Archive for the ‘Ethiopian News’ Category

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!”


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, 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

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

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 |

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.


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


* 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

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 ( – 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

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.


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

* 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 To see styles, go to 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:

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:

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.

* 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

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


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:

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.


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 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.

Ginbot 7 chairman travels to Europe

Friday, May 1st, 2009

EMF reports that Dr. {www:Berhanu Nega}, Chairman of {www:Ginbot 7} Movement for Justice Freedom and Democracy, an Ethiopian opposition party, will be traveling to Europe at the end May for talks with officials of European governments about the ongoing political turmoil in Ethiopia.

Meetings have been scheduled in France, Norway, Brussels, Sweden, Germany and The Netherlands.

Dr Berhanu will also meet Ethiopians in European cities to discuss on current issue. Details of the tour will be posted soon on Ginbot 7′s web site.

The worsening political crisis in Ethiopia is creating a serious concern among the governments of Western countries. According to EMF sources, the US state department has contacted Dr. Berhanu Nega last week for discussion. The British authorities have contacted Ato Andargachew Tsege, Ginbot 7 high ranking officials, for talks.

Meanwhile, the Woyanne tribal regime in Ethiopia continues its witch-hunt against non-Tigrean members of the armed forces. Several officers with different ranks are being rounded up suspected of supporting Ginbot 7.

This coming Sunday, May 3, Ginbot 7 will hold a town hall meeting in Washington DC. Visit for more information.

Chance to roll back AIDS is real

Friday, May 1st, 2009

By MICHAEL GERSON | Washington Post

As I was waiting for the results of my AIDS test, the health lecture from my counselor, Anthony, was calm, explicit and informative. The five bodily fluids that can transmit the HIV virus. The proper way to open a condom package to avoid rips.

An AIDS clinic in Washington, D.C., a new ground zero in the American AIDS crisis, is no place for the squeamish.

The test itself looks like a pregnancy test, in its small, white, plastic momentousness. The swab at the end is run across the gum line; no blood is drawn. The results take about 20 minutes and are 99.1 percent accurate.

I was visiting Unity Health Care in Ward 7, an outpost of tidy medical professionalism in a poor section of the city. Here the talk of epidemics has nothing to do with swine flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes a health epidemic as “severe” when more than 1 percent of people in a geographic area are infected. The HIV infection rate in Ward 7 is at least 2.4 percent — higher than in Ethiopia, Ghana or Burundi. Among 40- to 49-year-olds in the District of Columbia, 7.2 percent are HIV-positive.

If 7.2 percent of all 40-somethings in America were infected with anything, there would be no other topic of national discussion — every alarm would ring, every clock would stop. In this case, the victims are geographically isolated, often poor, and thus largely invisible.

Unity Health Care provides services from dermatology to ophthalmology. Because of the stigma, few would come to a clinic that dealt exclusively with HIV/AIDS. Gebeyehu Teferi, the medical director of HIV services, sees the AIDS crisis in every form — intravenous drug users, prostitutes, men who have sex with men, and middle-aged women shocked by their diagnosis and the infidelity of their partners. “There are late, full-blown cases coming into the emergency room,” says Teferi. “People who say, ‘I don’t use drugs, or even drink.’ They forget about the sexual part of it.”

The staff at Unity recommends three changes to confront the epidemic. First, AIDS needs to be discussed at home. In prevention, there is no substitute for uncomfortable frankness. Neither self-interest nor morality is aided by ignorance.

Second, they argue for treating AIDS more routinely as an infectious disease. A positive syphilis test, for example, is reported directly from the medical lab to the local Department of Health. “If it is syphilis,” says Teferi, “there is a knock on their door to get them into treatment. If it is HIV, no one talks to them.”

Third, testing needs to be broader. People who know their positive status are more likely to change their behavior and get treatment for opportunistic infections. Early treatment also can reduce the virus to a nearly undetectable level in the body, drastically lowering transmission from mothers to children during childbirth and between couples in which only one partner is HIV-positive.

