Archive for the ‘Ethiopian News’ Category

Awramba Times reports about Ginbot 7's mission to Eritrea

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Awramba Times, an Amharic language weekly newspaper that is published in Addis Ababa, has extensive coverage of Ginbot 7 Secretary General Andargachew Tisge’s recent visit to Eritrea. The paper, relying on its own sources, reports that Ato Andargachew’s visit includes a meeting with Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki. Ginbot 7 Chairman Berhanu Nega denies such a meeting has taken place, in an interview with Ato Abebe Belew of Addis Dimts Radio (click here to listen – May 31st program), but explains that a Ginbot 7 delegation has been in Eritrea recently to receive soldiers who have defected from the Woyanne army.

Click here to read the report by Awramba Times [pdf, Amhairc].

Ginbot’s mission to Eritrea was a shock to the Woyanne junta and the Tigrean supremacy elite. They were confident that the $40-million propaganda bombardment was working in discouraging such a rapprochement by an Ethiopian political organization such as Ginbot 7 with the Government of Eritrea. Bereket Simon, the Woyanne propaganda chief, may lose his job over this. Such a move is one more nail in the Woyanne coffin.

Those who oppose Ginbot 7′s cooperation with Eritrea are either:
1) Woyannes, or
2) Victims of Woyanne propaganda, or
3) Tigrean supremacists who want to replace Meles but keep Woyanne in power, or
4) Those who serve Woyanne for crumbs (hodams).

This is the time for political leaders to lead, not to follow. It is the time to march forward, not to look left and right. It is the time to be one step ahead of Woyanne, not react to what it does.

Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie fails to better 1-hour world record

Monday, June 1st, 2009

By Benoit Noel

HENGELO, Netherlands (AFP) — Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie failed in an attempt to better his own world record for the one-hour run at the Hengelo Grand Prix on Monday.

After setting four world records at previous meets in the eastern Dutch city, Gebrselassie, the current marathon world record holder, was undone by blustery conditions at the Fanny Blankers-Koen Games, part of the IAAF World Athletics Tour.

The 36-year-old clocked up 20km 822metres, falling short of his record of 21km 285m which he set in June 2007 in Ostrava, the Czech Republic.

He was also little helped by pacemakers who failed to keep up with the 1min 07sec lap times needed to mount a real challenge on the record.

“The wind and rain obviously didn’t make things easy,” said Gebrselassie. “And even if the conditions were not optimal, I wasn’t at 100 percent because of a small asthmatic problem.”

Olympic 5,000 and 10,000m champion Kenenisa Bekele was running in the unfamiliar 1500m but pulled up with one lap to run with a leg injury.

The Ethiopian had chosen the 1500m to test and improve his speed in preparation for August’s World Athletics Championships in Berlin.

“Kenenisa felt a slight pain in his right thigh. He preferred to call a halt as a precaution,” said Bekele’s manager Jos Hermens.

It was Bekele’s first outing since he picked up an ankle problem when finishing a disappointing third in a 15km road race in the Netherlands in November.

The race was won by Kenyan Asbel Kiprop, the Olympic 1500m silver medallist, in 3min 34.45sec ahead of Ethiopian Deresse Mekonnen and Moroccan Mohamed Moustaoui.

There were five season best performances at the meet.

Churandy Martina of the Dutch Antilles gained revenge on Shawn Crawford in the 100m, recording 9.97 seconds as the American finished a disappointing seventh, 0.30sec off the pace.

Martina was stripped of his silver medal in the men’s 200m final in the Beijing Olympics after a protest by the United States team that he had run out of his lane.

The move deprived the Dutch Antilles of their first ever Olympic track and field medal, and saw 2004 Olympic champion Crawford take silver behind Jamaican Usain Bolt, who won the race in a world record of 19.30 seconds.

Other men’s season bests included Ethiopian Ali Abdosh in the 5000m, who topped a strong field in 12:59.56, Kenyan Brimin Kipruto in the 3000m steeplechase (8:06.46), and Panama’s Olympic champion Irving Saladino in the long jump (8.56metres).

In the women’s events, Ethiopian Gelete Burka won the 1500m in a season lead of 3:58.79.

The Mirage of the African Union

Monday, June 1st, 2009

By Franklin Cudjoe and Alhassan Atta-Quayson

Countries across the African continent devoted May 25 to the observance of the so called African Union’s Day. Few countries, though, have declared the day a holiday and celebrated as such to the neglect of the millions of man hours that could have been put to productive use. Little was heard of the challenges and potential progress that the continent could make in the face austere financial difficulties. It was the grumpy old self-delusory target of ridding the continent of coup makers and now, state-sponsored terrorism. Amusingly, Eritrea was the only culprit fingered and suspended for the latter charge whilst others such as Sudan, Madagascar and Mauritania, renegades of true democracy are still plying their violent and near-violent trade against ordinary citizens.

And Eritrea replied, calling the AU a full house of disenchanted musical chairs, notoriously toothless and straight –jacketed thinkers. Eritrea might just be right. For, how is it that the recently elected AU Chairman, Col. Muammar al-Gaddafi made an embarrassing mockery of democracy on the continent when he stated in a keynote address at an AU summit at Addis Ababa, that democracy in Africa only leads to bloodshed. This could be a thought trend for African leaders. In 2005, Africanliberty.org editor and executive director of IMANI, Franklin Cudjoe, and debated former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa on the latter’s call for an African clone of democracy and the need to fear globalisation, as it was the final undoing of the continent after slavery and colonialism had their way.

So what else is the AU, an avowed claimant of continental unity, has little to show for? The AU envisages a political and economic integration across all borders devoid of poverty, conflicts, and diseases. Naturally, the various regional economic groups will strive for integration before the entire continent is united. Such a union could affect the livelihoods of the 800 million plus Africans. But we in Africa are our own friends of protectionism. Nigeria and Ghana, next door neighbours within the Economic Community of West Africa still trade in protectionist goods, with Nigeria still maintaining a near-ban of some 74 Ghanaian products from entering Nigeria, while Ghana is demanding hefty down payments for Nigerian tradesmen to enter the Ghanaian market. But Ghana is awashed with Nigerian banks. The Commission for Africa Report 2005 sadly asserts that shipping a car from Japan to Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, for example, costs $1,500. Shipping the same car from Abidjan to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, costs $5,000. Removing regional trade barriers would earn Africa an extra $1.2bn a year, according to the World Bank.

Instead of focusing on removing the log in the eye of the continent, the AU has a mindset that trade ought to be a one-way traffic, with richer countries who also erect annoying barriers to our produce. It is instructive to know that the global economic difficulties have lowered consumer confidence in rich countries and by extension slowed all agri-export-led economies. In April this year, the World Bank Vice-President for Africa Region, Ms Obiageh Ezekwesil, noted that at the beginning of 2008, Africa’s growth rate which was projected at 6.4 per cent dipped to 4.9 per cent. The rate for 2009 now stands at 2.4 per cent.

However, the cacophony of asking for help to weather the raging storm of economic recession has taken centre-stage in the global discussion of stimulus packages. And African leaders are asking for stimulus packages from the staggering West instead of stimulating critical thinking on how to build their own economies from within. However, it seem to have emerged from a recent Economic Conference in Dakar, Senegal, that they are going to rely more on home-grown solutions to these and other problems. These solutions lay not in imposing additional taxes on the 30% visible businesses and small formal sector workers, but ensuring that the close to 70 % of Africa’s underground economy is unearthed and nurtured with low business entry rules, and perhaps taxed a low flat tax regime. Increased corporate taxes on perceived ostentatious products ought to be reflective of the wider implications for government’s own revenue and employment figures. Already many great performing companies on the continent are not salivating at losing employees. An additional tax burden will leave companies no choice but to lay people off.

Ordinary Africans must help African leaders to use AU day to reflect on how to reduce economic intervention in our lives, sensibly regulate financial markets, remove bureaucratic obstacles to setting up businesses, establish property rights and enforce contract law. These are the forces that release entrepreneurial energy to see us through the financial meltdown. There is only one reason why African leaders will do these things- when they are forced to do so as a condition of aid which despite its towering failure to reduce poverty on the continent continues to be supported by activists, whose livelihoods depend on it.

(Franklin Cudjoe is executive director of IMANI, a Ghanaian think tank. He also edits www.AfricanLiberty.org. Alhassan Atta-Quayson is a graduate student in economics and writes for www.AfricanLiberty,org)

VOA correspondent in Ethiopia arrested

Monday, June 1st, 2009

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA (Addis Journal) — A correspondent for the Amharic service of the Voice of America, Meleskachew Amha, has been arrested in connection with printing and studio equipments belonging to Addis Broadcasting PLC, owned by Dr. Berhanu Nega and others.

The Amharic weekly, Addis Admass, reported today that Meleskachew and other four people were detained on Wednesday for allegedly “trying to transfer duty-free imported goods to a third party.”

Meleskachew and the other four suspects who appeared before court yesterday were denied bail, according to Addis Admass. The court granted police twelve more days to conduct further investigation, as per the latter’s request.

The Addis Broadcasting PLC had established its headquarters in Kechene Medanhialem but has gone unoperational for a number of years as it was denied broadcasting licenses and most of the shareholders disbanded after the 2005 election.

Meleskachew has been manger of the PLC for three months.

Dr. Berhanu Nega now leads an opposition party, Ginbot 7,which the government has designated as a terrorist organization.

U.N. denies Eritrean support for Al-Shabab in Somalia

Monday, June 1st, 2009

PRESS CONFERENCE BY special representative for somalia

Source: U.N.

NEW YORK — Impunity in Somalia was a major factor maintaining a long-running “genocide in motion” in that Horn of Africa country, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General emphasized to correspondents at a Headquarters news conference this afternoon.

“People who have killed, displaced and maimed are still around, whether in Somalia, Nairobi or in their new country home,” Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah said, adding that many who stayed inside Somalia to continue the violence had put their families in safe havens outside the country.

Mr. Ould-Abdallah, who was in New York for consultations at Headquarters, stressed that it was the willingness of anti-Government forces to keep fighting, whether for profit, power or other reasons, that was devastating the country, not the threat of an Ethiopian return or the illegitimacy of the authorities.

The Government might be weak, he said, but it had as strong a claim to legitimacy as most African Governments; overturning it by force would defy Security Council resolutions.

Before last year’s Djibouti Agreement, which facilitated the departure of Ethiopian troops, it was claimed that the foreign presence was prolonging the conflict, he said. After they withdrew, however, the fighting had continued, and he knew of no evidence of continued Ethiopian presence.

“This is a diversion from the real problem,” he said. “Somalis have to stop killing Somalis and reject any alibis.”

As for the support of Eritrea for the Islamist group al-Shabab, he said that there was much talk of such involvement, but there was no way for him to monitor that situation or to know the truth of such a claim. Asked about other foreign rebel fighters, he said the rebel leaders had extended a welcome to such fighters and there was wide information available on them.

When asked what safeguards were in place to make sure international payments to trained police forces in Somalia were not engendering abuse to civilians, Mr. Ould-Abdallah stressed how few trained police there were –- 2,700 –- in that large country in which civilians were being killed every day. Even those police had not been paid for 18 months.

To suggest that they should not be supported was irresponsible, he maintained. “The problem we face today is anarchy and disorder, and not to pay trained policemen because a few of them may have stolen or may have abused is unacceptable,” he said.

On piracy, Mr. Ould-Abdallah said that that the international presence was beginning to show results, because the pirates had to go further afield for their quarry, over 100 pirates had been captured, and their financiers knew they were being watched.

It was important that it be a truly international effort, he said, demonstrating to Somalis that there was international attention being paid to their tragic situation and showing that such efforts could actually work.

Asked about law of the sea issues, he said he was not aware of any connection between Norwegian oil companies and the joint submission for the delineation of the continental shelf made by Somalia and Kenya, assisted by Norway.

He said he did know, however, that Norway had helped other African countries with their submissions, and that Somalia’s was very similar to the ones made by France, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Spain.

Outlining upcoming political activities on Somalia, Mr. Ould-Abdallah said that he planned to be in London for an 8 June meeting with the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, after which he would convene in Rome the International Contact Group on Somalia, of which he is the Chair, although that meeting might be postponed.

He also described contacts with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an Africa regional economic group, which he said could play a role in the Somali crisis similar to that played by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in the crises in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Endgame!

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Alemayehu G. Mariam

Human Rights and Fairy Tales

For the past several weeks, the noise machine of the dictatorship in Ethiopia has been in overdrive reacting to human rights findings made against it in the February 29, 2009 U.S. State Department Human Rights Report. The official spokesmen of the dictatorship angrily denounced the alleged inaccuracies in that report, carped about its groundless charges of criminal wrongdoing, whined about the hidden agendas of shadowy manipulators of U.S. foreign policy, groused about the fictitious and fanciful claims of human rights abuses and blasted the American government for lying outright to undermine their credibility and portray them as international pariahs. Even the leader of the dictatorship took a jab at the report. With simulated dramatic flair, he described the report as a “fairy tale” (te-ret) and “false propaganda” to his parliament. As usual, he categorically denied the occurrence of any systematic human rights violations, extrajudicial killings, mass detentions without charges and the commission of crimes against humanity by himself, his official minions or security and military forces.

Of course, one man’s fairy tale is another man’s tale of fear. Dr. Merera Gudina, chairman of the Oromo People’s Congress and the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces was quick to disagree, as quoted by the gazette Addis Negger:

I see it as one of the government’s attempts to conceal its human rights abuses. For example, the government claims that ‘there are no secret prisons in Ethiopia,’ but about 15 kilometers away from Ambo, where I have enough information about, there are three unofficial secret prisons: the old Emperor Haile Selassie’s Palace in Ambo, Senkele Police Training Center and Holeta Military Camp. Dedesa, where many thousands had been locked up after the 2005 elections, is not an official prison. We can provide as much evidence as needed. It is well known that people have been jailed in Maekelawi [the notorious high-security torture prison in Ethiopia] from one month to up-to several years without court warrants. I do not understand who the government is trying to deceive.

Others offered similar assessments about the dictatorship’s brazen and audacious denials of documented and established facts of notorious human rights abuses. The funny thing about the dictatorship’s spasmodic eruption of belated moral outrage against an imaginary cabal of evil international human rights organizations is that they had been ignoring those “fairy tale” reports impassively and scornfully for well over a decade. In their recent counteroffensives, they even stressed the fact that it is not their policy to dignify the “false and propagandistic fairy tales” of the human rights organizations with a response. But now, out of the blue, the dictatorship is squealing like a stuck pig and flailing every which way to respond to the 2009 U.S. State Department Human Rights Report. Why? What has changed so dramatically to cause the dictatorship to sweat it out?

We Know Why They Are Squealing!

The dictators are squealing because the U.S. has quietly and matter-of-factly cut off assistance for military training and equipment to them. That is right! No more American taxpayer dollars to train human rights abusers and criminals; no more American taxpayer dollars for guns, tanks and Humvees to kill innocent Ethiopians. No military partnership with thugs! Many people will no doubt be surprised by this fact, but the law is explicit and its provisions plain and unmistakable.

On March 11, 2009, President Barack Obama signed H.R. 1125, the “Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009” [1] for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2009. H.R. 1105 (Title IV, International Security Assistance, p. 332, fn. 1) prohibits military assistance and training to rogue regimes that engage in gross human rights violations. The relevant legislative language of H.R. 1125 (see fn. 1 below, p. 332) provides,

INTERNATIONAL MILITARY EDUCATION AND TRAINING – For necessary expenses to carry out the provisions of section 541 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961,… Provided further, That funds made available under this heading for assistance for Haiti, Guatemala, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Libya, and Angola may only be provided through the regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations and any such notification shall include a detailed description of proposed activities

Further, under Title IV of H.R. 1105, “FOREIGN MILITARY FINANCING PROGRAM”, the following prohibition is indicated:

“Provided further, That none of the funds appropriated under this heading may be made available for assistance for Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philippines, Indonesia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Haiti, Guatemala, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo except pursuant to the regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations.

H.R. 1105 also forbids reprogramming of any funds made available in prior appropriations (previous years) to provide assistance to these rogue regimes in the current fiscal year. (See fn. 1, pp. 342, 344):

REPROGRAMMING NOTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS SEC. 7015. (f) None of the funds appropriated under titles III through VI of this Act shall be obligated or expended for assistance for Serbia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Iran, Haiti, Libya, Ethiopia, Nepal, Mexico, or Cambodia and countries listed in section 7045(f)(4) of this Act except as provided through the regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations.

H.R. 1105 allows training assistance to non-military personnel “who are not members of a government [and] whose participation would contribute to improved civil-military relations, civilian control of the military, or respect for human rights…”

The foregoing change in U.S. military assistance policy in Ethiopia is an extraordinary transformation in U.S. foreign policy. For the first time in decades, the U.S. government has decided to explicitly link human rights abuses in Ethiopia to its military aid program. Congress, by requiring extraordinary presidential reporting “through the regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations” has expressly denied military assistance to the dictators and limited the discretion of the U.S. President to furnish such assistance under the authority of section 541 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.

In plain language, H.R. 1105 cuts off military assistance to the identified rogue regimes, but allows the President to waive the prohibition on a case by case basis in the national interest, provided that he notifies the Appropriations Committees of the House and the Senate (committees responsible for funding the U.S. government) 15 days in advance of his intention to do so, and supplies a “detailed description of proposed activities” justifying the waiver. Even in emergency cases, the President must notify the Appropriations Committees that he has provided military assistance to the rogue regimes “no later than 3 days after taking the action to which such notification requirement was applicable.” In short, H.R. 1105 prohibits funds for military training or equipment to dictatorial regimes that engage in gross and consistent human rights abuses. That is why the dictators in Ethiopia were squealing like a stuck pig over the past few weeks!

Sea Change in American Foreign Policy in Ethiopia

In his inauguration speech, President Obama sent a clear message to the tin pot dictators of the world:

To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist. To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds.

By denying funds for military training and equipment, the President and the new Congress are standing tall with the “starving people of the poor nations” of the world and against the filthy-rich kleptocratic dictators who oppress them and “cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent.” The message from the Obama administration to the dictators in Ethiopia is crystal clear: “America will not give you a penny to train your soldiers to terrorize your civilian population, nor will it provide your military establishments a single gun, plane, tank or Humvee to kill them.” George Bush’s unholy “alliance with atrocity” is over. No more unconditional and blind support to dictators who abuse and mistreat their people in the name of “promoting U.S. interests.” Bush’s war on terror under Obama will be transformed into a struggle for global peace under the rule of law and respect for human rights.

Admittedly, U.S. military assistance to the dictatorship in Ethiopia has not been very large, although the dictatorship has received the lion’s share of such aid in the past. What is important about the termination of military assistance in H.R. 1105 is not the dollar amount but rather the implicit moral and political condemnation of the dictatorship for its use of American military aid to violate the human rights of innocent Ethiopians and oppress the population. This simple and straightforward legislative action by the Appropriations Committees represents a sea change, a re-direction, of U.S. foreign policy. It is the first shot across the bow warning all tin pot dictators that the U.S. will no longer form or maintain partnerships with thugs and criminals.

The Obama administration obviously understands that future U.S. military operations with rogue regimes could be adversely affected by such a policy, particularly in terms of potential anti-terror or peacekeeping missions. But the Congress and President Obama are making it clear that they are no longer willing to sustain the culture of impunity of these regimes or subordinate fundamental human rights to political expediency by providing dictators with military training and equipment which will inevitably be used to crackdown on internal opposition and wage war against neighboring countries.

The Moral Challenge in Obama’s Foreign Policy

Last week, President Obama gave a stirring speech on the future direction of U.S. foreign policy and how he plans to keep America safe from its sworn enemies:

… I believe with every fiber of my being that in the long run we also cannot keep this country safe unless we enlist the power of our most fundamental values. The documents that we hold in this very hall – the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights – are not simply words written into aging parchment. They are the foundation of liberty and justice in this country, and a light that shines for all who seek freedom, fairness, equality and dignity in the world.

In that speech, the President raised American foreign policy from the murky morass of Bush’s cowboy unilaterialsm to the sublime heights of moral clarity grounded in America’s founding principles and values. The President stressed the urgency of restoring a moral perspective in the debates over the challenges of American foreign policy, and the need to return to fundamental American principles and values for guidance. President Obama has witnessed the enormous damage inflicted upon America’s role in the world, and the corruption of American values and principles under the Bush-Cheney administration. The contrived war in Iraq, the unspeakable abuses at Abu Ghraib prison and the albatross hanging around America’s neck, the grotesque detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are merely examples of the moral decay America had to endure over the past eight years. That is why the President had to emphatically declare to the world that he believes “with every fiber of his being” in the “rule of law, liberty, justice, equality fairness and the dignity of the individual”. No more of a foreign policy based on a twisted philosophy of the “end justifies the means”.

We anticipate the hollow and deceitful sovereignty arguments raised so often by the dictators in Ethiopia. They say, “no one can tell them how to run their ‘country’ by giving or denying them aid.” But they need to understand that linking military aid, or for that matter economic aid, to explicit human rights criteria is not to violate anyone’s sovereignty. Sovereign American law (Leahy Amendment) requires denial of military aid to any regime whose military units engage in gross abuses of human rights. By denying military aid, the U.S. is merely dissociating itself from the crimes, corruption and atrocities of the dictators in Ethiopia. The U.S. no longer wants to support and foster their culture of impunity that tolerates the burning of villages in the Ogaden to accomplish the ends of “counter-terrorism”, or the massacre of innocent protesters in the streets to help them “cling to power”. Most importantly, the termination of military assistance to rogue regimes is essentially about America itself and its role in the world. Tin pot dictators have the choice of “clinging to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent”; and America has the choice of clinging fiercely and tenaciously to its fundamental principles and values of “liberty, justice, freedom, fairness, equality and dignity in the world.” H.R. 1105 makes that choice for America.

Writing on the Wall: Endgame!

It is reasonable to suppose that the dictators in Ethiopia see the relevant provisions of H.R.1105 as the proverbial writing on the wall, the beginning of the endgame. They never thought in their wildest imaginations that Barack Obama would be elected President. They thought they had it sewed up by donating millions to a certain foundation. They thought they could throw around their millions on K Street lobbyists and stonewall any change in American foreign policy towards them. They thought they were invincible because they could wine and dine witless American politicians to do their dirty deeds. They thought Bush’s “war on terror” will go on forever. They thought they could exploit to their advantage America’s global dilemma over national security and the protection of human rights. They thought American power came from the shrapnel of its bombs, the deadly accuracy of its missiles and the formidable capabilities of its armed forces. But they could never imagine or understand that America’s awesome power lies in the principles and values declared to a “candid world” over two centuries ago in the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It is impossible for them to even begin to understand what President Obama means when he says he believes “with every fiber of his being” in the “power of our most fundamental values”. But it is with the aid of these values and principles that President Obama shall seek to restore America’s leadership in the world, and win the hearts and minds of friends and foes alike.

The dictators in Ethiopia have a big problem on their hands. They don’t know what to do with President Obama. They are confused. Most likely, they feel vulnerable and unsure of what will happen next. So, they will try to entice him to support them by re-deploying troops to Somalia to prove once more that the U.S. needs them to fight against al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda and whoever else is hiding behind a rock there. They will try to scare him by threatening to dump America and go to China for their military needs. They will try to sweet-talk him into believing that they will be nice and take steps to be more democratic and stop violating human rights. They will pile lies upon lies in a desperate attempt not to lose American material and moral support.

But all of that will be in vain. President Obama is not George Bush. He can not be schmoozed by silly talk of the birth pangs of a “nascent democracy” and that sort of hogwash. President Obama knows African politics and history well; and he has spoken eloquently of Africa’s tragic predicament: Dictators that “cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent,” human rights abuses, the absence of the rule of law, corruption and repression. One can not overcome these problems by having more guns and tanks or by training soldiers to use them skillfully against innocent citizens. That is why President Obama reached out to all tin pot dictators and promised “that we will extend a hand if [they] are willing to unclench [their] fist”, and offered “to the people of poor nations [that] we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds.” America will not give military aid to dictators to kill and oppress their people; but if the dictators “unclench their fists”, it will gladly help them build institutions and civil society organizations committed to deepening democracy, accountability and human rights, and establish “the vital trust between a people and their government.”

Let there be no mistake: President Obama is not naïve. He knows the terrorists and tin pot dictators of the world will not be influenced by pleas for observance of the rule of law, or moral appeals to do what is right. He knows there is no magic formula to transform dictators into democrats. That does not happen even in fairy tales, though it has been said that once in fairyland a frog was transformed into a prince. But there is no fairyland that exists in the imagination where it is possible to change thugs into statesmen. For in the end, U.S. foreign policy under the Obama administration will not be about what is wrong with self-delusional tin pot dictators that “cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent.” Rather, it will be about using America’s democratic values and principles to win the hearts and minds of a hostile and skeptical world that has witnessed a great nation degenerate to its lowest level over the past eight years. It will be about how America can get it right, after getting it wrong for so long, in a world that looks anxiously for its moral leadership. It will be a long and hard road ahead, but ultimately America will regain its moral leadership and credibility among the poor people of the world with President Obama at the helm.

America is lucky to have a President who has a moral vision for his nation, openly celebrates “with every fiber of his being” the values and principles upon which his nation is founded, and proudly and cheerfully toils day and night to serve the American people. America is truly blessed to have a leader who knows right from wrong, and swiftly disinherits those “on the wrong side of history”!

[1] http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:h1105enr.txt.pdf

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

Ethiopia faces $1 billion shortfall in export revenues

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

By Groum Abate

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Ethiopia’s export revenues are expected to fall short of the target by more than $1 billion this year, bucking the positive trends of the past few years, an official report has indicated.

Demand for Ethiopian goods has fallen on account of the global economic slowdown, while the nation’s biggest export product, coffee, has been affected by hoarding, the government has said.

In a report submitted to parliament’s standing committee, the trade and industry ministry said only 40 percent of the export target for the September 2008-August 2009 financial year has been earned.

Of the $2.56 billion targeted for the entire year, it earned $1.02 billion. This was 56 percent of the revenues targeted for the September-May period, the report said.

Unofficial estimates say going by the trend so far, export revenues would be around $1.33 billion for the whole year, short of last year’s figure by over $170 million.

In fact, Trade and Industry Minister Girma Birru said the only realistic goal he saw for the export sector was to try and match last fiscal’s revenues.

Admitting that it had failed to look for new markets after regular buyers canceled orders, the government said it was now taking measures such as exempting exporters from power shedding to bail them out.

‘For exporters with confirmed export orders in May and June, power will be given without any interruption,’ Birru said.

Coffee has fetched $251 million till now — about 54 percent lower than what was forecast earlier. This, according to the ministry, was on account of hoarding by exporters who were waiting for prices to rise and also derail the newly-established Ethiopian Commodity Exchange.

The licences of six exporters have been revoked, while some are being prosecuted.

Over $229 million was earned from oilseed exports, while the narcotic khat crop accounted for about $102 million.

Mineral exports have shown a slight increase, fetching over $68 million compared to $64.4 million in the corresponding period last year.

Environment and economic development in Ethiopia

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

By Getachew Belaineh

I am writing this article with full confidence and trust that concerned officials and readers will take it as a constructive technical opinion that supports making an effort to utilize the nation’s natural resources in a sustainable and responsible manner. To begin, without hesitation I commend the efforts to utilize the nation’s natural resources including the rivers, minerals, and fertile soils to alleviate poverty and make the country a better place to live. The country is desperately poor and its natural resources are among the first targets for economic development. Obviously, developmental activities have thrived in the country in the past decade. However, it is feared that officials are only aimed at short-term economic gains and are causing massive ecosystem extinctions. This fear is the catalyst for writing this article. The article attempts to accentuate the grave consequences of developments that are only aimed at short-term economic gains and ignore sustainability.

The message aims at the broad spectrum of industrial and agricultural developments and small and large developments; however, not to be wearisome, few are singled out vis-à-vis water infrastructures, cement factories, land leasing, and commercial flower farms and are bound to hit upon two issues: sustainability and the contentious national benefit. By no means is the intent to downplay these efforts, rather it is to call attention to the seemingly overlooked development-induced irreversible environmental consequences and misconstrued benefit. At this point, it is worth mentioning the plea more than 1,500 of the world’s top scientists made in 1993: “We must recognize the earth’s limited capacity to provide for us. We must recognize its fragility. We must no longer allow it to be ravaged. This ethic must motivate a great movement, convincing reluctant leaders and reluctant governments and reluctant peoples themselves to effect the needed changes.”

Industries ranging from small food processing plants to huge complex cement factories have detrimental effects on the nation’s growth. Agricultural developments not only offer food security, but can also be lucrative and play a major role in hard currency earnings. However, these developmental efforts will furnish meaningful national benefits only when planned and implemented in a sustainable and responsible manner. The government often sees developmental activities as having the potential to meet traditional economic desiderata to enhance citizens’ short-term satisfaction with the administration. Long-term social and environmental aspects should be given the same significance as economic and financial factors. Oftentimes, the much-trumpeted benefits may not necessarily be beneficial as they are made to sound in the media, because they do not include the costs of protecting the environment from development-induced environmental and social impacts. The essence of sustainable development is a stable relationship between developmental activities and the natural system, which does not diminish biodiversity and the prospects for future generations. Developments alone solve only half of the equation of economic growth. The other half of the equation deals with the sustainability and protection of induced ecosystem impacts. A true development ought to solve both equations simultaneously, such that the needs of the present are met without compromising the biodiversity and the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Ignoring sustainability is the same as ignoring future generations. With that, said on the general, the following section would scrutinize selected current developmental activities.

Gilgel Gibe Dams: The development of multipurpose water infrastructure in general is critical to effective economic growth. In the past 10 years or so, the country has installed two major hydropower dams: Tekeze dam in Tekeze River in the northern part of the country, and Gilgel Gibe I in the tributary of Gibe River, Gilgel Gibe (Baby Gibe), in the western part. The construction of the Gilgel Gibe II hydroelectric plant and Gilgel Gibe III dam on Omo River are currently underway. Gilgel Gibe II situated on the Gibe River mainstream, is an extension of Gilgel Gibe I, and does not involve a dam. Gilgel Gibe III, the biggest hydroelectric project in Ethiopia, is being constructed on the Omo River, which is about 150 km downstream of the Gilgel Gibe II site, and when completed will add 1,870 megawatts to the power grid. The Omo River is an international (trans-boundary) river that begins at the confluence of the Gibe and Gojeb rivers and discharges into Lake Turkana in Kenya. All three Gilgel Gibes can be viewed as a single water infrastructure because they impact the same basin. Some fear this series of hydro-infrastructures (especially, Gilgel Gibe III) will impose a serious negative impact on the downstream ecosystem including Lake Turkana. It is a legitimate fear.

The Los Angeles Times published an article in its May 14, 2009, issue about the environmental problems Gilgel Gibe III will impose on the people living downstream. A California-based environmentalist group has also asked the bank to stop funding the construction of the dam, citing the threat the dam would impose on Lake Turkana in Kenya.

Without a doubt, Gilgel Gibe III will alter the natural Omo River flow pattern. The alteration may range from brief no flow conditions in dry seasons to unnaturally high flow when water is released from the reservoir to run the turbines. This is indeed a serous but manageable problem. Ethiopia may not have minimum flow criteria for any of its rivers at present. Without getting into the complex relationships between minimum flow level and the ecosystem, the simple approach to set minimum flow level would be to identify the lowest flow in the Omo River using historical flow records and allowing that rate during dry seasons. The impact from unnaturally high flow can be reduced by diverting the excess flow to irrigation fields or other water supply systems. The upstream side of the dam also has its share of significant impacts resulting from the inundation of the 34,000 square kilometer (34 million hectares) reservoir. In fact, unlike the downstream side, the upstream effect is all seasons for the life of the dam, which is 70 or 80 years. An increase in malaria and schistosomiasis (aka bilharzia) is expected to spread around the shore of the reservoir. The natural ecological, historical, and maybe archeological resources will be permanently inundated. Not to mention, the people who will be displaced from the submerged area.

Having said that much about the consequences of Gilgel Gibe III, the argument to stop the project by only the environmental concerns has no merit. Despite the potentially negative impacts, the Gibe hydropower dams can yield huge environmental benefits both locally and regionally. The power produced hydroelectrically is much cleaner than coal burning and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The aforementioned environmental consequences are preventable with careful operation system and robust mitigation activities. According to the Africa Development Bank (ADB), about 267 million Birr (US $27 million) is budgeted for mitigation of the upstream and downstream ecological impacts. However, it should be mentioned that there is no evidence that the government’s implementation of mitigation works as mentioned in the loan document. The trend is to put environmental issues on the front burner until closing the loan and then later forget about it. The timely implementation of ecological mitigation is often a fundamental part of ensuring that a project is environmental friendly and delivered on time.

On the flip side, the economic feasibility of the Gilgel Gibe III project is an open question that needs serious attention. The project construction is underway since 2004 with an estimated total cost of about 21 billion Birr (US $1.86 billion). According to an Italian company who analyzed the project, the implemented has began without a comprehensive pre-project option assessment and cost/benefit analysis. One of the elements that determine the economic feasibility is the electric power sell arrangement. As reported by the government, the target markets are domestic consumers and export to neighboring countries. Regarding the domestic market, based on the current indicators, the electric supply from Gilgel Gibe III could be unaffordable for many domestic consumers for the near future. With respect to export, the government is currently negotiating power purchase agreements with Djibouti, Sudan, and Kenya, although none have signed a commitment to date. In fact, the recently heightened controversy surrounding the Gilgel Gibe III project originates from Kenya because of the ecological effect on Lake Turkana. On these grounds, it would be naïve for the Ethiopian government to target Kenya as a potential market. The life of the dam is the other major factor determining the economic feasibility of the project. In order to utilize the dam to its maximum design life, the reservoir must be protected from siltation. Siltation effectively reduces the dam’s life as manifested in Koka hydroelectric dam in Ethiopia and elsewhere in the world. Siltation problem can be minimized if prior to the completion of the the contributing watershed is rigorously treated to reduce sediment transport. Hydrologically, because of the frequent drought occurrence in the country, the dam could be vulnerable to drought or severe climate changes.

In sum, Gilgel Gibe III can be environmentally tolerable if implemented with the necessary ecosystem protection schemes, but its economic feasibility and sustainability is still wobbly.

Derba Cement Factory: The construction of a relatively large cement factory known as Derba Cement factory is another developmental activity currently in progress. This factory is located in the Sululta region about 70 km north of Addis Ababa. When completed, along with the others, the factory is expected to meet Ethiopian cement demand for some time in the future. The overall benefit of this factory is luminously reported in various local media outlets and by its officials, and there is no need to echo it here. The underreported and unrecognized aspect of the factory is its adverse social and environmental impacts. The factory buildings, the quarry site, and the roads are stretched over a total area of about188 hectares. The quarry and factory are situated relatively far apart. The factory is located on a pristine beautiful green plateau about 8 km from Derba village near the town of Sululita. The quarry site is in the Mugher Valley connected by a 7 km conveyor to the factory. One would wonder why the factory is not situated within the vicinity of the quarry site instead of in undisturbed natural landscape. It appears maximizing the company’s profitability was the primary objective in the selection of the factory’s location. The parent company, Midroc, is a company that can only survive by making a profit or in the hopes of making a profit in the future. So it is within its interest to locate the factory in an optimum position to gain maximum profit. There is nothing wrong with the company’s interests; the problem is the environmental issues were not addressed.

The other concern with the Derba Cement factory is its huge appetite for water, which is estimated to be 2,000 cubic meters (2 million liter) per day. The factory is permitted to pump ground water to meet its water requirement, and the environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) document shows pumping 2,000 cubic meters per day is much less than the natural groundwater recharge rate in the area and will not cause any undesirable impact on the region’s water resources (Africa Development Bank). The bank document do not show what kind of data and method of analysis was used to arrive at that conclusion. It is unclear whether scenarios such as an extended dry period which is fairly common in the region, and projected population and demand growth are considered in the analysis. At any rate, from a resources conservation perspective, the more sound approach could be for the factory to build its own surface reservoir to store surface runoff and use groundwater as a supplemental source. There is no record showing environmental mitigation to offset any unavoidable impacts with restoration or enhancement of other areas. Normally, mitigation actions (if there are any) are required to occur before the company begins construction.

The timely implementations of the environmental protection systems and the mitigation plan will provide a win-win situation to promote both economic benefit of the factory and environmental protection.
Cut Flower Business: The development of cut flower farms is on the rise predominantly within the Great Rift Valley. Until the late 70s, flower growing was merely a household activity in Ethiopia. Only after the mid-80s was commercial expansion of flower growing with an emphasis on overseas markets. In the 80s, there was only a single flower farm on about 25 hectares of land near the town of Zeway about 130 km south of Addis Ababa, and it was owned and operated by the government. Determined to grab a slice of the lucrative cut flower market, it has been about a decade since the government has started encouraging foreign investors to cross the border. Spurred by five-year tax holidays, and duty-free machinery import, flower farms now cover an area of about 1,500 hectares in the span of the past 10 years. About 90 local and foreign enterprises are involved, but the majority of the land is owned by foreigners. For example, a Dutch company alone is engaged on a 500-hectare flower farm in the Zeway area. Although the net national revenue is unknown, reportedly, cut flower export generates a gross $160 million a year with an estimated annual growth rate of about 20 percent. The present global financial crises might have retarded the export temporarily. Nonetheless, basic business concepts dictate that the country’s revenue in this market is only a small fraction of the gross income. The following section will explore the social and environmental impacts.

Water is a scarce resource across most parts of Ethiopia. However, despite the high level of consumptive of water, flower farms continue to thrive without consideration of an efficient irrigation system. Studies show about 90 percent of a flower is water; therefore, exporting flowers is exporting fresh water. The consumptive use with the most efficient irrigation system is about 40 cubic meters or 40,000 liters per day per hectare. Simple math shows that the 1,500 hectares of farmland consume about 60,000 cubic meters (60 million liters) per day. In fact, less efficient farms, which are mostly the case in the absence of water use regulations, can use three times as much. In Kenya, the water level in Lake Naivasha is about 3 meters lower than its normal level due to the commercial flower farms in the surrounding area. In Ethiopia where drought is frequent, it will not be too long before the groundwater will be depleted and those scenic and biologically diverse Great Rift Valley lakes disappear. The Great Rift Valley ecosystem is breathtakingly attractive and serves as a habitat for diverse wildlife including several rare bird species. If there is anyone who is not a nature admirer before coming to the Great Rift Valley, certainly he or she will be after visiting the area. For instance, Lake Ziwaye is one of the freshwater lakes known for its population of birds and hippopotamuses and supports a fishing industry. This natural set up is at stake unless the water usage and chemical application is robustly regulated. The disappearance and/or poising of these freshwater lakes mean the extinction of birds, fish, and hippos that are housed by the lakes. Regulating water usage not only promotes an effective irrigation system that delivers necessary quantities of water, but also reduces the transport of nonpoint pollution to the lakes and groundwater. There is no legal framework guiding the use of surface water or groundwater resources in the country. This is alarming call to set one up.

Excessive toxic pesticides, inorganic fertilizers (nitrate and phosphate), and preservative chemicals are another serious concern associated with commercial scale flower farms. In fact, flower buyers’ demand for unblemished and pest-free flowers encourages growers to use excessive amounts of highly toxic chemicals. To meet this demand, flowers both on the farm and in the packaging process are frequently and liberally sprayed with a multitude of chemicals. In many developed countries, operating a commercial flower farm is no longer profitable due to the costly environmental protection criteria. This is partly the reason flower growers choose to establish their farms in the Third World where there is minimum or no environmental regulation, and of course, a cheap workforce. Recently, the managing director of Sher Ethiopia, one of the large-scale flower farms, said his farm follows European environmental regulation standards because Ethiopia’s regulation is not robust enough to protect the environment. The manager is correct about the nominal regulatory system, and that is an embarrassment to the responsible governmental agencies. However, it is hard to believe that the company voluntarily imposed tighter environmental regulations on itself, incurring additional costs out of its own free will to protect the environment.

When pesticides and fertilizers are applied excessively or improperly, the excess is washed off from the farms to downstream rivers, streams, and lakes, causing an array of problems including poisoning, increased algae blooms, and excessive plant growth leading to eutrophication making the water bodies and vegetations harmful to human, wild, and aquatic life. Cattle and wild animals eating the contaminated vegetation and drinking the poisoned water transfer the chemicals into the food chain. Koka Lake is on the verge of ecological collapse due to recent harmful algal bloom resulting from the drainage of flower farms and other industries into the watershed. The local people who have no choice but to drink the lake’s water each day are left to deal with a range of health problems ranging from fatal chronic diarrhea to babies born with birth defects. Further more, many of the flower farm workers suffer from health problems linked to unprotected daily exposure to toxic pesticides. Even more frightening is that some of the damage to the workforce’s health could be irreparable.

The slave wage, nonexistent compensation plan for injuries at work, and the long work hours compounded with the unprotected work condition makes the work environment equivalent to a concentration camp. The real tragedy is that the workers have no say regarding their rights because they are not allowed to form a labor union. Ironically, there is a Flower Exporters Association representing the investors that gives them the power to use an il­literate, unprotected, and underpaid workforce. The govern­ment has given due atten­tion to the industry because of the rev­enue it collects. No one seem to pay attention to the environmental mismanagement, labor abuse and unfair land holding. As part of its social responsibility recently, Sher Ethiopia, has constructed a Stadium with half a million USD and granted to the community with 25,000 USD donations (Africa News). The same news paper published that Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development acknowledged Sher Ethiopia for its outstanding social responsibility activities and pointed that it can be taken as a model of good business practice by other business companies. This is laughable. What good is a stadium do to a community whose health is at risk, and whose labor right is violated, whose environment is irreversibly damaged?

Leasing Land to Foreigners: The inherently low agricultural productivity, together with the current shortage of foreign currency, led the government to begin leasing huge chunk of fertile lands to foreign countries for agricultural development. The leasing arrangement essentially offered foreign investors not only fertile soil, also unlimited access to scarce freshwater resources and a cheap labor force. According to a report written jointly by two UN bodies, Food and Agriculture Organization, and the International Institute for Environment and Development, African countries are giving away vast tracts of farmland to foreign countries and investors almost for free, with the only benefits consisting of fuzzy promises of jobs and infrastructure. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Libya, and Egypt who are short of fertile land and freshwater resources are buying or leasing land from countries all over the world. Ethiopia is one of the targets. According to the government officials, the food produced on the leased lands will be available to domestic markets as well as for export. That is a publicity stunt because domestic consumers cannot possibly compete with the prices foreign consumers would pay. Many are wary; not only the food but the profits from this farming would be siphoned off to consumers and investors in other countries.

It is true that revenues from taxes, and tariffs may give the government limited short-term relief from the hard currency shortage. However, this marginal short-term monetary benefit compounded with the long-term residual adverse impact on the community and the ecosystem makes the leasing of land to foreigners an unwise exploitation of natural resources.

Arguably, the government used the inherently low agricultural productivity in the country as an excuse for the strikingly short and simple land leasing contract compared to the economic reality of the transaction. However, leasing land to foreigners cannot be the way to improve productivity (yield per hectare) and thereby the country’s food security. The way to improve inherently low agricultural productivity is by helping local farmers improve their primitive farming practices, making available the necessary yield-boosting inputs including fertilizers and improved seeds, and reforming the land ownership policy to liberalize the agricultural sector to promote private sector development. Leasing fertile land to foreigners is without a doubt more beneficial to leaseholders than the country.

Suggested General Solutions: All the above-mentioned environmental and social impacts are preventable or at least can be substantially minimized with a practical and effective regulatory system. Here are some suggestions: (1) It should be mandatory for each industry and construction project in the country to pass through an environmental permitting processes before establishing the firm or implementing the construction. In the permit application, the permitting agency, based on pre-established site-specific specifications, must evaluate the company’s ability to meet the nation’s environmental protection criteria. (2) In addition to the site-specific environmental regulatory criteria, the permitting process must also require chemical intensive farms including flower farm industries to be fair trade certified. Fair trade certification provides an independent verification that the workers on the farms have decent wages and working conditions in line with the core International Labor Organization (ILO) Conventions and farms are environmentally friendly. The certification includes the right to join a trade union, the right to negotiate collectively with the employer on terms and conditions of employment, freedom from discrimination, and a safe and healthy working environment. (3) There must be an agency in charge of reinforcing environmental regulation by monitoring to ensure effluents from farms or industries meet the quality standard.

In the bigger picture, environmental education should be a part of the school curriculum at every grade because student knowledge of basic environmental concepts establishes a foundation for their future understandings and actions as citizens. Universities should consider offering high level Environmental Sciences and Environmental Engineering courses leading to professionals in the respective fields. Specially, science, agricultural and engineering colleges/faculties ought to be fully engaged in producing scientists and professionals in Environmental Sciences/Engineering fields. Addis Ababa University has recently opened an Institute of Environment, Water and Developments (IEWD) under the College of Development Studies. That is a good start.

