Archive for the ‘Ethiopian News’ Category

Video: Ethiopians in Washington DC honor 3 patriots

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Ethiopian War Heroes honored in Washington DC,

Committee announces plan to erect a monument in memory of the tens of thousands of the former armed forces who gave the ultimate in defense of Ethiopia’s unity

Special Report by the North America organizing Committee to honor Ethiopian Heroes

Washington D.C., Sept 14, 2009

Several hundred Ethiopians over packed the hall of Trinity Church located at 6000 Georgia Ave, NW, Washington, DC. They were anxiously awaiting the arrival of the 2009 honorees of the event, Brig General Tesfaye Habte Mariam and Brig General Kassaye Chemeda.

Inside of the hall, at the top of the stage, hangs a ten feet banner. It reads: Ye Jegnotch Mishit, (Evening of Ethiopian Heroes). Large poster size colorful photos of the heroic Generals, Tesfaye Habte Mariam on the left side and that of Gen Kassaye Chemeda at the right hand side, in full military uniform, are embossed on the banner. At the entrance, two large posters are placed on the wall. The writings are in gold on a black background. They are tribute to and representative list of Ethiopian Heroes who gave the ablest leadership to the former armed forces, those who died while heroically fighting in the eastern and northern fronts in defense of Ethiopian unity and territorial integrity. Among those listed, there are names of those members of the armed forces who are still alive. These are representative names from the Army, Airforce, Navy, and the Police commando forces of the former Ethiopian armed forces.

In the entrance area too, members of the former armed forces and members of the organizing committee dressed in jet black suits, white shirts and red tie were greeting and sitting Ethiopians coming to attend the event. Other members of the committee were displaying on a table of items prepared for the occasion, including books written by both generals, Ye Tor Meda Wullo (Reminiscences of the Battlefield) among others.

At 9:00 P.M, as General Tesfaye Habte Mariam and General Kassaye Chemda arrived and entered the hall; they were given salute by three members of the former Army, Navy, and Air force, dressed in their respective uniforms with a military marsh in the background. General Tesfaye and General Kassaye walked through the hallway while members of the former Ethiopian military were standing at both the right and left side, forming in straight line. The hundreds of Ethiopians present expressed their warm welcome with standing ovation until the guests of honor reached the reserved table where they were sited along with disinguised guests of the event Brig. Gen Wubetu Tsegaye, for the former Army, Brig. General Tsegaye Habtiyimer of the former Air force, and other members of the former armed forces.

Artist Tamagne Beyene, the master of ceremony for the occasion, formally announced the arrival of the two heroes amidst rounds and rounds of applause of Ethiopians who came for the occasion. Dinner was followed by a speech by Ato Brehanu Wolde Selassie, the chairman of the Association of the former Ethiopian Air force (AMFEA) and the chairman of the North America organizing committee to honor Ethiopian Heroes. He welcomed General Tesfaye Habte Mariam, and General Kassaye Chemeda, the honorees of 2009. He then explained about the aim and purpose of the non-profit and non-political committee composed of the Association Former members of the Ethiopian Air force (AMFEA), Ethiopian Veterans Association (EVA), and prominent artists and Ethiopians. He stated the importance and the need for nurturing and further developing the culture of recognizing and honoring Ethiopians who give much for their county and people while still alive, especially all those who put their life in line of great danger to defend the unity and territorial integrity of Ethiopia. He recalled the successful event organized by the committee in 2008 to honor Brig. General Legesse Tefera, the air force pilot who fought heroically during the Ethio-Somali war of the 70s, earning him the highest medal for his heroism.

Ato Brehanu continued that the committee’ selection of the three honorees for this year, which includes Militia Ali Berke along with Gen Tesfaye and Gen Kassaye, was due to their superior contributions in line of duty and in defense of Ethiopia’s unity and territorial integrity in both northern ad eastern fronts during the 70s and 80s . That they were selected for this years’ event among thousands of others with equally superior heroic deeds in line of duty. He mentioned the fact that the two generals have made significant contributions to tell the Ethiopian people about the stories of heroic sacrifices made by the former armed forces in order to defend Ethiopia from both external and eternal challenges posed to the country’s unity and territorial integrity.

The chairman of the committee also mentioned the unsuccessful but much effort exerted by the committee to locate the whereabouts of the third honoree, Militia Ali Berke and facilitate his travel to the USA for the occasion. Ato Berhanu said that the committee would work hard to encourage historians and others to write about the exemplary gallantry of the former armed forces so that they are recorded in the annals of history and passed on to generations of Ethiopians yet to come. He concluded by announcing the committee’s grand and long term plan, at an appropriate time, to erect a monument in Ethiopia in memory of the tens of thousands of Ethiopians who laid their precious life while heroically fighting in defense of Ethiopian unity and territorial integrity from challenges posed by external and internal forces.

Following a moving poem read by Maj. Kifle Abocher, among the ablest artists who served in the former armed forces, Ato Ayalkibet Teshome, a member of the organizing committee read the biographies and contributions of General Tesfaye Habte Mariam, Gen Kassaye Chemeda, and Millitia Ali Berke. Artist Tamagne read a brief biography and introduced Brig. General Wubetu Tsegaye to present the special award to both General Tesfaye and General Kassaye, both of whom served under his command. Brig General Wubetu Tsegaye is a decorated war hero and one of the ablest leaders of the former armed forces and an officer who rose from Battalion commander as a Major to a Brig General and the commander of what was then known as the second revolutionary army (SRA) in the northern front during the 80s for close to fifteen years. While members of organizing committee lined up in straight lines at both the left and right sides of General Wubetu, General Kassaye and then General Tesfaye came forward, gave military salute and received their awards from Brig Gen Wubetu Tsegaye. The awards presented to both are embossed with the letters “Le Mayiresa Wulleta, “For a great deed that shall never be forgotten”.

That rare and emotionally touching moment brought tears to many who were present. It continued when Gen Kassaye Chemeda took the stage. Gen Kassaye stated that he willingly joined the then Ethiopian army during the time of the Emperor to serve and for love of the symbol of our nation, pointing towards the standing Ethiopian flag next to him. He told the audience that he never expected that he and the rest of the former Ethiopian armed forces, who served the country through thick and thin as professional soldiers and officers, would get the chance to be remembered and given such recognition and honor during his life time. He related the suffering he had to endure since his two years of imprisonment after the aborted attempt to oust Col Mengistu in 1989. Gen Kassaye was also a victim of the current regime which put him in prison for another eight months after the fall of the Derg regime.

Gen Kassaye concluded his brief speech by telling the crowd that all the demoralizing stigma and labels he carried along with the rest of the former Ethiopian armed forces for the past so many years has been completely washed in that historic day organized to honor and cerebrate Ethiopian heroes. Thus, expressing his deeply felt gratitude for the committee and the hundreds of Ethiopians present at the occasion. Then Brig General Tesfaye took the stage. He too spoke briefly emphasizing that he is a soldier through and through and whenever he was called upon, he has served the Ethiopian people as a professional soldier. He then recounted three stories, among many other stories yet to be told, as illustrations of the former Ethiopian army’s heroism which defied the known and practiced military science all around the world. After expressing his enormous joy for being able to be present in an occasion of such honor , General Tesfaye recalled that it was exactly on Sept 12, thirty years ago that he was awarded the highest medal for heroism, Ye Hibretsebawit Ethiopia Woder Ye Lelew Jegna Medaliya. He stressed that he considers the current award given to him one that is beyond any expression, calling it Ye Woder Woder Yelesh moment for him.

Dressed in uniform and the Red Hat of the Airborne, Artist Tamagne Beyene took the stage again, announcing to an applauding and amused audience the next program of showing two special documentaries he produced for the occasion. The two films showed among the most dramatic moments in the lives of the two generals, including the tragic story of a successful but enormously costly breakthrough led by General Tesfaye at Nakfa, in one of the most difficult rugged terrain and stronghold of the then Eritrean rebels. Against all odds, General Tesfaye, then a Captain and his airborne battalion, undertook one of the rarest heroic missions by volunteering to be sent in response to the 15th battalion’s telegram of appeal for support and dropping from an airplane at more than 2000 meter height. A heroic feat that defied the normal practice and unheard of in modern history of Airborne missions anywhere around the world. That mission was undertaken in order to support and save the encircled and embattled 15th battalion at Nakfa led by Maj. Mamo Temtime. The film also depicted the tremendous heroism and determination of post humus Lt. Colonel Mamo Temtime, the commander of the heroic 15th battalion, who led his men to withstand and put up the toughest resistance in the face of the bloodiest encirclement and onslaught by a much superior enemy force at Nakfa for several months, until he was wounded and while fighting to the last bullet. The short documentary prepared to honor General Kassaye showed his enormous contributions starting with his heroic role as a commander of a Tank Battalion that made significant contribution of crushing and ousting the Somali invading forces out of Ethiopia’s territory.

Upon the conclusion of this part of the evening program, an applause and hurray filled the hall, an expression of approval for work well done as tribute to the heroes by Artist Tamagne. Artists Desalgen and Aregahen Worash continued entertaining the huge number of Ethiopians in the hall with patriotic songs until about 2:00 AM in the morning.

Saturday night event got coverage by the Voice of America. Many members of the media in the Washington DC area were also present. Also present were members of various civic groups such as Gasha for Ethiopia and many others. Ethiopians from all walks of life, young and old, woman and men, were present. Many young Ethiopians as far away as Minnesota, Cincinnati, Ohio, New York and other states came to be part of this great event as well.

The following list of names is prepared to serve as a symbol of hundreds of thousands unnamed others, who died in line of duty and as well as alive. These are outstanding leaders and heroes, both alive and dead, from the former Army, Navy, Air force, and the police forces. This is just representative list of heroes from Generals to line officers, from NCOs to privates of the former Ethiopian armed forces
Maj. General Fanta Belay
Maj. General Merid Negussie
Maj. General Demisse Bultto
Maj. General Amha Desta
Maj. General Abera Abebe
Maj. General Mesfin Gebre Kal
Maj. General Syoum Mekonnen
Maj. General Kinfe Michael Dinku
Maj. General Kumlachew Dejene
Maj. General Hailu Gebre Mickael
Maj. General Regassa Jimma

Brig. General Teshome Tessema
Brig. General Legesse Abeje
Brig. General Yilma Gizaw
Brig. General Woubetu Tsegaye
Brig. General Temesgen Gemechu
Brig General Tesfaye Habte Mariam
Brig. General Kassaye Chemeda
Brig General Behailu Kinde

Commodor Belege Belete
Commodor Getachew Siyoum

Brig. General Merdera Lelisa
Brig. General Berta Gomoraw
Brig. General Araya Zerai
Brig. General Gennanaw Mengistu
Brig. General Desalegn Abebe
Brig. General Taye Balaker
Brig. General  Lemesa Bedase
Brig. General Solomon Begashsaw
Brig. General Ashenafi Gebre Tsadiq
Brig. General Afework Wolde Michael
Brig. General Negussie Zergaw
Brig. General Kebede Mehari
Brig. Geneal Hailu Kebede                     
Brig. General Addis Aglachew
Brig. General Negash Woldeyes
Brig. General Hailu Beraworq
Brig. General Legese Haile
Brig. General Mesfin Haile
Brig. General Erkyihun Bayyisa
Brig. General Kebede Wolde Tsadiq
Brig. General Yemata Miskir
Brig. General Engda Wolde Amlak
Brig. General Techane Mesfin
Brig. General Tadesse Tesema
Brig. General Samson Haile
Brig General Berhanu Demissie
Brig General Tesfaye Terefe
Brig. General Tariku Aiyne
Brig General Tsegaye Habityimer

Col.  Kassa Gebere Mariam
Col.  Belay Ashenaki
Col. Girum Abebe
Col. Shibabaw Zeleke
Col. Aytenw Belay
Col. Mersha Admassu
Col. Kifetew Merine
Col. Beshu Gebre Tekle
Col. Sereke Brehan

Col Tadesse Gebre
Col Kassaye Tadesse
Col . Dr. Gaga Oljo
Col. Girma Teferi
Col. Tilhaun Bogale
Col. Gethanun Wolde Girogis
Col. Sifu Wolde
Col. Estifanos  Gebre Meskel
Col. Luel Seged
Col. Gizaw Tefera
Col. Bezabeh Petros
Col. Reta Menkir
Col. Shimelis
Col. Worku Tefera
Col. Tilahun Nebro
Col. Berhnu Wubneh
Col. Getahun Demissie
Col. Dr. Tadesse Melka
Col. Fekade Engeda
Col Admassu Mekonnen
Col Negussie Adugna
Col Gezagen Tarekegen
Col Girma Tadesse
Col. Solomon Kassa
Col. Alemayhu Admau
Col. Ayele Gebeyhu
Col. Mekonnen Bekele
Col Desalagen Meberate
Col Dr. Desta Moges

Captain Mersha Girma
Commander Fiseha Tilahun
Commander Hailu Lemma
Commander Ashalew Jemaneh
Commander Matthew Mekonnen

Lt. Colonel Mamo Temtime
Lt. Col. Alemayehu Haile
Lt. Col.  Shewataye Alemu Habte
Lt Col Genanaw Ejigou
Lt Col. Tilahun Mamo

Lt Commander Fantu Abraham

Major Mamo Lemma
Major Getachew Mihirete
Major Tadesse Mengesha
Major Getahun Demissie
Major Getachew Tessema
Major Mersa Redda
Major Ethan Mekonnen
Major Asfaw Tewolde
Maj Tafesse Kebede
Maj Kebede Yimer
Maj Wegaheyu Degentu

Capt. Solomon Mekebib
Capt. Hailu Kebede
Capt. Abraham Sinke
Capt. Afewerk Tariku
Capt. Wondimu Beyene
Cap. Gedele Giorigs Abat
Cap. Shewatatek Alemu
Cap Rorisa Dadi
Cap. Asmare Gebre Selassie

Lt. Merid Dachew
Lt. Afework Mengesha
Lt. Tilahun Hailu Gebre
Lt. Yekono Tadesse
Lt. Girma Aynalem
Lt. Girma Kebede
Lt. Shibeshi Haile
Lt Mekuria Dedema
Jr. Lt. Shewalem Negash
Sub Lt. Dagne
Lt Nura Yasin
Lt Aytenfisu Damtew
Lt. Darsiso Tessema
Sub Lt. Ledatu Nure
Sub. Lt. Beze Workneh
Sub.Lt. Tesfaye Workenh

Seniour Technician Ewunetu Genta
Chief Gezagehn Gezmu
Warrant Officer Kassa Merine
PO Fresenay Kebede
Sgt. Woldu Baikedagne
Srg. Abebaw Asfaw
Srg. Wolde Gabriel Hagos

Corporal Abdissa
Corporal Andarge Belay
Corporal Adinew Reta
Corporal Tigneh Belew
Private Kebede Koricho
Priavate Zelelew Dibaba
Priavate Simeret Ayele
Private Milita Ali Berke
Private Kebede Belda.
Private Iyayu Shegaw
Private Worku Abay
Private Shimelis
Private Tigabu
Private Alemitu Chaqile

New photo of Ethiopian Princess Kemeria and Count de Lesseps

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Ethiopian Review has obtained an exclusive photo of Ethiopian Princess Kemeria Abajobir and Count de Lesseps that was taken recently on the Count’s yacht.

click photo to enlarge
In April, has reported that the Kemeria was identified as the cause for the divorce between the reality TV show star LuAnn from The Real Houswives of New York and her husband Count Alexandre de Lesseps has been identified as Princess Kemeria Abajobir Abajifar.

Kemeria is the granddaughter of King Abajifar, the last King from the Gibe Kingdom of Jimmaa, located in current day Ethiopia.

EthioPlanet’s inside source close to the Count confirmed the details in an email correspondence.

The Ethiopian princess, and granddaughter of the King, is the niece of Ababiya Abajobir, another prominent man in the Oromo-Ethiopian community. He was one of the founding members of the OLF (Oromo Liberation Front), an armed Ethiopian opposition group, and served in various positions in the organization throughout its 35 year history.

Ethiopia's ruling junta lowers economic growth forecast

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

By Jason McLure

(Bloomberg) — The rate of growth in Ethiopia was probably as low as 9.2 percent in the year to July 7 as electricity shortages closed factories, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said.

The economy grew “somewhere between 9.2 percent and 10.2 percent” and will increase “at least as fast, if not faster,” in the coming year and inflation will remain in single digits, Meles said at a press conference yesterday in the capital, Addis Ababa. The government forecast growth of 11.2 percent in April and lowered that figure to 10.1 percent in June, while the International Monetary Fund estimated an increase of 6.5 percent or lower for Ethiopia during the same period.

Power shortages due to rising demand and a lack of water in the country’s dams led the state-run Ethiopian Electric Power Corp. to begin nationwide blackouts of at least twice a week in March. Outages were increased to every second day from June until last week.

Electricity cuts will end in mid-October and “won’t be a major impediment” in the coming year, said Meles. Services have increased, and while “not all factories have 24-hour service,” Meles said he was “sure every factory has a minimum” of eight hours’ supply.

Ethiopia’s trade imbalance, which led to rationing of foreign currency and shortages of imported goods like machinery parts and medical supplies last year, will ease, he said, without providing more detail.

Agricultural output will be “significantly higher” this year because of good rains during the main June to September rainy season, he said.

The Famine Early Warning System Network on July 28 said poor rains earlier this year would hinder crop production with a large swathe of the Ethiopian highlands experiencing drought.

An estimated 13.7 million Ethiopians are dependent on foreign food aid this year.

Human Rights Watch warns Britain about torture in Ethiopia

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) — Human Rights Watch on Thursday warned Britain against relying on Ethiopian guarantees that it will not torture suspects deported to the African country.

The two countries signed an agreement in December allowing Ethiopia to obtain custody of its citizens detained in Britain after giving “diplomatic assurances” that they will not be mistreated.

“The UK government should not rely on unreliable ‘diplomatic assurances’ against torture to deport national security suspects to Ethiopia,” the group said in a letter to the British government.

“Ethiopia’s record of torture of security suspects is all too clear. The agreement is itself a tacit admission that torture continues to be a major problem in Ethiopia,” said Tom Porteous, the US-based watchdog’s director in London.

HRW said concerns are “at their gravest” when individuals are detained on suspicion of affiliation with armed opposition, insurgent or terrorist group.

It said it had documented cases in which suspects were subject to repeated kicking and beating with electric cables, rifle butts, and other materials, as well as having bottles tied to their testicles.

It added that it had evidence that women and girls have been raped while being detained in military barracks in Ethiopia’s Somali region, where a secessionist group has waged an armed struggle.

The deal, similar to those signed by Britain with Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt, represents an “effort to circumvent the strict ‘no return’ obligations under the UN Convention against Torture and the European Convention on Human Rights,” it said.

Ethiopian rejected the claims.

“Torture is forbidden by law here. Ethiopia is a country where human rights are respected,” government spokesman Bereket Simon told AFP in Addis Ababa.

“The report is nothing but a political gimmick. It has nothing to do with human rights.”

Egypt defends its cold blood murder of Ethiopian migrants

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

By Daniel Williams | Bloomberg

In the face of international human rights criticism of recent killings, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said the deaths of Ethiopian and other African migrants trying to cross from the Sinai peninsula into Israel are justified for security reasons.

Four migrants were killed trying to enter Israel July 9, bringing the death toll in the Sinai to 12 since May.

“Dealing with these migrants is for Egyptian national security and the safety of its forces and Egypt’s international commitment to fight smuggling,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said in a statement today. “Egyptian guards only fire in the direction of the migrants when they refuse to stop in this sensitive area of the borders.”

On Sept. 10, Human Rights Watch, the New York-based monitoring group, called on Egypt to “bring an immediate end to the unlawful killings of migrants and asylum seekers.”

“Egypt has every right to manage its borders, but using routine lethal force against unarmed migrants — and potential asylum-seekers — would be a serious violation of the right to life,” Joe Stork, deputy HRW Middle East director, said in a statement. “These individuals appeared to pose no threat to the lives of border guards or anyone else. Attempted border crossings are not a capital offense.”

Migrant traffic through Egypt to Israel largely originates in Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea, all beset by warfare in recent years, said Gasser Abdel Razek, Egypt country director for Africa and Middle East Refugee Assistance, a U.K.-based legal aid group. “They are heading to Israel because they think they can get better consideration for political asylum than in Egypt,” he said in an interview in Cairo.

Israel Criticized

Human Rights Watch said that Egyptian security forces killed 33 migrants at the border between July 2007 and October 2008. HRW also criticized Israel, saying it was “forcibly returning to Egypt, in violation of international refugee law, some migrants who do make it across the border.”

Since February 2008, Israel has deported thousands of African migrants to Egypt on grounds they are economic and not political refugees, according to media reports from Israel.

Last month, smugglers ferrying migrants to Israel killed an Egyptian policeman at the border, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said. On Sept. 9, the independent Cairo newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm quoted North Sinai Governor Muhammed Shousha as saying of the refugees, “Firing at them is only normal. When an infiltrator is spotted, he has to be fired at. If the soldier asks the infiltrator to stop, he normally won’t be obeyed. That’s why there has to be the use of force by those responsible.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel Williams in Cairo at

Angelina Jolie visits Ethiopia

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

(MarieClaire) – Angelina Jolie flew to Ethopia with adopted daughter Zahara as part of her latest UN Goodwill Ambassador tour to Africa, visiting the country for the first time since Zahara’s adoption.

Brad and Angelina were on a goodwill mission in Kenya with their children when Angelina, her Ethiopian-born four-year-old and biological daughter Shiloh took a second flight across to Ethiopia.

According to a friend who spoke to People magazine, the girly trip was ‘the first time Zahara had been back home since her adoption. The trip was about keeping up that culture for her.’

Angelina plans to front the plans to build a TB and AIDS clinic in the country, to be set up in Zahara’s name.

Back in Kenya the UN Goodwill Ambassador visited the largest refugee camp in the world in Dabaab on the Kenya/Somalia border, where she witnessed the condition in which 285,000 Kenyans live.

Angelina Jolie - Celebrity News - Marie Claire

The camp has been open since 1991 and was originally intended to house 90,000 refugees, but has ballooned to accommodate the growing population which sees 7,000 new arrivals each month.

Jolie described the camp as ‘one of the most dire’ she had ever seen in her eight years working for the UN.

Ethiopia: Holyfield vs Retta rescheduled

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

By Mark Vester |

The charity bout between former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield and Sammy Retta has been rescheduled to October 30 in Ethiopia. The event was set for to take place in Addis Ababa on July 26 and then set to September 11 and then moved per the request of the Ethiopian government tribal junta regime. The event will benefit AIDS charities. Retta is a blown-up super middleweight who now walks around at 230-pounds. Former champion Ray Mercer and fighters from all over the world are taking part in the event.

“The promoters are working hard to make a real and spectacular event,” Motuma Temesgen, an official from Ethiopia’s government communication affairs office, told AFP. “Holyfield and Sammy Retta will fight in Addis Ababa on October 30 while five other fights will also take place on the same day.”

Ethiopia's Fly Away Children

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

By Andrew Geoghegan | ABC

Since Angelina Jolie adopted her daughter Zahara in 2005, the number of Americans adopting Ethiopian children has quadrupled.

A pop-media obsession with celebrities adopting children in Africa has resulted in a queue of adopting foreigners dealing with opportunistic adoption agents in operating in a regulatory vaccuum. In Ethiopia – and beyond – its creating a heartbreaking mess.

International adoptions may seem like an ideal solution to the dreadful deprivation among the young in Ethiopia and the often impossible circumstances confronting parents trying to feed and raise their children.

The reality though, is far from ideal.

Some adopting parents suspect or discover the new child they’ve taken in is not an orphan as they’d been assured. The child may also have a litany of health problems that has been covered up by corrupt officials.

Also many ‘relinquishing’ Ethiopian parents or carers may have been duped into giving up their children through a heartless process called ‘harvesting’ and can’t hope to re-establish contact with them.

Ethiopia has 5 million orphans needing homes and the United States has millions of homes needing babies. Africa Correspondent Andrew Geoghegan and producer Mary Ann Jolley, discover it’s not a simple mathematical equation or zero sum game. There are virtually no government regulations or policing of the process. Many international adoption agencies flashing Christian credentials are taking advantage of the situation. Corruption, fraud and deception are rife.

Foreign Correspondent follows a Florida couple in their mid fifties as they travel to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, to pick up their three adopted children, aged three, four and six. It’s a gut wrenching moment when they meet the birth mother who has come to the orphanage to say a final goodbye to her children. This transaction appears above board but it’s all too common for Ethiopian parents to give up their children for international adoption after being coerced by adoption agencies.

Foreign Correspondent investigates the activities of one of the biggest American agencies operating in Ethiopia. In a remote village in the country’s south, the agency openly recruits children with parents. Each child offered for adoption is then filmed for a DVD catalogue which in turn is shipped out to potential adoptive parents.

A world away in California a mother of one – looking for a brother for her son – chooses from a CWA DVD catalogue. The agency’s sales pitch promised a healthy, abandoned child, but that could not have been further from the truth. Her story is tragic and disturbing and exposes the callousness of the profit oriented international adoption business

A group of grieving mothers who have given up their children for international adoption gather at an orphanage to tell their stories. All claim they were told by adoption agencies they would receive regular information about the whereabouts and wellbeing of their children, but have heard nothing.

It’s a thought-provoking edition of Foreign Correspondent and a must watch for anyone considering adopting a child from another country or who has celebrated the apparent social consciousness of Hollywood A-listers.

Click here to watch the documentary


GEOGHEGAN: Palm Beach Florida is home to Christian couple Tim and Joni Gooley. He’s a pastor, she’s a school guidance counsellor. They’re empty nesters in their mid-50’s, looking to do some good in the world.

JONI GOOLEY: “We kept looking around our house saying we’re not Bill Gates or someone like that where we can contribute a large amount of money, but what we have is a home and we have bedrooms.”

TIM GOOLEY: “Right. We’ve been blessed with a lot and especially … compared to the rest of the world.”

GEOGHEGAN: The Gooley’s have four adult sons, the youngest Taylor is home from college on holidays, but they’re not done with child rearing just yet. They’re getting ready to welcome not one but three new children.

TIM GOOLEY: “It did go from one to two to three. It was never one but in people’s eyes around, our friends, they went oh two are you kidding? Three are you nuts? And so it progressed.”

JONI GOOLEY: “But you certainly couldn’t imagine breaking the three kids up.”


GEOGHEGAN: Behailu, Meskeren and Endale are siblings aged three, four and six and live in an orphanage in Ethiopia.

JONI GOOLEY: [Looking at picture] “This is Meskeren. Now look at her. She looks like a little movie star.”

TIM GOOLEY: “Yes, she does.”

GEOGHEGAN: They’re expecting challenges but the Gooleys believe their faith will bridge any cultural divide.

JONI GOOLEY: “Our culture is our family culture. Our culture is the Gooley culture. You know we’ve raised four boys, we have a culture within our home that has to do with loving God, respecting each other, caring for each other – that kind of stuff.”

GEOGHEGAN: After a year of paperwork, the Gooleys are finally on their way to collect their new children. It’s a sixteen hour flight to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa but a universe away from the family’s life in the US. Gabriel Gooley, their eldest son, has flown in from Europe and is on hand to meet his parents. There’s no time to digest the dramatic differences. The family is off to the orphanage, an hour outside the city.

As the family gets to know the children, a woman watches on. This is the children’s birth mother. The Gooley’s were told by their Florida based adoption agency that she’s very sick with HIV but today, even with the emotional turmoil, she looks remarkably strong.

ORPHANAGE: “She said I can’t take care of them anymore. I don’t have anything to feed them so I don’t want to see them die so that’s how she gave them to us.”

GEOGHEGAN: The orphanage claims it normally only accepts orphans but in the case of these three children, it says it made an exception because the mother couldn’t look after them and begged the orphanage to take them. The children are now legally the Gooley’s. The mother’s compensation – a photograph to remember them by.

ORPHANAGE: “So we have a picture for her framed and we’re going to give her as a gift.”

JONI GOOLEY: [To birth mother] “And also we consider it a privilege for her to share her children.
That was one of the most dramatic things I’ve ever been part of, but I know how much she must love them and I respect that [hugging and crying with birth mother].”

TIM GOOLEY: “God is a huge God. He wants to care for his people and his children and he has given us that task – the world that task. Whether you’re Madonna or whether you’re Joni Gooley, it is there for the doing.”

GEOGHEGAN: Ethiopia has become a fertile ground for international adoptions. It’s estimated thirty children leave the country a week. Across the city, hotel foyers have become clearing houses, departure lounges for many families and their adopted children. This is the scene in just one hotel in Addis Ababa. And the website You Tube is plastered with new parents’ home movies.

The crude reality is that children have become a big Ethiopian export. A child welfare agency here estimates international adoptions are generating revenue for the government of around one hundred million dollars a year, and the government is showing now sign that it is going to jeopardise that income for the sake of the children.

Ethiopia is not a signatory to the Hague Convention which requires international adoption be used only as a last resort. So as a result, a completely unregulated industry has grown up. More than 70 agencies operate here, almost half are unregistered. Corruption, fraud and deception are rife. The unscrupulous practices of this industry alarm one of the country’s top human rights lawyers, Mehari Maru.

MEHARI MURU: “I have heard several words which I don’t accept in these adoption processes, ‘harvesting’ is one of them is…. completely wrong, that you harvest the child for adoptive parents.”

CWA WOMAN: “If you want your family to be adopted by a family in America, you may stay. If you do not want your child to go to America, you should take your child away.”

GEOGHEGAN: This active drafting of children from families for the international adoption market is harvesting.

CWA WOMAN: “We know that you love your children.”

GEOGHEGAN: The American agency, Christian World Adoptions or CWA is one of the most active. Here a CWA staffer is seen recruiting children in a remote village in Ethiopia’s south, where evangelical Christianity prevails.

CWA WOMAN: “These are two cute brothers.”

GEOGHEGAN: There are five million orphans in this country, but few here. Most of these children have parents.

CWA WOMAN: Meragene has some kind of infection on his face. The Mum says it should clear up somewhat…

GEOGHEGAN: Child by child, family by family, they roll up for their photo opportunity and what amounts to a sales pitch by the CWA staffer.

CWA STAFFER: [On video tape] “This is Tegegne Bekere, he’s a little abandoned child and this kind man and his wife have taken him in and are helping him out but he needs a family. We think he’s about three years old.”

GEOGHEGAN: CWA’s sale pitch is mailed across the United States to families inquiring about Ethiopian adoptions. Californian couple, Lisa Boe and her husband Frank, chose Tegegne Bekere from CWA’s January 2007 DVD catalogue.

LISA BOE: “They run about six to eight hours and I sat and watched every child but there was one little boy and he was introduced as an abandoned child who was looking and needed a mummy and he was just this tiny, beautiful little boy. Big eyes and he looked just horrified and I just fell in love with him.”

GEOGHEGAN: Lisa Boe was assured – guaranteed – that the little boy was an orphan, but it didn’t take long before she had doubts.

LISA BOE: “There was a picture of the people that had found him and there’s a man and a woman in the picture, I point to the woman and he calls her ‘mamma’.
I would have never…. never brought home a child that has a mum…. never.”

EYOB KOLCHA: [Kingdom Vision International Orphanage] “I didn’t understand clearly what was happening then because I was an employee and I was there to obey and to do what I was told to do and when I see today, it is completely unacceptable because you cannot go to the community and announce, ‘oh we are here today to talk about adoption’. The children are in their community…. they need to be supported there first.”

GEOGHEGAN: Eyob Kolcha quit his job at Christian World Adoptions in December 2007 after more than a year with them. He’s still in the Internet and adoption business and runs an orphanage in Addis Ababa.

EYOB KOLCHA: “It was considered good for the children in the community and that people. So they were informed that they would go to America and they would live with families. There was no information before that time. There was no information after that.”

GEOGHEGAN: “Did their parents realise that they were now legally someone else’s children?”

EYOB KOLCHA: “They didn’t understand that. Even I don’t think most people, most parents understand even elsewhere in Ethiopia right now.”

GEOGHEGAN: “It’s the commercialisation of children isn’t it? At what point does that then become trafficking?”

MEHARI MARU: “If a parent or a guardian gives this consent without supplied information to them, then there is a problem it will fall under trafficking.”

GEOGHEGAN: Foreign Correspondent contacted CWA’s United States headquarters many times during the course of filming this story, seeking a response to claims it harvests children and is involved in corrupt practices, but the agency did not respond. We had little choice but to go underground.

[Hidden camera] When we visited CWA’s office in Addis Ababa posing as potential adoptive parents, case worker Aster Hiruye denied the agency harvests children.

“You know you don’t go to communities and say, do you want to give up your child for instance?”

ASTER HIRUYE: “No, we never do that, never. And we can’t do that.”

GEOGHEGAN: “That’s illegal is it?”

ASTER HIRUYE: “That’s illegal. That’s against the law.”

GEOGHEGAN: Across the city, the Gooley’s have custody of their three children and are staying at a guesthouse with several other American families who have also adopted Ethiopian children through various agencies.
The families offer one another support but the guesthouse also offers a discreet location. The Gooley’s Florida based adoption agency had warned the family that international adoptions are a sensitive issue for ordinary Ethiopians.
Most agencies discourage adoptive parents from spending too much time in Ethiopia, just a few days to arrange visas through their embassies. Some adoptive parents don’t even bother to make the trip. They have their children delivered by an escort service.

At an orphanage in the town of Nazret a couple of hundred kilometres west of the capital, mothers have come to tell their stories.

WOUBALEM WORKU: “My name is Woubalem Worku. I gave one son for adoption and I have two children left. I was not able to raise him, that’s why I gave him up, but I wish him all the best wherever he is. I want to see him in person, or at least a photo.”

MOTHER #2: “I do not regret. But when the lady took him away she said she would let me know his address. She said she’d assist me and my other kids when she took him away. At that time I was homeless [crying]. Until now, I’ve heard nothing. It’s almost 3 years.”

MUNERA AHMED: “I have no words to express my feelings and my anguish about what happened to my children, and what I did. As a mother, not to be able to know my kids’ situation hurts me so much. I have no words, no words, to express my emotions. I even regret the day I gave up my children for adoption. That’s how I feel.

GEOGHEGAN: Munera Ahmed gave up two sons, one twelve months old and the other five after her husband left. When her family found out, they took her remaining daughter, leaving her alone and filled with regret. She has no idea what’s happened to her adopted children, despite assurances from the agency that she’d be kept informed.

MUNERA AHMED: “I was told I’d have up to date information about my kids every 3 months. They also said they would educate my little daughter. It was on this basis and belief that I gave up my children to the organisation.”

GEOGHEGAN: Minara Armid has made the three hour journey to Addis Ababa her children were adopted through the Canadian Agency, Kids Link, and she’s come to the office today because she wants information about where and how her children are.

[To man at agency] “She had two children, adopted out and she was promised information about what had happened to them, where they’d gone and how they are, but she has been given nothing.”

MAN AT AGENCY: “They just left the office”.

MUNERA AHMED: “But they were here just now. I saw them from over there.”

GEOGHEGAN: Since our visit, the agency has gone bankrupt and closed its doors. Minara Armid may never trace her children.

MUNERA AHMED: “The manager is not a bird. She cannot fly. She cannot fly out of the building.”

MAN AT AGENCY: “Come back tomorrow at 3pm. Goodbye.”

GEOGHEGAN: Janesville, Northern California is remote and quiet. It’s home to just a few thousand people including now Tegegne Bekere, the little boy we met earlier. He started his new life with a new name, Zane Boe. Lisa Boe and her husband Frank have a son of their own, but they wanted a brother for Zach. A heart problem ruled out any plans for another pregnancy and a foster child they’d taken in died of SIDS. Lisa Boe met Zane for the first time at the Christian World Adoption home in Addis Ababa in April 2008.

LISA BOE: “All of a sudden they brought this beautiful little boy, they’d got him in their arms. I could tell that he’d been you know… kind of ruffled up, and she was carrying him tight and she came and she stood him before me and I kneeled down to meet him and I was just surprised when he couldn’t stand.”

GEOGHEGAN: The healthy child she’d been promised by CWA was not. Far from it.

LISA BOE: “Okay in the morning he takes Trileptal which is for his seizures…. anti-seizure medication. His problems are he has cerebral palsy. He has microcephaly… he has a cyst in his left lobe of his brain that’s very large and takes up a greater portion of his left lobe. He has seizures…. He’s better with medication but he has food aversion….. he has tremors from head to toe…. His eye bounces non-stop. He is going blind in his left eye. His legs and feet are crippled and turn inward and they’re tightening due to the cerebral palsy.
[With court documents] Look at this, the medicals that went through court… says that he’s perfectly healthy. There’s no deformities, no problems, no apparent neurological deficits.”

GEOGHEGAN: When Lisa Boe confronted the CWA doctor in Ethiopia about the false information, he showed her his notes referring Zane for specialist medical tests for his eyes and his legs.

LISA BOE: “Here is the eye referral that they say doesn’t exist.”

GEOGHEGAN: These are erased from Zane’s official medical records.

LISA BOE: “And here’s the paper where they even used white-out over somebody else’s name…. put his name over it.”

GEOGHEGAN: [Hidden camera] “Well there are some serious allegations.”

When we tracked down the doctor at a hospital in Addis Ababa he told us he couldn’t remember the case, but claims that CWA had pressured him on a number of occasions to change records, most notably the age of the children. He no longer works for the agency.

Lisa Boe is now struggling with a seriously ill child and mounting medical bills.

LISA BOE: “His three medications alone per month is over $749 per month.
I would say that they need to drop Christian from their name. They are not being honest. They are doing things for profit.”

GEOGHEGAN: Had she known the extent of Zane’s medical problems, Lisa Boe admits she probably wouldn’t have gone ahead with the adoption.

LISA BOE: “We had actually discussed getting a disabled child when we were adopting and we had decided because our prior son that we were trying to adopt passed away and it would have been well beyond what we could take. We had already had a huge heartbreak. The prognosis for Zane shortens his life and the thought of burying another child is well beyond what I can do…. [very upset] I’m sorry.”

GEOGHEGAN: The Gooley’s eight day stay in Ethiopia is almost over and the orphanage’s church is giving them and the children a send off.

TIM GOOLEY: “They’re our children. They’re all our children.”

ORPHANAGE: “I would say it’s a sad moment and a happy moment. It’s a kind of a bitter- sweet experience for us. We believe that you are a good family and we are happy about that. The Lord is good.”

GEOGHEGAN: It’s a sobering moment for the Gooley’s, but there are no second thoughts. They’re convinced that they’re doing the right thing by the children.

TIM GOOLEY: “This is really an act of God that we were placed in this place at this time with these kids and that he’s working from both sides of the Atlantic on caring for these kids.”

JONI GOOLEY: “We’re our brother’s keeper and it really hit me when I talked to the mum for a while, just myself, and tried to tell her that you’re still their mother and I’m their mother, that we’re all helping each other in this world. She’s going through some tough times. Maybe when they’re nineteen I hope I would have the courage to say if you want to go back and move to Ethiopia, let’s go back.”

GEOGHEGAN: For now though the children must adapt to a new family and a new world. And their mother has to deal with the loss and the choice she made.

Interview with Ethiopian freedom fighters: video

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

News and interview with Ethiopian freedom fighters and other. Watch below:

8 Ethiopia opposition parties form new alliance

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA (ST) — Eight major Ethiopian opposition political parties, in an unexpected move, announced a new coalition on Thursday to challenge the ruling party, most expected to win, in the upcoming national election.

The new coalition is announced two days after the ruling, Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) Tigrean People’s Liberation Front (Woyanne), party’s council decided its chairman and the Prime minister of Ethiopia Meles Zenawi to stay in power for one more term.

As its primary plan of action, the opposition umbrella named as Forum for Democratic Dialogue in Ethiopia (FDDE) in a joint statement said that it will enter into negotiation with government for expansion of democratic space and transparency ahead of the elections.