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says an AIDS vaccine remains unlikely in the short term. But what if we were to begin treatment with AIDS drugs as soon as someone is diagnosed with HIV instead of waiting, as we now do, until later stages? Lower viral loads would inhibit transmission. “Treatment,” he says, “would be prevention.” According to the mathematical model Fauci has reviewed, the testing and treatment of 90 percent of those at risk could eventually eradicate — not just control, but eradicate — the disease in a geographic area.

The obstacles are immense. Would people take AIDS drugs when they are still feeling well? Would any community help promote testing on such a massive scale? Would it be cost-effective?

But even the attempt would have many good effects. It would encourage early care and effective prevention. And if everyone were tested, the stigma surrounding AIDS testing might decrease. It takes only 20 minutes.

First 100 Days – Obama African Report Card: D

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

By Oromsis Adula

November 4th, 2008, marked a great milestone in American history and the history of people of African descent. For the first time in the history of mankind, a junior senator of African heritage got elected to the office of the President of the United States of America. It was a moment of jubilation and thrill…the euphoria was felt around the world. Millions wept out of happiness and for witnessing the unimagined prospect of an African-American president in a once the most racist nation on earth.

That great ecstasy was deeply felt in Africa more than any other place outside the United States. A young senator, whom many in Africa referred to as a native son, won the highest trophy ever imaginable. From the streets of Kogelo – Obama’s ancestral village, to the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa and anywhere in between, the jubilation was rampant.

Just like the triumph, expectations for a favorable American policy towards Africa were high in the air. Even African dictators, ironically the very people who have denied freedom to Africans and condemned them to a miserable life by failing to tackle or exacerbating the issues of corruption, mismanagement, environmental degradation, mal-governance, abuse of power, conflict, poverty and what not, praised Obama’s historic victory one after another. The worst of African dictators jumped on the bandwagon glorifying and praising Obama’s victory as historic and momentous. Here are few such praises from African leaders:

Mr. Moi Kibaki, President of Kenya described Obama´s victory as a “momentous occasion for Kenya…it is our own victory because of his roots here in Kenya… as a country, we are full of pride for his success…your victory is not only an inspiration to millions of people all over the world, but it has special resonance with us here in Kenya.”

Nigerian President Oumaru Yar´Adua…”the election of Barack Obama … has finally broken the greatest barrier of prejudice in human history. I believe for us in Nigeria, we have a lesson to draw from this historic event…that the election of Obama had “created a totally and completely new era.”

Denis Sassou Nguesso described Obama´s victory as a “…moving historic moment…we see how visionaries like Martin Luther King saw coming events. His dream has come true.”

Chad’s National Assembly Leader; Nasser Guelindoksia agreed that Obama´s victory “…is an example to follow, especially by Africans as Americans show that democracy knows no color, religion or origin.”

Somalia’s former President of the Transitional Somali Government, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed defined Obama´s victory as “…a great moment for America and for Africa…I am hopeful that he (President Obama) will help end the major crisis in the world, particularly the endless conflict in my country.”

Sudanese President Omer Hassan Al-Beshir noted “…we would hope that the slogan of President Obama – change – would be reflected in the foreign policy of the United States…we would like to see some real change between Sudan and the United States.”

South African President Kgalema Motlanthe expressed “…your election…carries with it hopes for millions of your country men and women as much as it is for millions of people of … African descent.”

Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe wrote “…as the government and people of Zimbabwe join you in celebrating this event in the history of the U.S.A, I take this opportunity to assure you Mr. President-elect that the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe remains ready to engage your government in any desirable endeavor to improve our bilateral relations”.

During his rigorous campaign season, Obama vowed to change American policy towards Africa. Among other things, Obama called on “Ethiopia and Eritrea to walk back from the brink of war which seemed unavoidable at the time…called for an increased pressure on Robert Mugabe to follow through with power-sharing agreement…promised to end the genocide in Darfur… pledged to formulate a new approach to the deteriorating situation in Somalia…strengthen Africom to promote peace, security, and stability on the continent.”

