥ እንደሚንገበገብ ማስታወቂያ ተናጋሪ የቃላት ወንጭፍ በጆሮአችን አትወርውር፡”
“በኛ በምእመናን በራሳችን ገንዘብና ማዕድ አትስደበን፡”
“የእግዚአብሔርን ቃል ከማንብነብ ባሻገር”
“እንደ ዘበነ ያሉ አጥፊዎች ….” ወዘተ
እያሉ ተራና መረን የሆኑ የስድብ ውርጅብኙን ያወርዱታል። አዎ! የአቶ “ምትኩ” ደብዳቤ እነዚህንና ሌሎችንም ለጆሮ የሚዘገንኑ የመደዴና የስድነት ባሕሪ የተጠናወታቸውን ሐረጓች ያካተቱ ናቸው።

እንዴት ያለ ክርስትና ነው ካህናትን ሲመዝን “በኛ በምዕመናን በራሳችን ገንዘብ…” እያለ የቅዱሳን አባቶችን አገልግሎት በሥጋዊ ሚዛን የሚለካ? ድሮስ ቢሆን የቤተ ክርስቲያን ሕንጻ በምዕመናን እንጂ በማን ይሰራል? ካህኑማ ስራው መቅደስ ውስጥ ነው። እውን የመንፈስ አባቶች ከሚመግቡን ወርቃማ የሕይወት ቃልና ከሚያገለግሉት አገልግሎት የሚበልጥ እኛ የምንሰጣቸው ነገር ይኖራል? ለመሆኑ በ”እኛ ማዕድ አትስደበን” የሚያሰኝ ምኑ ማዕድ ነው? ከአገልግሎት በኋላ የሚቀርበውን ሙት እህል ነው? ወይስ ይኸ መሰረታዊ የስጋ ፍላጎታቸውን የማይሸፍን ብል የሚበላው አፈር የሚሆን “መደጎሚያ ደመወዝ” እያልን የምንሰጣቸውን ገንዘብ ይሆን? ወይንስ ምኑን እየቆጠርን ይሆን “በኛ በምእመናን በራሳችን ገንዘብ..” እያልን የምንገዳደርና የምንለፋቸው? እግዚኦ ነው! ማንኛውም ቤተ ክርስቲያን ሕያው የሆነ፣ የብዙዎች እጅ እንደ አንድ እየሆነ እየተጣመረ እየሰራው፣ ሃላፊዎች ለአዲሶች እያስረከቡት፣ በቀጣይነት ለትውልድ በሚያልፍበት መንገዱ ተዋቅሮ የሚሄድ በክርስቶስ ደም ላይ የሚታነጽ ዘላለማዊ ውቅር እንጂ እንደ ግል ርስት “የእኔ” እያሉ የሚገዳደሩበት አይደለም። እንዲያውም ሰማየዊው መቅደስማ ሰው የሚሰራው አይደለም፣ በቅድምና የነበረ ነው። ለመሆኑ ሰው ለእግዚአብሔር ቤት የሚበቃ ምን በቂ መባ አግብቶ ቢቆጥር ነው “በእኛ ማዕድ” “በእኛ ገንዘብ እያለ” የሚፎክር? እውን “እኔ ባስገባሁት መባ” እያሉ መገዳደር ለእግዚአብሔር ቤት ይሰራልን? ለእግዚአብሔር የሚያስደስተው የተሰበረ ልብ እንጂ ክፋት እንደቡና ከሚያፈላ ልብ የመጣን እምክ እምክ የሚል ዶላር አይደለም። ልባችን ሳይነጻ፣ ወንድሞቻችንን እየበደልንና ካህናትን በስጋዊ እይታ እየለፈፍን የምናቀርበውን መባና “የእኛ ገንዘብ..ማዕድ” እያልን የምንመካበት ገንዘብ በአምላካችን ፊት እንደ ፋንድያ የሚቆጠር ይመስለኛል። በመሰረቱ ቤተ እግዚአብሔር በግል መንፈስ መነካካትም የለበትም፣ ቤተ ክርስቲያን ሲታሰብ ሥጋ መገነዝ አለበት። ነፍስ ብቻ እግዚአብሔርን ታገልግል። ከዚህ ውጭ እንዲያው በሙታን አለም መመላለስ ነው!