Ethiopian Prime Minister dictator convoying Ethiopia’s New Year wishes yesterday reaffirmed that his government is dedicated to conduct democratic and fair election. But some opposition leaders who spoke recently to Sudan Tribune said that they are already being harassed by government cadres, which they said is making it impossible for them to conduct election campaigns.

Other opposition members allege that their potential candidates are being intimidated or arrested on false charges; their regional offices are being closed. Government officials reject the claims as “an empty allegation with no single concrete proof”.

Recently Ethiopia’s former president and opposition MP accused government of being behind disruption of a public political meeting in Adama town of the Oromiya region.

“Continuously endorsed new laws like the press laws, the passing of the civil society law and anti terror laws are leaving no democratic space to opposition political parties but arrest of political figures and journalists” the new coalition said in a joint statement

The FDDE also said that it will soon organize a public demonstration in Addis Ababa to push for the release of detained opposition leaders.

The new alliance comprises the Ethiopian Democratic Unity Movement, the Ethiopian and Oromo Federalist Movement, the Somali Democratic Alliance Forces, UDJ, the Arena Tigray Democratic and Sovereignty Party and the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF).

Gebru Asrat, the former northern Tigray region’s president is elected to lead the new alliance. He is also the leader of the Arena Tigray party. His party strongly believes that the Eritrea’s port of Assab should be returned back to Ethiopia.

The parties under the new alliance make up 80 of the nation’s parliament’s total 547 seats.

Drought stricken Ethiopia tries to get rid of eucalyptus tree

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

By Kristin Underwood |

eucalyptus tree

Today Ethiopia is classified as having over 70% severe desertification, according to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). While there are several reasons, one major one is thanks (or no thanks) to eucalyptus brought over from Australia. But, the folks over at the Entoto National Park project, want to see that eucalyptus is replaced with indigenous plants in an effort to restore the soil and save water, as reported in Selamta.

The Entoto National Park project is not actually a national park, so tourists coming to see the hyena and lammergeyers are often disappointed as no such park exists. But the area is a 1300 hectare spot north of the capital Addis Ababa, which was decimated thanks to poor planning almost 150 years ago. The Emperor at the time, Menelik, ordered construction of the “new” city which meant the need for a lot of fuel and fast. The solution: import eucalyptus from Australia. 120 years later: Houston, we have a problem.

What’s Wrong with Eucalyptus?

Koalas love it and we’re losing tons of it through the drought in Australia. So why would the Entoto National Park project want to out and out destroy it? Eucalyptus needs water, and a lot of it. For a plant that is taking over to also be so demanding, kind of makes it hard to justify the cost of keeping it around, particularly in developing countries where the soil could be put to better use.

Which brings us to our next problem: erosion. The eucalyptus plants are thriving but also destroying the soil, which doesn’t help in an area that already suffers from “high gradients, heavy rainfall and…clay [soil].” Thus, restoring the landscape to more native species will also reduce flooding and soil loss.

How to Replace Eucalyptus

First, workers on the project have been planting trees native to Ethiopia, such as “Juniperus excelsa, Acacia abyssinica, Olea europaea cuspidata and Hagenia abyssinica. To stop the erosion, project workers are creating terraces and check dams along the hillsides. Neighbors to the park who allow their animals to roam free (and eat the new saplings) will be fined, thus the park has hired guards to monitor and protect the park.

The eucalyptus plants themselves can be “debarked” to prevent regrowth, but this takes a large amount of time and money. The eucalyptus stalks can also be sold for use as telephone poles and fence posts. The restoration plan is estimated to cost one Birr one million per year for the next five years.

In the short time since the program began, there have already been nice results. Areas that are already undergoing reforestation are thriving and animals like dik diks and jackals are starting to return to the area, along with birds. Workers at the Entoto National Park just hope that the good work keeps up and that they can afford to keep going.

Ethiopia: The Ex et Getatchew Mekuria – La rencontre des antipodes

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009
Getatchew Mekuria Mots clés : Getatchew Mekuria, The Ex, Musique, Pays-Bas (Hollande) (pays), Éthiopie (pays)Difficile d’imaginer une rencontre aussi singulière. The Ex, un groupe hollandais de free punk accompagnera ce soir et mercredi soir, à la Sala Rossa, le saxophoniste Getatchew Mekuria, une des icônes de l’éthio-jazz, cette formidable musique révélée depuis plus d’une décennie par la série discographique culte Éthiopiques.

An extraordinary journey from Ethiopia to Israel

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

By ILLANAH RESPES | Jewish Community Voice

Speaking fluent Hebrew with an English translator by her side, Hadar Sahalo recalled her journey from Ethiopia to Israel 25 years ago. For Ethiopian Jews, making this pilgrimage is taught at an early age and returning to the homeland is a dream waiting to be fulfilled.

At age 15, Hadar and several others, including her brother and cousin, secretly organized a group to depart for Israel. After trusting a guide to take them through the Sudan desert in the direction of Israel, the guide disappeared, stealing some of their money and leaving the group lost.

Fearing robbers who were known to attack wanderers, they sewed what money they had left into their clothes. When robbers attacked, Hadar managed to escape, leaving her cousin behind. Hadar thanked God for allowing her to make it through, but felt guilty thinking of the dreadful fate of her cousin.

Hadar eventually made it to safety; however, she had lost the group, including her brother. Arriving in Israel, she resided at an absorption center, run by the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), an overseas partner of the Jewish Federation. Two years later, she reunited with her brother in Israel.

Five years after Hadar successfully was absorbed, she was asked by JAFI to serve as an ambassador to new Ethiopian Jews making aliyah. On her first day, Hadar received a list of people intending to make aliyah. On that list was her cousin’s name with the name of a son.

“My heart sank at that moment. I never thought in my mind I would absorb her. It took time to rebuild my soul again and recover from the shock,” said Hadar.

Hadar learned that her cousin also had a daughter who was left behind in Ethiopia. She informed the Jewish Agency. Israeli intelligence got involved. A year later, the girl was reunited with her family.

“It was a complete circle and gave me power to continue,” said Hadar.

Hadar is still employed by JAFI and is now a “house mother” for 350 families at the Mevasseret Zion Absorption Center outside of Jerusalem. It is the largest absorption center in the country, housing over 1,200 Ethiopian Jews. Here, adults learn Hebrew, attend enrichment workshops on topics such as hygiene, employment, childcare and Israeli society. The children attend school and become involved in after-school programs.

Ethiopian Jews come from a country where people live in huts made of sticks and straw. Hadar helps to furnish their new apartments, teaches them how to clean, how to use a washing machine, how to read a bill and leads them into the transition to their new lives.

Funds raised by the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey Annual Campaign play an important role in bringing Jews from throughout the world to Israel and helping them become part of the Israeli mainstream. You can help ensure that the life-enriching programs and services provided by the Jewish Agency continue to help Jews worldwide by making a contribution to the 2009 Jewish Federation Annual Campaign. Donate online at or call 751-9500, ext. 214. .

Las Vegas Queen of Sheba features traditional Ethiopian food

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

By Corey Levitan

LAS VEGAS ( — Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant teaches you what your mother wouldn’t: How to eat with your fingers. Its place-settings feature no silverware — unless you ask.

“If you are unfamiliar with the cuisine, we’ll show you how to eat it,” says Semeneh Meshesha, who purchased the restaurant with a partner from its previous owners in May. (It opened last November in the corner of a Food 4 Less strip mall at 4001 S. Decatur Blvd.)

“For Ethiopian food, using your hand is the best way,” he says.

Queen of Sheba’s traditional dishes — meant to be shared — are evenly split between vegetarian and meat. They’re mostly butter-sauteed and spicy, and all served on 16-inch round injera, a pizzalike bread made from an ancient grain called teff.

“You will have never tasted this before, because it’s special,” promises Meshesha, who hails from the Ethiopian city of Addis Ababa. “We do it in our own traditional way, which makes the food very tasty.”

According to Meshesha, 95 percent of his American customers either have eaten Ethiopian food before or acclimate immediately. Some of them, however, “will ask for a fork.”

The restaurant — decorated, surprisingly, in a modern American style — seats 125. Hours are from 11 a.m. to 4 a.m. daily. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, Ethiopian music is performed live. On Fridays, it’s reggae; on Saturdays, Caribbean. Reservations are recommended but not required.

Signature dish: Doro wet (chicken), $9

Starters: Lamb stew, $9; tibs (sauteed beef), $9; kitfo (beef), $8.99

Salad: Ethiopian salad, $4

Entrees: Vegi combo, $10; meat combo, $14

Desserts: Baklava, $2

Information: 489-8300

Ethiopian woman in Israel denied any formal status

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

By RUTH EGLASH | Jerusalem Post

A non-Jewish Ethiopian woman, who was brought to Israel by force as a child and raped by her captor for more than a year, is being denied any formal residency status even though she has lived here for more than 16 years, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

Aregash Gudina Terfassa, whose lawyers have petitioned the Tel Aviv District Court to accept her claim, first applied for permanent residency status in 2006, when the Interior Ministry announced it would recognize children of foreign workers either born here or who had spent the vast majority of their lives here.

Even though Terfassa fit most of the criteria – she had arrived before the age of 14, grew up here and speaks fluent Hebrew – her application was denied because she had never attended an Israeli school.

She has been living here without any formal status ever since.

“It’s like being in jail,” the 28-year-old told the Post Wednesday. “I was working as a cleaner two days a week but after being arrested twice [by immigration police] and spending a month in jail, I’m too afraid to go out to work or even leave my house.”

“I would have loved to have had the opportunity to go to school,” continued Terfassa, who, ironically, spent much of her teenage years cleaning an Israeli school, but never actually learning in one. “But I had no parents to help me with that and I did not have the chance.”

Attorney Michael Decker from the Jerusalem-based Yehuda Raveh & Co. Law Offices, which is representing Terfassa, said the Interior Ministry’s decision not to grant her permanent residency was unfair.

He pointed out to the Post that under the country’s laws of compulsory education it is the responsibility of parents and/or the authorities to ensure that every child attends school. In the case of Terfassa, however, because she had no parents or official legal guardian, that criteria should not apply.

“She was cleaning schools while other kids got to study there, but never had the chance to study herself,” said Decker, adding that a court hearing was supposed to take place on Sunday but that the Interior Ministry has asked for an additional extension to further analyze the situation.

The presiding judge has not yet ruled whether next week’s hearing will be delayed.

“It’s a unique case,” commented a ministry spokeswoman. “The courts will now have to decide what should be done in this matter.”

Asked about the Interior Ministry’s approach to her case, Terfassa replied sadly: “All my life has been filled with hardships; it’s all I know. I have no parents, no family, except for my [non-Jewish] husband now. I have been here for 16 years and still have achieved nothing.”

Terfassa, who hails from rural Ethiopia, said that her parents died when she was a young child and that she was sent to live in a church. In 1993, the church’s priest was posted to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Jerusalem and Terfassa accompanied him, entering the country initially on a tourist visa.

“He was like a father to me,” said Terfassa of the man who first brought her here and later beat and raped her. “I was only a child then, I did not speak Hebrew and the officials in the church told me not to report it to the police.”

Terfassa recalled, however, that the priest was later deported by the Israeli authorities.

At the age of 14, Terfassa, who was left barren by her ordeal, managed to escape the church and found refuge with another Ethiopian Christian family in Jerusalem and worked for them caring for the family’s young children. She was later hired by a manpower agency and sent to work as a cleaner, which she has done ever since.

“I know that she would love to have a formal status so that she could at least improve her work situation,” said Becker. “She has expressed to me that she would love to work in a store, folding clothes. She is just devastated that next week’s hearing might be postponed.”

Californian helps women in Ethiopia start new lives

Monday, September 14th, 2009

By Sabrina Rodriquez |

Taft woman helps women in Ethiopia start new lives

BAKERSFIELD, CA — Sometimes it doesn’t take much to change someone’s life.

Drussilla Rofkahr lives in Taft but says her heart is in Ethiopia, because the women there live a hard life.

“No hope. Destitute,” is how Rofkahr describes the lives of many Ethiopian women. “(The women are) afraid, because they can be raped, and their children can be taken away and sold into slavery.”

According to Rofkahr, many women will resort to prostitution and giving away their children in order to have enough money to get by.

Because of that hardship, Rofkahr and the group she works with, Joshua Campaign International, go to Ethiopia with one simple goal: “Helping women get off the streets.”

But the group does more than just give the women and children a better place to sleep.

For one to two years, the women are taught how to sew, how to cook, and they also run a café. It may not seem like much but Rofkahr says that by doing these jobs the women, “Learn how to serve and run a business. We teach them a trade where they can do it themselves.”

She adds that by helping these women become self-sufficient, “That gives them security, they feel good about themselves.”

These seemly simple tasks become the beginning of a whole new life for these women.

Rofkahr is getting ready to head back to Ethiopia to help even more women, but she says she needs help, and is hoping the public will donate.

Rofkahr says a little bit can go a long way.

“$20 to $30 a month would bring (the women and children) off the streets and give them a place to live and food in their stomachs, and that would be a great thing.”

If you would like to donate you can send it to:

Joshua Campaign International
c/o “Ethiopian Women’s Project”
PO BOX 8700
Fresno, CA 93747

Or you can call 1-800-745-1332.

WorldBank says Ethiopia's atmosphere for business improved!

Monday, September 14th, 2009

EDITOR’S NOTE: World Bank crooks must be chewing khat with Meles.

ADDIS ABABA (Fortune) — A new report on ease of doing business around the world has been published by the World Bank and it shows that Ethiopia has improved its environment for doing business with the country moving up nine places on the index table from position 116 to 107. Wow! Incredible!

[The truth of the matter is that Ethiopia's economy under the Woyanne tribal junta is growing down like a carrot.]

The development comes barely a month after another World Bank report on competitiveness where Ethiopia’s business environment was found wanting in many areas.

“Ethiopia reduced court delays through a combination of better case management and internal training, as well as an expanded role for enforcement judges. The government has simplified property transfers by decentralizing administrative tasks to sub-cities and merging procedures performed by the land registry and municipalities,” said World Bank in a report released in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, September 9, 2009.

Reforms at the company registry and the streamlining of procedures have also made it easier to start a business in Ethiopia over the past year, says the report compiled by the Bank’s branch, the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

Ethiopia has over the past year ranked poorly on the index as it moved from 109 in 2008 to 116 in this year, 2009.

“Major areas of reform [in 2008/2009] have been in areas of starting a business, registering property, and enforcing contracts,” the Bank notes in the report.

Ethiopia is also named to have lowered taxes on domestic firms in 2008/2009.

This new report vindicates State Minister of Trade and Industry Tedesse Hailu, who on August 20, 2009, doubted the findings of the first World Bank report titled Ethiopia Investment Climate: Towards the Competitive Frontier which showed that government preferences, access to capital, coupled with low productivity, low wages, land allocation and inefficiency in allocation of resources were some factors that were slowing down Ethiopia’s competitiveness to attract business and investment on the world market.

The Trade and Industry Minister indicated that Ethiopia was improving in many areas like making resources such as land available to investors and reforming some of its trade rules.

“This is good development for Ethiopia as 2009 was difficult year for many countries,” an economist told Fortune on Wednesday, September 9, 2009.

The Bank dubbed 2009 as a year of fast-paced reform with 67 regulatory reforms recorded in 29 of 46 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Doing Business 2010: ‘Reforming through Difficult Times’, as the report is named, is the seventh in a series of Doing Business annual reports published by IFC and the World Bank.

For the first time a Sub-Saharan African country-Rwanda-was the world’s top reformer, based on the number and impact of reforms implemented between June 2008 and May 2009. Rwanda, a repeat reformer, reformed in seven of the 10 business regulation areas measured by Doing Business.

It now takes a Rwandan entrepreneur just two procedures and three days to start a business. Imports and exports are more efficient, and transferring property takes less time thanks to reorganized registries and statutory time limits. Investors have more protection, insolvency reorganization has been streamlined, and a wider range of assets can be used as collateral to access credit.

Mauritius, ranked 17 of the 183 economies covered by the report, is the top Sub-Saharan economy for the second year in a row in terms of the overall regulatory ease of doing business. It adopted a new insolvency law, established a specialized commercial division within the court, eased property transfers and expedited trade processes.

“In times overshadowed by the global financial and economic crisis, business regulation can make an important difference for how easy it is to reorganize troubled firms to help them survive, to rebuild when demand rebounds, and to get new businesses started,” said Penelope Brook, acting vice president for Financial and Private Sector Development at the World Bank Group in a statement made available to Fortune on Wednesday.

Doing Business analyzes regulations that apply to an economy’s businesses during their life cycles, including start-up and operations, trading across borders, paying taxes, and closing a business. Doing Business does not measure all aspects of the business environment that matter to firms and investors.

For example, it does not measure security, macroeconomic stability, corruption, skill level, or the strength of financial systems.

“The report shows that some post conflict economies [like Ethiopia and Rwanda] in the region are actively improving the regulatory framework for private sector-led development,” said Brooks.

U.S. adoption agencies exploit Ethiopian children – documentary

Monday, September 14th, 2009

This transcript is a record of the Radio National broadcast. –

TONY EASTLEY: In Australia, international adoptions are handled by the Government and are highly regulated, but that’s not the case elsewhere in the world.

In the United States international adoptions are a big business, where a large number of private international adoption agencies are paid on average $30,000 a time to find a child for hopeful parents.

The number of Americans adopting Ethiopian children has quadrupled, especially since American celebrities adopted African children.

A Foreign Correspondent team has been investigating American adoption agencies operating in Ethiopia and has uncovered some alarming practices.

Africa correspondent Andrew Geoghegan reports.

ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: Famine, disease and war have orphaned around five million Ethiopian children. It’s not surprising then that the business of international adoptions is thriving here and Americans in particular are queuing up to adopt a child.

EXCERPT FROM DVD: This is Yabets. He’s five years old and both of his parents died; it says they died of tuberculosis. Can you smile? Oh, nice smile.

ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: This is the sales pitch from an American agency Christian World Adoption. In a remote village in Ethiopia’s south the agency has compiled a DVD catalogue of children for its clients in the United States.

EXCERPT FROM DVD: Father has died. I’m not certain what he died of and this is the mother. Hoping for a family who can provide for them, they’re just really desperate for people to take care of their children.

ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: Incredibly though, many of the children being advertised are not orphans at all. American Lisa Boe was told by Christian World Adoption that the little boy she’d adopted was an orphan, but she soon had doubts.

LISA BOE: There was a picture of the people that had found him, and there’s a man and a woman in the picture. I point to the woman and he calls her mamma. I would never, never have brought home a child that has a mum. Never.

ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: At least 70 adoption agencies have set up business in Ethiopia. Almost half are unregistered, but there’s scant regulation anyway and fraud and deception are rife. Some agencies actively recruit children in a process known as harvesting.

EXCERPT FROM DVD: If you want your child to be adopted by a family in America, you may stay. If you do not want your child to go to America, you should take your child away.

ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: Parents give up their children in the belief they’ll have better lives overseas. But many have little understanding of the process or that that they may never see their children again.

EYOB KOLCHA: It was considered good for the children in the community and the people came.

ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: Eyob Kolcha worked for Christian World Adoption before quitting in December 2007.

EYOB KOLCHA: There was no information before that time, there was no information after that.

ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: Did their parents realise that they were now legally someone else’s children?

EYOB KOLCHA: They didn’t understand that. I don’t think most people, most parents understand even elsewhere in Ethiopia right now.

MUNERA AHMED (translated): I have no words to express my feelings and my anguish about what happened to my children and what I did.

ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: After her husband left, Munera Ahmed gave up two sons – one 12 months old and the other five through another adoption agency.

She has had no word about her children since she handed them over; that’s despite guarantees that she’d be kept informed. The agency has now closed.

MUNERA AHMED (translated): As a mother not to be able to know my kids’ situation hurts me so much, I have no words, no words to express my emotions (crying).

ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: About 30 Ethiopian children are leaving the country every week, bound for a new home, new parents and an uncertain future.

This is Andrew Geoghegan in Addis Ababa for AM.

TONY EASTLEY: And you can watch the full story tonight on Foreign Correspondent at 8pm.

Paranoia grips the ruling tribal junta in Ethiopia

Monday, September 14th, 2009

By Kevin J. Kelley

NAIROBI (The East African) — The government’s emphasis on ethnic identity could trigger a “violent eruption” in the run-up to Ethiopia’s scheduled elections in June, an international conflict-prevention group warned in a report last week.

“Paranoia” on the part of the former guerrilla fighters who now lead the country is cited as an impediment to a democratic system.

The ruling party’s “obsession with controlling political processes from the federal to the local level” is inciting opposition groups to consider taking up arms, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group says.

“Without genuine multiparty democracy,” the report suggests, “the tensions and pressures in Ethiopia’s polities will only grow, greatly increasing the possibility of a violent eruption that would destabilize the country and region.”

The report is intended to pressure Ethiopia’s leading benefactors to tie development aid more closely to political reform.

“Some donors appear to consider food security more important than democracy in Ethiopia, but they neglect the increased ethnic awareness and tensions created by the regionalisation policy and their potentially explosive consequences,” the Crisis Group says.

Ethiopia ranks as one of the United States’ chief allies in Africa. Washington annually provides Addis Ababa with hundreds of millions of dollars in aid while defending the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front from charges such as those levelled by the Crisis Group.

The Crisis Group’s report acknowledges that Ethiopia has made economic progress under the rule of the party that overthrew a repressive Marxist-Leninist regime 18 years ago. The report also refrains from questioning the government’s motives in promoting a system of ethnic federalism.

“But while the ruling EPRDF Tigrean People Liberation Front promises democracy,” the 40-page analysis continues, “it has not accepted that the opposition is qualified to take power via the ballot box and tends to regard the expression of differing views and interests as a form of betrayal.”

Feeling threatened by the emergence of a significant opposition, the ruling party resorted to repressive measures prior to the 2005 national elections.One paradoxical aspect of the report is its finding that the ruling party’s authoritarian actions have not prevented opposition groups from proliferating in recent years.

This broadening of the political spectrum, coupled with the promotion of ethnic awareness and the government’s unwillingness to share power, are identified by the Crisis Group as the factors that could push Ethiopia to a break point.

Ethiopia: African women parliamentarians condemn female genital mutilation

Monday, September 14th, 2009

By Tezeta Tulloch

Aregash Agegnehu, shown here with her daughter, is a former practitioner of female genital mutilation/cutting who has renounced it. [© UNICEF Ethiopia/2009/Zeleman]

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (UNICEF) — In a room filled with visiting dignitaries and members of the Ethiopian National Assembly, Tadeletch Shanko’s voice was whisper-quiet as she talked about the difficult subject of female genital mutilation/cutting, or FGM/C.

VIDEO: Watch now

Ms. Shanko had performed FGM/C on girls for the last 15 years and underwent the procedure herself as a girl, with devastating consequences.

“I lost seven of my nine children in childbirth,” she said. “Because of the scarring I sustained, I was not elastic enough. All seven of them suffocated inside my womb.”

Raising awareness

Ms. Shanko is no longer a supporter of FGM/C, as a result of a series of community dialogues on the physical and psychological harm caused by the practice.

She shared her story with the members of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) Women’s Caucus, which convened in Addis Ababa late last month to assess the state of FGM/C across Africa – and to learn from the strategies that Ethiopia and other countries have put in place to eliminate it.

A key objective of the visit was to mobilize parliamentarian and state support for the elimination of harmful traditional practices, with a particular emphasis on female genital mutilation. Also on the agenda were ways to raise public awareness of FGM/C through the media; customary laws to introduce sanctions against the practice; and potential avenues for collaboration among various stakeholders in society.

Powerful testimony

The parliamentarians heard powerful testimony from women and men whose lives had been tragically affected by FGM/C.

For Aregash Agegnehu, female circumcision – as the practice is also known – had never been a question of choice. “I was circumcised when I was a child. My daughter had to be cut as well,” she said. “It was inevitable.”

But since participating in in-depth community dialogues on the subject, Ms. Agegnehu no longer believes that FGM/C is a requisite part of being a woman.

“When I started engaging in community dialogue, I came to understand the harm of FGM, and now I have changed,” she said.

Hon. Anab Abdulkadir, Pan-African Parliament Acting Chairperson and a member of the Ethiopian Parliament, underwent FGM/C as a child. She is now an outspoken opponent of the practice. [© UNICEF Ethiopia/2009/Zeleman]

Cultural beliefs

Female genital mutilation is widely practiced by Muslims and Christians alike in Ethiopia, and official statistics suggest that almost three-quarters of women here have undergone the procedure. Forms vary widely by region but generally entail either a partial or total removal of the clitoris.

In the most severe form, infibulation, the labia are removed and the genitals sewn shut – barring a small hole for the release of urine and menstrual blood.

The predominant cultural belief is that circumcision is an essential pre-condition of marriage and motherhood. In many communities, an uncircumcised female cannot be recognized as a woman. Some feel that circumcision is a safeguard against promiscuity. Another common belief is that uncircumcised women tend to be inept at carrying out common household duties.

According to the World Health Organization, women who have undergone FGM/C are more likely to suffer from infertility, develop vaginal cysts and have recurrent bladder and urinary tract infections. FGM/C also increases the risk of childbirth complications and newborn deaths. It has no proven health benefits.

Worldwide, between 100 and 140 million girls and women are living with the consequences of FGM/C. In Africa, an estimated 92 million girls aged 10 and over have undergone some form of genital cutting.

Changed attitudes

Many mothers fear that, without circumcision, their daughters will not fulfil the criteria for marriage or gain full acceptance in the community. Indeed, supporters of FGM/C often cite the fact that it is a long-held social norm. But such attitudes are changing. By the end of 2008, four of Ethiopia’s districts had publicly pledged to abandon FGM/C.

Mergieta Temesgen Ashebir, a religious leader who uses his influence to speak out against the practice, also spoke at the PAP conference. “According to the bible,” he said, “circumcision is only for boys, not for girls. There is no verse that states otherwise.”

Hon. Anab Abdulkadir, PAP Acting Chairperson and a member of the Ethiopian Parliament, pointed out the importance of understanding the root causes of FGM/C

“The demand is coming from where?” she asked. “It is coming from men. If there wasn’t a demand, there wouldn’t have been any supply. We have to … outlaw that demand.”

‘Not cast in stone’

UNICEF Representative in Ethiopia Ted Chaiban voiced the need to accelerate and harmonize efforts to abolish FGM/C in Africa.

“There are encouraging signs that the practice of FGM in Ethiopia is declining,” he noted. “We see this mission of the Pan-African Parliament Women’s Caucus as a major opportunity to catalyze and synergize efforts in Ethiopia, and across Africa, towards an intensified and coordinated affront on FGM.”

Added Hon. Fatima Hajaig, a South African parliamentarian: “Cultural norms are not cast in stone. They develop from day to day. Our cultural value system changes as we go along. This business of ‘in the name of culture’ – I can’t accept that.”

UNICEF Ethiopia has been collaborating with partners on a number of advocacy efforts toward abandonment of FGM/C, including training community-dialogue facilitators and disseminating educational materials in various media. The parliamentary mission is the most recent effort in this direction.

Ethiopia's U.S.-backed tribal junta releases 9,600 political prisoners

Monday, September 14th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA (Sudan Tribune) — While Ethiopians mark a new year of 2002, Ethiopia’s regional states of Oromiya and Amhara officials on Friday said that they have freed 9,612 prisoners, including 391 women on amnesty in connection with the New Year.

Among the total prisoners freed 6611 of them were released from the Oromiya region and the rest 2901 are from the Amhara region.

The prisoners were pardoned based on the deep regret they showed, the good behavior they displayed while in prison and also considering their length of stay and old ages. They have all served at least half of their prison terms. But the amnesty grant does not include to those who are jailed on rape, murder or other serious crimes.

Regional officials have called on the freed prisoners to stay away from any criminal acts and to rather payback their community by actively engaging themselves in the economic and developmental endeavors of the country.

Ethiopians are today celebrating the Ethiopian New Year (Enkutatash). The New Year’s Day is celebrated on September 11 towards the end of the big rains.

Yemen police arrest over 90 immigrants from Ethiopia

Monday, September 14th, 2009

SANA’A, YEMEN (SABA) – Security Authorities in Thubab coast of Taiz governorate have arrested about 94 Ethiopians entered the country illegally, the Interior Ministry has reported.

The Ministry said that the Ethiopians, including 38 women, have been all sent to the competent authorities to take the required legal procedures against them.

In a related context, the security authorities said that 100 Ethiopian citizens have arrived to Thubab coat of Taiz in the first week of September.

The authorities voiced high concerns of the incessant flow of the Ethiopians to the Yemeni coasts.

On the other hand, about 138 Somali refugees have arrived in Taiz coasts. The refugees included 47 women and three children.

The necessary procedures have been taken to send them to the main camp of Kharaz in Lahj governorate.

Deteriorating the security situation in Somalia makes thousands of Somalis are ready to risk their lives on a perilous journey via Gulf of Aden to be smuggled into Yemen.

Yemen is considered to be a gateway for Somalis to the Middle East. It recognizes all Somalis as refugees on a “prima facie basis,” meaning they are automatically granted the right to stay. But many of those who cross the Gulf of Aden move on to Yemen’s neighbours Saudi Arabia and Oman in pursuit of jobs.

The escalating numbers of refugees place increasing strain on Yemen’s limited resources and pose more challenges to the government’s efforts to balance its obligations under international law with the need to protect the country from illegal entry.

Savage Egypt police shoot another Ethiopian woman

Monday, September 14th, 2009

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Ethiopian woman was shot and at least 14 people were arrested in Egypt while trying to enter Israel illegally.

The Egyptian guards fired warning shots in the air early Sunday morning, but then shot a woman in the arm when she did not stop, according to reports. The migrants were from Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The incident comes less than a week after Egyptian police shot dead four African migrants trying to infiltrate into Israel at its border with Egypt’s Sinai Desert.

The migrants usually are looking for work or asylum in Israel. Egypt has been under pressure to prevent the migrants from slipping into Israel, Reuters reported.

Ohio: Ethiopian man, 6 others charged in $75,000 robbery

Monday, September 14th, 2009

By Stan Donaldson | Plain Dealer Reporter

SOLON — Seven men have been arrested in connection with the armed robbery of $75,000 in cash and property from a private high-stakes poker game in Solon, officials said.

Randall Barnes, 25, of Euclid, Solomon Berhane, 31, of Cleveland who immigrated from Ethiopia, Andres Arzola, 18, and William Masters, 37, both of Lorain, will be arraigned Sept. 15 in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court on charges including kidnapping and aggravated robbery.

The men — who were part of a seven-man crew — helped rob a dozen card players who organized the poker game April 17 at the Allied Lighting warehouse in the 5300 block of Naiman Parkway, said Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office spokesman Ryan Miday.

The three other men involved in the incident have already been arraigned by Judge Brian J. Corrigan.

They are Jose Arzola-Torres, 20, of Lorain, the older brother of Andres Arzola; Dominic Berlingeri, 24, also of Lorain; and Wayne Bunkin, 31, of Cleveland. All seven men were in the Cuyahoga County Jail.

Miday said Barnes, Berlingeri and the Arzola brothers wore masks when they approached a card player smoking a cigarette outside of the warehouse. The men then entered the room with an AK-47 assault rifle, an SKS rifle, a pistol grip shotgun and an automatic pistol and demanded money from the players.

Miday said the men took $50,000 in cash and $25,000 in jewelry and other property, then fled. He said Bunkin, Berhane and Masters helped set up the robbery.

“The defendants knew this was a high-stakes poker game where there was going to be a lot of money on the table,” Miday said.

About a week after the incident, Berlingeri, who served four years for a 2003 aggravated robbery, was arrested in Sheffield after a traffic stop.

Authorities said he purchased the car he was driving with the stolen money. Police also found credit cards and other items that belonged to the victims.

Miday said police contacted Solon police detectives, who conducted the investigation.

If convicted, the men face up to 20 years in prison.

Usain Bolt wants to race against Ethiopia's Kenenisa Bekele

Monday, September 14th, 2009

EDITOR’S NOTE: Usain needs to meet Kenenisa half way, such as 1500 meters. Be fair!!

Thessaloniki, Greece (DPA/CNN) – Usain Bolt concluded what has been a phenomenal season with another breathtaking display over his favourite 200 meters distance at the World Athletics Final in Thessalonika.

Bolt said tiredness towards the end of the race, which has prompted him to call his memorable year to an immediate halt, slowed him, although he still roared to another fantastic time of 19.68 seconds at the Greek venue.

Bolt, 23, won a world title treble last month in Berlin and bettered his world records in the 100m (9.58 seconds) and 200m (19.19) there.

On Friday, he participated in a street event for local children and allowed the five-year-old boy finish first. “It was really fun with the kids,” said Bolt.

While Bolt can’t wait for his post-season break, he did look ahead when he suggested a race over 600m or longer against Ethiopia’s track star Kenenisa Bekele in 2010.

“To me running a 600 would be really interesting. It’s been a while since I have done it but I think it would be fun. So if my coach decides to let me do it, then I would definitely do it,” said Bolt.

“It would be really interesting. I think a lot of people would definitely want to see that.”

Bekele is the world and Olympic champion and world record holder in the 5,000m and 10,000m, Bolt has the same merits in the sprints.

Bolt and Bekele are two top names among 28 world champions from Berlin to compete in Thessaloniki Saturday and Sunday. Each win is worth 30,000 dollars and a world record 100,000 dollars.

Russian Yelena Isinbayeva, who flopped at the worlds when she cleared no heights, could further raise the pole vault record bar to 5.07m.

Ethiopian Airlines and Rwandair sign code share agreement

Monday, September 14th, 2009

By BOSCO HITIMANA | BusinessWeek

KIGALI, RWANDA — Rwandair and Ethiopian Airlines have entered into a code share agreement to boost their visibility.

Under two national flag carriers’partnership, Rwandair will serve as the marketing carrier while Ethiopian Airlines will be the operating carrier.

Ethiopian Airlines Vice President Commercial, Mr. Tadesse Adane and Rwandair Chairman, Mr. Gerald Zirimwabagabo recently signed the agreement in Kigali, Rwanda.

“This is a major milestone in the development of Rwandair and the airline industry in our country,” Zirimwabagabo said after signing.

He said the small airline is looking for partnerships that will allow its clients fly beyond its destinations.

The Ethiopian carrier, according to Tadesse, seeks partners to develop and increase its market share in southern Africa, particularly the Rwandan market.

Tadesse said the airline has embarked on helping African small airlines to be competitive and boost the African airline industry. He said currently the carrier flies daily to and from Kigali and that he hopes the new partnership will ‘greatly’ double the flights.

The two airlines are incomparable in both resources and market share but the airlines’ bosses believe they will reap from the partnership.

Rwandair’s code share with Ethiopian Airlines came following similar partnerships with other major airlines including Brussels Airlines, and the USA- based Virgin Atlantic Airlines to boost its visibility.

The airline is also pursuing an ambitious plan to purchase two used CRJ aircraft from Lufthansa, a Germany based carrier, with ambitions to reposition in the regional aviation industry.

Currently Rwandair operates three aircraft on lease while Ethiopian Airlines commands 35 aircraft. Ethiopian Airlines has been crowned the African Airline of Year 2009.

Save Lake Koka Before Saving the Continent of Africa!

Monday, September 14th, 2009

Alemayehu G. Mariam

Bluster of the Con Artists

Last week Ethiopia’s arch dictator was in tears, crocodile tears that is, over the unfair and shameful treatment of Africa by the heartless Western imperialists on the issue of global warming and climate change. Frothing at the mouth and brimming with moral indignation, the dictator threatened to go all out Ghandi on the West at the December climate change talks in Copenhagen. With sanctimonious and self-righteous rebuke, he railed:

If need be we are prepared to walk out of any negotiations that threatens to be another rape of the continent… While we reason with everyone to achieve our objective we are not prepared to rubber stamp any agreement by the powers… We will use our numbers to delegitimise any agreement that is not consistent with our minimal position… Africa will field a single negotiating team empowered to negotiate on behalf of all member states of the African Union… The key thing for me is that Africa be compensated for the damage caused by global warming. Many institutions have tried to quantify that and they have come up with different figures. The sort of median figure would be in the range of 40 billion USD a year.

The dictator’s sidekick on climate change, African Union chairman Jean Ping, (the longtime and one of the closest advisers of Omar Bongo, Gabon’s 42-year dictator who died recently) took an even harder line:

It is my expectation that such financial resources must be from public funds and must be additional to the usual overseas development assistance… What we are not prepared to live with is global warming above minimum unavoidable levels… We will therefore never accept any global deal that does not limit global warming to the minimum unavoidable level, no matter what levels of compensation and assistance are promised to us.

The Moral Profundity of Tyrants: Hope Springs Eternal!

It is truly refreshing to hear words and phrases that signal latent moral awakening in the “conscience” of tyrants. Use of such phrases and words as “not prepared to rubberstamp” (in contrast to a rubberstamp parliament), “rape of a continent” (in contrast to the rape of Ethiopia), “delegitimise” (in contrast to delgitimizing rigged elections), “walk out of negotiations” (in contrast to walking opposition parties through make-believe negotiations), “compensation for damages” (in contrast to compensation for damages to families of victims of extrajudicial killings, victims of excessive and unreasonable use of deadly force under color of law and victims of illegal arrests and detentions) give new meaning to the expression, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast.” Mahatama Ghandi could not have been more proud of such resolute declarations of profound moral outrage against the wily Westerners who have been exploiting Africa for centuries.

Indeed as Ghandi taught, “Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as cooperation with good.” Therefore, never cooperate with the malevolent Western overlords on issues of fair play, equity, and certainly environmental justice! That is the essence of the bluster of a “walk out” and “delegitimization” of the Copenhagen climate talks. Ghandi argued that the only way to get the British to abandon their evil ways in South Africa and India was to actively resist their colonial rule through civil disobedience, particularly through a campaign of non-cooperation. He encouraged Indian workers, policemen, soldiers and civil servants to go on strike. He called for massive boycotts of public transportation and English-manufactured goods. Ghandi used the moral weapon of Satyagraha (satya, meaning “truth” and agraha, meaning “holding firm to”) to campaign against the myriad crimes and abuses committed by the British colonial masters. His aim was to use “satyagraha to convert the wrongdoer, to awaken a sense of justice in him, to show him also that without the cooperation direct or indirect of the wronged, the wrongdoer cannot do the wrong intended by him.”

Remarkably and commendably, that is the intrinsic logic of the arch dictator’s outburst of moral outrage. By exposing the hypocritical West on climate change to the light of Truth and by threatening to visit moral condemnation upon them, they could be persuaded to change their evil ways. Indeed, by a resolute act of non-cooperation, the West could be held to account for its reckless abuse of nature and make Africans whole by paying them monetary damages. In short, the West could be named and shamed into doing right by Africa. But is the dictator’s pronouncement of moral outrage sincere and made in good faith? Or is it a veiled threat of naked political extortion?

Blood Money, Carbon Money and the Devil Who Can Cite Scripture

Shakespeare wrote, “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose. An evil soul producing holy witness is like a villain with a smiling cheek.” Or a villain shedding crocodile tears? The bluster about “walking out” and “delegitimizing” the Copenhagen talks, etc., is nothing more than a cynical and beguiling appeal to lofty moral virtues to guilt-trip and shakedown Western countries into paying billions of dollars every year as “blood money”. That is certainly the conclusion of the Economist Magazine, which in its recent issue stated that the wrath of the African “leaders” is aimed at making the rich world feel guilty about global warming. Mr Meles has made it clear he is seeking blood money—or rather carbon money—that would be quite separate from other aid to the continent. If the cash were not forthcoming, the African Union (AU) might take a case to a court of arbitration and ask it to judge overall culpability for climate change. In a rare fit of African unity, it was decided at a recent flurry of leaders’ meetings that the United States, the European Union, Japan and others should pay the continent the tidy sum of $67 billion a year, though it was unclear for how long.