Obama raised the bar even higher in his inaugural speech when he declared “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 all those watching tonight (January 20, 2009) from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces …huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world – our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand…those who seek peace and security – we support you.”

Today, after 100 full days in office, Obama got an A or B on most of the things he has accomplished so far and for keeping most of his campaign promises. In his own words Obama acknowledged that he is “pleased with what has been accomplished so far, but we have got a lot of work to do”. Most commentators/journalists based their grading on wide range of issues but notably on the economy, transition into power, hiring scrambles, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Environment, Women Rights, Health care, Transparency and Accountability, Bipartisanship, the Closure of Guantanamo Prison and etc.

I wanted to look at what Obama folks have accomplished the African policy conundrum in their first hundred days in office. Practically, nothing. I am not aware of any major campaigns by the African Diaspora or African interest groups with the exception of Save Darfur Coalition that had an agenda for the President in an effort to hit the ground running. Rather a whole host of expectations that the Obama people would be favorable in their approach towards African issues; Hunger, Poverty, HIV, corruption, democracy, regional Peace and Stability etc that are not addressed. There is no doubt that the financial meltdown and the many challenges Obama has inherited from his predecessor has overshadowed his African and other policy initiatives [IV]. But it seems to me that the no-drama Obama team could have done a lot better if they moved “swiftly and quickly” as they have promised us – the enthusiastic supporters.

The visit of Senator John Kerry to Sudan and U.S. Rep. Donald Payne – chairman of the Africa subcommittee on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, to Mogadishu and the dramatic saga of Somali Pirates were among the few major African news makers involving the current U.S Administration.

John Kerry’s visit to Khartoum pushed the Sudanese government to agree to allow some of the expelled humanitarian and aid agencies back to Darfur. The piracy incident was hailed by many as Obama’s first national security test that he proficiently passed. There were also reports that the Obama administration is rethinking its Somalia strategy and Defense Secretary Robert Gates went as far as stating “…the ultimate solution for piracy is on land… there is no purely military solution to it…” and the instability and lawlessness in Somalia is key to the problem.

Whereas the insurgents fired mortar at Representative Payne’s plane, there was little coverage of the purpose and result of the visit. But the congressman stated that “…the policy of constructive engagement [is] where you deal with the government, and let them deal with their internal problem” is essential to curbing piracy off the Somali coast. He added “…the Somali government doesn’t want Americans to come run any nation-building programs…they want technical assistance… they need financial support, and they’ll take care of it for themselves.”

Very few journalists/pundits considered African Policy in their grade report/card. Bruce A. Dixon for the Black Agenda Report, one of the few people I have seen grading the President on African policy, gave him one out of five [vii]. I do not know if there are major initiatives in the works for Obama’s African policy. I sincerely hope so. But based on the selection of Ambassador Jonny Carson, a career diplomat noted for a track record of working in Africa, as Assistant Secretary State for African Affairs, I give the President a passing grade with an optimism that the administration will soon move “swiftly” to act on some of the pressing African issues and fulfill Obama’s campaign promises. It should also be noted here that Obama has followed through with his campaign promise to double overseas USAID which will be valuable in achieving the so called “Millennium Development Goals”. Of course only if African leaders can use it for intended, and most of the time unintended, purposes [viii].

American foreign policy on Africa usually focused disproportionately on short-term stability by embracing dictators. The Bush administration went even farther by subordinating the promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law to terrorism concerns, a practice very much reminiscent of cold-war tactics, and thereby alienated the vast majority of freedom seeking Africans. In a recent article Jason McLure of the Newsweek detailed how cunning and enterprising African leaders like Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia used US concerns about terrorism not only to silence his domestic political opposition but also wage a costly war on another already battered and failed African state, Somalia, with huge humanitarian, financial and political cost. After 100 days in office Obama did not even indicate if he would make a departure from this approach that failed both Africans and Americans or continue with it with a slight twist by default.

In short, it remains to be seen if the Obama Administration’s policies will match the rhetoric, the great expectations and the universal goodwill that the President enjoys! Africans of all walks of life are looking up to him to deliver them from repression, war, poverty and HIV/Aids.