ለነገሩ ለቤተ ክርስቲያናችን ዕድገትና ግንባታስ ቢሆን መምህር ዘበነ ለደብረ ገነት ህንጻ መሰራትና በጠቅላላ የቤተ ክርስቲያኑ ሞገስና ክብር መጨመር ያደረጉትን አስተዋጽኦ ምን እንደሆነ አቶ “ምትኩ” ያውቃሉ? ለደብረ ገነት ግንባታ መምህር ዘበነ ያደረጉት ተዋጽኦ ቀላል ነውን? የደብረ ገነት አባል ቢሆኑ የተናገሩትን ለመናገር አይደፍሩም። አዎን ደብረ ገነት ከ30 ዓመት በላይ ሲለፉ፣ ሲማስኑ፣ ሲወድቁ፣ ሲነሱ ከሌላቸው ቆርሰው እየሰጡ ቤቱን ከአሁኑ ደረጃ እንዲደርስ የገነቡ የብዙ ጠንካራ ኢትዮጵያውያን ውጤት ነው። በዚህ ጉዞ ውስጥ አብሮ ደግሞ መምህር ዘበነም የራሳቸውን አመርቂ የሆነ አኩሪ ውጤት አስመዝግበዋል። ሁሉም በመክሊቱ፣ በችሎታው አበርክቶ ነው ደብረ ገነት ዛሬ ከደረሰበት ደረጃ የደረሰው። ለመሆኑ አቶ “ምትኩ” ደብረ ገነትን ካወቁ ስለ”ዘሩባቤል እጆች”ና ስለ”ዳግማዊ ዘሩባቤል” ፕሮጀክቶች ያውቃሉ? ለአብነት ለመጥቀስ ያህል መምህር ዘበነም በበኩላቸው የዘሩባቤል እጆች የተባለውን ከፍተኛ የልማት እንቅስቃሴ መርተው በአንድ ቀን ከግማሽ ሚሊዮን ዶላር በላይ እንዲሰባበስ ከፍተኛ የመንፈሳዊ ቅስቀሳ እንዳበረከቱ የቤተክርስቲያናችንን ታሪክ ከስሩ የሚያውቁ ይመሰክራሉ። በቅርቡም ዳግማዊ ዘሩባቤልን በመንፈሳዊ መሪነት እንዲከወንና አመርቂ የሆነ ገንዘብ እንዲሰበሰብ የበኩላቸውን ላቅ ያለ ድርሻ አበርክተዋል። ታዲያ የሰራን ሰው ማመስገን እኮ ተገቢ ነው (Let us give credit where credit is due!)፣ የሰራን ሰራህ ብሎ “እሰየው” “ጎሽ” ማለት የዕድገት ምልክት ነው። አብሮም በተገቢው መንገድ መገሰጹም አስፈላጊ ነው። ግን ተግሳጽ ክብረ ነክ ሲሆን ወደሞት አፋፍ ይወስዳል። ማህበረሰባችን ጥሩ የሰራን የሚደግፍ፣ የሚያጠፋን በአግባቡ የሚገስጽ ነበር፣ የምህረትን ቋንቋ እየተናገረ። እንደዛሬው ጀግኖችን በቁም የመቅበር፣ በጥይት የመረሸን ባሕል ሳንላበስ ጀግኖች እንደ ኮከብ የሚያበሩባት የኢትዮጵያ ምድር ልጆች ነበርን!

ይኸም እንኳን ቢቀር በቅዱስ መጽሀፉ እኮ “የእግዚአብሔርን ቃል የሰጧችሁን ዋኖቻችሁን አስቡ” የሚል ማስታወሻ ነበረ። እስኪ አቶ “ምትኩ” በጢሞቴዎስ 1፡5(17-18) እንዲሁም፣ መምህራንን ስለማክበር በዕብራውያን 13፡(17-19) የተጠቀሰውንም ያንብቡት። ወንጀል እንኳን የሰራ ግለሰብ በፍርድ ቤት ሲከሰስ በአግባቡና በክብሩ ይጠራል። በሰሞኑ በዚህ የምንኖርበት ሀገር በቴክሳስ ግዛት 13 ሰዎችን በመግደል ከፍተኛ ሀገራዊ ወንጀል የፈጸሙት ሜጀር ሁሴን የተባሉ መኮንን እንኳን ስማቸው በየሜዲያው ሲነሳ ከነሙሉ ማዕረጋቸው እየተጠሩ ነበር። እንዲያው ምን አይነት ስልጣኔ ተላብሰው ይሆን አቶ “ምትኩ ይመር” የአንድን ቤተ ክርስቲያን ምክትል አስተዳዳሪ፣ ሺዎች በወንጌል ሰባኪነታቸው የተጠቀሙባቸውን የተከበሩ የቤተ ክርስቲያናችንን ካህን “ዘበነ” እያሉ የሚያንጠለጥሉ? ይህ ነው የእውቀት ድንበሩ? ይህ ነው የክርስቲያንነት መገለጫው? ይህ ነው ኦርቶዶክስ እምነታችን የምታስተምረን? ያሳፍራል! ታዲያ እንዲህ የበላንበትን የእምነት ወጪት ስንሰብር እንዴት በረከት ይኖረናል? በእውነት አቶ “ምትኩ” የጻፉበትን አላማ ሊመረምሩት ያሻል።