The country has great growth potential, but this potential is not realized due to multiple factors. The leading factor is the ineffectiveness of the responsible agencies. This article would be incomplete without a few words about the agencies supposedly responsible for agricultural developments and environmental protection. These agencies are the long-standing Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MOARD), Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR), and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA). The latter is a relatively young agency established approximately in 1992. IAR was established in 1966 with mandates to formulate the national agricultural research policy; carry out researches in various agroecological zones of the country. According to publications, IAR’s golden period was approximately between the 70s and early 80s when considerable research results have been released improving crop yield and stress resistance. The agency appears to be in a frozen mode since then. MOARD is one of the oldest, the largest and well-staffed ministries in the country. MOARD was established with mandate to sustainably improve agricultural and rural developments in the country by providing the necessary technical, infrastructural and institutional support, and ensure safe agricultural operations having due regards to nature diversity and protection of the environment. Yet farming is still primitive, agricultural productivity continues to decline, and most farmers are producing below subsistence level, and environment is endangered by unregulated commercial farms. In sum, primarily due to bureaucratic entanglements and outdated administrative set ups MOARD, and IAR to some degree have become blind to the real issues the country is facing vis-à-vis the under development of agriculture. According to the United Nations Development Program, about 74 million hectares of land are arable with only 10 percent presently cultivated. The under-utilization of the vast areas of fertile land established an excuse for the government to move towards attracting and encouraging foreign companies to lease the land. Leasing land to foreign countries is not necessarily the best solution, as shown above, but clearly indicates that MOARD and IAR are not living up to their duties and responsibilities to help farmers utilize the land and become productive. EPA is a relatively new agency and appears to be overwhelmed by the thriving anthropogenic environmental issues. Outsourcing some of the monitoring and regulatory tasks may help EPA to tackle many of the issues.

As part of the effort to improve the agricultural productivity, MOARD and IAR need radical institutional transformations to cure them from their chronic bureaucratic entanglements and outdated administrative styles.

Concluding Remark: The effort to make the most of natural resources to improve living conditions in the country is admirable. However, it is poignant not to do it sustainably and responsibly. We are not the final generation of the country. There are future generations to consider. They too need these resources for their existence. Contrary to that animal, let the grass continue to grow even after we expire.

(The author can be reached at gbelaineh@yahoo.com)

Top 10 ways to make money online

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

Making money online is not as easy as a few of us think of it to be. However, making money on the internet is one of the most searched set of keywords with little variation on Google. There are difficult ways to make money online and there are less difficult ways. Whatever the method you choose, you would still need loads of patience and put in a good amount of time and effort to make yourself successful. Aligning your online money making system with the skills you already possess can make the whole exercise easier and efficient. Let us discuss the top 10 simple and easy ways of making money online.

1. Copy/Paste: The easiest job you can do on a computer is to use it as a typing machine. A lot of data entry jobs are available over the internet that can make you money in your free time. This is a lot of hard work and payouts are less. You can find a lot of such data entry jobs at freelance work sites or with companies who recruit direct.

2. Design: Graphic design, logo designer and website design is very much in demand today and if you have necessary skills and the aesthetic sense, you can make tons of money designing for others. You can look for freelance jobs in designing and make an online portfolio to et customers interested.

3. Coding: Web development is another sphere that is very much in demand. If you are good at coding websites, especially the ones that are geared towards ecommerce or other such complicated websites you are in to rake in a lot of money online.

4. Writing: If you are skilled at creating compelling written content, you are in demand. There is a big market for website content, SEO content and a lot of other forms of writing jobs that can make good money for you online.

5. Invest and reap: You can also try website flipping if you have some money to spare. You can build two or three websites and put good content into them before you can sell them off for a handsome profit.

6. Filling forms: A lot of research goes on over the internet and you can make some good money by just filling up forms for other people who conduct research.

7. SEO: If you are well versed with search engine optimization, you can make a lot of money offering your services to other webmasters. This is one of the highest paying jobs on the internet today and is in good demand.

8. Forum posting: This is a consistent and long term job available on the internet. All one needs to do is to post a few texts and make money on a regular basis.

9. Social Bookmarking: This service is in great demand today since it drives traffic to a designated website very quickly. You would need to make a short text about the website and submit to a predetermined set of social websites.

10. Sell goods and services: also known as affiliate marketing, selling stuff from other companies for a handsome commission without any investment is also a good option to make money online.

Source: Business Ideas And Entrepreneurship

President Obama goes to Africa

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

By Yilma Bekele

This is not the first visit by a sitting US president to our continent. But this trip is very different. One of our own is coming to Africa as the leader of the most powerful nation.

As an African I am very happy. Mr. Obama is a very busy person. He is dealing with the worst economic downturn in his nations history, nuclear proliferation issues in Korea and Iran, the ongoing problem in the Middle East and the legacy of two wars he inherited from his predecessor. The fact that he found the time to stop over in Africa says a lot about where his heart is.

Again I am delighted he is honoring our continent with his presence. The choice of Ghana as his first stop to Africa says a lot about the President. Out of forty-seven countries in Africa why Ghana? Is it because it is the biggest, most populous, the richest, the most powerful, or the oldest? Why Ghana is a good question.

He could have traveled to Kenya the home of his father. He could have stopped in Ethiopia, the seat of African Union. Nigeria as the most populous black nation would have been good too. But President Obama chose Ghana.

He chose Ghana because according to a White House source “Ghana is an outpost of democracy and civil society in a volatile region.” Very simple and straight forward statement. In other words Ghana has a legitmate governement chosen by the people. Ghana is a beacon of bright light in our dark continent. President Obama is making a powerful statement regarding democracy, human right and the rule of law.

As an Ethiopian I was filled with conflicting emotions regarding his visit. I wanted him to come to Ethiopia. I know it is being selfish but it is the truth. As the founder of Africa Union and the seat of the Organization, Ethiopia should have been the logical venue for the President to share his vision for Africa.

We deserve such an honor because we are one of the oldest nation state in the world. Our country was in the forefront of the struggle of the African people to gain their freedom. Most liberation movements in Africa are indebted to Ethiopia for the generous help offered by our government and people. We helped in training freedom fighters, giving safe haven to those prosecuted for their beliefs and urged the UN to bring the cause of freedom to the forefront.

On the other hand I am very glad President Obama chose Ghana instead of my homeland. It is the right thing to do. To be frank I would have been disappointed if he had come to Addis. I would have considered him an enabler.

It would be looked at as coddling a military junta masquerading as an elected government. The lawlessness nature of the Ethiopian government has been recorded by reports such as US Department of State, Amnesty international, Human Rights Watch, Doctors without Frontiers, International Federation of Journalists, Education International and the most compelling witness of all; you the Ethiopian in the Diaspora.

You know how many rely on you to survive. You are aware of those being washed in the shores of Yemen. It is an open secret the abuse of young Ethiopian girls in the Middle East. You have heard of those who travel thru territories escorted into unknown lands, a few left behind during this dangerous trek to die alone while others are Caught and put in jail for trespassing. You are the best witness if you want to be.

Nairobi’s Daily Nation wrote “in skipping Kenya, the first African American president is signaling that he puts political values over ancestral allegiances.” I agree. Ethnic politics is very backward and destructive. It should be a thing of the past. When it comes to Ethiopia Mr. Obama was avoiding two negative characters he abhors. He is definitely not familiar with tribalism. Tribalism is primitive and so yesterday. Democracy and the rule of law is what he promised to uphold and it will be contrary to his principles to bestow such honor on a tyrannical regime as Ethiopia. Ghana is a perfect choice to enable positive character. It is a perfect reward to the achievement of our Ghanaian cousins.

I am sure his confidential report on Ethiopia includes such facts as:

• Government ownership of all land.
• Government monopoly of news media such as TV, Radio and Newspaper.
• Government ownership of communication media such as telephone, both land line and mobile and Internet service.
• Government practice of blocking web sites.
• Single ethnic group control of commercial enterprises such as insurance, transportation, construction, fertilizer, seeds and now coffee.
• Single ethnic group control of the military and internal security.
• The ruling party’s practice of creating clone parties and trade organizations.
• The ruling party’s use of death squads to get rid of opposition.
• Government act of exiling opponents by intimidation and physical violence.

All nations with embassies in Ethiopia are perfectly aware of the nature of the government. I am sure their reports back to their government is full of revelations of the atrocities committed by the regime. They all have their own interest when they assesss their relationship with our country. We are the only ones that can change the equation.

I am sure it is early enough to catch President Obama during his next visit to Africa. I am hopeful he will be met by a nation united under the umbrella of democracy and committed to the rule of law. Ethiopia will take its righteous place as the leader of Africa. It is up to each one of us to get involved and help steer the freedom train on the right track. Mr. Obama made a powerful statement. Are you going to sit there and talk about it or lift a finger and be part of the solution?

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

Meles Zenawi in handcuffs

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

Heading to The Hague? The picture below is satire, but Ethiopia’s tribal dictator is accused of genocide and crimes against humanity by credible international human rights organizations, and there are serious efforts to bring charges against him at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Ginbot 7 Secretary General held talks in Asmara

Friday, May 29th, 2009

Secretary General of a major Ethiopian opposition party, Ginbot 7 Movement for Freedom and Justice is currently on a working visit in Asmara, Eritrea.

During his visit, Ginbot 7 Secretary General Andargachew held talks with high-level Eritrean government officials, leaders of the Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front (EPPF), and officials of other opposition groups, according to Ethiopian Review sources inside Ginbot 7.

Ato Andargachew’s visit followed Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki’s ground-breaking interview with Ethiopian Review and eppfOnline.org earlier this month.

Ginbot 7′s discussion with EPPF included how to forge a broad-based alliance comprised of all the Ethiopian armed resistance groups.

Additionally, Ginbot 7 hopes to setup a temporary headquarters in Asmara, sources informed Ethiopian Review.

Ato Andargachew’s trip could also pave the way for Ginbot 7 chairman and the legitimately elected mayor of Addis Ababa, Dr Berhanu Nega, to travel to Asmara soon.

EPPF's radio is now available online

Friday, May 29th, 2009

Voice of Ethiopian Patriots (YeArbegnoch Dimts), a radio program that was recently launched by the Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front (EPPF), is now accessible online, according Ato Sileshi Tilahun, head of organizational affairs.

To listen the program online click here.

YeArbegnoch Dimts can be heard throughout eastern Africa currently, and now that it is accessible online, it will have worldwide reach.

YeArbegnoch Dimts is headed by former Negat Radio host Demis Belete, who has recently returned to the U.S. after visiting with EPPF leaders and forming the radio team in Asmara.

Ato Demis Belete is also head of the EPPF Press Office.

Meanwhile, EPPF Executive Committee has opened a new bank account in Washington DC. For more information, visit www.eppfonline.org

Is Johnnie Carson rolling-on to Bush policies?

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

By Amanuel Biedemariam

On May 20, 2009 US Senate Committee on Foreign Relation conducted a hearing regarding the Situation in Somalia on a setting and process that resembled a courtroom. The case could likely be termed as, The State against the State of Eritrea. The process seemed eerily familiar and déjà vu to the previous administration. The victim is the New Transitional Government (TNG) in Somalia. Eritrea is the accused and predetermined-guilty-party to crimes committed in Somalia, and awaits sentencing by a panel of Senators.

While the hearing appeared to be a knee jerk reaction to the fast developing situation in Somalia, it is coordinated and timed to coincide with the new-furious campaign being waged against Eritrea. It is not a coincidence that IGAD called for sanctions and blockade against Eritrea the same day the hearing was being conducted at the US Capitol. Better yet, the AU repeated the same calls, and condemned Eritrea giving Eritreans an early Independence-Day-gift, a day ahead of the main celebration was to be held!

The Senate panel led by Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin held identical hearings during the Bush Presidency. The principal actors are different as a result of the election, but the messages and the types of witnesses come from similar backgrounds; which means there is no infusion of new information. So the process seems to have continued with the Assistant Secretary Carson acting as the chief prosecutor, while Shannon Scribner from OXFAM and Dr. Ken Menkhaus sat as expert witnesses. Assistant Secretary Carson’s “testimony” can be summed up as follows: US can attain her strategic objectives with TNG/TFG led by Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. And for undetermined strategic positioning Mr. Carson decided to make Eritrea the principal defendant as an accomplice to all the mayhem that is taking place in Somalia. In other words, it is predetermined that Eritrea will be the Whipping-Boy!

However, this assertion undermines the truth and fails to answer fundamental questions. It is also a sad commentary to see a Senate panel conducting a hearing on a setting that can be considered lackadaisical. How is it possible to conduct a hearing about an issue of great magnitude which affects the lives of millions in this manner and in a process that took less than two hours? Why did Senator Russ Feingold fail to have a comprehensive and serious hearing that involved all the stake holders? Why did he conduct the hearing for a policy in the process of being formulated and in a manner that fails to educate the general public in a balanced fashion? Who are the principal actors? What is the intended role of the US and its track record? What is the desired outcome? Why is the US repeating the same process over and over? Why the inconsistencies? Why is the US supporting a leader US and Ethiopian forces dethroned and captured as a terrorist? Senator Feingold knows the actors and the issues very well, but why did he limit the process?

The US supported and financed Ethiopian soldiers to invade Somalia. Ethiopian left Mogadishu in disgrace and in defeat. Ethiopia failed to achieve any measurable success. There is no single functioning standing institution Ethiopia built. And if security is a measuring stick, Ethiopia widened the conflict and made it borderless. Because, in violation of international laws Ethiopian soldiers entered Somalia and occupied a country that harbored historic enmity claiming security concerns and invitation from the previous transitional government, TFG.

Ethiopia received all the diplomatic cover it needed from the US. It was a regular act to see Dr. Janday Frazer defend Meles Zenawi and Ethiopian authorities from their crimes. Dr. Frazer established the Somali Contact Group. She used IGAD and AU to give legitimacy for her policies. She used the UNSC and UN as tools to achieve outlined objectives. Her failed policies created hell on earth while she avoided taking responsibility by blaming others.

Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson seems to have embraced the same approach and actors to deal with the issues in the Horn of Africa. Mr. Carson stated the National Security Council (NSC) is formulating a comprehensive strategy in this regard. It involves the State Department, Department of Defense, USAID, the Intelligence Community, EU, AU, IGAD, the “Contact Group” and many others. The question here is, if policy is being formulated, why the rush for the hearing? Why legitimize a failed process that went through many TFG/TNG leadership changes in a span of two years? Why not wait to develop a comprehensive, coherent, transparent and reasonable policy?

What is missing? Change! Change we can believe in! President Obama was elected to bring change. Change in policies, approach and fundamental change in the way this country relates to other countries. President Obama said we will listen, engage and we will not dictate. What Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson did contradicts all that. Mr. Carson has not listened to Eritrea, engaged Eritrea and did not explore how Eritrea can play a positive role. To the contrary he is building unnecessary wall with the people of Eritrea during a spirited independence celebration moments.

The question then becomes, is the new Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson rolling-on to failed Bush policies? Is he falling on the traps set by the most undiplomatic diplomat, Dr. Janday Frazer who contributed mightily to the unnecessary bloodshed in Somalia? What is the US policy seeking to achieve? Is it stability? The pattern doesn’t seem to indicate that to be the focus; in fact, the opposite could be argued successfully. Why? Because, for the simple fact that the US is supporting Ethiopia, a historic enemy of the Somalis to invade their country Somalia repeatedly!

As Dr. Ken Menkhaus testified, there is a great deal of suspicion and mistrust to US policies in the region. That mistrust will not let up until the US changes her approach. The US needs to give the people in the region a respite they need, seek and deserve. For decades foreign interventions have created a great deal of damage to the people in the region and they are beginning to fight it successfully. The more outsiders try to influence the final outcome the more resistance they will help create thus diminishing US influence in the region as it appears to be the case.

Considering the current economic hardships in the US and other equally pressing and overlapping issues, it is easy to conclude that President Obama will not have the time he needs to explore his policy options thoroughly. It will be at least another year for the President to evaluate the policy options and come up with a comprehensive approach. The president needs to address the continent in a new and meaningful manner with the same vigor he is addressing Moslems around the globe. We need to have faith in a President that came to power seeking to make a meaningful change.

The concern: too many players with interests that want to see the continuation of the statues quo overtaking the process to the point of no return. The US has unparalleled clout and uncontested ability to use regional and international organizations to advance agendas at will with impunity. Organizations like The African Union and IGAD are the tools at the disposal of US leaders to manipulate agendas. That is the process by which US agents legitimize and internationalize decisions they seek.

That means there must be a concerted effort by interested parties to stop the failed Bush and Frazer policies from regenerating. Because if the virus takes over; by the time the President takes over the issue all he can do is try to kill the virus. That will be a huge setback to the region’s hope-for-change! The people in the region understand it is a FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT TO LIVE IN PEACE and they will seek and work to achieve it! So it is up to the people representing the people in the Horn to make sure those who are responsible, like Senator Feingold, to be held to account for their actions and decisions.

And it is my sincere hope and wishes to see Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson do well for the people of the Horn and to establish a legacy of stature by charting a new way in the direction of legitimate peace with balanced, equal and a fair approach.

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

Ethiopian diplomat to head UN efforts in CAR

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

NEW YORK (UN NEWS CENTER) – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has informed the Security Council of his intention to appoint Sahle-Work Zewde of Ethiopia as the top United Nations official in the Central African Republic (CAR).

Ms. Zewde, who would replace François Fall of Guinea, would be the second woman serving as a Special Representative of the Secretary-General under the current Secretary-General.

As the new Special Representative, she would head the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in CAR (BONUCA), which is to be succeeded by the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office, to be known as BINUCA.

Ms. Zewde is currently the Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the African Union and the UN Economic Commission for Africa.

“Ms. Zewde brings to this position years of experience in the African Union’s initiatives in conflict prevention and peacebuilding,” UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters in New York.

“As a representative of her country to the African Union Peace and Security Council, she has been involved in deliberations on the situation in the Central African Republic. She has deep understanding of the close partnership of the United Nations and the African Union in resolving conflicts as well as in peacebuilding efforts in Africa.”

Ethiopian exchange student in Kentucky found dead

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

SOMERSET, KENTUCKY (AP) — An 18-year-old exchange student from Ethiopia who had been attending school in south-central Kentucky has been found dead in a swimming pool.

Pulaski County Coroner Richard New says the cause of death for Fasika Hayelom Sibehatu will be confirmed in an autopsy Wednesday.

Richard New told the Lexington Herald-Leader that it’s possible Sibehatu hit his head diving into the pool, which was at his host home in Somerset. New says the pool is deep under the diving board but became shallow quickly.

Sibehatu was found dead early Tuesday. The pool was opened on Saturday, and New said Sibehatu hadn’t been in it until the incident in which he died. The homeowner says Sibehatu had said he could swim.

Sibehatu was from Adama, Ethiopia, and had been studying at Somerset Christian School since August.

Minority ethnic domination of the military in Ethiopia

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

By Neamin Zeleke

Several Ethiopian scholars and political commentators alike have argued in the past that the TPLF regime in Ethiopia has been promoting the domination of a minority ethnic elite, i.e., the Tigreans, in all spheres of the nation’s life — economy, military, intelligence and security services, foreign affairs, etc. Much has been said and many have commented upon the blatant nature of the drive to ensure the domination of Tigrayan elites who claim to represent only 6% of close to 80 million Ethiopians.

Dr. Berhanu Balcha, a member of the Network of Ethiopian Scholars in Scandinavia (NES), wrote an article under the title “Minority domination and Ethnic Federalism.” In the article published by many of the Ethiopain Websites, Dr. Berhanu aptly argued:

…according to the principles of its own ideology of fair and equal representation of ethic groups, the TPLF, which represents the Tigray province with its 6 percent of the Ethiopian population, should have assumed a minority role, if its intention has not been a minority ethnic hegemony via ethnic federalism. Because it has operated contrary to the rule of its own game, the TPLF is operating as an instrument of coercion and domination rather than equality and freedom.”

He continues:

…as a result, the ethnic federal arrangement in Ethiopia has been characterized by economic monopoly, militaristic domination, and brutal suppression of the rights of the majority of the Ethiopian people, by the TPLF. In a nutshell, the ethnic federal project in Ethiopia has become a device for the implementation and protection of the hegemonic position of the tiny minority Tigrayan elites who have been aiming to have a dominant control of resources that the Ethiopian state controls and generates…”

In the name of a ridiculous notion of “organizational solidarity,” almost all of the ethnically drawn regions under the TPLF ethnic federal arrangement are controlled by Tigrayans running the show. In fact, the pattern has been dubbed in Amharic as “tako”. There are Amharas, Oromos, Southern, and individuals from the plethora of ethnic groups of Ethiopia holding formal positions, yet the real decision makers, movers, and shakers are Tigrayans deemed loyal to the ruling party, the Tigrean People Liberation Front (Woyanne).

It is important to note what is written in a recent statement released by AFAR MOVEMENT (AM) – QAFAR UGUGUMO. The statement mentions a UN Report 2002 that indicates that about 98% of directorial, managerial, adviser, technician and engineering positions in the State of Afar are all occupied by non-Afar speaking people. The statement discloses quoting an ex-cabinet member of the Afar state that “All advisers and expertise are all Tigreans.”

So much for the so-called “equality of nations and nationalities” under the TPLF ethnic federal arrangement that purports to ensure the devolution of power and self-government to the ethnically drawn regions.

Ginbot 7‘s latest statement provides a comprehensive list of the key and commanding positions held by Tigrayns in the military. By any stretch of imagination, it is not possible that 6% of the population have the unique capacity to command and control 95% of the command posts in the military. It is not possible by any kind of qualitative measurement for promotion — merit, experience, education and other criteria — that a single and minority ethnic group would have what it takes to hold 57 out of the 61 key and mission critical positions within the national military. Nothing can be further from the truth; the only thing that they have is their ethnicity and political loyalty to be able to totally dominate the military in such grossly disproportional ratio. This is the penultimate and most central point that comes out very loud and clear indeed.

If one is curious enough to examine the military composition during both Emperor HaileSelassie and the Derg regimes, dubbed as “Amhara ” regimes by the TPLF, it is extremely doubtful such a blatant phenomena where 95 percent of the command posts in the military of both regimes were held by Amharas. In fact, the best and ablest, and also the most powerful generals hailed from all ethnic groups of Ethiopia. Gen. Mulugeta Buli, Gen. Jagama Kelo, Gen. Aman Andom, Maj. General Demissie Bulto, Maj. General Regassa Jima, Gen. Woldeselassie Berka, Maj. General Merid Negussie, Gen. Tesfaye HabteMariam, Gen. Teferi Benti and scores of others who come from various ethnic backgrounds come to mind.

Here, the reader should be cognizant that we are not talking about the rebel army the TPLF was back in the days when it was in the Dedebit desert, but 18 years later and right now — and claiming to rule Ethiopia, telling us that there is a national “Ethiopian Army,” or the so-called “Ethiopian Defense Forces”! Only the tribalist regime and its mindless mouthpieces abroad would have the shameless audacity to argue to the contrary — that what we have in Ethiopia is an equal and proportional representation of the major and minor ethnic groups in the military. Therefore, they have been claiming “equality among nations and nationalities hitherto absent…” assured and ascertained, as they deafen us with their endless mantra, day in and day out.

But the facts and figures in the table below and many hitherto scattered data speak otherwise. Thus vindicating what has been known for so many years, i.e., the grossly blatant and far reaching drive for ethnic hegemony of a minority Tigrayan elites over the rest of the Ethiopian people. Of course, for those who are quick to show a handful of non Tigrayans with rank of a Lt. General, Brg. General, etc, yes there are coteries of yes men from other ethnic groups all around the Tigrayans. The nominal and feeble so-called generals, the likes of Kassa Deme, Bacha Debele, and others from Amhara, Oromo, and other ethnic groups — who have lost or do not have any sense of self respect — do exist. They go through the motion of sheepishly scavenging crumbs from their masters table. These puppets do not wield any real power in addition to the often encountered humiliation of being scolded by not only Tigreans with much lower ranks, as many have exposed, including the latest by Tesfaye Gerbeab’s “The Journalist’s Memoir” who laid bare the extent of this phenomena.

Ginbot 7′s latest statement recounts the thousands of high ranking officers, line officers, NCOs and privates from Amhara and Oromo ethnic groups purged by the TPLF mafia in the thousands in recent years. In effect, an ethnic cleansing within the military enclave. On a related story, the purge carried out by the Tigrayan gang is characterized by inhuman torture and suffering the victims are subjected to. Tesfaye Gebreab, in his rent article about Ginbot, mentions the brutality of a woman torturer named Col. Biraa, a former TPLF commissar and now in charge of prison, where military officers are held incommunicado and tortured, some until they are disabled for life. For the latest purges and repression carried out against officers and privates alike in the military one can also refer to a recent report by Finote Democracy [pdf].

Captain Teshome Tenkolu’s story, one of the ablest air force pilots and trainers subjected to inhuman torture is a yet another case among perhaps the untold thousands of others subjected to cruelty and inhumanity carried out by the Tigrayan mafia within the military establishment. The stories told about Capt. Teshome and his late friend, Maj. Daniel say much about the brutal and inhuman ways used by the tribal mafia regime and its henchmen to punish members of the armed forces suspected of any “wrongdoing”. Both were forced to spend two years in underground dungeon under extremely gruesome conditions, forced to sleep and live literally on human remains until they were released after being told by the shameless Woyanne that their country needs them to fight their war with Eritrea — to save their skin in that war with Eritrea which consumed 70,000 Ethiopian lives with no relevance whatsoever for Ethiopia.

The two were asked to return to the air force as pilots. It gave Capt. Teshome the chance to escape to Eritrea with an air force plane. He is now living in Canada. While his friend Maj. Daniel who stayed behind was less fortunate. Several years later, just barely two years ago, he was found dead in Ethiopia under extremely dubious circumstances. Who else could have killed him except the usual suspect, now that he has done his “service,” he could be disposed off.

According to Capt. Teshome’s account of the extreme suffering and inhuman conditions he was forced to endure, the captors who took him from his office at the air force base were Tigrayan officers (former TPLF cadres mentioned by name); the interrogators torturing him, for reasons that he has yet find out even today, were also Tigrayans. It is yet another story of the judge, the jury, the police, were all being played out by individuals belonging to the same ethnic group — Tigrayans — at the service of the TPLF mafia. The full story of Capt. Teshome could be found here.

The minority ethnic domination has far reaching implications for Ethiopia’s future peace and harmony that must exist among the various ethnic groups, including the people of Tigray region. Such facts and figures must come out to show the world the bankruptcy and total recklessness of the TPLF regime and the cabal controlling it.

Below one can find partial list of the names, positions, and ethnic compositions that exist in the current so-called national military in Ethiopia. For a full list of names by rank, ethnic composition and key positions held, one can check the six page report in Amharic release here.

Senior Command Posts

1. Chief of Staff, General, Samora Yunus, Tigre
2. Training Department, Lt. General Tadesse Worede, Tigre
3. Logistics Department, Lt. General Geazi Abera, Tigre
4. Military Intelligence Department, Brg. General Gebredela, Tigre
5. Operations Department, Lt. General Gebre Egziabiher, Tigre
6. Engineering Department, Lt. General Berhane Negash, Tigre
7. Air force, Brg. General Mola Haile Mariam, Tigre

Heads of the four commands

1. Central Command, Lt. General AbebawTadesse, Agew
2. Northern Command, Lt. General Seare Mekonnen, Tigre
3. South Eastern Command, Maj. General Abraha W. Gabriel, Tigre
4. Western Command, Brg. General Siyoum Hagos, Tigre

Division Commands
1. 31st Division Commander, Colonel Tsegaye Marx, Tigre
2. 33rd Division Commander, Colonel Kidane, Tigre
3. 35th Division Commander, Colonel Misganaw Alemu, Tigre
4. 24th Division Commander, Colonel Work Aieynu, Tigre
5. 22nd Division Commander, Colonel Dikul, Tigre
6. 14th Division Commander, Colonel Woedi Antieru, Tigre
7. 21st Divison Commander, Colonel Gueshi Gebre, Tigre
8. 11th Division Commander, Colonel Workidu, Tigre
9. 25th Division Commander, Colonel Tesfai Sahel, Tigre
10. 20th Division Commander, Colonel, Teklai Klashin, Tigre
11. 8th Mechanized Division, Colonel Jemal Mohamed, Tigre
12. 4th Mechanized Division, Colonel Hintsaw Giorgis, Tigre

Transitional government in exile is the way to go

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Here is another well-presented argument in support of an Ethiopian Transitional Government in Exile.

Source: Ethiopian Current Affairs Discussion Forum

Click here for PDF version

ትንቢተ ኤልያስ፡ የስደት መንግስት የኛም ፍካሬ ነው

የሚሳፈር ይሳፈር፡ የማይሳፈር ይቅር፡ ቀኑ ሲደርስ ግን ሁሉም ይሳፈራል

አገሬ መግባት አፈልጋለሁ!!

“አገሬ መግባት እፈልጋለሁ!! እኔ ሌላ ምንም ዓላማ የለኝም። ወያኔ አትገባም ብሎ ከሶኛል። ወያኔ ከተሰቀለበት የትእቢትና እብሪት ሰቀላ ተፈጥፍጦ ወርዶ ማየትና በአገሬ በነጻነት መኖር እፈልጋለሁ።” አለኝ ኤልያስ ክፍሌ፡ ከኤርትራ መልስ አንዳንድ ነገሮችን ስናወጋ። ይኸው ነው ይሄንን ልጅ እንቅልፍ አሳጥቶ ሰላም ነስቶ ከዲሲ አስመራ፡ ከዚህ እዚያ የሚያንከራትተው። ኤልያስ፡ አንዳንድ ግዜ ያበሳጭ ይሆናል። “ኤልያስ፡ ተው ሰው አትንካ፡ የትጥቅ ትግልን ለማራመድ የግድ ብርቱካንን ማውገዝ የለብንም። የለም ሰላማዊ ትግል አያዋጣም፡ የቀረን ትጥቅ ትግል ብቻ ነው ብለህ መከራከር ትችላለህ። ያንተን ክርክር አሳማኝ ለማድረግ ግን እነ ብርቱካን ሚደቅሳን መዘልዘል፡ እነ ዶ/ር ሀይሉን ማዋረድ የለብንም። እነ ዶ/ር መራራን ማበሻቀጥ አያስፈልገንም። እንደዚያ አይነቱ ነገር ትክክል ስላልሆነ ብቻ ሳይሆን፡ ይንን ባደረግክ ቁጥር ፍጥጫው በኛና በኢህአዴግ መሀከል መሆኑ ይቀርና፡ የትጥቅ ትግል በሚያራምዱ ወገኖችና በሰላማዊ ትግሉ አራማጆች፡ በተለይም ደግሞ በአንድነት ደጋፊዎች መካከል ይሆናል። ተው ሰው አትንካ።

የኢህአዴግ ስራ ይበቃል፡ የሕወሐት ጥፋት

ሰዉን የትጥቅ ትግልን እንዲቀበል፡ ኢህአዴግ የሚሰራው ስራ በቂ ነው። ኢህአዴግ የሰላማዊውን ትግል ምህዳር እያጠበበ እያጠበበ፡ ሲመጣ፡ በአራት ዓመት ውስጥ አንድ ሰላማዊ ሰልፍ ሲከለከል፡ በአራት አመት ውስጥ ሁለት ሕዝባዊ ስብሰባ ሲነፈግ፡ በአምስት ዓመት ውስጥ፡ አንድ የቴሌቪዥም ማስታወቂያ ማሰማት ሳይቻል ሲቀር፡ የሰማኒያ ዓመት አዛውንት ያለፍርድ ሲታሰሩ፡ የአስራሰባት ዓመት ወጣቶች በግንባራቸው ተመትተው ሲገደሉ፡ በየዓመቱ በረሀብ የሚቀጠፍ ሰው ቁጥር ሲጨምር፡ በየዓመቱ የሚሰደድ ሰው ሲያሻቅብ፡ የአገሪቱ መሬት ለአረብና ሱዳን ሲቸበቸብ፡ የአንድ ብሄር ልጆች እንደ እንቧይ እስኪያብጡ ሲፈነጨብንና ሲወቅጡን፡ ይሄ ሁሉ ሕዝቡን ወደለየለትና ወደባሰበት የትጥቅ ትግል ያመጣል። ከኢህአዴግ በኩል የሚሰራው ስራ በቂ ነዉና፡ ከኛ በኩል ሕዝቡን ወይንም ድርጅቶችን የትጥቅ ትግል እንዲመርጡ የሚያስገድድ ማስፈራሪያና ስድብ፡ አታካራና ጭቅጭቅ አያስፈልግም። ኢህአዴግ ያንን ስራ በሚገባ እየሰራ ነው። የኛ ስራ ሌላ ነው።

አብዮተኛው ኤልያስ፡ አብዮታዊ ሀሳቦች

ኤልያስ ዘወትር የሚያነሳቸው ሀሳቦች አብዮታዊ፡ ከዘመናቸው የቀደሙ፡ ደፋርና ሰው ለመግባትና ለማንሳት የሚፈራቸው ናቸው። ለምሳሌ አንድ ግዜ ኤልያስ በሌሊት ተነሳና፡ “የግዞት መንግስት ማቋቋም ያስፈልገናል አለ”። ብዙዎች ተንጫጩ። ይሄ ሰው ምንድነው የሚያወራው? ምነስ ነው የሚናገረው? ብለው ተሳለቁበት። ጥቂቶቻችን ግን አስደነቀን። አስፈነደቀንም። ወዳጄ ተክሌ የሻው፡ ሰሞኑን “ኢትዮጵያ የምትባለው አገር የለችም” የሚል አስደንጋጭ ክርክር አምጥቷል። የክርክሩን ሙሉ ቃል አልሰማሁትም። ግን ኢትዮጵያን ኢህአዴግ አፍርሷታል ነው የሚለው። ወይም ኢትዮጵያ መሆን እንደሚገባትና እንደነበረችው የለችም ነው የሚለው። ያ ለጊዜው ይቅር። ኢትዮጵያ ግን አሁን ትክክለኛና ሕጋዊ መንግስት የላትም። አጼ ሀይለስላሴ፡ በዚያም በዚህም ብለው በመለኮታዊ መቀባት ስልጣኔን አገኘሁ ብለው ለዓመታት ሕዝቡን አሳምነውት ሕዝቡም ጸሀዩ ንጉሳችን እያላቸው ኖሩ። ኢህአዴግ ግን፡ የሽፍታ ጭምብሉንና ኮንጎ ጫማውን በሲቪል ልብስ ለውጦ ስልጣን ላይ ያለ ምንም ህጋዊ መሰረት በጡንቻውና በዓለም አቀፉ መንግስታት ችሮታ ብቻ ስልጣን ላይ የቆየ አገዛዝ ነው። ስለዚህ ኢትዮጵያን የሚወክል የግዞት መንግስት ለማቋቋም መብቱም ችሎታውም አለን። የኤልያስ ሀሳብ ትክክል ነው።

የግዞት መንግስተ ለምን? ከነማንስ ጋር?

የግዞት መንግስት ብናቋቋም የሚቀበሉን መንግስታት አናጣም። ኤርትራ በተማመን ከጎናችን ነች። ሌሎች ከኢህአዴግ ጋር የተጣሉ መንግስታትም ከጎናችን ናቸው። ኤርትራ ራሷ ልታመጣልን የምትችለው የወዳጅና የአቅም ብዛት የትየለሌ ነው። ብዙ ሰዎች ያለፈውን የጦርነትና የደም መፋሰስ አመታት በማሰብ ኤርትራን እንደ መንጸፈ ደይን ይፈሯታል። ብዙ ሰዎች እንደውም ከሀጢያት ይልቅ ኤርትራን ይፈራሉ። እዚህ ጋር ሲኦል እዚህ ጋር ኤርትራ አለች ቢባሉ፡ ወደሲኦል የሚመርጡም አሉ። ያ ስህተት ነው። ያለፈ አልፏል። ያለፈውን አንለውጠውም። ዘመን ይለወጣል። ከኤርትራ ጋር ለመስራትና ለመወዳጀት የሚያስፈልጉን ነገሮች በጣም ኢምንትና ጥቂት ናቸው። አንደኛ፡ ኤርትራ አገር መሆኗንና በምንም መልኩ የኤርትራን ሉአላዊነት እንደማናሰጋ ቃል መግባት። ቃል መስጠት። ሁለተኛ ኤርትራና ኢትዮጵያ እንደ ጎረቤት አገሮች አንዳቸው ባንዳቸው ላይ ኢኮኖሚያዊ ትስስር ፈጥረው በሰላምና በትብብር እንደሚኖሩ መስማማት። እነሱ ባህር አላቸው። እኛም ምጣኔ ሀብት። እነሱ ጨው አላቸው። እኛም በርበሬ። ሶስተኛ ታላላቅ ሰዎችና ድርጅቶች ግንባር ፈጥረው በቀጥታ ከኤርትራ መንግስት ጋር ልኡካን ልከው መነጋገርና መቀመጫችውን በአስመራ አድርገው የግዞት መንግስት መቋቋም። አለቀ። ለጊዜው ብዙዎች ወይንም የኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ ይሄንን ላይደግፈው ይችላል። ግን ራሱን አህአዴግንና ሻእቢያን ጨምሮ ማንም ሀያል ሕዝብ በደገፈው መንገድ አይደለም ስልጣን ላይ የመጣው ወይም የወጣው። ካሸነፍን ሕዝብ ሁልግዜም ካሸናፊ ወገን ነው። የአጼ ምኒሊክ እርግማንና ግዝት ልጅ ኢያሱን አልጠቀመም፡ የሀይለስላሴ ድል አድራጊነት ግን ስልጣን ላይ አቆያቸው። 50 ዓመታት ግድም። ግማሽ ክፍለዘመን። ስለዚህ የምንፈልገው ማሸነፍ ከሆነና በኤርትራ መጓዙ እንዲሁም የግዞት መንግስት መቋቋሙ ለማሸነፍ ከረዳን ሰዎች ደገፉትም ተቃወሙትም ያንን ለማድረግ ማመንታት የለብንም።

ግንቦት ሰባት፡ ግንቦት ሀያ፡ ግንቦት ሰባት

አሁን የወሬ ግዜ አብቅቷል ብሏል ዶ/ር ብርሀኑ ነጋ። አሁን የስራ ግዜ ነው። ኢህአዴግ ስራውን ሰርቷል። እየሰራም ነው። ከግንቦት ሀያ በፊትም በኋላም። የቀረው የኛ ክፍል ነው። የኛ ስራ። ኢህአዴግን ለመጣል ግንቦት ሰባት የሚጸየፋቸውና የሚያፍራቸው መንገደች ሊኖሩ አይገባም። ዶ/ር ብርሀኑ ጓደኞቹንና የስራ ባልደረቦቹን ሰብስቦ ወደ አስመራ ቢወርድ፡ አቶ ኢሳይያስ አፈወርቂ ለሙአመር ጋዳፊ የአደረጉትን ያህል ደማቅ አቀባበል ነው የሚያደርጉለት። ዝርዝሩን መነጋገር ነው። ካለመነጋገር ነው፡ ካለመጠየቅ ደጃዝማችነት ይቀራል። ኢህአዴግ የሰላምና የእፎይታ አገዛዝ መግዛት የለበትም። ሕወሀትም ይሁን ልጆቹ እንቅልፍ አጥተው፡ እንቅልፋቸውን እንግሊዝ እንዲተኙ ማድረግ አለብን። እስካሁን ለንደንና ዲሲ፡ ጀርመንና ሰዊዘርላንድ ሰርተናል። አሁን ደግሞ እዚያው ሜዳ ላይ መውጪያ ግዜ ነው። ከኤርትራ የተሻለ፡ ከኤርትራ የቀረበ፡ ከኤርትራ የተመቸ ሜዳና መንገድ እንደሌለ ደግሞ ከዚህ ቀደም ጽፈናል። ተራው የግንቦት 7 ነው። ከፍተኛ ልኡካን ልኮ ከኤርትራ መንግስት ጋር መነጋገርና ከኤርትራ ጋር መስራት፡ የስደት መንግስት ማቋቋምና ከዓለም መንግስታት ጋር መጻጻፍ ለብቸኝነት የቀረበ መንገድ ነው።

ልጅ ተክሌ ነኝ፡ ግንቦት 2009፡ ካናዳ

Ethiopian store owner in Florida killed in front of his wife

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

By Jim Schoettler | Jacksonville Times-Union

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA — An Ethiopian immigrant and store owner who moved to Jacksonville to raise a family and live the American Dream died late Monday after being gunned down outside his convenience store.

Witnesses said the attack in the 2100 block of West 13th Street may have been a retaliation shooting involving neighborhood youths who had previously given the man trouble. Police said another motive could have been robbery, though the victim’s family said nothing was stolen.

Hagos Admasu Gebreegziabher, 41, was with his wife closing the Family Food Store when shots were fired from across the street about 11 p.m., family members said. Gebreagziabher died at the scene. His wife was not injured.

The victim’s wife told witnesses she saw two people run from the area. Witnesses who were in the Northwest Jacksonville store shortly before the shooting said that the owner had previously had words with several youths who had repeatedly caused him trouble.

No arrests have been made.

Gebreegziabher’s brother and cousin said he moved to Jacksonville from Ethiopia about 15 years ago and was married with two teenage sons. He opened the shop in 2007 in a strip of stores in a crime-ridden neighborhood just north of Kings Road near the Flag Street Apartments.

Aron Demoz, the cousin, said the victim tried fixing up the store and enjoyed helping people in the neighborhood. He said his cousin was living the American Dream.

“It’s not justified what happened to him. Absolutely not justified,” said Demoz, 41, moments before he padlocked the store’s front doors.

The store served as the local grocery hub, where neighbors bought food like sausage, chips and condiments and also played three video gaming machines.

The neighbors fondly called the victim “Buddy” and described him as a kind, hard-working man. They said he would often give them food on credit when they were facing hard times.

“He was a good man,” said Cynthia Dove, 46, who lives across the street.

More gunshots ran out five hours later in a second slaying at the Kendall Court Apartments, 10535 Lem Turner Road. Homicide Lt. Larry Schmitt said police and rescue crews were called about 4:30 a.m. and found a man dead in the parking lot. No other details were made available by police.

Linda Dayson, who leads a local crime-fighting organization, lives in the complex. She said she and her fiance heard shots about 4:15 a.m. and when he came outside, he found the man slain.

Dayson said she wasn’t sure of the man’s identity. She said he lived in the complex with his girlfriend and they had three small children together.

Dayson, president of Hurting Families with Children in Crime, said she is incensed with the ongoing violence in her neighborhood and throughout the city. She called on police, city officials and local pastors to make a stand.

“We have too many young people getting killed,” Dayson said. “All these people are saying they want to help. I’m not seeing it.”

There have been 35 homicides in Jacksonville this year, compared to 55 slayings at the same time last year.

(Anyone with information can contact the Sheriff’s Office at (904) 630-0500 or First Coast Crime Stoppers at (866) 845-8477 (845-TIPS) to remain anonymous and be eligible for rewards.)

UN Security Update for Ethiopia (May 14 – 20, 2009)

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

DSS-Ethiopia weekly reports are compiled from various sources

GENERAL: The overall security situation in the country within the period was calm and stable. However, clashes between the military/Special Police Forces and ONLF were reported in Somali Region as well as unconfirmed reports of movement of WSLF in Korahe zone. In Gambella Region, sightings of unidentified uniformed/armed persons from mixed ethnic groups with unknown motives have been reported. Humanitarian access remains a challenging issue in the Somali Region as the UN continues to engage Regional authorities in discussions.

ADDIS ABABA

Overview of Situation: The security situation in Addis Ababa was stable during the past week. However, incidents of robbery in some areas in the capital have been reported.

02 May; between 1130 hrs- 12 midnight, a UN international staff member was robbed by unidentified person in the vicinity of Club Alize along Bole road while the walking in one of the side streets around the club. Accordingly, the suspect had a knife in which he successfully robbed the staff member of his personal belongings including some amount of money, mobile phone and sunglasses. Luckily, the staff member was left unharmed.

17 May; at about 2300 hrs, a British man was seriously wounded when 2 unidentified persons attacked him in the vicinity of Shola area along the CMC road. Accordingly, while the victim was walking approximately 400 meters towards his house, the assailants confronted him and demanded he hands over all his valuables to which he refused leading to multiple stabbings by the suspects. The assailants then stole the victim’s backpack and all valuables and escaped. The victim was later assisted and taken to a hospital by passers byes. He is presently stable in hospital. DSS is also informed that a similar case involving a lady took place around the same area on 05 Feb 2009.

Advisories: Staff are advised of the increasing reports of street crime and petty theft in Addis and other main cities. In this regards, walking alone at night in dark isolated areas may not be a good idea. Staff should also immediately hand over any valuables demanded by these criminals to them when confronted to avoid being harmed.

SOMALI REGION

Overview of Situation: The security situation in the region for the period in review remained unpredictable due to frequent clashes between the security forces and ONLF. Between 12-13 May, lots of military movement were observed towards Fik zone from Babile. Sources also reported similar movements South and East of Sageg and Gerbo, Fik zone. On 24 May 2009, the Regional government is expected to meet again with UN/NGOs operating in the region to discuss access issues and other related matters concerning humanitarian operations in the area.