Ultimately it is up to Africans not Obama, to fix Africa’s mess. But a just, foresighted and generous hand of a powerful President of the powerful country won’t hurt.

Senate Committee Reviews U.S.-Africa Relationship

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

By Charles W. Corey |

Washington — Piracy and maritime security, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Ethiopia, corruption, and freedom of the press — all important issues in the U.S.-Africa relationship — were addressed April 29 by Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs-designate Johnnie Carson before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

As part of his confirmation hearing, Carson engaged in a wide-ranging question-and-answer session with senators on various aspects of the U.S.-Africa relationship. Carson is a career diplomat, former Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania and a lifelong friend of Africa. He served as the U.S. ambassador to Kenya (1999–2003), Zimbabwe (1995–1997) and Uganda (1991–1994) and in diplomatic posts in Portugal, Botswana, Mozambique and Nigeria.

Asked about ongoing piracy off the coast of Somalia, Carson said the problem is directly related to the absence of any government or law enforcement there and a breakdown of the formal and informal economy. The United States, he said, “needs to be positioned wherever we can with diplomatic representation in the region to help facilitate the efforts to find solutions … in Somalia.”

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, who chaired the hearing for the full committee, Democrat Russ Feingold, told Carson the United States needs “a full-court diplomatic push to engage a wide range of actors within Somalia and stakeholders in the wider region, both in the Horn of Africa and also in the Middle East.”

Carson said much of that push is already under way. “The United States is a part of a Contact Group of largely Western European and maritime powers working to devise rules and regulations that will improve the security of shipping through the Red Sea and the northern part of the Indian Ocean,” he told the lawmakers. The Contact Group has had a number of meetings “to work out details on how they can help address this issue.”

Carson cited “an unprecedented level of cooperation among navies of the world to deal with this issue,” and said the United States government has been very active in working with maritime shipping companies in the United States, encouraging them to adopt policies that will make it harder for pirates to capture or to attack their ships as they move through the region.

Asked about the appointment of President Obama’s new special envoy for Sudan, retired Air Force Major General Scott Gration, Carson termed that selection “a wonderful choice.” Carson described Gration as “a man who is very much dedicated to the job and the assignment that he has been given and a man who has an enormous amount of experience in Africa as well.”

Turning to Zimbabwe, Carson called it an “extraordinarily tragic” case. “We have seen Robert Mugabe take Zimbabwe, a once very successful, economically strong country, down to the lowest level. It is a country that has extraordinary agricultural and mineral potential. It has a citizenship that is broadly well educated for Africa. But under Robert Mugabe’s dictatorial, authoritarian leadership he has basically destroyed the country in order to maintain himself and a small group of leaders in power.”

Carson said the United States has “worked very hard” for change there and that effort has resulted in some progress. “We now have a transition government in place with the leader of the opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai, serving as the prime minister, but Mugabe and the key leadership of [Mugabe’s political party] continue to control the instruments of power in that country … the intelligence services, the police and the military. They also have enormous control over the central bank and the reserve bank. Until we see changes in those areas, it is unlikely we will see any real change in the governance of that country.”

Looking at the political situation in Kenya, Carson called Kenya the “strongest partner” of the United States in the Horn of Africa. “We have our greatest economic ties there. We have our strongest military ties there as well, and it has been an important partner with the United States.” Carson added that the United States is “deeply concerned” over the stalemated political situation there and pledged that, if confirmed, he would do everything he could to help address the political impasse.

Asked to comment on reports of arbitrary arrests in Ethiopia, Carson acknowledged that “Ethiopia has, in fact, been a strong partner in the effort to combat extremism emanating from Somalia.” He added, however, that the United States “needs to have a broad and balanced relationship with Ethiopia — one that is based on a common set of shared ideals and principles based on democratic values.” He said it is “extremely important that Ethiopia … try not to close down its democratic space, that it allows its political opposition, its civil society to participate broadly in the political life of that country.” He also called for Ethiopia to allow a free press and trade unions to operate there.