In the end, all of the climate change pontification is about African dictators extorting a $67 billion payola (hush money) every year to line their pockets. It has absolutely nothing to do with remedying the environmental degradation of Africa. It has everything to do with Africa’s tin pot dictators striking gold in a modern day El Dorado (also known as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, Western donors, etc.,). They know there is a huge pot of glittering gold at the end of the climate change/global warming rainbow. Africa’s dictators are drooling — literally slobbering at the mouth and licking their chops — at the prospect of putting their grubby hands on that $67 billion delicious golden pie and sinking their teeth into it.

Save Lake Koka First Before Saving the Continent of Africa

Let’s face hard facts: Ethiopia is facing an ecological disaster! Not from catastrophic climate change (that is macro-climatic changes resulting from variations in solar radiation, deviations in the Earth’s orbit, changes in greenhouse concentrations, etc.,) but from man-made causes. Ethiopia is facing an ecological catastrophe caused by deforestation, soil erosion, over-grazing, over-population, desertification and loss of biodiversity, and chemical pollution of its rivers and lakes. Hundreds of square miles of forest land and farmland are lost every year. According to the Ethiopian Agricultural Research Institute [1], “Ethiopia loses up to 200,000 hectares of forest every year and warned that if the trend continues the country would lose all of its forest resources by the year1 2020.” Other data show that “Between 1990 and 2005, Ethiopia lost 14.0% of its forest cover (2,114,000 hectares) and 3.6% of its forest and woodland habitat. If the trend continues, it is expected that Ethiopia could lose all of its forest resources in 11 years, by the year 2020.” [2] The wild animal population is disappearing at an alarming rate due to deforestation and loss of natural habitat, and hundreds of plant and animal species are facing imminent extinction.

Dr Gedion Getahun, Research Scientist at the Environmental Radioanalytical Chemistry in Mainz, Germany writes [3],

According to the UN, Ethiopia’s forests are depleted, at present less than three percent of the entire country is covered with trees… In Ethiopia, biodiversity is treated in very awful manner. The destruction of natural habitat as well as a threat to the flora and fauna and other biological resources diminish the economy of the country. This affects the country’s wealth and with it, the existence and the well being of the nation.

The Lake Koka environmental disaster — a topic of special coverage by the Al Jazeera Network [4] — a few kilometers outside Ethiopia’s capital is only the tip of the iceberg of Ethiopia’s environmental nightmare. As one resident of the Lake Koka community put it [5]:

The main problem here is the water. People are getting sick. Everyone around here uses this water. There is no other water. Almost 17,000 people… come from 10 kilometers away and use this water. The water smells even if you boil it; it does not change the color. It is hard to drink it. The people here have great potential and we are losing them, especially the children. I am upset but I don’t have the ability to do anything. I would if I could, but I can’t do anything.

Another local resident lamented the polluted Lake Koka water in apocalyptic terms:

It is better to die thirsty than to drink this [Koka] water. We are drinking a disease. We told the local authorities our cattle and goats died due to this water, but nobody helped. We are tired of complaining.

Nothing has been done to hold criminally accountable the polluters of Lake Koka, or “compensate for damages” the people living in that community for the devastating health problems they continue to face from using the toxic water of the lake.

Almaz Mequanint, who has struggled for years to bring attention to the devastating environmental pollution caused by the Wonji/Shoa and Metehara sugar factories, wrote six years ago:

I feel helpless and in despair when I think of my whole family and the 100,000 voiceless residents who have been living around the sugar factories of Ethiopia…. I now suffer from asthma because of the air pollution at that time. My teeth are decayed and I have knee and other joint problems. My kids are suffering from tooth decay, cavities and staining.” [6]

Nothing has been done over the past six years to improve the health conditions of the tens of thousands of people who worked in the sugar factories or community residents, nor has any action been taken to “compensate them for the damages” they suffered as a result of industrial pollution of criminal magnitude. Just this past week, a website was set up to call attention to the plight of these victims. [7]

Africa’s knights in shining armor should take care of business in their own backyards — lakes, rivers and factories — before mounting their steeds on a crusade to save Africa from global warming.

What is Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander!

If truth force (Satyagrha) could be used against nasty Western rapists of Africa, there is no reason why it could not be used against the rapists of Ethiopia. Does it not logically follow that Ethiopians should “use their numbers to delegitimise” any regime “that is not consistent with minimal positions” under universally accepted standards of justice and international law such as protection of basic human rights, respect for the rule of law, free elections, free press, etc.? Aren’t Ethiopians entitled to resist anyone who “threatens to (perpetuate) the rape of” their country? Are they not entitled to “field a single negotiating team empowered to negotiate on behalf of all” the people against a one-man, one-party dictatorship? Is it not true that what is good for the goose is good for the gander?

Doesn’t it make more sense to save Lake Koka FIRST before saving the whole continent of Africa?


Ethiopian Airlines receives its new Boeing 737-8AS

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

Ethiopian Airlines' "new" Boeing 737-8AS ET-ANB (msn 29935, ex EI-CSW) is pictured at Lasham before it departed on September 13.  Copyright Photo: Antony J. Best.Ethiopian Airlines’ “new” Boeing 737-8AS ET-ANB (msn 29935, ex EI-CSW) is pictured at Lasham before it departed on September 13. [Photo: Antony J. Best]

Ethiopian Airlines operates an all-Boeing fleet of 737 and 767 aircraft.

Last week, Ethiopian Airlines, it acquired its second MD-11 freighter aircraft from the Chicago-based Boeing Corporation.

The airline Management told Business Times that the newly leased aircraft with a payload capacity of 95 tons, 32 pallets and a volume of 513 cubic meters will increase capacity 23 percent following the Airlines code share agreement with Rwandair.

Management said the aircraft will help them serve the newly established markets of Europe and South-East Asia. Currently, Ethiopian airline has a total a fleet of six aircrafts consisting of two, B757-200, two, B747-200 and two MD-11F.

Ethiopia's star athlete Kenenisa Bekele wins 3000m in Greece

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

THESSALONIKI, GREECE (DPA) — Double world and Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele outsprinted Bernard Lagat of the United States with victory over 3,000 metres at the world athletics final in Thessaloniki, Greece on Saturday.

The 27-year-old Ethiopian, who won over 5,000 and 10,000 metres at the world championships in Berlin, clocked 8 minutes 3.79 seconds to beat Lagat again into second place.

Lagat, beaten by Bekele in the 5,000m final in Berlin 20 days ago, posted 8:04.00, with Kenya’s Sammy Mutahi (8:04.64) third.

“I ran pretty well but it was not an easy race after a very long season. I am very tired and so I will not run tomorrow’s 5,000 metres,” said Bekele, who since Berlin had won a share of the Golden League jackpot.

Elsewhere world champion LaShawn Merritt of the United States won the 400m in 44.93 seconds, ahead of Chris Brown of Bahamas (45.49).

Kerron Clement of the United States took the 400m hurdles in 48.11 seconds, while world champion Brigitte Foster-Hylton of Jamaica won the women’s 100m hurdles in 12.58, edging Olympic champion Dawn Harper of the United States (12.61).

World champion Brittney Reese of the United States captured the long jump in 7.08 metres, while Berlin silver medallist Betty Heidler of Germany threw a best of 72.03m to win the hammer throw.

Seattle resident who attacked Ethiopian man gets 10 years

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

By Martha Kang

SEATTLE (Komo News) — Just one day before Dawit Alemu, an immigrant from Ethiopia, was set to graduate from Seattle Central Community College, he was beaten unconscious by a group of men outside his home.

Prosecutors say Alemu, 25, sustained brain damage and may never recover his sight.

One of the men accused of the assault, Justin L. Phillips, faced a judge on Friday. But before King County Judge Michael Fox handed down his sentence, he wanted to know why the men had attacked.

“What was the motivating fact? Was there anything?” he asked. “Is there something about Mr. Alemu? Is it the fact that he’s of African descent? Is it the fact that he was at the wrong place at the wrong time?”

Phillips, 20, had no excuses in court.

“This was a senseless act of violence,” he said. “I had no right to do the things I did. I was under the influence of alcohol, and that’s no excuse. I take full responsibility for my actions.”

Reiterating the lack of provocation on the victim’s part, the judge sentenced Phillips to 10 years and forbid him from having contact with Alemu and his family members.

According to the statement of probable cause, a group of men jumped Alemu outside his home near 13th Avenue South and South Holgate Street in broad daylight just one day before his college graduation. A witness managed to take photographs of the incident.

Witnesses told detectives Alemu was walking when the men began following him. Alemu tried to elude the men by running around a parked car, witnesses said, but one of the men tripped him, knocking him to the ground.

All four men then began punching and kicking the victim even after he lost consciousness, investigators said. Two of the men – Phillips and Fisher – were seen digging through the victim’s pockets and taking his belongings before the group fled.

Both Fisher and Phillips were found near the scene of the beating and arrested. Speed was identified in photographs and arrested at a later time.

Police said it appears the victim did not know his attackers. A witness reported having seen a group of men drinking at Beacon Hill Playfield prior to the incident — a claim corroborated by Phillips’ admission of being a “violent drunk.”

Alemu never regained consciousness after the attack. He was taken to Harborview Medical Center with life-threatening injuries. He has been in stable condition since early July, but nursing staff told detectives Alemu had a tear in the brain, an injury similar to shaken baby syndrome.

In court on Friday, Alemu’s mother, with the help of a translator, lamented over her son’s condition.

“He was a very good student he was a good worker. He was working and studying,” she said.

Two other men are accused of the June beating. Kenneth Fischer, 19, and Jaynus Speed, 22, have both been charged with first-degree assault and first-degree attempted robbery.

Fischer and Speed are due in court on Sept. 21 for a pretrial hearing. A fourth suspect has not been arrested.

Ethiopia exported $376 million worth of coffee 2008/09

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia, Africa’s biggest coffee producer, expects a bumper harvest in 2009/10 thanks to good rains after export revenues fell 28 percent in June/July 2008/09 due to drought and the global economic slowdown.

“Preliminary assessment indicated the country would produce much more than the estimated annual production of 330,000 tonnes in 2009/10,” Tarekgne Tisgie, a spokesman for the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, told Reuters on Wednesday.

The Horn of Africa nation exported 133,992 tonnes of beans worth $376 million in 2008/09, down sharply from 170,888 tonnes that earned $525.2 million the previous season, officials say.

“The volume exported and income generated was markedly less than last year due to the global economic crisis and drought which affected some parts of the country,” Tarekgne said.

Ethiopia’s coffee sector got a major boost last week when Japan said it was willing to resume importing large quantities as long as the authorities in Addis Ababa guaranteed the quality and safety of the beans.

Tokyo stopped buying Ethiopian coffee in 2006/07 after beans were found to contain harmful chemicals. Japan had bought more than 29,000 tonnes worth $84 million during that 2006/07 season.

“The problems that we had with Japan are nearly over,” Tarekgne said, adding the Ethiopian government hoped to export as much as 30,000 tonnes to Japanese buyers in 2009/10.

Ethiopia prides itself as the birthplace of coffee. Some 15 million smallholder farmers grow the beans, mostly in the misty forested highlands of its western and southwestern regions.

Kenenisa Bekele plans to invest his IAAF $333,333 prize in Ethiopia

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

By Tanya Menoni | Examiner

According to Addis Fortune magazine, Ethiopia’s track star Kenenisa Bekele has specific plans on how he will spend his share of the jackpot earned in the IAAF Golden League events. Bekele won all six of his events in the Golden League series, which earned him a $333,333 check. The jackpot is $1 million, but the total was divided among three athletes who won their events — Bekele, sprinter Sanya Richards and pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva.

Elshadai Negash at Addis Fortune has a lengthy look at Kenenisa Bekele’s earnings over the year, and how one of the greatest distance runners of all time earns significantly less than other superstar athletes. According to Negash, Bekele will earn approximately $1.141 million dollars in 2009, including the IAAF jackpot and other appearance fees and prizes.

Bekele told Addis Fortune that he plans to invest the money in several projects he is working on, saying: “I am building a hotel and a modern athletics centre. These two projects need a total investment of about 15 million dollars. These prizes will go towards that.” Bekele also acknowledges that world-class runners still earn significantly less than athletes in other sports.

Kenenisa Bekele has certainly had an amazing season, and he tells the Team Ethiopia website that he has some special people to thank for his victories. Number one on his list? His wife, Danawit Gebregziabher. He tells the site, “She gives me psychological and morale support. Sometimes you need to be told that you are the best in the world and that no one will beat you.” He also credits his manager, brother, father-in-law and physio with helping him finish out an incredible season.

Beyonce Ethiopia concert canceled

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

Beyoncé Knowles ADDIS ABABA ( — Beyoncé Knowles, the 28-year old world famous R&B singer and Hollywood actress, will not be coming to perform in Addis Abeba, reliable sources disclosed.

The sensational performer, honored as Billboard Woman of the Year on August 25, 2009, had agreed to come to Addis Ababa for her second performance scheduled for October 31, 2009. It was meant to be part of her third world tour, including to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), where she was scheduled to come from.

The deal to bring her to Addis was negotiated between the singer’s management company, run by her father, Matthew Knowles and New Way Inc., a Virginia based company owned by Dereje Yesuwork (Jambi) and his partner Endalkachew Tekeste.

Dereje is one of the closest associates of Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Ali Al-Amoudi who would have paid one million dollars for her performance in Addis Abeba, and an additional 150,000 dollars to charter an aircraft for close to 90 members of her team, reliable sources disclosed.

The concert was planned to be held inside the Millennium Hall on African Avenue (Bole Road), and organized locally by Addis Parks Management Plc, a subsidiary of MIDROC Ethiopia. Addis Park promotes such events and sells tickets to the public.

However, negotiations have fallen apart following a disagreement over live broadcasting rights of the concert, said these sources. Beyonce’s manager has agreed to let live broadcastings of only five songs from two-hour performance, according to sources. Compared to the one song broadcasted live during her dazzling first performance in Addis in October 2007, where she was paid 1.75 million dollars, this may sound an improvement.

The Sheikh was not happy, nevertheless.

“Mohammed has agreed to bring her back to Addis only if the entire concert is transmitted live by ETV to the Ethiopian public,” Dereje confirmed to Fortune.

It is a statement reinforced by Jean-Pierre Manigoff, general manager of Sheraton Addis, the hotel owned by Sheikh Al-Amoudi, and subcontracted by Addis Park to provide hospitality services.

“Sheikh Mohammed loves and respects the Ethiopian people,” Manigoff said. “He would want the show to be accessible for all through broadcasting.”

Live transmissions of concerts by internationally acclaimed bands such as Black Eyed Peas, and Kool and the Gang, as well as performers like Wyclef Jean and Papa Wemba were made after organizers enter into a separate deal with the performers, disclosed these sources. However, Sony Music Entertainment has reserved copy rights over broadcastings of Beyoncé’s shows.

Ethiopia Commodity Exchange Promises Huge Benefits

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

Addis Ababa (AllAfrica) — The last nine months of its existence has been challenging for Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX). It saw decline in coffee production and felt impact of global financial depression, among others, ECX disclosed.

Transformation from traditional to modern transaction system, shortage of laboratories, low storage capacity of warehouses, the existence of 256 to 781 coffee variety grades were also among the challenges faced by the ECX, said Dr. Eleni Zawde, CEO, at the annual ECX members’ forum held at Addis Ababa Hilton on Monday.

Even then, ECX has been striving to overcome the challenges and achieve its targets since its establishments nine months back, it was indicated. Before ECX was established, the agricultural markets in Ethiopia had been characterized by high costs and high risks of transaction; only one third of the output reached the market; and commodity buyers and sellers tended to trade only with those they knew so as to avoid the risk of being cheated or default, she said.

In addition to that, trade was carried out on the basis of visual inspection because there was no assurance of product quality and quantity. This drove costs up, leading to high consumer prices.

Small-scale farmers on their part, who produce 95 percent of the country’s output, came to the market with little information and were consequently at the mercy of merchants nearby, the only market they knew. Hence, they were unable to negotiate better prices or reduce their market risk, Dr. Eleni underlined.

ECX is working for reconciliation between warehouses and the central depository, to install an automated system and for regular close monitoring of security issues and manipulation at warehouses.

In the just ending year, coffee worth 2.8 billion birr was made available for transaction in the domestic and export market by ECX.

The suitable altitude, ample rainfall, favorable temperatures and fertile soil makes Ethiopia a favourable region with a huge potential for coffee production. A genetic pool of the country’s coffee shows it contains more than 6000 varieties, giving the country a big specialty coffee capacity.

Coffee plants cover a total area of 700,000 hectares in Ethiopia, producing roughly 250,000 tons per annum. Around 20 million people make a living out of the commodity. Forest coffee accounts for about 10 percent of the total.

The Ethiopia Commodity Exchange is a recent initiative in Ethiopia. ECX has a vision to revolutionize Ethiopia’s tradition bound agriculture through creating a new market system that serves all market actors, ranging from farmers to traders, from processors to exporters and consumers.

Ethiopia: Tsegaye Gebre-Medhin Memorial Prize launched

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA (Addis Journal) — A new prize named after the acclaimed Ethiopian playwright and poet Tsegaye Gebre-Medhin was launched in Addis at the National Theater on Monday, September 7.

Established by the playwright’s family members and friends, the Institute of the Language Studies of Addis Ababa University Poet Laureate Tsegaye Gebre-Medhin Memorial Prize is intended to encourage literature and theater arts students to study hard, pursue senior honors and contribute to the art world.

The prize intended to be an annual event would be given to the best contribution by a student member. Berhanu Asfaw from the Department of Ethiopian Languages and Literature and Tegegnto Sinshaw from the Theaters Arts Department were winners of the first prize. Certificates were handed to the winners by Institute of Language Studies Dean, Dr. Gessese Tadesse and chair of the Theater Arts Department, Belayneh Abune, who both talked about the contribution and legacy of Tsegaye to each of their respective departments. Belayneh talked about Tsegaye’s contribution to the theater arts department
Dr. Gessese talked about the plan to broaden up the Memorial Prize through administrating trust funds that, among others, would provide scholarships to students.

As way of remembering one of the country’s greatest poets and playwrights, a group of volunteers led by Dr. Heran Serke-Berhan had begun a permanent annual Tsegaye Gebre-Medhin Theater Festival. Involving Abate Mekuria who previously produced and directed ten of Tsegaye’s productions in Ethiopia and abroad, excerpts of the playwright’s works, Ha Hu Besedest Wer (ABC in Six Months), Inat Alem Tenu, “Othello” and “Theodros” were presented on the occasion as part of the festival celebrations.

Abate who in his younger years studied at London’s Opera House has produced numerous stage plays, including “Kitet Wede Adwa Zemecha” which required the participation of 4,000 people.

Audiences were thrilled with his re-productions of Tsegaye’s plays for which he spent no less than three months. His studio, Mekuaria Studio designed the settings and provided the costumes. It was highly successful. Tadesse Mesfin’s illustration for one of the plays was found and used for the occasion.
On the occasion it was also announced that four of Tsegaye’s plays, Theodros, Petros Yachin Seat, Zeray Be Rome Adeababy and Minilik (a historical play about King Menelik that was never staged) would be published by the Addis Ababa University Press shortly. The announcement was greeted warmly.

Tsegaye was born in Boda, a village near Ambo, on 1934.He wrote his first play at Ambo Elementary School where one of his audiences were Emperor HaileSelassie. After doing high school at Wingate and college at the Addis Ababa Commercial College, he has studied theater at the Royal Court Theater in London and Comédie Française in Paris for two years. Exploring elements of power, justice, love, and death in his tragedies, Tsegaye achieved widespread and lasting recognition for his work.

Haile Gebreselassie donates to National Eye Bank of Ethiopia

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

By Mamo Gebrehiwot | GoodNewsEthiopia

ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia’s superstar athlete Haile Gebrselassie has presented a check to the National Eye Bank of Ethiopia to cover the cost of 10 cornea transplant operations at the Menelik II Hospital here yesterday. Haile also announced that he will donate his own cornea to the national Ethiopian Eye Bank.

During the check handling ceremony at the Menelik II Hospital, Haile pointed out that the donation, which will help the ten Ethiopians, was merely a gesture on his part to fulfill his national duty as a citizen.

Haile also took the time to officially announce that he will donate his own cornea to the Ethiopian Eye Bank, and urged others to do likewise as they will be able to help fellow Ethiopians, who badly need them.

According to a report by the Eye Bank of Ethiopia, 6,000 Ethiopians, including the country’s current President Girma Wolde-Giorgis, have so far pledged to donate their corneas.

About the National Eye Bank of Ethiopia

The National Eye Bank of Ethiopia, the first eye bank in the country’s history, opened on June 28, 2003, in partnership with the International Federation of Eye and Tissue Banks (IFETB), the Federal Ministry of Health, the Addis Ababa City Administration Health Bureau, the Menelik II Hospital, and the Department of Ophthalmology of the Medical Faculty of Addis Ababa University.

The eye bank was developed by ORBIS, a non-profit humanitarian organization dedicated to saving sight and avoiding blindness worldwide. Menelik II Hospital is home to the National Eye Bank.

Sheikh Zayed Islamic Cultural Centre opened in Ethiopia

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA (WAM) — His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation, has lauded priority given by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to the worship premises to spread values of tolerance and solidarity.

He also hailed in a speech delivered on his behalf today here by Salem Obaid Al Dhahiri, director general of the foundation, on the inauguration of the Sheikh Zayed Islamic Cultural Centre in Addis Ababa, the support of His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to the foundation, whose charity projects have taken international form.

The Sheikh Zayed Centre, with capacity of 3, 000, was set up at downtown in Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, at total cost of Dh8million.

Source: Emirates News Agency

The real Ethiopian Commodity Exchange

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

This is how over 90 percent of Ethiopians make their living. Where is the billions of dollars the khat-chewing dictator in Ethiopia received from the U.S. Government, the World Bank, the IMF, and other donors so far? (Photo by Pervez at flickr)

To the Oromo elite: think big

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

[Editor's Note: The following article do not necessarily reflect the views of Ethiopian Review.]

By Messay Kebede

I am reacting to Jawar Siraj Mohammed’s article, titled “The Failed Journey of the OLF,” in which he mercilessly dissects the inner impediments of the organization and declares it dead for all practical purposes (click here to read). The article delivers the deep disappointments of a committed member forced to admit that “the OLF has been damaged beyond repair.” It argues that the present shabby state of the organization, mainly manifested by internal divisions, originates from the lack of tangible results both in the military and political fields, which lack reflects the incompetence and irresolution of its leadership.

While Jawar’s criticisms are both surprising and refreshing, yet they are not bold and insightful enough to bring about new directions of thought. The main reason for this lack of boldness and insight is that Jawar criticizes everything except the most important issue, namely, the ideological guidance of the OLF. Nowhere does he connect the political and military failures of the organization with the ideology that it is pursuing. Still less does he suggest that the failures could result from the insolvency of the ideology whose core demand, we know, is the right to self-determination, including secession.

The lack of a bold analysis of the inadequacies of the OLF leads the author to suggest solutions that fall short of tackling the main issue. He thus wants to contain the political influence of the Oromo Diaspora; he also appeals for a renewed faith in the cause. But because he never questions the ideological goal, these suggestions are hardly up to the depth of the problem. Aware of their inefficiency, but also reluctant to challenge the ideology, the author prefers to pronounce the OLF dead in a desperate attempt to salvage the secessionist agenda by convincing himself and others that the failures originate from the leadership, not from the ideology. I contend that an approach focusing on ideology better explains the failures by showing that the incompetence and irresolution of the leadership are simply products of a crippling thinking.

The Legacy of Radicalism

To begin with, Jawar criticizes some members for weakening the organization by creating factions while he himself could be accused of doing just that. Such a criticism would be unfair, however, for the fact that he has given up the project of reforming the organization proves that the criticisms are not meant to create another faction. Since he is convinced that the organization can no longer be repaired, his intention is to awaken the Oromo to its demise.

What is definitely untenable is a critique of the leadership that stops short of challenging the ideology. Yet, in several places, Jawar comes close to the ideological issue but only to back down by diverting his attention to effects rather than causes. For instance, he assertively shows how the OLF originated from the Ethiopian student movement and inherited the undemocratic and conspiratory mindset inherent in the movement. He writes: “OLF is a foster child of the student movement that brought the revolution; as such it shares some common organizational behaviors and characteristics with all other organizations that came out that era, such as the EPRP, TPLF and EPLF.” Further, he adds: “The political forces that emerged from the student movement were led by individuals who worshiped Mao Zedong and Stalin, so they embraced such undemocratic, rigid and control freak organizational model.”

Seeing the nauseating state of Ethiopia and Eritrea under the TPLF and EPLF, it is inconsistent to expect that an organization born of the same root would disseminate anything other than hatred, war, and famine. What else could worshippers of Stalin come up with but ideas suppressing democracy and spreading national disunity? If what the TPLF and EPLF realized is wrong for Ethiopia as well as for the ethnic groups that they claim to represent, then it is naive to assume that their brother, that is, the OLF, would bring about a better result. What needs to be questioned here is the culture of hatred and disunity that Stalin veiled under the morally loaded language of self-determination up to secession.

In denouncing the undemocratic nature of the leadership, Jawar forgets that the behavior is only part and parcel of an ideological package inherited from the radicalization of the 60s. Unless the whole package is thrown away, there is no way of implanting a new democratic behavior. Since the undemocratic nature of the organization is inseparable from its ideology, the inescapable conclusion is that an ideology fomented by worshippers of Stalin cannot be good for the Oromo. If a new organization is indeed desired, changing the people without changing the ideology will get you nowhere.

Far from focusing on the ideological issue, Jawar dismisses it by stressing the unity of purpose within the OLF. Speaking of the faction that argues for the democratization of Ethiopia rather than secession, he notes that said ideological difference “was never really big enough to split the organization,” as the support for “independent Oromia” was “a more popular position.” Why is secession more popular than democratization? The question makes sense because what appears obvious is actually derived from a Stalinist analysis that the author should have denounced.

Armed Struggle and Secession

The truth is that the lack of democracy is closely linked with the secessionist agenda. The latter leads to the choice of armed struggle as the only feasible method, with the consequence that the subsequent militarization of the struggle becomes incompatible with the maintenance of democracy. Military priorities and leaders take the upper hand over democratic concerns. Contrary to a peaceful form of struggle, the condition of military successes becomes the sacrifices of democracy so that it is inconsistent to want military gains and democracy at the same time. Witness: it is the emphasis on military efficiency that progressively divested the EPLF and TPLF of their original democratic intent.

The secessionist goal is inconsistent with the complaint about the lack of democracy for another reason. When an organization that claims to represent the largest ethnic group opts for secession, clearly it is empowering extremists to the detriment of moderates. So that, militarization and ideological extremism combine to make democratic practices anything but relevant to the ongoing struggle.

Worst yet, the military option induced by the ideology of secession brought the movement under the tutelage of the Eritrean regime. Jawar speaks of the OLF as a “hostage” and attributes many of its faults to the intervention of the Eritrean regime. Put otherwise, the OLF has lost its independence and has become a pawn in the Eritrean pursuit of regional hegemony. The sad thing, Jawar admits, is that the subordination has no appreciable military gains, since Eritrea does not neighbor Oromia and so cannot provide sanctuaries for Oromo fighters.

The subordination to a regime that has regional ambition is fraught with deep adverse consequences. A good example is the TPLF: its support for the Eritrean struggle for independence, in the name of military necessity, empowered a pro-Eritrean and anti-Ethiopian leadership. As a result, not only the original goal of the movement was diverted, but also the empowered anti-Ethiopian clique is working hard to set Tigreans against Ethiopians through favored treatments whose outcome can only be the spread of suspicion and animosity. The price for military victory through an abnormal alliance was thus the empowerment of a clique that does not even represent Tigray, given that the best and long term interest of Tigray is its full integration into a prosperous Ethiopia.

The drive for secession through military means actually intensifies internal divisions, since together with the demise of democratic practices it raises the question of knowing which faction will become the dominant force in independent Oromia. The more the Oromo elite aspires to create a monoethnic state, the more its internal divisions, especially the religious ones, will stand out. One of the positive qualities of large multiethnic countries is the propensity to diffuse differences by displaying diversity as a normal feature of social life. By contrast, in monoethnic countries differences are perceived as abnormal and quickly generate battling factions, as shown by the example of Lebanon and Somalia.
Jawar knows that the absence of environmental conditions appropriate for guerrilla warfare, such as mountainous areas and helpful neighboring countries, contributes to the dearth of military success. In the face of this formidable obstacle one would expect that the OLF is actively seeking an alternative strategy compensating the inappropriateness of the environment by vast alliances with other ethnic groups, some of whom even possess the required geographical conditions. Unfortunately, the policy of dispersing the TPLF military machine by multiplying centers of military resistance cannot be considered as it comes up against the secessionist agenda.

Let us go further: what prevents the OLF from seeing that military struggle is not the only way to get rid of the regime is the secessionist goal. If unity of purpose could join the Oromo with other ethnic groups, especially the Amhara, then peaceful means of struggle would be enough to topple the Woyanne regime. I do not see how a clique with such a narrow base could suppress for long an overwhelming majority using the strategy of noncooperation. Let us not forget that what brought down the imperial regime was unity, and not military means. In a word, in undermining unity, the secessionist agenda greatly reduces the power of peaceful struggle and, by the same token, remove a much greater prospect of generating a democratic government.

Secession and Self-Mutilation

For Jawar, independent Oromia “shall play the leading role in democratizing, stabilizing and developing the entire East Africa.” This thought overlooks that the secession of an ethnic group that claims to be the largest group both in terms of territory and population is a much more complicated process than the secession of Eritrea and that it is fraught with unpredictable consequences. The secession of Oromia is not a mere amputation; it is a major dismemberment that adversely affects all ethnic groups in Ethiopia as well as neighboring countries. Who can stay that the secession will result in a peaceful outcome? In light of the recent horrible carnage caused by the border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea, one can confidently states that the secession will create such a chaotic and highly explosive situation that the whole region will turn into a battlefield.

In addition to nurturing a reckless thought, the secessionist goal induces a self-mutilating culture. When the largest ethnic group decides to split, it is behaving as a minority group. In so doing, it degrades itself and loses sight of what it can be. What cripples the OLF is thus the secessionist goal: the latter limits its horizon, the means at its disposal and, therefore, its will. Jawar begins his article by asking the Oromo to “think big”; secession, however, is to think small, and hence to be small. Organizations grow and become efficient when they espouse challenging goals, not when they fail to be what they can be. One should seriously reflect on the possibility that the political and military failures of the OLF may be connected with the self-demeaning image enshrined in the secessionist ideology.

Oromo leaders claim to uplift the Oromo people by defending secession. They are actually doing the opposite, given that the Oromo could become the force that democratizes and consolidates Ethiopia instead of dismembering it. The distorting impact of the secessionist ideology is such that Oromo elites do not even recognize greatness. Take the case of Ras Gobena: though in alliance with Menelik he created a formidable empire that even colonial powers feared, he is seen as a sellout and secessionists as authentic Oromo.

To say that a large ethnic group curtails itself when it stoops to the level of a minority group by opting for secession means that the discrepancy between the great potential of the Oromo people and the narrow goal of its elite explains the failures of the OLF. Since the leadership is not up to the potential of the people it claims to represent, like a big load led into a narrow path, the movement naturally goes nowhere. I thus say to the Oromo elite: think big indeed, that is, become what you can be, builder and not wrecker.

(Prof. Messay Kebede can be reached at

Ethiopia: Reject the tyrannical hoax, enjoy the New Year

Friday, September 11th, 2009

One may wonder if Meles Zenawi will ever wish the people of Ethiopia happiness, freedom from his endless tyrannical rule and a future of hope. At a time when Ethiopians have been preoccupied with efforts to receive the new Ethiopian year with a sense of hope and jubilation, not because of any tangible change but for the sake of at least their unique calendar and the end of the dreary rainy season, Meles Zenawi had a different game plan. When he convened a meeting of his loyalists, it was predictable that he had no plan of any good wishes for the poor nation he has been ravaging with his misrule.

After all Meles is a classic tyrant whose cruelty is undisputed. According to Wikipedia, the word “tyrant” carries connotations of a harsh and cruel ruler who places his or her own interests or the interests of a small oligarchy over the best interests of the general population, which the tyrant governs or controls.

Despite his best effort to try to fool the people, the majority is too wise to be cheated. But there were at least some gullible folks who took the absolute monarch’s pranks seriously and thought that he would abdicate his absolutist throne and deliver a great resignation message on the New Year. “He will go. It is a done deal!” they argued. But it turned out that Zenawi’s plan was nothing more than an unsophisticated cruel April fool’s day hoax in September [Meskerem], the first month in the Ethiopian calendar.

Stopping an insurrection

Before its melodramatic end, Meles Zenawi’s resignation gamesmanship has a long history. It started in the aftermath of the 2005 national elections. After stealing the elections and smashing the popular demand for democracy and freedom, Meles appeared on BBC’s HARDtalk with Stephen Sacker. The interview was not as easy as the monologue he scripts for ETV and Walta. Meles was palpitating and visibly stressed.

Zenawi’s agony was quite understandable as the questions were forthright and there was little space to evade the uncompromising BBC interrogator who even managed to extract a confession that he ordered his security forces to open fire on unarmed protesters.

“What order did you give the security forces?” asked Mr Sacker.

“Stop the insurrection!” declared Meles.

“As simple as that!”

“Yeah!” said the dictator triumphantly as if he ordered the killing of some flies.

The game of the president

The usually cunning despot was caught red-handed lying a few times. He even tried to convince the BBC sharp man that the person who formed the electoral board was not him but the “president” of the country. This was to make Sacker and BBC viewers believe that he was in power only for two terms.

“The National Election Board, the current board, was appointed over a decade ago, during the transitional period, and at that period, at that time, the president submitted the names to the parliament. Now if we were to appoint new election board members, it would be the prime minister, which would put the names to the parliament.”

Bemused with his answer, Stephen asked the self-anointed Prime Minister: “Where were you at that particular time?”

“I was the president of the Transitional Government,” Meles answered blinking his eyes helplessly. So finally, it was discovered that the “president” was no one other than Zenawi himself. The street smart despot never surrenders.

“You were the president?” asked Mr Sacker as if he was surprised.


“So you still put forward the names?”

“Yes, I did.”

“And you now expect the opposition to believe this Board would be entirely impartial? Then Meles resorted to comparing his anomalous empire to a normal country. “Well, I suppose the opposition parties in France expect their Minister of Interior to be impartial in elections and I suppose it is very similar in your country?”

“But I suppose in most countries it would be unusual for one man to be in power for so long, and would control all the appointments for so long?”

“This is my second term and I…” said Meles again trying to pull the wool over Mr Sacker’s eyes.

“You just told me you were the president of the interim transitional authority before?”

“Yeah, the transitional period.”

“So in essence, you have been in power for 14 years.”

“Is that unheard of in Europe?” asks the tyrant to make an escape route.

In the middle of the dramatic interview in which Meles was cornered, the issue of resignation was raised. Meles’ answer was simple, “That is up to my party to decide!” He went on to say: “I want the office to serve my country and I will only serve if I feel…I have value to add. Likewise, if my party feels I don’t add value, they can change the prime minister any time.”

Since that bad encounter with Mr Sacker, who further revealed the mind of a typical power monger in front of the whole world, Mr Zenawi insisted that it would be his last term and he would submit his resignation to his party, as if the “party” composed of his “yes-men” will ever have a power to decide on his fate.

Had had enough

On December 14, 2006, Stephanie McCrummen of the Washington Post published another interesting interview with Zenawi in which he boldly declared that he was deeply convinced that “we either democratize and have a good chance of surviving, or if we fail to do so, we disintegrate.” At the end of the interview McCrummen asked, “Do you have any plans to try a third term?” He tried to evade the question again by diverting it to his party.

“My party? My party will try not only for a third term but for a tenth term.”

“And you personally?” fired back McCrummen knowing what he was up to.

“And me personally, I think I have had enough,” Zenawi said. Here again anyone can notice his self-doubt and caprice. The sentence was not fully affirmative as he opened the sentence with “I think….” If he had had enough, why did he say I think? Just a fool’s game of self-deception.

He continued to sing the resignation song and his blind supporters continued to dance to the tune tirelessly. And yet he kept on giving conflicting signals until many of the respected global news outlets echoed his propaganda. They declared that Zenawi was likely to set an example not only in Ethiopia but also in Africa by relinquishing power in a civilized manner.

Got bored with resignation

In June 24 of this year, Meles told reporters another interesting story. In a news dispatch under the headline Meles bored with resignation talk, the global newswire service Reuters reported that the tyrant was bored with the expectation and talks of his departure.

According to Reuters, asked when he would go at a news conference, “Meles, who has been hinting at an exit for several years, replied: “I am bored with that question. Even if you are not bored, I am.”

But Tsegaye Tadesse and Barry Malone got it wrong again by quoting another gullible but unnamed analysts. “Analysts believe Meles is most likely to leave after the 2010 election, with the ruling party probably winning again and the prime minister’s post then passing to a senior minister,” they reported. Misreading the signals, a Barry Malone of Reuters even distributed a list of possible successors: Seyoum Mesfin, Girma Biru and Tedros Adhanom added with a list of opposition figure most of whom were victims

Setting a new example

Though Meles declared his boredom over talks of his resignation in front of reporters, he told William Wallis, FT Africa Editor, a few days earlier that in Addis Ababa June 17th that he was going to set a new example.

“Is there a danger though that your liberation movement could go the way of some others on the continent which have over time lose their original ideals and are prey to cronyism and the pursuit of power for its own sake rather for the sake of the people?” Wallis asked.

“Absolutely! There is no guarantee. Every movement will have to renew itself everyday or risk degenerating.”

“Including changing leadership?” Wallis wondered.

“Absolutely!” Zenawi said.

“You have said before you are willing to stand down? What developments are there on this front?

He argued at length that his party will change the old leadership and “renew” itself with a new kind of leadership.

Another serious question followed: “Are you saying that you won’t be standing in the elections next year?”

“All I am saying is that my personal position is that I have had enough. I am not a lone gunman…. So I am arguing my case and the others are also arguing their case.… I would like to keep my party membership even after I resign from my government position. My hope is we will come up with some understanding. I don’t think the differences are all that big.”

“When might that take place? Is there a party congress coming up?”

“Yes there is a congress in September,” Meles declared making it appear that there is a real party with real members with unsold souls with rights to debate with him.

“Who would you like to succeed you?”

“I would like the party to make that decision.”

“Why is it that Ethiopians don’t really believe you could go?” Wallis queried with interest.

“Because it has not been done in the past in Ethiopia.”

“But this is a precedent you would like to set?”

“This is a precedent that I would almost kill to set.” From what he was saying, it seemed he can’t wait to go and leave alone the country he has been messing up for lover three decades.

A bad hoax

“And what will you do when you eventually step down? I gather you haven’t had a holiday for 34 years.”

The tyrant answered: “I think my preference would be to read, perhaps write, but again that will be a decision for the party. One thing that I will not do, one thing that the party should not consider is be involved in any government work.”

“You will withdraw?”

“That is a necessary condition and without that there is no change of leadership. But once we have done that the party will have its decision as to whether I will be allow [sic] to sit back read and write, or give me other party (role).”

“Like party chairman?”

“I don’t think so because the prime minister has to be the party chairman. That is not a position for a retired leadership,” Meles answered knowing full well that he was just playing a game that he has perfected: a game of self-deceptions. After all tyrants like Meles are narcissist creatures who are too predictable to cheat anyone but themselves.

As predicted again, the resignation game came full circle. Meles convened his “party”. When the two-day “conference” was over we were told that EPRDF accepted Meles Zenawi’s resignation. “The council has passed decision the senior leaders of the front and management would hand over its leadership in the coming five years. The council has examined the resignation request of EPRDF Chairperson, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and decided to put in to effect as per the procedure of the Front after five years,” the TPLF-controlled Ethiopian News Agency reported. That was not the end of the story.

“We have made a decision about all our frontline leaders, not just Prime Minister Meles Zenawi,” Muktar Kedir, chief of headquarters for the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), told Reuters on Wednesday.