ዛሬ ሀገራችን ከደረሰችበት የውድቀት ደረጃ የደረስንበት አንደኛውና ዋነኛው ምክንያት ሰውን ያህል በአርኣያ ሥላሴ የተፈጠረ ፍጡር ከእንስሳ አሳንሰን ሸክም ስናከብድበት፣ ስሙን ማጥፋትን፣ ማሳደድን፣አልፎ ተርፎም ግድያን እንደ ልማድ ስለቆጠርነው ነው። አዎን ላለፉት 35 አመታት በአንጻራዊ አመለካከት ሰው እየረከሰ ጤፍና በቆሎ እየተወደደ መጧል። ራሳችንን አረከስነውና ከፈጣሪያችንም ተጣላንና የሞት ከበሮ በየቀዬው እየተመታ፣ የኃዘን ድባብ በሀገራችን ላይ አጥልሎ ይገኛል። በአብዮት ስም ሰውን በሜዳ ላይ የማረድና ደሙን እንደ በግ የማፍሰስን ጭካኔ ተመለከትን። ደነዘዝንና ሰዎች ሰዎችን ማሳደድ ነውር መሆኑን የሚያስተምረንን ዕንቁ ኃይማኖታችንን፣ ትውፊታችንንና ገንቢ ባህላችንን ቀስ በቀስ እየናድነው መጣን። ፓትርያርክ የሚረሸንበትን ዘመን አየነው፣ የሰው ነፍስ ቀልድ ሆነ። በጦርነት መቶ ሺ፣ ሁለት መቶ ሺ..ወዘተ.. ማጣት ተለመደ። በዘርና በጎሳ ፖለቲካም ሆድና ጀርባ ሆንን;፤ ..ፕሮፌሰር መስፍን “የክህደት ቁልቁለት” በሚል መጽሀፋቸው እንዳስጨበጡን መቆሚያችን ሳይታወቅ እንዳንቆም ሆነን ቁልቁል መንከባለሉን ቀጥለናል።… አዎ ዛሬ የሰዎችን ስም በአደባባይ ጭቃ መለወስ፣ ትንሽ እንኳን ብቅ የሚሉትንና ለሀገር ተስፋ የሚሆኑትን እንደ ጫማ ሚስማር ወደ ውስጥ መቀብቀብ ክብራችንን ይጨምርልን ይመስል በአንድ ጊዜ ለሺዎች በሚበተን የዘመኑ ድረ-ገጽ ላይ ችሎት መሰየምና እንካስላንትያ መግጠም ባህል ሆኗል። በምን ሂሳብ? የትኛውን ገነት ለመውረስ? እንዴት ተደርጎ የማሸነፍ ስሌት እየተሰራ ነው? አረ ደሙን በቀራንዩ ባፈሰሰው ስሙ ሁሉንም ኃይላትና ሥልጣናት በሚገዛው በጌታችን በኢየሱስ ክርስቶስ ስም ወደአእምሮአችን እንመለስ፣ አረ ልቦና እንግዛ! አረ እብደታችን ይብቃን!

ጸሀፊው አቶ “ምትኩ ይመር” ማንን እንደወከሉ ባይነግሩንም በአቃቤ ህግነት ፍርዳቸውን ሲመሰርቱ “እኛ ለዘበነ የምንለው…” ብለው ቁጣቸውንና ዘለፋቸውን ሲያፈሱት ይነበባሉ። “ለመሆኑ እናንተ እነማን ናችሁ?” የሚል ጥያቄም አብሮ ያስነሳል። የሰዎች ስብስብና ለቤተ ክርስቲያን የምትቆረቆሩ ወይስ ይኸ ጠበል ሲረጭ እንደሚወጣው አይነት “መናፍስት”? እነማን ናችሁ? አቶ “ምትኩ ይመር” አንድ ግለሰብ ሆነው ቀርበው እንደገና “እኛ” እያሉ ድንገት ሲቀየሩ በመጽሀፉ የተጠቀሰው በአንዱ ግለሰብ ውስጥ 2000 ሆነው የተቀመጡትን የሌጌዮን መናፍስትን ታሪክ ወደ አእምሮ ያመጣል። እናንተ ስንት ናችሁ? ምሳችሁስ (አድርግ አድርግ የሚላችሁ) ምንድን ነው? ምዕመናንን ማራበሽ፣ የሰውን ስብዕና ማቆሸሽ፣ ሌላስ? በአንድ አእምሮ ውስጥ ብዙ ሆነው የሚነጋገሩ ድምጸቶች ሲሰሙ በኢንተርኔት ጦርነት ለማዋጋት ከመነሳት የፃድቃኔን ጸበል ከወዲሁ ማሰቡ ይበጃል። ከጨለማው አደባባይ የሚያስደብቅ ምን ጉዳይ አለ? የሚገርምዎት የደብረ ገነት መድኃኔ፡ዓለም ድንቅና ጠንካራ ምዕመናን በጨለማው ውስጥ ሆነው፣ በብዕር ስም ተደብቀው፣ ራሳቸውን እየሰደቡ፣ የሚወዱትን ቤተ ክርስቲያን ጉዳይ አፈርሳታ አያወጡም። የደብረ ገነት መድኃኔ፡ዓለም ቤተ ክርስቲያን ጨዋና፣ የከበሩ የዕድሜ፣ የዕውቀትና፣ የልምድ ባለቤት የሆኑ እናቶችና አባቶች የመሉበት ሲሆን፣ ምዕመናኑ ስለቤታቸው ጉዳይ ሁሉ በሰከነና ዲሲፕሊን በተመላበት የዲሞክራሲን አሰራር በጠበቀ መልኩ እየመከሩና እየተወያዩ በብልጽግናና በዕድገት ጎዳና የሚጓዙ ለሌሎች ተምሳሌት ናቸው።