Reported Incidents

09 May; according to sources, a clash between combined forces of local militia and special police forces against ONLF was reported in Mandoyaley, 63 kms NW of Degahabur town. Casualties were reported. On same day, sources also informed that clash between the special police force erupted in Lebiga village, 26 kms West of Degahabur town to Degahmadow. Casualties also reported.

Also on same day, sources informed of fighting between special police forces and ONLF in Dabogriso sub-village, Gerbo district, Fik zone, 23 kms West of Birkot. No clear details on casualties from both sides.

13 May; according to sources, clash between EDF and ONLF occurred in the vicinity of Hurale village, 36 kms South of Degahabur town. Casualties reported.

13 May; unconfirmed reports of arrival of 200 fighters from WSLF in Debeweyin from Kaalafo and Shilabo. No further details on their movement and presence in the area as well as the security forces reaction on the report.

14 May; according to sources, clash between the special police force and ONLF was reported in Dalad area, 25 kms from Kebridehar town. Casualties reported from both sides.

17 May; a home-made bomb exploded at ARRA office near the Awbarre refugee camp in Awbarre district, Jijiga. Fortunately, the explosion did not result in any casualties or damage to property. No suspects have been identified. However, there are reports that the incident might be attributable to land dispute.

17 May; one WFP Food Monitor Team from Degahabur WFP Field Office while on mission to some areas in Aware district, Degahabur zone was ordered not to proceed to their destination by EDF for unknown reason. The team is still in Aware despite on-going negotiations between the WFP management and the military on this issue. DSS is closely monitoring the situation and has reported to concerned authorities in the Region. According to report, 7 refugees from Kebribayah camp were detained by regional authorities on alleged link with ONLF. The 7 refugees were instantly sentenced to 5 years jail term and transferred to the Jijiga main prison.

Advisories

UN missions from Gode to Moyale are advised to avoid travelling through Hudat as the clan conflict between the Geris and Borenas in the area is yet to be resolved. DSS is advising use of alternative route via Gode-Moyale-Shakiso-Negele-Filtu-Charati.

Missions to some areas in Gode and Afdheer Zones should be undertaken with extreme caution due to ongoing military operations in the areas as well as some areas in Degahmadow district, Degahabur zone. Agencies are thus advised to take necessary pre-caution while conducting their mission in the area.

All agencies operating in the Somali Region to ensure they have clearance from the military commanders in their location and restrict their travels to only the approved areas especially travelling to Aware and Gunagado districts, Degahabur zone and Gerbo district, Fik zone.

Missions to Mula village, most of Degehabur Kebeles along Fafan valley, northwest of Higloley including Inley, Kebeles West of Degahmadow District and the road between Degahabur and Gerbo should contact DSS for latest update of the situation before commencing travels to the areas.

Staff members on missions to Korahe zone especially in Shilabo and Doboweyn should take extra pre-caution due to the latest report of WSLF movement in the area.

Missions to Kelafo, Mustahil and areas around Dolo Ado to be extremely cautious based on information of suspected presence of bandits and the previous hijackings of UN and private vehicles in the area.

It is important to have all DSS emergency contact numbers for the 24/7 Operation Rooms in Addis, Jijiga, Gode and Kebridehar before commencing a road movement in the Region.

UNDSS is advising humanitarian Agencies wishing to lease compounds in Kebridehar, Gode and Degehabur to avoid buildings that are located in isolated parts of the towns but consider taking the ones situated near main streets that are covered by Police patrols and easily accessible for security reasons.

GAMBELLA REGION

Overview of Situation: The security situation in the region was calm within the reporting period. However, there were reports of sightings of unidentified uniformed armed men of mixed ethnic groups in Fugnido Gog area within the week. This led to tension among the local populace in the area. In reaction, the regional government is said to have sent a special police force to patrol the area. Further report states that the border dispute in Dimma between SNNRPS and Gambella region remains unresolved. Regional government officials met in Minzan Teferi in order to come out with a possible resolution to the dispute.

Reported incidents

13 May; it was reported that a UNHCR staff member was attacked by bees nesting in the UNHCR compound in Gambella town. The staff member was sent to Gambella Hospital for medical treatment.

Advisories

Staff operating in Fugnido, Akobo and Dimma aresa are to exercise caution due to the incidents reported in the aresa. Staff are also to respect the curfew timings in Gambella Region

OROMIYA REGION

Overview of Situation: The overall security situation in the region is relatively calm and stable.

Reported Incidents

Nothing to report.

Advisories

UNDSS is advising against missions to Arero Woreda (Wachile, Udet, and Orota kebeles); Dahas Woreda (Raroo, Borbori, Garbi and Walensu kebeles) and Moyale (El Gof, Ley, Chamuk, Gucgi and Bede kebeles) without special security arrangements. Missions to Negele should use the alternative routes either via Duwa, Dugati, and Shakiso or via Aposto, Kibre Mengist. Arrival time in Moyale for missions is advisable to be before 1700 hours.

BENESHANGUL – GUMUZ REGION

Overview of Situation: No major incident reported apart from the fact that the weather condition reported last week has not still normalized.

Advisories

UNHCC advises that staff should reduce exposure as much as possible and stay in-doors if they have no major programming activities to undertake.

AFAR REGION

Overview of Situation: No major security incident reported within the week.

Advisories

Agencies are advised to use the Addis-Nazareth-Awash-Mille-Semera road as the alternative route of Semera-Mille-Dessie-Addis is in very poor condition, isolated and requires about 5 hours more travel time Additionally, Agencies with operations in Afar Region Zone 2 are advised to restrict missions to AFDERA and BERAHILE Districts until the situation becomes clearer.

TIGRAY REGION

Overview: The overall security situation in the region remain relatively stable but with tension and constant troop movement around the border areas. The reported bad weather in Shire persisted during the week.

Advisories

UNHCC advises that staff should reduce exposure as much as possible and stay in-doors if they have no major programming activities to undertake.

AMHARA REGION

Nothing to Report

SNNPR REGION

Nothing to report

MEDIA REPORTS

Associate Press report on 19 May 2009 under the caption Ethiopia denies its troops entered Somalia Stated that even though eyewitnesses informed undetermined number of Ethiopian soldiers have crossed the border into Somalia (date not mentioned) and were seen in the Somali town of Kalabeyr, 22 kms from the Ethiopian border and 18 kms north of Belet Weyne, the provincial capital of Somalia’s Hiran region, the Ethiopian government denied the allegation. Kalabeyr lies at a strategic junction of a road that links southern, central and northern Somalia to the Ethiopian border. Reports further state that the Ethiopian military used at least 12 military vehicles in crossing the border. Some of the soldiers were also seen digging trenches, while others were guarding the whole area. However, the Somali Information Minister could not comment on the report. “Our troops have not have not returned to Somalia” Ethiopian Foreign ministry spokesman Wahde Belay stated. “ Our troops are on our side of the border” he added.

-END

Rebels attack Woyanne targets in northern Ethiopia

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

A group of Ethiopian resistance fighters who claim to belong to Ethiopian Unity and Justice Movement have attacked a Woyanne police station and other targets in the northern Ethiopian town of Shoa Robit over the weekend.

The head of Shoa Robit Police told Ethiopian Review correspondent in Addis Ababa that the rebels attacked his station with hand grenades and that one of them has been detained. He was not willing to say if there was any causality from the Woyanne police.

After carrying out the attack, the rebels returned to their base in northern Wollo, according to their spokesman, Asrat Hailu.

Ato Asrat told Ethiopian Review that the Movement carried out similar missions in Merhabite, Fitra and other towns several months ago.

Ethiopia Conspiracy Suspects Again Denied Bail

Monday, May 25th, 2009

By Peter Heinlein | VOA

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — An Ethiopian judge has again denied bail for 40 suspects jailed last month in connection with an alleged plot to destabilize the country. The suspects were ordered held for another two weeks while prosecutors decide what to charge them with.

Weeping relatives stood outside an Addis Ababa courthouse Monday hoping for a glimpse of loved ones arrested April 24 in what officials originally called a roundup of suspected coup plotters.

Government spokesmen later backed away from the coup plot theory, saying the conspiracy was only aimed at assassinating government leaders and bombing strategic installations. The judge Monday gave prosecutors two more weeks to decide what the charges will be.

The crowd outside the courthouse watched anxiously as one by one, 19 pickup trucks, each with a canvas-covered bed, backed up to a courtroom door and, out of the view of onlookers, deposited handcuffed defendants for a brief appearance before a judge.

Occasionally, a face would appear for a few seconds at a screened hole in the canvas, or a cuffed hand could be seen waving. But for the most part, the onlookers hopes of sighting a jailed relative were dashed.

People in the crowd all asked not to be identified for fear of retribution. Many, like a young woman who allowed her voice to be recorded in Amharic, charged her loved one’s rights had been violated because prison visits by family members and attorneys had been prohibited.

She says, ‘we went to visit, but have not been able to see our relatives.’ She said relatives had only been allowed to drop off food at the gate and leave.

Government spokesman Shimelis Kemal, a former prosecutor, denied any defendants’ rights had been violated. He told VOA no requests for prison visits had been received.

“What I have learned is since no one asked investigators or people in charge there, they were not able to facilitate this because they were not asked to do so,” said Shimelis Kemal.

Human rights activists and an attorney with ties to the case, questioned the constitutionality of holding prisoners for up to six weeks without charge or possibility of bail.

Spokesman Shimelis, however, said the law does not place any limit on length of detention.

“Look, this is a pre-trial detention, the ethiopian criminal code clearly defines the conditions made by detaining authorities when a person is detained before trial. this is a normal procedure,” he said. “The law does not set out a time limit for remand. Only that one can be remanded up to 14 days, and there is no time limit for how many remands should the court shall grant to police. It doesn’t say anything.”

At least 30 of the defendants are known to be current or former army officers. Of the few who have been identified, one is an active duty army general accused of being head of the military wing of the conspiracy, and another is an opposition political figure said to be leader of the civilian wing.

All are alleged to be members of a ‘terror cell’ officials say is headed by former opposition leader Berhanu Nega. Berhanu was elected mayor of Addis in the disputed 2005 election, but was among those politicians arrested during post-election protests, convicted of treason and sentenced to life in prison.

After the group was pardoned, Berhanu went to the United States, where he teaches economics at a university in the state of Pennsylvania.

Wives of Ethiopia coup suspects are targeted

Monday, May 25th, 2009

General Teferra Mammo, one of the 41 detainees accused of plotting coup against the tribal regime in Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Ethiopian Review has learned that wives of the alleged coup suspects have not been spared.

Wzr. Nigisti Fasil, the wife of Colonel Amare Alebel, who is currently in hiding, is among the 41 detainees. The wife and 2-year-old daughter of Shaleqa (Major) Adugna Alemayehu were detained for two weeks.

The wife of Colonel Demissew Anteneh, who was brought from Harar, has been spared, but today for the sixth time she was forced to return to Harar without visiting her husband.

It is feared that some of the officers have been brutally tortured by the British-trained and -financed Woyanne secret police. Their lawyers are not allowed to visit them, and even today inside the court, the lawyers were unable to attend the hearing.

The 41 detainees are thrown in jail accused of being a part of assassination plots by Ginbot 7 Movement for Justice and Freedom.

The detainees include Ato Tsige Habtemariam, an 80-year-old father of Ginbot 7 Secretary General Andargachew Tsige.

More on Ethiopia secret trial of coup suspects – in Amharic

Monday, May 25th, 2009

The Addis Ababa-based Amharic language newspaper Awramba Times has a detailed report about the court appearance today of the ongoing of secret trial of suspected coup plotters in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

After one month in detention, the suspects are still not allowed to visit their families, and except a few of them, their identities are kept secret.

Today, all of them arrived at the Arada district court in Addis Ababa in covered pickup trucks surrounded by heavily armed federal police troopers. There were over 250 family members outside the court, and none of them is allowed to see the detainees.

Several minutes later, the court ordered the detainees to come back to court in 2 weeks. [read more in Amharic, pdf]

Ethiopia secret trial denies family visitation of detainees

Monday, May 25th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — It’s been exactly a month now since at least 41 people, including an 80-year-old father of an opposition leader, have been arrested, suspected, allegedly of a coup attempt against the Meles regime.

Within days of their arrest the coup attempt was turned into assassination attempts instead. According to the minister of information Bereket Simon, Ethiopia’s political system is such that it is now immune to coup d’etats.

Since their arrest the suspects never saw their families. But what is now unraveling is that amongst the initial people arrested featured the wife and 2 year old daughter of one the defendants. They were in the central prison for two weeks.

Then the wife of a colonel wanted by the government is also in prison, unable to see her relatives.

Then we found out that people have been arrested from Bahir Dar, Lalibella and Harar, and that most of those arrested are the main bread winners in their families, leaving their loved ones behind without any income.

We saw today the police making every effort for the public not to see who’s coming out of the car at the court, and preventing the defendants to wave at their loved ones. Everyone was shocked by their behavior.

We were told that even before the hearing today, the police knew they were given two more weeks to gather evidence.

Apparently, the police said it was the end of their investigation. If so, why are they given another 2-week to gather evidence?

The blatant abuse of power by the authorities today proved that the whole story is a smoke screen and seems to develop as days go by, like a bad movie script.

All the families have been denied their constitutional right to visit their relatives. No one is willing to grant them, and the government pretends it doesn’t know? Even during the CUD trial this didn’t happen.

As for the shortage of electrical power, it looks more and more as if we are on the verge of a total blackout: all major factories are temporarily disconnected from the electric network, and we’re left in the dark, literally.

(Report by Ethiopian Review associate in Addis Ababa)

Ethiopia court ordered 'plotters' to remain in jail

Monday, May 25th, 2009

By Barry Malone

Gen. Asaminew Tsige is one of the 41 suspects who are in jail without charge in Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (Reuters) – A group accused of plotting to overthrow the Ethiopian regime were remanded in custody on Monday again after spending more than one month in prison without any charges or visitation rights, relatives said.

Ethiopian Woyanne regime security forces are holding 41 former and current army personnel from a “terror network” the government says was formed by Berhanu Nega, an opposition leader now teaching economics at a university in the United States.

“They will be held for another two weeks,” a relative who did not want to be named told Reuters outside the court in Addis Ababa. “They were not even charged today.”

The 41 are accused of planning to assassinate senior government figures and blow up public utilities to provoke street protests and overthrow the government.

“The investigation was now complete,” one lawyer said.

Security forces killed about 200 protesters after parliamentary elections in 2005 when the opposition disputed the victory of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s government.

More than 100 relatives and supporters were gathered outside the courtroom. Ethiopian authorities have named only two of the prisoners despite calls from international rights groups that they name and charge all 41 detainees.

Neither family members nor lawyers have been able to visit the accused in prison, relatives said.

Distinguished Ethiopian professor joins Ethiopedia's team

Monday, May 25th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Ethiopedia.com, an online encyclopedia of Ethiopia, is pleased to announce that world renowned Ethiopian scholar Prof. Ephraim Isaac has joined its team as an editorial adviser.

Ephraim Isaac is a founder and the first professor of Afro-American Studies at Harvard University when the Department was created in 1969. He is author of numerous scholarly works about the Late Second Temple period and Classical Yemenite Jewish and Ethiopic religious literature. He is currently Director of the Institute of Semitic Studies, Princeton, NJ, Chair of the Board of the Horn of Africa Peace & Development Committee, and President of the Yemenite Jewish Federation of America. He has taught at Princeton University, Hebrew University, University of Pennsylvania, Bard College, and other institutions of higher learning. He has received many honors including the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding’s 2002 Peacemaker in Action Award, honorary degrees from John J. College of CUNY, Addis Ababa University of Ethiopia, NEH Fellowship, among others. He knows seventeen languages, and lectures widely on the subject of “Religion & Warfare”, “Religion and Hate”, etc. and sits on Boards of some twenty-five international religious, educational, and cultural organizations.

Ethiopedia, which is based in Addis Ababa, strives to make knowledge about Ethiopia easily and freely accessible to any one in the world.

Ethiopedia is a collaborative project involving several volunteers from various field.

For more info
Ayda Million, Editor
Email: ethiopedia@gmail.com

Ending the Culture of Impunity

Monday, May 25th, 2009

Alemayehu G. Mariam

The Culture of Impunity

David Dadge, Director of the Vienna-based International Press Institute, the oldest press freedom organization in the world, recently wrote a compelling commentary in The Guardian which should be of special interest to all Ethiopian human rights advocates.[1] He suggested that the current dictatorship in Ethiopia operates in an entrenched culture of impunity (not to be confused with the equally gripping culture of corruption that afflicts it) in which gross human rights abuses are committed routinely without legal accountability of the abusers and active complicity of officials. He argued that this culture could be brought to an end or significantly curtailed by donor countries and international lending institutions.

Dadge offered a partial list of the crimes committed by the current dictatorship with impunity:

… An authoritarian government rules Ethiopia with virtual impunity. Prime minister Meles Zenawi, in power for 18 years, has crushed the opposition. His ruling party dominates public institutions. Worse still, in a vast and predominantly rural country, the prime minister’s underlings control broadcasting and maintain a choke-hold on other media… Four years ago this month, Zenawi’s Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Party (EPRDF) suffered its worst loss at the polls since the former guerrilla overthrew a ruthless, Soviet-backed regime in 1991. Rather than accept its losses, the EPRDF-run government responded with a brutal crackdown, claiming outright victory and accusing the opposition of trying to stage an insurrection. Security forces attacked peaceful protesters, jailed opposition leaders, sent thousands of their supporters to gruesome detention camps and accused independent journalists of treason – a crime punishable by death.

The Legacy of Impunity

Ethiopia’s modern history has been disfigured by unfathomable acts of official cruelty and inhumanity. Few have ever been held to account for criminal acts of depravity that can be soberly described as monstrous. The enduring legacy of impunity is too painful to remember: There was the criminal and extreme indifference of the imperial regime to the hundreds of thousands of famine victims in the early 1970s. The fire stoked by that famine consumed the monarchy, and from its ashes rose a military dictatorship of unimaginable savagery. Mengistu and his henchmen orchestrated official “terror” campaigns which resulted in the extermination of hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens. Justice has yet to catch up with those criminals. Today there is a diabolically cruel and wicked criminal enterprise masquerading as a government that has continued the sadistic and barbarous legacy of impunity. The current dictators in Ethiopia operate on the belief that they can commit any crime whatsoever without fear of punishment, legal accountability, or retribution. This culture of impunity must end!

Practicing the Culture of Impunity

Over the past decade, there has been massive documentation of human rights violations in Ethiopia. Yet there has not been a single independently verified prosecution of human rights violations under the current dictatorship. No regime official or member of its security or military force has ever been prosecuted for crimes against humanity. There have been no prosecutions even when there is clear proof of gross human rights violations in the possession of the regime. Just last year, Col. Michael Dewars, the internationally renowned riot control expert, hired by the dictatorship to make recommendations on riot control improvements stated in his report that the Director General of the Ethiopian Federal Police told him, “As a direct result of the 2005 riots, he [had] sacked 237 policemen.”[2] This evidence directly contradicts previous statements by the dictatorship denying specific knowledge of any criminal conduct by the riot policemen who fired into crowds of innocent protesters indiscriminately. It also shows the entrenched and hardcore nature of the culture of impunity in the dictatorship: Even suspects who are “directly” implicated in the massacres of nearly 200 protesters and maiming of nearly 800 others four years ago have yet to be brought to justice. On December 13, 2003, more than 400 Anuaks were massacred by uniformed soldiers of the dictatorship, and tens of thousands were forced to flee to the Sudan. Though there are multitudes of eyewitnesses to the massacres, not one of the implicated “soldiers” has been prosecuted.

Even when U.N. Undersecretary General John Holmes in 2007 visited the Ogaden region and later recommended to the leader of the current dictatorship that large numbers of civilians had been killed by regime troops, their homes burned and deprived of adequate food or medicines, the official response was, “There have probably been cases of [human] rights violations by government troops [but] the violations were not widespread or systematic.” No one was ever identified, investigated, arrested or prosecuted for these “human rights violations”. Indiscriminate shelling of civilians in Somalia by the regime’s troops have resulted in mind boggling civilian casualties and displacement of over 1.5 million people from their homes. No one has been charged with war crimes. There are also thousands of cases in which official criminal acts have been perpetrated against individuals in violation of the dictatorship’s own constitution and criminal laws as documented fully in the annual reports of the various international human rights organizations. No prosecutions in such cases have taken place. To add insult to injury, the dictatorship recently drafted a so-called antiterrorism law which aims to provide full “legal” armor to its decadent culture of impunity. (Legal history buffs will no doubt be amused by the curious similarity of the text, tenor and spirit of the dictatorship’s “anti-terrorism law” with the 1933 Reichstag Fire Decree, which accelerated the entrenchment of the Nazis by giving them a legal cudgel to hammer down their opposition on mere suspicion of “terrorism”.)

Ending the Culture of Impunity

Dadge argues convincingly that donor countries and multilateral lending institutions providing “development” funds have significant leverage against the dictatorship in Ethiopia, and could help bring accountability for human rights violations and closure to the culture of impunity:

The European Union and the United States will pump about $2.5bn into Ethiopia this year, a sum that does not even begin to include the cost of medicines, famine relief and countless other services provided by non-profit groups… There are ways to pressure Zenawi: Donors should deny Ethiopian ministers a seat at diplomatic tables… The Development Assistance Group, created by the EU and other principal donors to co-ordinate aid projects in Ethiopia [should] ensure that international resources do not support policies that are anathema to human rights values…. The EU should aggressively enforce the Cotonou Agreement, which requires Ethiopia and other nations that receive European assistance to respect ‘human rights, democratic principles, and the rule of law’. The EU and the US should wield more of their clout at the World Bank and other international organisations to link development grants to progress on press freedom and human rights.

Implicit in Dadge’s argument are three vital propositions: 1) The indulgence and benign indifference of the EU, the U.S. and international lending organizations are partly responsible for emboldening the dictatorship to continue to practice its culture of impunity. 2) These same donors and lenders hold the key to ending that culture of impunity by making all non-humanitarian aid to the dictatorship contingent on improvements in human rights. 3) The dictatorship will continue to conjure up the specter of terrorism, regional instability and internal chaos to cling to power and perpetuate reflexive support from the donors and lenders.

We have witnessed the Bush administration turning a blind eye to massive human rights violations in Ethiopia so long as the dictatorship was willing to undertake a proxy war in Somalia. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown chose to be romanced by smooth talk of democracy and intellectual pretensions; they too turned a blind eye. Brown insulted the intelligence of all Africans when he invited the current dictator in Ethiopia, universally condemned for his dismal human rights record, to represent Africa at the G-20 meeting. But that has been the history of duplicity of the Bush-Brown-Gordon axis. The EU must also be outed for its hypocrisy. Not long ago, it rewarded the dictators in Ethiopia with a gift of €250 million shortly after they clamped down on NGOs and civic society institutions. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund suspended some aid in feigned outrage against the dictatorship following the 2005 elections, but later opened up the floodgates of loans to sustain it. None of the donors and lenders did much to stop the killings, mass arrests, imprisonments and persecution of innocent Ethiopians. It is self-evident that for more than a decade, there has been a tragic failure of donor and lender policy in not supporting good governance in Ethiopia based on the principle of the rule of law. Donors have sought to evade the truth about the dictatorship by justifying its egregious human rights abuses as manifestations of benign ignorance, inexperience, incompetence or lack of technical understanding of modern governance. Donors and lenders must be made to support democracy and the rule of law in Ethiopia!

From a Culture of Impunity to a Culture of the Rule of Law

Dadge is telling us that the culture of impunity practiced by the dictatorship could be changed by transforming international donor and lender policies. The first step in bringing about this change is to get donors and lenders to take moral responsibility for their complicity in the dictatorship’s human rights abuses. We must do everything possible to get them to publicly condemn the regime’s repression and atrocities. Second, we must demonstrate to them with empirical evidence that the aid and development loans they provide to the regime are pivotal in sustaining the system of repression and human rights abuses. We must make convincing moral, political and legal arguments that show the rule of law and growth of democratic institutions in Ethiopia will serve their practical and long term interests better than the expediency of supporting a regime that can sustain itself only through violence and brutality. In short, we must use all of our resources to force Western donor countries and multilateral lending institutions to publicly chose between democracy and the rule of law in Ethiopia on the one hand, and dictatorship and human rights abuses on the other. That should be the cornerstone of our global advocacy strategy!

We challenge Ethiopians exiled in Europe to do their part and follow up with Dadge’s suggested courses of action. They have a powerful legal tool to make their case before the European Union. They must insist that the EU live up to its legal obligations under the 2000 Cotonou Partnership Agreement, and deny aid and loans to governments that do not “respect human rights, uphold democratic principles based on the rule of law and maintain transparency and accountability in governance.”

We are not unmindful of the tired, worn out and silly sovereignty arguments (“no donor or lender can tell us to improve human rights”) of the dictatorship. There is one simple truth the dictators need to understand clearly: Beggars can not dictate terms to their benefactors! They accept graciously and gratefully what they are given. Taxpayers of Western donor countries have no moral or legal obligation to provide material support to regimes who use their aid to commit crimes against humanity. A truly sovereign government takes care of its people, abides by the rules of international law and does not depend on the perpetual charity and goodwill of others to feed its people, run its government and maintain its social institutions.

Zero Tolerance for a Culture of Impunity

We must consistently advocate a policy of zero tolerance of a culture of impunity in Ethiopia. This means torturers, killers and other violators of human rights must be thoroughly and independently investigated, prosecuted, convicted and punished. The time to build a transitional bridge from a culture of impunity to a culture of the rule of law is now. Exiled Ethiopians alone can not build this bridge. We must make allies of the citizens of the EU countries and the U.S. and convince them that their hard earned tax dollars must not be used to bankroll a depraved dictatorship in Ethiopia. In the U.S., many of us have taken that challenge directly. We shall continue to work with Congressman Donald Payne and Senators Russ Feingold and Pat Leahy to bring to fruition the “Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act” (formerly H.R. 2003), which links U.S. non-humanitarian aid to improvements in human rights in Ethiopia. We are also confident that the Obama Administration will be sympathetic to our cause of human rights accountability. We believe the new administration will not turn a blind eye, a deaf ear and a mute tongue to our plea for help in stopping human rights abuses, ending the culture of impunity and in establishing the rule of law in Ethiopia.

Letter writing campaigns, public demonstrations and petitions are important; but to end the culture of impunity and bring human rights violators to justice much more is needed. Persuasive, convincing and cold hard evidence is required. We must expand and develop an ongoing data collection effort that documents human rights violations on a systematic basis throughout the country. We must apply creative strategies to monitor harassment of human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists, use video and audio technologies to document incidents of abuse particularly by members of the security forces, locate and maintain witness lists for abuse incidents, keep photographic and documentary records of torture and abuse victims and perform other similar activities. We thank those courageous Ethiopians who have undertaken such tasks to date.

Those Who Refuse to Learn From History Should Learn From Their Constitution

George Santayana admonished, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” If we do not learn from the burdensome legacy of the culture of impunity, we shall be condemned to prolong and tolerate it for ages to come. The old adage holds true in Ethiopia’s case: “The limits of tyrants are set by the level of tolerance of those subjected to tyranny.” The people of Ethiopia have tolerated a ruthless dictatorship for eighteen years. They are now a hungry and angry people. They are hungry not only for food to sustain their bodies, but also a human rights culture anchored in the principle of the rule of law and democratic institutions to nurture their spirits. They are angry because their basic human rights are violated everyday. Freedom from the rule of those wallowing in a culture of impunity comes at a high price. Many Ethiopians pay that price on a daily basis. We believe history is a great teacher; but the law is a formidable disciplinarian. Article 28 of the dictatorship’s constitution is prophetically instructive:

Crimes Against Humanity. There shall be no period of limitation on persons charged with crimes against humanity as provided by international conventions ratified by Ethiopia and other laws of Ethiopia. The legislature or any other organ of state shall have no power to pardon or give amnesty with regard to such offences.”

Those who refuse to learn from history would be wise to learn from their own constitution!

[1] http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/may/19/ethiopia-human-rights
[2] http://ethiopiangasha.org/tmp/ALM_October222008.html

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

UDJ Party denied permission to hold public meeting

Monday, May 25th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA (The Reporter) — The Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ) party dismissed its plan to hold a public meeting at Meskel Square on Saturday, 23 May 2009, as it was not able to secure permission to hold the event from the City Government of Addis Ababa.

In a letter issued by Markos Bizuneh, officer of Peaceful Demonstration and Public Meeting Notification of the City Government, the party was told that it can only hold its meeting in halls of the party’s choosing.

Dr. Hailu Araya, UDJ’s public relations head and vice president, said that the demonstration notification office told them that they can only make facilities available for the party to hold its meetings in a hall.

Although the party notified the city administration on Monday, the response came after three days which, according to him, contravened the law.

Article 6 (2) of Proclamation No. 3/1991 which provides for the establishment of the procedure for peaceful demonstration and political meeting says, “Where the municipal or Awraja administrative office is of the opinion that … it is preferable for the peaceful demonstration or public political meeting to be held at some other time or place, it shall so notify the organizers by giving reasons, in writing, within 12 hours of the time of submission of their notice.”

”We submitted our request on Monday but they responded on Thursday. Here you can see the law had been breached,” Dr. Hailu said.

Denying the party a space to hold its activities has its own danger, Dr. Hailu said.

“In many places, especially in Amhara and Oromia regions, many of our offices have been closed, party members detained and intimidated,” he added.

Despite the problems that the party is facing, they will continue the peaceful political struggle, according to him.

Woyanne reacts to President Isaias Afwerki's interview

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

The Woyanne regime in Ethiopia has issued the following statement in response to President Isaias Afwerki’s interview. It must be a joke for Woyanne, the author of ‘Article 39′ (that gives ethnic groups the right to secede from Ethiopia), to accuse others of being anti-Ethiopia. By his actions, including his vehement opposition to ‘Article 39′ and supporting Ethiopian freedom fighters who stand for united Ethiopia, President Isaias has demonstrated that he is indeed a great friend of Ethiopia.

Read below the laughable statement by the Woyanne junta:

——————————–

President Issayas lectures the World, masquerading as defender of Ethiopia Unity

(MOFA 05/22/09):- President Issayas is taking the opportunity of Eritrea’s 16th anniversary of independence (May 24) to offer the region, Africa and the Middle East, his thoughts on world and regional problem, and at length. In a whole series of interviews, with regional media and those in the Middle East, and more widely, he has been telling the region, Africa, and indeed the world, how to behave and pointing out where they have all been going wrong. Every night for weeks, viewers of Eritrean TV have been able to hear their President’s thoughts at considerable length.

President Issayas finds little to welcome in the world or even in Eritrea. The words that most commonly appear are challenge, conspiracy, hostility, sacrifice, hard work and yet more hard work. The rewards are all far in the future; and Eritrea is always the target. “The United Nations, including the Security Council, has become an unjust and inequitable tool of a few nations” indulging in “illegal and unconstructive” positions, as well as baseless slanders against Eritrea over the supply of arms to Al-Shabaab and opponents of the Somali Government, although the Somali Prime Minister said only this week that the Somali Government had detailed evidence of arms flights arriving from Eritrea. President Issayas told Egyptian State TV this week that the problems in Somalia mainly emanate from the illegal actions of the UN Security Council itself. In a comprehensive attack on the Council, President Issayas claimed it had taken illegal and unconstructive positions, breaching the UN Charter and international law. This, he claimed, had caused the present vacuum in Somalia and become the source for piracy and other activities. He said a government “imposed” from outside had further aggravated the problem. In this context he told Kenyan TV that IGAD was a tool in the service of foreign agendas and was the source of the problem in Somalia. Eritrea, he said, expected nothing good from such an impotent organization and this was why it had suspended its membership.

The African Union came in for similar strictures as doing nothing more useful than “talking about a vacuum”. He referred to the behaviour of its leaders as corrupt and despicable, and in this connection he had much to say about democracy and the media in Africa. According to President Issayas, (talking to SABC TV at the weekend) Africa needs “genuine” democracy. Surprisingly, in view of South Africa’s recent Presidential election, he specifically noted that the South African experience proved that one cannot speak of real democracy when holding elections in which there is no equitable distribution of resources and where the majority of the population lived below the poverty line. President Issayas’ version of democracy, which ignores elections or political parties, does not equate with other peoples’ views. He is against such “meaningless exercises or manifestations of ostentatious behaviour”. In fact, democracy is an ideal and a set of institutions of practices. As an ideal it involves the concept that members of a group should have the determining control over rules and policies, and that members of the group should treat each other as equals. In a modern state this ideal is realized through a framework of citizens’ rights, institutions for representative and accountable government (in particular through a freely elected parliament), an active civil society and a number of mediatory elements of which the most obvious are political parties and an independent media. None of these are present in Eritrea and President Issayas specifically rejects most of these, even claiming, in defiance of Eritrea’s still unimplemented constitution that the people of Eritrea do not want either political parties or an independent media. It was in an interview with Al-Jazeera last year that the President actually put a time frame on elections. Eritrea would have, he said, to wait three or four decades before it held elections, and possibly longer. On the media, President Issayas claimed there was no free press any where in the world today. However the Eritrean people, he claimed, possessed media organs that served as forums for expressing their views and opinions as well as providing them with correct and objective information. Eritrea, of course, has had no independent media outlets since they were all closed down abruptly in 2001 and at least two dozen journalists detained and dozens more exiled.

Few international bodies or countries have escaped President Issayas’ attacks: “conspiracies and hostilities weaved in the name of regional, international and non-governmental organizations,…under the pretext of free press or [humanitarian activities] or…charity are some of the instruments of neo-colonialism masterminded by intelligence agencies.” The US has been one of the President’s main targets. He said it has a strategy of domination through creating problems and crises with the aim of strengthening US influence throughout the region. He attacked the CIA for encouraging and sponsoring human trafficking and encouraging Eritrean youth to flee their country. Hundreds of Eritreans cross into Ethiopia and Sudan every months to avoid conscription and repression. President Issayas told Asharq Alawat newspaper that lying was the culture of the CIA and the “baseless” anti-Eritrean defamatory campaign currently including allegations of Israeli and Iranian bases in Eritrea was no more than a continuation of this historic activity.

Uganda and Burundi are attacked for sending forces for AMISOM in Somalia. They are categorized as far from stable countries, experiencing civil unrest as well as internal opposition. These governments should, said President Issayas, concentrate on their own problems rather than meddle elsewhere. Indeed, the only viable solution for Somalia, said President Issayas was for outsiders to stop meddling in its affairs. He did not include Eritrea in this however. Eritrea’s support for the Somali people was, he said, a moral and legal obligation; and peace and stability could only be achieved by creating a conducive ground for the Somali people to resolve the issue themselves. Kenya was held responsible for the disappearance of three Eritrean journalists in Mogadishu and President Issayas added, ominously, that Eritrea would never overlook the issue. Last weekend it was the turn of long-time ally, the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement. President Issayas, claiming he had the right to criticize the organization, attacked it for failing to fulfill its commitments to the people of Sudan, for corruption and for failing to be definitive on unity or separation.

Perhaps, most bizarrely, in one four hour interview with what claims to be an Ethiopian website though undoubtedly in the pay of the Eritrean Government, President Issayas even tried to portray himself as a defender of Ethiopian unity. The interview indeed appears designed to allow President Issayas to appear in this guise. The truth of the matter is that no other person has worked so tirelessly for the demise of Ethiopia as a country. This is by no means an exaggeration. President Issayas has never been supportive of Ethiopian unity as his current efforts at destabilization make all too clear. Ethiopian officials, of course, are privy to what President Issayas was telling many African leaders during the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia (1998-2000): there is no such thing as Ethiopia and what there is, is no more than a shadow of a country – a country that cannot be taken seriously as a state. In terms of historical background, we would remember what President Issayas told an American, Paul Henze, on 11th March 1991, before he entered Asmara:

“The only reason that there is an Ethiopia is that the US needed it for the Cold War, and recreated it, otherwise it would have disappeared at the end of World War II.”

Ethiopia coffee exports falling, pins hope on sesame

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

By Barry Malone

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopian coffee exports will fall by 30-40 percent in 2009/2010, but the country hopes to become the world’s biggest sesame seed exporter this year, the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX) boss said on Friday.

Ethiopian officials have blamed bad weather for near total crop failure in some southern growing zones this season, and ECX chief executive Eleni Gabre-Madhin said the global economic slowdown was also hurting overseas sales.

“This year we’re likely to see a 30 to 40 percent shortfall in coffee export earnings relative to last year,” she told Reuters in an interview at her office in Addis Ababa.

“But we are projecting to export 225,000 tonnes of sesame, earning about $250 million, which is likely to make us the world’s largest exporter.”

The ECX began trading sesame for the first time last month and potential investors in the sector from China and India have already visited the Horn of Africa nation, Eleni said.

Africa’s biggest coffee exporter is also the world’s fourth-largest sesame exporter after China, India and Myanmar, exporting 124,291 tonnes of sesame last year.

Eleni said Ethiopia could set the benchmark price for sesame in the future. “It’s a big ambition for a little country, but we have that potential,” she said.

Coffee accounted for some 60 percent of Ethiopia’s foreign exchange revenue in the 2007/2008 (June/July) season, when it earned more than $525 million from exports of 170,888 tonnes of mostly high quality arabica beans.

But Eleni said the cash-strapped nation would only make about $300 million from its biggest hard currency earner this year, partly due to the global economic slowdown.

“It’s not insignificant that some of the higher-end premium coffee outlets are scaling back,” she said. “Starbucks closing 600 stores around the world has implications for demand for the type of premium coffee that Ethiopia exports.”

Ethiopia has been suffering from a shortage of foreign currency as commodity prices have fallen worldwide and demand for its mostly agricultural exports has slipped.

DIRECT IMPACT ON EARNINGS

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi warned last month reserves stood at just $850 million versus a target of at least $1.2 billion.

The government has said it expects economic growth of 11.2 percent in 2009. The International Monetary Fund has predicted growth of 6.5 percent for Ethiopia this year.

“The global coffee market has had a direct impact on our foreign exchange earnings and our economy is having to face that at the moment,” Eleni said.

The ECX was set up to replace a murky auction system. But some Ethiopian exporters have been reluctant to sell their beans through the new exchange, which began trading coffee in December.
The government seized 17,000 tonnes of the crop in March and revoked the licences of six exporters it accused of hoarding their stocks and waiting for prices to rise.

When a state-owned body then exported the seized stock, some in the industry accused the government of nationalising its most valuable export business. The government denied that.
“It was a one-time corrective action,” Eleni said. “An attempt to send the signal that we have to keep export earnings going because the country is in a crisis.”

Exports have also been shaken by Japan’s insistence on testing Ethiopian coffee beans on arrival after it found some last year that were contaminated with pesticides. That effectively halted exports to a country that once bought about 20 percent of Ethiopia’s beans.

Ethiopia prides itself as the birthplace of coffee. Some 15 million smallholder farmers grow the crop, mostly in the forested highlands in the huge country’s west and southwest.

(Editing by Daniel Wallis)

Maryland: Ethiopian man arrested for sexual assault

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

SILVER SPRING, MARYLAND (ABC News) – A Silver Spring hair salon owner has been arrested for sexually assaulting a 23-year-old female employee, Montgomery County Police say.

Adane Mekonnen Ali, 33, of University Boulevard in Silver Spring, was arrested and charged with second-degree sex offense, first-degree assault and false imprisonment.

According to investigators, the victim was working at the Addis Hair Salon at 11429 Grandview Avenue on May 6 when she was told by Ali to stay after hours to assist a customer. When the salon was empty the suspect allegedly locked the door, turned off the lights and removed her cell phone. He told the girl he wanted to talk, but she refused. That’s when the assault allegedly took place before forcing the woman into a car and driving her home.

Ali, an immigrant from Ethiopia, is being held at the Montgomery County Detention Center on $250,000 bond.

Police are asking anyone with additional information is asked to call the Major Crimes Division, Homicide/Sex Section at 240-773-5070 or the police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000. Callers may remain anonymous.

Ethiopian free press in exile

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

By Jim Bettinger

Abebe Gellaw with Jerry YangAbebe Gellaw, the 2008-09 Yahoo! International Fellow at Stanford this year, is an example of how one person with a great idea can make a difference.

Abebe is an Ethiopian journalist, but the regime in his home country is too repressive to allow true journalism, so he is in exile. He had been in London for years before coming to the U.S. as the Yahoo! International Journalism Fellow at Stanford.

The Yahoo! fellowship was specifically established for people like Abebe, journalists from countries where there are strong challenges to a free press. Yahoo! and the Knight Fellowships agreed that supporting journalists who were directly or indirectly under attack should be at the top of the to-do list, and so we created the Yahoo! Fellowship in 2006, with a generous gift from Yahoo!.

Abebe is the third Yahoo! Fellow, following Imtiaz Ali, from Pakistan, and Violet Gonda, of Zimbabwe. Like Abebe, Violet was in exile, too. Abebe’s great idea is Addis Voice, a London-based website devoted to independent news about Ethiopia. It has become a trusted source of news and commentary for the Ethiopian diaspora. Here’s an interview with Abebe:

Abebe’s fellowship is ending, and we are ready to welcome Nadia Trinidad of the Philippines, one of the deadliest countries for journalists in the world. Nadia is a senior correspondent for ABS-CBN Brooadcasting Company in Manila. She will study the psychological and sociological aspects of corruption in the media. She will arrive in August.

Journalists are under attack around the world, and organizations like the Committee To Protect Journalists make sure that those attacks are brought to light. It makes me feel proud that the Knight Fellowships and Yahoo! have teamed up to provide a fellowship at Stanford every year for someone who is bearing the brunt of those attacks.

(Jim Bettinger is Director of John S. Knight Fellowship for Professional Journalists, Stanford University)

Woyanne's desperation – Analysis by Tesfaye GebreAb

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Tesfaye GebreAb analyzes the recent developments inside the Woyanne regime in Ethiopia, including the alleged coup plot, desperate measures against Amhara officers in the Woyanne army, Meles Zenawi’s possible retirement next year, who may take his place, etc.

[click here for PDF]
[Source: EMF]

የግንቦት ማስታወሻ

ከተስፋዬ ገብረአብ

እነሆ! ዛሬ ቅዳሜ ነው።

እለቱም ግንቦት 9፣ 2009።

ትናንት ደግሞ ግንቦት 8 ነበር። በአበሻ የዘመን አቆጣጠር ልክ የዛሬ ሃያ አመት ግድም “ጥቂት ጄኔራሎች” ኰሎኔል መንግስቱ ላይ የመፈንቅለ መንግስት ሙከራ አድርገው ነበር። ሳይሳካላቸው በመክሸፉ ዛሬ በህይወት የሉም። ማንኛውም አጥንት – አስከሬን ሆነዋል። አምላክ የጄኔራሎቹን ነፍስ ይማር። እኒያ ሰዎች ከነሙሉ ችግራቸው ከኰሎኔል መንግስቱ የተሻሉ ዜጎች ነበሩ ብዬ አምናለሁ።

ቀደም ሲል ደግሞ ጄኔራል መንግስቱ ነዋይ ጃንሆይን ለማስወገድ በመሞከራቸው የዚያ ዘመን ወጣት ትውልድ ጃንሆይን መንካትና መድፈር እንደሚቻል ትምህርት ማግኘት መቻሉ ይታመናል። ሰሞኑን ደግሞ ታሪክ ራሱን ለመድገም ሞከረ። የመፈንቅለ መንግስት ሙከራ ርእሰ አጀንዳ ሆኖ ሲያነጋግረን ሰነበተ።

እኔም ታዲያ ምንም ስንኳ የፓለቲካ ተንታኝ ባልሆንም፣ እንደ ጋዜጠኛነቴ በጉዳዩ ዙሪያ አስተያየቴን በጨረፍታ ለማኖር ፈቅጄያለሁ። ለነገሩ ይቺን “ብጫቂ ወረቀት” የመጫር አሳብ የመጣው ከኔው አልነበረም። በፀጥታ ተቀምጬ፣ “የደራሲው ማስታወሻ” የሚል ስም የሰጠሁትን ቀጣይ መፅሃፌን እየፃፍኩ ሳለ የethioforum.org ዋና አዘጋጅ ክንፉ አሰፋ መስመር ላይ አገኘኝና፣

“የሰሞኑ ግርግር ላይ አስተያየትህን ለምን አትፅፍም?” ሲል ጠየቀኝ።

* * *

የሰሞኑን የመፈንቅለ መንግስት ግርግር ጉዳይ ከማንሳቴ በፊት ግን በዚህ ወቅት የማንም የፖለቲካ ድርጅት አባል አለመሆኔን ከወዲሁ መግለፅ ግዴታ ሆኖ አጊንቸዋለሁ። ቀደም ሲል የወያኔ አባል ለመሆን የበቃሁትም ባልጠበቅሁት ሁኔታ ከተራራ ወደ ሸለቆ እንደ ኳስ እየተጠለዝኩ መሆኑን በ“ጋዜጠኛው ማስታወሻ” አውግቼያችሁዋለሁና እሱን እዚህ አልደግመውም። ይህን ርእሰ ጉዳይ ማንሳት ያስፈለገበት ምክንያትም በቅርቡ ከግንቦት 7 ጋር በተያያዘ እየታማሁ በመሆኑ ነው።

በመሰረቱ በግንቦት 7 አባልነት መታማት የሚያኮራ ነው።

የፖለቲካ ፓርቲዎች ውስጥ የመግባት ሃሳብ ቢኖረኝ ኖሮ ግንቦት 7 ከአማራጮቼ አንዱ በሆነ ነበር። ቅሬታዬን መግለፅ የፈለግሁትም የአብርሃ በላይ ድረገፅ አትሞት የነበረው አንድ ፅሁፍ ግንቦት 7ን ለማጥቃት ሆን ተብሎ በወያኔ ካድሬዎች የተፃፈ ሊሆን ይችላል ብዬ በመገመቴ ነበር። “የአድአው ጥቁር አፈር” በሚል ርእስ ኢትዮሚዲያ ድረገፅ ላይ የታተመው ፅሁፍ ከኔ በላይ ግንቦት7ን የሚያጠቃ ሆኖ ነበር ያገኘሁት።

በዚያን ሰሞን የፀሃፊውን ማንነት ለማወቅ ብዙ ጥረት አድርጌ ነበር። ፍንጭ የሚሰጠኝ ግን ጠፋ። ‘ያያ አባ ቦር’ በሚል የብእር ስም ግንቦት 7ን ከኔ ጋር ደርቦ በቃላት መድፍ ሲደበድበኝ የከረመው ፀሃፊ ለካስ የሩቅ ወዳጄ ኦቦ በፈቃዱ ሞረዳ ኖሮአል።

በፈቃዱ ሞረዳ በፃፍው መጣጥፍ እኔን ‘ወኔ ቢስ፣ፈሪ!’ ብሎ የቻለውን ያህል በሚያጥላሉ ቃላት ሲገልፅ፣ ራሱን ደግሞ ‘የግንባር ስጋ’ ወይም ‘ጀግና’ ‘እውነተኛ ጋዜጠኛ’ ሲል ገልፆአል። እዚህ ላይ ማንበቤን በማቆም ጥቂት ተክዤ ቆየሁ። በፈቃዱ ስለራሱ ጀግናነት በአደባባይ እስኪናገር ድረስ ርግጠኛ መሆን ከቻለ በውነቱ በጣም እድለኛ ሰው ሆኖ ይሰማኛል። ጀግና መሆን መልካም ነው። ሰዎች በምርጫቸው ፈሪ ሆነው አያውቁም። ለነገሩ የጀግንነትና የፈሪነት መለኪያዎች ከቶ ምን ይሆኑ? ስንት አይነት ጀግንነቶችስ አሉ? እና በፍቃዱ ሞረዳ ራሱን ጀግና ብሎ እኔን ወደ ፈሪዎች ቀበሌ የላከኝ በየትኞቹ መለኪያዎች ይሆን?