“They will all resign within five years. We will consider his request again then,” he said after the EPRDF’s annual congress this week. Muktar must be kidding. The election is over EPRDF is going to enjoy another landslide victory because it is just a periodic exercise to impress donors. Meles has been begged to stay in power and he is going to be his own predecessor, the one he was promising all these years to transfer power to. What an impressive trick!

Meles Zenawi seems to be like a man who has been trying to build a fortress of ice in the middle of the Tropics. Unfortunately, his efforts are vain and his games too silly. The reason why Zenawi will cling to power for ever is the fact that he has not built a country for himself and his children. There is so much at stake. After all, the nation is a milk cow for him and the ethnic oligarchy he created.

The truth of the matter is that the wicked dictator has little choices. Very few tyrants like himself will take him as a guest of honor. Zimbabwe is already occupied by his predecessor. His long time mentor Isaias Afewerki will need his head on a platter if he flees to his mother’s country, Eritrea, a country he liberated from Ethiopian colonialism. The Sudanese tyrant Al Bashir may take him but the trouble is he is being hunted by the International Criminal Court, which is also compiling files against Zenawi. Where can he flee to escape justice? China, Burma may be Libya? For tyrants like Zenawi, the options are quite limited in the real world as he will be forced to confront the mountain of truth and the grips of justice.

Zenawi rebuilt Ethiopia on a quicksand, on a foundation of divide and rule. When the wall comes crushing on him, it will wipe out the whole criminal enterprise. Expecting Meles to go on his own volition is waiting for a miracle to happen. After all, he is a man who has been sowing the chaff of hatred and division across the fields and over the mountains and telling the people to collect the harvest of peace and democracy.

What is sad this time round is not the cruel game but the fact that the despot chose to play his moronic April fool’s day hoax on a New Year, a time of hope, change and expectation. In spite of the fact that Meles also plays such a game for the consumption of some naïve funders who sponsor his tyranny, knowingly or unknowingly, the joke is cruel beyond the pale. Whether Zenawi likes it or not, change is inevitable and freedom and democracy will come eventually, not out of kindness of ruthless tyrants like him but out of the human march toward the unyielding path of freedom. Sooner or later, Meles will take his guaranteed place in the dustbin of history along with Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Mobutu, Id Amin, Pol Pot…and all the known evil men who have caused a great deal of destruction and horror.

We wish fellow Ethiopians in and outside of the country a year of hope, courage, change and unity. Let us forget the dictator’s cruel hoax and enjoy the New Year festivities. On such an occasion, it is also important to think of heroes and heroines who have fallen and made great sacrifices in jails and torture chambers for freedom’s sake. We need to pay tribune to our future leaders, those true Ethiopians like Birtukan Mideksa who have offered themselves as sacrificial lambs so that Ethiopians will one live in abundant freedom and dignity. Their sacrifice and suffering is not in vain. We should always remember that resistance against tyrants is obedience to God, as Thomas Jefferson said. Intensifying the resistance in unison against tyranny setting aside the petty bickering cannot be postponed.

(The above articles is released by Forum for Rights and Equality in Ethiopia (FREE), a new advocacy group under formation that aims to campaign for freedom, democracy and justice founded on basic rights and equality for all. Using the power of new media, we aim to speak vocally, raise awareness, network and mobilize freedom loving Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia across the world. For enquiries, comments or to get involved, please contact us at or email the project co-ordinator Abebe Gellaw at

Ethiopia: Victims of Wonji sugar factories launch web site

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Victims of the Wonji and Metahara sugar factories in Ethiopia have launched a new web site.

A brief History of the Wonji victims

Dr. Ashagere Germow

In 1950′s, HVA International NV started to pioneer the sugar industry in Ethiopia. Wonji, Wonji/Shoa and Metahara sugar factories were established in 1954, 1960 and 1968. Wonji,Wonji/Shoa and Metehara Sugar Estates are located 110 km from Addis Ababa the capital city of Ethiopia. Wonji, Wonji/Shoa and Metehara are close to the Rift Valley where there are excess fluoride hot springs/volcanic rocks. Except HVA International administration and it’s Dutch employees the rest (Ethiopian) employees of the three sugar factories and their families had no knowledge of the existence of excess fluoride in their drinking water.

HVA International violated the trust of it’s employees and their families by withholding information of excess fluoride existence in the drinking water for 17 years. Sadly, HVA was providing safe drinking water to protect only it’s own citizens only, the Dutch. Secretly two treated water were planted inside their secluded fence where they lived called: ” Shibo Gibi” which means fenced area.

“The existence of ‘fluoride’ problem’ in the state was first recognized in 1957 when the children of the Dutch families had dental examination while on holiday in Holland. In 1962, two de-fluoridated plants were installed in the two factory villages where the Dutch families lived. In 1972 the existence of skeletal fluorosis in the estate was discovered. Between 1974 and 1976, de-fluoridated water was made available to all villages of the estate” (historical data were obtained in 1997 from records & files of WSSF.A review done by Genene Shifera,MD and Redda Tekle-Haimanot,MD FRCP(C),PhD 2)

Thousands of children and adults were and still are at risk almost four generations are affected from dental and skeletal fluorosis which is a bone disease caused by excessive consumption of fluoride. These three communities were exposed also to toxins emitted from the factory. Dust, gases and smoke had affected many people’s lungs and circulation. And the houses’ roofs were built from asbestos.To this day HVA International continues to be reluctant to admit violating the human rights of those poor voiceless Wonji/ Wonji/Shoa and Metehara residents.

Wonji, Wonji/Shoa and Metehara fluoride victims situation now is all more alarming as they are the most archaic human beings. The number of people leading “a painful and crippled life” from fluorosis has risen. Being disfigured and disabled, physiological and mental particularities had pernicious consequences such as suicide in some cases. Children were forced to abandon schooling because their deformed limbs could no longer take them to the secondary school.

Negative tendencies are traced out in finding a job, friendship and also a marriage because of the appearances of Wonji young adults. The only chance the youth has is to marry within their community that have the similarity to stained teeth and find a job in their community-in the three sugar factories.

Sugarcane cutters (unskilled laborers) wage average was US$0.40 cents a day (Revolutionary Ethiopia page 111,By Edmond J. Keller). Right now Wonji retirement wage ranges from 48-300 Birr a month (US $5.50–$34 dollars) Wonji victims have to support with that small amount of money their children and family members who are living with them.

As a result, timely and comprehensive, and especially prophylactic, medical services appear to be in urgent need of social, economic and medical assistance.

Please see the photo album of the victims, WSMPPA members,the administration staff of Wonji sugar factory and Almaz Mequanint and her husband Elias Gizaw who flew from USA to attend the wheelchairs distribution event in December 2007.

Click here to visit their web site.

Melkam Addis Amet

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Ethiopian Review wishes the new year will bring Ethiopia’s tensae. Happy Ethiopian New Year. Enjoy this video.

Ruling tribal junta in Ethiopia arrests opposition party members

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

By Barry Malone

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – A coalition of opposition parties accused the Ethiopian authorities the Woyanne tribal junta on Thursday of arresting some of its members on trumped up charges to stop them running in an election scheduled for next May.

Eight parties have allied under the banner of the Forum for Democratic Dialogue in Ethiopia (FDDE) to contest the 2010 polls, which analysts say the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) Tigrean People Liberation Front (Woyanne) is likely to win.

Opposition figures say they have been hamstrung by a campaign of arrests and intimidation. The EPRDF Woyanne denies it.

“Ruling party cadres throughout the country are jailing our potential candidates on false charges,” Bulcha Demeksa, leader of the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement, one of the parties in the opposition coalition, told reporters in Addis Ababa.

“We want to negotiate with the government and ask them to stop arresting and jailing our potential candidates.”

The parties that make up the alliance hold just 80 of parliament’s 547 seats, but still represent the most significant opposition to a government that is a close ally of Washington.

Bereket Simon, the Ethiopian government’s head of information, told Reuters that since none of the parties had yet named their candidates, the opposition’s claims were baseless. “Nobody is being jailed for being a politician,” he said.


Ethiopia’s last elections in 2005 were hailed as the country’s first fully democratic polls, but they ended in bloodshed after the government declared victory and the opposition said the result had been rigged. Police and soldiers killed about 200 people who took to the streets in protest.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi accused the demonstrators of trying to topple his government, and more than 100 opposition leaders, journalists and aid workers were later jailed.

Those detainees were pardoned and freed in 2007, but rights groups say the government is cracking down on dissent again. One opposition party leader is in jail and a group of former military officers have been convicted of plotting to oust Meles.

Meles has set up talks with the opposition about drawing up a code of conduct for next year. But the FDDE said on Thursday that its members had walked out of discussions.

“The code of conduct assumes a context where there will be independent administration of elections, freedom of movement, freedom of expression, no intervention by security forces,” said Seye Abraha, a former defence minister who is now in the FDDE.

“We want these issues discussed alongside the code of conduct, not assumed.”

Bereket dismissed FDDE claims the code was undemocratic: “This code of conduct is being drawn up by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, not the Ethiopian government … To walk away from it is disastrous and is to walk away from democracy.”

(Editing by Daniel Wallis)

Ethiopia's khat-addict dictator decided to remain in power

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009


ADDIS ABABA (NMG) — Ethiopia Prime Minster Head of the brutal tribal junta in Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, will run for a new five-year term, his ruling party announced on Tuesday.

The 54 year-old former [Marxist] guerrilla leader, who has been in power for 18 years, was convinced by party members to stay on. [Don't laugh. This is not a joke!]

The Ethiopian People Democratic Front (EPRDF) council Tigrean People Liberation Front (Woyanne) underlined that the Ethiopian people and his party need Mr Zenawi for one more term at the end of a two day annual gathering.

“Meles is playing a key role in transforming Ethiopia….” EPRDF said in a statement.

In recent months, EPRDF’s chairman Woyanne junta leader Zenawi has said he plans to go in 2010 if his party accept his resignation.

The council extensively debated on the issue and agreed to keep Mr Zenawi in office for one until 2015.

Ethiopia’s next general election is scheduled for June 2010.

The PM has increasingly become a champion of African in international forums.

However, at home he is accused of a poor human rights record and oppression against opposition politicians and the media.

Last week, Mr Zenawi was elected [by his fellow thieves] to represent Africa in the climate change talks in Denmark, Copenhagen.

11 things to know about Swine Flue

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

So how worried should you be about swine flu, and how do you prepare? Here, the mass of information is boiled down into 10 things you should know to be flu-savvy:

1 There’s no cause for panic. So far, swine flu isn’t much more threatening than regular seasonal flu. During the few months of this new flu’s existence, hospitalizations and deaths from it seem to be lower than the average seen for seasonal flu, and the virus hasn’t dramatically mutated. Still, more people are susceptible to swine flu and U.S. health officials are worried because it has hung around here so firmly during the summer.

2 Virus is tougher on some. Swine flu is more of a threat to certain groups — children younger than 2, pregnant women and people with health problems like asthma, diabetes and heart disease. Teens and young adults also are more vulnerable. Seasonal flu hits older people hardest, but not swine flu. Scientists think older people may have some immunity from exposure years earlier to similar viruses.

3 Wash your hands often and long. Like seasonal flu, swine flu spreads through coughs and sneezes of people who are sick. Emphasize to children that they should wash with soap and water long enough to finish singing the alphabet song. Also use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

4 Get the kids vaccinated. People 6 months to 24 years old, pregnant women and health-care workers should be first in line for swine flu shots, especially if vaccine supplies are limited. Also a priority: Parents and caregivers of infants and people with those high-risk medical conditions previously noted.

5 Get your shots early. Millions of swine flu shots should be available by October. If you are in one of the priority groups, try to get your shot as early as possible. Check with your doctor or local or state health department about where to do this. Many children should be able to get vaccinated at school. Permission forms will be sent home in advance.

6 Immunity takes awhile. Even those first in line for shots won’t have immunity until about Thanksgiving. That’s because it’s likely to take two shots, given three weeks apart, to provide protection. And it takes a week or two after the last shot for the vaccine to take full effect.

7 Vaccines are being tested. Health officials presume the swine flu vaccine is safe and effective, but they’re testing it to make sure. The federal government has begun studies in eight cities across the country to assess its effectiveness and figure out the best dose. Vaccinemakers are doing their own tests as well.

8 Surrounded by swine flu? If an outbreak of swine flu hits your area before you’re vaccinated, be extra cautious. Stay away from public gathering places like malls, sports events and churches. Try to keep your distance from people. Keep washing those hands.

9 What if you get sick? If you have other health problems or are pregnant and develop flulike symptoms, call your doctor right away. You may be prescribed Tamiflu or Relenza. If you develop breathing problems (rapid breathing for kids), pain in your chest, constant vomiting or a fever that keeps rising, go to an emergency room. Most people, though, should just stay home and rest.

10 No swine flu from barbecue. You can’t catch swine flu from pork. Swine flu is not spread by handling meat, raw or cooked.

11 It rhymes with Woyanne, but the two diseases are totally different.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Authentic Ethiopian food at Beijing's Ras Restaurant

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

By Jonathan White | The Beijinger

Anyone intrepid enough to venture out to the Lido incarnation of Ras was rewarded with some traditional dancing and tasty, authentic Ethiopian food. Manager Danny had the good fortune to move to Sanlitun Beilu and give more people the good fortune to taste Ethiopia in this central location.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Danny has quickly added a covered outdoor bar to this spot – draft Tsingtaos (RMB 10), gin & tonics (RMB 35) and reggae abound. The relaxed vibe is set to continue when the downstairs of the restaurant becomes a lounge proper and chilling out heats up for the winter.

The half-price happy hour (4-8pm) certainly won’t damage sales of food; you’ll be starving and what better place to find bar snacks than a restaurant? One love.

Mon-Fri 10.30am-late, Sat-Sun 11am-11pm. 7 Sanlitun Lu (next to the Friendship Supermarket), Chaoyang District (6468 6053)

Search for more Beijing bars by name and neighborhood or share your opinions with the rest of Beijing by adding a user review of any of the bars in our online directory of venues.

Ethiopia's ruling junta shakes down Ethiopians in Minnesota

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

By Douglas McGill | TC Daily Planet

Immigrants to Minnesota from eastern Ethiopia are being forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in ransom payments to support an Ethiopian security force that tortures and kills thousands of innocent Ethiopians.

Under an extortion scheme run by the Ethiopian Woyanne tribal junta, soldiers in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia abduct men, women and teenage boys and girls, holding them without charge in one of scores of military jails in the region, which borders Somalia.

Knowing that many Ogaden families have relatives who live in Minnesota, the Ethiopian army tells the prisoners’ families that their loved ones can be freed upon payment of ransoms ranging from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.

Hating to pay the money but having no other choice, the Minnesota refugees empty their personal bank accounts and pass the hat to raise ransoms to release their husbands, wives, sons, daughters and friends from overcrowded jails where torture, rape, beatings and killings are common.

Destruction of Villages

“It is a booming business for the Ethiopian Woyanne army,” said Mohamed, a Minnesota school teacher who immigrated from the Ogaden in 1993. “It happens every day in the Ogaden, and every day someone in Minnesota is sending money.”

Mohamed and other Ogaden immigrants quoted in this story declined to give their full names for fear that their families and friends living in the Ogaden would be jailed, tortured or killed in retribution for their openness.

In recent years, one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises has unfolded silently in the Ogaden region, where a vicious counter-insurgency campaign by the Ethiopian government has wiped out scores of villages, killed thousands of civilians, and displaced tens of thousands or more to refugee camps in Ethiopia and northern Kenya.

About 5,000 Ogaden refugees have found their way to Minnesota, which has one of the largest refugee populations from the Ogaden crisis in the world. They Ogaden refugees in Minnesota are settled mainly in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Willmar, St. Cloud and Faribault.

Frantic Calls

The ransoming of Ogaden refugees in Minnesota is exacting a disastrous economic, psychological and social toll within the Ogaden community and the broader society, Ogaden immigrants here say.

“I cry every night, believe me,” said Abdi, an Ogaden refugee who has sent $600 ransoms on two occasions. “You are forced to do what is not right, you are forced to do the wrong thing. It’s horrible. It lives with us, it lives with us everywhere. No matter where I am, in the bedroom, in the bathroom, in the living room, I cannot hold back my tears.”

Being forced to spend thousands of dollars to free their relatives from jail in Ethiopia slows down the Minnesota Ogadeni refugees’ attempts to learn English, to get an education and to successfully assimilate into U.S. society, they say.

“We get frantic phone calls day and night,” says Mustafe, an Ogaden refugee who works at Minneapolis employment agency. “Friends and family need money to be freed from jail. They say ‘Please send us money, please send us money!’ We send it, of course, but as a result we go into debt ourselves. I don’t even dream of going back to school to improve myself until the situation in Ogaden changes and improves.”

Financial Aid

In 2007, Mustafe sent $1,500 towards a $4,000 ransom collected in Minnesota to release a teenaged cousin who was jailed for three months, and was released after the ransom was paid. As a result of that and other ransoms Mustafe has paid, plus monthly support he sends back home to relatives, he is about $10,000 in debt.

The ransoming of Ogaden refugees is only one facet of an extreme humanitarian crisis involving countless crimes against humanity bordering on a full-scale genocide, that has been building in the Ogaden for more than a decade, but intensified sharply in 2007.

The roots of the Ogaden crisis lie in the fact that eastern Ethiopia is inhabited by ethnic Muslim Somalis at a time when the Ethiopian government has been waging war against Somalia. In December 2006, with financial aid and military training from the U.S., Ethiopia crushed the Islamic Courts Union, an Islamist government that controlled Somalia.

In 2007, the Ethiopia-Somalia war intensified in Ogaden, where the Ethiopian Army launched an all-out counter-insurgency against a separatist militia, the Ogaden National Liberation Front, which it calls a terrorist organization.

Collective Punishment

The ONLF conducts deadly raids against Ethiopian Woyanne military, such as an April 2007 attack against a Chinese-run oil operation in the Ogaden which killed not only Ethiopian soldiers but several dozen Ethiopian citizens and nine Chinese nationals.

In retaliation for that attack, Meles Zenawi, the Ethiopian Prime Minister butcher of Addis Ababa, launched a vicious crackdown on the ONLF, targeting not only ONLF fighters but their families, friends and other supporters throughout the region. In 2008, Human Rights Watch published a report, “Collective Punishment: War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity in the Ogaden area of Ethiopia’s Somali Region.”

The report documented hundreds of cases of torture, rape, executions and indeed the destruction of entire Ogaden villages on the mere suspicion that someone in the village was harboring an ONLF fighter. Human Rights Watch said the likely scale of the disaster was far larger than they were able to document in the report.

Since 2007 all foreign journalists and many aid organizations, including the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders, have been forced by the Ethiopian government Woyanne junta to suspend operations in the Ogaden.

Virtually all of the ransoms paid by Minnesota Ogadeni refugees to the Ethiopian Woyanne military are to release friends and relatives who have been jailed on suspicion of knowing, sheltering, or aiding ONLF fighters.

Clan Elders

But in a region like Ogaden, where almost every village has at least one son or daughter who has joined the ONLF, to declare war on all people with even a slight relationship the ONLF is tantamount to declaring war on the entire Ogadeni people – on their society and culture. From an Ogadeni perspective, that is what has happened.

In Minneapolis over the past two weeks, I interviewed 18 Ogaden refugees. Every one confirmed knowledge of the frequent payment of ransoms by Minnesota Ogadenis to free imprisoned relatives held by the Ethiopian army in the Ogaden.

About half of the refugees I interviewed said they had personally paid ransoms to free relatives from jail, and some had done so many times.

The ransom amounts ranged from $300 to $1,500. In some cases those amounts were contributions to total collected ransoms of more than $10,000, which seems to be a typical amount needed to release Ogadeni clan elders who are held.

Here are four ransom stories I was told:

Abdi #1: “In 2002, in the city of Harare, Ethiopian Woyanne soldiers arrested my brother and beat him badly, tying a rope at the top of his elbows. For five nights they beat him. My Dad had to pay money to get him loose. He came back with marks on his arms above his elbows. Another time, my brother-in-law was arrested. On two occasions, his relatives called me in Minnesota to say he is alive in prison and asked us here to send money. So on two occasions since 2002 we sent $600, but my brother-in-law was never released and we still don’t know if he is alive or dead.”

Mustafe: “In 2007 my brother, who was in high school, was arrested and put in jail. They accused him of being a collaborator of the ONLF. They said he was buying khat [a chewed leaf that is a legal stimulant in Ethiopia and a major cash crop there] to give to the ONLF. But he was only a student with no money and he never did that. We collected $4,000 here in Minnesota to release him which they finally did after three months.”

Mohamed: “In 2005 they put my brother in jail. He is a tea shop owner and the Ethiopian army said he sold some food to the ONLF. My brother’s wife and cousins sold their sheep and goats to get the ransom money and he was released, but five months later they put him back in jail. This time, his wife called me and said ‘Mohamed, our sheep and goats are very thin and weak, it’s the dry season, and none of them can be sold. We need money. They will kill your brother if we don’t pay.’ So I sent what I could afford which was $700. Again he was released, but today, only a few hours ago, I got the bad news from my village that my brother and two others were taken by the Ethiopian army and no one knows their fate. So again I don’t know if my brother and the others are okay or if they are killed. If they aren’t killed, I will once again have to pay ransom, for the third time. They said my brother is a sympathizer of the ONLF, but he is only a tea shop owner. How can he discriminate if a customer who comes in who is ONLF? They don’t wear any uniform, how can he tell?”

Abdi #2: “My friend and cousin is named Hassan Ahmed, from the town of Jijiga. Last year he was jailed and sentenced to death for supposedly helping the ONLF. But he has asthma and was seriously sick and he needed to go to the hospital. So his mother called me here in Minnesota and said, ‘If we pay $500 they say they will take him to the hospital.’ So we managed to raise $500 which we sent to the family, and they gave it to the Ethiopian army. But he was never let out of prison and we don’t think he was taken to the hospital either. Instead, after they got the money they said, ‘This guy is sentenced to death, he will never get out.’”

Cell Phones

Mohamed, the Ogaden school teacher, has collected records of 182 separate instances of extortion and ransoming of Ogadeni civilians by the Ethiopian Woyanne Army. The total amount paid in these cases was $84,500, which Mohamed estimates is less than 1% of the total amount of money extorted and ransomed by the Ethiopian Army in the past two years.

“You cannot imagine how widespread this is,” said Mohamed, who collected the data through cell phone calls to contacts in the Ogaden and the global Ogaden diaspora.

As a result of the humanitarian aid and information blackout imposed by Ethiopia on the Ogaden, accounts given by the Ogaden refugees in Minnesota provide one of the richest sources of information about the crisis there.

Money, Army or Jail

Ogadeni shopkeepers and traders are also frequent targets for Ethiopian Woyanne army threats and shakedowns, Minnesota’s Ogaden refugees say.

“In the town of Gode,” said Mohamed, ‘the Army just last week gathered more than 100 business people recently and told them, ‘You have three choices: you can give us money, you can join the army, or you can go to jail.”

(Douglas McGill has reported for the New York Times and Bloomberg News– and now the Daily Planet. To reach Doug McGill: And visit The McGill Report at

Selling citizens, selling children and selling land

Monday, September 7th, 2009

Selling citizens, selling children and selling land – Yilma Bekele

The late Democratic Republic of Germany (GDR) commonly known as East Germany was a very sad country. It was a place where the state elevated the art of coercion into a science. The Stasi (short for Staatssicherheitsdienst, or State Security Service) was the most potent weapon ever devised by a dictatorship.

The Stasi kept a close tab on all its citizens. The collapse of GDR, and the dismantling of the Berlin wall, gave us a clear look into the workings of a totalitarian state. It is said that Stasi had 91,000 employees and 350,000 collaborators in a country of 17 million. The Stasi infiltrated all associations, organizations, and clubs. The Stasi used blackmail to persuade citizens to inform on each other, including their own family. The Stasi was the most evil organization. The familiarity with Ethiopia is not a coincidence. The TPLF Internal Security is the new Stasi.

The TPLF’s security system is modeled after the Stasi. The regime might be clueless regarding the economic system, but it does not spare a penny when it comes to organizing a ruthless internal security system to blackmail, intimidate, and frighten the citizens of the country.

The GDR leaders constructed walls, buried land mines, and erected watchtowers to prevent their people from fleeing to the West. They also devised a clever way to profit from their hostages. They agreed to release political prisoners in exchange for money from their West German cousins. By the 1980’s, the payments we so large, that they became part of the GDR’s economic planning. Overall, 33,755 prisoners were released from the GDR, for a total amount of 3,436,900,755DM or $2.28 billion US dollars. As you can see, it was a very lucrative business.

Today we have the Ethiopian regime playing the same game with a different twist. Instead of political prisoners, the regime generates income by selling our children. We were famous for drought and famine, but now we are famous for the export of our children. It is true that the spread of HIV Aids, and other communicable diseases have decimated our population. Orphans are everywhere. For a poor country, without any safety net, the plight of our children is very sad indeed. On the other hand, the problem cannot be resolved by selling your precious resource. The minority regime has opened the door to unscrupulous individuals and organizations that have set up shop in Ethiopia. Their main concern is turning a profit rather than searching for a lasting solution. Reading ‘The Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism’ report is experiencing a nightmarish situation while still awake. It makes you wonder if there is any thing sacred to the TPLF riffraff.

Well-informed sources have told the Schuster Institute that recent trends in Ethiopia’s international adoptions strongly suggest an increase in corruption. In the past, these have been signs that a country’s adoption system is shifting from “white” to “gray”—that is, from a well-regulated humanitarian effort dedicated to the children’s welfare, to a business that is taking children from living families in order to gain profits from Western adoption fees.

Once the regime figured out this is one area where an obscene amount of profit can be made, with little or no investment, there was nothing that would stop our gallant rulers. The Schuster Report goes on to say ‘For Ethiopia, the numbers of children sent in adoption climbed from a total of 262 in 2002 to more than 2520 in 2007—a tenfold expansion in five years.

When you consider that the average cost to adopt in Ethiopia is around twenty thousand US dollars (the cheapest in the world) the government took in over 50 million US dollars in 2007 alone. Based on the trend of the last eight years, the numbers for 2008 and 2009 must be considerably higher. The Woyane government that is passing laws to suppress the independent press, human right work, in addition to curtailing NGO activities, is all of a sudden very receptive to the idea of setting up ‘model orphan centers’ by non-regulated foreign adoption agencies. Schuster Report goes on to say,

· “Homes” for pregnant women that appear to have been created “strictly to provide infants for the adoption trade” (in the words of an observer).
· Fraud on the children’s documents about such facts as their real ages and whether they were abandoned or relinquished by families.

As you can see the TPLF regime in collusion with westerners was using the so-called “homes” as a baby factory designed for export of children who were treated like “another” commodity. Can you imagine the agony of a mother or a father who “gives” up their baby never to see him or her again? What is very alarming is the fact that some of the children who were put up for adoption are not orphans. Woyane agents falsified documents to show the children as orphans, while the birth parents were still alive according to Canadian parents that were swindled in Ethiopia.

As if selling children were not enough, the regime is also involved in signing long-term leases of our fertile land with foreign investors. An article by Michael Chebsi reads:

The Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has promised Saudi Arabia that his country will provide hundreds of thousands of hectares of unutilised agricultural land for growing cereals in the east African country. This is a follow up to an earlier pledge by Ethiopia to grant 5,000 hectares of land to the Djibouti government for large-scale commercial farming.

The Ethiopian agriculture ministry is identifying available land for such foreign investors; so far close to two million hectares of land have been identified in the regions of Oromia and Amhara, where almost all cereals in the country are produced.

Land is state property in Ethiopia. The regime uses its status as the landlord to control the life of the peasant farmer. Seventeen years of experimentation with voodoo economics have left the country unable to feed itself. Over fourteen million Ethiopians are in constant need of food handouts from foreign donors. Instead of changing a failed policy, the regime is trying to solve its balance of payment problem by leasing our land. The consequence of this action is to condemn millions of citizens into perpetual insecurity and forces them to need help from outsiders.

The Ethiopian Stasi strangle hold on our people is visible in every part of our country. The security services are part of the everyday landscape. They make it a point to be seen and felt. The idea is to intimidate and terrorize. They are in every office, in every coffee shop and bar on every street corner including places of worship. They do not try to blend in rather they like to stand out begging for recognition. The aim is to create mistrust and fear. The TPLF regime spends more money on security than education and health combined. Their presence is even felt by the Diaspora. Most of our people are afraid to have their picture taken during a protest, scared to sign their name and contribute money anonymously. I am sure there are a few that report back on the activities of the Diaspora but the fear factor is more than the reality. The TPLF regime is a fear factory.

Dictatorship is not sustainable. Despite all the effort by the leaders of GDR, they were not able to stop the spontaneous uprising by their people. Sooner or later the victims wake up. The East German dictator Erich Honecker fled to the old Soviet Union when his country withered away. Unfortunately for him, the Soviet Union went through some change itself and he was extradited back home. During the trial, he was found to be ill with terminal cancer, and the Germans government unceremoniously deported him to Chile where he died alone. His life was a total waste, but he also caused agony and hardship to his people.

Andenet Party Chairman Judge Bertukan Mideksa has been in jail two hundred and fifty days. Her crime is she stood up against the dictatorship. The regime is using Judge Bertukan to break the will of the people. It is a futile effort by those in power to get respect and recognition. It did not work for Mengistu Haile Mariam. It did not work for Erich Honecker. There is no reason to believe that it is going to work this time. All patriotic Ethiopians know Judge Bertukan is paying the price for our freedom. We know that Judge Bertukan is the reflection our dreams and our hope for our ancient kingdom. We share the sentiments of the late Senator Kennedy when he said ‘the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.’ Hear this .WAV 173K The dream of the righteous and just Ethiopia will never die. We, that is you, and I, we are the future. Never doubt that. Ethiopia will rise up again.\

Numbers from AICAN (Australian Intercountry Adoption Network)’s Statistics page.,23599,23026719-38200,00.html

Ethiopian Woman Missing in Washington State

Monday, September 7th, 2009

CAMAS, Washington (KPTV) — Camas police are searching for a 27-year-old woman who was reported missing Friday.

Merseret Belay, who worked as a nanny in Camas, was last seen on Northwest 19th Circle at 11 p.m. on Thursday. She was reported missing by her employer at 8:30 a.m. Friday.

Belay, who is from Ethiopia, is in the United States on a temporary visa and was scheduled to leave with her employer for Europe on Friday.

In the past, she has frequented Pioneer Square in downtown Portland and Esther Short Park on 192nd Avenue in Vancouver. Belay does not have any family or friends in the area and police believe she left on her own.

Another Ethiopian implicated in $65 million UK jewel robbery

Monday, September 7th, 2009

LONDON (AP) — British police charged a man with attempted murder Saturday in connection with a $65 million jewelry robbery in London last month.

Aman Kassaye, 24, an immigrant from Ethiopia, faces the most serious charge so far in the Aug. 6 robbery of Graff Diamonds. Six other men have already been charged with conspiracy to rob the prestigious Bond Street jeweler of diamond rings, bracelets, and watches.

Amateur video shot outside the store appeared to capture the aftermath of the robbery and images of screaming shoppers ducking for cover as a shot is fired. No one was hurt in the robbery, one of the biggest in British history.

Security camera footage released by police shortly after the theft showed two men in suits being let into the store, where police say they pulled out guns, briefly took an employee hostage and escaped in a series of getaway cars across central London. Police said at the time they believed others helped the pair escape.

A British newspaper reported last month that the men were wearing stick-on prosthetic faces made from liquid latex. Police have refused to comment on the claim and declined to say whether any jewelry had been recovered.

Besides attempted murder, Kassaye is charged with conspiracy to rob, unlawful imprisonment, and using a handgun to avoid arrest. He was due to appear at a London court Monday.

Meanwhile, London Police say a ninth suspect in one of Britain’s largest robberies ever has been detained.

The 22-year-old is suspected of helping to plot the Aug. 6 theft of $65 million worth of rings, bracelets, necklaces and watches from Graff Diamonds’ flagship store in London.

Police say two men walked into the store, pulled out guns, briefly took an employee hostage and escaped with the jewels in a series of getaway cars.

The newest suspect detained Monday has not been identified pending formal charges. Seven others are charged with conspiracy to rob the Bond Street jeweler.

The eighth has been released on bail and has not been charged.

British National Party attacks Ethiopian asylum seekers

Monday, September 7th, 2009

In a news release issued on Friday, the British National Party (BNP) calls Ethiopian political asylum seeks parasites. BNP is angry at the Ethiopian athletes who have recently defected and sought political asylum in the U.K. The ignorant BNP officials should be angry at their own government for financing the ruling tribal junta in Ethiopia that is terrorizing and brutalizing Ethiopians, forcing tens of thousands of them to flee. Read the idiotic news release by the BNP below:

(BNP News) — Yet another saga in the mad asylum racket which plagues Britain is about to be written with the news that four Ethiopian athletes have absconded from their London hotel and will shortly claim “asylum.”

The four athletes were among a team of 10 due to compete in Scotland. The first scrounger fled his team immediately after he got through border control at Heathrow airport.

The other three vanished from the team hotel before they were due to catch a flight to Edinburgh.

Ethiopian team co-ordinator Dagmawit Amare was quoted in the media as saying, “We are not worried about the safety of the athletes who disappeared because it appears obvious they are seeking asylum.”

The Ethiopian embassy in London is liaising with the Home Office over the missing athletes and their expected claims for asylum.

The incident has been reported to UK authorities, Scottish Athletics said. “It represents our worst scenario in inviting them,” meet manager Ross Cunningham said in a statement.

A Scottish athletics spokesman was quoted as saying that the incident was “disappointing and we will have to think seriously about whether we put ourselves in this position again. The visas were granted in good faith and we did not envisage finding ourselves in this situation.”

Britain’s insane asylum policy states that anyone from anywhere can set foot on Britain, claim asylum, and then must be given shelter until their application is heard — which can take up to two years.

During this time, the scroungers live off the taxpayer and receive preferential treatment in housing and benefits.

Ironically, Ethiopia itself has a population of refugees and asylum seekers numbering approximately 201,700. The Ethiopian government forces all refugees to live in tent camps and from time to time, forcibly deports large numbers.

Ethiopia risks pre-election violence in 2010 – study

Monday, September 7th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) — Ethiopia could suffer ethnic violence next year ahead of its first national elections since a 2005 poll triggered street clashes following a disputed victory for the government, a think tank has said.

In a study released over the weekend, the International Crisis Group (ICG) warned of the potential for a violent eruption of conflict ahead of the election scheduled for May 2010 because of rising ethnic tensions and dissent.

“The international community must stop ignoring and downplaying these problems and encourage meaningful democratic governance in the country,” the ICG said in a statement.

Ethiopian government officials were not immediately available to comment.

The 2005 elections were touted as Ethiopia’s first truly democratic poll. But they ended in bloodshed after the government declared victory and the opposition cried foul.

Police and soldiers then killed about 200 people who had taken to the streets in protest. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi accused the demonstrators of trying to topple the government.

Rights groups regularly accuse his administration of cracking down on opponents. One party leader has been jailed and several former and serving military officers have been charged in recent months with plotting to oust Meles.

The ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is made up of parties from all major ethnic groups.

It introduced a system of “ethnic federalism” when it took power in 1991, after a communist regime was toppled, with major ethnicities controlling the regions where they dominate.

The government says that gives all ethnicities equal power.

“Ethnic federalism has not dampened conflict, but rather increased competition among groups fighting for land, natural resources, administrative boundaries and government budgets,” said Francois Grignon, director of the ICG’s Africa Program.

“This concept has powerfully promoted ethnic self-awareness among all groups and failed to accommodate grievances.”

The ICG called on donors who give money to sub-Saharan Africa’s second most populous country — which is one of the world’s biggest recipients of foreign aid — to put pressure on Meles’ government.

(Reporting by Barry Malone; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

Africa's dictators and their image cleaners in Washington

Monday, September 7th, 2009

WASHINGTON (Africa Insight) — The Kenyan government has reportedly retained a top Washington public relations firm to improve its image in the United States at a reported cost of Sh129 million ($1.7 million) over the next two years. According to the Paris-based Indian Ocean Newsletter, CLS & Associates have added the Kenyan Government to their list of clients.

By retaining the firm, Kenya has joined a growing list of countries including some in Africa that rely on lobbyists to protect and promote their interests in Washington. This subculture reflects a steady decline and privatisation of diplomacy and has an impact on growth of democracy in Africa.

Power and influence are the trademarks of Washington D.C.’s K Street, a major thoroughfare that is known as a hotbed for over 14,000 lobbyists, advocacy groups and think tanks who, in 2008, cumulatively made an estimated $3.30 billion (Sh251 billion). Lobbying, a multi-billion dollar profession, involves all attempts to influence legislators and officials, whether by other legislators, constituents, or organized groups.

The strongest lobbies promoting foreign interests are driven by cohesive ethnic population groups in the United States such as Armenians, Greeks, Taiwanese and Irish. Arguably, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is the most influential and well connected lobby in America whose work is to defend Israel’s hard line stand on the Palestinians at the same time deflecting criticism of its military operations in the Palestinian territory especially when dealing with Hezbollah.

For Africa, there exists the Africa Action group, which is the oldest organisation in the US working for Africa affairs, lobbying on issues that fit into the broad goal of political, economic and social justice in Africa. The fifty-year old African Studies Association – a vocal conglomerate of people with a scholarly and professional interest in Africa is yet another African lobby. Lastly is the Trans Africa Forum which advocates human rights and social justice in the continent.

John Newhouse in the article ‘Diplomacy Inc’ (Foreign Affairs May/June 2009) argues that advantages of using lobbyists emanate from the fact that they operate within the system in ways that experienced diplomats cannot. This is not to negate the work of foreign embassies, but lobbyists can identify with a domestic ethnic bloc even though the bloc is paid by a foreign government.

Ethnic politics can hence trump corporate interests and, more important, influence what agencies within the US government may see as the national interest. Lobbying firms are also able to put forward arguments in ways that Ambassadors cannot, in part due to the diplomacy rules they operate under.

Compiled fact sheets on Kenya

It has also been argued that even the US government has become so complex that only insiders, such as former members of Congress or congressional staff members turned lobbyists, can navigate its confusing structure. In addition, foreign missions, including those representing African countries, have limited resources and hence are spread thin, with limited access to the people and offices that matter. Thus, it becomes necessary to engage lobbyists who will cover much of the legwork in Congress for the client country.

Nations retain a specific lobbying firm with an eye to extracting maximum advantage in areas such as foreign aid, investments and trade matters. Whatever it is they want, the lobbying firms in Washington help them get it.

In the initial phase of its work, CLS is said to have compiled a series of eight fact sheets on Kenya for distribution to the US media, government officials in Washington and American corporate executives.

These brief releases attempt to put a positive spin on Kenya’s efforts at national reconciliation, its fight against corruption and the country’s security ties with the United States. The strategy appears to be designed to highlight considerations that are already at the forefront of President Barrack Obama administration’s relations with the Kenya’s coalition government.

Lobbying firms are also expected to deflect criticism against their client country, when the US Congress takes note, concerning violations of human rights. Congressional indignation, after all, may lead to partial or total economic and financial sanctions. However, it is this capability of lobbyists to shield its client country from human rights accountability and scrutiny that posses a challenge to Africa’s democracy.

Flipping through the US State Department annual global survey of human rights for the past four years, it is noticeable that many of the African countries known as human rights violators have got significant support from the American government whether military assistance (Egypt), development aid (Nigeria), or expanded trade opportunities (Angola, Cameroon).

It is also worth noting that most of these countries have natural resources that they could have appropriated for American support. Nevertheless, even the best natural resource-endowed regimes need help navigating the bureaucratic seas of Washington, and it is their great fortune that, for the right price, countless lobbyists are willing to captain even the foulest of ships.

During the 2008 US Presidential campaigns, the top adviser to US Senator John McCain, then prospective Republican Party nominee for president, was heavily criticised for his work on behalf of former President Daniel arap Moi of Kenya and other past African leaders accused of human rights abuses.