አቶ “ምትኩ” በወኪልነት ከሆነ የሚናገሩት ማንን ወክለው ነው? አባልስ ከሆኑ ለምን ቤተ ክርስቲያኗ በምትከተለው የመተዳደሪያ ደንብ ስርዓት ተጠቅመው የጠቀሷቸው ችግሮች እንዲፈቱ አይጠይቁም? ታዲያ ከጨለማው ውስጥ “እኛ” የሚሉንና በድብቅ ስም ተሸፍነው የሚናገሩ ከሆነ ይህ ከሙታን ምድር፣ ብርሃን ከሌለበት፣ ሕሊና ከጠፋበት አለም የተከሸነ የሙታን ደብዳቤ እንጂ ሕያዋን የጌታችን የአምላካችንን የኢየሱስ ክርስቶስን ክቡር ስም እየጠቀሱ የሚጽፉት ጽሁፍ አይደለም። አዎ! የሙታን ምድር ደብዳቤ ያስታውቃል፡፡ ሞት ሞት ይሸታል! ማሳደድ ቋንቋው ነው! ስድብ ዝልፊያ፣ ሸንጎን ያራምዳል። እንዲህ ያለ ቋንቋ በሕያዋን ምድር፣ በሰላም ፈላጊዎች ሰፈር አይነገርም። በርግጥም የደብረ ገነት መድኃኔ ዓለም አባላት አቶ “ምትኩ” የተጠቀሙበትን ቋንቋ አይጠቀሙም፣ እንዲህ ያለ የጨለማ አካሄድ መርጠው፣ ቤተ ክርስቲያናቸውን ለአፈርሳታ አያወጡም፣ የቤተ ክርስቲያናችን አባላት ለቤታቸው ተቆርቋሪዎች ናቸው። ማንኛውም አይነት አስቻጋሪም ይሁን ቀላል ጥያቄ ካላቸው በስነ ስርዓት ተደማምጠው የሚግባቡበትና መፍትሔ የሚፈልጉበት የምዕመናን ጉባዔና አስተዳደራዊ መዋቅሮችና መንገዶች አላቸው። አቶ “ምትኩ ይመር” የመረጡትን አይነት አክብሮትና ብስለት የጎደለው ስነጽሁፍ የትህትናን አካሄድ የሳተ የስድብ ውርጅብኝ የደብረ ገነት ምዕመናን ይጸየፉታል፣ አይቀበሉትም፣ እኛንም አይወክልም።

የሰላምን ቋንቋ የሚናገር፣ የክርስቶስ ባሪያ የሆነ ሰው የበደለው ጠላቱን እንኳን ሲያገኝ በእርምት የተሻለ ሰው የሚሆንበትን መንገድ ያሳያል። ይቅርታ ቋንቋው ነው። በሀገራችንን አነጋገር “ሰው ለሰው መድኃኒት ነው” እንላለን። እውነት ነው ሰው ለሰው አጋር፣ መድኃኒት፣ አለኝታ፣ ድጋፍ ነው። ሰው እንዲህ ያለ መድኃኒትነት የሚገለጽበት መልካም ስራ የሚሰራ የተቀደሰው የእግዚአብሔር መንፈስ በውስጡ ሲኖር ነው። ሰው በራሱ ምንም አያደርግም። በተቃራኒው ደግሞ ሰው የሰው ገዢና የስቃዩ ምንጭ ሆኖ ሲወከል ስናይ በውስጡ የሚሰራውንም መንፈስ እንድናጠይቅ እንገደዳለን። የዚህን አካሄድ በአጭሩ ለመረዳት ከፈለግን ከአቤልና ቃየል ወዲህ የሰውንና የአለምን ታሪክ ዝም ብሎ ማጤን በቂ ነው። ሰው ለሰው አጥፊው የሆነበት ከበቂ በላይ ማስረጃ አለን። ከኦሽዊዝ (Auschwitz) እስከ ሩዋንዳ፣ ከ911 እስከ መካከለኛው ምሥራቅ፣ ከኢትዮጵያ የጦርነት ታሪኮች እስከ ተለያዩ የሀይማኖትና የእርስ በእርስ ትንንቆች ድረስ ምክንያቶች የሰው በጨለማ አስተሳሰብ ውስጥ መኖር ነው፣ ምክንያቱ ቢባል ሰው የጨለማ ቋንቋን ሲነጋገር የሰውን ክቡርነት ስለሚረሳ! ፕላዩተስ (Plautus) የተባለ ሮማዊ ተናገረው የሚባል “ሰው ለሰው ተኩላ ነው” (Homo Homini lupus or Man is wolf to man”) የሚል ብሂል ከላይ የጠቀስናቸውን የሰው ልጅ የጥፋት ታሪኮች የሚገልጥ መስሎ ይገዝፍብናል። ታዲያ የትኛው ባሕሪያችን በድርጊታቸን ውስጥ እንደሚጎላ ሁልጊዜም ማመዛዘን ይገባል። ለሰው ልጅና ለወንድማችን መድኃኒት ነን ወይስ ተኩላ ነን? ሰውን ሲርበው እናበላዋለን ወይስ ለራሳችን ዝና የሰውን ስብዕና አጉድፈን እንጥላለን? ይኸው ነው የዘመናችን የመኖር ወይም ያለመኖር ሐምሌታዊ ጥያቄ!