በፍቃዱ ከ1981 ጀምሮ እንደሚያውቀኝም ፅፎአል።

እውነቱን ነው።

ግጥሞቹን በጣም ስለምወዳቸው ራሴ ነኝ ፈልጌ የተዋወቅሁት። እኔ ከዚያ በፊት በስነ -ግጥሞቹ አውቀው ነበር። እሱም እንደኔው ሃረር ላይ ያቺኑ የፉገራ ፖለቲካ ተምሮ ነበርና እኛ ስንመረቅ በፍቃዱ የኢሰፓ ጋዜጠኛና ካድሬ ሆኖ መጣ። አዲሳባን እንጂ ጦርነትን አያውቃትም። ሃረር ላይ ግማሽ ሰአት ያህል ስነፅሁፍ ነክ ወሬ ተጨዋውተን ተለያየን። በዚሁ አበቃ። በፍቃዱ ሞረዳ ወደ አዲሳባ፣ እኔ ወደ አሰቃቂው ጦርነት ተለያየን። መልአከ ሞት ደግሞ ሬሳ በዝቶበት ነው መሰለኝ፣

“አንተን ለጊዜው አንፈልግህም” ብሎ ሳይወስደኝ ቀረ።

ደርግ ወድቆ አዲሳባ ስንገባ ከበፈቃዱ ጋር በድጋሚ ተገናኘን። አሁን ደግሞ ሁለታችንም ስደተኞች ነን። ከስደቱ በሁዋላ ወያኔን በጋራ እንታገለዋለን ብዬ ስጠብቅ በፈቃዱ ሞረዳ ፊቱን ወደኔ አዙሮ በባዙቃ ይደበድበኝ ያዘ። አብርሃ በላይም፣ ምክንያቱ ባልታወቀ ሁኔታ የበፈቃዱ ሞረዳን ፅሁፍ ከድረገፁ ነቅሎ ጣለው። እንዳልኳችሁ ግን “የግንቦት 7 አምባሳደር” ሆኜ አስመራ ልጓዝ እንደተዘጋጀሁ የሚገልፀውን የፈጠራ ፅሁፍ የፃፈው በፈቃዱ ሞረዳ ሊሆን ይችላል ብዬ አልገመትኩም ነበር።

ያን ሰሞን ታዲያ ለቀጣዩ መፅሃፌ ከበፈቃዱ ሞረዳ ውብ ግጥሞች፣ “ጀጎል” የተባለችውን ልጠቀምባት በማሰብ፣ “ጀጎል’ የተባለች ግጥምህን ላክልኝ” የሚል ኢሜይል ፃፍኩለት። በጀጎል ፈንታ በኔ ላይ ያለውን ጥላቻ የሚተርከውን ፅሁፍ በፒዲፍ አስሮ ላከልኝ። “የአደአው ጥቁር አፈር” መድፈኛ እሱራሱ እንደሆነም ነገረኝ።

በእውነቱ ወያኔዎች በዚህ ነው የሚበልጡን። የራሳቸውን ሰው በመደብደብ ሃይል አያባክኑም። በፍቃዱ ሞረዳ እኔን በመደብደብ ወያኔን ብቻ ነው ማስደሰት የቻለው። በርግጥ በፍቃዱ ወደ ኦነግ ስለ መግባቱ ያልተረጋገጠ ጭምጭምታ ወሬ ሰምቻለሁ። ወሬው እውነት ከሆነ ለገጣሚው ያያ አባ ቦር መልካም ትግል እመኝለታለሁ…

በዚያን እለት ምሽት ወደ ፕሪቶሪያ ደቡብ ነዳሁ። የከተማችን ደቡባዊ አቅጣጫ ኮረብታማ ነው። ገና ሙሉ በሙሉ አልመሸም ነበር። ባቡሮች የጉልበት ሰራተኞችን እየጫኑ፣ ፕሪቶሪያን እያቋጡ፣ በውበቱ ከቶውንም ተወዳዳሪ ወደሌለው ወደ ኩዋዙሉ ናታል ከፍለሃገር ይከንፋሉ። ኮረብቶቹ በጣም ውብ ሲሆኑ ጃኪቻን የተባለው የፊልም አክተር “…” የተባለውን ፊልም ለመስራት እኒያን ኮረብቶች ተጠቅሞባቸዋል። እዚያ ኮረብታ ላይ ወጣሁና ቁጭ አልሁ። ቁጭ አልኩ ብቻዬን።

በወርቃማው ዘመን ስለ ተፈጠሩት የሩስያ ደራስያን አሰብኩና ቅናት ሰቅዞ ያዘኝ። በአንድ ወቅት ሃያስያን ወደ ቶልስቶይ ቀርበው ስለ ቼኾቭ ጠይቀውት ነበር።

ሳያመነታ እንዲህ መለሰ፣

“ወደድኩም ጠላሁም አንቶን ቼኾቭ እንደሚበልጠኝ አመኜያልሁ!!”

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የሆነው ሆኖ በፈቃዱ ሞረዳ ስለ ግንቦት 7 የገመተውን እንርሳውና እንደ አንድ የስነፅሁፍ ሰው በሰሞኑ አጀንዳ ላይ የግል እይታዬን ላውጋችሁ…..

ከትናንት በስቲያ ግንቦት 7 ነበር እለቱ።

መለስና በረከት የኰሎኔል መንግስቱ ርኩስ መንፈስ ምን ሹክ እንዳላቸው ባይታወቅም፣ እንደ መርዶ ነጋሪ በጠዋት ተነስተው፣ “ግንቦት 7 ወንበራችንን ሊሰርቅ ሲል ለጥቂት ያዝነው!!” ሲሉ በጩኸት ነገሩን።

አያያዘናም በረከት፣

“ለግንቦት 20 ሲያስቡን፣ ግንቦት 7 ላይ አስቀረናቸው” አለን።

በርግጥ በረከት እንደዚህ ሲል አልሰማሁትም። አይልም ግን አይባልም።

እንደዋዛ ከጀመርኩት ወግ ወዲያ ማዶ ታዲያ አያሌ መራራ አጀንዳዎች አሉ። በአስር ሺዎች የሚገመቱ ኢትዮጵያውያን የፖለቲካ እስረኞች በየማጎሪያው የከፋውን ስቃይ እየተቀበሉ ይገኛሉ። ቴዲ አፍሮ አንዱ ነው። ብርቱካን ሚደቅሳ – ሁለት። ገመቹ አባቢያ – ሶስት። ገመቹን የሚያውቀው አለ? ምናልባት የምናውቀው ጥቂቶች ሳንሆን አንቀርም። የኦነግ ታጋይ ነበር። ወያኔ አስሮታል። ከናይሮቢ አፍነው ወሰዱትና አሁን የት እንዳለ አይታወቅም።

የስንቱ ስም ተዘርዝሮ ይቻላል?

በርግጥ የሹርሹራ ጓደኛ ስለሆነው ገመቹ በቀጣዩ መፅሃፌ በስፋት አወጋችሁዋለሁ። “ሹርሹራ ደግሞ ማነው?” ትሉ ይሆናል። ለማንኛውም ሹርሹራ በህይወት የለም። የወለጋ ምድር ላይ በክብር አርፎአል። እንግዲህ በየማጎሪያው ከተወረወሩት ወገኖቻችን መካከል እነ ጄኔራል ተፈራ ማሞ የዚህ ማስታወሻ መነሻና ማእከል ናቸውና ወደዚያው ልዝለቅ….

* * *

ወያኔ አብላጫ ቁጥር ባላቸው ብሄሮች መካከል እንዴት አክሮባት እየሰራ መዝለቅ እንዳለበት የቤት ስራውን የሰራው ደርግ ከመውደቁ በፊት እንጂ ትናንት አልነበረም። ቀድሞውንም በተዳከመ የግንኙነት ማእቀፍ ውስጥ የነበረው የኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ ጣራው ተደርምሶበት፣ የሚያገናኙት የጋራ የስሜት ክሮች እየተበጣጠሱ አንዱ ለሌላው ጠላት በሚሆኑበት ጎዳና ላይ ሲደነቃቀፍ ዘመናት ባጅተዋል።

ጄኔራል ከማል ገልቹ ከ150 በላይ የታጠቁ የሰራዊት አባላትን አስከትሎ የኤርትራን ድንበር ሲያቋርጥ “የወያኔ ሰራዊት ፍፃሜ ተቃረበ!” ተብሎ ነበር። የጄኔራሉን መኮብለል ተከትሎ በረከት ሰምኦን በሰጠው ቃለምልልስ “ተገላገልን!” ሲል ነበር የገለፀው። ወያኔ ራሱን የሚያጠናክርበት በር ተከፈተለት። ከ20 ሺህ ያላነሱ ኦሮሞ ወታደሮች ከየጦር ክፍሉ ተመንጥረው ትግራይ ውስጥ ታሰሩ። በመቶዎች የሚገመቱ ኦሮሞ መኮንኖች ደግሞ ደሴ አካባቢ ወደሚገኝ ወታደራዊ እስር ቤት ተላኩ። መኮንኖቹን የተረከበቻቸው የእስርቤቱ ሃላፊ፣ ኮሎኔል ብራ የተባለች ነባር የህወሃት አባል ስትሆን፣ የአሉላ ክፍለጦር ኮሚሳር ከነበረችበት ጊዜ አንስቶ በጨካኝነቷ ትታወቃለች። ኮሎኔል ብራ የሃገር መከላከያ ከፍተኛ መኮንኖችን እርቃናቸውን አስቁማ ታስገርፋለች። እንደ ወይራ በጠነከረ የጎማ ዱላ ተደብድበው፣ፓራላይዝድ ሆነው ዛሬም ድረስ ማገገሚያ ጣቢያ የተቆለፈባቸው አንድ ሁለት መኮንኖችን አውቃለሁ።

መኮንኖቹ በግርፊያው ወቅት የተጠየቁት አንድ አጭር ጥያቄ ብቻ ነበር፣

“ከኦሮሞ ጄኔራሎች መካከል ከኦነግ ጋር ግንኙነት ያለው ማነው?”

ድብደባው ሲበዛባችው የአባዱላን ስም ጠሩ።

ኮሎኔል ብራ ወቀጣው እንዲቆም አዘዘችና ያገኘችውን “ምርጥ የምርመራ ውጤት” ለአለቆቿ አቀረበች። አለቆቿ ግን አባዱላ ዝንተአለም እንደማይከዳ ያውቁ ነበር።

ጄኔራል ከማል ሰራዊቱ ውስጥ በህቡእ ካደራጀው የኦነግ ደጋፊዎች መካከል ሲሶውን እንኳ ይዞ አለመውጣቱን ገልዖ ነበር። ይህ ለወያኔ እልል በቅምጤ ሆነለት። በዚያ ሰበብ ምንጠራውን ለማካሄድ በቂ ምክንያት አገኙ። ከጠረጋው በሁዋላ በጎደለ ለመሙላት በተደረገው የስልጣን ሽግሽግ ወያኔ ከአማራ የሰራዊቱ አባላት ድጋፍ ለማግኘት ጥቂት ሞካክሮአል። በዚያን ጊዜ አፍንጫ ሲመታ አይን ሳያለቀስ ቀረ።

ይህን ዘዴ ወያኔ ደጋግሞ ይጠቀምበታል።

ቅንጅት አዲሳባ ላይ በምርጫ ሲያሸንፍ በአንድ አዳር ፊንፊኔ የኦሮሚያ ዋና ከተማ ሆና አደረች። በዚሁ ሰሞንም ኢህአዴግ አዳማ ከተማ ላይ ባዘጋጀው አንድ ግብዣ ላይ የኢህአዴግ አባላት በትግርኛና በኦሮምኛ ብቻ ጨፈሩ። አባዱላም የሚያምነው ታቦት ስላልነበረው በጠመንጃ ስም እየማለ ታሪካዊ ንግግር አደረገ። ግብዣው ላይ የነበሩ እንደሚተርኩት አባዱላ እንባው ባይኑ ቸፈፍ ብሎ፣

“ፊንፊኔ ወደ እናት ክልሏ እንደምትመለስ ህልም ነበረኝ!!” ሲል እንደ ማርቲን ሉተር ኪንግ ድምፁን ቢለቀው ዝቋላና ካካ ተራሮች ደግሞ ያንን በገደል ማሚቷቸው በኩል አገማሸሩት።

አባዱላ እንባውና ህልሙን አጣጥሞ ሳያበቃ መለስ ዜናዊ ጠርቶ፣

“ህልምህን ህፃናት የማይደርሱበት ቦታ አስቀምጠው። ለጊዜው ግን አዳማ ትቆያላችሁ” አለው።

ወያኔ ሁለቱ አብላጫ ቁጥር ያላቸውን ብሄሮች በተመሳሳይ ጊዜ አጥቅቷቸው አያውቅም። አንዱን ሲያጠቃ የሌላው ድጋፍ ስለሚያስፈልገው የፈረቃ ቁማር ይቆምራል። የህወሃት አባላትም ምንጊዜም ፍርድ ሰጪ ዳኛ ሆነው መካከል ላይ ይገኛሉ። የኮሜዲያን ክበበው ገዳ “ገብረመድህን” የተባለው ገፀባህርይ ለዚህ አባባሌ እንደ መልካም ማሳያ ሊጠቀስ የሚችል ነው።

የሰሞኑ፣ “የመፈንቅለ መንግስት ድራማ” ለአየር ከበቃ በሁዋላ ዶክተር ብርሃኑ ነጋ በቃለመጠይቁ ሲገልፅ እንደነበረው ከጄኔራል ከማል ኩብለላ በሁዋላ በሰራዊቱ ውስጥ በተካሄደው ጠረጋ የአገዛዙ ስርአት ዘረኛ አካሄድ ላይ ጥያቄ ያሳደሩ ምርጥ የሰራዊቱ አባላት በአብዛኛው እየታፈኑ ተሰውረዋል።

ወያኔን እንቅልፍ የሚከለክሉ የሰራዊቱ አባላት አንድ ባንድ እየተመነጠሩ ጥጋቸውን ይዘዋል። ሃይሌ ጥላሁን ሊጠቀሱ ከሚችሉት መካከል ነው። በሰሞኑ “የመፈንቅለ መንግስት ሙከራ” ጣት ከሾለባቸው መካከልም ሃይሌ ዋናው መሆኑን ውስጥ አዋቂዎች ያወጋሉ። ዳሩ ግን ወያኔ በዚህ ጊዜ በቀጥታ ጄኔራል ሃይሌን ሊነካው እንደማይፈልግ የምናውቅ ከጥቂት በላይ ነን። በኢትዮ-ኤርትራ ጦርነት ወቅት ጄኔራል ሃይሌን የተመለከቱ ጥቂት አስገራሚ ወጎች ነበሩ። በዚያን ወቅት የህወሃት ጦር ኮማንደሮች በከባድ መሳሪያ ግዢ ሰበብ በሚሊዮናት ዶላር ኮሚሽን እየበሉ የመሆናቸው ወሬ አየሩን በክሎት ነበር። ጄኔራል ሃይሌ ደግሞ እዚሁ ግዢ አካባቢ የተመደበ ባለስልጣን ነበር። እና ድምፁን ከፍ አድርጎ በስብሰባ ላይ እንዲህ ሲል ተናገረ፣

“እኔ እዚህ ተቀመጬ የሃገሪቱን ገንዘብ አትበሉም! ስትዘርፉ እያየሁ ዝም አልላችሁም!”

ጄኔራል ሃይሌ ከነታምራትና በረከት ጋር ኢህዴንን ከመሰረቱት ነባር ታጋዮች አንዱ ሲሆን፣ አዲስአበባ እስክትያዝም በኢህአዴግ ደረጃ ትግሉን የመራ ሰው ነው። በስብሰባ ላይ የህወሃት ኮማንደሮችን እንዲያ ከተናገረ በሁዋላ ግን የሃይሌ ጉዳይ ያለቀለት ሆነ። “ጡረታ!” አሉና አገለሉት። ጉዳዩ ተራ የእድሜና የአስተዳደር ጉዳይ ቢሆን ኖሮ፣ ሳሞራ የኑስ ቀድሞት ጡረታ ሊወጣ በተገባ ነበር። እነደሰማሁት ጡረታ ከወጣም በሁዋላ ሃይሌ አላረፈም። ባገኘው አጋጣሚ ሁሉ፣

“እንተዋወቃለን!” እያለ ይናገራል አሉ።

እነ ሳሞራም “የትም አይደርስ” በሚል ችላ ብለውት ሰንብተዋል።

እንግዲህ በዚህ መረጃ ዙሪያ አንዳንድ ፍንጮችን ማሽተት የሚገድ አይሆንም። ዛሬ በመፈንቅለ መንግስት ወይም በሽብርተኛነት ስም ተይዘው የታሰሩት ከፍተኛና ጄኔራል መኮንኖች ከሃይሌ ጥላሁን ጋር ያላቸውን የጠበቀ ግንኙነት ወያኔም ሆነ የቅርብ የብአዴን አባላት አሳምረው ያውቁታል።

የመፈንቅለ መንግስቱን ወሬ እንደሰማሁ የሚፃፉትን ዜናዎችና ዜና ትንታኔዎች ለማንበብ ሞክሬ ነበር። ወያኔ ጉዳዩን ከመፈንቅለ መንግስት ወደ ሽብርተኛነት ሊለውጠው ለምን እንደፈለገ ገልፅ ነበር። “ሽብርተኛነት ክስ ለመመስረት የሚያመች ሲሆን፣ ባንፃሩ “መፈንቅለ መንግስት” የሚለው ግንቦት 7 የተባለውን ድርጅት ዝና ይበልጥ ከፍ ሊያደርገው ይችላል የሚል ስጋት አሳድሮባቸዋል። “ከሰራዊቱ እየተመነጠሩ ያሉት አማራ መኮንኖች የግንቦት 7 አባላት ናቸው ወይስ አይደሉም?” የሚለው ጥያቄም አከራካሪ አይደለም። ቢሆኑም ብርሃኑና አንዳርጋቸው፣ “አባላቶቻችን ናቸው!” ብለው ይነግሩን ዘንድ አንጠብቅም። ይህ ለታሪክ የሚቆይ ይሆናል። እንደምንሰማው ግን ከግንቦት 7 ጋር ቀጥተኛ ግንኙነት ያልመሰረቱ፣ በአላማው ዙሪያ በራስ አነሳሽነት የተደራጁ ወጣቶች የክፍለ ሃገር ከተሞችን እያጥለቀለቁ ይገኛሉ። በየአካባቢው “ወንድም ጋሻ!” የመሆን የአርበኛነት ስሜት ተቀስቅሷል። ብርቱካን ሚደቅሳ እንደገለፀችው፣ አንድ አላማ በህዝብ ተቀባይነት ካገኘ የሚያደራጀውን አካል ሳይጠብቅ እንደ መንፈስ ይሰራጫል። ቀደም ሲል ለቅንጅት አላማዎች ህይወታቸውን የሰጡት አብዛኞቹ ወጣቶች በአባልነት የተመዘገቡ እንዳልነበሩ እናስታውሳለን። የወያኔ ዘረኛ አገዛዝ ሰለባ የሆነውን ሰፊ ህዝብ እንተወውና በዚህ ቀውጢ ወቅት ተፈራ ዋልዋ ራሱ የግንቦት 7 ደጋፊ ሆኖ ቢገኝ አይደንቀኝም።

ከመነሻው ብአዴኖች ውስጣቸው ጥሩ አለመሆኑን የውስጥ መረጃዎች አሉኝ። ከኢህአዴግ አራት አባል ድርጅቶች መካከል ክፉኛ ሞራሉ ተነክቶ በቀውስ ላይ የሚገኘው ብአዴን ነው።

ኦህዴድን በቀላል ቋንቋ ላስቀምጥላችሁ!

አመራሩ ንፁህ ወያኔ ሲሆን፣ አባላቶቹ ደግሞ በአብዛኛው የስራ እድል ለማግኘት ድርጅቱን የተቀላቀሉ በአመለካከት ወደ ኦነግ የሚቀርቡ ናቸው።

“ደቡብ ህዝቦች” በሚል ስም አባይ ፀሃዬ ያቋቋመው ድርጅት “አለ ይባላል በሳይንስ ግን አልተረጋገጠም” እየተባለ የሚቀለድበት፣ ዶክተር ካሱ ይላላ እንደፈለገ የሚያንገላታው ከሞቱት በላይ ያለ እቁብተኛ ነው።

ወደ ብአዴን ስንመጣ ከፍተኛ አደጋ ውስጥ ወድቀዋል። መለስ ዜናዊ እንደሚለውም ቀዩን የፈንጂ መስመር ረግጠዋል።

አመራሩን በጨረፍታ ላስጎብኛችሁ…

አዲሱ ለገሰ ከጤንነቱ መበላሸት ሁኔታ ጋር ተደማምሮ ስልጣን ላይ መቆየት እንደማይፈልግ ማመልከት የጀመረው ከሚሊኒየሙ ዋዜማ ጀምሮ ነበር። ተፈራ ዋልዋ፣ “የታገልነው ለዚህ አልነበረም!” እና “መምራት አቅቶናል!” የተባሉ ሁለት ነጠላ ዘፈኖችን ውስጥ ውስጡን ማንጎራጎር መጀመሩን በምሰማበት መንገድ ሰምቻለሁ። ህላዌ ዮሴፍ ቀድሞውንም “ከኢህአፓ መንፈስ አልተላቀቁም!” እየተባሉ ከሚታወቁት አንዱ ነበር። ህላዌ “ኢትዮጵያዊነት!” የሚል መንፈሳቸው ጠንካራ ከነበሩ የቀድሞ የኢህአፓ ትንታጎች አንዱ ነበር። የሽግግር መንግስቱ ስራ ከጀመረ በሁዋላ መለስ ዜናዊ፣

“ህላዌ ዮሴፍ ሆይ! አንተ አማራ ብቻ ነበርክ፣ አማራ ብቻ ሆነህም ትኖራለህ!! ስለሌላው አያገባህም!” ብሎት ሲያበቃ አረንጓዴዋን ቀንሶ በቀይና ቢጫ ቀለማት ያማረች ክራቫት አሰረለት። ከኢህዴን ላይ የተቀነሰችው አረንጓዴ ቀለም ሁመራ መሆኗም በሹክሹክታ ተናፈሰ። ጄኔራል ሃይሌ ጥላሁን ቀደም ብዬ እንደገለፅኩት ለይቶለታል። መኮንኖች ክበብ ብቅ ሲል፣ “እነዚህ የቀን ሌቦች፣ ተጫወቱብን!” ማለቱን ቀጥሎአል።

ከምርጫ 97 አንድ ወር ቀደም ብሎ መኮንኖች ክበብ ላይ በተደረገ አንድ ግብዣ ላይ ስብሃት ነጋ፣

“ነፍጠኛው ወደ ስልጣን ይመጣል ብሎ የሚያልም ካለ የዋህ ነው!” ብሎ ሲናገር ህላዌ ዮሴፍ የሚጠጣው ትን ብሎት ወደ መፀዳጃ ቤት መሄዱ ተሰምቶአል።

ብአዴን ማለት እንግዲህ እነዚሁ ናችው። ያልተጠቀሱ ቢኖሩ ታደሰ ጥንቅሹና በረከት ስምኦን ናችው። ታደሰ ብአዴን ውስጥ የህወሃት ትክል መሆኑ ነው የሚነገርለት። በረከት ያው በረከት ነው። በወያኔ ዘረኛ ፖለቲካ ውስጥ ገብቶ የወገኖቹን የስቃይ ጊዜ ከሚያራዝም፣ አንዴ ጎንደር ሌላ ጊዜ ቡግና ከሚንከራተት፣ “አማራ ነኝ!” እያለ በምድረበዳ ከሚጮህ፣ የጎንደር ልጅነቱን አክብሮ፣ በኢትዮጵያዊነቱ ቢፀና እንዴት ባማረበት?

የሆነው ሆኖ ከመነሻው ብአዴኖች ውስጣቸው ጥሩ አለመሆኑን ገልጫለሁ። ከአባላቶቻቸውና ከህዝቡ የሚመጣውን ግፊት ከቶውንም ሊቋቋሙት ተቸግረዋል። ብአዴኖች በህወሃት ላይ የቆየ ቅሬታ እንዳላቸውም “የጋዜጠኛው ማስታወሻ” ላይ መግለፄ አይዘነጋም። ብርሃኑ ነጋ ጠቁሞት እንዳለፈውም ሰራዊቱ ውስጥ ቁጣ አለ። የሰሞነኛው ግርግር ከግንቦት 7 ባሻገር የብአዴን ውስጣዊ ሁኔታ ላይ እንዳተኩር ያደረገኝም ብአዴን የወያኔን ዘረኛ ፖሊሲ እያስፈፀመ መቀጠል ከማይችልበት ደረጃ ላይ መድረሱ ይበልጥ ግልፅ እየሆነ በመምጣቱ ነው። ከበረከትና ከታደሰ ጥንቅሹ ባሻገር ያሉት የብአዴን የአመራር አባላት የጄኔራል ሃይሌ ጥላሁንን ቁጣ ቢጋሩ አይደንቀኝም።

“የጋዜጠኛው ማስታወሻ” የተባለውን መፅሃፍ በረከትና ተፈራ ዋልዋ እነዳነበቡት ሰምቻለሁ። በረከት ጠረጴዛ እየደበደበ፣ “ውሸታም!! የውሸት ክምር!!” አለ ተባለ። ተፈራ ግን፣ “የሚያውቀውን ፅፎአል” ማለቱን ሰማሁ። እኔን የሳበኝ ሁለቱ የጥንት ጓደኛሞች የሁለት አለም ሰው መሆን የመጀመራቸው ፍንጭ ነው።

ተፈራ አይኑን መግለጥ ጀምሮ ይሆን?

በርግጥም ሚስቱን እስከ ማሰር ሊደፍሩት የበቁበትን ምክንያት እንደ ተራ ስህተት የሚታይ ሊሆን አይችልም። ተፈራና አዲሱ ያሻውን ያህል የስልጣን ጥመኞች ቢሆኑም፣ የመከላከያ አባላቶቻቸውና የቀድሞ የትግል ጓዶቻቸው እንደ አይጥ እየተለቀሙ ወደ ኮሎኔል ብራ ሲላኩ ድርጊቱን በደስታ ሊያስተናገዱት ከቶ አይችሉም። ለዘመናት ውስጥ ውስጡን ሲበላላ የባጀው የብአዴንና የህወሃት ሽኩቻ ካለፉት ጊዜያት በላቀ ደረጃ ወደ ግጭት አምርቶአል።

ህወሃት ብአዴንን ለማዳከም ይህን ጊዜ ለምን እንደመረጠ መረዳትም ከባድ አይደለም።

ምርጫ 2010 እየቀረበ ነው።

የማጭበርበሪያ ሜዳው ከወዲሁ መደልደል እንዳለበት ግልፅ ነው። “ኢትዮጵያዊነት” የሚል ባንዲራ የሚያስቀድሙ ሃይሎችና የትጥቅ ትግል ያወጁ፣ ኦነግ፣አርበኞች፣የኦጋዴን ነፃ አውጪ የመሳሰሉ አማፅያን “የኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ ጠላቶች!” ተብለው ተፈርጀዋል። ወያኔ “የግንቦት 7” እና “የአንድነት” ፓርቲዎችን ሁለትነት አለማመኑም ግልፅ ነው። በቀጣዩ ምርጫ ወያኔ እንደለመደው ሊያጭበረብርና ጠመንጃ ሊጠቀም ሲሞክር የግንቦት 7 ትንታጎች መብረቅ እንዳያወርዱበት ሰግቶአል። ብአዴን ለግንቦት 7 የመፈልፈያ ጫካ ሊሆን እንደሚችልም ወያኔ ከምርጫ 97 በቂ ትምህርት አጊኝቶአል። እና ግንቦት 7 ወጣት ወታደሮቹን ይዞ የማይቀርለትን ፍልሚያ የሚጋፈጥ ከሆነ በርግጥም ማእከሉ መከላከያ ነው የሚሆን። የሰሞኑ የመፈንቅለ መንግስት ድራማ እንዲህ ሰፊና አሻገሮ የተመለከተ ስለመሆኑ ከቶ ምን ጥያቄ አለውና?

የብአዴን አመራር በበረከት ሰንሰለት ተጠፍሮ የታሰረ ተስፋ የቆረጠ አካል እንደመሆኑ በህወሃት የሚታዘዘውን የጎጥ አስተሳሰብ ተፈፃሚ የማድረግ ብቃቱን አጥቶአል። ይህ ማለት ግን ህወሃት አልቆለታል ማለት አይደለም። “ኢትዮጵያዊነት” የሚል ባንዲራ ያስቀደሙ ሃይሎች ሲበረቱበት አባዱላ ገመዳን ጠርቶ አንድ የቤት ስራ እንደሚሰጠው ከወዲሁ የሚጠበቅ ነው። አሁንም አፍንጫ ሲመታ አይን ካላለቀሰ ወያኔ ሊሳካለት ይችላል።

ወገኖቼ ሆይ!

ምን ቀረ?

ቀሪው ግልፅ ነው….

በቀጣዩ ምርጫ መለስ ዜናዊ ስልጣኑን እንደሚለቅ ነግሮናል። መለስ ቃሉ አይታመንም። አሳ የላሰው ድንጋይ ነው። በአሁኑ ንግግሩ “አሁንስ በቃኝ! እለቅላችሁዋለሁ!!” ማለቱን ግን እኔ በበኩሌ አምኜዋለሁ። መለስ በርግጥም ስልጣኑን ሊለቅ ወስኖአል። አማራጭም የለውም። ሁኔታዎችንና እድሜውን አስለቶ የቤት ስራውን ሰርቶ አብቅቶአል። ሆኖም ብቻውን እንደማይለቅም አስባለሁ። የፖሊት ቢሮ አባላቱን ሁሉ በትልቅ ዘንቢል ሸክፎ ዘወር ይል ዘንድ እንጠብቃለን። ይሁን እነጂ የዚህች ሃገር መከራ እዚህ ላይ ያበቃል ብላችሁ አትጠበቁ። የሚወራው እውነት ከሆነ አስመራ የተማረው ባለመነፅሩ ዶክተር ቴዎድሮስ አድሃኖም መለስን ተክቶ ኢህአዴግን ሊመራ እጅጌውን ሰብስቦአል። የቅንጅት መሪዎች ከመፈታታቸው ቀደም ብሎ ስዬ አብርሃ ከእስር የተለቀቀበት የስምምነት ምስጢርም ያልተነካ ወሬ ነው። ህወሃት አንድ አስገራሚ ጠባይ አለው። ጥንካሬ ሲሰማው ርስበራስ ይባላሉ። ጠላት ሲበረታባቸው ደግሞ ልዩነታቸውን መሳቢያ ውስጥ አስቀመጠው ባንድ ሰልፍ ለውጊያ ይዘጋጃሉ። የስዬ አብርሃ በድንገት የመፈታትና የተቃዋሚ ንቅናቄ ውስጥ መገኘት የህወሃት ራስን የማዳን ስትራቴጂ አካል ስለመሆኑ የሚጠራጠር ካለም የዋህ ፖለቲከኛ መሆን ይኖርበታል።

ባጭሩ ቀጣዩ የሃይል አሰላለፍ በአንድ ወገን መለስና ቡድኑን የሚተካው ሃይል፣ በሌላ ወገን ደግሞ በስዬና በገብሩ የሚመራው ሃይል ይሆናሉ። ከዚህ ባሻገር ያሉ ሃይሎች እጣ ፈንታ ገብሩና ስዬን መቀላቀል አለያም መጥፋት ይሆናል። ስልጣን ከሁለቱ ሃይሎች እጅ እስካልወጣች ድረስም የህወሃት አላማዎች እንደተጠበቁ ይቆያሉ። ከዚህ ባሻገር መለስ ለግሉ የሚመኛቸው ጥቂት ነገሮች አይጠፉም። የሞ ኢብራሂም ሽልማት ቀዳሚው ይሆናል። ለገንዘቡ ሳይሆን ለክብሩ።

ይህ የወያኔ ሂሳብ ይሳካ ይሆን? ለማንኛውም ትግሉ ቀጥሎአል!…

* * *

እነሆ! ዛሬ ቅዳሜ ነው…

እለቱም ግንቦት 9፣ 2009።

ፕሪቶሪያ ቁጭ ብዬ እኔም ይቺን እጫጭራለሁ። የደቡብ አፍሪቃ ክረምት ከነጓዙ ገብቶአል። ዛሬ ጠዋት ከቤት ስወጣ ቆፈኑና ዝናቡ ፕሪቶሪያ ላይ እንደጉድ እየወረደባት ነበር። ያፍሪቃ መሪዎች አብዛኞቹ ፕሪቶሪያ ገብተዋል። ጃኮብ ዙማ መንበረ ስልጣኑን የሚረከብበት እለት ዛሬ ነው። የኛው አዛውንት ጋሽ ግርማም ገብተዋል። መኖሪያ ቤቴ ከቤተመንግስቱ ብዙም አይርቅ። እንደምንም እየተሹለከለክሁ ወደ ሰኒሳይድ አቅጣጫ ነዳሁ። አብዛኞቹ አበሾች እዚያ ቀበሌ ይኖራሉ። ሰኒሳይድ ውብ ናት። ሰኒፓርክ የተባለ አንድ ትልቅ የገበያ አዳራሽ አለ። እዚያ ገባሁና በረንዳው ላይ ቁጭ አልኩ።

ሰኒሳይድ በደስታ አብዳለች።

የዙሉ ጎሳ አባላት የቆዳ ልብስ ለብሰው ባህላዊ ጭፈራቸውን ያስነኩታል። እኔም ደስ አለኝ። ይህቺን መጣጥፍም መጫጫር ጀመርኩ። ሰጫጭር ቆየሁና ቀና ስል ለካስ አጠገቤ ካለ ጠረጴዛ ላይ አንዲት ነጭ ደቡብ አፍሪቃዊት ብቻዋን ቁጭ ብላለች፣

“ጋዜጠኛ ነህ እንዴ?” ስትል ጠየቀቺኝ።

ለማሳጠር ያህል፣

“ነኝ አዎ!” አልኩ።

“በምርጫው ስራ በዝቶባችሁ ከረመ?”

“እኔ እንኳ ደስተኛ አይደለሁም” አልኳት “….ምንም ስራ የለም። ምርጫው ቢጭበረበርና ግርግር ቢኖር ስራ ይኖረን ነበር..”

ቀልዱ ገብቶአት ሳቀች። እናም፣

“እናንተ ስራ ብታጡ ይሻላል” አለች።

በርግጥም ደቡብ አፍሪቃውያን ዛሬ ተደስተዋል። በጣም ተደስተዋል። ምርጫው በሰላም አለቀ። አልተጭበረበረም። እና ፕሪቶሪያ ደስ ብሎአታል። እንኳን ደስ ያላት።

አዲሳባስ ለዚህ አይነቱ የደስታ እለት የምትበቃው መቼ ይሆን?

(Tesfaye GebreAb can be reached at ttgebreab@gmail.com)

Ethiopia's patriots wage a comeback

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Elias Kifle (center) with officials of the Ethiopan People’s Patriotic Front, Arbegna Meazaw, chairman (left), Shambel Zewdu (right), Arbegna Mengistu (sitting).

By Elias Kifle

After being buried for several years, Ethiopia’s patriots, those who speak the kind of language anti-Ethiopia forces such as Woyanne understand, are slowly waging a comeback. I have been privileged to visit some of them when I went to Eritrea this month to interview President Isaias Afwerki. Due to scheduling conflicts, I could not go to their camp in the field this time, so they drove several hundreds kilometers to meet with me in Asmara.

After spending a few minutes with these patriots, I was more inspired than ever, and left with more determination and sense of responsibility to help free Ethiopia from the Woyanne tribal mafia that is pillaging and plundering our country.

One of those patriots I met is Shambel Zewdu. He is an elected member of the federal parliament from the Gaynt Woreda of “Killil 3″ (the so-called “Amhara Killil”). Following the 2005 elections, when Meles Zenawi unleashed his killers on civilians, Shambel Zewdu told then Kinijit Chairman Hailu Shawel about his intention to join resistance fighters. He said I cannot bring myself to sit down in that ‘parliament’ and allow the murderers who gunned down 12-year-olds go unpunished. He also urged Ato Hailu Shawel to leave the country and lead the struggle from exile.

Shambel Zewdu then went on a 4-month journey through northern Ethiopian jungles and mountains to arrive at the Eritrean border. When Eritrean soldiers saw him, they hugged him with tears in their eyes, gave him food, clothes, medical treatment and shelter. After he recuperated, he asked them to take him to the Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front (EPPF) camp. They tried to talk him out of it because of his old age. But he told them that he would kill himself if they don’t take him to EPPF.

For the past 4 years, Shambel Zewdu has been with the EPPF, first as a rank-and-file member and now a member of the central committee. Two months ago, the EPPF leadership transferred him to Asmara to run the newly opened office.

EPPF has numerous genuine Ethiopian patriots such as Shambel Zewdu who refuse to betray their people and country like those who are currently sitting in the Woyanne parliament and eat crumb. Their stories have not been told so far for various reasons. Ethiopian Review is determined to change that. Ethiopia is indeed blessed with heroes. We still have them. We just need to give them the chance to shine.

Ethiopian Review Asmara trip – video

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

A short video presentation of Ethiopian Review’s trip to Eritrea. The music is by Elsa Kidane, currently Eritrea’s hottest musician.
Click here: http://blip.tv/play/63yBg6cIAA

Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa turns dark

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Most parts of Addis Ababa are currently out of electric light three days a week, according to Ethiopian Review sources. Several business are forced to shut down their operations.

Addis Ababa is also hit with shortage of water. Tens of thousands of houses are with out tap water. People are seen carrying water jugs in the streets.

Ethiopia’s capital is run by Meles Zenawi’s puppet named Kuma Demeksa who is busy doing his own business and taking money out of the country rather than administering the city. He is too dumb to administer a city any way.

Asmara, the cleanest city in Africa

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

We hope translation of the interview with President Isaias Afwerki will be completed by next Monday or Tuesday. The interview is 4 hours long and we want to make sure that the translation is as accurate as possible. Until then, here are more photos from the beautiful city of Asmara, the cleanest city in Africa. It is more clean and safe than Washington DC. By contrast, the savage Woyannes turned Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s once beautiful and vibrant capital, into the 6th dirtiest city in the world, according to Forbes Magazine.

Roma Cinima, Asmara. It is amazing how clean Asmara is, even by Western standard

Asmara’s Merkato

Despite the military preparedness due to the ongoing state of war with the Woyanne regime in Ethiopia, there is a massive residential housing development in Asmara. This construction site is at the outskirt of Asmara. Many of the houses are being built by Eritreans residing in Europe and the U.S. and some of them look like mansions.

More housing development.

Elias Kifle of Ethiopian Review (middle), Sileshi Tilahun of EPPF (left), and Arbegna Mengistu of EPPF Radio (right) at a cafe in Asmara, May 12, 2009. Arbegna Mengistu joined EPPF 5 years ago as a fighter. Before that, he was a reporter for Wonchif Newspaper in Addis Ababa. He joined EPPF when Woyanne tried to arrest him for reporting about EPPF activities. After serving as a fighter and political officer for several years, he was recently transferred to the EPPF press office to work on producing a radio program. In one of the many gun battles with the Woyanne army he was hit with a bullet that now causes him to limp when he walks. EPPF is full of patriotic Ethiopians like Arbegna Mengistu who are shedding their blood to free Ethiopia from the Woyanne fascist regime.

Two indicted in killing of an Ethiopian businessman in Atlanta

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

By Josh Green | Gwinnett Daily Post

ATLANTA – A Gwinnett County grand jury has indicted the second half of an alleged four-person robbing crew accused of killing an Ethiopian businessman in Lilburn, a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.

Prosecutors say Marshae Brooks and Demarcus “Money Marc” Crawford played roles in the home-invasion murder of Tedla Lemma, 51. They allegedly beat, gagged and hog-tied the victim, leaving him for dead in March last year.

Unable to breathe through the gag, Lemma suffocated.

Brooks and Crawford face counts of murder, felony murder, burglary and false imprisonment. Brooks is also charged with armed robbery, kidnapping with bodily injury and aggravated assault stemming from three other incidents.

Last month, a jury convicted Brooks’ former roommate in Riverdale, Quincy Jackson, of murder and related charges in Lemma’s death. A judge sentenced Jackson to life plus 30 years. He plans to appeal.

Jackson, who had filed a speedy trial demand, was the first to face the charges in court.

A key witness in Jackson’s trial, Lorna Araya, is accused of masterminding the home invasions against members of the Ethiopian community she grew up in. Prosecutors agreed to not seek a life sentence for Araya in exchange for her testimony.

Brooks and Crawford were arrested earlier this year after Araya, incarcerated since July, told authorities they were involved.

As for the victim, Lemma lived in an upscale Lilburn home with his brother, after the two had fled their native Ethiopia and built a small fortune in the convenience store business. He was paralyzed from a store robbery and shooting several years prior.

Brooks and Crawford remain without bond at the Gwinnett County Jail. Their arraignments, wherein they could enter pleas, are expected within a month.

A fifth co-defendant, Ramon Ferguson, is charged in a December 2007 robbery and kidnapping in Stone Mountain. All but Crawford are said to have taken part in that hit, which involved owners of a Buckhead jewelry store.

Holyfield to fight in Ethiopia for AIDS charity

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

By Barry Malone

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Boxing icon Evander Holyfield will fight in desperately poor Ethiopia for an undisclosed fee in a bout to raise money for HIV/AIDS charities.

Organisers hope the clash in July between the four-time world heavyweight champion and little-known local pugilist Sammy Retta will bring in between $5 million and $10 million.

“I continue to strive to be the very best but what got me to come here is the AIDS,” Holyfield, wearing a green safari suit, told reporters in Addis Ababa late on Tuesday.

“If we don’t find a cure to this, we’ll be extinct.”

Everton Boland, chief executive of promoters Golden Globe, said a substantial percentage of the money raised would go to charity, but he declined to discuss the fighters’ purses.

“If you want to talk about money, we ain’t up to that part yet,” Boland said. “Ain’t no boxer fighting for free.”

Organisers said a group set up by 22 African First Ladies to fight HIV/AIDS is the only charity chosen so far to receive funds from the fight, but that they are considering others.