Repackaged Savimbi

Charles Black Jnr, a longtime Washington power broker, was a well-paid lobbyist for Kenya’s government in the late 1980s and into the 1990s. A report by the non-governmental Centre for Public Integrity documented that Black’s firm, Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly Public Affairs Co., was paid about $1.5 million (Sh114 million) by the Kenyan government from 1990 to 1993. The money was intended to win influence for Kenya with the US Congress, the White House, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and an array of Washington-based NGOs.

Black’s firm also helped orchestrate the widely publicised 1989 burning of $3 million (Sh228 million) worth of poached elephant tusks in Nairobi National Park by the former President. Moi’s private visit to the United States in 1990 was in part organised by Mr Black’s firm and it also handled media relations during the visit, including a press briefing by Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Robert Ouko, who would be assassinated on returning to Kenya. Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly Public Affairs Co. also represented DR Congo (then Zaire) dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, Nigerian military ruler Gen Ibrahim Babangida, Somalia strongman Mohamed Siad Barre, and Angola rebel leader Jonas Savimbi. It greatly helped repackage Savimbi as a valiant anti-communist “freedom fighter.”

In 2004, six former members of Congress served as “election observers” in Cameroon and offered positive assessment of President Paul Biya’s overwhelming reelection victory. However, it was later found out that the so called observers had been financed by the firm of Patton Boggs, which worked for and was paid by the Biya government.

Egypt, historically one of the largest recipients of US foreign aid, has also mounted a large effort to preserve American funding in a case that shows the power of well connected lobbyists. Nevertheless, critics have voiced that American aid has allowed Cairo’s political elite to put off much needed changes especially in democracy and governance that can spur growth.

Killed anti-Ethiopian bill

In June 2006, the Ethiopia Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights Advancement Act was introduced by Rep. Christopher Smith (Republican, New Jersey) proposing to put limits on military aid to Ethiopia — with the exception of peacekeeping and anti-terrorism programs — until the government released all political prisoners and provided fair and speedy trials to other prisoners held without charges. Most of these political prisoners had been arrested during the 2005 post election protests following the re-election of vote stealing by Prime Minister tribal warlord Meles Zenawi, which also left more than 500 people dead.

The bill swiftly passed the House International Relations Committee with bipartisan support with the Ethiopian diaspora in America launching letter and e-mail campaigns to push the legislation in Congress. To counter this effort, the Ethiopian government hired a well-established law and lobbying firm, DLA Piper, to protect its interests in Washington at a cost of $2.3million.

The lobby shop in a memo argued that the bill compromised “the national security interests of both the United States and Ethiopia.” They also raised concerns about Somalia that Addis Ababa and the United States shared. Through numerous meetings and lobbying, eventually the bill never made it to the House floor. It has been argued that lobbying is undesirable because it allows people with particular interests and who represent a minority to gain special access to law-makers and through contributions and favours have controversial relationships with representatives. This is a danger to Africa’s democracy including settling its internal conflicts. A case in point is of Western Sahara which has been fighting for independence from Morocco — and has been the subject of over 34 UN Security Council resolutions since 1999.

In late 2007 and 2008, the desert region was a top priority for Morocco’s hired lobbyists who sought the support of the Congress in the territorial dispute. In 1991, the United Nations had brokered a cease-fire agreement between Morocco and the Polisario Front, a group fighting for Western Sahara’s independence. Part of the terms of that deal included holding a referendum to determine the territory’s final status.

In 2007, Morocco issued a proposal to grant Western Sahara autonomy within sovereign Morocco. The US initially welcomed the proposal, and direct talks began between Morocco and the Polisario with the involvement of Algeria, which supports self-determination for the Sahrawi tribes from the area.

Behind the scenes was the work of lobbyists for both parties. By the end of negotiations according to records released by Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), the Algerian government’s lobbyists had 36 contacts with members of Congress and staff promoting self-determination for the people of Western Sahara.

The Algerians paid a modest $416,000 (Sh31.6 million) in lobbying fees. By comparison, lobbyists for the government of Morocco had 305 contacts with members of Congress and their staff. Morocco paid $3.4 million (Sh258 million) in lobbying expenses — putting it among the top foreign government spenders for FARA filings in the period.

The intense campaign resulted in a bipartisan group of some 173 House members signing on to a statement supporting Morocco’s offer of autonomy for the region without formal independence. President Bush also expressed support for Morocco’s plan, a decision that has since been reversed by President Obama who backs a Western Sahara State.

Obama reining in lobbyists

It is due to this power to influence that President Obama made lobbying a key target of his ethics policies, sharply limiting their access to the administration and forbidding appointment of former lobbyists in the government without special waivers. The moves angered many lobbying groups but it is doubtful if it has made any impact on the booming business on K Street.

It is not only in America where the lobbyists are based. There are currently around 15,000 lobbyists in Brussels, the headquarters of European Union, seeking to influence its legislative process. In Britain, the lobbying industry has been steadily growing in recent years and was estimated by the Hansard Society in 2007 to be worth £1.9 billion (Sh234 billion) and employs 14,000 people. The House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee held an investigation into lobbying, and its 2009 report called for “a statutory register of lobbying activity to bring greater transparency to the dealings between Whitehall decision makers and outside interests.”

It is thus clear that lobbyists have gained considerable influence in Washington and their work is affecting how different Africa countries run their affairs. Whereas there are some lobbyists who carry out harmless and good work, others continue to be used by African leaders to stifle the continent’s democracy.

For the growth of the continent and stronger foreign policy ties, Washington needs to assist fragile democracies reform and strengthen their institutions instead of bowing to pressure from lobbyists working for the interests of the political elite.

At the same time, Africans need to elect strong capable leaders who view success as delivering development and reducing poverty rather than siphoning public resources and buying support or rigging elections. This will be an easier route to take than the power of lobby groups which is a short term gain mostly for the minority.

(Africa Insight is an initiative of the Nation Media Group’s Africa Media Network Project)

Ethiopia: Acute Watery Diarrhea reported through out Addis Ababa

Monday, September 7th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA (UN) — Acute Watery Diarrhoea (AWD) cases have been reported from all ten sub-cities in Addis Ababa, with the highest caseload recorded from Akaki/Kaliti, Addis Ketema, Arada and Kolfe, according to official reports from the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH). The outbreak also continues to spread in other regions of the country and new woredas are reportedly affected in Amhara, Oromiya, Dire Dawa and SNNPR. Between 17 and 23 August (34th eepidemiological week), a total of 2,330 new cases of AWD and 22 deaths with 0.9 per cent case fatality rate have been reported from 61 woredas and 10 sub-cities in Addis Ababa, Afar, Amhara, Somali, Oromiya and SNNPR. The ongoing kiremt rains, and the continuous movement of pilgrims and migrant laborers to and from holy water sites and private farms are contributing to the spread of the disease. The re-opening of schools in mid-September also requires a special attention.

Response is ongoing at both federal and regional levels. The central command center continues to provide guidance, meeting twice a day to plan and coordinate response activities. In response to the US$ 500,000 financial request to contain the outbreak in Addis Ababa, WHO committed US$ 30,000 for surveillance, case management and training activities, while UNICEF committed US$ 100,000 for training and operational costs. UNICEF also sent 20,000 bottles of water guards to Addis Ababa health bureau to enable 20,000 households to access clean water for a period of one month. Furthermore, UNICEF is finalizing preparations to establish sanitation facilities at Gishen Mariam, Tsadkane and Wonkshet churches in Amhara in the coming two weeks. UNICEF sent two Case Treatment Center (CTC) kits each to Dire Dawa and South Wollo zone of Amhara Region. For more information contact: &

Seasonal Update

The latest WFP/FEWSNET food security update indicates that the performance of the kiremt rains in most meher growing areas to date remains below normal, including in some western surplus producing areas where the rains had late onset and erratic performance. The situation could disrupt the food security situation in these areas that managed to sustain normal condition despite various shocks experienced in the past five years. The late onset of the kiremt rains has interrupted timely planting of meher crops including wheat, barley, peas, beans and flax. Consequently, the report indicates that most shortmaturing meher crops are considerably behind their normal phonological stages and are unlikely to reach full maturity unless the rains extend beyond their normal cessation period in September. The prospect for long cycle maize and sorghum crops, which constitute about 50 percent of the total national cereal production, is also not promising in many areas due to poor 2009 belg/gu rains (February to May) and the below normal performance of the current kiremt rains. Meanwhile, food insecurity continues to affect vulnerable populations in northeastern highlands of Amhara, Southern Tigray, Afar, eastern parts of Oromiya and most parts in SNNPR. The report recommends for timely preparation of a comprehensive contingency plan given the poor meher production prospects in the coming months. For more information contact: &

Nutrition Update

UNICEF reports that admissions to Therapeutic Feeding Programmes (TFPs) continues to increase partly due to the improved access and service coverage with the implementation of the government’s Out-patient Therapeutic Programmes (OTP) rollout strategy. The admission reporting rate and information on key performance indicators for TFPs, however, remain very poor, indicating the need for a strategy to improve report completion rates nationwide. In Amhara Region, for instance, the report completion rate for the January to June period is as low as 10.9 per cent. Meanwhile, training of health extension workers for the rollout of TFP in Amhara, Oromiya, Tigray and SNNP is ongoing, with more than 80 per cent of the planned activities completed in Amhara, SNNP and Tigray, while it is only 50 per cent accomplished for Oromiya. Monitoring activities of TFP interventions also continue. In SNNPR, the observations made by monitoring teams on supplies, quality of services and modalities of collaboration between AWD response activities and OTP services have been discussed with the Regional Health Bureau. In Oromiya, delay of fund disbursement by the RHB has hindered the progress of monitoring activities. For more information contact:

Observation Mission Underway in Akobo and Wanthawa, Gambella

A rapid joint observation mission, led by Disaster Risk Management Food Security Sector (DRMFSS), including representatives from the Gambella Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Bureau, UNICEF, OCHA, WFP and FOA, is currently underway in Akobo and Wanthawa woredas. The mission is assessing the impact of the spill-over effect of the recent conflict in Southern Sudan on the humanitarian situation as well as the impact of poor seasonal rains in the general food security situation in the areas. The team will discuss with local authorities and communities to establish a mechanism for distribution of relief items. Due to access constraints, the assessment is being conducted by boat. For more information contact:

Improvement in Logistics

WFP reports progress in logistics particularly in trucking capacity with actual allocation of 130 trucks per day to transport food from ports to in-country warehouses. Meanwhile, efforts continue to further improve the situation at the ports to facilitate timely in-country arrival of relief items. Between 12 and 20 August, a joint mission to Sudan led by the State Minister of DRMFSS and the Country Director of WFP assessed the port Sudan-Ethiopia corridor and discussed continued use of Port- Sudan to serve the north western part of the country. In addition, WFP also undertook a recent visit to Djibouti to discuss the possibility of allocating additional berth space, review transport capacity progress and introduce the WFP Djibouti office to officials.

For more information contact:

Mugged on "K" Street?

Monday, September 7th, 2009

By Alemayehu G. Mariam

Remember H.R. 2003?

Do you remember H.R. 2003 (“Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act”)? That was a bill sponsored by Rep. Donald Payne (D-N.J.) to promote the “advancement of human rights, democracy, independence of the judiciary, freedom of the press, peacekeeping capacity building, and economic development in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.” It passed by a unanimous vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on October 2, 2007. A motley crew of human rights advocates and defenders, grassroots activists, international human rights organizations and others toiled long and hard to help get that bill passed. While we were pounding the pavement on Capitol Hill, guess what the other side was doing?

Getting Fleeced on “K” Street

Dick Armey’s army at DLA Piper was leading the cavalry charge on the Hill against H.R. 2003. Or were they? The evidence from the official lobbying reports show that the “K” Street boys (“K” street is the address of choice for the high powered Washington lobbyists) were on “easy street” lobbying for the dictators in Ethiopia. In the Sharkdom of Lobbying, DLA Piper is BIG, “with 3,500 lawyers located in 29 countries and 67 offices throughout Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the US.” Between 9/01/2007-7/30/2008, DLA Piper was “variously” paid by the “Government of Ethiopia” $1,351,851.25 for fees and expenses. DLA Piper made several hundred “contacts” with U.S. officials, media reps and others for the “Government of Ethiopia.” With the exception of a few face-to-face meetings with members of Congress, all of the other official contacts were with congressional staffers by email. (See fn. 1) The Piper firm made over 114 contacts with U.S. officials on H.R. 2003, almost all of them by email to Congressional staffers.

The Dewey and LeBoeuf (DL) firm was also retained to do additional lobbying. DL is a prominent “white-shoe firm” (a phrase used to describe leading American professional services firms that have been in existence for more than a century) with many Fortune 500 clients. Between 12/26/2007 and 02/01/2008, DL snagged four payments from the “Government of Ethiopia” ($183,307.48; $28,642.50; $73,962.30; $300,000) for professional fees and expenses. DL arranged a total of 17 face-to-face meetings and 13 telephone contacts, principally with officials in the U.S. State Department Office of East African Affairs and the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs. (See fn. 1.)

The “Government of Ethiopia” paid the Mark Saylor public relations firm $328,040.18 for consulting fees and expenses between 3/19/2007 and 9/29/2008. (See fn. 1.) The firm made 78 phone calls, wrote 35 emails and arranged 13 in-person meetings, mostly with representatives of major U.S. media outlets. Saylor claims that its “principals serve as trusted advisors, offering clients strategic and tactical counsel on sensitive matters.” Highlighting its “aggressive” style, Saylor brags: “We find opportunities where others see only disaster. We combine swift action with careful judgment.” Saylor sure knows how to find opportunity in disaster for themselves.

The total payments by the “Government of Ethiopia” to the various lobbying firms in 2007-2008 exceeded $2,265,802.

Inscrutably, between November 2007 and October 2008, “lobbyist payments from Ethiopian People Revolutionary Party” were made in the amount of over $91,418 12 “for membership fee and contribution.” [2] (See fn. 2.)

Paying the Piper of “K” Street?

The gold diggers of “K” Street can spot a sucker a mile away. Dick Armey (who resigned from DLA Piper a couple of weeks ago over the bad publicity caused by his FreedomWorks organization turning out anti-heath care reform protesters to disrupt town hall meetings) was the point man lobbying to defeat H.R. 5680 (later H.R. 2003) because the dictators in Ethiopia believed he could best defend their cause on the Hill. After all, Armey was a former republican majority leader in the House and the second most powerful person in that institution. He was also one of the key leaders of the “Republican Revolution” which enabled Republicans to gain control of Congress in 1994. Armey was more connected to political power on the Hill than Siamese twins to each other. The dictators thought he could walk on water. Indeed, Armey did a pretty good job by making sure that the bill never saw the light of day on the House floor after it passed committee in October, 2007. No doubt, he had Republican speaker Dennis Hastert’s ear on the issue. But Democrats “thumped” the Republicans in November 2007, and the whole game changed.[3]

But what really happened to the dictators of Ethiopia on “K” Street? To say they were taken to the cleaners is to state the obvious. They paid millions to have lobbyists shovel hundreds of emails to Congressional staffers, make a few telephone calls and arrange even fewer in-person meetings with American officials. That is not exactly getting the biggest bang for one’s lobbying buck. What a monumental waste of the scarce resources of one of the poorest countries in the world! What a rip-off! But the old saw must be true: “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

To fathom what happened to the dictators on “K” Street, one must appreciate the lobbying industry and its role in the American political process. Lobbyists (a term which came in to use in the late 1800s to describe the wheelers and dealers who hanged out in government building lobbies to chat with law makers before legislative sessions) are a special breed of influence peddlers in the American political system. Even though their activities are fully protected by the expressive freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, lobbyists suffer from a bad public image. In the past few years, lobbyists have been at the center of various high profile political corruption scandals in Washington, and various members of Congress were forced to resign or ended up in jail.

Lobbyists are often hired because of their presumed expertise in the legislative process, their knowledge of certain areas of public policy and special connections with certain influential members of Congress and their staff. As of 2007, there were some 15,000 actively registered lobbyists in Washington, and spending on lobbying exceeded $3.3 billion in 2008. In theory, the principal task of lobbyists in the legislative process is to prepare and present information to members of Congress and their staff, and to set up and attend face-to-face meetings. They also play a critical role in arranging testimony for Congressional hearings. In practice, they do a lot more, including drafting legislation, mobilizing grassroots activists, campaign fund raising and other activities. The most effective lobbyists are those with experience as Congressional insiders, often former members or staffers who use their skills and experience to navigate the circuitous legislative process.

For the dictators, Armey and DLA Piper may have appeared to be winning hands in the Republican-controlled Congress. Armey was at the top of his game. They never thought the Republicans would be dislodged from power, and arrogantly and ill-advisedly put all their eggs in the Republican basket. To add insult to injury, they targeted some powerful members of Congress and made them enemies by vilifying and harshly criticizing them. When the Democrats took control of the House, it was time for the dictators to pay the piper. They had burned their bridges and discredited themselves with Hill Democrats, and now they are facing the music for their arrogant miscalculations.

Banana Republic Running (Buying) Capitol Hill?

“While they are entitled to their own opinion,” quipped the arch dictator in Ethiopia, “this government and this country are incapable, unwilling and unable to be run like some banana republic from Capitol Hill. It is very worrisome that some of these individuals appear to have entertained such views.”

What is “very worrisome”, indeed downright creepy, is the fact that an outlaw dictator could spend millions of dollars to influence (buy) the Government of the United States while berating and castigating it. But that’s one of the great things about America: Even the worst human rights abusers, thugs and criminals in the world are given the opportunity to be heard by the representatives of the American people. This does not mean that there are no reasons to be alarmed over the fact that dictators are spending millions to buy influence and corrupt American democracy. We should all be concerned. These dictators are not accountable to the American people, and could not care less about the requirements of the U.S. Constitution. Hiding behind the silk curtains of the lobbying firms and defended by legions of lobbyists, these dictatorships could inflict serious damage by depriving American citizens of their right to clean government. More troubling is the fact that these dictators could overwhelm the efforts of grassroots efforts of American citizens by spending their millions like a drunken sailor.

But there is something weird about the whole situation. Today sleazy dictators are using lobbyists to do work normally and traditionally done by diplomatic missions. While most governments who uphold the rule of law seek to influence American policy through normal diplomatic channels, dictators are increasingly relying on lobbyists and fat cat influence peddlers to circumvent the regular diplomatic process. This presents an obvious question: What do the fully staffed and resourced diplomatic missions do in their day jobs?

Anyway, under Barack Obama’s watch, the panhandling dictators are being defanged so that they will not spread their venom in the American body politics. No doubt, they will keep trying new tricks to get back in the game. But President Obama has made his position crystal clear to Africa’s tin pot dictators: “Africa’s future is up to Africans,” and “history is on the side of these brave Africans, and not with those who use coups or change constitutions to stay in power. Africa doesn’t need strongmen. It needs strong institutions.”

The Little People United Can Never Be Defeated

Back in late 2007, supporters of Ethiopian human rights were all bent out of shape worrying that Armey’s army would vanquish us on the legislative battlefield on Capitol Hill. But the E-Mail Warriors of DLA Piper, DL and Saylor proved to be no match for the defiant ragtag crew of pavement-pounding, Capitol-Hill-hoofing Ethiopian grassroots advocates. For the millions they paid to lobbyists, the dictators could not get a single vote against H.R. 2003 on the House floor. The bill got stuck in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and failed to make it to the Senate floor because of entangled Senate procedures, unrelated to its merits.

What is the lesson to be learned? The dictators can spend millions on lobbying to buy American politicians to do their bidding. They can spend all the money they want to change their ugly image. But the fact remains that even the mighty Goliath DLA Piper could be defeated if thousands of little Davids band together.[4] If the little people unite, they can kick the rumps of the “K” Street boys and their sleazy paymasters: Exhibit A — H.R. 2003.

Canadian going tribal in Ethiopia

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

By Robin Esrock | Toronto Star

OMO VALLEY, ETHIOPIA –- It’s the traveler’s Catch-22. We want to explore and interact with exotic people from exotic lands, but the fact that we’re interacting changes the dynamics of the encounter. This unfortunate reality is illustrated in southern Ethiopia, one of the most culturally diverse regions on the planet.

Going tribal in Ethiopia
A photo op of this boy, or any other member of most
Ethiopian tribes, involves a cash transaction that can
make a traveller feel sad and empty.

Fifty-three tribes inhabit the area, most have unique traditions that range from incredible art to self-inflicted mutilation. Tour operators offer the chance to meet several of the tribes found in or around the southern Omo Valley, and an increasing number of tourists brave horrific roads and long drives in order to go tribal. But the experience comes with challenges.

The root of the problem is popularly known as the “Ferengi (Aramaic for foreigner) Frenzy,” the mob that surrounds tourists in the region wherever they seem to go. Whether it is the result of prolific non-government organizations (NGOs), aid workers or irresponsible tourists, ferengis are heavily associated, by rural people in the south, with free handouts. While it is tradition in Ethiopia to refuse gifts and be generous with what you have, anyone booking a “tribal” tour will find these traditions hard to come by. Instead, ferengis (also the name of an alien race from the Star Trek series) are often mobbed for money, pens, empty water bottles, anything. Especially, and sadly, by children with few clothes.

Our Land Cruiser stopped off the side of the highway to visit a band of Alaba, a Muslim tribe living in dark mud huts with thatch coverings. Immediately, children with their hands out surrounded me as our guide negotiated a price with the leader of the family. An argument ensued, a price was settled, the atmosphere became as welcoming as a doctor’s waiting room. A band of several dozen people stood looking through me, admiring my cheap watch, pulling my shirt with the request of “one birr.” In Ethiopia, it is customary to pay anyone you take a picture of one or two birr for their image; one birr is equivalent to 10 cents Canadian. It’s fair and well-intentioned, but many locals now see it as a quick and easy way to make money.

Like many travellers, I always ask people permission to take their picture, with the aim of capturing a moment, an authentic image, the picture to speak a thousand words about life in that country. An Italian tourist expressed the problem when he told me, “I don’t mind paying for a photo, but I’m finding it hard to find people being natural. They want to pose for me, so I can pay them.”

After entering a dark, smoky hut and asking some casual questions, it was time to leave. Most tourists spend about 15 minutes with the tribe, longer than most exhibits in a zoo, but not by much. As uncomfortable as I felt, it was about to get much worse.

The Mursi Tribe, numbering between 6,000 and 10,000, are nomads in one of the country’s most remote regions. Famous for the clay lip plates worn as a sign of beauty by their women, ritual scarification and stick fighting, the Mursi are embroiled in an unfortunate dispute with the Africa Parks Board, which is creating national parks in the tribe’s roaming area.

As one of the most extreme tribes to be found anywhere on the continent, the Mursi have been visited by tourists for decades. Foreigners are fascinated by a “primitive” culture as alien to the West as whales are to poodles. It’s a three-day drive to the town of Jinko, and takes more than three hours to drive just 27 kilometres on a bulldozed dirt road into the Mago National Park.

My guide warned that visiting the tribe in the afternoon was a bad idea, because of rampant alcohol abuse and the unpredictability of violence within the group. The Mursi are also aggressive in charging for photos: one birr for an adult, one for a child, and three for a mother and child. They only accept crisp, new one-birr notes.

Deep in the bush, the four-by-four pulled up to a small village of a dozen thatch huts. Immediately, we were mobbed by a tribe both frightening, fascinating and thrillingly exotic. With their faces painted, the women made it impossible not to stare at them and their lips that extended inches below their chins.

“Take picture, take picture, take picture!” I was told, then pushed, poked and prodded by half-naked men, women and children, several of whom held semi-automatic rifles that were used in inter-tribe warfare. As more four-by-fours of tourists arrived, the tribe swept themselves into a frenzy, the tourists took photos while their subjects violently grabbed cash notes. More and more people did their best to get into the photo.

It was sickening, yet the photographs are undeniably incredible. “We want people to stay longer, some don’t even get out of the car. They come, take picture and leave,” a Mursi man told me. But how can tourists be expected to stay longer when they’re mobbed with such feverish aggression? When it was nothing less than a human zoo, everyone was exploited.

Perhaps the solution is organized structure, such as what I found with the Konzo. Tourists pay the government-run central office a fee to visit the tribe in the southern Omo Valley and are assigned a local guide.

While kids initially surrounded me with familiar pleas for money, the guide kept them at check, explaining fascinating traditions and customs. I was told that half the tourist fee is distributed to the tribe, and, although it might not be enough, it benefits all parties.

It is, of course, heartbreaking to turn down children, but aid organizations and charities say giving money, clothes or coveted empty water bottles in Ethiopia only breeds a culture of begging.

A nutritionist for a local NGO told me Ethiopia has moved on from the famine of the 1980s. Kids just want things as a sign of prestige. Better to donate to groups that know local traditions and how best to help.

(Robin Esrock is a Vancouver-based travel writer and TV host.)

Kenenisa Bekele shares $1 million with 2 other athletes in Brussels

Sunday, September 6th, 2009
Sanya Richards, Russian Jelena Isinbayeva and Ethiopian Kenenanisa Bekele
Sanya Richards, Russian Jelena Isinbayeva and
Ethiopian Kenenanisa Bekele in Brussels

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (DPA) — American Sanya Richards, Russian Jelena Isinbayeva and Ethiopian Kenenanisa Bekele Friday shared the one million dollar jackpot on offer at the Golden League series.

The jackpot is shared by the athletes who manage to win the same events at all six Golden League meets in one season.

Bekele looked beatable at one stage in his 5,000m race as he seemingly held back, but on the final straight he proved too strong for compatriot Imane Merga, who finished 0.35 seconds behind.

Bekele’s winning time was 12:55.31 seconds, while Vincent Chepkok took third place.

World record holder Jelena Isinbayeva failed at breaking her own world record of 5.07 metres, but as she managed to clear 4.70 with her first jump, she won the competition and $333,333.

Richards won the women’s 400m race – as she has in all five previous Golden League meets this season – and thus was the first athlete to be assured at least a share of the jackpot.

Richards, who also won the gold at the world championships last month, took first place in a world-best time this year of 48.83 seconds, beating Britain’s Christine Ohuruogu into second place by more than a second.

Ohuruogu finished in 50.43. Jamaican Shericka Williams was third.

Jamaican sprint sensation Usain Bolt again showed that he is currently unbeatable as he comfortably took the 200m in a time of 19.57.

A capacity crowd of 50,000 spectators, who braved moist conditions in the King Baudouin stadium, celebrated yet another display of complete dominance by Bolt, who last month won the sprint double at the world championships in Berlin.

American Wallace Spearman was second in 20.19.

Although Bolt did not run the 100m, it was still a Jamaican double as the bronze medal winner from Berlin took first place in 9.90 seconds, beating Americans Tyson Gay (10.00) and Darvis Patton (10.88) into second and third place.

In the women’s 100m race Carmelita Jeter won in a time of 10.88.

The Kenyan 4×1,500m relay team set a new world record, beating the 32-year-old previous best mark set by Germany in 1977. William Biwott, Gideon Gathimba, Geoffrey Rono and Augustine Choge won in a time of 14:36.23 minutes, to beat the oldest world record on book of the sport’s governing body International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

Another impressive performance belonged to Kenya’s Paul Koech, who won the 3,000 steple chase in 8:04.05 minutes, beating his compatriot Richard Mateelong (8:06.92).

Third place went to Finland’s Jukka Keskisalo (8:13.34).

Investigation into U.S. State Dept Bureau of African Affairs

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

By Scott A Morgan

While Most Advocates for African Issues and Pundits were focused on other things such as the Visit to Africa by Secretary Clinton and the Comprehensive Policy Review towards Sudan,an Internal Investigation by the State Department into the Bureau of African Affairs revealed some unique and chilling remarks.

What did this report reveal about what the Bureau that will be dealing with what will be the next test in US Foreign Policy? This Department is underfunded, facing staffing shortfalls, burdened with demands, has a public diplomacy program that in the words of the report is “failed”, and has questions regarding the priorites of long term planning. Despite these shortcomings the report by the State Department Inspector General Praised the Work of the Bureau.

The evaluation into the Bureau took place between April 20th and June 9th of this year. It should be noted that Johnnie Carson who was nominated by President Obama to this post assumed this position while review was underway. Before Mr. Carson took over Philip Carter III was the acting Undersecretary. The review viewed that the time under the stewardship of Mr. Carter was a time of “renewal”. The report sees Mr. Carson as a Strong Leader for this position.

Some of the lowlights that were also revealed in this report were that Several Unnamed Embassies have significant morale, staffing and leadership issues. There was also a lack of communication from the regional desks to the front office and disinterest in all posts but those that deal with Crisis Situations. All in all this does not bode well for the Secretary of State but could adversely affect decisions made by the President as well.

The Lack of foresight in planning affects several aspects of US African Policy. One glaring example was in Food Aid. Quoting the report” The United States feeds Africa,it is not focusing as it might (should) on helping Africans feed themselves.” Another example was in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The US funds programs that focus more on medication than on prevention of the Spread of this Deadly Disease. The Main function of most humanitarian programs centered around PEPFAR and little if any resources were allocated for education and combating HIV/AIDS.

Another point of controversy is AFRICOM. This newest command of the US Military was resented by members of the Bureau. More often than not the reason was that the Military was getting More Money allocated to it then their State Department Counterparts. For Example A Military Information Support Team dealing with Somalia received $ 600,000 while the State Department got $ 30,000. It should be noted that the Military has resources that State either dreams about or resents. The IG also suggested that the Peacekeeping Training and Support Programs be transferred to AFRICOM if the funding does not increase.

The IG report found that AGOA (Africa Growth and Opportunity Act) has had margainal success due to several factors including poor infrastructure, lack of credit and not meeting the goal imposed by Washington. It also found that within the Bureau that Somalia is the hot button issue but in the grassroots here in the US the Militia Activites are a rising concern as well.

This report is a good news/bad news for the Administration. Africa does have high hopes and expectations of the President. The Military Command is better funded for some missions. Morale is low but the job is increasingly become more and more crucial on a daily basis. Nothing changes poor morale like having some successes. Clearly the State Department needs some when it comes to Africa.

(The author can be reached at

No such thing as ethnic groups, researchers say

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

This study may also apply to Ethiopia.

(ScienceDaily) — Central Asian ethnic groups are more defined by societal rules than ancestry. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Genetics found that overall there are more genetic differences within ethnic groups than between them, indicating that separate ‘ethnic groups’ exist in the mind more than the blood.

Evelyne Heyer, from the Musée de l’Homme in Paris, France, led an international team of researchers who studied mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome data from several populations of two major language ethnic groups of Central Asia, the Turkic and Indo-Iranian groups.

She said: “Our results indicate that, for at least two of the Turkic groups in Central Asia, ethnicity is a constructed social system maintaining genetic boundaries with other groups, rather than being the outcome of common genetic ancestry.”

The boundaries used by individuals to distinguish themselves from members of other ethnic groups are generally cultural, linguistic, economic, religious and political. Heyer and her colleagues confirm the absence of common ancestry in a specific ethnic group; there were on average more differences between members of the same ethnic group than there were between groups.

Speaking about these findings, Heyer said: “Analysis of genetic data, such as in this study, is an important tool for investigating ethnological issues.”

Ethiopia: Ethnic Federalism and Its Discontents

Friday, September 4th, 2009

The following is a 45-page report that is issued today by International Crisis Group on ethnic politics in Ethiopia


The Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) [a cover organization for tribalist Tigrean People Liberation Front ({www:Woyanne})], led by its chairman and prime minister, Meles Zenawi, has radically reformed Ethiopia’s political system. The regime transformed the hitherto centralised state into the Federal Democratic Republic and also redefined citizenship, politics and identity on ethnic grounds. The intent was to create a more prosperous, just and representative state for all its people. Yet, despite continued economic growth and promised democratization, there is growing discontent with the EPRDF’s ethnically defined state and rigid grip on power and fears of continued inter-ethnic conflict. The international community should take Ethiopia’s governance problems much more seriously and adopt a more principled position towards the government. Without genuine multi-party democracy, the tensions and pressures in Ethiopia’s polities will only grow, greatly increasing the possibility of a violent eruption that would destabilise the country and region.

The endeavour to transform Ethiopia into a federal state is led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which has dominated the coalition of ethno-nationalist parties that is the EPRDF since the removal in 1991 of the Derg, the security services committee that overthrew Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974. The EPRDF quickly institutionalised the TPLF’s policy of people’s rights to self-determination and self-rule. The federal constitution ratified in 1994 defined the country’s structure as a multicultural federation based on ethno-national representation.

The government has created nine ethnic-based regional states and two federally administered city-states. The result is an asymmetrical federation that combines populous regional states like Oromiya and Amhara in the central highlands with sparsely populated and underdeveloped ones like Gambella and Somali. Although the constitution vests all powers not attributed to the federal government in them, the regional states are in fact weak.

The constitution was applauded for its commitment to liberal democracy and respect for political freedoms and human rights. But while the EPRDF promises democracy, it has not accepted that the opposition is qualified to take power via the ballot box and tends to regard the expression of differing views and interests as a form of betrayal. Before 2005, its electoral superiority was ensured by the limited national appeal and outreach of the predominantly ethnically based opposition parties. Divided and disorganised, the reach of those parties rarely went beyond Addis Ababa. When the opposition was able to challenge at local, regional or federal levels, it faced threats, harassment and arrest. With the opportunity in 2005 to take over the Addis Ababa city council in what would have been the first democratic change of a major administration in the country’s history, the opposition withdrew from the political process to protest flaws in the overall election.

The EPRDF did not feel threatened until the 2005 federal and regional elections. The crackdown that year on the opposition demonstrated the extent to which the regime is willing to ignore popular protest and foreign criticism to hold on to power. The 2008 local and by-elections went much more smoothly, in large part because the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) was absorbed with internal and legal squabbles, and several other parties withdrew after their candidates experienced severe registration problems. The next federal and regional elections, scheduled for June 2010, most probably will be much more contentious, as numerous opposition parties are preparing to challenge the EPRDF, which is likely to continue to use its political machine to retain its position.

Despite the EPRDF’s authoritarianism and reluctance to accept genuine multi-party competition, political positions and parties have proliferated in recent years. This process, however, is not driven by democratisation or the inclusion of opposition parties in representative institutions. Rather it is the result of a continuous polarisation of national politics that has sharpened tensions between and within parties and ethnic groups since the mid-1990s. The EPRDF’s ethnic federalism has not dampened conflict, but rather increased competition among groups that vie over land and natural resources, as well as administrative boundaries and government budgets.

Furthermore, ethnic federalism has failed to resolve the “national question”. The EPRDF’s ethnic policy has empowered some groups but has not been accompanied by dialogue and reconciliation. For Amhara and national elites, ethnic federalism impedes a strong, unitary nation-state. For ethno-national rebel groups like the ONLF (Ogaden National Liberation Front; Somalis in the Oga den) and OLF (Oromo Liberation Front; the Oromo), ethnic federalism remains artificial. While the concept has failed to accommodate grievances, it has powerfully promoted ethnic self-awareness among all groups. The international community has ignored or downplayed all these problems. Some donors appear to consider food security more important than democracy in Ethiopia, but they neglect the increased ethnic awareness and tensions created by the regionalisation policy and their potentially explosive consequences. [… click here to read the full report]

Bolt vs. Bekele possible match

Friday, September 4th, 2009

BRUSSELS (AP) — Who is track’s greatest runner? Long-distance star Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia wonders what it would be like to race sprinting great Usain Bolt.

“If Usain agrees, if someone wants to organize this, I am ready,” Bekele said Thursday, a day before the Memorial Van Damme Golden League meet.

Bolt, of Jamaica, is the reigning world and Olympic champion and world record-holder over 100 and 200 meters. Bekele, of Ethiopia, is the reigning world and Olympic champion and world record-holder over 5,000 and 10,000 meters.

The idea would be to find a middle ground — between 600 and 800 meters.

“I think I am pretty good at 600 meters,” Bolt said last week. Above 800 meters, he said, “I have no chance.”

Bekele also thinks the two could meet at about that distance.

“Six-hundred meters is a good chance for him,” said Bekele, considering he would lose too much over the first lap. “I need some 800 meters, maybe 700 meters.”

A Bolt-Bekele showdown would be the biggest match race since 200 and 400 Olympic champion Michael Johnson raced 100 champion Donovan Bailey over 150 meters in Toronto after the 1996 Atlanta Games. Johnson pulled up lame halfway through that race and the legacy of the event is more a joke than anything else.

Bekele’s manager, Jos Hermens, realizes that Bolt dominates the sport to such an extent that even a superlative performance like Bekele’s 5,000-10,000 double at the Olympics and worlds became merely a footnote.

“I will have to think about it this winter,” Hermens said, referring to a potential matchup. He added that he will be in touch with Bolt’s manager, Ricky Simms.

Bekele is often overshadowed and he is still chasing the worldwide acclaim enjoyed by compatriot Haile Gebrselassie. Bolt’s showmanship and stunning performances have made him one of the most marketable athletes in any sport.

When it comes to official performances, the two get no closer than the 400 for Bolt and the 1,500 for Bekele.

Bekele set a personal best of 3 minutes, 32.35 over 1,500 two years ago, a time that would make him the 13th best performer of 2009. Bolt’s top mark over 400 is 45.28 in 2007, which would be the 28th fastest time of this year.

Human rights abuse causing displacement of people in Ethiopia

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Reported by Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre

For decades, Ethiopia has been affected by famine and conflict. In 2009, there have been various reports of internal displacement resulting from conflicts and human rights violations perpetrated by the army and groups opposed to the government. It is difficult to establish the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) as neither the government nor any international organisation has undertaken a profiling exercise. The access of humanitarian and human rights organisations and the media to some areas of the country has been restricted.

The ongoing conflicts in Somali Region between the army and the Ogaden National Liberation Front, and in the south and south-west of the country with the Oromo Liberation Front, both pose serious security, humanitarian and protection challenges. The impact on civilians of the conflict in Somali Region has been likened to that of Darfur. Meanwhile, there are also conflicts in at least five of the country’s nine regions with causes ranging from competition over scarce water and pasture resources to disputes over administrative boundaries. In February 2009 alone, some 160,000 people were driven from their homes by conflict between the Garre of the Somali region and the Boran of the Oromiya region over a contested piece of land.

Displacement in Ethiopia is well documented but there is no evidence of durable solutions for IDPs. There is no agency or ministry mandated to respond to issues of forced internal displacement. Even though Ethiopia is actively involved in the drafting of the African Union convention on internally displaced people, there is growing evidence to suggest that conflicts in the country have far-reaching implications for protection and humanitarian assistance for internally displaced people. In a context of widespread impunity, no-one sanctioning violence that leads to displacement has been prosecuted.

The absence of political efforts to resolve internal conflicts and the continuing border dispute with Eritrea presents an ongoing serious risk of renewed conflict and displacement in the Horn of Africa. If the government does not improve humanitarian access, affected IDPs and other vulnerable people will continue to face a protection and humanitarian crisis.

Background: locations and causes of conflict and displacement

For decades, Ethiopia has faced severe famines and regional and international conflicts. From 1977 to 1978 it waged a war with Somalia in which the USA and USSR were involved, it fought a border war with Eritrea between 1998 and 2000, and from 2007 to early 2009 its army was pitted against insurgents (supported by Eritrea) and other nationalist groups in Somalia (The Enough Project, 9 February 2009).

Ethiopia was transformed from a unitary state to an ethnic federal state in 1994 by the new government led by the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), which seized power from the Dergue government of Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991. This new constitutional order was intended to redress the ethno-national grievances among the many ethnic groups in the country (International Journal on Minority and Group Rights, 2008).

However, despite this system of ethnic federalism under which the country is divided into ethnically-defined regions and zones, in almost all cases, displacement was triggered by conflict between different ethnic groups over access to political power or scarce resources such as water and pastoral or agricultural land. There are several conflict-induced displacement situations in Ethiopia, the largest occurring in the administrative regions of Somali, Oromiya, Gambella and Tigray. In addition to these, the government’s counter-insurgency activities in regions such as Oromiya, Somali, and Gambella have led to serious human rights violations which have also led to displacement of civilians (HRW, June 2008; ISS, May 2007).