አቶ “ምትኩ” ይመር የቤተ ክርስቲያን ተቆርቋሪ፣ ቅዱስ መጽሀፉን አዋቂና ጠቃሽ ሆነው የቀረቡትን ያህል፣ በጻፉት ጽሁፋቸው የሰው ፈጣሪው ልዑል እግዚአብሔር የደነገገውን “ጎረቤትህን እንደራስህ ውደድ” በሚል መርሆ ስር እየተዳደሩ ከሆነ ጽሁፋቸው አክብሮትን የሚገልጸውና፣ ይህን ህግ በስራ ላይ የሚያውለው፣ የት ላይ ነው? ሰው ለሰው አዛኝ መሆኑን የሚመሰክሩልን እንዴት ነው? የት ላይ ነው የይቅርታን ቋንቋን የሚጠቀሙት? ምነው እንዲህ ያለ ቁጣ? ምን ለማትረፍ? ሰዎችን እያሳደዱና እየዘለፉ ሰው ለሰው ተኩላ መሆኑን በሚመሰክር አካሄድ መጓዝ? ለምን አስፈለገ? እውን ስለቤተ ክርስቲያናችን ሲጽፉ ይኸንን መሰረታዊ ህግ ማሰብ አያሻም ነበርን? የሚጽፉትን ማወቅ መሰረታዊ ነው፡፤ የፈላስፋዎች ቁንጮ የሆነው ሶቅራጥስ የሚያውቀውን ሁሉ አውቆ በጣም ከሚደነቅባቸው ብሂሎች በዋናነት የሚጠቀሰው “የማውቀው አለማወቄን ነው” ማለቱ ነው። ምነው በሚያውቁት መጠን መተዳደርና አንደበትን ማሰራት የትህትና መገለጫውና የጥበብ ትሩፋቱ መሆኑን አቶ “ምትኩ” ባወቁት! አባቶቻችን “ዝምታ ወርቅ ነው” የሚል ብሂል ሲያስተላልፉልን ያለምክንያት አልነበረም። አላዋቂ ሲናገር ጥፋትን ስለሚተፋ ነው።

ሸ. ምዕመናንና መምህር ዘበነስ ከዚህ ስንክሳራችን ምን እንማራለን?
በርግጥ ሰው ጥሩ የሚሰራውን ያህል በአካባቢው ላሉ ሰዎች የማይመች ንግግር፣ ስራና ባሕሪ ሊያሳይ ይችላል። ከዚህ ነጻ የሆነ ሰው የለም። መምህር ዘበነም ከዚህ የሰው ተፈጥሮ ነጻ ሊሆኑ አይችሉም። በተለይ በአሁኑ ሰዓት እንዲህ ከተለያየ አቅጣጫ የሚሰነዘሩ ጥቆማዎች ሲኖሩ የግለሰቦችን ክብር የሚነኩ፣ እንደ ትዕቢት ሊቆጠሩ የሚችሉ አካሄዶችን የሚጠቁሙ አስተያየቶችና የመረሩ ስሜቶች ሲመነጩ፡ በተለይም አመኔታ የሚጣልባቸው ሰዎች ለቤተ ክርስቲያንና ለሀገር የሚቆረቆሩ ሰዎች ሲመክሩ “እውን ሕዝብ የሚያስቀይም ነገር እየፈጸምሁ ነውን?” በማለት ራሳቸውን ሊገመግሙና ሊያጠኑ ከስህተታቸውም ሊማሩ ያስፈልጋል። ይኸንንም የሚያደርጉ ሰው ናቸው ብዬ አምናለሁ። ከዚህ በፊት በአውደ ምሕረት ላይ መስቀል ይዘው “ይቅር በሉኝ” ብለው ንስሐ ሲገቡ አይቻለሁ። ስህተት መስራታቸውን ካመኑበት ይቅርታን ይጠይቃሉ፡ ይኸንን አብረን በሰራንባቸው ጊዜያት ሁሉ በሚገባ ታዝቤያለሁ።

ለሁላችንም ልንገነዘበው የሚያስፈልገዉ ነገር ግን ችግር የሚመጣው ከስህተት መማር ሳይቻልና ስህተት ልማድ ሆኖ ጉዳት ማስከተል ሲጀምር ነው። መሪዎችና በሕዝብ ፊት ያሉ ሰዎች ስሕተታቸው ቶሎ ይታያል፣ ከታዬም በኋላ ጎልቶ ይወጣል። ታዲያ በሕዝብ ፊት የሚንቀሳቀስ መሪ ትሕትናን ገንዘቡ አድርጎ፣ ለሚሰራው ስህተት ይቅርታን እየከፈለ፣ ለትሕትና ተምሳሌት እየሆነ መሄድ ይገባዋል። የኢትዮጵያ ሕብረተሰብ መሪዎቹን አክብሯቸው የሚኖር ስህተት ስለማይሰሩ አልነበረም፣ ብዙ ስህተቶችን የሰሩ መሪዎች አሉን። ዛሬም እየተሰሩ እንመለከታለን፡፤ ግን ሕዝቡ የሞላውን እየቆጠረ፣ በጎደለው ይቅር እያለ መሐሪነትና ታጋሽነትን ባሕሪው አድርጎ የኖረ መልካም ሕዝብ ስለሆነ ነው። ታዲያ የኢትዮጵያ ሕዝብ ሲጠላም ያንኑ ያህል ነው። ከዚህ ታሪካችን መማር አለብን፡፤ ለዚህ ነው መሐሪነትንና ታጋሽነትን ገንዘባችን ማድረግ የሚገባን። የሚያሳዝነው ግን የኛ ትውልድ ለዚህ ልቡ ደንዳና ሆኗል። በሀሳብ መለያየት ማለት ደም የተቃባ ባላጋራ የመሆን ያህል መጠላላት ሆኗል። ከዚህ አካሄዳችን መለወጥ ይኖርብናል። ዛሬም እንደትላንትናው አባቶቻችን እንደተጠቀሙበት በይቅርታ መንፈስ፣ ተግባብቶ፣ ተከባብሮ ተቻችሎ በፍቅር መኖር ከምንም በላይ ምርጫችን ሊሆን ይገባል። በመስቀሉ ላይ የተሰዋው አንድያ የእግዚአብሔር ልጅ በደሙ የጻፈልን ኑዛዜ ይኸንኑ የፍቅር አብነት ነው። ትላንት ለአሜሪካ ፕሬዚዳንትነት የተወዳደሩት ሴኔተር ክሊንተንና ሴኔተር ኦባማ ምን ያህል የሃሳብ ፍጥጫ ላይ ደርሰው እንደነበረ የምናውቀው ነው። ዛሬ ደግሞ አንዱ የሌላው መከታ ሆነው እየሰሩ ነው። ይህ በአለም ሕይወት እንኳን እንዲህ ከተቻለ በክርስትና ጥሪማ ምን ያህል የዕለት ተግባራችን በሆነ! በእውነት ይህ በሆነበት የአሜሪካ ምድር እየኖርን ከዚህ ቅዱስ አካሄድ ተምረን የማንለወጥና የራሳችንም ሀገራዊ፣ ማህበራዊና፣ ግላዊ ሕይወት ለማስተካከል የማንጥር ከሆነ እግዚአብሔርስ ምን ምሳሌ ሊያቀርብልን ይችላል?