Holyfield’s manager Ken Sanders said the 46-year-old, who some in the sport have argued is too old to still be fighting, plans to have another world title fight in September, possibly against WBA champion Nikolai Valuev.

The huge Russian won a majority points decision against Holyfield in December in Zurich, ending the American boxer’s hopes of becoming the oldest ever title-holder.

Retta — a 35-year-old based in Washington DC — left the Ethiopian capital for the United States at 16 and has since won 18 professional fights and lost three.

He compared the planned July 26 bout against Holyfield in Addis Ababa with 1974′s legendary “Rumble in the Jungle” clash in Kinshasa between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.

“I feel so tremendous,” Retta told the news conference. “Fighting Evander is like Ali fighting in Africa.”

Haile Gebrselassie wins 10-km Great Manchester Run

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

MANCHESTER, England (The Canadian Press) — Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie won the 10-kilometre Great Manchester Run on Sunday, May 17.

The 36-year-old Ethiopian finished in 27 minutes 39 seconds. He just missed out on breaking the 27:21 course record set by Kenya’s Micah Kogo in 2007.

Ali Mabrouk El Zaidi of Libya was second in 28:13.

Gebrselassie lost his world 10-kilometre road mark in March when Kogo ran in 27:01 in the Netherlands.

More photos from Eritrea

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

The Interview with President Isaias Afwerki has not been posted yet because it is being translated to Amharic and Tigrigna. The translation takes time since it is a 4-hour presidential interview, and that it needs to be accurate. Once ready, the interview will be posted without any editorial change. The full English version will also be posted. Until then, see below photos from our trip to Eritrea.

(l. to r.) Ethiopian Review publisher Elias Kifle, Sileshi Tilahun of EPPF, Eritrea Information Minister Ali Abdu and President Isaias Afwerki inside the Asmara Presidential Palace, May 15, 2009

(l. to r.) Sileshi Tilahun, President Isaias Afwerki, and Elias Kifle in front of the Asmara Presidential Palace May 15, 2009

Ethiopian Review publisher Elias Kifle touring Asmara, May 13, 2009

Crimes of Willful Ignorance

Monday, May 18th, 2009

Alemayehu G. Mariam

Barking Up the Wrong Tree

This past week, the attack dogs of the dictatorship in Ethiopia were unleashed against Amnesty International (AI) because that organization had requested publication of the names of suspects arrested for allegedly conspiring to assassinate high officials and blow up government buildings. Ermiyas Legesse, a “State Minister of Government Communication Affairs”, offered the incredibly ignorant legal analysis that AI’s request for a list of the suspects represented a human rights violation and an interference in the country’s legal process: “Amnesty was giving a verdict before the Ethiopian court, the only legal institution to make any judgment on the issue. Now Amnesty is committing a prejudice. It is hindering our judiciary system, which by itself is violation of human rights.” Shimeles Kemal, the notorious legal flunkey and spinmeister of the regime and star persecutor of the Kinijit kangaroo court chimed in with his signature gobbledegook: “At a time of conducting investigation against criminal, it is so difficult to release information as it may frustrate the investigation process.” Identifying suspects who are held incommunicado while the regime is stage managing a media circus frenzy about their sinister crimes against the state will hinder a criminal investigation and constitute a human rights violation? Such is the illogic of a regime that is trapped in the throes of political turmoil and survival. Such is the loony logic of a regime in terminal paranoia!

Dictatorship of Ignoramuses

All of the brouhaha about the AI request for the list of suspects would have amounted to no more than comic relief but for the fact that we are seeing laid out before our eyes the makings of a legal lynching in a Kangaroo Kriminal Kourt. We have seen it all before during the two years of “prosecution” of the Kinijit and other pro-democracy leaders. (See my 32-page analysis of those proceedings.[1])The careful observer will no doubt be amused by the spectacle of this manifestly mindlessness make-believe trial of 40 suspects officially dubbed “desperadoes”: 1) Could the regime possibly believe that any reasonable person who has marginal familiarity with their long record of human rights abuses and miscarriage of justice will give an iota of credibility to their silly kangaroo judicial process? 2) Are they so lacking in intelligence that they simply can’t see their legal pretensions are mere exercises in futility? Or are they just playing dumb? Perhaps they think the rest of the world is so. 3) Could it be that they are cleverly trying to distract attention from the real issues facing the country such as endemic corruption, famine, prisons full of political prisoners, skyrocketing cost of living and so on by stage managing a media circus around the infamous “Case of the Desperadoes”? 4) Is it possible that they are taking a preemptive strike against international human rights organizations and put them on the defensive in anticipation of criticisms they expect to get as they proceed with their bogus prosecutions? 5) Could it be that they are just ignorant of general principles of criminal law, their own constitution and criminal law and procedure? We will give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are legal ignoramuses.

Criminal Procedure 101 for Kangaroo Court

As the old saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice, shame on me.” The criminal dictatorship put on a dog and pony legal show for nearly two years following the 2005 elections. They fooled some people then, but they won’t be able to fool many people twice with their “40 Desperadoes” kangaroo court road show. We will call them out on their own constitution and laws: Article 9 of their constitution provides, “This Constitution is the supreme law of the land.” No “laws, practices, and decisions of public officials” can negate it. Article 10 provides, “Human rights and freedoms as inherent rights of man are inalienable and inviolable.” Article 13 provides that the rights of Ethiopian citizens “shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, international human rights covenants and conventions ratified by Ethiopia.” Among the fundamental constitutional rights of the accused listed in the “supreme law of the land” include the right “the presumption of innocence until proved guilty by a court of law, a public hearing before an ordinary court of law without undue delay” and written notice of the charges. (See also Arts. 19, and 11.)” Art. 61 guarantees the right of “any person detained on arrest or on remand” to “call forthwith” and consult a lawyer of his choice. Article 24 guarantees “Everyone shall have the right to his human dignity and good reputation.

Article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which is incorporated in the “supreme law” by express reference provides “Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.” The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights under Article 9 provides “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention…. Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him”. (See also Art. 14 of the Criminal Procedure Code.) A criminal defendant is entitled to a change of venue if “a fair and impartial trial cannot be held in any criminal court.” (Art. 106, Crim. Proc. Code.)

Presumption of Innocence

The “40 Desperadoes” are presumed to be absolutely innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. The burden of proving their guilt based on legally admissible evidence rests entirely on the prosecution. As defendants, they do not have any burden of proof whatsoever! In determining the issue of guilt, the judge(s) must rely solely and exclusively on the evidence presented at trial. It is obvious that the “40 desperadoes” have not only been presumed guilty — indeed they have been found guilty — before they are even served with notice of the written charges. Bereket Simeon, a “communications minister” and chief advisor to the regime leader declared, “six of the suspects were army officers on active duty, including one general, 34 of the suspects were ex-army men expelled from the army on grounds of misconduct. [The suspects did not intend] to stage a coup but assassinate individuals, high ranking government officials and destroying some public facilities and utilities … like telecom services and electricity utilities… They intended to create conducive conditions for large scale chaos and havoc.” What is truly appalling is the fact that a statement of such gravity made by the second most powerful man in the regime is tantamount to an irrevocable verdict of guilty. What judge in the land will have the guts to overrule such an outrageously politically-motivated legal conclusion intended to prejudge the defendants’ case, cripple their defense, deny them a fair trial and railroad them straight to jail or worse?

Notice of Charges

Most of the suspects in the alleged terrorist conspiracy were arrested on or about April 24 amidst a media circus complete with pictures and videos of weapons caches allegedly to be used in the plot. To date, none of the suspects has been charged, and all remain in detention. What is required to charge the suspects under the regime’s constitution is a plain and concise statement of the acts constituting the alleged criminal. Indeed, Simeon’s statement alleges sufficient facts which minimally point to “terrorism”, attempted insurrection and conspiracy. If the evidence against the suspects is as ironclad as the regime suggests, there is no need for any delay in charging them or identifying them in public. But we have seen this game played before during the prosecution of the Kinijit and other defendants. (See link at footnote 1.) The regime makes general allegations in the media, shuttle the detained suspects back and forth to “court”, request interminable delays to investigate the case and locate witnesses (fabricate evidence) and let the suspects languish in prolonged pretrial detention until it decides to announce all of them are guilty.

Fair and Impartial Trial

Is it remotely possible for the “desperadoes” to have a “fair and impartial trial” in the regime’s kangaroo courts? Could there be a judge(s) throughout the land who can hear and impartially decide the issue of guilt without improper influence, inducements, pressure, threats or political interference by the dictators? To answer this question in the affirmative is to assert that the rule of law prevails in Ethiopia, and that the “supreme law of the land” is actually followed. As evidenced in the Kinijit kangaroo trials, there will be perjury-fest in the courtroom. There will be funny capers with the evidence. Endless requests for continuances and postponements of court dates will granted to the prosecution to investigate the case (why file charges if the prosecution is not ready for trial?). Possibly, there will be international observers who will sit in kangaroo court and cringe in silence as they see a monumental miscarriage of justice unfold before their very eyes. A troika of the regime’s best judicial hacks will be enthroned on the bench having taken the oath of “see nothing, hear nothing and do nothing”. Fair trial in a criminals’ court, what a quaint idea!

Right to Counsel

The “desperadoes” supposedly have the constitutional right to counsel. It is a universally accepted axiom of the law that there can never be a fair criminal trial in which the defendant is denied the assistance of counsel. The defense lawyer advises the defendant of his rights and explains the various stages of the criminal process, ensures the defendant’s constitutional and procedural rights are not violated, investigates the facts and prepares legal defenses. As the various international human rights organizations have documented for years, access to counsel by pretrial detainees in Ethiopia is non-existent. In ordinary criminal cases, public defenders may be appointed if the matter goes to trial. In political cases, the authorities tightly regulate the attorney-client privilege arbitrarily denying consultations, limiting consultation times, intruding upon privileged attorney-client conferences, intimidating defense lawyers who represent their clients zealously and even sanctioning them for vigorously defending their clientsin court. Under such circumstances, can anyone reasonably expect a fair trial?

Human Dignity and Good Reputation

The 40 individuals suspected of involvement in the conspiracy were officially characterized as “desperadoes” despite their constitutional right to dignity and good reputation. The choice of epithet is calculated. It is intended to ridicule and belittle them, and diminish their status as military officers. They are trying to create a public image of these officers as “good soldiers gone bad”. By describing them as “desperadoes”, the regime aims to caricature them in the manner of the reckless outlaws of the frontier American West who would shoot up the saloon in a drunken rage. They want to depict and demean them as criminal thugs and draw upon them public hatred, ridicule and contempt while destroying the self-esteem of these officers and their standing community. But the fact remains that they have a constitutional right to good reputation as officers and gentlemen, and are presumed innocent until proven desperado!

Trials as a Tool of Political Persecution: The Need to Understand Abuses of Criminal Procedure in Human Rights Cases

It is important to understand abuses of criminal procedural rights in human rights cases because enforcement of the criminal law and denial of procedural rights of suspects is the principal tool used by dictators to accomplish multiple purposes: 1) The misuse, manipulation and denial of procedural rights (the process by which guilt is proven and punishment exacted) to suspects presents dictatorships tremendous opportunities for oppression and human rights violations without attracting much criticism or condemnation. It gives them an opportunity to avoid accountability by claiming that any questioning of what they do or not do is a “hinder[ance] of our judiciary system.” 2) Disregard for lawful procedures in criminal cases often serves as a method for stifling expressions which are critical of the dictatorship. That was precisely what Legesse and Kemal were trying to do in claiming that Amnesty International’s request for a list of suspects is a “human rights violation” and an obstruction to investigation. 3) Manipulation of criminal procedural rights in dictatorships are also often used to send a warning to other opposition members that the full wrath and weight of kangaroo law could be visited upon them at any moment.

Of course, the use of trials as a tool of political persecution is nothing new. Dictatorships in history have used the court system and the trial process to vindicate their own legitimacy as leaders and the legitimacy of their state institutions by prosecuting those they perceive as threats. It is no different here. The dictators in the “desperado” cases are using the kangaroo court show trials as opportunities for the demonstration of their own legitimacy as a government and control of state institutions while impressing the party faithful with their use of an iron legal fist. But Stalin had perfected these techniques decades ago. He consolidated his absolute power in the Great Purges of the 1930s by staging kangaroo court proceedings to eliminate “opportunists”, “counter-revolutionary infiltrators”, “enemies of the people”, and “terrorist organizations and terrorist acts (for which he enacted a special law). During the purge of the Red Army, thousands of military leaders and officers were convicted of treason and other offenses against the state, and jailed or killed. But Stalin spared no one. Workers, peasants, housewives, teachers, priests, musicians, soldiers, pensioners and even beggars were arrested and punished on mere suspicion or no suspicion at all. As terminal paranoia widens its grip, similar outcomes could be expected in Ethiopia as well. The fact of the matter is that the show trials of the “desperadoes” will be used as a tool to facilitate their conviction, and most importantly, as a sophisticated means of repression of dissent and suppression of democratic impulses.

Kangaroo Justice: Verdict First, Trial Second

We know exactly what has happened to the 40 desperadoes. They have been found guilty as sin by the powers that be even before they are charged with a single crime. The coming kangaroo trial is just window dressing for a guilty verdict that has already been reached. It is all a charade, a legal game in which there will be prosecutors and defense lawyers (maybe), party-hacks-in-robes pretending to be judges and endless court dates. Who needs constitutional rights, procedural protections, human rights laws and other such quaint legal niceties when we can play kangaroo court: “The Case of the 40 Desperadoes. Let the Games Begin!”

[1] http://www.ethiomedia.com/addfile/keystone_cops.pdf

President Isaias Afwerki gives interview to Ethiopian Review

Friday, May 15th, 2009

President Isaias Afwerki and Ato Mekuria Woldu, an official of the Ministry of Information, holding a private meeting with Elias Kifle of Ethiopian Review and Ato Sileshi Tilahun of EPPF before an interview

ASMARA — President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea gave a 4-hour interview on Friday afternoon to eppfOnline.org, the official website of Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front (EPPF), and Ethiopian Review.

The interview was conducted by Elias Kifle of Ethiopian Review and Ato Sileshi Tilahun, head of EPPF International Committee’s organizational affairs and eppfOnline.org.

Before the interview, President Isaias and Ato Mekuria Woldu, an official of the Ministry of Information, held a 40-minute private discussion with both Elias Kifle and Sileshi Tilahun.

Elias Kifle of Ethiopian Review and Sileshi Tilahun of EPPF interview President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea, May 15, 2009

Video of this historic interview will be available shortly. More details and photos will also be posted later.

The Meles regime closes roads to northern Ethiopia

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — Following the recent arrest of several individuals for allegedly plotting to assassinate Meles Zenawi and other {www:Woyanne} regime officials, roads to northern Ethiopia towns have been blocked and only those with identification cards can pass through the several check points.

According to Ethiopian Review sources, the Woyanne regime took this measure to catch more suspects from escaping to the country side and join the Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front (EPPF).

In recent months, the number of Ethiopians who are joining EPPF has been increasing as the political repression in Ethiopia by the Woyanne tribal regime has intensified in preparation for next year’s general elections.

The EPPF radio, YeArbegnoch Dimts, has reported about the blocking of roads to Gondar and Gojjam in its recent broadcast, and Ethiopian Review has been able to independently verify the news.

Ethiopian marathon stars denied entry into Australia

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

By Sophie Smith

SUNDAY’S Great Ocean Road Marathon has been thrown into chaos with four of its African favorites scratched from the event because their visas have been refused.

The Ethiopian athletes were due to touch down in Australia last night but have been denied entry by the Australian Embassy.

Kenyan runners Charles Muturi and 2006 champion James Kariuki are also fighting red tape in an effort to make the race.

Event director John Craven yesterday ruled out the possibility of the Ethiopian crew, including Firehiwot Tesfaye, Jenet Teka, Asamenew Tiruneh and Wellay Amare competing.

He planned to hold crisis talks with embassy officials in Nairobi last night in a bid to seek the urgent approval of Muturi and Kariuki’s visas, which have also been delayed.

“The Ethiopians have told us it would take another four weeks for approval to be granted, if it was granted at all. There is no chance that those four Ethiopians will be coming,” Craven said.

“We have had some runners in the past who, I understand, did not honour the conditions of their visas.

“I believe it’s the reason for the searching credentials that the Australian Embassy in Kenya is now putting these athletes through. That’s only my assessment, I haven’t been given that in writing.”

Craven said the travel costs to bring the overseas competitors to Geelong, about $4000, is refundable.

But he is disappointed the bad news has come just two days before the two-day event.

“We just find it’s getting more and more difficult every year to get visa’s for African athletes. We may have to look where we get our top overseas athletes from in the future. We don’t really need this, not two days before the race,” he said.

“The frustrating aspect of it is that it’s been left so late to get the responses. If I’d known about this four weeks ago our office could have acted upon it.”

The Ethiopian camp will still be represented.

Yared Mekonnen, who finished third in the Melbourne Marathon last year, and Jemechu Woyecha, who is training for the half marathon under the tutelage of Robert de Castella in Canberra, arrived earlier this year.

Craven was hopeful that Muturi and especially Kariuki, who has competed in the event three times, would make the race.

“James and Charles were supposed to arrive last night,” he said.

“Their visas are being delayed and I’m waiting for the Australian Embassy in Nairobi to open. We’re about eight hours ahead of them, so I can make direct contact with someone in the embassy over there to get urgent approval. I’m hopeful but we’re running out of time.”

Ginbot and Ethiopia

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

By Yilma Bekele

There are certain dates that mark a special event in our old history. They stand out when ever our history is told. These dates are adorned in red bold color when calendar is made. We are filled with a sense of euphoria and pride. They are not like other holidays. They are more than a holiday. They are a defining moment in our history.

March 2nd. is a special day. It is Victory at Adwa day. We proved that we could function as one when our sovereignty is threatened. April 6th. is another special day. It is the day the Fascist flag was lowered and our green, yellow and red flew high. It is a day we proved that we are unmatched in the art of protracted warfare to rout out an invader from our soil. Ginbot 15 is a special day too. It is the day the Ethiopian people tasted the power of the ballot box. Ginbot 15, 2005 the Ethiopian people woke up early to exercise their god given right to choose their leaders using the pencil instead of the gun.

Ginbot 15 changed Ethiopia for good. The very old, old and the young stood in line under the tropical sun on a hot muggy day to decide who they want to be in charge. It was unprecedented moment in our history. It was a lively campaign. The choice was laid out before them. There was the big, rich, organized TPLF camouflaged as EPDRF on one side and Kinijit, Hebret, OFDM on the other.

TPLF has been operating in a vacuum since 1991. The Derg has decimated both civilian and military leaders. TPLF entered the capital unopposed. For fourteen years TPLF roamed the country in the belief that it was shaping it in its own image. It facilitated the secession of Eritrea, rewrote a new Constitution, reconfisicated property, land and private businesses. It was a dark period in our history. Seventeen years of Derg mayhem left the population in a state of shock. The new leaders were looked at with total indifference. TPLF held a clearance sell of Derg companies and they all went to Tigrai rehab and endowment outfit. It even held an election in 1996 and 2000. TPLF (EPDRF) won everything. There was no organized opposition. It was actually a coronation.

Then came the famous 2005 general election. It was like the nation was waking up from a long slumber. New leaders were emerging. The people were eager to listen to new voices. The voices were smart, organized and defiant. The new leaders were focused, urbane, and fearless. Keste Damena under the leadership Of Dr. Berhanu Nega was the David against the TPLF Goliath. Slowly and methodically the TPLF cadres were goaded to react against their own interest. The Ethiopian people were given a front row seat to view the cadre clique naked flailing like a fish out of water.

The famous ‘television debates’ exposed the bankruptcy of the TPLF mafia. The Ethiopian people saw the cadres were blind leading the blind. Not even one was able to emerge worthy of respect. They were reduced to their old rant of ‘neftegna’ ‘deregist’ and bar room insults. They couldn’t articulate any vision so character assassination and bullying was the only thing left for them.

From Zele Anbesa to Moyale from Gore to Jijiga the Ethiopian people came out to vote on May 15. Using their newfound freedom, fueled by hope and a better future the Ethiopian people raised the banner of Kinijit and other opposition parties. TPLF was not safe even in its own backyard. The rejection of cadre economics, cadre politics and cadre leadership was universal. It was a landslide by any account. The cadres were in disarray. TPLF was the laughing stock of the continent. The only way out was illegal declaration of state of emergency and naked use of private Agaizi force.

Ginbot changed the dynamics of party building, election campaign and the sweet taste of freedom and one-man one vote principle. Ginbot showed that the Ethiopian people are ready and capable of exercising their right to choose their leaders in a peaceful manner.

Since Ginbot 15, 2005 our country has never been the same. We all woke up. The Ethiopian people realized TPLF was a paper tiger. It can kill, it can steal, it can lie and it can intimidate but it is also possible to defeat it. The Diaspora woke up too. You can physically transport the Ethiopian to a foreign land but you cannot take his Ethiopia ness out of him. The events of Ginbot 2005 downed on the Diaspora that silence is not an option.

So by imprisoning the leaders, killing activists, exiling opponents the TPLF regime thought it can turn time back to pre Ginbot state of affairs. What a wishful thinking? Freedom is infectious. Once you taste it there is no going back to slavery. Thus Kinijit became more than a party. It became an idea or as Judge Bertukan said ‘Kinijit is spirit’.

The TPLF regime said it took ‘a calculated risk’ in allowing the election and opening of the media to the opposition. It looks like they better get a new calculator because the old one seems to miscalculate a whole lot. Their love affair with Eritrea was a calculated risk that turned up into a two years war. The cease-fire and the Algiers agreement was another calculated risk that came back to bite them. Say goodbye to Badme. The invasion of Somalia was the mother of all calculated risks that blew up in the face of the cadres.

Can we give the cadres any credit for a job well done? I have tried but unfortunately, I couldn’t come up with one. You might say that is not fair but that is the truth. Ask a cadre to name a few success stories and see what they come up with. I know here in North America it is difficult to come up with an official TPLF supporter. TPLF is the only party in power with all its supporters underground. None of them will reveal their identity in broad daylight. They even use a pen name to write their poisonous propaganda.

Their mouthpiece ‘Aiga’ always posts tall buildings and freeways of the future being constructed. Are we supposed to be impressed by that? Is that what we want? Is that the blue print TPLF has for our country? How sad. Building wide freeways with borrowed money using Chinese labor is nothing to be proud of. A two-lane highway and plenty of primary schools with trained teachers is a better choice. Building soviet type concrete buildings with imported cement, imported metal, imported glass and remittance from the Diaspora is a shameful use of resources. Better to improve agriculture and feed the people instead of housing a few NGO’s in a high rise with no water and electricity.

The invention of the World Wide Web has brought untold advantage all over the world. Even the advanced economies have benefited from this miraculous technology. What did we do before the Web has become a genuine question. How is the TPLF regime using this wonderful invention? They built a ‘virtual network’ for the upper echelon of the party and foreign diplomats, but shut out the people. TPLF is afraid of free flow of information. Somalia a country in disarray is wired better than Ethiopia. On the other hand Ethiopia can boast the most robust firewall and web access blocking in Africa.

All this deep knowledge of the cadre government and Diaspora activism is the result of Ginbot 15. We were feeling defeated and resigned until Ginbot showed us the true strength of mass action. Ginbot 15 was the result of the action of dedicated sons and daughters of Ethiopia. It was the work of Dr. Berhanu, Ato Andargachew, Judge Birtukan, Ato Debebe, Dr. Hailu, Dr. Befekade and numerous others that are still working tirelessly to pave the way so our children can live free.

A lot has happened since Ginbot 15, 2005. The enemy is relentless. The enemy has the resources of the state under its control. The enemy is a big fat and ugly Goliath. But we have adapted too. We have managed to use our limited resources intelligently. We have risen to the occasion and routed the enemy in every encounter. We are lean, mean and smart. We have enjoyed numerous victories. We have forced the regime to release our leaders, convinced the US Congress and European Union to listen to our concerns, shamed paid lobbyists to distance themselves from the cadres, managed to work with such honorable organization as Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and others to echo the cry of our people.

We look back at Ginbot 15 with pride. We honor the memory of those who were slain by the regime because they took the promise of Ginbot 15 to heart. We take solace from the fact that their sacrifice will live forever in our glorious history. Four years later their dedication has borne fruit and here we are in the thousands working hard, working smart and convinced in the end good will triumph over evil. No one can change that.

Democracy at Bay

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Alemayehu G. Mariam

(In memory of those Ethiopians massacred and maimed by the dictatorship in power following the May 15, 2005 elections.)

Reflections on a Democracy Unplugged

“When the people fear the government, you have tyranny. When the government fears the people, you have freedom,” said Thomas Paine, one of the inspiring figures of the American revolution. On May 15, 2005, for the first time and for a fleeting moment in Ethiopia’s millennial history, government was forced to kneel down before the people, bow its head in trepidation and submit to their will and awesome power. Over 25 million Ethiopians voted on May 15, 20005; and with their signature dignity and civility, they evicted from the throne of power dictators that had lorded over them for nearly a decade and a half. “Enough is enough!”, the people said softly to the dictators in the voting booths. “We have no use for you. Leave, and live in peace!” But the dictators would have none of it. They declared war on the people. They shot them in the streets. They jailed them by the hundreds of thousands. They intimidated them into silent suffering and did everything in their power to eradicate hope and sow despair and division among them. They triumphantly put democracy on ice: No opposition political parties. No civil society organizations. No free press. No justice. No peace. No problems!

Not quite! Four years later, we have come to know that the dictators have failed in their diabolical plans totally and miserably. Democracy is alive and well in Ethiopia today. It remains safely at bay in the hearts and minds of every Ethiopian who believes in freedom, democracy, the rule of law and human rights. The flame of democracy and liberty still burns bright because Ethiopia’s unsung heroes paid the ultimate price.

Tribute to the Unsung Heroes of the 2005 Election

There are thousands of unsung Ethiopian heroes of the 2005 elections; and on this fourth anniversary of that fateful election, we have a solemn obligation to remember them and honor their memory. For if we do not, no one else will. They were not “important” people when they lived, and few cried for them when they were mowed down like blades of grass by the official executioners. None of them ever graced the pages of the newspapers and magazines. No one bothered to interview them on the radio or television. They did not have Ph.Ds or college education; they did not have money, cars or fancy houses. Nobody gave them medals; no public buildings were named after them; no statutes erected to remind the living of their sacrifices; no public holidays or awards to honor their memory. No flags draped their caskets and no memorials were ever held for them in their deaths. They don’t even have grave markers. But to me they will forever remain Heroes of Ethiopian Democracy: Tensae Zegeye, age 14, was gunned down peacefully protesting theft of the 2005 election. So were Debela Guta, age 15; Habtamu Tola, age 16; Binyam Degefa, age 18; Behailu Tesfaye, age 20; Kasim Ali Rashid, age 21; ShiBire Desalegn, age 21; Teodros Giday Hailu, age 23; Adissu Belachew, age 25; Milion Kebede Robi, age 32; Desta Umma Birru, age 37; Tiruwork G. Tsadik, age 41; Admasu Abebe, age 45; Elfnesh Tekle, age 45; Abebe Huletu, age 50; Etenesh Yimam, age 50; Regassa Feyessa, age 55; Teshome Addis Kidane, age 65; Victim No. 21762, age 75, female; Victim No. 21760, male, age unknown…. and the thousands of other victims of dictatorship who shall rest for eternity in honored glory known but to God. I remember them all, and I honor their memory and their sacrifices.

May 15, 2005: A Flash of the Possible

What occurred in Ethiopia in May, 2005 was a variation of a global theme that had been played out in the past two decades. Throughout the 1980s and thereafter the world witnessed the implosion of dictatorships and the explosion of democracy in the former Soviet bloc countries and many authoritarian societies in Asia and Latin American. Crippled by lack of legitimacy and intense popular demands for greater political space and economic liberalization, many of these dictatorships fell like dominoes. In Africa, a few slick operators — previously sworn enemies of imperialism and champions of socialism — took advantage of the situation and seized power promising free elections, free speech, free media, free markets and free everything. They pulled a huge wool over the eyes of Western donors and managed to get themselves canonized as the “New Breed of African Leaders”. But within a few years, the New Breed had morphed into the Vicious Breed of African Leaders. They filled their prisons with their opponents, killed as many as they could, banned the independent media, subverted the judiciary, held make-believe elections and fastened themselves to power like barnacles to a sunken ship. They secured their ship of state with the glue of corruption and one-party rule.

In May, 2005, the unimaginable had suddenly become the inevitable in Ethiopia. A system of criminal enterprise based on corruption, theft of the public treasury and repression collapsed in a tidal wave of popular repudiation at the polls. In that fleeting moment, we saw a flash of the possible. We witnessed a miracle: Peaceful transfer of political power through fair and free elections, the birthing of a government that derives its just powers from the consent of the governed, scattered seedlings of a functioning democracy complete with competitive political parties, burgeoning civil society institutions and wide political space for ordinary citizens to participate in government and express themselves. But that miracle of democracy was snuffed in its cradle; and a virulent dictatorship of mercenaries stood naked for the whole world to behold.

The Sun Always Rises

There is much to be learned from the elections of 2005. The greatest lesson of all is: Ethiopians united can never be defeated! When opposition political parties came together to oppose dictatorship, they won handily. When civic society institutions banded together, they won mightily. When Ethiopians in exile worked together to support democracy, freedom and human rights together, they won beautifully. But winning is not a one time event. Winning an election is great, but winning the hearts and minds of the people is the greatest victory of all. Those societies that have overthrown dictatorships and consolidated their electoral victories managed to do so by using the power of persuasion together with the power of the ballot to win hearts and minds. Solidarity (the first non-communist union) in Poland led a broad-based anti-communist movement by winning hearts and minds. So did the teachers, writers, journalists and students that spearheaded Czechoslovakia’s “Velvet Revolution”. Even in East Germany, pastors and laymen became the nucleus for a broad-based anti-communist movement. It was within these civil society institutions that the people’s imaginations about freedom, democracy and human rights were stoked and a successful overthrow of the communist dictatorships achieved. Civil society institutions actually defeated the most entrenched and most encrusted dictatorships the world has ever known. The story was no different for the military bureaucratic authoritarian dictatorships of Latin America.

There is no reason to believe that civil society institutions in Ethiopia could not prove to be important mechanisms in the struggle against dictatorship and in sustaining a functioning democracy. The best proof of this proposition is manifest in the current regime’s maniacal obsession to regulate and choke civil society organizations. The so-called “Charities Proclamation” of the regime has only a single purpose: Prevent the explosion of popular democratic impulses and growth of civil society groups that can challenge the arbitrary rule of the dictators. The regime’s explanation that the “law” is passed to hold the foreign NGOs and other domestic groups accountable, promote transparency and safeguard against corruption is as absurd as having bank robbers guarding the bank from other robbers.

The foundation of politics in Ethiopia today is ethnicity and the elimination of unity of the people in all forms by accentuating historical, social, political, economic, regional, etc. differences and grievances. Ethnic identity and loyalties are glorified, and identity in a common nationality mocked, scorned and ridiculed. The governing principle of the dictators is “Ethnicity before one’s humanity, and definitely before one’s nationality.” The evidence on the current dictatorship for the last 18 years unambiguously shows that they have succeeded to some extent in “atomizing” Ethiopia into ethnic enclaves. As a result, the country has outwardly become an archipelago of ethnic and linguistic “homelands” or bantustans. This type of ethnic policy and practice has spawned a culture of distrust, and forced people to develop deeply embedded habits of fear, loathing, doubt and suspicion that will have serious consequences in a post-dictatorship democratic society.

As we reflect on the sacrifices of the victims of the post-2005 election violence, we must honor their memory by creatively developing and cultivating civic society organizations that could lead a broad-based anti-dictatorship movement; and evolve into vital institutions that can mediate conflict, build bridges across ethnic lines, promote consensus and national unity and institutionalize a functional democracy in a post-dictatorship Ethiopia. The fact of the matter is that an active civil society offers unlimited opportunities to challenge dictatorships and usher in democracy. It will not be easy to sustain such institutions given the inhuman brutality of the current dictators. But that was exactly what the people of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union believed until they did what they had to do in creative ways to bring about freedom, democracy and human rights in their societies: Mobilize, catalyze, organize, educate and ACT.

Long live the memory of the victims of the post-2005 elections violence!

Ethiopia exports fewer flowers for Mother's Day

Monday, May 11th, 2009

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a good news since the flower exporters are affiliated with the {www:Woyanne} regime, and the fertilizer they use to grow flowers for export is destroying nearby lakes and rivers.

By Aidan Jones | The Christian Science Monitor

Sabeta, Ethiopia – A local pop song trills out from the radio, filling the cavernous packing hall at the Ethio Highland Flora farm in Sabeta, a 45-minute drive from Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.

Dozens of workers tackle a seemingly endless stack of exotically named roses, separating the short stems and rotten petals from the bright Valentino, Duo Unique, Wild Calypso, and Alyssa blooms destined for Europe.

Most of the farm’s 400 employees earn less than a dollar a day, but it is a steady wage in one of the world’s poorest nations where 80 percent of the population lives off the land.

This year the 20-hectare farm, a sprawl of irrigated and temperature-controlled greenhouses, is set to beat its target for growing, cutting, and exporting 21 million stems.

That is a 15 percent rise on its contribution to the 1.5 billion stems exported by Ethiopia in 2008, earning an estimated $175 million for the industry.

But the positive figures belie a dramatic slump in demand for flowers as the global economic crisis forces European consumers, Ethiopia’s main market, to curb spending on perceived luxuries. It’s a tough blow for Ethiopia, where flower power was touted to supplant coffee as Ethiopia’s main export and highest earner of foreign exchange.

Many analysts now fear that, without swift assistance, Ethiopia’s nascent flower industry will wilt in the heat of global recession.

“We’re not talking about falling profit this year, just survival,” says farm manager Emebet Tesfaye. “Even Valentine’s Day was down from last year. The problem is Europeans don’t want flowers right now. The buyers in Amsterdam control the market, and they are setting prices very low – there is no minimum price for our stems. Every loss is on the growers’ side: transport, water, electricity, wages, and even fees to the rose breeders.”

Sales down on Valentine’s Day and ‘Mothering Sunday’

Sales forecasts are traditionally pegged to an expected bonanza at Valentine’s Day and Mothering Sunday (Europe’s version of Mother’s Day on March 22). This year Ethio Highland Flora Farm sold 20 to 30 percent fewer flowers, punching a hole in expected revenues and compounding the pain caused by low stem prices.

Prices per stem are now 10 cents (euro) or less, down 15-20 percent from last year.

On bad days, the flower auction houses of Amsterdam – where the majority of stems from Kenya, Ethiopia, Namibia, and Tanzania vie for buyers – have reported dips of up to 40 percent.

Four farms have already filed for bankruptcy – out of 85 – while at least half of the remainder are operating at a loss.

Oh, what a difference half a year makes

Just six months ago, things looked very different.

Foreign and local investors piled into the sector lured by predictions of revenues of $1 billion within five years, tax incentives, and a surfeit of cheap labor.

One thousand hectares of land went under cultivation, more than 50,000 people were directly employed on the farms, with tens of thousands earning a crust along the supply chain, as Ethiopia threatened the regional primacy of Kenya’s longer-established floriculture.

Keen to banish Ethiopia’s famine-ridden reputation, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi played his part, hailing flowers as the flagship of an increasingly buoyant economy – the government says that in 2008 gross domestic product grew at just under 10 percent.

And it is to him that the flower farmers are now turning, calling for a reprieve from the banks which are nervously eyeing their loans, and the freight firms and airlines, who currently charge $1.85 per kilo of cargo to fly the flowers to Europe.

“This is a problem caused by the developed world, but we are paying for it in Africa,” says Tsegaye Abebe, president of the Ethiopian Horticulture Producers and Exporters Association (EHPEA). “We can tolerate low market prices for a time, but if prices continue like this for many more months our industry will be under serious threat. It is time for all the businesses with a stake in the sector to help each other out.”

Despite a recent pledge to support the industry “through thick and thin,” Meles – as he is widely known – can not hold back the confluence of global and local forces sweeping across the Ethiopian flower business.

Too much power in hands of European middlemen?

It is a tough trade; cheap and high quality stems pour into the market from across Africa and Latin America, putting European buyers in the driving seat.

Prices are set low in the knowledge there is a surplus of supply from desperate growers, and farm owners have yet to build the capacity to trade directly with supermarkets – the major sale point for flowers.

As a newcomer to the market, Ethiopia does not benefit from the same economies of scale as neighboring Kenya, raising fears it is particularly vulnerable to the price shock.

Mr. Tsegaye believes survival can be secured through a diversification of products to include herbs, fruits, and vegetables, and markets to reach Japan, Middle East, Russia, and the United States. “But that depends on the short and medium term being kind to us,” he says.

The social impact of decline will also be keenly felt in Sabeta – where small holding farmers were convinced to sell their land to flower farms by the promise of big rewards to come.

The majority of flower workers are women, and the recession threatens to stymie plans to empower them with minimum labor standards and unions.

It has deflated Emebet Tesfaye’s hopes. She may soon be left with the awkward choice of dumping some of the 70,000 flowers a day produced at Ethio Highland or flooding the market with roses no one is buying.

A recent visit to a Dutch auction house intensified her gloom as she witnessed the pecking order of a market which roots flower-producing nations to the bottom.

“Each morning the buyers look at their computer screens and click one button that determines the life of all these people,” she explains gesturing to the female packers. “We have no power.”

A former judge among accused coup plotters in Ethiopia

Monday, May 11th, 2009

Addis Neger, a local Amharic language newspaper in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa reports that a former judge who is currently prominent lawyer is among 40 people jailed after being accused of plotting to assassinate Ethiopia’s dictator Meles Zenawi and other high ranking Woyanne regime officials.

Goshyirad Tsegaw, who along with Birtukan Mideksa has presided over a high-profile case of the former Defense Minster and top ranking Woyanne official, Siye Abrah, was arrested on April 24, according to Addis Neger

Goshyirad got his first degree from the Addis Ababa University in 1999 and started his career working as an Assistant Judge at the Federal First Instance court where he worked for a year. He served for eight more years as a judge in the same court where he came to preside over Siye’s case.

Starting from 2009, he has been practicing law independently and doing his second degree at the Addis Ababa University in Human Rights Law.

Sources: Addis Neger and Addis Journal

Tag: Ethiopian News

Ethiopia: Long Live Ginbot 7

Monday, May 11th, 2009

By Tedla Asfaw

I am not endorsing the Ginbot 7 party led by Dr Birhanu Nega on its first anniversary; rather to congratulate the Ethiopian masses who went out in millions in all corners of Ethiopia and voted TPLF out of office four years ago on May 15, 2005 (Ginbot 7, 1997 Eth. Cal.). I am also remembering the fallen heroes — unarmed peaceful protesters — who were gunned down by Agazi commandos on broad day light.

Here is my difference with former minister of defense Ato Seye Abraha, one of the founders of TPLF, who wanted to accuse both the victims and crime perpetrators by characterizing what follows May 15 elections as “unprepared for peaceful election.” Wait a minute, how did he forget the Miazia 30 rally of more than two million people in Addis Ababa who went out on pre-election rally without a single incident? The only reason our people were left alone on that day was because of the arrogance of TPLF cadres who believed that the paid rally in support of TPLF could beat any opposition by the Kinijit/CUD.

The May 15, however, proved that TPLF arrogance was unparalleled and it lost overwhelmingly in Addis Ababa and to avoid defeat it massacred our peaceful people. That is the fact and any attempt to paint our people as “violent” is just covering up the TPLF crime.

The theory of participating on peaceful election in Ethiopia has been dead since May 16, 2005 after our people’s aspiration for democracy was stopped by the brutal forces of TPLF leaving more than two hundred dead and tens of thousands in concentration camps. Now TPLF is preparing to control power and get legitimacy it never got during the last eighteen years by preparing a fake election and recruiting new comers on Mederk platform run by Gebru Asrat and Seye Abraha.

Accusing our people for violent behavior and “opposition organizations” unprepared to challenge the “strong and powerful TPLF” they are working to get a seat with their former brothers until “the unorganized oppositions” are ready in 2015 to challenge TPLF. We haven’t heard from them on the ongoing ethnic cleansing in the army which Bulcha Demeksa accurately characterized as pre-election terror.

Another major election campaign was orchestrated by Meles Zenawi in the Amhara Region a month ago. A poem was read to congratulate “Talaku Mereyachenen” Meles Zenawi and read like this: “Do not worry, all of them will come back to you, Meles; Hulum Meles Bilew Yematalu.”

The person who wrote this poem accurately captured the so called participants of the the 2010 peaceful elections led by Medrek.

Our people’s readiness to elect their leaders peacefully was well documented even by those who financed and armed TPLF and what our people demand right now is their right to organize, speak and print freely; not another Lidetu Ayalew type Democracy Talk. Without basic rights of democracy, the new formation like “Mederek challenging TPLF/EPRDF” in the June 2010 election is just betrayal of our people much worst than Lidetu Ayalew’s betrayal four years ago.

TPLF is running a one party state until our people economy reached to that of Communist China. It transferred itself to a “development party” and can now be called also Tigray People Development Party (TPDP). Do not worry about the name Tigray — they mean business and is all clear for all doubters. TPLF/TPDP Oromo’s wing was dealt with before and the Amhara wing of TPDP is being hit by imprisoning Amhara officers in the army who were “conspiring” with Ginbot 7 weeks ago.

Does any one still doubt that TPLF does not mean EPRDF. I hope the Mederek people will tell us if there is anybody in EPRDF except TPLF that has real power. I hope they will not mention Teferra Walewa who will soon be accused of eating the left over “sugar” from Pastor Tamrat Layne who was thrown in jail for over decade for “sugar crime” (profiting from the sale of sugar).

Our generation has the same choice our fathers and mothers had seventy five years ago: either to live in dignity or die fighting. I choose the latter one and support all real oppositions, including Ginbot 7, for the common struggle to remove TPLF and empower our people.

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

Court ordered coup suspects to remain in jail

Monday, May 11th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA (AP) — Lawyers say an Ethiopian [kangaroo] court has granted authorities permission to keep 40 people [including an 80-year-old father of an opposition party leader] who allegedly plotted to overthrow the government in custody for two more weeks.

The suspects have been jailed without charge since April 24, when officials said they were found with weapons, coup plans and information that linked them to a prominent opposition group started after Ethiopia’s disputed 2005 elections.

For Monday’s ruling, the suspects were brought to court under tight security. Relatives and others were kept at a distance as they tried to see if they knew the suspects as they were driven to the courtroom door.

The prisoners have not been publicly identified.

The two lawyers who took part in the closed hearing declined to identify themselves or their clients.

Tag: Ethiopian News

55 Ethiopians convicted of helping rebels groups

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

A Woyanne Kangaroo court in Ethiopia has sentenced 55 Ethiopians to 3-15 years in jail this week for collaborating with rebel groups. Some of the charges are over 3 years old and accuse the detainees of working with the late Dr Kitaw Ejigou’s Ethiopian National Unity Front (ENUF).

Many of the prisoners are being kept in dark prison cells without even access to toilet.

The following is a list of some of those who were convicted:

1. Yonas Getachew
2. Hirut Kifle
3. Alemayehou Seifu
4. Gezahegn Aredda
5. Sultan Mohammed
6. Endalkatchew Melese
7. Tadesse Zenebe
8. Fassica Taffa
9. Bruke Mammo
10. Alemayehou Tamre
11. Fikre Wold-Amlak
12. Lijalem Takele
13. Desalegn Serke
14. Wolde Danna
15. Birhanu Abba
16. Tsegaye Ayale
17. Belai Kefyalew
18. Gadlu Ayale
19. Mesfin Lemlem
20. Girma Sawinet
21. Zawdu Liyew
22. Anteneh Getnet Mulat
23. Mekecha Mengesitu
24. Getinet Ayalew
25. Tilahun Ayalew
26. Fekadu Andualem
27. Argata Gobena
28. Col. Daniel Tessema
29. Mohammed Surur
30. Eng. Abiyu Ali
31. Dr. Lakew Alemu
32. Abate Andarge
33. Amsalu Kassa
34. Tsigie Desta

Ethiopian Review will try to get the names of all those were sentenced. The Woyanne prosecutors have no evidence to charge any of these innocent Ethiopians and the Kangaroo court is known not to care about evidence.

Gebremedhin expelled from Ethiopian church in Jerusalem

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

The Woyanne-installed illegitimate patriarch in Ethiopia, Aba Gebremedhin (formerly Aba Paulos), was chased out of an Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Jerusalem last week, according to Ethiopian Review sources.

Aba Gebremedhin, along with Aba Gerima and other members of his entourage, had traveled to Israel on a working visit after his agents in Jerusalem promised him that he will be received well.

When the monks, priests and other members of the Ethiopian church in Jerusalem found out about his presence, they started shouting: “get out”.

Shaken by the opposition, Aba Gebremedhin (aka Aba Diabilos) sneaked out as he sneaked in like a thief.