In November 2008, a study undertaken by the Ethiopian NGO African Rally for Peace and Development (ARPD) showed internal armed conflicts in most of the regions of Ethiopia, including Oromiya, Tigray, Somali, Southern Nationalities and Peoples Republic (SNNPR), Afar, Gambella, and Benishangul-Gumuz (ARPD, November 2008). The US State Department’s 2008 Human Rights Report on Ethiopia reported that ethnically-based conflicts in western, eastern and southern areas had resulted in an increase in killings and injuries since 2007 and the displacement of tens of thousands of people (USDoS, 25 February 2009).

According to ARPD, the major causes of conflicts within Ethiopia’s regions are ethnicity, disputed border and administrative arrangements, the impact on the distribution of resources and power, large-scale spontaneous and planned migration, religious differences, and mineral extraction.

The Borena zone of Oromiya Region, Gambella Region and SNNPR have witnessed recent intra-ethnic and inter-ethnic conflicts (ARPD, November 2008; ISS, 1 May 2007). In August 2008, inter-clan conflict displaced almost 13,000 people in Gambella Region (interview with OCHA, 5 June 2009).

Even though numbers of people displaced by conflict and human rights violations are not easy to establish due to the restrictions that are placed on the activities of media reporters and humanitarian organisations wishing to profile populations in need, the UN and other international organisations estimate that over 300,000 people are displaced by conflict or violence in Ethiopia in 2009 (interviews in Addis Ababa, June 2009).

Somali Region

The conflict between the government and the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) in Somali Region has continued into 2009 (BBC, 9 March 2009; Garoweonline, 8 March 2009). In an August 2009 Al-Jazeera interview, Genocide Watch founder and president Gregory Stanton and the human rights activist Fowsia Abdulkadir described a “genocide-like” situation comparable to Darfur, with reports of killings and burning of villages despite the army’s severe access restrictions on the media and humanitarian organisations (Al-Jazeera, 9 August 2009).

These restrictions make it impossible to establish the number or situation of people displaced by the conflict in Somali region (The Christian Science Monitor, 26 February 2008; Reuters, 27 February 2008; VOA, 25 February 2009). However, many analysts talk of displacements of hundreds of thousands of people (interviews in 2009 in Addis Ababa, Geneva, and Nairobi).

According to a 2008 Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, the government’s counter-insurgency campaign against the ONLF, designed to cut off civilian support to the ONLF and concentrate its rural support base in designated larger villages and towns, had caused widespread forced displacement, particularly between June and August 2007. The government had ordered civilians to relocate from small villages and pastoralist settlements to designated towns throughout the conflict-affected zones, typically ordering the villagers and nomads to move within two to seven days. To secure compliance with the evacuation orders, the army had repeatedly implemented a phased system of terror involving the confiscation and killing of livestock, public executions, and the destruction of villages by burning (HRW, June 2008; p.33).

Oromiya Region

Another rebel group operates in southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya and claims to be fighting for the autonomy of the Oromo people. The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) has fought the Ethiopian army since 1973. Little information is available on how this conflict has caused displacement due to government restrictions. In August 2009, the government summoned the Ambassador of Kenya, demanding that his government stop a private media company in Kenya airing an investigation on the OLF (Daily Nation, 6 August 2009).

Conflicts over disputed administrative borders

In October 2008, approximately 100,000 people were displaced as a result of conflict in the Filtu and Hudet areas over a disputed border between the ethnically-defined Oromiya and Somali Regions (IDMC interview, Addis Ababa, 9 June 2009). In the majority of cases, people sought shelter with host communities, while others scattered in the surrounding bush.

In early 2009, ethnic clashes between Somali and Oromo ethnic groups displaced tens of thousands of people. The conflict was triggered when the Oromiya regional authorities started drilling a borehole on contested land close to the dividing line between the Oromiya and Somali Regions, which has never been properly demarcated. When the Garre Somalis destroyed the rig, members of the Borana clan mobilised to take revenge, angry at what they saw as years of Somali encroachment. Some 300 people lost their lives during the conflict (BBC, 26 February 2009). Initial reports suggested 70,000 people were displaced (BBC, 13 March 2009), but regional government officials later put the figure at over 150,000 (interview with Somali and Oromiya officials in Moyale, 17 June 2008).

In October 2008, almost 18,000 people were displaced in Alaba district of SNNPR as a result of inter-ethnic conflict between the Arsi and the Alaba over a disputed administrative boundary (IDMC interview, Addis Ababa, 9 June 2009).

Physical security

HRW has reported that serious human rights violations have taken place in areas affected by conflict and displacement, and that the government has not investigated or brought to account the perpetrators (HRW, January 2009). A June 2008 HRW report on Somali region was very critical of the human rights records of both the Ethiopian government and army and the ONLF. According to HRW, violations included military attacks on civilians and their villages, while continuing abuses by both rebels and Ethiopian troops were posing a direct threat to the survival of people remaining in war-affected areas, and creating a pervasive culture of fear (HRW, June 2008).

HRW also reported a military campaign of forced relocations and destruction of villages in 2007 (HRW, June 2008). Villagers told HRW how the army killed herders and other fleeing civilians, and burned homes, property and food stocks (HRW, 3 October 2007). Reuters also reported that the burning of villages was forcing locals to flee to the bush where their basic needs were unmet (Reuters, 4 September 2007).

Similar allegations of the army committing human rights violations against the civilian population in the Somali Region were also documented by Amnesty International, the US Department of State and Genocide Watch (AI, 28 May 2009; USDoS, 25 February 2009; Al-Jazeera, 9 August 2009).

Satellite images have backed up reports that the Ethiopian army has burnt towns and villages in Somali Region. The American Association for the Advancement of Science says the images confirm the HRW report and show the army systematically ill-treating civilians in their counter-insurgency campaign (BBC, 12 June 2008).

Gender-based violence is also said to be widespread in Somali region, which is reportedly openly countenanced by the army. Several witnesses have reported that they were gang-raped to the point of unconsciousness by soldiers (Al-Jazeera, 9 August 2009; HRW, June 2008; Reuters, 27 February 2008).

In the February 2009 conflict between the Garre-Somali and the Oromiya-Boran, 300 lives were lost. The BBC reported that many of the displaced had had their villages destroyed and their property stolen (BBC, 13 March 2009).

Landmines continue to hamper the free movement of people in conflict areas. Ethiopia is one of the most heavily-mined countries in Africa. A Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) survey found that 1.9 million people were at risk and identified almost 1,500 communities affected by landmines (Afrol News, 15 April 2009).

Humanitarian access

The activities of aid workers have been severely restricted in regions such as Somali. Humanitarian agencies have since 2008 been granted permission to deliver food but the military escorts still hinder full access (Daily Telegraph, 17 October 2008; BBC News, 19 September 2008; The Times, 18 September 2008). The army has maintained control over humanitarian aid by accompanying convoys, and determining whether it is safe for a delivery to go ahead. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been denied access to Somali Region, and has called on the government to immediately allow its teams to provide assistance to people in the region who are facing an increasingly desperate situation (MSF, 4 September 2007). In July 2008, the Swiss arm of MSF halted its operations in the Region, due to the obstacles put in its way. According to the organisation’s statement: “The authorities’ attitude towards humanitarian organisations has translated into recurrent arrests of MSF Switzerland staff without charge or explanation… Despite continuous attempts to improve the working relations with authorities, our organisation can only regret the absence of any room to bring independent and impartial assistance.” (IRIN, 10 July 2008)

Insecurity in some parts of the country has also hindered aid delivery. In September 2008, two aid workers working for an international organisation were kidnapped by gunmen in Somali Region (BBC, 23 September 2008).

National and international responses

The absence of political effort to resolve internal conflicts and the continuing border dispute with Eritrea presents an ongoing serious risk of renewed conflict in the Horn of Africa, with potential for large-scale displacement and severe humanitarian consequences. At a recent joint meeting between the House of the Federation and representatives of all nine regional governments in Benishangul-Gumuz Region, regional governments accused the federal authorities of not doing enough to help them contain conflicts in the regions (The Reporter, 15 August 2009).

The government’s strong control of humanitarian response mechanisms has left many of the disasters either unreported or played down. Responses have been fragmented, inadequate, late, and have left affected populations in an even worse situation (interview in Geneva, November 2008). For example, government food distribution policies have reportedly prevented assistance reaching people in need (AI, 2009); The Telegraph, 17 October 2008; BBC News, 19 September 2008; The Times, 18 September 2008, IRIN, 10 July 2008).

If the government does not improve humanitarian access, affected IDPs and other vulnerable people will continue to face a protection and humanitarian crisis (ICG, 17 June 2008). USAID reported in March 2008 that “literally hundreds of areas… have neither been assessed nor received any food assistance”, with “populations terrorised by the inability to access food” (The Times, 18 September 2008). The British Channel 4 reported that the army had withheld food from villages in Somali Region as part of a “scorched earth” policy against the ONLF (BBC, 19 September 2008; The Times, 18 September 2008). Before the British Minister for International Development toured a hospital in the town of Kebri Dehar during a visit to Somali Region in October 2008, local officials forced starving infants out of the emergency ward and on to the street (The Telegraph, 17 October 2008).

There is no dedicated government agency or office or a focal point that is known to be dealing with conflict-induced displacement. In August 2008, the government disbanded the Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Agency (DPPA) whose responsibilities were to be to anticipate and prevent disasters and build local capacities to do so as well and transferred its mandate to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. Ministry officials now charged with disaster risk management (DRM) anticipate the increased decentralisation of these DRM responsibilities. A proposed policy has called for the mainstreaming of disaster risk management throughout government and greatly strengthened disaster management capacity at the highest levels of government. Debates continue within the government regarding the policy and it is unclear if or when it will be adopted and to what degree this will deal with conflict-induced displacement (ODI, June 2009).

Government line ministries normally help UN agencies disburse food and sanitation assistance (OCHA Humanitarian Bulletin, 10 August 2009). In July 2009, the UN disbursed some $6 million towards helping the Ethiopian government help contain the rising challenges of food insecurity, malnutrition, and ensure health care and water and sanitation support, mostly in displacement-affected areas of Somali, Oromiya, and SNNPR (IRIN, 27 July 2009).

In August 2009, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) recommended to the government “to ensure that refugees and other vulnerable persons, such as internally displaced persons, enjoy their rights under national law as well as various international legal instruments to which it is a party…” The Committee further requested the State Party to “provide, in its next periodic report, detailed information on the human rights situation of refugees and internally displaced persons on its territory…” (CERD, 31 August 2009).

Ethiopia's Kenenisa may attempt to break the 3,000m record

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

BRUSSELS (Reuters) — World and Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele is driven by the prospect of breaking his 10,000 and 5,000 meters records and is also is considering an attempt at the 3,000 world best set 13 years ago.

The 27-year-old Ethiopian told reporters on the eve of the Brussels Golden League meeting he felt there was no particular part of his racing he needed to improve.

“Really it’s perfect,” Bekele said on Thursday with a broad smile. “The only thing is I want to run faster than my records. I also want to attack the 3,000 meters. It has stayed for a long time.”

Bekele’s 5,000 and 10,000 meter records date back to 2004 and 2005 respectively. The 3,000 record of seven minutes 20.67 was run by Kenyan Daniel Komen in 1996.

Coach Jos Hermens said Bekele would aim to be selective in 2010, a year with no major championships, in a bid to better his times.

“The 3,000 meters is a longer dream… then he would need to put in a few 1,500 meters for pace,” Hermens said.

Bekele also said he would like to run the marathon, but was not willing to be drawn on when that would happen.

He is one of three athletes still in the hunt for at least a share of the $1 million Golden League jackpot going into the final meeting in Brussels.

To earn the jackpot, competitors must win their events at all six Golden League meetings.

“Those races are not easy… To win six is very tough. For many, four or five is tough. It’s very good to win all six,” said Bekele, who spent four days recuperating in Ethiopia after last week’s Zurich meeting.

Olympic pole vault gold medalist Yelena Isinbayeva and 400 meters world champion Sanya Richards are the other two athletes with 100 percent Golden League records so far.

Bekele argued he faced the most difficult challenge of the three given the strength of the 5,000 meters field on Friday and the chance of a new athlete breaking through.

“In the 400 meters or the pole vault you can’t really get strong new athletes,” he said.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Alison Wildey)

Ethiopia's khat-addict dictator threatens to boycott Copenhagen

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA (AFP) — African nations dictators will walk out of climate change talks in Copenhagen if their demands, including hefty compensations from the West, are not met, Ethiopian Prime Minister warlord Meles Zenawi said Thursday.

[Meles, who has just returned from Belgium where he received medical treatment, must be hallucinating.]

One of the key demands that the world’s poorest most looted continent is making is billions of dollars in compensation to help it cope with the effects of climate change to line up the pockets of Africa’s thieves, rapists and genocidal killers like Meles.

However a panel representing the continent at the talks is yet to come up with a figure. [Meles and Azeb must have come up with the figure after an afternoon of khat chewing.]

“If need be we are prepared to walk out of any negotiations that threatens to be another rape of the continent,” said Meles, who leads the panel.

“While we reason with everyone to achieve our objective we are not prepared to rubber stamp any agreement by the powers,” he told African officials and experts from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development at a meeting in Addis Ababa.

“We will use our numbers to delegitimise any agreement that is not consistent with our minimal position.”

According to a study by the UK-based Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, global warming could cost the continent around 30 billion dollars a year by 2015.

That figure could rise to between 50 billion and 100 billion dollars by 2020 due to increasing costs to cope with climate change effects such as frequent and more severe floods, droughts and storms, as well as extreme changes in rainfall patterns, the group said.

African Union chairman Jean Ping urged rich nations not to renege on their financial commitments.

“It is my expectation that such financial resources must be from public funds and must be additional to the usual overseas development assistance,” he told the gathering.

African countries will also demand that industrialised nations take measures to limit global warming to two degrees celsius and cut emissions by 25 to 40 percent by 2020.

“What we are not prepared to live with is global warming above minimum unavoidable levels,” Meles said.

“We will therefore never accept any global deal that does not limit global warming to the minimum unavoidable level, no matter what levels of compensation and assistance are promised to us.”

A kangaroo court in Ethiopia sentences six people to death

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters ) – An Ethiopian [kangaroo] court has sentenced six members of the Benishangule-Gumuz community ethnic group to death and another 97 to prison terms for the massacre of Oromo villagers last year, a state agency reported on Thursday. [The Woyanne tribal junta that is in charge of the kangaroo court massacres Oromos every day. It is likely that the massacre was carried out by Meles Zenawi's death squads and is being blamed on innocent people.]

The 103 had been charged with genocide for killings that took place in May 2008. They gunned down or speared to death 93 members of the Oromo tribe, the state Woyanne-run Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) reported.

The two groups have for centuries lived side by side in western Ethiopia.

“The court found guilty the 103 members of the Benishangule-Gumuz after examining documents, pictures and video tape evidence presented by the prosecution and after the accused failed to exercise their right to defence,” ENA said.

Those that escaped the death sentence were handed prison terms ranging between six years to life imprisonment with hard labour.

(Reporting by Tsegaye Tadesse, editing by Helen Nyambura-Mwaura)

MSF responds to diarrhea outbreak in Ethiopia

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

ADDIS ABABA (MSF) — Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health has also reported patients suffering from acute watery diarrhea in several other regions of the country.

Since August 19, joint Ministry of Health and MSF teams have been providing medical care to patients with acute watery diarrhea in and around the capital city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

In collaboration with Ethiopian health authorities, MSF has set up a total of eight treatment facilities within Ministry of Health structures in the city. These treatment facilities are located in Yekatit 12 hospital, Ras Desta hospital, Zewditu hospital, Sint Petros hospital, Akaki health centre, Kaliti health centre, Bole and Kotebe Youth centre.

In total 5,178 patients have been cared for by medical teams from August 19 to 31 in Addis Ababa, of whom five have died. This very low mortality rate has been achieved thanks to the quick mobilisation of the Ethiopian health authorities and MSF. Over the last few days, the number of daily admissions to these treatment facilities has been decreasing.

People suffering from acute watery diarrhea have contracted the disease mostly by drinking unclean water. If left untreated, they run a risk to become dehydrated. While most severe cases need to be hospitalised and receive intravenous therapy, people who are moderately sick can be treated with oral rehydration salts only.

Since the beginning of July, MSF has also been responding to a watery diarrhea outbreak in the northeastern region of Afar. In two months, the team, in collaboration with the health authorities, has provided care to 570 patients in two treatment facilities.

Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health has also reported patients suffering from acute watery diarrhea in several other regions of the country.

Additional staff have been sent to Ethiopia to augment the MSF teams on the ground.

Ethiopian students in Israel still waiting for a school

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009


More than a dozen pupils of Ethiopian origin had yet to be accepted by any school in Petah Tikva on Wednesday, despite a widely praised, last-minute agreement between the Education Ministry and the city regarding the placement of over 100 such pupils in a number of schools.

Ministry officials said they might not have the problems sorted out until the start of next week.

Additionally, the ministry and municipality had conflicting information as to the number of pupils still in need of placement. While the ministry said that 16 first graders were facing “admission difficulties,” the Petah Tikva Municipality put the number at 20.

Ministry officials also said that the problem was not that the schools were refusing to admit the pupils, but that there were discrepancies between the municipality, the schools and the ministry, regarding the lists of pupils and where they were supposed to be enrolled.

On Tuesday, Education Ministry Director-General Shimshon Shoshani, along with municipality officials, said that some children had been sent to the wrong school by mistake, while some of pupils’ families complained of language difficulties.

Under the agreement, which was reached during a meeting between Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, Petah Tikva Mayor Yitzhak Ohayon, and Shoshani, 30 of the 108 Ethiopian pupils in question were supposed to begin their studies on Tuesday at the three “recognized but unofficial” religious schools that had been reluctant to admit them – Lamerhav, Da’at Mevinim and Darkei Noam.

An additional 18 pupils are set to begin studying in those semi-private institutions as well when they arrive in Petah Tikva in the coming weeks.

The remaining 60 pupils, who are expected to arrive in the city throughout the school year, will be admitted to semi-private schools in accordance with Education Ministry assignments.

Additionally, the city and the Education Ministry said they were to appoint a joint task force to examine the implementation of the pupils’ enrollment and the general integration of Ethiopian pupils in the city’s schools.

It was unclear what role, if any, that task force was playing in helping sort through Wednesday’s confusion.

Kenenisa Bekele aims for $1 million prize in Belgium

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

(AP Photo/Keystone Dominique Favre)

Kenenisa Bekele may receive a huge check this Friday at the sixth and final meet of the IAAF Golden League. Bekele will be racing the 5000 meters at the Memorial Van Damme meet in Brussels. Should he win the race, he may be pocketing up to $1 million dollars.

The IAAF Golden League, which includes six meets over the course of the summer, offers one of the largest cash prizes in athletics. In order to claim the million-dollar purse, an athlete must win their event in all six Golden League meets.

Kenenisa Bekele is one of three athletes still in the running for the jackpot. Sanya Richards and Yelena Isinbayeva have also won their respective events. If all three athletes win in Brussels, they will split the million-dollar jackpot, which is still a pretty hefty payday.

Bekele has attracted a great deal of attention over the summer for his dominating performances. He won both the 10000 and 5000 meters at the IAAF World Championships in Berlin, and many have called him the greatest distance runner of all time. Just yesterday, Ian Chadband at the Telegraph said, ”Bekele is the Bolt of distance running, a record breaker, a ground breaker, a supreme champion who is well nigh unbeatable when he chooses.” Most believe that Bekele will move up to the marathon, where he could very likely be a contender to break Haile Gebrselassie’s world record.

So will Bekele win his share of the jackpot on Friday? It’s not smart to bet against him. On Friday, you can watch the action in Brussels on the live feed at, which starts at 12:50 p.m. in Dallas.

(By Tanya Menoni | Examiner)

Ethiopian doctors tour facilities in Pennsylvania

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009


LEBANNON, PA (LDNews) — Two Ethiopian doctors visited several local medical facilities as part of an ongoing partnership with a Lebanon-based charity.

Since arriving in the United States on Monday, Dr. Abraham Asnake and Dr. Abiye Mulugeta visited the Hershey Medical Center, Good Samaritan Hospital in Lebanon and Physicians Surgical Center in North Cornwall Township.

“We are really fascinated by the facilities,” Mulugeta said Wednesday during a visit to the Alley Center for the Blind in North Lebanon Township.

Asnake said there are no facilities in Ethiopia like the ones they toured here.

“It’s very hard in our country,” he said. “Hopefully one day.”

Asnake, a general surgeon and administrator of Ras Desta Hospital in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, and Mulugeta, an ophthalmologist and chairman of the ophthalmology department at Ras Desta, arrived in the area Monday. They are scheduled to spend six days in the area as guests of the World Blindness Outreach and Sunrise Rotary Club of Lancaster.

The WBO, which is based in Lebanon, is a humanitarian organization that supports eye missions to treat correctable blindness and preventable eye diseases among indigent peoples throughout the world. Since 1990, the WBO has performed more than 5,000 eye surgeries on 50 missions to 20 countries.

Dr. Robert Alley, a Lebanon ophthalmologist and founder and president of WBO, said he invited Asnake and Mulugeta to come to this country for several reasons.

“I wanted to extend our
hospitality to them because we have been there three times, and they have extended their hospitality to us, and they made us feel so much at home, and I feel very close to both these gentlemen, so I invited them here as friends,” said Alley, the namesake of the Alley Center for the Blind.

Alley said the goal of the visit was to give the doctors an overview of medicine in this country.

“I would hope they see some things they can apply when they get back home,” he said.

The Lancaster Sunrise Rotary Club has partnered with WBO on three surgical eye missions to Ethiopia in the past six years, during which 600 successful eye surgeries were performed on patients at Ras Desta. Another mission is scheduled for April 2010.

Asnake and Mulugeta were also guests at Monday’s WBO banquet in Hershey. At the banquet, they received awards in recognition of their support for three WBO surgical eye missions to their hospital.

Congo deports 2 more Ethiopians

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

By FRANK NAMANGALE | Nation Online

Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) Immigration Department has deported two remaining Ethiopians whose arrest caused controversy after a defense lawyer was allegedly beaten up and thrown into custody by police over the weekend.

The deportation of the two Ethiopians early this week follows another deportation of a DRC national on Sunday, in what their lawyer Innocent Kalua said is a violation of a court order the High Court in Blantyre granted last week.

The foreigners’ lawyer said in an interview Thursday that the Immigration’s action to deport the two gives him more grounds to pursue committal to prison proceedings against chief immigration officer Elvis Thodi.

“The Immigration’s action is clear contempt of court. They have gone against a High Court order,” said Kalua.

The deported DRC national is Johan Mitterand and the two Ethiopians are Bashir Abute and Tego Lubako.

Kalua said there was a bail application at the High Court in Blantyre which was set for Wednesday, but it had been overtaken by events following the deportation of the remaining two Ethiopians.

“Now we are just waiting for the date from the High Court to commence the committal to prison proceedings,” Kalua said.

Thodi was not available for comment and the Immigration spokesperson Prudenciana Makalamba said he was in Mozambique and was expected back Thursday.

U.K. Border Agency searches for missing Ethiopians

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

By Mark Thompson | HartelpoolMail

HARTLEPOOL, UK — IMMIGRATION officials are set to join the search for three Africans who went missing during an exchange trip.

The Ethiopian trio disappeared while visiting Hartlepool as part of the Global Xchange programme, which ended on Monday.

The Mail reported how Hartlepool Police joined forces with London’s Metroplitan Police in searching for three men who went missing during a short trip to the capital.

One later got back in touch with trip organisers and was deported before a female Ethiopian guest went missing last week.

Now the UK Border Agency says it will become involved once the missing visitors’ visas run out next Wednesday, September 9.

A spokeswoman for the UK Border Agency said: “We expect anyone coming to the UK to play by the rules and comply with the terms of their visa allowing them to stay here.

“We will seek to remove anyone with no right to be here. In 2008 nearly 68,000 people were removed from the UK or voluntarily departed.”

The Mail previously reported how three Ethiopian men went missing following 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.

Konjit Assefa, 22, who was staying on the Headland, was the latest to go missing and has not been seen since Tuesday, August 25.

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

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

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

Several Ethiopian kids miss first day of school in Israel

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

By Or Kashti | Haaretz

ISRAEL — Dozens of children of Ethiopian origin in Petah Tikva did not begin studies Tuesday as schools appeared to take pains to accept as few such students as possible. Education officials, however, said the latest problems were merely bureaucratic, after the deal Monday night to take all the students in.

Parents and children – many with school backpacks – crowded a narrow corridor on the fifth floor of the municipality’s education department, some waiting 12 hours to hear where their children would be enrolled. Many children arrived in schools throughout the city but were not placed in classes. Instead, they were sent to the library or the teachers’ lounge where they waited two or three hours until they were told to return to the municipality.

“I don’t believe anybody anymore – not the Education Ministry, not the city and not the school. Nobody wants us,” said Nena Balai, whose son was supposed to start first grade.

In the small offices of the municipality’s education department, city officials and the schools seemed to be bargaining over the placement of the children of Ethiopian origin. “Some principals said they would not accept the children until they saw how many were in another school,” said one person close to the situation.

Many parents had stories about children being sent home from school. On Monday night, Balai said that “they called from the city and said we should go to Morasha [a state religious school]. We got there at 8 A.M., but we did not go into the classroom. The boy sat in the teachers’ lounge and was given a piece of paper to draw on. At 11 A.M. they told us to go back to the municipality. The school said it could not accept us.”

According to David Maharat, the head of the Education Ministry’s advisory body on integrating Ethiopian schoolchildren, “this is one humiliation too many. Schools are competing with each other over who will have fewer students of Ethiopian origin.”

The Education Ministry, the municipality, the state religious schools and the private schools all had various explanations for what had happened. The Education Ministry said about 16 “new” students remained to be enrolled.

Tuesday afternoon, Education Ministry director general Shimshon Shoshani said at the Petah Tikva municipality that children had been mistakenly sent to the wrong school, or that student data was unclear. The city said students had gone to schools to which they were not enrolled. The families said there were language difficulties.

Many of the children who did not begin school Tuesday were turned away by state religious schools. These have been at the forefront in recent weeks in the fight against the three private religious schools that had refused to fully comply with Education Ministry directives on enrollment. The head of the parents’ committee of the state religious schools, Nir Orbach, said that “we agreed to accept 40 students [out of 100]. We will not accept more.”

Spokesmen for the three private religious schools said they had accepted all 30 students sent to them, but that the names and ages of the children did not always match those on their lists.

U.K.-based company to explore gold in Ethiopia's Tigray region

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Stratex International PLC (AIM: STI) announced a move into Ethiopia via acquiring a stake in a PLUS-listed company that holds an exclusive exploration license (EEL) in the north of the country and entering a joint venture with its new partner to explore new {www:prospective} targets and licence areas.

So far, Stratex has been focusing on exploring, developing and then joint venturing projects in central and Western Turkey, and is now planning on repeating this in Ethiopia.

Stratex has put up £40,000 to take a 5.6 percent stake in Sheba Exploration (UK) PLC and has signed a binding letter of intent with Sheba to earn-in to an initial 60 percent of the prospective Shehagne project near the northern Ethiopian town of Adwa.

Additionally Stratex and Sheba have agreed a joint venture on a respective 70:30 basis to explore new prospective targets and license areas in northern Ethiopia. The company believes that potential license areas, which currently are under review, have excellent potential for gold and/or copper and massive sulfide occurrences. Under the terms of the new JV, Sheba may earn up to 50 percent of the JV by reimbursing Stratex a further 20 percent of the total exploration costs.

Stratex chairman David Hall said: “The Arabian Nubian Shield, which encompasses areas of Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia and Yemen as well as Ethiopia, is a region with high discovery potential as shown by Centamin’s Sukari gold mine in Egypt, and Nevsun’s Bisha gold-rich volcanogenic massive sulphide deposit in Eritrea.

“We believe that Ethiopia offers similar exciting opportunities for rapid low cost {www:discovery} and is not subject to many of the economic and political constraints that neighbouring countries are exposed to, such as product sharing agreements and security issues. Ethiopia is both logistically and financially an easy and cost effective place to explore,” he added.

The company can earn 60 percent in the 50 square kilometre Shehagne EEL by expending £100,000 in the initial three months and a further £250,000 over the subsequent 18 months. It may also earn a further 20 percent by taking the project to completion of a feasibility study.

The Shehagne EEL has already been explored by Sheba and extensive gold anomalism in soil has been identified. The main target to date is the Tsemmetti prospect in the south-eastern part of the EEL where Sheba has defined a large – 100 parts per billion – gold-in-soil anomaly over a three kilometre strike.

Stratex intends to undertake regional sediment sampling of the entire concession and complete systematic exploration of prospects already defined.

Ethiopia’s mineral resources’ potential is high – gold copper zinc and potash are the major minerals mined in Ethiopia, the company said.

(By Andre Lamberti | Proactive Investors)

Egypt police gun down Ethiopian migrant at Israeli border

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Egyptian government must be held accountable for such savage act. They keep shooting at poor Ethiopians seeking refugees as stray dogs. It is immoral and also against international rules on protecting the rights of refugees.

ISMAILIA, Egypt (Reuters) – Egyptian police shot and killed an Ethiopian migrant near the border with Israel on Tuesday, seriously wounded a women he was traveling with and arrested eleven others, medical and security sources said.

A security source said an Egyptian patrol spotted 13 migrants attempting to cross the barbed wire border with Israel. When ordered to stop they fled towards Israeli territory and police opened fire, the source said.

The man who died was shot in the head. He did not have identification documents on him. An 18-year-old Eritrean women was shot in the chest and was transferred to a hospital in Egyptian Rafah, where her condition was reported as critical.

The other migrants, ten Ethiopians and one Eritrean, were detained. Egypt has arrested scores of African migrants, mostly from Eritrea and Ethiopia, in recent months and has killed at least eight this year.

Analysts and aid workers say the flow of migrants from the Horn of Africa through Egypt to Israel has increased as it has become more difficult to travel on other routes, such as via Libya to Europe. [ID:nLS359973] (Reporting by Yusri Mohamed; writing by Alastair Sharp; editing by Robin Pomeroy)

Ethiopian man in Canada pleads guilty to smuggling khat

Monday, August 31st, 2009

WINDSOR, CANADA (Windsor Star) — A former Windsor truck driver has pleaded guilty to attempting to smuggle 165 kilograms of khat into Canada but received a suspended sentence Thursday because he was trying to raise money to visit and help his ill father in Ethiopia.

Daniel Kassa, 45, was given a suspended sentence by Superior Court Justice Steven Rogin Thursday and was also given three years’ probation.

In May 2007 Kassa, an immigrant from Ethiopia, was driving a tractor-trailer into Canada at the Ambassador Bridge and was stopped by Canada Border Services Agency officers even though at the time he had a FAST pass.

Inspectors uncovered the khat, with an estimated street value of $82,000, hidden on the trailer.

Khat is a schedule IV narcotic under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. It can be possessed for personal use, but cannot be imported or sold.

Khat is a green-leafed plant native to east Africa which, when chewed, releases the chemicals cathine and cathinone, which produce an effect similar to amphetamine.

It creates a euphoric and excited state in users.

Khat is not banned in many European countries including the United Kingdom.

Kassa’s lawyer Andrew Bradie told court that Kassa was born in Ethiopia and lived there until the age of 14, when he was pressured to join the military and was later forced to flee with family members to Rome.

Kassa eventually made his way to Canada but he now has family members scattered across the globe.

Bradie said Kassa’s ethnicity is a source of friction in his homeland.

Kassa has no criminal record and since his FAST pass was voided upon his arrest he has been employed in West Lorne.

“He has had no further difficulties with the law,” said Bradie, adding that Kassa lives with a common-law wife and a child.

In dispensing sentence Rogin rationalized the profit-making motive for the smuggling.

“I accept the profit motive is an aggravating factor,” said Rogin.

“That is somewhat diluted by the fact that rather than a sense of greed, it was motivated by a desire to visit his father, who had a stroke.”

The maximum sentence for importing khat under the Controlled Drugs and Substance Act is three years.

Rogin said the fact that Kassa was using a FAST pass to smuggle a controlled substance across the border was an extremely aggravating factor.

Rogin gave Kassa an opportunity to speak.

“I’m very sorry,” said Kassa. “This will never happen again.”

Ethiopia's tribal junta defends land giveaway

Monday, August 31st, 2009

ADDIS ABABA (Daily Nation) — Ethiopia’s government ruling tribal junta has defended its plan to offer 2.7 million hectares of farmland to foreign companies despite millions of citizens who need food aid from the international community.

According to Ethiopia’s Agriculture Ministry officials, the country delineated around 2.7 million hectares of land, available for foreign companies from Middle East and East Asia countries.

The government will hand over 1.7 million hectares of arable land to the foreign investors before the coming harvest season.

World’s top oil producing countries including United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and giant economies like India, China and South Korea are queuing in Addis Ababa to start big commercial farming to feed their own people.

The competition among “land grabber” states has become fierce, with the overall number of companies applying for land in Ethiopia reaching 8,000. However, only 2,000 foreign companies, including medium size agricultural projects, have already secured farmland.

India leads the “land grabbing” race and so far Indian agricultural investment has been more than $2.5 billion. India’s total investment in Ethiopia was $300 million three years ago and has now grown to $ 4.3 billion. It is double the amount of Western aid offered to Ethiopia.

Departing Indian Ambassador to Ethiopia, Gurjit Singh, believes Indian investment will reach eight to 10 billion dollars in the coming few years.

“I don’t think this is the end of the story, but just the beginning,” he added.

Currently, more than 5.2 million people need emergency food aid from the international community in the southern and eastern parts of the country. Another eight million rural poor are being supported through a regular productive safety net aid scheme.

Esayas Kebede, Director of Agriculture Investment Support office argued that large scale foreign commercial farming is a way to end poverty and hunger.

“We have abundant land and labour but we don’t have a finance and technology to feed our people” Esayas said.

Pennsylvania resident seeks to build school in native Ethiopia

Monday, August 31st, 2009

West Bethlehem, PA ( — When he fled his native Ethiopia with images of dead bodies in the streets burned into his mind, Abraham Zegeye thought he’d never return.

But nearly 30 years later, the Lehigh Valley businessman has rekindled his connection to his homeland. He built a well two years ago to bring fresh water to farmers and cattle herders in his father’s native village. And his latest effort is to raise $80,000 to build a new school to replace the windowless stick-and-mud shack where about 150 children now learn.

”This country gave me a second chance to make something of myself,” Zegeye said, recalling how he was fortunate to find opportunity in America. ”A lot of people don’t get that second chanceÂ…Now it’s time for me to return and give something back. It’s about other people and how I can make their lives a little bit easier.”

Zegeye, who owns Abe’s Six Pack Shop in West Bethlehem, was raised in Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Ababa. His father worked as a hospital administrator, so they had food and schooling and other comforts of city life, but civil war and strife ravaged his homeland.

He recalls going to the bus stop to find friends and neighbors dead in the streets. They were victims of the Derg regime that ruled the country in the 1970s and ’80s and abducted, imprisoned and executed those suspected of resistance. The dead were put on public display, with banners stating why they were killed to frighten the group’s opposition.

Like several of his siblings before him, Zegeye fled the country in 1982, at age 18, for the stability of the United States. He finished high school, attended college, became a businessman and had a family. Zegeye and his family members contributed $5,000 to build a well for the roughly 2,000 villagers. Clean water now flows from spigots atop concrete bases instead of bubbling up through a muddy ditch.

And now he wants to bring them a new schoolhouse to accommodate more children.

He will run a half-marathon in Philadelphia next month to raise money, and is seeking pledges as well.

Tales of a hidden Ethiopian war

Monday, August 31st, 2009

By Doug McGill | TC Daily Planet

The first time I heard Fatima tell her story, I answered in the natural way.

“They killed my husband,” she said.
“I’m sorry for your loss,” I said.
“And they killed my son,” she said.
“Oh, I’m so sorry for your losses,” I said.

“And they killed my brothers and some of my brothers’ children,” she said, staring at me with eyes that seemed quite without hope and yet that also seemed to ask me, with astonishing tenacity, ‘Are you really listening, do you really understand?’”

I didn’t know what to say to Fatima at this point, as my repeated condolences seemed pointless. So instead I stood up a bit straighter, I took a deep breath, and felt my feet on the ground. I looked back at Fatima with eyes that said that I was willing to stand there and to listen for as long as she wanted.

“And they have killed many of my uncles,” Fatima said.

The Ogaden War

At the Village Market in Minneapolis, the major social hub for Somali-speaking Ethiopian refugees living in the Twin Cities, endless stories like Fatima’s are being urgently swapped every day. They are tales of evil that is so profound it would be unkind of me to suddenly start describing those crimes in detail right now.

You might well not believe the stories anyway. And even if you believed them, you might not believe that such unimaginable crimes could be happening in the world right now, in a little-known corner of Africa called the Ogaden of Ethiopia.

Where are the TV news teams parachuting into refugee camps? Where is the definitive account of the Ethiopian government’s mass destruction of the people and culture of the Ogaden?

Bare Feet

Here is more of Fatima’s story (she like the other witnesses in this story offered only their first names, fearing reprisal against their relatives in Ethiopia if they are identified):

“One day the soldiers came and started shooting, they killed my husband in front of me. Then they tortured and beat me in the same place they killed my husband. On that same day the soldiers also confiscated my home and all of my property and all of my money, leaving me homeless and destitute.”

Fatima is a devout Muslim woman who wears a veil and will not shake a man’s hand except through the cloth of her robe. But after telling me this story she stretched out her legs and took off her shoes, to show me her bare feet which are twisted and deformed, from the beatings she said. Today, she limps with a cane.

We in Minnesota have a special role in telling about the Ogaden crisis, because Minnesota is home to the largest diaspora population of Ogaden refugees in the world. Some 5,000 Somali Ethiopians have fled to Minnesota in recent years, fleeing precisely the crimes against humanity that Fatima and others describe.

Matching Details

Last week, I walked through the Village Market and spoke with a dozen Somali-speaking immigrants from the Ogaden region. This is what is happening in the Ogaden today, they said:

• People are thrown alive into bonfires by Ethiopian soldiers;

• Men and women are strangled to death by soldiers who wrap a wire around their necks and pull the wire on either side;

• Innocent goat herders are rounded up by Ethiopian soldiers and lynched from trees;

• Young girls are snatched from their homes by Ethiopian soldiers, put in prisons and gang-raped day after day, their dead bodies finally tossed like garbage on the street.

One Ogadeni Minnesotan said to me: “We could tell you stories like this all day and night for a week, and at the end we still would not have told you all the stories of all the killing and suffering that is happening in the Ogaden today.”

A single crazy person, or a small group of organized zealots, could orchestrate lies and propaganda about such horrors being committed on a genocidal scale. But how could it happen that the first 12 people that you meet at the Village Mall all tell the same types of stories over and over, with the details matching perfectly?

An American Ally

All of these horrific crimes and tortures are, the Minnesota Ogadenis say, committed by uniformed Ethiopian soldiers. Ethiopia is an official ally of the U.S. and receives millions of dollars in U.S. tax-funded military aid every year.

The Ogaden is a Texas-sized patch of land in Ethiopia that is inhabited by some four million Muslim, Somali-speaking citizens, most of them nomadic pastoralists.

The sparse grassland and shrubland of the Ogaden has been a battlefield for years between Ethiopia and Somalia, with each of those two nations often acting as proxies for global superpowers including Britain, the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

In 1956, when Britain left the Horn of Africa, it set up decades of conflict by handing over the Ogaden, which is populated by ethnic Somalis who are Muslims, to Ethiopia which is mainly ethnic Amhara and Christian. A war was fought over control of the Ogaden between Ethiopia and Somalia in 1977-1978.

In 1984, a separatist militia, the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), was formed to pursue autonomy or independence for the Ogaden by violence if necessary. In 2007, the ONLF attacked a Chinese-run oil facility in the Ogaden, killing Ethiopian soldiers as well as more than 70 Chinese and Ethiopian civilians.