ቀ. ማጠቃለያ
(1ኛ) በአጭሩ ከላይ ምክንያቶችን ጠቅሰን እንዳነበብነው “ሥልጣነ-ክህነት የቂም መወጫ በትር አይደለም።” በሚል አቶ “ምትኩ ይመር” ያስነበቡን ጽሁፍ “ቢከፍቱት ተልባ” ነው። ምክንያቱም፡

(ሀ)፣ የተሸከመውን መልዕክት በትክክል ለማስተላለፍ የተጠቀሱት ግለሰቦች ተናገሩት የተባለውን ነገር እንኳን በትክክል ጠቅሶ አያስቀምጥም። ለአብነት ያህል ካህኑን “በስብሰባው ላይ ልትገኝ አትችልም” ብለዋል ብሎ የተጠቀሰው በስብሰባው ላይ ያልተባለ፣ ተናገሩ የተባሉትንም ግለሰብ የሚያሳዝን ነው።

(ለ) ጸሐፊው የአንድን ቤተ ክርስቲያን ጉዳይ በተቆርቋሪነት ተፈርጀው ሲናገሩ የቤተ ክርስቲያኗን መተዳደሪያ ደንብ እንኳን አጥርተው አያውቁትም። ካህናት የጠቅላላ ጉባዔ አባላት መሆናቸውንና እንደማንኛውም አባል በእኩልነት መሳተፍ የሚችሉ መሆናቸውን እንኳን አያውቁም። ይኸንን ቢያውቁ ኖሮ ሲጀመር ከላይ በ(ሀ) የተጠቀሰውን፣ እከሌ ተናገረው ብለው እንኳን ለማለት አይታሰባቸውም ነበር። የስብሰባ ባህላችንን ቢያውቁት ሁልጊዜም በስብሰባችን መካከልም ካህናት መኖራቸውንም ያውቁት ነበርና።

(ሐ) ለሺዎች አንባቢያን የኦርቶዶክስ እምነት ተቆርቋሪነታቸውን ለማስገንዘብ የተነሱ እኒህ ግለሰብ፣ ከአንድ ክርስቲያን የሚጠበቀውን የትሕትና አቀራረብና አጸጻፍ አፋልሰው መድረኩን መዘራጠጫ ሊያደርጉት ሞክረውል። እንዲህ ያለ የስድብ ውርጅብኝ፣ ዘለፋ፣ ያካተተ ጽሁፍ በየትኛውም ቦታ ሞገስ ኖሮት አያውቅም። እስኪ አቶ “ምትኩ” በገላትያ 5፡19- 21 ድረስ የጠቀሳቸውን የስጋ ስራዎችንና በአንጻሩ ደግሞ በተቃራኒው ሐዋርያው ጳውሎስ እዚያው ወረድ ብሎ በቁጥር 5፡ 22- 26 የተጠቀሱትን የመንፈስ ፍሬዎችንም ይመርምሩ። እስኪ የሥጋንና የመንፈስን ፍሬዎች አወዳድረው ከሁለቱ አማራጮች የርስዎ ጽሁፍ በየትኛው እንደሚፈረጅ በእውነት ይፍረዱ። ይኸንን ቢያውቁ ኖሮ እውን ብዕርዎን ያነሱ ኖሯል? ለዚያ ነው ጽሁፉ በቁምነገር ወንፊት ቢነፋ እብቅና እንክርዳድ ብቻ የሚወጣው!