The gun-toting Aba Gebremedhin was named “patriarch” in 1991 only because he is a loyal Woyanne tribal cadre. He has no qualification and no moral standing to become a patriarch of the EOTC.

After he was named patriarch by the Woyanne regime, he built a huge palace for himself in Addis Ababa while ancient Ethiopian churches fall apart due to neglect. Extremely rare church manuscripts have also started to be sold to tourists by other Woyanne cadres he brought with him. Such national treasurers as the cross that belonged to Abune Petros, who was gunned down by Fascist Italian forces for refusing to cooperate, were handed out to Qes Zebene and other friends of Aba Diabilos as gifts and wedding presents for being loyal agents.

Aba Diabilos travels with an army of bodyguards in armored vehicles. A short time after he took over the EOTC, one of his bodyguards shot dead an unarmed monk, Bahitawi FekadeSelassie, right in front of him. The Bahitawi was trying to deliver a complaint letter when he was gunned down in cold blood.

After the 2005 elections, when students were trying to hide from death squads of the Federal Police and Agazi special forces, he ordered churches in Addis Ababa to close their gates and those who managed to get inside were handed to the security fores.

The damage that has been inflicted on the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC) by Aba Gebremedhin can only be compared to that of Ahmed Gragn hundreds of years ago.

Tag: Ethiopian News

U.S. students help fund donkey bookmobiles for Ethiopia

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

By Alicia Rudnicki | examiner.com

Imagine a life without the {www:imagination} of the printed page. Imagine a life without libraries in dusty African villages. Imagine the soaring imagination of two librarians who decided to solve this problem with the help of donkeys.

Next week school children around the United States will participate in fundraising events to help pay for mobile donkey libraries and other projects to improve literacy for children in Ethiopia. They will do this by participating in the first annual Ethiopia Reads Book Week U.S.A., which is supported by Scholastic Literacy Partnerships in conjunction with the organization Ethiopia READS.

You can enjoy presentations by Ethiopian dancers and storytellers today during the kickoff of Ethiopia Reads Book Week at Aurora’s Central Library, 11 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. You can also meet a donkey and see a {www:replica} of a book mobile cart.

Fifty years ago, when librarian Yohannes Gebregeorgis was learning how to read from Peace Corps volunteers in his Ethiopian village, he probably would never have imagined such an event. After all, the only reading materials available were the textbooks at school.

He also probably never imagined that he would establish a publishing company—Ethiopian Books for Children and Educational Foundation—or become a children’s author or be named one of CNN’s Top Heroes of 2008 for “championing children.”

There were no public libraries in Gebregeorgis’ homeland, and he didn’t own a book until he was 19. It was this ownership, according to the International Reading Association, that “sparked a sparked a lifelong commitment” to improving literacy in his homeland.

That commitment, coupled with the degree in librarianship that he gained in the U.S. after having to flee here as a political refugee, resulted in the organization Ethiopia READS. Gebregeorgis created it along with his friend and fellow librarian, Jane Kurtz,  a children’s author who lived in Ethiopia as a child.

The International Reading Association quotes Gebregeorgis as saying that most Ethiopian children still only “have {www:access} to textbooks in the classroom. Books children read outside of school, those are the spices of education.”

How can you help? Visit the “Get Involved” webpage at Ethiopia READS.

For More Information: Here are two great YouTube videos. The first one, from Voice of America, shows Yohannes Gebregeorgis and the donkey bookmobile. The second, is a lyrical view of Awassa, the first Ethiopian village to receive the bookmobile service.

Questions for President Isayas Afwerki – Part 2

Friday, May 8th, 2009

Click here to read some of the questions that we have received so far.

You can type Amharic by clicking here.

A minority domination and ethnic federalism in Ethiopia

Friday, May 8th, 2009

By Berhanu G. Balcha

Ethnicity and federalism have become the major factors in organizing the political and territorial space in Ethiopia since 1991. The Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which had started its movement for the liberation of its ethnic territory from the central Ethiopian administration, has advocated ethnic- federalism by vowing to reduce conflicts and equalize the diverse ethnic communities. As a result, the overall centralized structure of the previous regime has been replaced by a ‘federal’ system consists of nine ethnically and regionally delimited regional states.

The ‘ethnic- federal’ experiment of devolving public sector powers to ethnic groups goes against the centralized nation-building project of the previous regimes. The previous regimes used a different model; they gave much emphasis to ‘Ethiopian nationalism’ as a unifying concept and promoted centralization rather than regional or ethnic autonomy. The rule of the emperor was based on absolutism and concentration of power on the king himself through a patrimonial network of power, resource and privilege accumulation and distribution system that benefits the rulers and their few collaborators at local, regional and central levels. The major orientation of the imperial state was to use the state power for voracious appropriation of resources mainly from the peasantry in order to reward the few ruling nobilities, viceroy and their clienteles that maintain the survival of the highly centralised state. Although the brutality of appropriation and mode of domination differ from place to place due to the historical process and mode of incorporation into the centralized state structure, the expansion toward the south accompanied with the assertion of the cultural superiority of the core and the serfdom and exploitation of the people of the south (Clapham 2002: 10, Teshale 1995: 176, Bahiru 1994, Messay 1999). In the process, many of the southern Ethiopian peasantry were turned in to serfs in their own land when the ‘ownership’ of their land was transferred to the emperor, nobilities and loyal followers of the imperial authority. Though the predatory state had showed some favouritism based on provincial ethnicity for functional purpose, it promoted ‘state nationalism’ and ‘national integration’ with the perception of national identity as the mirror-image of the ruling elite’s ethnic and cultural manifestations in terms of language, religion and, self-proclaimed moral superiority and military triumph over others. It is indisputable that language proficiency plays a significant role to determine better access to education and employment by putting in a relatively disadvantageous situation those groups whose language is not used in employment and education.

The military regime, after 1974, repeatedly stressed that it preferred ‘socialist’ solution to the nationalities question but promoted militaristic nationalism by means of authoritarian and highly centralized political system. It initiated, however, few measures like broadcasting radio programmes in Afar, Somali, Oromiffa and Tigrgna languages, establishing national research institution for studying nationalities and finally drawing a new internal boundary based on linguistic and territorial bases. Most importantly, it made a radical shift in the landownership in 1975, particularly in the southern part of Ethiopia by destroying the exploitative and unjust land appropriation of the nobility and others. Although the radical change had abolished serfdom by distributing the land to the peasants, land remained the property of the state and thus made the peasantry highly intervened and controlled by the state. Nevertheless, it did not make any attempt to link ethnic rights with politics or governance issues. Rather without any regional or ethnic prejudices, it imposed its greater centralization and brutal governance system, controlled at the core by junior military officers regardless of their ethnic affiliation or orientations. Militaristic state nationalism blended with socialism was promoted by hoping to obliterate regional and ethnic movements. However, excessive centralization backed by ruthless coercion did not abate regional and ethnic movements. Rather, it exacerbated internal turmoil and massive resentment of the population, which provided a good opportunity for the expansion of ethnonational movements that finally overrun the state’s centre in 1991 by defeating the military regime, and introducing a rhetoric of ethnic autonomy and ethnic entitlement.

Ethnicity: a theoretical challenge and empirical nuisance

Structuring of society and politics on the basis of ethnicity has been viewed by many scholars as a risky approach for the reason that politicisation of ethnicity could excessively awaken ethnic consciousness and unleash ethnic groupings at the expense of shared identities and interspersed settlements (Horowitz 1985, Messay 1999, Clapham 2002). It is held that ethnic entitlements could give much more leverage to blood relationships and ascriptive loyalties in place of rights and duties (Kedourie 1993). It could also promote the rule of kin, instead of the rule of law, because ascribed ethnic solidarity is more important than merit and other achieving qualities in the ideology of ethnic entitlement, therefore sharing the same genealogy will be a reassurance for assuming political leadership. Ethnic entitlement can also be used by ethnic leaders to gather justification or legitimisation for autocratic rule in the name of their ethnic community. Most importantly, the adulation and preponderance of affinitive or kinship ties within societies would pose formidable barriers to build tolerant multiethnic societies (Ali. A. Mazrui 1967).

On the other hand, scholars concerned about ethnically fragmented societies suggest that in order to reduce ethnic tensions and conflicts, it is imperative for multiethnic states to engineer accommodative structure in order to achieve peaceful coexistence (O’Leary 2002, Lijphart 1994; 2002). A prominent scholar in the field of ethnicity, politics and power-sharing in multiethnic societies, Arend Lijphart (1994) advises for designing ethnic power sharing arrangements or consociational model in segmented or divided societies. According to Arend Lijphart that successful political accommodation of diverse ethnic groups could be achieved through recognition and devising appropriate institutions for accommodation and power sharing. In his discussion of consociational politics, Lijphart enumerated four necessary institutional arrangements in accommodating diversities. These are power sharing government (grand coalition), mutual veto, proportionality and segmental autonomy (Lijphart 1977). In his discussion Lijphart outlined the necessity to have proportional representation from all significant groups, a protection for minority groups and a territorial autonomy or non-territorial division of power or functional autonomy. Although Lijphart’s consociational democracy is criticized for its high reliance on the good will of elites, it can be used as a model for engineering appropriate institutional structures in places where diverse ethnic groups are competing and fighting for controlling the state power.

In line with Lijphart’s argument other scholars suggest also that stability in culturally fragmented countries increases if these countries adopt a political system characterised by proportionality, grand coalition, federalism and strong veto points (Steiner et al 2003: 82). Ethnic federalism is suggested as a relatively preferable institutional arrangement in case of geographically concentrated ethnic groups. Federalism can provide an autonomous space for power exercise and a space for expression for territorially concentrated homogeneous ethnic groups. In such case it could reduce demands for separation and other tensions associated with secession.

However, scholars like Donald Horowitz (1985 & 2002) and Basta Fleiner (2000) argue that ethnic arrangement as a means to ensure ethnic self-government could further radicalise ethnic problem by turning ethnic demands into political principles rather than providing a remedy or cure. In this connection, federal framework based on ethnic coalition could be very unstable form of government, because ethnic elites could be possessed by their own sectional self-interest to pull apart the framework or the coalition. They could also be constrained by their ethnic community if they concede much for the sake of cooperation. Horowitz (2002) therefore argues that federalism should aim to create an integrative dynamics by encouraging ethnically heterogeneous groups or political units to work together within a shared structure that can provide incentives for inter-ethnic co-operation. For Horowitz, non-ethnic federal units could help to forge common interests, other than ethnic identities, among people living within the same federal units in order to compete against the other federal units beyond ethnic interests. Horowitz believes that the remedy for ethnic problem is institutionalisation of ‘ethnically blind’ structures and policies that could reduce or undermine ethnic divide. However, he recognises that in a climate of elite competition ‘a fear of ethnic domination and suppression is a motivating force for the acquisition of power as an end and it is also sought for confirmation of ethnic status’ (Horowitz 1985: 187). ‘An ethnic contrast that has produced an extraordinary amount of conflict in many African, Asian, and Caribbean states is the juxtaposition of ‘backward’ and ‘advanced’ groups’ (Horowitz 1985: 148). Thus, Horowitz advises that ‘if indeed ethnicity and ethnic organisations provide security to groups in an uncertain environment, then attempts to replace or outlaw them may have the effect of increasing insecurity’ (Horowitz 1985: 567-8). It could be essential, therefore, to recognise the importance of power-sharing and territorial devolution. Territorial compartmentalization with devolution of generous power can have tranquillising effects in countries with territorially separate groups, significant sub-ethnic divisions and serious conflict at the centre (Horowitz 1985: 614). It is very vital to consider the importance of timing in engineering a political process and structure, because ‘accommodation long delayed may be accommodation ultimately denied’ (Horowitz 1985: 617).

As Walker Connor (1999) articulates that ethnonational movements’ are found worldwide, they ‘are to be found in Africa (for example, Ethiopia), Asia (Sri Lanka), Eastern Europe (Romania), Western Europe (France), North America (Guatemala), South America (Guyana), and Oceania (New Zealand). The list includes countries that are old (United Kingdom), as well as new (Bangladesh), large (Indonesia), as well as small (Fiji), rich (Canada), as well as poor (Pakistan), authoritarian (Sudan) as well as democratic (Belgium), Marxist-Leninist (China) as well as militantly anti-Marxist (Turkey). The list also includes countries which are Buddhist (Burma), Christian (Spain), Moslem (Iran), Hindu (India) and Judaic (Israel). (Connor 1999: 163-4).

Ethnic associations and ethnic parties have been discouraged and banned in many countries and in majority cases due to fear of the presumed radical and destructive backlashes of ethnic demands and ethnic rights. Vindictive horrors of ethnic conflicts, genocide and ethnic cleansing in cases like in Rwanda, former Yugoslavia, Nigeria and also unrelenting and destructive ethnic strives in places such as in Sudan, India, Malaysian, Sri Lanka and others are signalling the recalcitrance nature of ethnic demands and also indicating the difficult challenges connected to ethnic entitlement and ethnic rights.

However, in his cross-national study of communal based conflicts, Ted Gurr (1994) shows that ‘ethnic identity and interest per se do not risk unforeseen ethnic wars; rather, the danger is hegemonic elites who use the state to promote their own people’s interest at the expense of others (Gurr 2000: 64). Thus, he warns that ‘the push of state corruption and minority repression probably will be a more important source of future ethnic wars than the ‘pull’ of opportunity’ (Ibid). Horowitz also asserts that even if ethnic problems are intractable, they are not altogether without hope; ‘even in the most severely divided societies, ties of blood do not lead to ineluctably to rivers of blood’ (Ibid. p. 682). Power-sharing and coalition political frameworks that could encourage inter-ethnic cooperation by ensuring recognition of some prominent group’s rights could be one option to minimise group’s resentments and mitigate destructive conflicts.

A paradox in Ethiopia: a tiny minority and relatively poorer region demands and monopolises federalism

In the Ethiopian context, the TPLF was inherently and structurally deficient in establishing a genuine accommodative federal political framework in the country. The TPLF officially and proudly claims to represent the Tigray province and the Tigray people. The Tigray people constitute only 6 percent of the total population of Ethiopia, a very tiny minority in Ethiopia’s ethnic configuration when compared to the Oromo and Amhara people that represent about 35 and 30 per cent of the Ethiopian people respectively. The Tigray province has been relatively the most impoverished, environmentally degraded and highly vulnerable to frequent draught and famine. Without siphoning or supplementing resource from the other part of Ethiopia, it is unlikely that the province could sustain the current, though still precarious, life standard. Conceivably, therefore the TPLF’s ethnic empowerment discourse could damages more the interest and benefit of the Tigray elite and the TPLF, if it is to be implemented genuinely. The TPLF and the Tigrayan elite would have lost their privileged position with a genuine ethnic federal arrangement in Ethiopia.

As a result, the TPLF was not interested to create a genuine ethnic coalition government and a genuine ethnic federal arrangement in Ethiopia that would certainly put it in a gravely disadvantageous position. More importantly, the Tigray province, a home of the TPLF, would be the least to be benefited from a genuine federal arrangement in Ethiopia, therefore the TPLF has not worked for a genuine federal arrangement. From the beginning, the intention of the TPLF has been a sham federal arrangement through a superficial ethnic coalition arrangement. Hence, it has been embarking on sustaining a political travesty via EPRDF (Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Force) that would assure its hegemonic project by using ethnic rights as a discourse to attract and subdue the disoriented ethnic elites.

Ethnic rights and ethnic entitlement have become an attractive inducement for many of elites from various ethnic groups to fell so easily in the trap of the TPLF’s manipulation and machination. Many of surrogate ethnic parties, which have not have any legitimacy from their respective ethnic communities, have become an instrument of the TPLF’s hegemonic desire, as they have been easily susceptible to TPLF’s rewarding or/and coercing power. In this case, the TPLF has been consistent in its core policy in promoting first and foremost the interests of the Tigray elite.

From the beginning, the hegemonic ambition of the Tigrayan elite or the TPLF has been the major factor in blocking an effective power-sharing federal government in Ethiopia. The TPLF single-handedly dominated the constitutional drafting process and the procedures for establishing an elected government that replaced the transition government. The TPLF was more interested to promote its project in reasserting the hegemony of the Tigrayan elite in Ethiopia. The Tigrayan elites have been very nostalgic about the past glory and standing of Tigray in the history of the Ethiopian state (Aregawe 2004: 576). Marcus states that ‘Tigrayan felt marginalized, even though the Tigray had participated in Emperor Menelik’s empire building and in Emperor Haile Selassie’s effort to establish a nation’ (Marcus 2002: 221). Kinfe Abreha argues also that ‘the Tigrians also resent the unfair historical process through which the Tigrians overloardship of Emperor Yohannes IV was lost to Menelik II, leading to the gradual decline of the region from the citadel of the Empire’ to a quasi autonomous one’ (Kinfe 1994: 159). He writes that: ‘The Tigray resistance is naturally the outcome of the gradual decline of the region whose human and material potentials was spent in the preservation of the territorial integrity of Ethiopia. It was the case of a candle that consumed itself while giving light to its surroundings’ (Ibid.). Adhana also claims that Tigray, defined by its predominant Christian character, formed not only a durable component of the Ethiopian nation but was also part of the backbone of the Ethiopian state and thus ‘everything that defined the Ethiopian state was a result of Aksumite invention and innovation.’ (Adhana 1998: 43). These assertions may reflect the disquiet of the Tigrayan elite on lost pride due to ‘a humiliating sense of exclusion from the important centre of power’.

Is the TPLF empowering ethnic groups?

Many critics have accused the TPLF for excessively empowering ethnic groups, however the real practice has been that the TPLF has co-opted elites from the various ethnic groups who have not make an effective resistance against the dominance of the Tigrayan elite in the Ethiopian state. Here, the most important point to understand is that the TPLF has not been an honest force in implementing a genuine ethnic federalism. Actually, the TPLF is not giving a real power to the ethnic communities, but it is promoting surrogate elites and ethnic entrepreneurs from various ethnic communities who have facilitated the expansion of its influence and rule in their respective areas. The implication is that the ethnic federal arrangement has been used by the TPLF in order to extend its authority beyond its own territory in order to make the Tigrayan elite a dominant political and economic force in the Ethiopian state.

Although the TPLF claims that it has been struggling, first and foremost, for the rights of the Tigrayan people for self-determination, its legitimacy in Tigray has not been confirmed democratically. Nevertheless, it is evident that the TPLF has been able to secure immense moral and political support from some section of the elite of Tigray because of its ‘commitment’ for the reassertion and promotion of the Tigrayan nationalism. It is becoming clear that the ethnic federal arrangement in Ethiopia has been used by the TPLF to establish the hegemony of the Tigray nationalism over other nationalisms, including the ‘Ethiopian nationalism’. Though it is difficult to know whether the Tigrean people as a whole support or benefit from the strategy of the TPLF, there is ample evidence that some of the Tigrayan elites have been benefiting significantly in getting a dominant political and economic position in disproportionate to the share they should have been given in accordance with the ethnic entitlement principles of the motto of ethnic federalism as it has been proclaimed by the TPLF itself.

According to the principles of its own ideology of fair and equal representation of ethic groups, the TPLF, which represents the Tigray province with its 6 percent of the Ethiopian population, should have assumed a minority role, if its intention has not been a minority ethnic hegemony via ethnic federalism. Because it has operated contrary to the rule of its own game, the TPLF is operating as an instrument of coercion and domination rather than equality and freedom. As a result, the ethnic federal arrangement in Ethiopia has been characterised by economic monopoly, militaristic domination, and brutal suppression of the rights of the majority of the Ethiopian people, by the TPLF. In a nutshell, the ethnic federal project in Ethiopia has become a device for the implementation and protection of the hegemonic position of the tiny minority Tigrayan elites who have been aiming to have a dominant control of resources that the Ethiopian state controls and generates.

Conclusion

There will be no a magic democratic formula or military adventure that can make the TPLF or the Tigrayan elite a majority group in the present day Ethiopia. A continuation of brutal and forceful rule of a minority rule in long run could lead to a chaotic scenario in which the majority may rise to take a desperate violent action to free themselves from the despotism of a minority group. It is totally unfeasible and unsustainable for an elite from a minority ethnic group to assume a hegemonic position in a context where the consciousness of the people as well as of the ethnic communities is sufficiently mature to distinguish between what is appropriate and what is not. Military force and other deceptive strategies such as co-option of elites, and divide and rule tactics may work for some time, but such strategies can not create a genuine framework that can nurture a workable political system in a sustainable way. The TPLF has got a considerable support from the US because of its tactical alliance in the ‘coalition of the willing’ and the ‘war on terror’, however, it is unwise to rely on external patron in a sustainable manner. Neither the imperial rule, nor the military regime was saved by its external patron. It is evident that the willingness of the people to accept the rule of the TPLF has been weakening. The May 2005 Ethiopia’s election, in which the TPLF forcefully and brutally changed the outcome of the election’s result (as reported by the European Union’s Election observers mission and by all civil society groups in Ethiopia), was a clear message from the Ethiopian people to the TPLF that the Ethiopians are badly in need of a democratic change and they are also ready to make it to happen.
 
(The writer, Berhanu G. Balcha, Ph.D., can be reached at berhanugbnes@yahoo.com)

References

* Adhana H. Adhana 1998. ‘Tigray- The Birth of a Nation within the Ethiopian Polity’. In Mohammed Salih, M. A. and J. Markakis (eds.) Ethnicity and the State in Eastern Africa. Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikaninstituten

* Aregawi Berhe 2004. ‘THE ORIGINS OF THE TIGRAY PEOPLE’S LIBERATION
FRONT’, in African Affairs (2004), 103/413, pp 569–592, Royal African Society

* Bahiru Zewde 1991. History of Modern Ethiopia 1855-1974, Addis Ababa: Addis Ababa University

* Clapham, Christopher 2002. Controlling Space in Ethiopia in James, Wendy, Donham, Donald L., Kurimoto, Eisei, and Triulzi, Alessandro. (Eds.) Remapping Ethiopia. London: James Currey

* Connor, Walker 1999. ‘National Self-determination and Tomorrow’s Political Map’. In Alan Cairns (ed.) Citizenship, Diversity and Pluralism. Montreal: McGill Queen’s University Press.

* Fleiner, Lidija R. Basta 2000. ‘Can Ethnic Federalism Work?’- Paper for the Conference On “Facing Ethnic Conflicts”, Bonn, Germany 14-16, December 2000 – Center for Development Research (ZEF Bonn)

Gurr, T. Robert 2000 ‘Ethnic Warfare on the Wane’ in Foreign Affairs, May/June 2000, Volume 79, Number 3, pp 52 – 64

* Horowitz, Donald L. 1985. Ethnic Groups in Conflict. Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press)

* Constitutional Design: Proposals versus Processes. In Andrew Reynolds (ed.), The Architecture of Democracy, Constitutional Design, Conflict Management, and Democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press

* Kedourie, Elie 1993. Nationalism. London: Hutchinson

* Kinfe, Abraham 1994. Ethiopia from Bullets to the Ballot Box. NJ: The Red Sea Press

* Lijphart, Arend 1977. Democracy in Plural Societies. New Haven: Yale University Press
 
* ‘Prospects for Power-Sharing in the New South Africa’ in ReynoldsA. (ed.) Election ’94 South Africa: The Campaigns, Results and Future Prospects. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

* ‘The Wave of Power-Sharing Democracy’ in Andrew Reynolds (ed.) The Architecture of Democracy: Constitutional Design, Conflict Management, and Democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

* Marcus, Harold 2002. A History of Ethiopia. Berkeley: University of California Press

* Mazrui, Ali A. 1967. Soldiers and Kinsmen in Uganda: The making of a Military Ethnocracy. Beverly Hills: Sage

* Merera Gudina 2003. Ethiopia: Competing ethnic nationalisms and the quest for democracy, 1960 – 2000. PhD dissertation.

* Messay Kebede 1999. Survival and Modernisation: Ethiopia’s Enigmatic Present: A Philosophical Discourse. New Jersey and Asmara: The Red Sea Press, Inc.

* O’Leary, Brendan, 2002. ‘Federations and the Management of nations: Agreement and arguments with Walker Connor and Ernest Gellner’. In

* Daniele Conversi (ed.) Ethnonationalism in the Contemporary World: Walker Connor and the study of nationalism, London and New York: Routledge. pp 153-183

* Steiner Jürg, André Bächtiger, Markus Spörndli, Marco R. Steenbergen, 2003.

* Deliberative politics in action: Crossnational study of parliamentary debates. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

* Gurr, T. Robert and Barbara Harff, 1994. Ethnic Conflict in World Politics. Oxford, Boulder, and San Francisco: Westview Press

* Teshale Tibebu 1995. The Making of Modern Ethiopia 1896 – 1974. NJ:
Red Sea Press
 

Ethiopia, France sign 210 mln Euros loan for wind power

Friday, May 8th, 2009

EDITOR’S NOTE: Meanwhile, Addis Ababa and other cities use electric light in shifts as a result of Meles Zenawi’s tribalist regime policies of every thing to Tigray. The following is reported by the Woyanne-hijacked Ethiopian News Agency.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (ENA) – Ethiopia and France on Thursday signed a financing agreement amounting to 210 million Euros for implementation of the Ashegoda Wind Power Project in Tigray State.

Chief Executive Officer of the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo), Mihret Debebe and ambassador of France to Ethiopia, Jean-Christophe Belliard signed the agreement.

With an installed capacity of 120 MW, along with annual energy production of 400 to 450 GWH, the Ashegoda wind harnessing project came as the first of its kind for Ethiopia.

It is believed to improve the country’s energy mix, thereby reducing the impact of possible hydrological risks.

Mihret said on the occasion that the fund will be used for implementation of the Project.

The project has an implementation schedule of 36 months from the date of commencement to bring the whole wind energy converter units into commercial operation. However, the first phase yielding 30MW capacity will be commissioned in 16 months after contract commencement.

Ambassador Jean-Christophe Belliard also said the project will contribute to ongoing efforts of Ethiopia to distribute electric power service in Africa.
The ambassador also said it will help to strengthen the age long friendship between the two countries.

Frightening facts Ethiopia's regime wants to hide

Friday, May 8th, 2009

By Ginbot 7

The recent accusation by Meles Zenawi’s clique of an alleged ‘coup’ attempt led by {www:Ginbot 7}, which in a matter of days, was revised and heralded as an ‘assassination’ attempt is a vivid indication of a very serious internal danger that the dictatorial regime in Ethiopia has begun to face. The only objective of the confusing and the constantly changing statements coming from the Prime Minsterís office is to distract Ethiopians and the international community from seeing the real crisis engulfing the regime.

For a long time, high military positions and exclusive military training and educational opportunities both at home and abroad have been monopolized by ethnic Tigrean officers; and this has created immeasurable discontent in the highly polarized Ethiopian army. Officers affiliated with the ruling Tigrean People Liberation Front (TPLF) routinely disobey their superiors from other ethnic groups, ignoring military codes of conduct and discipline. For example, a major affiliated with the TPLF scolds a General from other ethnic group in a breach of strict military protocol. The absolute majority of the Ethiopian army is composed of non Tigreans; however, most of the high ranking commanding officers, including the Army Chief of Staff are from the ruling Tigrean ethnic clique. In addition, 22 of the 23 Army Divisions and all of the five Regional Army Commands are headed by ethnic minority Tigrean commanders.

Such disproportionate Tigrean domination is not limited to the military, it encompasses the Police Forces, Intelligence services as well as the political and economic spheres of the country. Moreover, almost all important civilian assignments within the government and key posts in the economic and social sectors are occupied by a small group of loyal ethnic Tigreans affiliated to the TPLF. The recent uproar in the military was to challenge the inequity and the injustice inherent in the system. General Kemal Gelchu from Oromo ethnic was the first high ranking officer to officially break rank with the ethno-racist politico-military rule of Meles Zenawi.

General Tefera Mamo, the recent victim of the brutal regime, has been a long time outspoken opponent of the ethno racist policies of Zenawi’s regime. The view of this courageous general is shared by tens of thousands in the highly politicized and polarized members of the Ethiopian Armed Forces.

Ginbot 7 is acutely aware of the simmering discontent within the army and defense forces, shares their solemn belief that only a genuinely democratic Ethiopia will remove the scourge of preferential treatment and nepotism in the army and in the country at large.

What shook Meles Zenawi’s regime to its core is the realization that the Army has now joined the civilian population in concluding that Meles and his band of ethno-racists are the main impediments to Ethiopia’s peace, stability, economic prosperity and forming a truly democratic government accountable to its citizenry. This is the frightening fact Meles and Bereket want to hide underneath the confusing allegations and denials of the last few days.

Meles and his colleagues are failing to understand that the problem they are facing now is of greater magnitude than anything they have faced in the last 18 years. The festering problem will not disappear just because the regime clumsily accuses and imprisons a handful of officers and a motley crew of alleged collaborators — including an eighty year old senior citizen. Ginbot 7 would like to inform Ethiopians at large, and the international community in general, the simple truth behind the smoke screen of alleged ìcoupsî, ìplotsî and ìassassinationî attempts concotted by the Zenawi regime.

The primary link between Ginbot 7 and General Tefera Mamo as well the civilian prisoners of the brutal regime is our shared vision of creating a democratic Ethiopia where citizenship and merit, rather than blood line will become the route to high office and wealth and where civil liberties and the rule of law will flourish in every corner and every hamlet of our proud and ancient land.

(The above is a statement by Ginbot 7 Movement for Justice, Freedom and Democracy)

Environment group calls to suspend funding of Omo River dam

Friday, May 8th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — An international environmental group urged the African Development Bank (AfDB) to reconsider their commitment to fund the ongoing construction of a dam in southwest Ethiopia saying it would affect the ecosystems and livelihoods in the region.

The Gibe III Dam, located 190 miles (300 km) southwest of Addis Ababa, on the Omo River, is Ethiopia’s largest investment project. The project costs $1.7 billion.

In order to diversify and develop its economy, the government of Ethiopia has initiated an aggressive plan to develop hydropower for export, long seen as one of the country’s few exploitable resources. Foreign aid covers 90% of Ethiopia’s national budget.

International Rivers urged the AfDB to not fund the construction of Gibe III saying it will reduce food security of up to half a million poor farmers, herders and fishers in southwest Ethiopia and northern Kenya.

“An oasis of biodiversity in a harsh desert, Lake Turkana supports 300,000 people and rich animal life. Hundreds of thousands of fishing families and pastoralists will be affected if the lake’s fragile ecosystem is stressed to the brink of collapse.”

“The project would spread war and famine in a region that is already affected by climate change,” further said International Rivers.

Next week from May 13-14 the AfDB directors will discuss during a meeting to be held in Dakar, Senegal, the funding of Gibe III which is under construction since 2006. The African bank agreed to contribute to finance the project but it has to determine how much it would pay.

European Investment Bank is considering financing Gibe III, up to € 250 million, while Italy is mulling financing Gibe III with up to € 250 million.

In complaints filled to the AfDB, Kenyan NGOs and International Rivers assert that the project violates five binding AfDB policies.

Construction of the Gibe 3 Project began in July 2006 with flagrant violations of Ethiopia’s laws on environmental protection and procurement, said the environment advocacy group.

It also alleged that the contract was awarded without competitive bidding to Italian construction giant Salini, raising serious questions about the project’s integrity.

The nongovernmental group said the AfDB should suspend its plans to fund this project until a thorough review and consultations with all affected peoples have taken place.

“The AfDB should in the meantime help Ethiopia drought-proof its energy sector, diversify its energy mix, and tap its abundant renewable energy resources.”

- Sudan Tribune

Denver: Man arrested in death of Ethiopian 7-Eleven clerk

Friday, May 8th, 2009

(Examiner) — Police say a 46-year-old man is in custody in the weekend fatal shooting of a convenience store clerk in south Denver.

Dale Wayne Baylis was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder Wednesday evening outside his home. He is suspected of killing 28-year-old Natnael Mulugeta, an immigrant from Ethiopia.

The shooting happened at about 3:30 a.m. Saturday at a 7-Eleven store near Baylis’ home. Officers say they arrived to find the store empty. They later found Mulugeta in a nearby alley with a gunshot wound to his chest.

Mulugeta was taken to a hospital, where he died about two hours later.

Friends, Family Remember Natnael

DENVER (CBS4) — Denver police say they’re following up on tips that could help solve the murder of a 7-Eleven clerk over the weekend.

Friends and family remembered 27-year-old Natnael Mulugeta Wednesday. He was an immigrant from Ethiopia.

Mulugeta and his younger sister came to Colorado to work and study. He was a clerk at the 7-Eleven located at 567 East Louisiana in Denver. His sister is a full-time college student. She is smart, articulate, but was unable to speak of the brother she adored Wednesday afternoon.

There is a language barrier, but the tears spoke clearly about the loss of a young man called “Natchee.”

“He was a wonderful young man, very quiet, very polite and loving,” family friend Yen Kebede said.

The small, tight community of Ethiopians has a single question — why?

“He hasn’t done anything wrong, so somebody or someone did him wrong,” Kebede said.

This week Natchee’s sister will take his body back to Ethiopia, to their parents. Because of Ethiopian tradition, the parents have not yet been told of Natchee’s death — not until the body arrives back in their country.

The Ethiopians aren’t bitter about what happened in their adopted homeland. They are grateful to a community that has adopted them. The horror, they say, will be buried Wednesday, so they can focus on living.

Denver police say there was a surveillance camera at the time of the shooting. Police have not released any video.

Additional Resources

The local Ethiopian community is setting up a fund to help the sister of murder victim Natnael Mulugeta. CBS4 is donating $1,000 as part of the Pay It Forward program. You can make donations at any Wells Fargo bank. Mention Natnael Mulugeta’s name as the fund.

Sister of murdered 7-Eleven clerk talks; suspect in court

DENVER (9News.com) – The sister of Natnael Mulugeta says she takes comfort in the fact that police arrested a suspect in her brother’s murder.

“My brother was just everything to me, he was my only brother too,” said Belen Mulugeta. “We were very close.”

“I hope we will get justice,” Mulugeta told 9Wants to Know.

A judge ordered Dale Wayne Baylis, 46, to be held without bond when Baylis appeared in Denver County Court Thursday. Baylis is being held on a first degree murder complaint.

Natnael Mulugeta, a 27-year-old Ethiopian immigrant, died after being shot by a rifle at about 3:30 a.m. Saturday while working alone at the convenience store at Louisiana Avenue and Pearl Street. He managed to crawl to the alley and call for help. That’s where police found him.

He was rushed to Denver Health Medical Center where he died about two hours later.

Mulugeta and her brother moved to the United States in 1999, she told 9NEWS.

“Myself and my family are very, very glad that they did arrest a suspect and we hope that it is the right person,” Belen Mulugeta said.

“Even if it wasn’t my brother, a person like that should not be walking on the street,” she said.

Belen Mulugeta boarded a flight from Denver to Washington, DC with her brother’s body Thursday afternoon. She then planned to fly to Ethiopia.

Police say they did not use surveillance video in identifying the suspect. Immediately after the shooting, investigators say they conducted interviews and were able to develop leads.

This isn’t Baylis’ first encounter with authorities. In 2003, he was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. According to a report from the Rocky Mountain News archives, Baylis stabbed a woman in Arapahoe County. He was eventually charged and convicted of assault with a deadly weapon. The report says his mental competency was an issue in that case.

Police set up surveillance outside Baylis’ home at 1308 S. Logan Street on Wednesday before making the arrest. Baylis was injured by police dogs during the arrest.

7-Eleven spokeswoman Margaret Chabris says Mulugeta had worked at the store for five years.

On Wednesday, Mulugeta’s family held a funeral service at an Aurora church.

Kenya arrests 30 Ethiopians in a police raid

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

By The Standard

NAIROBI– Kenyan Police arrested 32 Ethiopians, among them two terror suspects, in a house at Nairobi’s Umoja Estate.

The operation by anti-terror police unit is believed to be a breakthrough in their investigation.

Head of anti-terror police Nicholas Kamwende confirmed the arrests, but declined to give more details.

He said they were investigating various crimes, which led to the raids. Witnesses said contingents of police surrounded the building where the foreigners were arrested before the officers stormed in and ordered them out one by one.

The officers left with two of the suspects, but left the rest behind. It was not immediately clear why they decided to go with the two, but sources said they were terror suspects.

The Ethiopians arrived in groups of five and stayed in a rental house in the estate for more than a week before the police raid.

They told police they planned to travel to South Africa at a date only known by their leaders.

The 30 suspects were expected in court yesterday to face charges of being in the country illegally. Police said they are looking for a Kenyan who had allowed the foreigners to stay in his house illegally.

The involvement of anti-terror police has raised suspicion of the foreigners’ mission here.

Porous borders between Kenya and her Ethiopian and Somali neighbours have led to infiltration of terrorists blamed for the 1998 US Embassy and 2002 Kikambala Paradise Hotel bombings.

Ethiopia's desperate regime attacks U.S. State Department

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Meles Zenawi’s dictatorship in Ethiopia attacks the United States Department of States officials as liars for publishing a report that exposes the regime’s massive human rights violations.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Meles regime said that normally they do not respond to such reports, but in this case they have to protect Ethiopia’s name!

The TV reporter who read the statement must be a skilled actor because he was not laughing as you can see in the video below.

A spiraling crack in Ethiopian regime's core

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

By Zeinab Amde

The ongoing melodrama that is unfolding in the Ethiopian army and security machinery, albeit in fits and starts, is another devastating and fatal crack in the inner walls of the Meles-Bereket tyranny. The staggering effect of the plot has sent the shaken Meles-Bereket clique running in all directions trying to limit the damage of the plot to the conventional “fringe” elements in the army in terms of commanding actual and effective power. The dripping of name of participants and withholding of their identities is intended to show that those behind the plot are non-Tigreans (largely Amharas and Oromos) in the army.

The fact that real power in the military and security machinery is held by Tigreans makes it improbable to topple the Meles-Bereket clique from within the government system. But what comes as a blow is the information that is was circulating in the security machinery which reveals that a Tigrean military officer General Tadesse Worede and a handful of mid- and low-level Tigrean officers are at the center of the plot to topple the clique. This reality is a devastating phenomenon for the regime as it has fatal reverberations on the viability of the EPRDF political system.

Most of all, with the support for the TPLF eroding and budding of an all Tigrean opposition factions inside and outside the TPLF, this event ushers in a new chapter dealing a blow that damagingly cracks the inner walls of the decaying the Meles-Bereket clique. The ballooning of the repressive machinery built by Meles has come to a point where he himself has become unable to reign in control to all tentacles and outgrowths of the system.

With regard to the security machinery, the wavering loyalty to the clique is astonishing. This is a terrifying fact as the information of the plot primarily came to the attention of the Meles-Bereket clique, not from the security apparatus of the government, but from foreigners like Israelis and others in the region. While the conspiracy to neutralize the Meles-Bereket clique was thickening, a significant portion of the security machinery, which is fed up with the unpredictable and unpopular rule of Meles, was silently nodding, or at least giving a blind eye, to the successful execution of the plot. Information from sources argues that the outing of the plot was mainly the result of the plotters’ overconfidence in success.

Even from the carefully choreographed message that is being painted by the Meles-Bereket clique on the plot (which keeps to be upgraded and rebooted by the minute), it is not hard to discern the extent of disorientation and confusion that has plagued the inner core of the TPLF/EPRDF. The way the story is being changed, the concealing of the plotters’ identities, the unfolding drama make believe accusations all shows that the regime is even having a hard time to coin a line of story that sticks.

If possible, what the Meles-Bereket clique wants us to believe is that there is no such plot to change the government or even to portray the whole drama as a fabrication for the sake of rounding up opponents. Alas, who would expect Meles to shout to the world of a “coup attempt” and put precedence in the minds of his servants in the military and security machinery such a dangerous idea? Why would Meles risk in exposing the fragile and untrustworthy nature of his military and security machinery with a coup fairy tale as he makes it seem look like? Now the regime seems to be in damage control mode by trying to contain the alcohol that has already escaped from the bottle where in fact the damage is real and irreparable.

If one connects the dots of the political message that the Meles-Bereket clique is trying to sell, it is evident that the attempt to conceal the involvement of Tigrean military and security officers like General Tadesse shows the desperation to keep TPLF followers in the dark and isolated in a dreamland. Plus, portraying the TPLF followers as being out of any revolt against the Meles-Bereket clique is intended to show a curtain of strength to hide behind as having a solid and undivided military and security machinery whereas the reality is being concealed.

Now Meles hopes for an engagement for the army and security to keep them busy. In this whole picture, it is more than probable that Ginbot 7 is being used as means of diverting the internal and external attention from the debilitating crack evolving from within the-outwardly-strong-looking-EPRDF. Change from within is a dimension of danger for Meles as this start has set precedence for future revolts be borne out of the military and the security machinery. Mark my words! For the Meles-Bereket clique, the damage is already done and such a phenomenon is an accident that is waiting to happen.

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

Tag: Ethiopian News

Potential for violence shadows Ethiopia's 2010 election

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

By Peter Heinlein | VOA

Addis Ababa — Ethiopia’s next national election is a year away, but tensions are already increasing. At least two opposition politicians have recently been jailed, both possibly facing life in prison, and security forces have arrested dozens of others, accusing them of plotting against the government. Both government and opposition leaders are expressing concern about the potential for election-related violence.

No Ethiopian needs reminding about the horrors that followed the disputed 2005 election. Nearly 200 protesters killed in the streets by security forces, more than 100 opposition leaders arrested, convicted of treason and sentenced to life in prison before being pardoned.

When government spokesman Bereket Simon kicked off the 2010 election season, he said a top priority of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) would be preventing violence. “This election must be peaceful. Government must do whatever it takes to ensure that our election will be peaceful,” he said.

Prime Minister Ethiopia’s dictator Meles Zenawi warned that government forces would have little tolerance for street protests. “The 2005 experience was experience enough for anybody to be able to learn from, and so I’m sure our law enforcement entities will be much better prepared for any eventuality than they were in 2005, not only in terms of handling riots, but also in terms of deterring and preventing riots,” he said.

Opposition activists are equally concerned. It was their supporters that were killed in the streets four years ago. Many fear 2010 could be as bad or worse than 2005.

Already, several government opponents have been jailed. Among them, Birtukan Mideksa, a charismatic young former judge who was among those sentenced to life and then pardoned after the 2005 election.

Birtukan had been touted to be a potent force in the 2010 vote. But she was re-arrested and ordered to serve out her sentence after saying she had not asked for the pardon.

Another prominent member of Birtukan’s party, Melaku Teferra, was among 40 people accused last month of involvement in a coup plot directed by {www:Berhanu Nega}, who was elected mayor of Addis Ababa in 2005.

Berhanu and Melaku were also among those jailed for life after the last election. Melaku stayed in Ethiopia after being freed. Berhanu fled to the United States, where he teaches economics at a Pennsylvania university and heads a political group that advocates the overthrow of the Meles Zenawi government.

Merera Gudina is another political science professor who doubles as an opposition leader. Merera teaches at Addis Ababa University. His party is among eight opposition groups banding together in hopes of mounting a serious challenge to the ruling EPRDF.

Merera worries, however, that next year’s vote may turn into a replay of last year’s local and bi-elections, in which the EPRDF and its affiliates won all but three out of nearly 3.6 million seats being contested. Most opposition parties pulled out of the contest in advance, complaining the rules were written so only pro-government parties could win.

Merera says given that the EPRDF now controls all local administrations, this election will be a struggle to prevent Ethiopia from becoming a one-party state.

“Our role is… to make sure this government cannot rule without accepting the rules of multi-party democracy. We are in a struggle. This government is not ready for change, and this government is cheating left and right and its ultimate agenda is revolutionary democracy. We know all these things, and in fact people who were with (Prime Minister) Meles, who used to play those games and clearly know these games, are now with us,” he said.

Seeye Abraha Hagos is a former member of Prime Minister Meles’s inner circle. He was military commander of the guerrilla force that brought the Meles government to power. After a falling out with the government, he was convicted of corruption and spent several years in prison. But he is still popular among his former military colleagues

Seeye is now a member of the coalition of opposition groups know as the forum. He says the only ways of breaking Ethiopia’s long tradition of violence-plagued elections is to ensure opposition parties and their supporters know change is possible through the ballot box.

“There is always violent opposition in Ethiopia. Even if you take out the 2005 elections, there was violent opposition in this country. So if we are ever going to control violence in this country, the only way out is to chart a peaceful political transition. No peaceful elections, no peaceful political transfer of power would mean there will be continuous violence in this country, and this can take this country down the drain given our poverty,” he said.

A year before the May, 2010 election, Ethiopia displays all the outward signs of calm. Despite grinding poverty, frequent power cuts, and a severe foreign exchange shortage that has seen imported goods disappear from stores, there is little evidence of the country’s violent past.

But opposition leaders and political analysts caution that the outward appearance masks a deep-seated longing among Ethiopians for freedom of political expression. Former defense minister Seeye Abraha likens the country to a dormant volcano. It might look calm, but even a small disturbance could set it off.

Tag: Ethiopian News

Ethiopia regime official Tefera Walwa's wife arrested

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA — The wife of a cabinet minister in the Ethiopian regime, Ato Tefera Walwa, was arrested and later released.