Sealed Off

In response, Meles Zenawi, the Ethiopian Prime Minister, launched a brutal counter-insurgency against the “terrorist” ONLF in the Ogaden. The recent atrocities against ethnic Somalis in the Ogaden have been a part of that campaign, with entire villages being wiped out on the mere suspicion of harboring ONLF fighters. Families and friends of ONLF soldiers are often killed or terrorized and family members tortured to give up information on their relatives.

Here is the testimony of a man named Hassan at the Village Market:

“I was in my home. One night Ethiopian soldiers broke down the door and took me to a military camp in Dhagahbur and beat me. I didn’t commit any crime and none of my family members are in the ONLF. They used the butt of their guns to hit me anywhere on my body where they thought it would hurt the most. I was put in jail just like this on three different occasions and placed in a tiny, dirty cell. I spent ten months in prison without ever being charged, without any explanation. Every day I was beaten and I suffered many cuts, sores and infections, but there was no hospital and I got no care.”

There has been virtually no major media coverage of the Ogaden crisis, and the U.S. and other governments have taken virtually no action. This is partly because the Ogaden has been sealed off to journalists and aid organizations, with the Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders forced to abandon operations there in 2007.

But the Internet is teeming with detailed accounts of specific atrocities much like those described at the Village Market, and many YouTube videos graphically show the results of beatings, torture, killings, looting and rape.

“Still in Prison”

Based on interviews with refugees, thousands of whom have gathered in camps in northern Kenya, and other sources, some human rights groups have also been warning about the Ogaden crisis for several years. In 2008, Human Rights Watch published a 139-page report called “Collective Punishment” that documented “widespread and systematic atrocities” and “war crimes and crimes against humanity” committed by the Ethiopian military against Ogadeni citizens.

The report detailed “routine mass detentions,” “extrajudicial executions,” “rape of women in military custody,” and documented the destruction (sometimes by satellite photographs) of at least a dozen Ogaden villages. Yet the scale of village burnings and other crimes described in the report “is believed to be significantly larger” than those officially documented in the report, its authors warned.

Here is the testimony of a man named Abdulrahman at the Village Market:

“We talk to our friends and family back home, but we never feel safe, because we know that they could be captured, tortured or killed just for talking to us on the telephone. It is a kind of psychological torture we all still suffer in Minnesota. Also there are Ethiopian government collaborators who live here in Minneapolis, who tell the Ethiopian army if we criticize the government, and our family and friends in Ethiopia could be jailed or killed as a result. America is a free country but in this way we are not psychologically free. It is as if we were suffocating and still in prison.”

The atrocities in the Ogaden have even reached the U.S. Congress where Rep. Donald Payne (D-New Jersey), the chairman of the House Subcommitte on Africa, has repeatedly criticized Ethiopia for “deliberating targeting civilians” with “routine raping and hanging” innocent citizens in the Ogaden region. He says the Ogaden crisis is “by far one of the worst” human rights tragedies he has witnessed in his life.

New Intelligence

In October last year, Britain balked at committing foreign aid to Ethiopia after Douglas Alexander, the British international development secretary, discovered on a visit to the Ogaden that the crisis was far more severe than he had thought.

In the U.S., various think tanks and social justice groups have called for the U.S. government to similarly pressure Ethiopia. But the U.S., which regards Ethiopia as an ally in the Horn of Africa which helps to rout Islamist terrorists in neighboring Sudan and Somalia, has so far ignored these warnings and calls to action.

The Minnesota Ogadenis, through their constant cell phone conversations with relatives back home, are unearthing troves of new intelligence about the nature and extent of the Ogaden crisis. For example they report:

• A network of political prisons throughout the Ogaden. An enormous prison in the Ogaden capital city, Jijiga, has been known for years to house thousands of innocent civilians rounded up by the Ethiopian military on suspicion of knowing or harboring ONLF fighters. But the Minnesota Ogadenis say that prison quarters are attached to every military garrison throughout the occupied territory of Ogaden including in the cities of Dhagahbur, Aware, Kabridahar, Fiiq, Wardere, Gode, and Garbo. Many Minnesota Ogadenis have spent months or years in these prisons, or have relatives currently suffering there. They offer details about conditions in the prisons, the crimes routinely committed by the authorities against the prisoners, and the names of those who run the prisons.

• Burning people alive in Garbo, Ethiopia. The torture and killing methods used by the Ethiopian military against the Ogadenis changes over time, with new methods evolving that are ever-more cruel and perverse. For a time, strangling people with rope or wire, with two soldiers pulling on either side, was widely reported. Burying children alive has been reported, as has the sodomization of young boys. Sources in the Ogaden told the Minnesota Ogadenis that this past July, Ethiopian soldiers killed six Ogadenis by throwing them alive into a bonfire.

• Attacking nomads outside of town markets. Most Ogadeni towns have markets where nomads bring their livestock to sell, after which they buy food and clothing before returning to their grazing lands. According to Minnesota Ogadenis, these nomads frequently are attacked by Ethiopian soldiers who lie in wait for them outside of town where they steal their food, clothing and provisions and often kill the nomads while doing so.

Comfort Enough

At one point during my day at the Village Market, a few of us gathered in an office space at the market. Fatima was there along with four other women in veils, and a half-dozen Ogadeni men as well who told me their stories.

We sat on chairs in a circle. As I was listening to another person in the group, I saw Fatima suddenly cover her face with her hands and put her head down towards her lap. Everyone stopped talking.

No one in the group made a move towards Fatima to comfort her. Rather, they allowed her the dignity of her own suffering. Anyway the comfort was simply the supportive presence of the group itself, and everyone knew that was enough.

If was not enough, it was in any case all the comfort there was.

Within a few seconds, Fatima straightened up, daubed her eyes, and everyone continued telling their inconceivable, impossible, true stories of the Ogaden.

(Douglas McGill has reported for the New York Times and Bloomberg News–and now the Daily Planet. To reach Doug McGill: And visit The McGill Report at

Ethiopia flower exporter declares bankruptcy

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (Capital) — Starlight Roses Flower Farm was the last surviving subsidiary of the troubled Star Business Group, set up by three Addis Ababa businessmen. Despite its resilience, it has not been able to survive the financial collapse of the parent company and is now set to close. Worku Megra, general manager of the flower firm, is currently negotiating to return the 36 hectares flower farm to Sher Ethiopia. In the same week the Federal High Court authorized the liquidation of Ethio Investment Group (EIG) another of Star’s debt ridden subsidiaries.

Menwyelet Atenafu, Abebaw Desta and Worku Megra, business partners and shareholders of Star Business Group, Ethio Investment Group and many other well-known companies, established Starlight Roses Flower Farm two years ago. Like other flower exporters, Starlight also leased four green houses from Sher Ethiopia Plc, a flower grower and green house company based in Zeway town in the Oromia Regional State, 165km south of Addis Ababa.

Starlight had been exporting flower stems collected from the 36 hectares farm for the last two years, paying 0.51 Euro per square meter for the green houses each week. But as profits from flower farming have plummeted, due to a massive drop in export demand, the business venture became unsustainable.

“Forget about its near 1,000 employees salary, the company’s export revenue this days become unable to cover the weekly rental fees of the green house” one of the Starlight employees told Capital.

The owners have apparently tried to inject funds to cover the last two months of employee salary, said the source, but bankruptcy has forced the owners to return the farms and its employees to Sher. Gervit Barnhoovn founder and manager of Sher Ethiopia was unwilling to disclose the details of the transfer, saying negotiations are currently in the early stages. Worku Megra general manager and shareholder of Starlight confirmed the company would closed but refused to give any further details.

Employees of the farm are currently signing a 45 day contract with Sher Ethiopia stating the company will try to keep the farm functioning until another investor can be found. But, if there are issues unsettled, it would be the company’s unpaid arrears the source told Capital.

Star Business Group has now declared bankruptcy on all of its subsidiaries including Tis Abay Transport, Tana Transport, and Mina Trading. Other co-partners are currently in the hands of the country’s commercial banks, seized as collateral for unpaid debts.

This week, the Federal High Court has also authorized the liquidation of Ethio Investment Group (EIG) which was established in 1999 an importer of vehicles. EIG was the sole importer of BMW, Land Rover, Scania and others vehicles for more than seven years, but the company suffered losses of over 255.2 million birr which dwarfed its 31.9 million birr paid up capital.

This latest court ruling is a positive response to Selam Bus S.C. that had sued EIG for its failure to keep a contract signed between them. EIG agreed a contract in 2007 to deliver 15 Scanias to Selam Bus, a deal worth 23.9 million birr. The transport company, Selam Bus paid 7.1 million birr as an advance but, the vehicles are not delivered causing Selam to take legal action.

This is the latest in a series of legal problems for EIG. Since early this year they have been embroiled in court proceedings, over a disputed deal with Nile Insurance S.C. The Insurance company claim to have lost over 40 million birr from a guarantee bond issued to different companies owned by EIG’s founding business partners, according to the federal prosecutor accusation. The men are accused of misusing their position as board members at Nile Insurance to issue guarantee bonds to companies they were involved in.

Nuclear Egypt poses a real danger to Ethiopia

Monday, August 31st, 2009

By Ayenew Haileselassie

Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA — North Korea keeps shooting its long range missiles now and then. These missiles do not just reach all important targets; they can also deliver a nuclear message. Its leaders, or rather leader, has effectively made the world believe that he is unpredictable, that one day he could really strike American or South Korean targets.

Japan, Russia and China are all concerned, but not as badly as the other two countries. He has the gun; he seems to have the will to use it. The missing element is the excuse. (Of course, the other side of the argument is that he is already using them and reaping the benefits at least from the immediate south.) Now there are many of us who think that we are too far away or too detached to be concerned about this issue.

But suppose it was not North Korea, but Egypt. Suppose it tried a missile in its vast deserts. Suppose it stood its ground and kept trying them even at a great cost to its international relations. It would of course regain its old stature in the Arab world, Israel would not leave a stone unturned to destroy the country’s missile capabilities, and we in Ethiopia would at last live in constant fear of the consequences of a grave transboundary issue that followed the currents of the river Nile.

It all begins like a love affair. Abay (the Blue Nile) flees its home meets his lover, the White Nile in Khartoum, and the two disappear into the Egyptian Desert. For all the basin countries, except Sudan and Egypt, this trip is not a honeymoon, but an elopement. Everybody loved them, but they chose the desert.

These figures may clarify this point. A study indicated that Sudan has an irrigation potential of 4,434,000 hectares of which it has so far irrigated 3,266,000 hectares, which is 73.7% of the potential. Egypt is utilizing 53.5% of its irrigation potential by irrigating 1,946,000 hectares out of a total 3,637,000.

Ethiopia and Egypt have the same potential, but Ethiopia has achieved a mere 5.2% (190,000 hectares) compared to Egypt’s 53.5%. Tanzania has achieved only 23% (190,000 hectares) of its 828,000 hectares potential, and Uganda, slightly worse than Ethiopia, has achieved only 4.5% (9,000 hectares) of its 202,000 hectares potential.

The reality behind such numbers is that Ethiopia, for example, has never been able to feed itself, despite the fact that a very large majority of its people are kept in the shackles of poverty ever engaged in the losing struggle to grow enough food for themselves and for the market. Had it not been for the perennial drought which has always effectively wiped out years’ of growth and then put the country in recovery mode for more years, Ethiopia could have been a better country economically.

Traditionally Ethiopian agriculture has been low-input, low-output, always dependent on unreliable rainfall, and, even at the best of times, never fed the nation. According to the Famine Early Warning System Network report for June 2009, 7.5 million Ethiopians were indicated as chronically food insecure. “An additional 4.9 million people require emergency food assistance through June 2009. In addition, about 200,000 people have been displaced in the southern parts of the country due to clan conflict and are receiving humanitarian assistance. However, the official size of the food insecure population will most likely increase following poor performance of the belg/gu season this year,” it said.

Ethiopia’s agriculture had, in 1996, delivered a record harvest, following which the government proudly announced that it had finally achieved the long sought after food self-sufficiency. Three years of drought led to an emergency situation in 2000 and a sober assessment of the situation.

It was the following year the Nile Basin Initiative was launched, with its head office in Entebe, Uganda, and seven project offices in seven other places. Since then it has been negotiating. Its purpose was “equitable and reasonable use of the water system” by up and down stream countries “without causing significant harm to down stream countries.” With this initiative Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda, as well as other Nile basin countries will work to narrow the gap they have with Sudan and Egypt in exploiting the waters of the Blue and White Nile rivers for their maximum benefit. Ethiopia, for example, wants dams for electricity and irrigation. Such is the issue worldwide wherever there are transboundary rivers.

Asfaw Dingamo, Ethiopia’s water minister, returned recently from a Nile Basin Initiative meeting in Cairo apparently proud that Ethiopia’s interests had not been given away in the negotiations. In an interview with Addis Zemen, the state newspaper, he put the situation in a nutshell saying that Egypt had no rainwater at all, that Sudan was only slightly better than Egypt in that respect, and that the population of the Nile basin was growing very fast.

That was no recipe for war, he said, for studies had indicated that there was enough water for all in the basin. His argument in the negotiations is that extensive developments in the basin area in Ethiopia would avert flooding in Sudan and loss of water due to evaporation in Sudan and Egypt. The water flow would be regulated by the dams in Ethiopia for the best benefit of all three countries. Well, the two countries, who have always wanted to be the solitary users of the water, are negotiating for the next best thing, instead of taking Asfaw Dingamo’s words.

The doomsayers that predict war not just in north eastern Africa but wherever there are transboundary waters have a strong case in their favour.

In the 20th century, only seven minor skirmishes took place between nations over shared water resources, while over 300 treaties were signed during the same period of time to avert similar or worse incidents, according to statistics made available during the World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden, this month. Examine the following related data: · There are 263 transboundary river and lake basins and around 300 transboundary aquifers worldwide.

* Transboundary lake and river basins account for an estimated 60 per cent of global freshwater flow and is home to 40 % of the world’s population.

* Over 75 percent of all countries, 145 in total, have shared river basins within their boundaries. And 33 nations have over 95 percent of their territory within international river basins.

* 158 of the world’s 263 international river basins, plus transboundary aquifer systems, lack any type of cooperative management framework.

The following figures give a hint of the human factor involved in this situation.

* About 1.4 billion people, mostly impoverished, live in river basins where all the blue water is already committed or overcommitted.

* Water withdrawals are predicted to increase by 50 percent by 2025 in developing countries.

* In 2030, 47% of world population will be living in areas of high water stress.

* By 2075, the number of people in regions with chronic water shortage is estimated to be between 3 and 7 billion.

When we bring this closer to home, Egypt recently announced that eight years from now, 2017, the water need of its growing population would surpass what available resources could provide. In 2006 the Nile water provided Egypt 55.5 billion cubic metres of water, out of the total 64 billion it consumed. The 55.5 billion was the figure that Egypt and Sudan negotiated in 1959 without considering other basin countries.

Soon that generous allotment will no longer be enough. Egypt’s consumption is already well below the water poverty line. So how easy will it be to find a negotiated usage agreement? How long will that agreement hold before increasing population demands for more water from dwindling resources?

According to a recent paper by Fasil Amdetsion, an Ethiopian lawyer in America, those parties that believe that there will not be water war either in the Nile Basin or others, give a number of reasons to support their position. They say that communities afflicted by scarcity are likely to alter lifestyles, make a more efficient use of water, and cope with a dearth of resources. There are also who say that there will not be any water war, because there has never been any. [The last one was fought 4,500 years ago.] Amdetsion repudiates these and other arguments claiming that Egypt has always had interest inn destabilizing Ethiopia. He mentions Egypt’s alleged support the Eritrea during the war with Ethiopia and its support to Somalia during the war with Ethiopia in the 1970′s. He believes that Egypt deliberately foiled the peace talks in Addis Ababa among Somali rebels. He believes that Egypt will do all it could to have the upper hand in Nile negotiations.

Meanwhile natural resources worldwide will continue falling. Population continues to boom against natural expectations. Egypt, a desert country that ought to be sparsely populated, has 76 million people living in it, and as Ethiopia, it is gripped by the concerns of providing for a very fast growing population. So doomsayers say that animal instincts will take over to survive, and those instincts will be the war mongering, blood thirsty type.

May be one day, if that war comes, with Sudan serving as a corridor and a fighter supporting Egypt (or Ethiopia???), that may be nature’s way decreasing our populations enough to fit available resources.

Cholera outbreak kills 34 people in Ethiopia

Monday, August 31st, 2009

By Jason McLure

ADDIS ABABA (Bloomberg) — At least 34 people died in Ethiopia following a suspected cholera outbreak, with more than 4,000 sickened in the capital, Addis Ababa, in the past two weeks.

The disease has infected as many as 1,000 people a day in the past week, Dadi Jima, deputy director of the state-owned Ethiopian Health and Nutrition Research Institute, said in an interview today. He declined to say the disease is cholera.

The government has not “fully confirmed” the type of illness, Dadi said. “We usually report it as acute watery diarrhea.” The spread of the disease has been exacerbated by heavy rains in the Horn of Africa country, he said.

Cholera, mainly spread through contaminated water and food and poor sanitation, causes acute diarrhea and vomiting that can lead to death. The illness is considered to be endemic in “many countries” and the pathogen that causes the disease can’t currently be eliminated from the environment, according to the Web site of the World Health Organization.

The United Nations humanitarian agency said six cholera- treatment centers capable of treating 180 people a day have been dispatched to the country. The UN has also sent drugs for the treatment of more than 1,500 severe cases and 600 mild cases of acute water diarrhea, as well as water-purification tablets, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in an e-mailed statement.

Of the 34 who have died in Ethiopia, seven fatalities were in Addis Ababa, Dadi said. He didn’t provide figures for the number of people affected nationwide, adding only that the disease had been reported in 31 districts.

If untreated, cholera can kill a healthy adult in as little as five hours, according to the WHO.

(Jason McLure in Addis Ababa via Johannesburg at

7.5 millon Ethiopians face death from starvation

Monday, August 31st, 2009

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA (The Independent) — International aid agencies fear that the levels of death and starvation last seen 24 years ago, are set to return to the Horn of Africa. Paul Rodgers reports

The spectre of famine has returned to the Horn of Africa nearly a quarter of a century after the world’s pop stars gathered to banish it at Live Aid, raising £150m for relief efforts in 1985. Millions of impoverished Ethiopians face the threat of malnutrition and possibly starvation this winter in what is shaping up to be the country’s worst food crisis for decades.

Estimates of the number of people who need emergency food aid have risen steadily this year from 4.9 million in January to 5.3 million in May and 6.2 million in June. Another 7.5 million are getting aid in return for work on community projects, as part of the National Productive Safety Net Program for people whose food supplies are chronically insecure, bringing the total being fed to 13.7 million.

Donor countries provided sustenance to 12 million Ethiopians last year, more than half of it through the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP). Having passed that total only eight months into this year, and with the main harvest already in doubt, aid agencies fear the worst is still to come. “We’re extremely worried,” said Howard Taylor, who heads the Department for International Development’s office in Ethiopia. DfID has given £54m in aid to the country this year, and Britain has also contributed through the EU. “This is exactly the time when we shouldn’t turn away from the people in need,” he said.

“Critical water shortages” were reported in some areas by the UN’s Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs last week with water-borne diseases such as acute diarrhoea spreading as communities resort to drinking from insanitary wells and ponds. Unicef said that the outbreaks are putting extra pressure on its Out-Patient Therapeutic Programme, which provides healthcare in some of the most needy areas.

In Somali, the hardest hit region with a third of the humanitarian caseload and complications caused by a low-intensity insurgency, the mortality rate for infants has risen above two per 10,000 per day according to a regional nutrition survey, which gives newborns roughly a one-third chance of dying before their fifth birthdays. While there is no clear definition, one widely used threshold for famine is four infant deaths per 10,000 per day.

Declaring a famine is a political decision. While it can galvanise public opinion and bring millions into aid programmes, it is widely seen as a political failure. President George Bush challenged his officials to avoid the word, a policy known as “No famine on my watch”. Ethiopia’s Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission is charged with preventing famines of the 1984-85 type, the sort that bring down governments, argued Tufts University academics Sue Lautze and Angela Raven-Roberts in a 2004 paper.

Dismissing the warning signals, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister genocidal dictator, Meles Zenawi, said earlier this month that there was no danger of famine this year. And Berhanu Kebede, Ethiopia’s ambassador to Britain, said at the weekend: “We are addressing the problem. Food is in the pipeline.”

The main practical difference between a food crisis and a famine is whether enough aid arrives to keep the starving alive. So while the scope of the problem can be measured in the number of hungry people, the severity depends on the generosity of those in the rich world. And this year they have been miserly. Despite the promise of G8 leaders at their summit in L’Aquila, Italy, last month to provide $20bn (£12bn) to improve food security in poor countries, contributions have slumped dramatically this year as donor states have shifted priorities to supporting banks and stimulating their own economies. “The international community is not living up to its promise to the World Food Programme,” Mr Kebede said.

The WFP had little trouble raising its $6bn budget last year, but in 2009 it has collected less than half of that. Its Ethiopian operation, which had $500m in 2008, is short $127m this year, equivalent to 167,000 tonnes of food. The Famine Early Warning Network forecast this month that the shortfall would reach 300,000 tonnes by December. Rations for the 6.2 million people receiving emergency food aid have, as a result, been slashed by a third from a meagre 15kg of cereals, beans and oil a month to just 10kg. Even if the shortfall were made up today, it would take three months for supplies to be loaded on to ships bound for Djibouti, then transferred to trucks for the arduous overland journey to land-locked Ethiopia.

Aid agencies are worried about the main harvest this autumn, arguing that the time for action is now, not when the food runs out in November – usually the driest month – let alone when starving children with distended bellies capture the attention of the West’s television viewing public. Despite its good intentions, Bob Geldof’s Live Aid came towards the end of the 1984-85 famine, which killed more than a million people. Since then, Ethiopia’s population has doubled to 80 million.

Mr Zenawi’s government has set up a strategic food reserve which has at times reached 500,000 tonnes – though it is currently thought to be just 200,000 tonnes – which it uses to speed up delivery. As soon as they get funds, aid agencies can borrow food from this reserve, replacing it with supplies from abroad when they arrive. Although the government could release this food without promises of replenishment, it would soon run out; after covering the WFP’s 167,000 tonne shortfall, the stockpile would be barely enough to feed a million people for three months.

The underlying problem for Ethiopia is the erratic behaviour of the country’s climate, or rather its regional micro-climates. [The problem is the regime's Marxist policies, not climate or lack of rain.] Moisture-bearing clouds scudding in from the Indian Ocean can pass over the parched eastern lowlands to dump generous amounts of rain on the fertile western highlands. The famine of 1984-85, revealed by BBC reporter Michael Buerk, was actually two separate famines, one in Tigray, in the north, the other in Somali, in the south-east.

Two main rains sustain the people of Ethiopia, the belg in spring and the kiremt, which usually start in July. Both are influenced by variations in sea-surface temperature. The El Niño phenomena in the eastern Pacific usually bring droughts to Ethiopia, and America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that the current El Niño will strengthen over the next six months. The belg has failed for two years running now, while the kiremt started three weeks late this summer and the amount of rainfall when they did come was below normal. Aid agencies fear that the season could end early, or, equally bad, produce delayed downpours just when farmers need dry weather for the harvest. Even if the kiremt ends on time in October, some crops may not reach maturity because of the late planting.

Ethiopia is overwhelmingly dependent on agriculture, and some 90 per cent of its crops are watered by nature rather than by man-made irrigation systems. During droughts, farmers and nomadic herders tend to sell off their assets to buy food, leaving them with nothing when the next growing season begins. It can take three to five years for pastoral tribes to rebuild their herds.

Although Ethiopia is particularly hard hit, drought has also affected neighbouring countries. Resources in Somali are under additional strain because nomadic tribesmen from Somalia and Kenya have driven unusually large numbers of cattle across the border in search of water and pasture. Estimates of the number of cattle coming into the country range from 95,000 to 200,000.

The spike in global food prices in 2008 exacerbated a worsening situation, hitting the urban poor particularly hard. While they have fallen back this year, the price for grains in the markets of Adis Ababa are still some 50 per cent higher than their average in the four years to 2007.

The Ethiopian government is acutely aware of the danger of famine, not least to itself. Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed a year after the 1973 famine and the Derg military junta led by Lt Col Mengistu Haile Mariam was overthrown in 1991 after a civil war driven in part by the 1984-85 famine. While most other countries with food shortages allow charities to distribute food, Ethiopia’s government insists that the bulk of food aid must pass through its hands.

The irony is that the Zenawi regime has done a reasonable job of boosting food production, achieving self-sufficiency in the late 1990s. One agency described it as the “bread basket” of Africa, harvesting more grain in a good year than South Africa. The government promotes best practices and distributes fertiliser to farmers. It also has an ambitious scheme to relocate 2.2 million people to more fertile areas. But even it can’t control the rains.

Many Africans blame climate change for the erratic weather patterns and resulting food shortages. Jean Ping, the chairman of the African Union, said last week in Addis Ababa: “Although Africa is least responsible for global warming, it suffers most from a problem it didn’t create.”

Thugs Gone Wild in Kilil-istan!

Monday, August 31st, 2009

By Alemayehu G. Mariam

Rent-a-Thug Against Democracy

In a recent piece entitled “Mob Disrupts Political Meeting in Adama,” former Ethiopian President Dr. Negasso Gidada described how “an organized mob disturbed a public political meeting of the Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ) in Adama, Oromia, and forced the discontinuation of the meeting.” Dr. Negasso explained:

Around 50 people started to disturb the meeting while Eng. Gizachew Shiferraw, Vice Chairperson of the UDJ was addressing the meeting. The disturbers were shouting, clutching and whistling from the rear of the hall. This mob came up running to the front and damaged a microphone while trying to grab it. They continued to shout: ‘This is Oromia’, ‘Oromo is our Language’, ‘You have to start the meeting by a blessing ceremony in accordance with Oromo culture’, ‘You can hold the meeting in Oromo language’, ‘If you do not speak in Oromo language, and you can not hold meetings in our country’. Several people tried to cool down the mob by promising that what is said would be translated in Oromo. But the mob would not heed the appeal. It even threatened to beat us up. Eng. Gizachew could not continue his speech. He was forced to announce that the meeting is adjourned because of the disturbance… The mob was not a spontaneous disturbing group. There were some OPDO/EPRDF cadres among the mob. I myself could recognize at least two OPDO cadres with whom I worked in the organization before I resigned from it in June 2001. It is obvious that the disturbance was an organized one.

In a separate Amharic piece on the subject, Seeye Abraha (the former defense minister and currently a member of Medrek (Forum for Democratic Dialogue in Ethiopia) who attended the Adama town hall meeting pointed to a discernable emerging pattern in the use of thugs and hooligans by the “EPDRF” to disrupt opposition meetings. He identified two other similar disruptions a few weeks earlier, one at a UDJ meeting in Debre Markos and another at an Arena Tigray meeting in Mekele. Seeye suggested that a dual strategy is being used to prevent opposition elements from having public meetings: 1) Deny meeting permits on the basis of absurd excuses; or 2) Issue permits but disrupt the meetings using hired thugs and hooligans. Seeye declared that opposition elements will not be intimidated by thugs and “vigilantes” and their outreach efforts to the people will continue. He also put the dictators and the Ethiopian people on notice that should they be victims of thug violence at such meetings, the “EPDRF” should be held responsible.

Thugs and the Triumph of Kilil-istan Chavinism (Tribal-based Ethnic Federalism)

This is Oromia… Oromo is our Language… You have to start the meeting by a blessing ceremony in accordance with Oromo culture… You can hold the meeting in Oromo language… If you do not speak in Oromo language, and you can not hold meetings in our country….

The sounds of such atavistic lyrics of ethnic chauvinism must make sweet music to the ears of Ethiopia’s dictators. It must bring them everlasting joy and ecstasy to have these divisive and truculent words become part of the lexicon of Kilil-istan chauvinism, which is the highest stage of ethnic federalism. No doubt, these words represent the purest expression of the capo dictator’s dream: An Ethiopia blinded, deafened and muted by ethnic, linguistic, tribal and cultural chauvinism. BRAVO!

For nearly two decades, the dictators in Ethiopia toiled ceaselessly to shred the very fabric of that ancient civilization and society, and sculpt a landscape balkanized into tribal, ethnic, linguistic and regional enclaves to establish their own version of a Thousand Year Reich (Reign). They crafted a constitution based entirely on ethnicity and tribal affiliation as the basis for political organization. Article 46 (2) of their constitution provides: “States shall be structured on the basis of settlement patterns, language, identity and consent of the people.” In other words, “states”, (and the people who live in them) shall be organized as homogenous tribal homelands in much the same way as the 10 Bantustans (black homelands) of apartheid South Africa were organized to create ethnically homogeneous and “autonomous” nation states for South Africa’s different black ethnic groups, effectively wiping out their South African national citizenship.

The tribal homelands in Ethiopia are officially called “kilils” (enclaves or distinct enclosed and effectively isolated geographic areas within a seemingly integrated national territory). Like the Bantustans, the Killilistans represent territory set aside for the purpose of concentrating members of designated ethnic/tribal/linguistic/cultural groups in nominally autonomous geographic areas. Ethiopia’s dictators have used a completely fictitious and ridiculous theory of “ethnic (tribal) federalism)”, unknown in the annals of political science or political theory, to justify and glorify these Kililistans, impose their atrocious policy of divide and rule against 80 million people and scrub out any meaningful notion of Ethiopian citizenship.

Big Thugs, Small Thugs and the Rule of Law

Article 9 of the dictators’ constitution provides that the “Constitution is the supreme law of the land…. All citizens, state organs, political organizations, other associations and their officials, have the duty to comply with this Constitution and abide by it.” Article 29 of this “supreme law” guarantees that “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression without interference. This right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers,…” Article 30 further ensures, “Everyone shall have the freedom, in association with others, to peaceably assemble without arms, engage in public demonstration and the right to petition.”

In Thugland, no one seems to be particularly concerned about constitutional rights. Dr. Negasso, Ato Seeye, UDJ members and the other community attendees were peaceably assembled at an authorized meeting to engage in important political discussions. They have an absolute right to conduct their meeting peaceably without being molested by thugs, hooligans, criminals, gangsters, hoodlums, delinquents and hustlers. It is the supreme and solemn duty of those in authority to guarantee that the constitutional rights of those peaceably assembled is protected from “interference” by anyone. To be sure, the authorities had a legal duty to arrest the disruptive thugs and “vigilantes” and prosecute them for their egregious violation of the constitutional rights of all those in attendance at the town hall meeting. But as we have seen time and time again, the “supreme law” of the land does not apply to thugs because thugs are above the law of the land; indeed, thugs are the law of the land!

Thugs Here, Thugs There, Thugs Everywhere!

Paraphrasing Mark Twain, one could wonder out loud: “Suppose you were a thug. And suppose you were a member of a dictatorship. But I repeat myself.” The use of rented thugs to disrupt public meetings is the oldest trick in the Book of Dictators and Corrupt Politicians. Not long ago, Robert Mugabe’s (ZANU – Patriotic Front) thugs in Zimbabwe disrupted the Constitutional All-Stakeholders’ Conference (organized to write a new constitution) at the Harare International Conference Centre by lambasting and unleashing a torrent of profanity and vulgarity against the Speaker of Parliament. They also attacked delegates and officials with plastic water bottles. In the early 1990s, organized thugs, galvanized by the political ideology of “Majimboism”, (a Kiswahili concept for “ethnic regionalism”, or “ethno-federalism”) instigated ethnic hatred against the Kikuyu. Recently, Prof. Maurice Iwu, Nigeria’s Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, reported to the Nigeria House of Representatives that the “sporadic outbreak of violence in several parts of the country [in the last election] was a fall-out of political thuggery.” The ultimate African thugs are represented by a militia known as the “Janjawid” – bloodthirsty packs of roving criminals armed and supported by the Sudanese government that have caused widespread atrocities including village destruction, massacres and rapes in the Darfur region.

Thugging it Out!

Seeye Abraha has noticed the Ethiopian people that should they be victims of thug violence, the “EPDRF” is to be held responsible. It may be overly optimistic to expect reason and respect for the law from thugs. The fact of the matter is that thugs will always be thugs; but law abiding citizens can fight back — thug it out, so to speak — by doing the right thing: Always tell the people the truth, and speak truth to thugs. Unite the people where thugs try to put them asunder. Promote harmony wherever thugs sow hatred, division and enmity. Fight to win the hearts and minds of the people wherever thugs seek to crush their hopes, dreams and aspirations. Never lower yourself to the gutter world of thugs, but capture, preserve, protect and defend the moral high ground. Never, never, never abandon the cause of freedom, democracy and human rights in Ethiopia. Always do the right thing, the fair thing, the just thing. As Churchill said, “Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” Never yield to thugs! Never forget the truth that if we don’t stand up for the Land of Thirteen Months of Sunshine, thugs will gladly transform it into the Land of Eternal Darkness.

Inherit the Wind

In Proverbs 11 is written, “He who brings trouble on his family will inherit only wind.” Those who have wrought trouble on the Ethiopian family for the last two decades will in the end inherit a tornadic wind. That is foreordained! Their wicked efforts to destroy, dismember, deface and disfigure Ethiopia through the politics of hate and ethnic division will fail just as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow. Their diabolical plan will amount to nothing! Like East Germany, ethnic federalism will be there one day and the next day it will be gone forever. Ethiopia’s best days are yet to come because her destiny rests securely in the palms of her bright, patriotic, industrious, conscientious, humble, forward-looking and God-fearing young people.

Is it not ironic that those of us who profess to champion the cause of justice, truth and morality far outnumber those engaged in the practice of evil, yet the few evil doers seem to outdo us nearly every time. As Dr. Negasso pleaded following his confrontation with the Adama thugs: “I call on all those who stand for the respect of democratic and human rights, for peace and stability of this country and for economic development of this country do something TODAY and not TOMORROW!!” That is why we should take to heart the aphorism, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil (thugs) is that good Ethiopian men and women do nothing” TODAY.

Israeli PM Netanyahu slams school ban on Ethiopia Jews

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday condemned three Jewish religious schools for what he termed their immoral refusal to admit 100 Ethiopian Jewish students.

Spokesmen for Israel’s 100,000-strong Ethiopian community described the schools’ decision as discriminatory. Black Jews have long complained of prejudice in Israel.

The private ultra-Orthodox institutions, which also receive money from the government, denied the ban was racially motivated, saying the children required special funding and classes to raise their academic standards.

But Netanyahu called the ban “intolerable”.

“Rejecting Ethiopian students is simply an attack on our morals, contradicting our ethos as a country, as a society, as Jews and as Israelis,” Netanyahu said in an interview conducted jointly by Israel Radio and Army Radio.

“A school that continues along this line will suffer the consequences,” he said. “I have told (the education minister) to act as forcefully as possible.”

Education ministry officials have been quoted by the Israeli media as saying government funding for the schools, in the central city of Petah Tikva, would be withheld unless they admitted the students.

President Shimon Peres said last week the schools’ policy was a “disgrace” no Israeli could accept. Most Ethiopian Jewish children attend state schools, many of them religious institutions.

Israel’s chief rabbis determined formally in 1973 that Ethiopian Jews were descendants of the Jewish biblical tribe of Dan and were entitled to immigrate to Israel. Tens of thousands arrived in airlifts in the 1980s and 1990s.

Deal reached on Ethiopian students in Israel

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL — Two days before the opening of the school year, a compromise reached between Petah Tikvah Mayor Itzik Ohayoun and principals of the city’s schools will enable 109 students of Ethiopian origin will to enroll in religious schools.

On Sunday, the three schools which set off a public storm with their initial refusal to enroll the students – Lamerhav, Da’at Mevinim and Darkei Noam – also agreed to accept some 30 children who immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia with their parents in recent years and are required to attend religious schools as part of their conversion process.

According to the deal, all of the pupils will be accepted to regular classes throughout the city without having to take preliminary tests.

To ease the move into the normal classes, the Ministry of Education will provide each child with an enrichment program tailored to his or her personal needs.

Briefly after word of the compromise was let out, however, Petah Tikva’s parent council announced that it rejected the deal, as only 30 of the pupils will be integrated in the city’s private schools, and reiterated its threat for a strike on September 1.

“The compromise offers no true equality, neither in the numbers nor in the way the pupils are to be integrated,” said chairman of the council Gadi Yaffe. The council called for an emergency meeting with Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar.

Before the deal was reached, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday called the schools’ refusal to accept the Ethiopian students a “moral terror attack.”

In a joint interview with Army Radio and Israel Radio, on a special day of broadcasts dedicated to battling violence, Netanyahu said that schools that refuse to enroll Ethiopians will be punished, and vowed there would be no racial discrimination against Ethiopians in Israel.

Also on Sunday, President Shimon Peres slammed the three schools that had refused to enroll Ethiopian students.

“Is this a way to accept olim? Humiliating treatment of this kind offends and hurts all of us,” Peres, who was attending the opening of the Nofey Habsor School in the Eshkol region, said during a meeting with teenagers.

The president called on the students to do whatever they can to eliminate racial discrimination.

The story has been drawing increased attention as the school year approaches.

It intensified earlier this week when the Parent-Teacher Association in Petah Tikva threatened a strike if the principals of the schools in question continued to refuse to enroll the pupils, while the Education Ministry’s director-general, Dr. Shimshon Shoshani, threatened to pull significant funding from the schools if the pupils were not enrolled by the first day of school.

On Wednesday principals of the three schools, along with representatives from the Petah Tikva Municipality and the Education Ministry, held a meeting over the matter.

At the meeting, the ministry official delivered letters containing the names of pupils the principal’s were expected to enroll.

A source speaking on behalf of the schools told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that during the meeting the principals had inquired as to their requests that the students should be on a par as regards Hebrew and basic math skills and should match the schools’ ministry-approved requirements for aptitude, behavior and religious practice.

When told that the pupils did not match the said requirements, the principals again expressed their reservations about enrolling them and, according to the source, were then asked by the Education Ministry official to attend a meeting with Shoshani on Thursday.

(THE JERUSALEM POST, Abe Selig and Ron Friedman contributed to this report.)

Kidist Mariam Church in Atlanta inaugurates new building

Sunday, August 30th, 2009
Ethiopian Kidist Mariam Church in Atlanta inaugurated new building Kidist Mariam Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church’s new building in Lithonia, a suburb of Atlanta [Photo: Ethiopian Review]

Kidist Mariam (St. Mary) Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Atlanta inaugurated a new building on Saturday, August 29, 2009, in the presence of His Holiness Abune Merkorios, Patriarch of Ethiopia, and other dignitaries.

Ethiopian Kidist Mariam Church in Atlanta inaugurated new building
EOTC Patriarch Abune Merkorios and DeKalby County Chief Executive Officer Burrell Ellis at the ribbon cutting ceremony of Kidist Mariam Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church’s new building in Atlanta [Photo: Ethiopian Review]
Ethiopian Kidist Mariam Church in Atlanta inaugurated new building
EOTC Patriarch Abune Merkorios, EOTC Holy Synod Secretary Abune Melketsedik and other church leaders at the inauguration of Kidist Mariam Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church’s new building in Atlanta
[Photo: Ethiopian Review]
Ethiopian Kidist Mariam Church in Atlanta inaugurated new building
The new Kidist Mariam Ethiopian Orthodox Church building located at 1152 South Stone Mountain Lithonia Rd., Lithonia, GA [Photo: Ethiopian Review]

(News Release by Kidist Mariam Church) — The Atlanta Kidist Mariam Ethiopian Orthodox Cathedral was founded and established in 1987. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church’s deep tradition goes back to the fourth century A.D. at which time the Church was formed when the Christian church broke off into its two main branches: Orthodox and Roman Catholic.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has been a source of spiritual and cultural education to the people of Ethiopia. The church’s heritage goes back almost two thousand years and has been a major contributor to the development of modern Christianity.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo church is one of the oldest churches in the world. As a result Ethiopia is considered one of the longest lived Christian countries in the world.