2ኛ) ሌላው በዚህ አጋጣሚ ላሳስበው የምወደውና ሊታወቅ የሚገባው ጉዳይ ለሀገራችን የወደፊት ትንሳዔ፣ ለእድገቷና ለብልጽግናዋ ለኢትዮጵያ ኦርቶዶክስ ተዋሕዶ ቤተ ክርስቲያናችን ደህንነት ስንል ኢትዮጵያውያን ሁሉ በችሎታችን ያለውን አንድ ነገር ማድረግ የትውልድና የዜግነት ግዴታ አለብን። ይኸውም በጽሁፍም ይሁን በአየር ሞገድ በሚተላለፉ ዜናዎች በጆሮአችን የምናዳምጣቸውና የምናስተላልፋቸው መልእክቶች ስለጤናማነታቸውና ስለገንቢነታቸው መመርመር ይገባናል። ክፉ መናፍስት አለምን ያጣበቡበት ዘመን ነው። የሚተላለፉልን መልዕክቶች ወይ የሕይወትን ቃል በውስጣችን የሚያሰርጹ ወይንም የሞትን ጡሩንባ የሚነፉ ናቸው። ከሁለቱ መምረጥ የእኛ ፋንታ ነው። ለመምረጥም ችሎታው አለን – በአምሳሉ መፈጠራችንን አንርሳ – የጥበብን ሀገር መሻት ብቻ ይኖርብናል። በጥበብ ሁሉም ስለሚገለጽና ስለሚታይ! የሰዎችን አብሮ የመኖር፣ ሰላምን፣ ይቅር መባባልን፣ ፍቅርን የሚያራምዱ መልዕክቶች ከሕያዋን ሀገር የመጡ በሕያው አምላክ የተቀደሰ መንፈስ የተባረኩ ጽሁፎችና ድምጸቶች ናቸው። ሰዎችን በማዋረድ ክብርን በመግፈፍፍ፣ ለጠብ በማዘጋጀት፣ በስድብ፣ በዘለፋ መልክ የተቀረጹ ጽሁፎችና የአየር ሞገድ መልዕክቶች ደግሞ ለነፍሳችን ሁከትን የሚያመጡ አብሮ መኖራችንን የሚፈታተኑ ለሀገራችን ትንሳዔ፣ ለቤተክርስቲያናችን ደህንነት ቀቢጸ ተስፋን የሚያራምዱ የሙታን ጩኸቶች ናቸው። እግዚአብሔር በሰጠን የሰውነት ጥበብ ከታገዝን የሙታንን እንጉርጉሮ ከሕያዋን ዝማሬ መለየት ስለማይቸግረን በጎውን፣ መልካሙን፣ ጥሩውን የሚያስጨብጡንን ከመርገምና ከመዝለፍ ተቆጥበን ለሀገራችን የሚበጀውን እናድርግ። ሐዋርያው ጳውሎስ በቅዱስ ቃሉ የመከረንን በጥሞና መመርመሩ ስለወንድሞቻችንና ስለእህቶቻችን ከአንደበታችን የምናፈሰውን እንድንመረምርና በጥፋት ጎዳና እንዳንጓዝ ይረዳናልና ከዚህ ላይ ማስታወሱ ይበጃል። እንዲህ ይላል፦

“የሚሰሙአችሁ ሞገስ ያገኙ ዘንድ ግዳጃችሁ እንዲፈጸም መልካም ነገር እንጂ ከፉ ነገር ሁሉ ከአፋችሁ አይውጣ። በዳናችሁ ጊዜ የታተማችሁበትን የእግዚአብሔር ቅዱስ መንፈስ አታሳዝኑት። መራራነትንና ጥፋትን፣ ስድብን ሁሉ ከክፉ ነገር ሁሉ ጋር ከእናንተ ጋር አርቁ። እርስ በእርሳችሁም ቸሮችና ርህሩሆች ሁኑ፣ እግዚአብሔርም በክርስቶስ ይቅር እንዳላችሁ ይቅር ተባባሉ።”ኤፌሶን 4፡29-32

አዎ! በኢትዮጵያውነታችን እንድንኮራና የሀገራችንን ትንሳኤ እውን እንዲሆንልን፣ በፍቅርና፣ በይቅርታ ቋንቋ እየተናገርን፣ “ለሚሰሙን ሞገስ ያገኙ ዘንድ ግዳጃችንን” እየፈጸምን፣ ለጆሮአችን ከቅዱሳን የከንፈር ፍሬ እየመረጥን እያዳመጥን በጥበብ እንደግ! ኢትዮጵያውያን ሆይ!፡ከሙታን ምድር የሚላኩልንን ደብዳቤዎችና በሬዲዮ ሞገዶች የሚለቀቁብንን የክፋት ንግግሮች ማንበብና ማዳመጥ ይብቃን! ይልቅስ ሁላችንም ተባብረን አንዳችን ለአንዳችን ዋቢና ቋሚ ጠበቃ ሆነን ሐይማኖታችንን እንጠብቅ፣ ሀገራችንን እንታደግ፣!

የሞትን ትዕዛዝ ለመፈጸም በ ሀመር ፈረስ እየጋለቡ ከሚመጡብን መናፍስት ሁሉ የይሁዳ አንበሳ የሆነው ኢየሱስ ክርስቶስ እንዲጠብቀን በእርሱ እንመን እንታመን!!

ልዑል እግዚአብሔር በቸርነቱ ይጠብቀን፣ እንደበደላችን ሳይሆን እንደ ቸርነቱ የሚያኖረን አንድ አምላክ ለሁላችንም የፍቅርንና የሰላም የአንድነትን ልቦና ይስጠን፣

የኢትዮጵያችንን በክብር መቆም ያፋጥንልን!!!