Wzr. Ayne Tsige was taken to jail when she tried to stop the police from taking away her 80-year-old father, Ato Tsige HabteMariam, who went through a heart bypass surgery recently.

Ato Tsige was arrested, along with 40 other individuals, after being suspected of plotting to assassinate Meles Zenawi.

Ato Tsige HabteMariam is the father of {www:Ginbot 7} secretary general Ato Andargachew Tsige.

Ato Tefera Walwa, Minister of Capacity Building, was in a meeting when his wife was taken to jail. When he heard about his wife’s arrest, he interrupted the meeting and walked out, according to The Reporter… [MORE]

Ethiopian murder victim in Minnesota identified

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Hennepin County medical examiner’s office is identifying the woman found stabbed to death in a Richfield parking lot. She’s 22-year-old Tobista Beyena Mokonnen of Richfield.

Hennepin County prosecutors charged her 24-year-old brother, Guuci Beyena Mokonnen, with first-degree murder in her death on Tuesday. He remained in the county jail Wednesday, with bail set at $2 million.

Both the victim and the killer are natives of Ethiopia.

The medical examiner says Tobista was found about 9:30 p.m. Saturday in the parking lot of the Buena Vista apartments.

The criminal complaint filed in the case says she was holding an eight-month-old child, who wasn’t harmed in the attack.

Her brother allegedly confessed, telling investigators that he was angry his sister wouldn’t allow him to live with her, which led him to become homeless.

If convicted, Mokonnen faces life in prison.

Wanted to kill sister for 3 Years

A man who said he has been thinking about killing his sister for three years was charged with first-degree murder for her death.

Prosecutors charged Guuci Beyena Mokonnen, 24, with the stabbing death of his sister in a parking lot of the Buena Vista Apartments on East 78th Street in Richfield on May 2.

According to the criminal complaint, two people found the victim, lying in a parking lot, holding an 8-month-old child. The witnesses said they called police after they saw the woman’s eyes moving back and forth and heard her make gurgling noises. The child was crying.

When police arrived, the woman was surrounded by a pool of blood and was bleeding from the head and neck. Paramedics pronounced her dead at the scene.

Officers took the child, who was not injured, to Hennepin County Medical Center. The child has since been released to family members.

A short time after the victim was found, police said Mokonnen phoned them from the Mall of America in Bloomington, saying he had killed his sister. When officers picked him up, they noticed what appeared to be dried blood on his hands, coat and pants.

Mokonnen told police he was angry with his sister because she wouldn’t let him live with her. He said that because of that, he became homeless and unemployed. He had been staying with his brother, and he took a knife from his brother’s apartment, the criminal complaint said.

Police found a knife that appeared to have blood on it in a storm sewer on East 77th Street. Mokonnen told police he walked to 77th Street and then to Portland and threw the knife down a storm drain.

San Diego: Ethiopian suspect released after alibi verified

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

By Kristina Davis | San Diego Union-Tribune

SAN DIEGO — A man who was arrested and charged in an attack on a woman in Linda Vista last month has been released from jail after his alibi was verified by police, authorities said Wednesday.

Mulugeta Hagos, 24, told investigators he was at his job as a security guard for Kaiser Permanente when the attack took place about 6:15 a.m. April 18, said San Diego sex crimes Lt. Rick O’Hanlon.

He was released from jail Monday night, pending further investigation, O’Hanlon said.

The 38-year-old woman was walking toward a bus bench on Linda Vista Road near Fulton Street when a man got out of a nearby car. The attacker grabbed her from behind, aimed a pistol at her head and tried to force her into the vehicle, police spokeswoman Mónica Muñoz said at the time.

When the woman fought back, the attacker struck her at least once on the head with the gun, Muñoz said. The gun went off during the struggle, but the woman was not hit by gunfire.

Investigators declined to say what led them to arrest Hagos on April 22. He was booked into jail on suspicion of attempted sexual assault, assault with a deadly weapon and kidnapping for sexual assault.

“We verified his alibi, but the investigation is still open and no one has been eliminated as a suspect yet,” O’Hanlon said.

Hagos, an immigrant from Ethiopia, could not be reached for comment Wednesday morning.

The intrigue behind Ethiopia coup allegation and denial

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

By Barry Malone | Reuters

A plot is defined as “a plan made in secret”, but even by the usual shadowy nature of such matters around Africa, the recent conspiracy to overthrow the Ethiopian government has been hard to see clearly.

The story broke two weeks ago when the government of Prime Minister Ethiopia’s dictator Meles Zenawi said 40 men had been arrested for planning a coup after police found guns, bombs and “written strategies” at their homes. But a few days later the government communication office was asking journalists not to use the word coup anymore. The “desperados”, they said, had planned to “overthrow” the government by using assassinations and bombings to create enough chaos to get supporters on the streets to topple the government.

The sensitivity surrounding the language and the details of what was actually going on highlight the caution that still exists in sub-Saharan Africa’s second most populous country after a disputed 2005 election ended with police and soldiers killing about 200 opposition street protesters who were marching on government buildings.

Understandably, many Ethiopians are sceptical that people would take to the streets again. And others question whether the will is still there to march against a government that most analysts consider the most effective the desperately poor nation Horn of Africa has ever had.

The suspected involvement of an Ethiopian economic professor who teaches at an American university was a detail that caught the interest of the international media. {www:Berhanu Nega}, who called the accusation “baseless”, was elected mayor of Addis Ababa after the 2005 poll but was imprisoned along with about 100 other opposition members when the government accused them of orchestrating the street protests.

He was released in 2007 after a pardon deal and soon fled to America, where he teaches economics at Bucknell University in Philadelphia. Another leader released as part of that pardon, 36-year-old former judge {www:Birtukan Mideksa}, was rearrested last year after the government said she violated the terms of the pardon. She remains in prison.

Ethiopians love to talk politics in the bars and cafes of capital Addis Ababa — often in very hushed tones, which is perhaps a hangover from 17 years of brutally repressive communist rule that ended when the rebel group led by Meles Zenawi came to power in 1991.

And the “coup” is now the subject of those whispered chats. Some say there was a real threat to the government that came from Berhanu and his allies in the sizeable and vocal diaspora. Some say there was dissent in the military and Berhanu simply provided a convenient excuse for the government to move against that in its early stages.

And one opposition leader even told me that the government may have invented the coup plot so it could arrest potential politicians ahead of national elections due in 2010.

“Without third party verification I can’t believe there was a plot,” said Bulcha Demeksa, leader of the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement.

Amnesty International now says the government is arresting more people in secret.

This intriguing story will surely develop over the weeks to come as the Ethiopian government has said it is preparing evidence that will be presented before “an independent judiciary” and has promised the 40 accused will appear in an Addis Ababa court next week.

Ethiopian supermodel on a mission

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

By Jessica Abramson | NBC News

Each month, we highlight a celebrity’s work on behalf of a specific cause. This month we speak with supermodel, actress, WHO ambassador and mother, {www:Liya Kebede}, about her work on health issues related to childbirth. You may recognize Kebede as the former face of Estee Lauder or from the cover of magazines including Vogue’s May 2009 issue. Kebede, who is Ethiopian, founded her own organization to reduce mortality among mothers, newborns and young children and well as to help mothers and children stay healthy. The Liya Kebede Foundation promotes the use of low-cost technology and accessible medical care to help save lives during and after childbearing. The foundation also educates health-care workers and community members on children’s health. Kebede also is a World Heath Organization ambassador, a position given to celebrities who advocate for health causes. In 2005, Kebede was named “Goodwill Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.” Kebede also has a clothing line for children and women called “Lemlem,” which means to bloom or flourish in Amharic, the language of the Amhara people of Ethiopia. She hopes that the handwoven clothing from Ethiopia will continue native traditions as well as support local businesses and economies.

Q: Can you tell us about the Liya Kebede Foundation and its purpose?

Kebede: Right now, we have about one woman every minute of the day dying from childbirth and pregnancy complications in the world, and this is sort of very unheard of in the West. This happens a lot in the developing world. The reason is because women don’t really have access to very basic medical care, so most of these women are dying from very preventable or treatable conditions — simple things like an infection during childbirth will just kill the mother.

What we do in the foundation is we try to raise awareness of this issue because a lot of people don’t really realize that the number one killer of women in the world, in the developing world, is childbirth. You know, childbirth is something that is supposed to be this really beautiful and joyous moment in your life. For a lot women in the developing world, instead being this joyous moment that we experience here, it’s filled with pain and it’s filled with fear that they might actually lose their lives giving birth. So, that is why we created this foundation. We really want to raise awareness and help programs that support these causes.

Q: What made you become interested in the topic of children’s health and mortality rates among mothers and children?

Kebede: I am a mom I have two wonderful children and I am also from Ethiopia. Growing up there, it was really very normal to see and to hear about women dying in childbirth. It was very, very common. At the time, I actually thought it was a normal thing. Later, I came here and I was lucky enough to have my children in New York and I had the best medical care. The gap is ridiculous. Here, you’re not only in the best care, you get to have sonograms and you get to see if the baby is a boy or a girl. In a developing country, women deliver in a hut by themselves, a lot of times with nobody around. They might not even have clean water by them so any little thing might jeopardize their life or the baby’s life. This is something that I thought any mom, any woman who would hear this story, would feel the importance of it. So, that’s kind of how I got involved.

Q: Please describe your role as the Goodwill Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Heath.

Kebede: I’ve been with the WHO since 2005. I’ve been their Goodwill Ambassador and we’ve been working a lot on raising awareness of this issue so that more and more people can actually hear about it and put pressure on governments to put a lot of budget earmarks on maternal health, because one of the other problems that we have is this one area is completely underfunded. One of the other problems that we have is this one area is completely underfunded and mothers dying is not something that can be put on the backburner. It’s something that’s completely important not just for her life but her children’s life, for her family’s life, for the community, for the whole country.

With the WHO we try to get international communities — the West, for instance — to really allocate more funding specifically for maternal health and also the local governments to allocate more funding for maternal health. That’s the kind of work that we want to do and help promote programs that are already existing that help women and children around the world.

Q: How does your clothing line, “Lemlem,” relate to your work with health and mortality?

Kebede: Lemlem is a different kind of aid. It’s kind of a social entrepreneurship. The reason why Lemlem was created is I really wanted to help our local artisans, give them economic empowerment, give them jobs, give them money they can earn for themselves so they take care of themselves, instead of just handing out money. This is something that they’re actually earning so its makes it more sustainable. The Lemlem is made from handwoven materials. It’s kind of an incredible art. I saw that that art was dying and all these artisans were sitting around not having a market for their beautiful work.

At the same time I think it’s kind of beautiful to infuse the West with these beautiful hand-crafted garments. It’s kind of a new thing for the West to get used to and also to give trust to the West as well that they can eventually go to places like Ethiopia and all these other different African countries and start manufacturing there so that we can really then boost the economy of the country. I’ve been lucky enough because in a way Lemlem becomes this perfect balance that brings the level of fashion that I have as a model [and] at the same time this possibility to improve the lives of other people. It’s kind of a great bridge for me.

Q: What was your most memorable experience working with either your foundation, as an ambassador, or with your clothing line?

Kebede: There is this one story that I think says it all in a way. I was in Ethiopia visiting this town in Bahir Dar. We went to visit this woman who lives in her little hut with her five kids. She also had a granddaughter. She was about 30 years old but she looked like she was about 50. She was carrying her granddaughter with her and her daughter was away working. She had all these little kids at home who were hers. Her village was under a program that the Ministry of Health had started [where] they have two young girls who have graduated from high school and who had two years of intensive study and basic medical care take care of the village.

They come to the houses and talk to the women. They help them with prenatal and postnatal care. They make sure that if there’s a pregnancy at risk, they refer them to a hospital. So they’ve been doing this program with this woman and she’s not literate. She’s never gone to school. I was sitting and talking to her and I asked her what was happening with her daughters and if they were attending school. She said yes, absolutely, they’re going to school.

The daughters were about 11 or 12 years old. There’s a lot of early marriage issues in some of  those areas. She said to me, “Absolutely not. I’m not going to have my daughter marry anybody. I want her to finish school and if she wants to marry then it’s her choice to marry.” I was stunned to hear this coming from her, this woman who in her life was married early and had her children young. She really had no choice. It was the most unbelievable moment.

Then I asked her, “Are you going to have any more children?” She said, “Absolutely not.” So I said, “Well, how are you going about not having children anymore?” She said, “I’m going to take my pill.” She said to me, “All my life, you know, I thought I was there to give birth and now all of the sudden I have this choice and this power to not have a child if I don’t want to because I can’t afford to.” For her it was an incredible thing. I was just sitting there and thinking, “Oh my God, this is amazing.” I always think about that story.

Q: How can people become involved?

Kebede: The biggest thing that people can do is let their governments know that saving mothers’ lives should be a priority. Governments aren’t going to invest unless we let them know that we care about this issue. There is a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives right now, H.R. 1410, that would make saving mothers’ and children’s lives a priority for U.S. foreign aid. Call or write your representative and tell them that you expect them to support this bill.  If politicians know their constituents care about this issue, they will care too. Or people can visit the Web site of the Mothers Day Every Day campaign and see how they can take action in their communities.


How technology can help advance human rights

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

By Marcus Chan

So it turns out that the popular Flip video camera is good for more than just capturing YouTube stunts or your son’s soccer game. And the virtual world of Second Life is more than a place to hook up. Try using those technologies to advance human rights.

These were just a couple of examples mentioned at The Soul of the New Machine, a conference hosted by UC Berkeley to showcase how technology and new media are being used to promote justice and human rights around the world.

Of course, exposure of abuses — be it in the form of video, photos, virtual reality, etc. — is just the first step.

“Often, people think that just showing the video is enough, but what is important … is that actions can be taken toward an objective,” said panelist Yvette Alberdingk Thijm, executive director of Witness, an international human rights organization. Those actions could include providing an online petition for viewers to sign or ways for people to organize.

Witness’ strategy is to use video and online technologies to turn personal stories of abuse into tools for pushing policy change. The group trains activists in countries such as Ethiopia to use the Flip camcorder and other devices (but Flip provides both the portability and immediacy of distribution necessary in dangerous situations). The organization has 3,000 hours of archived human rights footage.

The conference, hosted by UC Berkeley’s Human Rights Center, brought together more than 250 thinkers and practitioners to explore the most effective ways to use tech to address human rights abuses. The sessions covered everything from data sharing to social networking to satellite imagery and mapping. The two-day conference ends today.

During a session titled “Animating Human Rights: Games, Animation and Multimedia,” digital media artist Peggy Weil, who is a visiting assistant professor at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, began her talk by reminding the audience that “animate” means “to give life to” or “breathing life into a topic.”

A prime example of that would be “Gone Gitmo,” a re-creation of Guantanamo Bay in the virtual world Second Life, a project she and Nonny de la Pena launched in 2007 as part of a Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) program. In this virtual installation, visitors are shackled to the floor of a C-17 military transport plane, hooded, berated, given an orange jumpsuit and placed in a cell (but your avatar is spared any torture).

The inaccessible location of Guantanamo Bay made it “justifiable to build an accessible version in virtual reality,” she explained. “It’s a powerful experience, an interesting place to think of human rights.” Much of that has to do with the connection people feel with their avatars. (Bernhard Drax did a virtual report on “Gone Gitmo” earlier this year, which you can view above.)

Weil and La Pena’s latest interactive project is Walljumpers, where users leap over the world’s separation border fences.

One of the more interesting speakers on Monday was Trevor Paglen, author of “Blank Spots on the Map: The Dark Geography of the Pentagon’s Secret World.” Paglen, an artist, writer and experimental geographer, is known as an independent investigator of government malfeasance, particularly off-the-books operations such as the kidnapping and “extraordinary rendition” of suspected terrorists.

Paglen delved into that topic, going into detail how he got this photo (on the right) of what he believes is a “black site,” or secret prison. It wasn’t easy — it took a fair amount of both online and on-the-ground sleuthing.

You can catch live video of the remaining sessions or catch replays at a later date.

A global brand footwear from Ethiopia

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

By Delia Montgomery

Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu founded the soleRebels brand in 2004 with her husband and brother to help create jobs in Zenabwork, Ethiopia. At the time there were hardly any jobs in the community. But when the family decided to redesign traditional Ethiopian shoes made from recycled tires, expansion mode kicked in and employees were hired.

They turned global with online retailers from Whole Foods, Endless, Amazon, Urban Outfitters, and more. The brand grew to more than 10 countries around the world , including the USA, UK and Italy.

The company is titled bostex plc, which stands for “By Ourselves Textiles” and intentionally implies that the business makes most of its inputs by itself, ‒ and by hand. There’s a label vegans appreciate that’s cruelty-free. Then a favored material is heritage-organic Ethiopian cotton that is sourced from small-scale local farmers for traditional hand spin and loom by community artisans. Another collection is entirely made from pure organic Abyssinian cotton, utilized since ancient times for an incredible soft touch.

Production is authentic and “green” by Ethiopian heritage, not because of conscious trends. Bethlehem, now Co-founder and Managing Director, points out that zero carbon output is the norm since Ethiopians recycle as a way of life. They don’t even refer to the process as recycling. Their fair trade, no middlemen strategy and standards benefit the company while giving maximum value to the retailer, and best price to the consumer.

Bethlehem smiles with glee over sustainably developing a global brand from Ethiopia. She believes fair trade business is more important than charity.

I personally hope designers from bostex plc are nominated in the Best Sustainable Footwear Designer contest poll. Submissions are honored through May 31st, 2009. Read instructions and about previous winners of Chíc Eco designer competitions here.

China military build-up seems aimed at U.S.

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – China’s build-up of sea and air military power funded by a strong economy appears aimed at the United States, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Monday.

Admiral Michael Mullen said China had the right to meet its security needs, but the build-up would require the United States to work with its Pacific allies to respond to increasing Chinese military capabilities.

“They are developing capabilities that are very maritime focused, maritime and air focused, and in many ways, very much focused on us,” he told a conference of the Navy League, a nonprofit seamen’s support group, in Washington.

“They seem very focused on the United States Navy and our bases that are in that part of the world.”

China in March unveiled its official military budget for 2009 of $70.24 billion, the latest in nearly two decades of double-digit rises in declared defense spending.

Beijing bristles at criticism, saying its spending is line with economic growth and defense needs, and its budget remains a fraction of the Pentagon’s.

Mullen acknowledged that “every country in the world has got a right to develop their military as they see fit to provide for their own security.”

But he said the build-up propelled by fast economic growth required the United States and allies or partners like South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand to work together to “figure out a way to work with (China)” to avoid miscalculations.

Mullen’s comments followed remarks by President Barack Obama’s top adviser on Asia on Friday calling for high-level talks with the Chinese military to reduce mistrust.

A brief naval clash in March in waters near China underscored that “the absence of a sound relationship between our two militaries is a part of that strategic mistrust,” said Jeffrey Bader, senior director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council.

In that encounter, the U.S. Defense Department said an unarmed U.S. Navy surveillance ship was shadowed and harassed by Chinese ships.

(Reporting by Karen Jacobs, writing by Paul Eckert, editing by Alan Elsner)

Ethiopia's regime must reveal fate of political prisoners

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Amnesty International today called on the Ethiopian government to immediately disclose the names and fate of more than 35 people believed to be held by its security forces on political grounds since 24 April.

Additional arrests have reportedly been carried out over the past several days and sources in the country have told Amnesty International that further arrests are expected.

Many are believed to have been arrested for their alleged involvement in planning a thwarted attack on the government, but others appear to have been arrested for their own or family members’ peaceful political opposition to the government. Amongst the 35 is an 80-year-old grandfather in urgent need of medical care.

“We are very concerned about the fate of those arrested,” said Michelle Kagari, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Africa Programme.

“Several may have been detained solely for their family ties to men who have expressed political opposition to the government. They should be released immediately. Any others should be charged with a recognizable criminal offense or released. All should have immediate access to their families, lawyers and any medical care they may require.”

Amnesty International said that while protection of national security is a responsibility to which governments rightfully attach high priority, it cannot be used to justify human rights violations.

The organization Amnesty International believes that several of those detained have been arrested solely on the basis of family ties with members of Ginbot 7, an opposition group established in the aftermath of the disputed 2005 elections.

In addition to General Tefera Mamo and other former military officers who have recently been detained, Amnesty International has confirmed that at least one opposition party member and family members of opposition party leaders have also been detained. These include Getu Worku, the cousin of opposition figure Berhanu Nega.

Also detained is Tsige Habte-Mariam, the 80-year-old father of another well-known opposition figure and former prisoner of conscience, now in exile, Andargachew Tsige. Tsige Habte-Mariam is diabetic and has recently had heart surgery. He is in need of urgent medical care.

Ato Melaku Teferra has also been detained. He is a former CUD (Coalition for Unity and Democracy) prisoner who served 20 months in Kaliti prison, and is currently a member of the UDJ (Unity for Democracy and Justice) party, led by Birtukan Mideksa, an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience.

Many or all of those recently arrested are believed to be held in Maekalawi Prison in Addis Ababa, though the government has not yet confirmed this. Amnesty International is not aware that the government has provided any specific information to family members about the whereabouts of their relatives or their conditions of detention.

Amnesty International said that due to the secret nature of their detention, they are at significant risk of torture or other forms of ill-treatment.

After an initial court appearance last week, those detained were remanded into custody for 14 additional days to allow for further investigation and charges to be filed. Amnesty International expects their next court appearance to take place on or about 12 May 2009.

“Peaceful opposition to the government is not a crime – and being related to someone who opposes the government is not a crime. The Ethiopian government must not detain, harass or intimidate opposition party members or their family members in the course of ongoing security operations. This will only serve to exacerbate an already tense political climate pervading the country,” said Michelle Kagari.

Note to editors:

Ethiopia’s human rights record deteriorated after the disputed 2005 elections, when at least 187 demonstrators were killed and members of the political opposition party, the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), journalists and civil society activists were arrested and tried for treason. While some of these defendants were acquitted, others were released and pardoned in 2007 and 2008, after signing a letter of apology. In December 2008, Birtukan Mideksa, leader of the UDJ Party was re-arrested and her life sentence reinstated after she discussed details of the pardon process at a meeting in Sweden.

Anti-gov't plot was fabricated – Bulcha Demeksa

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

By Barry Malone

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – An Ethiopian opposition leader said on Tuesday an anti-government plot had been invented as an excuse to arrest potential candidates ahead of national elections next year.

“Without third party verification I can’t believe there was a plot,” Bulcha Demeksa, leader of one of the largest opposition parties, the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement, told Reuters.

“This government is just looking for an excuse to imprison potential politicians.”

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s government said last month a group led by an Ethiopian professor, Dr {www:Berhanu Nega}, had planned to use assassinations and bombings to provoke street protests and topple the government.

The Meles regime arrested 40 former and current army personnel and members of a disbanded opposition group from a “terror network” it said was formed by Berhanu Nega, an opposition leader now teaching economics in the United States.

[The detainees include an 80-year-old father of one an opposition party leader who recently went through a heart bypass surgery.]

The Bucknell University lecturer, who has publicly said he wants to overthrow the Ethiopian government, has called the accusations “baseless”.

“When Berhanu says he wants to overthrow the government, it is just words,” said Bulcha.

“He couldn’t have organised these people from the U.S.”

Former Ethiopian president Negaso Gidada, now an independent member of parliament, also told Reuters he doubted Berhanu’s involvement, but said the government was using the alleged plot to root out dissenters in its military.

“There is no democracy in Ethiopia,” added Negaso, citing recent legislation governing the activities of charities and the media that rights groups have condemned as repressive.

COURT PROCESS

The Ethiopian government’s head of information, Bereket Simon, told Reuters that evidence was being prepared and the accused would appear in court on May 11.

“Nobody has any right to prejudge the evidence and undermine the rule of law,” he said.

Opposition parties routinely accuse the government of harassment and say their candidates were intimidated during local elections in April of last year.

The government denies that.

Another opposition leader, Birtukan Mideksa, a former judge who heads the Unity for Democracy and Justice party, has been in solitary confinement since December.

She was jailed after a disputed 2005 poll, with Berhanu and other opposition leaders, when the government accused them of instigating riots in Addis Ababa in an attempt to take power.

About 200 opposition protesters were killed by soldiers and police in violence that followed.

Mideksa and Berhanu were released in a 2007 pardon, but she was re-arrested last year after the government said she had violated the terms of the pardon.

Meles was hailed as part of a new generation of African leaders in the 1990s, but rights groups have increasingly criticised the rebel-turned-leader for cracking down on opposition in sub-Saharan Africa’s second most populous nation.

The party that wins next June’s parliamentary election will pick the prime minister. Meles is expected to win comfortably.

Ethiopia’s political climate is closely watched by foreign investors showing increasing interest in agriculture, horticulture and real estate prospects.

The nation’s economic progress has been hampered of late by high inflation and a fall in foreign exchange inflows.

The country is one of the world’s poorest, ranked 170 out of 177 on the United Nations Human Development Index, and one of the largest recipients of international aid.

“Humanitarian aid should be continued, but development assistance should be conditional on a country being democratic,” said Bulcha. “How can you imprison and kill your people and have the world treat you like a democracy?” (Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

There is no mystery in the murder of Abiy Bezabih

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

By Chris Delia

There was a reason. The victim’s full name is Abiy Melesse Bezabih. He used to be the president of International Federation of Banking and Insurance Trade Unions (IFBITU).

Ato Abiy was a passionate champion of the Ethiopian people. He hated the corruption of Meles Zenawi’s dictatorship. They illegally ousted him from the labor union. Threw him in prison for over two years.

After he was released from prison, Ato Abiy continued to speak out against the dictatorship. They arrested him again, detained him for another six weeks. During that period they offered him a high level position in the government if he would side with them. He said, “No I cannot work for you, you are corrupt.” They exiled him, and told him if he ever spoke out against the government they would kill him.

His fear that the Ethiopian Government was well documented:

The Worker member of the United Kingdom joined in the comments made by the Worker members as well as those made by the Worker member of Rwanda. He stated that the Ethiopian Government’s interference with trade union activities had not only extended to control of the national centre of the Central Ethiopian Trade Union (CETU), but also to eight of its affiliates over the past few years. He noted that, since the beginning of 1999, the Government had constantly harassed the International Federation of Banking and Insurance Trade Unions (IFBITU) which was the one remaining affiliate still independent of government influence. In addition, trade unionists allied to IFBITU President Abiy Melesse had been intimidated, harassed and detained, with many having been forced into exile. In 1999, the Ethiopian authorities placed further pressure upon the leadership of the union, marginalizing it in four out of the five institutions where it was organized. Government security forces were deployed to prevent union leaders from entering their offices. Subsequently, illegal trade union elections were held and the new leadership took the union back into the CETU, thereby placing it under government control. He emphasized that IFBITU President Abiy Melesse Bezabih now feared for his life.

He came to America, where he became my friend. He dreamed of a time when Ethiopia would be lead by a real democracy and free from corruption and tribal hatred. He never stopped speaking out against the Ethiopian government.

Just before he died he told me that he believed that the Ethiopian Government was sending people to kill him. He said this to me:

“That’s all right, all they can do is kill me – they can’t change who I am or what I think.”

One day a man, he had not seen for over thirty years flew over a 1000 miles to Washington DC with a 9mm handgun and $3900 in his pocket and put a bullet in Abiy.

There is no mystery for me. Only a hope that you will carry on Abiy’s dream.

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

Related:
* An Ethiopian emigre’s murder motive still unknown

Taytu Made in Ethiopia: It's style worth fighting for

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

When the Italian occupation ended, Ethiopians kept their homeland and cherry-picked the best from Italian culture, from improved infrastructure for fast cars to al dente spaghetti in even the most traditional restaurants. Of course, fashion left its mark.

To wit: Taytu’s luxury leather bags, which demonstrate the skill and design of a chic Milan design house. Named for a legendary Ethiopian empress, the line is made by artisan producers in Addis Ababa.

The company promotes fair trade, empowering craftspeople to create fine goods with cool hippie appeal.

Haul your summer clothes in a boho-fab, sunshine-colored hobo or throw your makeup into a sleek burgundy pouch. The bags are lined in Ethiopian-print fabrics and adorned with colorful beads.

It’s style worth fighting for.

Available at Barneys Co-Op, 5471c Wisconsin Avenue, Chevy Chase (301-634-4061 or barneys.com). To see styles, go to taytu.com. Map It

- Daily Candy

EPPF Australia chapter formed

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Ethiopians in Australia have come together to form a support chapter of the Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front (EPPF).

In a press release that was sent to Ethiopian Review today, the chapter stated that it was organized to provide the necessary support to the freedom fighters by mobilizing Ethiopians in Australia.

On top of providing material support, EPPF Australia will introduce the organization to Australian government officials and seek their support in the fight to stop the brutal oppression in Ethiopia by the tribalist Tigrean People’s Liberation Front’s (Woyanne) regime.

The Australia chapter can be contacted at: eppfaustralia@gmail.com.

Click here to read the chapter’s press release.

Currently, on average about 20-30 Ethiopians join the EPPF daily. It’s capacity to accommodate such a large influx of new members is critically overstretched and the organization is in urgent need of assistance from Ethiopians around the world.

One way to support EPPF is to organize support chapters in your area and write to the EPPF International Committee at: info@eppfonline.org.

Minnesota: Ethiopian man jailed in woman's death

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

MINNESOTA (Star Tribune) — A 24-year-old man, Guuci Mokonnen Beyena, could be charged today for allegedly killing his sister over the weekend by slashing her throat as she held her 8-month-old baby outside an {www:apartment} complex, Richfield police reported Monday.

The 22-year-old woman, whom authorities have not identified, had wounds on her hands, head and back, indicating she was probably trying to defend the baby from her attacker, said police Lt. Jay Henthorne.

The baby was not injured. Henthorne said the child was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center on Saturday night for a checkup and then released to his father.

The woman was killed around 9:30 p.m. Saturday in the parking lot of the Buena Vista Apartment Homes at 734 E. 78th St., where she lived. The Hennepin County medical examiner’s office is conducting an autopsy. The woman’s name will be released when the {www:autopsy} is complete, Henthorne said.

The brother, who was arrested in connection with the killing, might have lived in the apartment building, police said. Henthorne said police consider him homeless.

The suspect, who could be charged today by the Hennepin County attorney’s office, fled after the killing to the Mall of America, police said.

The man eventually called the Bloomington Police Department to turn himself in, saying he had been involved in an incident with his sister.

Henthorne said police are still looking into a {www:motive} for the killing. There are indications of past tensions between the brother and sister, he said.

Family of Yonata Getachew speaks out

Monday, May 4th, 2009

Yonatan Getachew, 18, was arrested Tuesday, April 28. Charges against him include attempted first-degree murder and three counts of first-degree arson.

WASHINGTON DC (WTOP) – The family of an Ethiopian teenager accused in a plot to murder a high school principal tells WTOP there is misinformation about the case.

In an email to WTOP, a woman identifying herself as a cousin of 18-year-old Yonata Getachew says the family still can’t believe what they are being told.

Meklit Bekele contends that on the day the plot was uncovered, Getachew was not stopped by school security at Springbrook High School in Maryland, as police said, but was sent home for being out of class.

The family says Getachew wasn’t the mastermind of the alleged plot, and that they are not familiar with 17-year-old Anthony Nelson Torrence.

Torrence and Getachew are accused of conspiring to kill the Springbrook High principal, three counts of arson, and making flammable devices.

The Getachew family insists the only flammable devices in their home were incense sticks used in cultural ceremonies.

Both teens were ordered held without bond.

Related:
* Ethiopian student in Maryland charged with murder plot

A patriotic farmer's story

Monday, May 4th, 2009

Our dear friend Prof. Adugnaw Worku has lost his beloved father late last month. The loss of a parent is one of the most devastating things that could happen to any one. But what makes Prof. Adugnaw’s grief more bitter is the fact that he could not be in person at home in Ethiopia to bid his father the last goodbye because of his strong stand against the Woyanne regime’s human rights atrocities. There are countless other Ethiopians who have faced the same situation — the distinguished Ethiopian artist Ato Tamagne Beyene, to mention one. He, too, had to say goodbye to his father from 15,000 miles away. Such are sacrifices paid by true sons of Ethiopia who stand up for the their people.

In memory of his father, Prof. Adugnaw has a written a 5-page captivating story entitled “The Patriotic Farmer.” It is a story that should be read to every Ethiopian child in every school through out Ethiopia, because it represents our grandfathers who kept a united, free Ethiopia. Click here to read [pdf, Amharic].

(Prof. Adugnaw can be reached at aworku@puc.edu)

Listen below one of his poems:
 

Chicago: Ethiopian taxi drive fatally strikes a pedestrian

Monday, May 4th, 2009

CHICAGO, USA — A cab fatally struck a pedestrian Sunday morning in the North Side’s Edgewater community, police said.

A cab emerging from a driveway in the 5500 block of North Sheridan Road struck a pedestrian about 6:20 a.m., police said.

The 42-year-old pedestrian was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center where he was pronounced dead, police said.

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office could not immediately confirm the death.

The cab remained on the scene and the driver, 29-year-old Desta Pawlos, an immigrant from Ethiopia, was ticketed for failure to stop when exiting a driveway.

Pawlos is scheduled to appear in traffic court at 2:30 p.m. June 22, police said.

Belmont Area detectives and the police Major Accident Investigation Unit are investigating.

Source: Sun-Times News

Terminal Paranoia!

Monday, May 4th, 2009

By Alemayehu G. Mariam

A Plot Here! A Plot There! A Plot Everywhere!

April, 2009. “The ‘desperadoes’ are here! They are going to ‘assassinate high ranking government officials and destroy public facilities and utilities!’” Some forty individuals are officially said to be arrested for “terrorism” (but the real number may be at least five times as many). December, 2006. “The jihadists are coming! The Al-Shabaab terrorists are coming!” They never came but nearly 20,000 Somali civilians were killed, 29,000 wounded and 1.7 million displaced. May 2005. “Kinijit is plotting to ‘overthrow the constitutional order’! Kinijit is agitating an insurrection in the streets!” Nearly 200 unarmed protesters were massacred in the streets, 763 wounded and 30,000 jailed by official Inquiry Commission accounts. Top Kinijit leaders and dozens of human rights activists, journalists and civic society leaders were also jailed. The pretext of mysterious plots has proven to be a worn-out trick used by the dictatorship in Ethiopia to hammer down opponents, ratchet up the repression and divert public attention from its crimes and poor governance.

Triumph of Paranoia in Ethiopia

The latest saga of brutal repression in Ethiopia comes in the form of an alleged “desperado” conspiracy to “overthrow” the dictatorial regime. Leading the phalanx of “desperadoes” include an 80-year old grandfather, a young man and an active duty officer. But the official version of events followed the usual repertoire of lies and mendacity. Simon, a “communications minister”, concocted a bizarre tale of a gallery of “desperadoes”, “terrorists,” “disgruntled” military officers, shadowy assassins and a “dangerous” international “mastermind” who manipulated them all by remote control from the United States. According to Simon,

Six of the suspects were army officers on active duty, including one general, 34 of the suspects were ex-army men expelled from the army on grounds of misconduct. [The suspects did not intend] to stage a coup but assassinate individuals, high ranking government officials and destroying some public facilities and utilities … like telecom services and electricity utilities… They intended to create conducive conditions for large scale chaos and havoc. The police have also found evidence implicating some ex-CUD members released on pardon. With the exception of some three or four of the desperadoes group who are still at large, the police have arrested almost all members of the conspiracy.

Simon in self-congratulatory mode assured the world that “if there had been laxity from the government, there would have been problems.” In any case the “terrorist desperadoes” would not have succeeded, he said, because “our army is in a very good shape based on democratic and constitutional values.”

It is obvious that the regime is undergoing another one of its periodic paroxysms of fear, loathing and total bewilderment. The arrest of these so-called “desperadoes” says more about the regime’s desperation than the occurrence of an imminent assault by a “desperado” outfit. The fact of the matter is that the regime and its leaders are scared of their own political survival: They have nosedived from an acute state of high anxiety into the abyss of terminal paranoia. The signs are unmistakable: arresting and jailing every potential opponent or dissident on trumped up charges, intimidation of opposition leaders, military purges, scapegoating and demonization of imaginary foes, denunciation of alleged worldwide provocateurs and troublemakers, asset seizures of businesses and arrests of merchants, show trials and a campaign of inane propaganda to hoodwink the public and the international community of an impending doom. The steady retrogression of the dictatorial regime into totalitarianism over the past four years demonstrates that they are themselves the modern reincarnation of the frontier desperadoes of the American Old West — violent, vicious, vulgar, thuggish, reckless, rash and hopeless.

The Psychologic of the Regime’s Paranoia:

Fear of Sudden Mass Uprising
The regime’s paranoia can be explained by reference to specific evidence. Their innermost fear is the likelihood of a spontaneous mass uprising. Regime leaders are terrified by the prospect of a sudden popular uprising breaking out and literally consuming them. That is precisely what Simon pointed out when he crystallized his allegations against the 40 “desperadoes” by claiming that they were plotting “to create conducive conditions for large scale chaos and havoc.” He knows all too well that the “conducive conditions” are already present on the ground (no need for “desperadoes” to create it): His regime has made Ethiopia a Prison Nation in a police state; hunger and famine are facts of daily life for the majority of the Ethiopian population; the economy has ground to a halt; the banks have been emptied of cash and gold and there is little money to run the state apparatus; corruption is so endemic and rampant that Ethiopia is listed at the top of failed states; there is widespread dissatisfaction and discontent in the military; there is infighting among different segments of the dictatorship and the entire officialdom is permeated by a lingering malaise of uncertainty and self-doubt; and the regime has become an international pariah universally rejected for its long record of massive human rights violations. They are worried because they know the uprising will not be televised!

Fear of Accountability and Retribution (Dismounting the Tiger)
The regime leaders know they have committed unspeakable crimes against humanity, war crimes and serious crimes punishable under their own criminal laws and constitution. They also know that their regime is a glorified pluto-kleptocracy (government of rich thieves) which has accumulated enormous wealth through rapacious raids on the public treasury and outright theft from ordinary citizens. Of course what is known of their crimes today is merely the tip of the iceberg. It is not difficult to understand that they fear prosecutions at home and by international tribunals should they be dislodged from power. Those at the top are particularly concerned about accountability under the “chain of command” doctrine pursuant to international criminal laws for the terrible crimes they have committed within and without the country. (Under well-established principles of international law, officials in the chain of command who order human rights violations, crimes against humanity and war crimes or who, knowing about it, fail to stop it are criminally responsible.)

The specter of prosecution is undoubtedly worrisome to them. This is evidenced in the fact that the current dictator has been talking philosophically about the need and wisdom of “restorative justice” in his public defense of the war crimes fugitive, Omar al-Bashir. The dictator proposed that al-Bashir’s horrific crimes in Darfur should be resolved within the framework of “restorative justice”. Simply stated, there will be a truth commission; al-Bashir will take public responsibility for his actions and offer heartfelt apologies to the Darfurians; they will get some sort of closure from his admission of guilt and everything else will be forgotten. It is logical to infer that the regime is hoping for precisely the same outcome in the event it is no longer in power: Let bygones be bygones, have a truth commission, go through the motions and forgive them for their monstrous crimes. But to let bygones be bygones would be very wrong. It would be an affront to the very essence of the principle of the rule of law. Justice is served only when the rule of law applies to ALL. In the final analysis, their problem is the same as the proverbial tiger rider’s. They have been riding the Ethiopian tiger for nearly two decades. But one day they know they have to dismount. When they do, they will be looking at the sparkling eyes, gleaming teeth and pointy nails of one big hungry tiger! As Reed Brody, advocacy director of Human Rights Watch, observed, “Times have changed. The days that a tyrant could brutalize his people, pillage the treasury, put his bank account somewhere and then seek exile abroad have ended. What we see now is dictators can hide, but they cannot run.”

Fear of No Future (Institutional Decay and Crises of Leadership)
Fear permeates the ruling dictatorship. The fear factor operates in different ways for the regime. They have used fear to cement their ugly and divisive ethnic politics. By setting one group against another and inspiring distrust and hatred, they have managed to cling to power for so long. But that is changing before their eyes. The façade of political institutions they have created for the various ethnic groups to maintain their control no longer works. Their appeal to ethnic loyalty inspired by fear of what other groups might do to one group no longer holds sway. They are overwhelmingly rejected by every single ethnic group in the country, bar none. The people have come to the obvious realization that the ethnic divides created for them make everyone a loser and winners of only the dictators. This has created an insurmountable problem for the personal rule of the current dictator and his phony coalition of political parties. Personal control of the various groups is becoming increasingly difficult, particularly within the dominant political party. There is unrest among the members of the inner circle and coterie of followers within his own party. This is a source of major vulnerability for the dictator. Since the regime is based on personal rule, if the dictator fails his lieutenants, political allies and appointees, followers, relatives, friends and supporters within and outside the regime will also fall. The bottom line is that his political base will have to make a very tough choice: discipline (oust) the dictator and initiate a process that could produce a potential change of some benefit to them under some other leader from their own group, or prepare to make a deal with others in the opposition. The other alternative is to continue to support the dictator and face the likelihood that they will be big losers when change inevitably comes. For the general population, none of this calculation matters: The increasing repression has brought the political situation to the tipping point.

Fear of Continuing Western Ostracism
Internationally, the regime has a huge problem. Their human rights record and suppression of democratic institutions has brought them into collision with Western governments. Continuing human rights violations, imprisonment of leading opposition leaders, detention of large numbers of political prisoners, the absence of the rule of law, etc., have made them virtual international pariahs. Their biggest fear now is how the West will receive their already-won 2010 elections. It can be said with absolute certainty that there will not be a free and fair election in 2010. The reason is obvious: the regime will never take a chance of being defeated at the polls as it did in 2005.

On the other hand, rigged or “show elections” will not do for the West. Consequently, their elections shenanigans could result in donor sanctions. It will be necessary for the regime to find a way to hoodwink the West into believing that even if the elections are not free and fair, the alternative to their rule will be a total disaster for Ethiopia. Just as they went after the “Al Shabaab” terrorists to save Somalia, they will trot out more “desperadoes” and wild-eyed “terrorists” to convince the West that the country is going to hell in hand basket. They will do whatever it takes to spook the West into accepting the results of a bogus election in 2010, and they will not hesitate to paint a picture of chaos and anarchy that is too awful to contemplate. We will predict that as the election date draws near, they will manufacture political instability in the country, ratchet up the intimidation and violence and parade before the international media an endless gallery of “desperadoes”, “terrorists”, “insurgents”, “agitators” and others to justify free and fair elections can not be held in Ethiopia in 2010. By the same token, we will predict that the iconic political prisoner, Birtukan Midekssa, will be used by the regime as a pawn, bargaining chip, to mitigate any Western sanctions resulting from a rigged 2010 election. It will not work. (Long Live Birtukan Midekssa!)

The fact of the matter is that the regime leaders do not seem to have realized that the world around them has changed, and they have not. Obama is not Bush, and they will find out that it is futile to bait Obama on the “terrorism” rubbish they have so successfully used on Bush. Obama has articulated his “best” position on the future direction of U.S. foreign policy:

I feel very strongly that when we are at our best, the United States represents a set of universal values and ideals — the idea of democratic practices, the idea of freedom of speech and religion, the idea of a civil society where people are free to pursue their dreams and not be imposed upon constantly by their government. So we’ve got a set of ideas that I think have broad applicability. But what I also believe is that other countries have different cultures, different perspectives, and are coming out of different histories, and that we do our best to promote our ideals and our values by our example.

Neither the EU nor the donor European countries will buy the regime’s lame arguments for rigged elections and continuing human rights abuses. The bottom line is that the regime can fool some of the Western countries all of the time, and all of the Westerns countries some of the time. But it can not fool all of them all of the time.

The Self-Delusion of Dictatorships

One of the common traits of all dictators is the display of arrogant self-confidence which completely blinds them to reason. Anyone with the critical thinking skills of a Philippine Tarsier (world’s smallest primate) would find the allegation of a 40-person “desperado insurrection” ludicrous and absurd. No reasonable person could believe that even real desperadoes (who in the Old West were considered to be full-time drunk outlaws) would attempt an overthrow of a regime which spends a better part of its state budget on its military and security forces. But because dictators often spend so much time in a bubble, they are unable to distinguish reality from fantasy. They become surrounded by ‘yes’ men who tell them only what they want to hear, and live comfortably in a state of denial. Consider Mugabe. A trillion dollar note to buy a loaf of bread made perfect sense to him. For Saddam Hussien, an electoral victory by 99.9 per cent of the voters made sense. For Slobodan Milosovic, the ethnic cleansing of over 200 thousand Muslims in Kosovo made perfect sense. Chanting the mantra of a made-up 12 per cent economic growth as proof of runaway economic development when a quarter of the population is facing starvation and the rest can barely eke out an existence also makes perfect sense if you live in a bubble. But the idea that 40 “desperadoes” could overthrow a regime with a massive security apparatus and an “army that is in good shape” is so idiotic it does not make sense! To believe in the regime’s theory of a “desperado” coup is to suspend belief in reality and completely abandon logic.