Initially, Kidist Mariam Church was serving its congregation in a chapel rented from Central Presbyterian Church in downtown Atlanta. Since that time, the church has taken the lead in providing services to meet the spiritual, cultural, and economic needs of the Ethiopian immigrant population in the Greater Atlanta area. As the size of the congregation grew faster than expected, members of the church, encouraged by their strong conviction and deep religious dedication, purchased the current church located at 266 Robin Street Decatur, Georgia, in 1995. However, the Church was still unable to provide essential services for many hundreds of Ethiopians. Again, with members and all Christians’ fulfillment of their spiritual obligations, the church acquired and fully paid for 5.5 acres of land, to build bigger facilities.

Now that this complex is completed, the largest and most traditionally built Ethiopian Orthodox Church ever constructed outside of Ethiopia will provide adequate space for both worship and community outreach activities for many Ethiopians. The church plans to offer classes in health promotion and disease prevention, anti-crime meetings, social and youth activities, and English language training, educational and employment referrals and senior citizens activities. These services will be available to the entire Ethiopian community and other interested individuals, regardless of faith commitment. Members of our congregation continuously pray that God grants them guidance, unity, and vision in order to utilize the facilities of the new cathedral for the glory of His Holy Name.

Remittances decline by 9.6% in Ethiopia

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

By Muluken Yewondwossen | Capital Ethiopia

The global financial crisis, originating from economically empowered countries, is hammering the economy of developing countries like Ethiopia due to a drop in exports and remittances.

According to a Ministry of Trade and Industry Report, the country has taken home around 1.4 billion US dollars from export, which has dropped from last year’s revenue of 1.5 billion US dollars. The Ethiopian government was hoping to collect 2.5 billion US dollars from the past fiscal year’s exports.
Making matters worse is that international remittances, transfers from Ethiopian and foreign nationals to Ethiopia, has declined by 9.6 per cent from last year, according to a National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) report.

In the previous budget year (2007/08) the Central Bank reported that the country earned around 800 million dollar from remittances. A figure that falls 200 million US dollars short of the number reported by Ethiopia’s ruling party, the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) who stated that it was around one billion US dollars.

According to Capital’s source, in the past budget year (2008/09) that ended in July, the country earned about 723 million US dollars from international remittances transferred by the Diaspora and foreigners.

Since the financial crisis hit Europe and the US, giant companies and organizations have been shedding jobs. Many of those falling victim to the job cuts are low paid, low skill workers, many of whom are immigrants to these countries, working to support families in their country of origin.
“The number of remittance service providers has increased in the past year but the transfer rate has not been like the previous year because of the crisis,” a source said.

In the fiscal year spanning 2006-07 remittances were only 633 million US dollars. Still a year before the crisis, Ethiopia generated 2.5 billion US dollars in foreign exchange. Sector experts say this increase was the result of an NBE’s directive issued in 2006, allowing various mode of money transfers. The 2006 Remittance Service Providers (RSPs) directive stated that users of this system can obtain information from access points such as bank branches, post offices and related organizations.

The directive aimed to improve the operations of the formal remittance service in Ethiopia, to reduce the costs of remittance transfers and to increase access to international remittance service for nationals all to make the service quick and reliable.

Most types of remittances are from personal funds, investments, international cash donations, deposit and service payments and temporary and permanent migrant transfers.

Ethiopian Israelis protest school discrimination

Friday, August 28th, 2009

(JTA) — The Ethiopian-Israeli community is protesting discrimination by three Orthodox schools in Petach Tikvah.

The Israeli Association for Ethiopian Jews called Thursday for action against three private religious schools in the Tel Aviv suburb that have refused to admit several Ethiopian-Israeli children for the coming school year, the Jerusalem Post reported.

“To our great sorrow, the children of the Ethiopian olim are not allowed to enter the gates of some of the religious educational institutions in Petach Tikvah,” the organization wrote in a letter addressed to the Chief Rabbinate. “We would ask the honorable chief rabbis: Are these children, whose parents underwent a stringent process of conversion for two or more years, not good enough to study in all the religious and haredi schools in Petach Tikvah?”

Israeli President Shimon Peres said the schools’ decision to deny admission to children from the Ethiopian community was a “disgrace no Israeli can accept,” according to Ha’aretz.

Government officials have been debating ways of cutting off funding for the schools — which despite being private rely on support from the government — unless they reverse their decision.

The three schools have responded by claiming children from the Ethiopian community require more time and funds than other children to bring them up to academic standards.

Moti Zaft, the acting mayor of Petach Tikvah, told Army Radio that he believes separate classes should be held for Ethiopian and non-Ethiopian children so that each can student can receive education that best serves their needs.

Another Ethiopian student missing in U.K.

Friday, August 28th, 2009

UK (BBC) — A fourth member of an Ethiopian exchange programme has gone missing from Hartlepool, UK.

Police have launched a missing persons inquiry following the disappearance of Konjit Assefa, 22, who was last seen in the town centre on Tuesday.

Three other members of the nine-strong group, all men in their 20s, vanished while visiting London, though one later made contact and has since left the UK.

Organisers Global Xchange said the incidents were damaging to its work.

The programme is designed to give young people from different countries an opportunity to work on community development projects and promote cross cultural understanding.

A team of 18 young people, nine from Hartlepool and nine from Ethiopia, have been working together for three months in each country.

Phil Hudson, head of Global Xchange, said: “Our primary concern is for the safety of Konjit and we are helping the police with their inquiries.

Others ‘distressed’

“However, we take very seriously any actions that damage the reputation of the programme, which over the past 10 years has had a significant impact on community development and enhanced the skills and perspectives of thousands of young people.”

The organisation will review its security procedures, and give “serious consideration” to which countries it works with in the future, he added.

The remainder of the Ethiopian group are due to fly home on Monday, and are said to be distressed and disappointed.

Those still missing are not yet being treated as illegal immigrants, as they still have visas until mid-September.

Anyone who knows the whereabouts of Ms Assefa should contact Cleveland Police.

2 Ethiopian religious leaders arrive in Eritrea

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Aba Abiy Yohannes and Kes Tibebu Assfaw Asmara, Eritrea — Two Ethiopian religious leaders arrived in Eritrea opposing the ongoing conflict and anarchy within the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church (EOC) that is being instigated by Ato GebreMedhin (formerly Abune Paulos).

The two religious leaders are Aba Abiy Yohannes, who used to serve at the Lideta Church in Addis Ababa, and Kes Tibebu Assfaw, who used to serve at the Selassie Monastery administered by the Addis Ababa Synod.

Both pointed out that Ato Gebremedhin is fomenting tribalism within the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. They also accused Ato Gebremedhin of corruption and causing anarchy inside the Church.

The religious leaders disclosed that photos of Ato Gebremedhin is being displayed churches and monasteries through out the country, more than images of saints.


Ethiopian model Anna Getaneh at Arise Africa Fashion Week

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

South Africa’s SABC interviews Ethiopia’s ex-fashion model Anna Getaneh on her recent showing at Arise Africa Fashion Week. In the video, Anna discusses her label African Mosaique, making an impact on Ethiopia, relocating from abroad to South Africa and her passion for fashion.

(Source: LadyBrilleMag)

IMF comes to the rescue of Ethiopia's tribal junta once again

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

EDITOR’S NOTE: IMF keeps the dying genocidal dictatorship in Ethiopia alive by an infusion of a quarter of a billion dollars. The junta had just a few days of hard currency reserve left as remittances from abroad declined. This blood money will be used by the Woyanne junta to continue brutalizing and terrorizing the people of Ethiopia and the whole Horn of Africa region. The following is a press release from the IMF:

IMF Executive Board Scumbags Approve US$240.6 Million Arrangement for the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Under the Exogenous Shocks Facility ruling tribal junta in Ethiopia

Press Release No. 09/289

The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today approved a 14-month, SDR 153.755 million (about US$240.6 million) arrangement under the Exogenous Shocks Facility (ESF) to help Ethiopia cope with the effects of the global recession on its balance of payments. The arrangement (115 percent of Ethiopia’s quota) was approved under the high access component of the ESF, a facility designed to provide policy support and financial assistance on concessional terms to eligible low-income countries facing temporary exogenous shocks. A disbursement of SDR 73.535 million (about US$115.1 million) will become available following the Board’s decision.

Following the Executive Board discussion, Mr Takatoshi Kato, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, issued the following statement:

“Ethiopia’s economy has been adversely affected by a series of shocks, first from surging commodity prices in 2008, and most recently from the global recession. While the authorities have been successfully implementing a macroeconomic adjustment package since late 2008 to help lower inflation and build up international reserves, the global recession is now putting renewed pressure on the external position as export receipts and remittances weaken and inward direct investment slows.

“The authorities have adopted an appropriate program for 2009/10 to address the strains on the balance of payments and to keep inflation low. Seeking a balance among conflicting objectives—limiting inflation, rebuilding reserves, accommodating higher capital outlays, unwinding recent real exchange rate appreciation—their program calls for a continued tight fiscal stance (though eased somewhat from 2008/09), a slowing of the pace of monetary growth, and gradual real exchange rate adjustment, aided by a step depreciation of the birr on July 10, 2009.

“The general government budget for 2009/10 envisages some easing of the tight limits on public spending instituted last year, financed by a mix of external and domestic borrowing. Public sector domestic borrowing will be contained to 3 percent of GDP, with the government acting to improve controls over borrowing by public enterprises and monitoring carefully external debt levels to ensure debt sustainability. The authorities are committed to crafting a tax reform strategy, aimed at reversing the decline in the tax-to-GDP ratio recorded in recent years.

“Monetary policy focuses on entrenching single-digit inflation by providing a strong nominal anchor. The monetary program seeks to limit broad money growth to 17 percent for 2009/10, with the National Bank of Ethiopia seeking to enhance its control over reserve money by systematic use of the regular Treasury-bill auctions to manage liquidity.

“Prudent implementation of this program, accompanied by planned reform measures, will provide a sound macroeconomic environment for economic growth. The financial support being provided under the Exogenous Shocks Facility, coupled with the new allocation of SDRs, will further boost foreign reserves, thereby enhancing confidence in the sustainability of the government’s economic program.”

Recent Economic Developments

Ethiopia has faced a turbulent external economic environment in the past two years, stemming from sharp movements in import prices and then the global slowdown. Surging import prices helped push reserves down to some US$900 million (1.2 months of imports) by mid-2008 and contributed to an exceptional jump in consumer price inflation. The global recession is now putting renewed pressure on the external position via weaker export receipts and remittances and slowing inward direct investment.

The authorities implemented a macroeconomic adjustment package from late-2008, which was supported by the IMF’s January 2009 disbursement of SDR 33.425 million (about US$52.3 million) to Ethiopia under the rapid-access component (RAC) of the ESF (see Press Release No. 09/13). The adjustment program has met key policy targets. Inflation in the 12 months to June declined to 3 percent, aided by falling food price levels, while foreign reserves, helped by increased donor assistance, reached some US$1.5 billion (1.8 months of import cover) by end-June 2009.

Key Program Policies and Objectives

The authorities’ program for 2009/10 includes:

• Limits on domestic borrowing by the public sector, although the limits are eased slightly from 2008/09 levels

• Some easing of the fiscal stance, tightened sharply under the 2008/09 adjustment program

• Further slowing of the pace of monetary expansion

• Judicious exchange rate adjustment in a manner that does not destabilize expectations or fuel consumer price inflation.

• Supporting structural measures, focusing on tax reform, the control of public enterprise borrowing, and the control of liquidity through indirect instruments.

The policies supported under the arrangement, coupled with the Fund’s financial support and Ethiopia’s increased allocation of Special Drawing Rights (see Press Release No. 09/283), are expected to contribute to the rebuilding of international reserves to 2½ months of imports by 2010/11, while maintaining a sound macroeconomic environment for growth and poverty reduction.

Yemen police arrest 80 Ethiopians

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

SANA’A, (Saba News) — Police have arrested 80 Ethiopian refugees from African Horn since beginning of current month in different governorates of the country, Media Center of Interior Minister reported on Wednesday.

All of them are Ethiopians handed over to the passport and immigration authority to take legal measures, the ministry said.

Last Monday the center said that about 114 Somali refugees have reached the coast of Thubab district in Taiz province. The security authorities mentioned that the 114 Somali refugees included 64 women arrived on Sunday to the district’s coastline.

The authorities in cooperation with the branch of Yemen Red Crescent gathered the refugees and sent them to the main camp of Kharaz for Somali refugees in Lahj province.

Barnes & Noble Bookfair Supporting Ethiopia Reads

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Please join Ethiopia Reads to show your support for literacy in Ethiopia by participating at this Bookfair in Oakland, CA… read more

Ethiopia's regime jails two editors under obsolete law

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

New York (CPJ) — Two Ethiopian journalists were thrown in prison on Monday after a judge convicted them under an obsolete press law in connection with coverage of sensitive topics dating back several years, according to local journalists and news reports.

Ibrahim Mohamed Ali, editor of the weekly, Muslim-oriented newspaper Salafiyya, and Asrat Wedajo, former editor of Seife Nebelbal, a now-defunct weekly that was banned amid the 2005 government crackdown on the press, have begun serving one-year sentences at Kality Prison, outside the capital, Addis Ababa. Wedajo did not have a lawyer, but Ali’s lawyer, Temam Ababulgu, told CPJ he would appeal the verdict.

Federal High Court Judge Zewdinesh Asres convicted Ali and Wedajo on several charges under Ethiopia’s criminal code and its now-obsolete Press Proclamation of 1992, according to Ababulgu. The 1992 media law was reformed as the Freedom of the Mass Media and Access to Information Proclamation, which officially took effect in December 2008, according to CPJ research.

“Prime Minister Meles Zenawi assured CPJ in 2006 that his government would end the practice of sending journalists to prison on charges dating back several years,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Tom Rhodes. “But independent journalists continue to be charged and intimidated using obsolete media laws.”

Wedajo was charged in connection with a 2004 story alleging human rights violations against the ethnic Oromos, the largest ethnic group in the country.

Ali was charged in connection with a piece written by a guest columnist and published in 2007, criticizing the Ministry of Education‘s proposal to restrict headscarves for female Muslim students at public education institutions, according to Ababulgu. In 2008, the editor spent nearly two weeks behind bars, along with Al-Quds Publisher Maria Kadim and Editor Ezedin Mohamed for reprinting postings from the Web site EthiopianMuslims that criticized the ministry’s proposal to restrict religious practices in public schools. A magistrate acquitted Kadim but fined Mohamed 10,000 birrs (US$800) in July, according to local journalists. Mohamed told CPJ he is returning to court in September to face more charges over coverage of religious issues.

The Ethiopian government has had a longstanding practice of reviving years-old criminal cases, some of them seemingly dormant, as a way to silence critical journalists. The practice has persisted despite Zenawi‘s pledge, made to a visiting CPJ delegation in March 2006, that the government would reconsider the practice. Pending criminal charges or the possibility of criminal prosecutions now hang over at least eight more editors of Amharic-language newspapers for their coverage of political and public affairs, according to CPJ research.

Ethiopia is one of the world’s worst backsliders of press freedom, a steady decline made worse by a recent draconian anti-terror legislation.

Ethiopian village takes pride in Purdue University professor

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Gebisa Ejeta Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (AP) — An Ethiopian village is taking pride in a Purdue University professor who won this year’s World Food Prize for his efforts to feed hundreds of millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa.

Gebisa Ejeta says hundreds of people lined up to see him during a recent visit to his childhood village.

The distinguished professor of agronomy developed drought- and disease-resistant forms of sorghum, which is an African diet staple.

The food prize is considered the Nobel Prize of the food and agricultural world. Ejeta will receive the $250,000 award Oct. 15 from the Iowa-based World Food Prize Foundation in Des Moines.

The prize was created by Iowa native Norman Borlaug to honor efforts to solve global hunger problems.

Ethiopia's ambassador to the US ordered to return home

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Addis Ababa (EthioPolitics) — The business English weekly, Fortune, disclosed that Ethiopia’s Woyanne ambassador to the United States, Dr. Samuel Assefa, has been ordered to return home, after only serving one term.

The paper in its Gossip column wrote that the office in Washington D.C will soon be vacant and awaiting new replacement. The Ambassador was seen in Addis Ababa two weeks ago, perhaps on his way from the AGO summit held in Nairobi, according to Fortune.

The paper hinted that the increasingly tough lines adopted by the Obama administration towards the Ethiopian government Woyanne might have forced it to think of another “well-groomed and highly experienced diplomat.” The paper didn’t say who that might be.

Dr. Samuel, who became ambassador in early 2006, was the former vice president of the University of Addis Ababa.

An American student's nightmare in Ethiopia

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

A University of Wisconsin sophomore recounts her experience being detained and deported from her host country of Ethiopia.

By Rory Linnane | The Daily Cardinal

Rory Linnane, University of Wisconsin MADISON, WISCONSIN — A strong hand planted stiffly on my shoulder and sent shivers through my body, freezing every muscle as I stood on my host family’s front lawn in Ethiopia. I slowly turned as my eyes traveled up a large arm and over to the other arm, which was grasping an AK-47. I looked up at his face as he glanced back at two other armed men and his lips parted into a grin.

At this point I was halfway through a two-month summer trip to teach English in Haramaya, Ethiopia, through Learning Enterprises, a nonprofit student-run organization. Fourteen volunteers and a student program coordinator were staying with host families in eastern Ethiopia.


I was on my way to school with two other volunteers July 9 when I was stopped by the three armed men on my lawn. We later learned they worked for the Ethiopian National Intelligence Agency.

“You need to come with me to the police station for questioning, all of you,” the man who stopped me said.

“Why?” I demanded.

No response. Oh, right, I thought, authorities in Ethiopia don’t respond to that question. I learned it was dangerous to question their government. Any time I tried to discuss politics in a public place I was quickly hushed. As an American citizen on Ethiopian soil, I had no more rights than the Ethiopian people. A couple minutes after my foolish “why” question, we were flailing and yelling for help while the men shoved us into the back of a car.

Not knowing who was taking me or where I was going, the tears came abruptly like a kid in a grocery store who suddenly looks up to find she has lost her mother. My remaining dignity left with the breath stuttering out through my quivering mouth. I cried tears heavy with the universal fear felt by humans deprived of basic human rights. At that moment I felt perhaps the greatest connection with the Ethiopian people as I was forced to face what they struggle against every day.

In the next town over, we pulled into the police station where more volunteers from our program were waiting. We sat in the police office where we were watched fidgeting for hours before they told us that we were missing “a document” required for teaching in Ethiopia—a document to be discussed with officials in the capital 10 hours west, Addis Ababa. Commanded to pack all of our things for the trip to Addis, we concluded we probably wouldn’t be coming back to the town we had grown to call home.

Back at my host family’s house, trying to keep my eyes dry enough to pack my bags, I avoided looking anyone in the eyes. My efforts became futile when I opened the front pocket of my pack and found all the gifts I had planned to give my host family.

“Why are you crying?” the men asked me, laughing from behind their AK-47s.

“This is my family,” I whispered. “You are taking me from my family.”

Giving words to my emotions solidified them into a burning anger that replaced my fear and sadness. I thought of my students who waited hours on end for the chance to get into 50 minutes of class, before going home to help their family scrape up a living. They were certainly waiting at school for us now. And here was their government, ignorant and self-important, carting away free teachers and guarding us with 10 armed men in case we tried anything.


We drove all day toward Addis Ababa. In the morning we began requests for lunch that went unsatisfied, and in the afternoon we tried for dinner. Finally they gave in and we pulled over to a roadside shop. An official went to the shop and came back with a small pack of crackers for us all to split.

We kept driving into the night until we stopped at a hotel, still hours out of Addis. We were in a malaria zone. We asked to get our bug nets but were denied access to our bags. You’re not supposed to take malaria medication on an empty stomach, but I was getting bitten. I took my pill and just minutes later was keeling over. I spent the night without sleep, weak and dehydrated in the sticky lowland heat, dry-heaving over a hole in the ground overflowing with sewage, guarded by armed men with unknown objectives. The next morning we made it to the capital.

In Addis they took us straight to immigration. Again we were kept hungry, though this time we were advised to enjoy the “mental food” offered by the view from our holding room. Despite our waning energy, we kept our spirits up with songs, games and stories. Immigration officials interviewed us each individually. The officials gave each of us a different reason about what we were doing wrong in the country. My favorite was that we were “overknowledging” our students by challenging them in the classroom.

While we waited as a group during the interviews, we decided that no matter what happened, our primary goals were to stick together and to contact the U.S. embassy. We wrote the embassy’s number on skin covered by clothes and on small pieces of paper that we hoped we would be able to pass off to someone.

By the last few interviews, the officials became consistent in telling us that we had the wrong type of visa. Although airport staff told us to get tourist visas, these officials thought we needed business visas. That night they told us we had to leave the country the following day. If we had the cash on us to change our flights, we could do so; otherwise it was Ethiopian jail until our original flights left, which was a month later for me. We did not believe we had enough cash for all of us, but our goal to stick together remained intact.


We spent that night under tight guard at a government hotel where we were still unable to contact the embassy, and the next day they drove us to the airport where we were held in a back room. After waiting all day, later that evening my blank stare at the wall was interrupted when a team of men entered the room and stated, “We are from the U.S. embassy. We are here to help you.” I bolted from my chair and smothered them in hugs and tears. The next hour was a flurry of phone calls home, information release forms and random expressions of glee.

A few hours later we were all on flights home, lessons learned. When traveling abroad it is important to be knowledgeable about the country and its government. While we were never given an official reason for our deportation, many of us believe it had to do with the ethnicity of the students we were teaching: Oromo.

Every Oromo person I talked to felt that the government actively oppresses the Oromo ethnic group as a means of maintaining power. The ruling party of Ethiopia, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front Tigrean People Liberation Front ({www:Woyanne}), has proven it will go to great lengths to protect its power. After the 2005 national elections threatened the party’s majority in parliament, Ethiopians accused the party of intimidation at the polls and forging ballots. Hundreds were injured, killed or arrested.

In a country with such a paranoid and forceful government, we could have foreseen some trouble with serving the Oromo people without any sort of clearance from higher up. We also should have gone to the U.S. embassy as a group for information about risks and instruction on safety.

When you go to another country, you don’t take your rights with you. As romantic and adventurous as it sounds to spontaneously pack up and travel the globe, when you don’t do your homework, reality can be harsh.

The summer of our discontent

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

By Yilma Bekele

It is the right season to demand justice. It is the right time to demand respect for human rights and the rule of law. After the long drought of hopelessness and apathy, we are ready to flex our muscle and deliver a powerful punch. Why the optimism you might ask?

It is a good question. The answer is both simple and straightforward. Both internal and external conditions are favorable to us. Internally the economic hardship is taking a toll. Inflation is still in double digits, devaluation is rendering the birr (Ethiopia’s currency) a useless currency and remittances that have been propping up the dying system have dried up. The illegal regime is forced into picking pockets of returnees to supplement its meager foreign currency reserves.

Externally the defeat of the republican administration in the US has dealt a heavy blow to ‘terrorist’ traders like the TPLF regime. The advent of Mr. Obama has become a game changer event. Democracy is in dictatorship is out, real verifiable election is in sham election is out in short reality is in vogue while fantasy and make believe is nothing but a pipe dream.

There is a Russian saying ‘A fish rots from the head’. It is Ethiopia in a nutshell. Any organization is a reflection of its leader. The TPLF type of leadership has run its course. It functioned when there was plenty to go around. The thieves did not have the time to fight over the loot. It worked when terror was deployed as a tool to intimidate and silence. Well there is no more to steal. The till is empty. Agazi militia, Federal Police or Kebele tugs have lost their aura of invincibility. Remember the last years of the Derg when the accusers walked with their head down in shame? It is déjà vu time again. It is the law of physics, what goes up must come down. It is independent of our will.

What happened in Adama last week was a reflection of a dying system. The last gasps of a disease ridden rotten fish flailing one last time. The eighteen years old society built on the concept of equality of nationalities was laid bare. Like we suspected Woyane was not building the future Ethiopian nation but rather a bunch of weak Bantustans ruled by mobs and zombies. This is the new improved Ethiopia, you stay on your side and I stay on my side. We thought Woyane wants to control what we say but now we also know they want to control in what language not to say it. Woyane never ceases to amaze. So in Adama you only speak Oromyea, in Tigrai conversation is allowed only in Tigregna, Amharic only in Gondar, Wolaita in Sodo and so forth. Can you watch Amharic News on TV in Sidamo? Can you think in Guragegna in Mekele? Where does all this madness stop?

Some body got to say it stops right here and right now! A lot have started to say enough is enough. But it takes time. Especially with us Ethiopians, time is a very fluid commodity. We are lackadaisical when it comes to time. Our philosophy could be summed up as ‘why do it today when it could be done tomorrow’. Some say it is good old responsibility avoidance. We also have a tendency to dump it on a higher power to shift blame. It is a good escape mechanism. It has not served us well. Indifference in the face of injustice is not a winning strategy.

No matter people are making noise. As our good brother Malcolm X said we are slowly but surely resolving to attain our dignity ‘by any means necessary’. It is about time all those that abhor injustice stand up and be counted. We in the Diaspora are the lucky ones that can say no. We speak because those at home are muzzled. For the vast majority life has become intolerable. Eating once a day has become a luxury. It is always surprising to hear our visitors talk upon their return from a trip back home. It is clear we see what we want to see. But on the other hand isn’t it true a hunger even by one is one too many hunger? How about by fourteen million? Does changing the description to malnutrition relive us of the responsibility?

Our people back home are fighting the injustice in many different ways. Silence, non-cooperation, sabotage, and exodus are some of the methods. None of them are healthy for a human being. It is not easy. Fighting a state organized for coercion is a formidable task. The Soviet Union lasted sixty-nine years. Eastern Europeans suffered for over forty years while the North Koreans are celebrating fifty-six years of misery.

We are on our thirty fifth year. Thirty-five years of destruction of the body and the spirit. Every household in Ethiopia has been negatively affected. No one escaped from this calamity. It is a miracle we survived intact. The Derg and the TPLF regime have done incalculable damage to our country. The TPLF regime is in league with the likes of Stalin, Pol Pot, Erich Honecker and Nicolae Ceauşescu. The hallmarks of a dictatorship include dividing people on tribal basis and encouraging difference, setting up a very lethal security apparatus that uses terror to create fear, pitting one group against another, state sponsored extortion and blackmail and hit squads that kill in broad day light. The TPLF regime in Ethiopia displays all these characteristics.

All the above dictators were forced out. Not one of them walked away peacefully. They all have an inglorious end. That is the way of dictatorship. It has to be nudged away.

That is the reason for the Washington DC march on Sunday, September 13. It is to nudge the Ethiopian dictator. It is a show of force. It is to remind President Obama the invaluable help he got from the Ethiopian community. We are pleased by the new emphasis on democracy, free elections and respect for basic human rights. We are hopeful the US will not turn a blind eye to the abuse of our people. We don’t expect the US, Western Europe or anyone else to do our battle. What we want them to do is stop enabling the minority government by granting aid, easy loans from IMF and World Bank and any kind of military assistance. We will do the rest.

The Washington DC march on September 13 is one aspect of our resistance to dictatorship. Attending the march is a civic responsibility. It is transforming word into action. It is showing love for ones country in a concrete way. Dress green yellow and red and carry green yellow and red. Turn Washington DC into a sea of green, yellow and red. Show the dictator that we will never ever submit to terror.

(The writer can be reached at

Senator Ted Kennedy passed away

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Ted Kennedy Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., 77, died from a brain tumor on Tuesday night. The brother of President John F. Kennedy, he was elected to the Senate in 1962.

WASHINGTON (AP) — In the quiet of a Capitol elevator, one of Edward M. Kennedy’s fellow lawmakers asked whether he had plans for a family Thanksgiving away from the nation’s capital. No, the Massachusetts senator said with a shake of his head, and mentioned something about visiting his brothers’ gravesites at Arlington National Cemetery.

In his half-century in the public glare, Kennedy was, above all, heir to a legacy — as well as a hero to liberals, a foil to conservatives, a legislator with few peers.

Alone of the Kennedy men of his generation, he lived to comb gray hair, as the Irish poet had it. It was a blessing and a curse, as he surely knew, and assured that his defeats and human foibles as well as many triumphs played out in public at greater length than his brothers ever experienced.

He was the only Kennedy brother to run for the White House and lose. His brother John was president when he was assassinated in 1963 a few days before Thanksgiving; Robert fell to a gunman in mid-campaign five years later. An older brother, Joseph Jr., was killed piloting a plane in World War II.

Runner-up in a two-man race for the Democratic nomination in 1980, this Kennedy closed out his failed candidacy with a speech that brought tears to the eyes of many in a packed Madison Square Garden.

“For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end,” he said. “For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die.”

He was 48, older than any of his brothers at the time of their deaths. He lived nearly three more decades, before succumbing to a brain tumor late Tuesday at age 77.


That convention speech was a political summons, for sure. But to what?

Kennedy made plans to run for president again in 1984 before deciding against it. By 1988, his moment had passed and he knew it.

He turned his public energies toward his congressional career, now judged one of the most accomplished in the history of the Senate.

“I’m a Senate man and a leader of the institution,” he said more than a year ago in an Associated Press interview. He left his imprint on every major piece of social legislation to pass Congress over a span of decades. Health care, immigration, civil rights, education and more. Republicans and Democrats alike lamented his absence as they struggled inconclusively in recent months with President Barack Obama’s health care legislation.

He was in the front ranks of Democrats in 1987 who torpedoed one of President Ronald Reagan’s Supreme Court nominees. “Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, children could not be taught about evolution,” he said at the time.

It was a single sentence that catalogued many of the issues he — and Democrats — devoted their careers to over the second half of the 20th century.

A postscript: More than a decade later, President Clinton nominated a former Kennedy aide, Stephen Breyer, to the high court. He was confirmed easily.


There were humiliations along the way, drinking and womanizing, coupled with the triumphs that the Kennedy image-makers were always polishing. After the 1980 presidential campaign, Camelot took another hit when he divorced. He later remarried, happily.

In later years came grumbling from fellow Democrats that his political touch had failed him, and that he was too eager to strike a deal with President George W. Bush on education and Medicare.

“I believe a president can make a difference,” he said over and over in that campaign of 1980, at a time the country was suffering from crushing combination of high interest rates, inflation and unemployment.

But it wasn’t necessary to be a president to make a difference, or to try.

He once startled a Republican senator’s aide, tracking her down by phone in Poland, part of an attempt to complete a bipartisan compromise.

For years, he left the Capitol once a week to read to a student at a nearby public school as part of a literacy program.

When a longtime Senate reporter fell terminally ill, Kennedy dispatched one of his watercolors to her room in a nursing home, and cheered her with chatty phone calls.


Kennedy took up painting in earnest after a plane crash that broke his back in the mid-1960s and led to a lengthy convalescence. Much of his work hangs in his Senate office, several seascapes or images of sailboats of the type he piloted in the waters off Cape Cod.

The walls of other rooms are filled with political and personal memorabilia, family photographs or letters or some combination of the two that hint at the passage of time and power.

In one room hangs a photo showing Kennedy and his siblings and parents in a family portrait taken in the 1930s, at a time their father, Joseph P. Kennedy, was U.S. ambassador to England.

In another hangs a plaque from the USS John F. Kennedy, the Navy vessel commissioned in 1968 and named for the slain president.

In another, the letter he wrote his mother, Rose, teasingly accusing her of having covered up a deficiency in math. No, she wrote back firmly in pencil, she always got an A.

Elsewhere, this:

“To Dad. Thank you for helping me get ahold of that first rung,” wrote his son, Patrick, after winning a seat in the Rhode Island Legislature in 1990. The parent had dispatched aides to Providence to help assure victory for the child, now an eighth-term member of Congress.


There were other, far more public ways that Kennedy became the family standard bearer.

Robert Kennedy had spoken of the assassinated president at the 1964 Democratic National Convention. Four years later, he, too, was dead, and this time the last surviving brother delivered the eulogy.

“My brother need not be idealized or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life,” his voice trembled at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. “He should be remembered simply as a good and decent man who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.”

A generation later, John Kennedy Jr., who had been a toddler when his father was in the White House, died in a small plane crash off Martha’s Vineyard. This eulogy invoked the words of William Butler Yeats, the poet: “We dared to think, in that other Irish phrase, that this John Kennedy would live to comb gray hair. But like his father, he had every gift but the gift of years.”


“Thank you my friend for your many courtesies. If the world only knew,” reads a letter hanging on one wall of the office. It came from Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi, once the Senate’s top Republican.

As the most prominent liberal of his day, Kennedy was long an easy and popular target for Republicans. The automobile accident that resulted in the death of a young Pennsylvania woman, Mary Jo Kopechne, drew snickers both before and after it shadowed his presidential campaign in 1980. Kennedy was driving the car in the accident at Chappaquiddick.

It is a cliche, yet true, that if his name was invaluable in Democratic fundraising, conservatives long ago discovered they could generate cash simply by telling donors they were doing battle with Kennedy.

Kennedy understood that, and knew how to turn it to his own advantage.

When a Moral Majority fundraising appeal somehow arrived at his office one day in the early 1980s, word leaked to the public, and the conservative group issued an invitation for him to come to Liberty Baptist College if he was ever in the neighborhood.

Pleased to accept, was the word from Kennedy.

“So I told Jerry (Falwell) and he almost turned white as a sheet,” said Cal Thomas, then an aide to the conservative leader.

Dinner at the Falwell home was described as friendly.

Dessert was a political sermon on tolerance, delivered by the liberal from Massachusetts.

“I believe there surely is such a thing as truth, but who among us can claim a monopoly?” Kennedy said from the podium that night. “There are those who do, and their own words testify to their intolerance.”


More than a quarter-century later, he was still eager to make a difference. At a critical point in the 2008 presidential race, he endorsed Barack Obama over Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic nomination, then embarked on an ambitious schedule of campaign appearances.

He cast his endorsement in terms that linked Obama to the Kennedys.

“There was another time, when another young candidate was running for president and challenging America to cross a new frontier,” he said.

“He faced criticism from the preceding Democratic president, who was widely respected in the party,” Kennedy said.

“And John Kennedy replied: ‘The world is changing. The old ways will not do. … It is time for a new generation of leadership.’”


That endorsement came a few months before the seizure that signaled the presence of a deadly brain tumor. There were memorable public moments ahead, a surprise visit to the Senate to cast the decisive vote on a Medicare bill and, before that, a turn at the podium at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

“As I look ahead, I am strengthened by family and friendship,” he said there last summer. “So many of you have been with me in the happiest days and the hardest days. Together we have known success and seen setbacks, victory and defeat.

“But we have never lost our belief that we are all called to a better country and a newer world,” he said. “And I pledge to you, I pledge to you that I will be there next January on the floor of the United States Senate when we begin the great test.”

His time in the Senate was growing short, though. He smiled broadly as he took his seat outdoors at Obama’s inauguration on Jan. 20, then suffered a seizure a few hours later at a luncheon inside the capitol.

“He was there when the Voting Rights Act passed” in the mid-1960s, the nation’s first black president said moments later in his remarks. “And so I would be lying to you if I did not say that right now a part of me is with him. And I think that’s true for all of us.”


Generations of aides recall Kennedy telling them the biggest mistake of his career was turning down a deal that President Richard M. Nixon offered for universal health care. It seemed not generous enough at the time. Having missed the opportunity then, Kennedy spent the rest of his career hoping for an elusive second chance.

Now, some Democrats wonder privately if the party can learn from that lesson, and take what is achievable rather than risk everything by reaching for what it uncertain. Republicans and Democrats alike say Kennedy’s absence has affected the debate on Obama’s signature issue, with unknown consequences.

It was the issue that motivated him even after he was no longer able to travel to the Capitol to cast a vote. He called it “the cause of my life.”

And in July, in a reflection on his own mortality, he worried that his precarious health might mean Massachusetts would have only one senator for a brief while, and Democrats would be handicapped as they tried to pass health care legislation.

After 47 years in the Senate — in a seat held by his brother before him — Kennedy urged a change in state law so the governor could appoint a temporary replacement “should a vacancy occur.”

Republicans join Democrats in mourning Kennedy

BOSTON – Sen. Edward M. Kennedy was a Democrat’s Democrat, so much so that he became a rallying point for those in his party and an object of derision for Republican opponents.

Yet his affability and capability to span the partisan divide on an array of legislative matters prompted an outpouring of condolences from those in the GOP as well as the Democratic Party following his death Tuesday at age 77 from brain cancer.

President Barack Obama led the Democrats, saying in a statement: “For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well-being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts.”

Former President George H.W. Bush spoke for his son, former President George W. Bush, in expressing sympathies from members of the Republican Party.

“While we didn’t see eye to eye on many political issues through the years, I always respected his steadfast public service,” said a statement issued by the elder Bush.

“Ted Kennedy was a seminal figure in the U.S. Senate – a leader who answered the call to duty for some 47 years, and whose death closes a remarkable chapter in that body’s history,” he said.

The widow of another Republican president, Ronald Reagan, echoed those sentiments.

“Ronnie and Ted could always find common ground, and they had great respect for one another,” Nancy Reagan said in a statement from Los Angeles. “In recent years, Ted and I found our common ground in stem cell research, and I considered him an ally and a dear friend.”

Her husband died in June 2004 of complications from Alzheimer’s disease.

For the governor of her home state, the loss was personal.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose wife, Maria Shriver, was Kennedy’s niece, came to politics after careers as a bodybuilder and actor and credited Kennedy with helping him in his current role.

“I have personally benefited and grown from his experience and advice, and I know countless others have as well,” the governor said in a statement. “Teddy taught us all that public service isn’t a hobby or even an occupation, but a way of life and his legacy will live on.”

Kennedy’s death came just two weeks after that of Shriver’s mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, one of the senator’s siblings.

Vice President Joe Biden fought tears as he spoke about his friend and colleague of many decades in the Senate.

“I truly, truly am distressed by his passing,” Biden said. “You know, Teddy spent a lifetime working for a fair and more just America. For 36 years, I had the privilege of going to work every day and sitting next to him and being witness to history. … He restored my sense of idealism.”

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a 2008 GOP presidential contender, recalled losing to Kennedy in a Senate race. Nonetheless, the two joined forces in 2006 to help pass a universal health insurance law in Massachusetts.

“He was the kind of man you could like even if he was your adversary,” Romney said.

The Senate’s top Democrat, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., promised that Congress, while mourning Kennedy’s loss, would renew the push for the cause of Kennedy’s life – health care reform.

“Ted Kennedy’s dream was the one for which the founding fathers fought and for which his brothers sought to realize,” Reid said in a statement. “The liberal lion’s mighty roar may now fall silent, but his dream shall never die.”

Sen. Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat who heads the committee working on the health care bill, made a similar vow, saying, “We will continue to advance the ideals and issues that were so close to his heart and such a part of his remarkable life.”

Sen. Christopher Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat who visited Kennedy on Cape Cod this summer to discuss strategy on the health care overhaul, said he would miss his friend for the rest of his time in Congress.

“I’m not sure America has ever had a greater senator, but I know for certain that no one has had a greater friend than I and so many others did in Ted Kennedy,” Dodd said.

Former President Jimmy Carter, who beat out Kennedy for the 1980 Democratic presidential nomination, called him “an unwavering advocate for the millions of less fortunate in our country.”

Speaking during a visit to the West Bank town of Ramallah on Wednesday, Carter said Kennedy’s life was “devoted to the improvement of the status of life of those who are poor and deprived and persecuted and ignored and in need in our country.”

Kennedy’s junior colleague, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., lauded him for his cancer fight.

“He taught us how to fight, how to laugh, how to treat each other, and how to turn idealism into action, and in these last 14 months, he taught us much more about how to live life, sailing into the wind one last time,” Kerry said.

“No words can ever do justice to this irrepressible, larger-than-life presence who was simply the best – the best senator, the best advocate you could ever hope for, the best colleague and the best person to stand by your side in the toughest of times.”