ሁሉን ለሚያደርግ፣ ሲመታትን፣ ኃይላትንና ሥልጣናትን ለፈጠረ፣ ነገስታትና ኃይለኞች ሁሉ የሚንበረከኩለት አንዱ ጌታ የልዑል እግዚአብሔር ልጅ ኢየሱስ ክርስቶስ ክብር ምሥጋና ይግባው።

UK gives $316 million to Ethiopia's tribal junta

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The British Government announced the release of a food aid package of US$316 million to help international efforts to relief over 6 million people facing starvation to pro up the Ethiopia’s blood thirsty minority dictatorship.

Last October Ethiopia’s tribal junta appealed for 159,410 tonnes of food, costing $121 million, $8.9 million worth of fortified blended food for malnourished women and children, and for $45 million in non-food needs. The government said number of people in need of urgent assistance during the period October to December 2009 has increased to 6.2 million from 4.9 million at beginning of the year.

Also there are 7.6 million people on support through a food-for-work scheme in rural areas. This raises to 13 million the total of people in need to food assistance.

The UK Minister of State for International Development, Gareth Thomas MP, announced an aid package of four billion Birr this year to support the provision of basic services, social protection and humanitarian assistance in Ethiopia, the official news agency ENA said today.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Thomas said that the fund will be used for expansion of health and education services as well as safe water provision and road construction over the next three years.

The visiting minister also encouraged the Ethiopian authorities to investigate allegations by opposition parties that local officials are using food aid to force opposition members to join the ruling party ahead of national elections.

“I have heard allegations from the international community about distribution of food aid and the (food-for-work) programme and I have already raised those accusations with the deputy prime minister,” Thomas, said.

He further added “These allegations should be investigated thoroughly. The government said if evidence is produced that they would investigate and that was encouraging.”

At the end of October the World Bank approved a total grant of 480 million US dollars for Ethiopia’s safety net program which is helping to uplift millions of poor Ethiopians from extreme poverty.

“The board of directors approved a US$350 million grant and a US$130 million credit to Ethiopia to support an innovative program that is keeping millions of families out of extreme poverty and helping them to achieve food security,” the bank said in a statement.

However the Ethiopian Prime Crime Minster Meles Zinawi in a meeting with the British minister said the international media have exaggerated food shortage occurred in Ethiopia. (Sudan Tribune)

Yemen police detain 191 refugees from Ethiopia

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

ABYAN — Yemeni police have arrested 191 Ethiopians who are suspected of entering the country illegally, the Interior Ministry has reported.

Police in Abyan Province have arrested nearly 150 Ethiopians, including 5 women, who arrived at Ahwar Coast by a smuggling boat.

In Marib Province, Yemeni police said they have arrested 41 Ethiopians who were trying to cross into Saudi Arabia.

All the arrested Ethiopians have been sent to the Immigration and Passports Authority in the Yemen capital Sana’a.

Africa: double trouble

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

By Scott Morgan

This posting has two concerns that if taken together can be construed as being interdependent. First of All Lets Discuss One of the Most Serious Problems currently occurring in Africa. That is the Rampant Use of Sexual Assaults by Insurgents and Government Forces in Several Countries.

The List of such occurrences is lengthy and troubling.

In Recent Days a UN Fact-finding Mission Sent to Zimbabwe found that Groups such as WOZA (Women of Zimbabwe Arise) Members of the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) and Other Members of Civil Society have been attacked. The Allegations have been around since 2002 when the Political Crisis Began. So will the perpetrators be brought to justice?

Second is the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We all have Heard the reports regarding the use of Rape as a weapon in the Kivu Provinces. Also MONUC is suspending contacts with One Unit Operating in the East. The United States has announced that it will assist Kinshasa with this large problem. What Happens if the UN Pull out its Peacekeepers are reports over the weekend are suggesting?

Its nice to see that the crises in Zimbabwe and Congo are being noticed. But what about Darfur? Khartoum has announced that It will close some IDP camps early next year. So what happens to those being treated for their attacks? And who will protect them?

Or will Impunity be the rule of the day such as what has occured in Guniea after the Massacre after the Opposition Rally?

PART II

There are Two New Areas to be concerned with:

First Reports indicate that Militants from the Niger Delta have travelled to the Oil Producing Western Region of Ghana. Links have been established and lessons have been learned. Already Land Grabs have occured and there are reports of Arms being moved into the Region. Now the question is will ExxonMobil make the same mistakes that Chevron and Shell made in the Niger Delta?

Second area of concern is the Dar Tama Region of T’Chad. According to reports over the weekend the Chadian Security Forces have launched an Operation near the town of Tchowtchow. At least 6 People have been killed, 10 other Tortured or Castrated and one person remains missing. Now the Chadian Islamic Front has called for Jihad and the Sudanese Government would like a change in the Government of Chad. All we can say is that the devil is in the details in this situation. More to follow on this topic and check out ramadji.com for more information regarding Chad.

The LRA launched an Attack in Southern Sudan which killed 4 Men. However 56 members reportedly surrendered to the Southern Sudan Military. A Report Last week stated that an Estimated 100 Fighters remained in the DRC and the majority of the rest were in either Southern Sudan or the Central African Republic. The US Senate will discuss the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act on November 17th. It is expected to be marked up.

Finally the Rebels in the Ogaden Region in Ethiopia launched an Offensive over the weekend reportedly capturing 7 towns. On Monday the Zenawi Regime Denied this. Resolving this conflict could be a viable part of resolving the Somalia Fiasco.

(Scott Morgan is a regular contributor for EthiopianReview.com and writes extensively about Africa on his own blog, Confused Eagle.)