It is in the nature of dictatorships to demonstrate omnipotence over their victims and make their victims feel helpless. Simon was casually suggesting his omnipotence and describing the helplessness of his victims when he declared “our army is in good shape”. Dictatorships work tirelessly to spread defeatism, dissension and division among their opposition. But they are not as omnipotent as they project themselves to be. Undoubtedly, their true strength lies in the inability of their opponents to create a united front in the defense of the cause of freedom, democracy and human rights.

Our Fear: Are We Ready for Post-Dictatorship?

We must understand that removing a brutal dictator or a one-party dictatorship does not a stable democracy make. A study of the history of the rise and fall of dictatorships from Albania to Zimbabwe over the past two decades shows the immense difficulties in institutionalizing democracy in the aftermath of a dictatorship. In the Ethiopian case, the ethnic, religious, linguistic and regional divisions created and nurtured by the current dictators will present massive challenges in a post-dictatorship society. This combined with the enormous social and economic problems facing the country will present challenges unlike any the country has faced in modern times. That is why it is absolutely necessary to maintain serious dialogue and consultation among all pro-democracy Ethiopians on the fate of post-dictatorship Ethiopia. We should not be terribly concerned about the fall of this or any other dictatorship. As Gandhi said, “I remember that all through history, the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it, always.” So the question written for us on the mirror is: “What do we do when the dictatorship falls?” Think of it: “What do we do when the dictatorship falls?”

Denver: Ethiopian man killed in a 7-Eleven store

Monday, May 4th, 2009

By Kirk Mitchell and Annette Espinoza | The Denver Post

Police are searching for a man who fatally shot an Ethiopian immigrant inside a 7-Eleven convenience store early Saturday morning.

The victim called police at 3:30 a.m. and told them that he had been shot inside the store at 567 E. Louisiana Ave. The store clerk was found in an alley near the store, said Sonny Jackson, Denver police spokesman.

It is not known why he was found outside, Jackson said.

Police have not released the name of the victim, but neighbors identified him as “Nathaniel.”

He was rushed to Denver Health Medical Center where he later was pronounced dead, Jackson said.

Police are searching for a white man, about 30, average height and weight, with shoulder-length, brown hair, Jackson said. He was wearing a green jacket and likely blue jeans.

Witnesses told police the gunman fled in a silver, four-door car, which looked to be about 5 to 8 years old.

The killer used a rifle, police said.

“What his motive is, we don’t know,” he said.

When asked whether anything was taken from the store, Jackson said he would not comment on evidence.

The clerk, who was 27, had worked at the 7-Eleven store for five years, said Margaret Chabris, spokeswoman for 7-Eleven.

“Last night, he worked alone, but I don’t know if he was alone in the store (at the time of the shooting),” Chabris said Saturday.

She said someone called police, but she doesn’t know if it was a customer. She said 7-Eleven clerks have been killed before but not necessarily during the shift between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.

“These are random acts of violence,” Chabris said. “We’ve heard of incidents of violence in broad daylight.”

She said the clerk was a loyal, hardworking, good employee.

“It sounds like something that was unprovoked,” Chabris said. “It devastates all of us.”

The clerk had been a manager of the store before, under different ownership.

He has relatives locally and overseas, Chabris said. Police were having trouble reaching his mother, she said.

The store had camera surveillance equipment. The tapes will be turned over to police for their investigation, Chabris said.

Yellow crime tape surrounded the store Saturday. After police left, employees entered the store and began cleaning.

Staff writer Kieran Nicholson contributed to this report.

Mozambique police arrests 164 Ethiopian immigrants

Monday, May 4th, 2009

MALAWI (Nyasa Times) — Management of refugees at Dzaleka camp in Dowa is turning into an issue of great concern to Malawi authorities.

Just under a month the country’s law enforcers have intercepted over 300 Ethiopians for successfully running away from the camp and attempting to illegally flee the country.

First were 114 Ethiopians who were arrested in Dedza district as they tried to flee the country for South Africa via Mozambique. They were arrested after a truck they were using got stuck in the mud.

And a week later, another contingent of 62 Ethiopians was caught on time at Mwanza border as it attempted to crossed into Mozambique.

The latest incident occurred last Thursday when again a group of 164 Ethiopian men successfully beat the Malawian security system by sneaking out of the country without the law enforcers’ notice.

The group was apprehended by the neighbouring Mozambican police in Tete Province while on their way to South Africa.

Mwanza Police Station Officer Joel Makomwa confirmed that Mozambique police arrested the 164 refugees, who appeared frail due to lack of food, and repatriated them to Malawi.

“They were intercepted by our counterparts in Mozambique and they immediately brought them here. We have already dispatched some of them to Dzaleka,” he said.

It is strongly believed that the group is the same that has had futile attempts to flee the country before.

Dzaleka camp has about 10,000 refugees who fled from Somali, Ethiopia, DRC, Burundi, and Rwanda due to wars and other disasters.

While most refugees from other countries have opted for raiding the country’s urban and rural areas in search of business ventures, the Ethiopians have appeared to be very stubborn in that every case of refugees fleeing the place for Mozambique and South Africa involves them.

Ruling party tightening grip on Ethiopia ahead of poll

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

By FRED OLUOCH | The East African

Ethiopia will be holding elections next year, but all indications are that the ruling party, the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) [a cover for the tribalist Tigrean People Liberation Front, commonly known as Woyanne] will win, and there could be a repeat of the 2005 post-election violence because of two factors.

One, the government has closed all democratic space and two, the opposition is hugely divided.

Back in 2005, the opposition under the umbrella of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), formed only six months before the May elections, gained massive popularity, especially in Addis Ababa winning all the seats in the capital.

Today, a combination of a seriously splintered and weak opposition, and the perception of Zenawi by the US as an ally in the war against terror in the Horn of Africa, has given EPRDF a head start.

There is also a widespread feeling that the ruling party, has created conditions to ensure its win, resulting in a growing campaign for an election boycott by the opposition.

The government has closed all democratic space by monitoring and intimidating the media and civil society.

It has tightened its control on free speech, forcing observers to question whether it will be possible to hold a free and fair election under the prevailing circumstances.

Some radical opposition leaders are calling for an election boycott.

The government operates and controls mobile telephone and the short messaging service (SMS) can be disabled anytime.

Since the violence of 2005, the EPRDF has not left anything to chance.

The party has tacitly started campaigning, funding youth groups composing about six million members, farmers associations, women groups and any other groups that could vote against it.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has hinted that he might not run in 2010, but the majority of Ethiopians do not take this seriously.

The EastAfrican recently visited the capital, Addis Ababa, where the largely disillusioned populace have resigned to the fact that EPRDF will retain power. But there is simmering discontent.

“The people are withdrawn because they are angry that EPRDF is practising politics of exclusion and it is not ready to share power, despite the realization that a good number of Ethiopians do not support it but are afraid to speak out for fear of persecution. This could create a conducive ground for a repeat of the 2005 post-election violence,” said Mesfin Kebede, a former journalist, who had to abandon the profession due to an increasingly hostile operating environment.

In 2005, the results were delayed from May to September following widespread claims of fraud, which prompted various unrest in which hundreds of people were arrested and at least 200 killed by security forces.

CUD leaders and other prominent opposition politicians were arrested and jailed for life for inciting violence. However they were released after pressure from the international community. Many of them chose to leave the country rather than risk re-arrest.

This was what happened to Birtukan Mideksa, a fiery 34-year old lawyer-cum-politician, and leader of the Union for Democracy and Justice. She was detained after the government revoked her pardon on grounds that she violated the terms of her release.

However, six major Ethiopian opposition parties recently formed a new political alliance — the Forum for Democratic Dialogue in Ethiopia — to run for election and agitate for the release of jailed opposition leaders.

According to Sammy Fikre, a writer with The Sub-Saharan Informer, Meles is perceived as eloquent and brave. “Western donors believe that he understands them better than many African leaders, and that he has ideas for economic growth and reduction of poverty. But some of it is exaggerated,” he said.

In October 2007, the US House of Representatives passed the Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act, 2007, which proposed withdrawal of “non-essential” assistance to Ethiopia until the federal government meets human rights obligations outlined in the Act.

With the entry of the new US administration, and Obama’s tacit warning to dictators in Africa, Zenawi will be under pressure to allow greater democracy in the second most populous nation in Africa after Nigeria.

But even with the unity of opposition, the EPRDF is still too strong, given that Ethiopian opposition parties routinely accuse the government of harassment and intimidated during elections, as was the case in last April during elections for local authorities.

Even the once formidable CUD is a pale shadow of its former self.

CUD was mainly made of business community, civil society and those who had their education abroad and had never been part of the government.

It was popular and formed only six months before the May 2005 elections.

However, EPRDF was complacent and was taken by surprise by the CUD popularity, in which opposition took all the seats in the capital, Addis Ababa.

Now, EPRDF is aware of the type of opponent they are facing and are not leaving anything to chance.

The party has tacitly started campaigning, funding youth groups numbering about six million, farmers associations, women groups and any other groups that could vote against it.

As a result, there is a difference among the opposition whether to participate or boycott the elections.

Moderates are urging the opposition to participate to further entrench democracy in Ethiopia, but radicals within the opposition believe that participation will mean legitimizing the obvious, that EPRDF will win through manipulation and fear mongering.

Still, anything can happen, with the growing inflation and the continued repression of civil liberties.

The youth are resisting the reservation of some ministries to certain ethnic groups.

It is a practise that certain key ministries can only be held by one ethnic group irrespective of merit.

However, Ethiopians agree that he better than his predecessor, Mengistu Haile Mariam, even though he rules with an iron hand. Unlike the former regime—commonly referred to as the Derg—people are relatively free to speak their mind provided they dot directly challenge the government.

Secondly, EPRDF had provided opportunities for the growth of business under other activities, with Addis Ababa currently experiencing construction boom.

Indeed, some of Meles critics believe that Ethiopia’s invasion in Somalia in 2006 with support from the US was meant to divert attention from domestic problems and the some Western countries who had threatened to cut aid over lack of democracy and civil rights.

An Ethiopian emigre's murder motive still unknown

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

By Neely Tucker | Washington Post

A family photo of Abiy Bezabih

WASHINGTON DC — Sometimes a mystery stays a mystery and then we worry there are things we don’t know about ourselves, dangerous things.

Nothing that happened in D.C. Superior Court yesterday changed that.

Abiy Bezabih and Adane Kebede had been childhood friends in the same village in Ethiopia. Both were in their 50s. Both had emigrated to the United States and worked at low-paying jobs: Kebede as a security guard in Oakland, Calif., Bezabih as a parking-lot attendant in Georgetown. Neither had a criminal record. They had not seen each other in three decades.

Then, on Dec. 15, 2006, Kebede flew from California to D.C. to visit Bezabih, along with a mutual friend. Three days later, the trio met across the street from the Dukem Restaurant in the 1100 block of U Street NW, 3 in the afternoon, the street full of people.

Bezabih, delighted, gave his old friend a hug.

Kebede accepted the embrace, put a 9mm pistol to Bezabih’s jugular, and shot him through the neck. A witness told police he then put his arms around the dying man and eased him to the ground.

“I don’t know what got into me,” Kebede — short, balding, rasping — told Judge Frederick H. Weisberg yesterday, during a sentencing hearing that came a couple of months after his guilty plea to a charge of murder.

Weisberg said he didn’t really know, either, and sentenced him to 20 years in prison.

A lot of people kill each other in the District. Weisberg noted that his court calendar alone had about 50 homicide cases at various stages of the legal process. People tend to want to find a reason for these things. It helps give life a certain sense of order, which leads to a certain sense of safety, based on the belief that the title “human being” is a compliment, despite long historical evidence to the contrary.

The fact is, as Weisberg’s calendar attests, that people often kill people, because that is what people do.

Bezabih was, by all accounts, an unlikely victim. He was a former police officer and insurance agent in Ethiopia. He had received asylum in the United States in 2003 and taken a basic job, making $19,000 a year, in order to start life over. Scrimping and saving, he managed to bring his wife and son to the area the summer before he was killed.

Yesterday, underneath the drab fluorescent lighting of the courthouse, almost everyone had some sort of answer for what Kebede did, a little raft of reason to cling to.

“A certain jealousness,” said the dead man’s wife, Tadesu Woldemarium. “I think this friend told Kebede my husband was doing well, he had this nice life, and he became very jealous.”

“A political hit, absolutely,” said Chris Delia, a software developer who had regularly parked his car in Bezabih’s garage and struck up a friendship with him. “He had been a union leader back in Ethiopia. He had political asylum here. He’d told me that friends of his had mentioned, in the weeks before he was killed, that government people had been asking where he was.”

“Dementia,” Kebede’s lawyer, Anna Van Cleve, told Weisberg. She noted Kebede initially had been found mentally incompetent to stand trial by psychiatrists, that he was still on a regimen of antidepressants, and had a history of physical and mental worries.

Weisberg rejected that. He said that while Kebede had medical issues, he had told doctors different stories about what happened. He said Kebede had lied about his mental condition in an attempt to throw off psychiatrists.

“That’s deliberate manipulation . . . not a florid mental illness,” Weisberg said from the bench.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Snyder told the judge that, at first, he had agreed with the assassination theory.

“A mild-mannered man could not have done this on his own,” Snyder said, summing up the initial assessments of police and prosecutors. Kebede, who made about $12,000 per year, had $3,900 with him when arrested. Bezabih had been given asylum. Something didn’t look right.

Snyder said the authorities launched an investigation that stretched from here to Ethiopia. “We thought ‘there has to be something . . .’ but nothing ever came of it. Nothing.” He also noted that Kebede had told a variety of stories about his actions: that the shooting was about an old debt, about an ancient grievance from the homeland, and then there would be another story.

Snyder’s final summation: “It is utterly inexplicable.”

Markos, Bezabih’s 13-year-old son, walked into the well of the court, stood by the microphone and tried to tell the judge about his father.

“He was a pretty cool dad,” he said. He looked down and bit his lip, then turned suddenly. “Mom, could I have a tissue?”

The hearing concluded. About 50 family members and friends filed into the hallway, talking in small huddles, lost in the bustling courthouse. There were more theories and questions. Sometimes life doesn’t give answers. It gives actions, and the answers are our own.

Ethiopia's dictatorship will fall soon – Dr Berhanu Nega

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

Ginbot 7 Movement for Justice and Freedom held a public meeting Sunday afternoon in Washington DC at Marriott Hotel. The speakers included Dr {www:Berhanu Nega}, chairman; Ato Efrem Madebo, an official; and Judge Frehiwot Samuel, a guest speaker.

Ato Efrem Madebo took the stage first and gave a lecture about democracy, work ethic, etc. He turned the political meeting into a history class. It was painfully boring.

The next speaker was Judge Frehiwot Samuel, a member of the inquiry commission that investigated the 2005 post-election massacre of civilians. His speech was a repetition of what we heard 1,000,000,000 times at different Ethiopian political meetings. The over 500 people who were in attendance did not go to hear such a lecture. They wanted to hear progress report. What did Ginbot 7 do since it was established last May? How much time left before Woyanne is dead and buried? How badly is Woyanne’s nose is bleeding from actions taken by Ginbot 7 so far?

The last and featured speaker was Dr Berhanu Nega. He did not disappoint the audience. He went straight to the point — Woyanne will fall soon, he promised. He was articulate, as usual, and went directly to what the audience was waiting for — the recent reports that flooded the media.

Dr Berhanu proclaimed that the Woyanne regime’s conflicting allegations — coup at first, assassination plot, a few days later — is one more sign that the tribal junta is falling apart. It cannot even trust it’s own power base — the military.

Referring to the latest report about the arrest of General Asaminew Tsige and several other military officers, Dr Berhanu said that the tribal regime is carrying out ethnic cleansing against Amhara members of the armed forces.

Using the meeting as an opportunity, Dr Berhanu made a public call to all Ethiopian opposition parties to come together and create a broad-based alliance as soon as possible. He said that there is not time to waste as things are unraveling fast in the country and that all opposition parties have the responsibility to prepare for the inevitable downfall of Woyanne. Dr Berhanu’s call was received with thunderous applause.

During the Question & Answer session, Ethiopian Review representative Tsegaye Shimeles asked what Ginbot 7 leadership thinks about Ethiopian Review’s proposal about creating a transitional government in exile. Dr Berhanu said that he didn’t read the proposal, but the opposition parties must first agree to work together. Then they will decide what mechanism to create that will replace the Woyanne regime.

Following the town hall meeting, Ginbot 7 held a $50-per plate fund raising dinner.

Ethiopian Review’s live broadcast of the meeting was made possible by Addis Dimts Radio, whose host, Ato Abebe Belew, moderated the meeting.

For security reasons cameras were not allowed in the meeting room. This was done to protect meeting participants and their families from Woyanne agents.

Ginbot 7 meeting in Washington DC – announcement

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

Ginbot 7 Movement for Justice and Freedom is holding a public meeting today in Washington DC.

Place: Marriott Hotel, 1221 22nd Street, Washington DC

General Asaminew Tsige is arrested in Ethiopia

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

The rounding up of active and retired military officers by Meles Zenawi’s regime in Ethiopia is continuing in connection with the alleged coup and assassination plots.

It is reported today that the latest arrests include General Asaminew Tsige (Ret.) of the Ethiopian Air Force; Col. Demisew (?), head of the Amhara Region Security Bureau, Col. Fantahun Muhabe, Shambel Azeze (?), Shaleqa Adamu Getinet, and Shaleqa Sisay (?).

Among civilians who are arrested include Engineer Mengistu Abebe, Engineer Asmare Wale, and Health Officer Yeshiwas Mengesha.

The {www:Woyanne} regime is unwilling to release the names of all the prisoners who are being held as suspects in the alleged assassination plot by {www:Ginbot 7} against high level government officials.

Initially, the allegation was a plot to overthrow the regime. A few days later, the Woyanne regime’s propaganda chief, Berket Simon, changed the story to ‘assassination plot.’

Ato Tsige Habtemariam, the 80-year old father of Ginbot 7 secretary general Andargachew Tsige, is still being held in the notorious Maekelawi as a suspect.

So far no family member is allowed to visit the prisoners and their condition is unknown. Some family members are contacting the Red Cross and international human rights organizations to find out the prisoners’ health status and whether they are being tortured… [MORE]

Ethiopian Orthodox Church is growing, slowly but surely

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

By Assta B. Gettu

As the Twin Cities (in Minnesota, USA) have graciously welcomed you to settle among their communities peacefully, and in these blessed localities the Trios -– the St. Luke Lutheran Church, the St. George Ukrainian Church, and the St. Mary Greek Orthodox Church -– have also facilitated you until you are able to stand up on your own feet by establishing your own new Church — the Debre Berhan St. Ourael Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church. May God help those who helped you all these days!

Living in a foreign country, supporting one’s own family, competing with a new civilization foreign to most of us Ethiopians, and fighting against new culture, and preserving one’s own tradition, religion, and custom is one of the greatest achievements a person can accomplish in his life time.

You, members of the Debre Berhan St. Ourael Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church, have been waiting patiently until you find your own worshiping place; now the good Lord in heaven has heard your earnest prayers and given you a place and a church where you can praise him together, you must rejoice fully and be comfortable in your new Church.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church is one of the oldest Christian Churches in the world and has triumphantly crossed many deep and turbulent waters in its long Christian history: the time of Gragn Ahmad, Ate Susinios, Judith-Gudit, Lij Iyasu, and of course the Romans who occupied Ethiopia for five years. The Church bravely fought against such foreign and homegrown invaders.

This unique and glorious Church of ours has been one of the best unifying factors for the survival of the Ethiopian people as a whole: it has marched side by side with its Christian kings, encouraging them spiritually to defend Ethiopia from any hostile enemies and administering Holy Communion for the living and the dying.

It has served its members faithfully by baptizing the Ethiopian children and by blessing the weddings of many Ethiopian young boys and young girls. It has trained thousands of clergies throughout the centuries and passed to us the traditional Church education such as the Yared Zema, the Kine, the Liturgy, the Tirgum, the Kebre Negest, the Geez language, and the Doctrine of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church and many other indispensable Christian books and articles.

Most of the defenders of Ethiopia have been the students of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church whom the Church has trained, cultivated from their childhood until their adulthood. One cannot find in the old days any Ethiopian government official that does not read methehafe-dawit (the Book of Psalm) or does not carry this special book with him wherever he goes.

Therefore, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church has been the training center for many Church and government officials for thousands of years, and the result of its hard work has produced great Ethiopian leaders such as Ate Caleb, Ate Zerayakob, Ate Yukono Amlak, Ate Libne Dingle, Ate Lalibela, Ate Menelik II, Ate Haile Selassie, and many other Ethiopian Christian leaders. It is the dynamic teaching of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church that has taught most of the Ethiopian people civility, hospitality, normality, ethics and faith in the Almighty God.

This Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church has been growing inwardly most of the times; it is now, however, expanding outwardly: the Debre Brhan St. Ourael Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church and many other Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Churches in other countries are good examples.

The recent personal conflict between the legitimate Ethiopian Patriarch Abune Merkorios in exile and Aba Paulos, the usurper of power and the fake Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church at home, helps, in disguise, the Church to expand like the Roman Catholic Church after Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the Castle Church Door helped the new Church expand all over the world.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has been one of the participants of the four well-known Church Councils through the Alexandrian Church –- the mother Church: the Council of Nicaea (325), the council of Constantinople (381), the Council of Ephesus (431), and the Council of Chalcedon (451). Each Council discussed on different issues such as Christ is Divine (Council of Nicaea); the Holy Spirit is Divine (Council of Constantinople); Natural Man is totally depraved (Council of Ephesus); and Christ is human and Divine (Council of Chalcedon).

Out of all these time-consuming doctrinal discussions, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church and the Alexandrian Church firmly assert that Christ has one nature while other Churches believe that Christ has two natures: divine and human, but the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church believes that Christ’s humanity and divinity are united; therefore, Christ has only one nature, not two. It seems such doctrinal controversy that has divided the Church for many years has now died out, and no one cares about the nature of Christ as far as one believes that Christ is the Son of God and the only savior of the world.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church has been very active until Aba Paulos usurped the Patriarchate and created two churches: one at home and one in exile in America.

I’m so happy to hear that the Ethiopian Christian communities in Minnesota are dedicating a new Church on May 16 and 17, 2009, and may the Almighty God bless the dedication of this new Church and may He also bless those who pray in this new Church and listen to their prayers and accept their requests as He kindly accepted King Solomon’s prayer during the Dedication of the Great Temple in Jerusalem.

Ethiopian regime's bogus charges and zero sum games

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

By Zeinab Amde

The recent charges Meles and Bereket are fabricating against opponents of their regime in Ethiopia are merely intended to hit two clusters of political opponents with one stone – that is fighting the growing discontent in the patched up army while at the same time using the crackdown to attempt to implicate the {www:Ginbot 7} movement. Although I am not willing to fabricate any evidence as {www:Meles Zenawi} is doing, no one denies that the army and security machinery are becoming assertive and ballooning beyond the control of Meles.

Meles gave too much money and power to the army and the security to silence dissent, but now they are coming back to ask questions and claim their dues. This effect is accentuated by the emergence of different power groups in the government structure that start to ask the big question –“What if?” What if popular movement pulls the ground from under our feet and Meles leaves just as Mengistu did? What if the need arise to sideline Meles to save the EPRDF when Meles becomes a target of charges of Genocide or Crime against Humanity? Well, the Inquiry Commission sanctioned by the Ethiopian parliament had found that Meles, who took effective control of the security apparatus beginning from May 16, 2005, has authorized excessive force that resulted in the deaths of 200 innocent lives and the maiming of 750 people! What about the countless Amharas, Oromos, Anuaks, Sidamas, who were massacred over the years? What about the rest who were killed in Addis Ababa, Awassa, Tepi,…? These questions beg for answers when a dictatorial machinery heads to its eventual cliff and the leadership submerges in decadence and the need for a replacement shrills sharp.

So the recent charges leveled against army officials, and of course the Ginbot Sebat, is symptomatic of a far graver problem for Meles in the army and the security machinery. Meles surly is growingly being surrounded by enemies from within and without. First and foremost, the people affirmed that they are under a tyranny as this status was cemented in the day light robbery of the May 2005 elections. Next, the fact that the EPRDF ({www:Woyanne}) is paranoid is evident in the manner it is forcing the population in party membership. The membership has evolved from the first 15 years of “bastardization” (recruiting members by other members based on kinship) to “blackmail recruitment” (forcing candidates by blackmailing them with grant or denial of jobs, land, security, and other benefits). Now Meles is bragging like Mengistu claiming that membership has skyrocketed by 4 million in a matter of 1 year after 17 years inability to recruit members. Keep the irony in mind — that the 4 million came to be EPRDFits after EPRDF LOST elections. This astronomical blackmail recruitment is reminiscent of Issepa’s (Worker’s Party of Ethiopia) last days and shows how the EPRDF is desperate.

EPRDF’s recent attempt is similar to that of the changes it orchestrated against Professor Asrat Woldeyes, Defence Minister Siye Abraha and Dr. Taye Woldesemayat. But this latest attempt is futile and destined for a crash as the Ethiopian people have grown out of Meles’s shrinking wisdom and baseless tricks. What is more, the international setting has shifted since May 2005 as he is certified to be an illegitimate leader only recognized for filling the vacuum. In the country, Meles has lost his bearing as the times are changing and no one seriously believes that he has the mandate as he seized power by reversing the verdict of the Ethiopian people who told him that they have decided to change his government. Meles’s charges could have held some water if he was a democratically elected leader, but we all know that he is here with blood dripping from his hands, recently from the June and November 2005 brazen killings. Plus, Meles has no credibility as he has shown his contempt to the people of Ethiopia and the Constitution by killing citizens and staying in power after voted out of office. So Meles’s dream that the Ethiopian people would take him seriously by acting like a legitimate government is a futile attempt that is going to fall into pieces.

This completely futile exercise by Meles and Bereket is a zero sum game for the EPRDF. To the contrary, there are two significant outcomes out of this. The first is that Meles and Bereket have planted the seed of mutiny in the army and security machineries opening the door for the army to intervene when dictators hijack and reverse popular will and elections. Although most who read this discount this point as the army is dominated by one ethnicity, no one denies the fact that the declaration of an attempted coup (even a mutiny by army) has erected the notion and possibility that the army can act independently in certain eventualities. When we read the statements of Bereket and Meles backwards, their fear is that the army could and would intervene when street demonstrations begin in the future.

The second outcome of the coup charges lays bare the fragility of the patched up Meles army, which is being held together with favoritism, corruption, and discrimination. The army is not cohesively held by conviction of truth or even an appearance of an ideology. The army is held together by lies, corruption, benefits, which could be affected by changes in the economy, the overpowering of convicting truths and the popular thrust. Thus, when these changes come, this opens the way for re-alignment inside the ranks of the army and to be affected by the views of ordinary people thereby tilting the tyrants to thinks twice before pursing their undemocratic ways.

That is why this whole circus is a zero sum game for Meles and Bereket further isolating them and narrowing the diminishing ground of credibility. This constant shrinking of their ground always leaves them fighting to stay in power – a fight that has been going on for 18 years now. An unelected and illegitimate regime always lives under paranoia and struggling to survive and not out of mandate and legitimacy given by it from the people. Additionally, this absolutely desperate act would expose the lies that Meles endlessly fabricates only to trap opponents whose only crime is fighting for democracy and to change the illegitimate government that clings to power through killings and vote fraud.

All Ethiopians shall prepare and work for the democratization of the country as whatever support Meles had is being extinguished (do not even count as true followers those outwardly EPRDF members who seek temporary benefits as “members”). The inside walls of the regime are rotting and it is not far before Meles and Bereket would pay for the killings and harm they perpetrated against countless innocents before an international or domestic court. The Ethiopian people be it in the army, the security or government apparatus shall understand that their accountability is for their country and their people and not for individuals who shall face the law. Everybody is equal before the law and we shall all perform our legitimate duties and responsibilities.

Ethiopian opposition Ginbot 7 leaders defend their objectives

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

By Douglas Mpuga | VOA

Ethiopian authorities say the 40 people arrested over a week ago had been planning an insurrection and not a coup. All are said to be members of Ginbot 7 (May the 15th), an opposition pressure group based outside Ethiopia.

Andargachew Tsige is the secretary general of Ginbot 7. From London he told VOA’s English to Africa reporter Douglas Mpuga that it was difficult to tell who exactly was arrested. “The only person whose name is mentioned is an army general, and the other is an 80 year-old man who is my father. Other names are not listed so we cannot tell. Also, our operations in the country are {www:clandestine} we don’t even know the names of some of our members”.

He said his sources within Ethiopia say that the government had backed away from charging the arrested people with plotting a coup because it didn’t appear {www:beneficial} to the government politically. “So they turned it (the arrest) into some terrorist activity so that they (government) could get some diplomatic leverage”.

“Our objective is very simple. In fact, we are not, in a traditional sense, a political party that aspires to take political power. We are mainly interested in the political process. We want the Ethiopian political process to be democratic,” he said.

Tsige emphasized that Ginbot 7 wants democratic institutions to be put in place before any election so that there can be a democratic, free, and peaceful election.

He admitted that his organization has people within the country in all sectors of society, including within ‘the status quo’ and all its military and administrative structures. “We have very extended clandestine network covering the entire nation. We don’t even know all the names of our members, and that is alright because revealing their names would put them in danger”.

Tsige dismissed reports that the Ethiopian government was planning to {www:extradite} members of Ginbot 7 who are in exile. “I am not worried at all. I heard (Simon)

Bereket (the Communications Minister) says the government would consider asking for the extradition of Berhanu Nega and other exiled Ginbot 7 leaders. Doesn’t he know that Ethiopia has no extradition treaty with the United States”, he asked.

Tsige added that Nega was fighting for democracy and freedom which are values shared by western society and the Ethiopian people. “The American government knows the status quo is narrowing down the political space, it is accused of the crime of genocide.

They know they killed hundreds of {www:peaceful} protesters after the 2005 elections. It is these guys who are in power that are seen as criminals not those fighting for freedom”.

It's time for Ethiopian transitional government in exile

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

In September 2006, Ethiopian Review had called on the opposition parties to set up a transitional government in exile. Three years later, the parties are still unable to come together and create a viable alternative that can replace the Woyanne tribal regime without engulfing Ethiopia in crisis.

Now, more than ever, conditions are conducive to create a transitional government in exile in order to facilitate a regime change in Ethiopia. There is a new player in the field, Ginbot 7, a legitimate successor to Kinijit, that has a cohesive and dynamic leadership. The Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front (EPPF), an armed resistance group, is stronger than ever with several thousand well trained fighters. OLF, TPDM, and ONLF have strong military presence inside Ethiopia. The only thing missing is a unified political and military leadership that is able to present itself to the people of Ethiopia and that international community that there is an alternative to the Woyanne regime.

A revised version of what Ethiopian Review proposed in 2006

The government in exile is necessary for the following reasons:

1) highlights the illegitimacy of the dictatorship in power.

2) its presence helps exert increasing international and domestic pressure on the dying regime, expediting its inevitable fall down.

3) serves as a rallying point for the people of Ethiopia.

4) the international community will see that there is a better alternative that will be able to bring democracy, peace and stability in the Horn of Africa region.

5) there will be a planned, smooth transition of power, avoiding potential chaos.

6) defeats the Meles regime’s “divide and conquer” strategy.

Planning the government in exile starting now will give time for thorough discussions among the political parties, scholars, and the public at large. There is nothing to be gained by waiting.

Structure of the proposed Transitional Government

A proposal by Ethiopian Review

The Transitional Government will be headed by a five-member Presidency Council–a president and four vice-presidents.

The Presidency Council (PC) will have a three-year term. At the end of the three-year term, there will be a national election under a new constitution.

The presidency rotates every 12-month.

Decisions in the PC will be made by consensus.

The PC’s decisions will be carried out by a Council of Ministers.

The Council of Ministers (CM) will be composed of a prime minister (PM) and two deputy prime ministers (DPMs).

The PM and DPMs will be appointed by the PC.

Prime Minister -
Deputy Prime Minister -
Deputy Prime Minister -
Minister of Defense -
Minister of Foreign Affairs -
Minister of Justice -
Minister of Interior -
Minister of Finance -
Minister of Agriculture -
Minister of Industry -

The rest of the CM members will be appointed by the PM with the consent of the PC and the DPMs.

The CM will serve during the three-year transition period.

The PC’s primary task will be to prepare the country for elections within three years.

In preparation for the elections, the PC will:

1. create an election committee composed of one representative from each party, including those that are not part of the PC.

2. convene a Constitutional Convention (CC) composed of representatives from each woreda (district) of the country, as well as representatives of civic, religious, labor, and other groups.

Activities while in exile

1. The Transitional Government in exile, upon its formation, will contact all governments around the world and seek recognition as the legitimate government of Ethiopia.

2. Merge the EPPF, OLF, ONLF, TPDM, and SLF fighters under one unified command to be named Ethiopian Armed Forces.

3. Contact each military officer in the army under the Meles regime and persuade him/her to join the legitimate Ethiopian Armed Forces.

4. All the ministers in the Transitional Government in Exile will start to carry out their responsibilities. For example, the Minister of Foreign Affair will mobilize international support for the government in exile; the Minister of Justice will investigate officials of the Meles regime for crimes against humanity and corruption; the Ministers of Finance, Industry and Agriculture will create an economic team that will prepare a plan on how to grow the country’s economy during the transition period; etc

The danger of not setting up a government in exile

1. When the Meles regime collapses, chaos could reign in the country for several days, or weeks. A well executed plan by the transitional government in exile will prevent that.

2. The Meles regime will continue to incite ethnic conflict.

3. An unknown armed force could come to power and install another dictatorship.

4. The unity of Ethiopia will be in grave danger as ethnic-based parties become militarily and politically more powerful and decide to stick to their independence agenda when they see for them no political space under the Ethiopian tent. The Transitional Government will give political space for these ethnic-based parties to address the concerns and grievances of their constituencies under a united Ethiopia using democratic means such as elections, courts, dialogue, etc.

Ginbot 7's Andargachew Tsige on VOA – audio

Friday, May 1st, 2009

{www:Ginbot 7} high ranking official Ato Andargachew Tsige was interviewed by the VOA today to answer the latest allegations by Ethiopia’s dictatorial regime.

In a press conference today, Woyanne regime’s propaganda chief Bereket Simon told reporters that Ginbot 7 did not try to over thrown the government, but it had attempted to assassinate regime officials.

It is to be remembered that earlier this week, the Woyanne regime issued a statement saying that Ginbot 7′s plot to overthrow the government was foiled.

Ato Andargachew’s 80-year-old father, who had a heart bypass surgery recently, is one of the 40 suspects the Woyanne regime has thrown in jail accusing them of plotting to carry out assassinations.

Listen to Ato Andargachew’s interview below:
 

Ethiopians in Minnesota to inaugurate a new church

Friday, May 1st, 2009

ANNOUNCEMENT

We, members of the Debre Berhan St. Ourael Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, are blessed to announce the inaugural ceremony of our new church in St. Paul Minnesota that will be hold on May 16 and 17.

In the last four years we had the privilege to worship every Sunday morning at a different location in St. Paul and Minneapolis at diverse facilities provided by generous God-loving Minnesota communities, including the St. Luke Lutheran Church, St. George Ukrainian Orthodox Church and St. Mary Greek Orthodox Church. Now, we have found our own place to praise our lord located in the center of the Twin Cities.

We cordially invite you to join us on the inaugural celebration in the presence of His holiness Abune Merkorios, Patriarch of Ethiopia, accompanied by archbishops, bishops, priests, deacons, parish council representatives, all coming to the great state of Minnesota from different countries such as Europe, Canada and the United States of America. Please be
part of the celebration and witness with us this historical Ethiopian community event.

God bless you.

The Parish Council
Saint Ourael Ethiopian Orthodox Church

Saturday, May 16, 2009, 4pm-7pm
Sunday, May 17, 2009, 8am-11.30am

Place: 1144 Earl street, St. Paul, MN 55106
Phone (651)771-7129

EPPF hits Woyanne targets in northern Ethiopia

Friday, May 1st, 2009

The Ethiopian People Patriotic Front’s (EPPF) freedom fighters have attacked a {www:Woyanne} regime’s military unit near northern Ethiopian towns of Dansha and Tegede killing 14 soldiers and confiscating several weapons.

According to the {www:EPPF} military communique that was issued this week by the press office, following the attack on Woyanne forces, over 20 residents in the area have joined the EPPF army.

Ethiopian Review sources in northern {www:Gonder} are reporting that the Woyanne regime has sent military reinforcement to the area and house-to-house searches are being conducted in some parts of the region.

For more information, visit EPPF’s official web site: eppfonline.org

Ethiopia's regime says plotters sought to assassinate officials

Friday, May 1st, 2009

By Barry Malone

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s [dictatorial regime] said on Friday a group led by an Ethiopian-American professor had planned to {www:assassinate} officials and blow up public utilities in a plot to topple the government.

Addis Ababa arrested 40 former and current army personnel and members of a disbanded opposition group last week from a “terror network” it said was formed by Berhanu Nega, an opposition leader now living in the United States.

“Several individuals were targeted for assassination,” Bereket Simon, head of information for Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s government, told reporters, without saying who were the intended targets.

“They were intending to pave the way for street actions to overthrow the government,” he said, adding that the group had planned to target telecommunications and power sectors.

Some 200 opposition supporters were killed and hundreds arrested following the disputed 2005 parliamentary election.

Berhanu, now residing in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, was elected mayor of Addis Ababa in that poll, but was arrested when the opposition disputed the results. He and other opposition leaders were released in a 2007 pardon.

Meles was initially hailed as part of a new generation of African leaders, but rights groups have increasingly criticized the rebel-turned-leader for cracking down on opposition.

Even though Meles has held power since the early 1990s, the recent arrests show his government is still sensitive to the opposition in the run-up to next year’s parliamentary vote.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s second most populous country has been eyed by foreign investors in agriculture, horticulture and real estate although it has recently suffered from high inflation and a fall in foreign exchange inflows.

SCURRILOUS

Berhanu’s group called the accusations “baseless”.

“No amount of scurrilous accusations, threats or blackmail by the regime will deter us from pursuing the cause of democracy and freedom,” it said on its Web site www.ginbot7.org last week.

Bereket said those arrested included a general.

The government may ask for Berhanu and others from the United States and Britain to be extradited, Bereket said.

“If a court of law adjudicates that they are {www:criminal}, then as with any criminal we would want their extradition,” he said.

Bereket said the group had received money to buy weapons from Berhanu and other diaspora opposition members.

Berhanu’s organisation “May 15th” is named after the date of the 2005 poll. He had made statements in the United States, where he teaches economics at Bucknell University, saying it wants to violently overthrow the government.

Opposition parties routinely accuse the government of {www:harassment} and say their candidates were intimidated during local elections in April of last year. The government denies it. (Editing by Jack Kimball)

Senior Ethiopia military officers "plotted assassinations"

Friday, May 1st, 2009

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) — Senior military officers in Ethiopia, including a general, had plotted to assassinate top government officials, Communications Minister Bereket Simon said Friday, adding that 40 people [including 80-year-old father of an opposition party leader] were under arrest.

“While six of the suspects were army officers on active duty, including one general, 34 of the suspects were ex-army men expelled from the army on grounds of misconduct,” he told a press conference.

Bereket said the plotters belonged to the {www:Ginbot 7} (May 15) opposition group, saying it was linked to the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) headed by {www:Berhanu Nega}, currently living in the United States.

He said the government believed that the “desperado” group was not planning to stage a coup, but intended “assassinating individuals, high ranking government officials and destroying some public facilities and utilities … like telecom services and electricity utilities.

“The police have also found evidence implicating some ex-CUD members released on pardon. With the exception of some three or four of the desperado group who are still at large, the police have arrested almost all members of the conspiracy.”

Berekt told AFP the government knew about the plot from its inception, adding, “If there had been laxity from the government, there would have been problems.”

The mass arrests were reported on Sunday by state media, which said the National Security Taskforce had also found weapons including bombs, computers and communications equipment, military uniforms and documents.

The CUD won an unprecedented number of seats in the May 15, 2005 elections, which the European Union and other observers said fell short of international standards.

Around 200 people died in violence that erupted after the CUD accused the party of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of rigging the ballot.

Berhanu, 51, currently a university professor in the United States, was elected mayor of Addis Ababa in the polls. He was subsequently jailed for two years along with other leaders of the CUD, and left the country after his release.

Ethiopia’s next general election is scheduled to be held in June 2010.

In a statement on its website following the initial reports of arrests Ginbot 7 said it “has no desire to engage in a tit-for-tat with the dictators in Addis Ababa, nor the time to waste replying to baseless accusations by a regime that rules Ethiopia by the barrel of the gun.”

“Ginbot 7 remains committed to work for the establishment of democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law in Ethiopia. No amount of scurrilous accusations, threats or blackmail by the regime will deter us from pursuing the cause of democracy and freedom,” it added.

Bereket said evidence showed the plotters aimed “to create conducive conditions for large scale chaos and havoc. ”

“Assassinating people was intended as a preliminary measure” to street actions similar to those of 2005, he charged.

“Berhanu Nega is the mastermind, he’s deeply involved in it, and he’s not anyway vehemently denying it. Nega has been saying that anything that can be done to bring down this government is welcome.”

The minister said some of those arrested were “disgruntled” at reforms launched in the army.

“Our army is in a very good shape,” he asserted, saying it was “based on democratic and constitutional values.”

Bereket said preparations were under way to prosecute the “suspected terrorists” and a court hearing was planned for May 11.

Ethiopia: Working together to fight malaria

Friday, May 1st, 2009

By Donald Yamamoto, U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia

For about half the world’s population, malaria remains one of the greatest threats to public health. It is a disease that causes poverty, disrupts the livelihood of families, and far too often, steals the future of Africa’s children. In tropical Africa, the disease kills nearly 3,000 people each day with young children and pregnant women at greatest risk.

World Malaria Day is observed April 25 to call attention to the disease and to mobilize action to combat it. On behalf of the American people, the U.S. government has taken extraordinary steps to curb the spread of this preventable and curable disease.

The President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), led and implemented by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) with the assistance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), represents a historic $1.2 billion, five-year expansion of U.S. government resources to fight malaria in Africa.

The strategy is straightforward. First, prevention: PMI supports indoor residual spraying to keep deadly mosquitoes at bay, the distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets to provide personal protection from malaria-carrying mosquitoes, and preventive malaria treatment to expectant mothers during pregnancy. Second, treatment: PMI distributes new and highly effective medicines and trains health workers on the proper use of those medicines. Working with national governments, international donors and other stakeholders, PMI has helped to rapidly scale up these malaria prevention and treatment measures across 15 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

During the third year of PMI implementation, the United States reached more than 32 million people with malaria prevention and treatment measures in Africa. In 2008, PMI procured more than 6.4 million long-lasting mosquito nets for free distribution to populations at risk of malaria and a total of 15.6 million anti-malarial drug treatments. Indoor residual spraying activities covered 6 million houses and protected nearly 25 million people at risk of malaria.

In Rwanda, Zambia, and Tanzania we are beginning to see signs of major reductions in the proportion of people infected with malaria. In Rwanda and Zambia, there has been a striking reduction in deaths among children under the age of five. On the isles of Zanzibar in Tanzania, we have seen malaria infection rates drop to less than 1% throughout the population of 1 million. Malaria prevention and treatment measures are associated with and can contribute to these reductions. Regional and district-level impact has also been reported from Mozambique and Uganda.

Ethiopia was announced as a PMI focus country in December 2006 and started PMI program implementation last year, investing approximately $71 million over three years to help Ethiopia reach its goal of eliminating malaria by 2020. PMI-supported activities, planned in close collaboration with the Government of Ethiopia’s Federal Ministry of Health, are primarily focused on the Oromiya Region which bears the brunt of the country’s malaria burden. With support from the American people, PMI has helped spray over 1.7 million houses with insecticide, protecting 5.9 million Ethiopians from getting malaria. USAID is currently in the process of distributing nearly 590,000 insecticide-treated bed nets. We have also distributed 600,000 anti-malarial drugs to health facilities in the Oromiya Region.

Sustainability of malaria control programs is a critical goal of U.S. efforts. We are focusing on building capacity within host countries by training people to manage, deliver, and support the delivery of health services, which will be critical for sustained successes against infectious diseases such as malaria.

As a result of the support and progress in these critical areas, national malaria control programs are becoming more effective and accountable.

Partnerships with host country governments, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the World Bank Booster Program for Malaria Control, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and others have made these successes possible.

Successful partnerships with faith-based and community organizations are bringing tremendous value to malaria control efforts because of the credibility these groups have within their communities, their ability to reach the grassroots level, and their capacity to mobilize significant numbers of volunteers. PMI has supported more than 150 nonprofit organizations, over 40 of which are faith based.

Across Africa, children and their families are sleeping under bed nets; local groups are teaching mothers to take anti-malarial drugs when they are pregnant and seek proper treatment for their sick children. In schools and villages, community centers and places of worship, clinics and hospitals, optimism is growing that we can and will succeed in controlling malaria. We share that optimism. On World Malaria Day, the United States will continue to galvanize action and spur grassroots and private sector efforts to control the disease.