On the broader issue of press freedom across the continent, Carson underlined the importance of a free press as a major pillar of democracy. He said press freedom has improved on the continent over the past 20 years, aided by the introduction of electronic media, telephones and Internet and radio broadcasts both local and international. A free press, he said, provides information and “a check on government excesses. It allows individuals to make their governments and organizations more accountable and is the backbone of good democracies.”

Carson said that, if confirmed, he will speak out against corruption, which he called a cancer on the economy of any country. Corruption is “particularly devastating on the African economies,” he said, “because they tend to be weak and small.” In too many places around the continent, Carson said, there is a misuse of resources that undermines the integrity of government budgets and development objectives.

Carson’s nomination must be confirmed by the full Senate.

Today's problem yesterday's solution

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

By Yilma Bekele

Barack Obama told the American people that you couldn’t solve a 21st. century problem using a 19th. Century mind set. The old prescription by Bush and company weren’t working. He promised that he would look at the issues from a different perspective and introduce new rules and regulations appropriate to the times. He is doing just that. That is what is called leadership.

Our country Ethiopia is faced with the same old problems. Absence of participatory democracy is number one. The lack of democracy and the absence of respect for human rights have a cascading effect on all other national affairs. If the foundation is shaky the house will fall. A nation built on the whim of one man is no different. It is constantly teetering on the verge of catastrophe.

It is obvious that we do have lots of problems in Ethiopia. It is out there for all to see. There is no hiding it. The treasury is empty. The famine is relentless. Unemployment among the youth is double digits. The migration of the young and able goes unabated.

What are we doing about it? That is the shame of it all. The government in power is doing nothing or rather doing the wrong thing to solve the problems. The regime spends more time explaining why things went wrong instead of making things right. Famine is blamed on the weather, unemployment is blamed on international economy and lack of democracy is blamed on the opposition.

Hardly a week goes by without the regime uncovering some kind of nefarious plan to overthrow the ‘constitutional order’ what ever that means. You would think seventeen years is long enough for the cadre’s government to take roots. Seventeen years is time enough for a baby to be born, finish primary and secondary education and enter college. Seventeen years, and one is considered an adult. TPLF suffers from mental deficiency of the highest magnitude.

Judging from the activities of the regime it is easy to conclude that staying in power consumes more time than growing the economy and working for the welfare of the nation. The police state spends more resources in trying to root out perceived enemies. It is like so many enemies so little time.

Because we are constantly inundated by new charges, accusations and drama that we are forced to shrug it off. What now! is our question in unison? What now indeed? Just think of the last four or five months in the life of the TPLF regime.

· The Ethiopian Army was unceremoniously kicked out of Somalia.
· Somali Ethiopians were rounded up and thrown in jail.
· Judge Birtukan was taken back to Kaliti.
· Moneychangers were declared national enemy.
· Coffee merchants were accused of sabotage.
· Indicted criminal Bashir was thrown on our face.
· Ginbot 7 was charged with attempted coup.

Where do they find the time to govern? Managing the affairs of eighty million people is not a part time job. Managing a sick and backward nation is a very serious task. It seems like the TPLF regime has vowed not to let a week go by without finding new enemies. It looks like the flavor of the week is Ginbot 7.

It was with great fanfare that the regime displayed a few guns, explosive devices and an old computer that was allegedly seized by the security forces. Thirty-five people were hauled in front of good old Judge Adil or some one like him and thrown in jail. As usual the police asked for additional time to manufacture more evidence. Ato andargachew Tsgie’s father who is eighty years old is one of the alleged conspirators. Ato Muluneh Eyoel reminds us that this is the second encounter Ato Tsgie Hatemariam had with the Ethiopian government. Thirty years ago the Derge gunned down his young son and he was made to search for the body in a pile of victims and was charged $100 for the bullet. But soon after Derg cadres removed the body from the casket claiming the government is unwilling to release it to the family ( It is so sad we have to witness such inhuman act against our father.

It is also an indication of the mindset of those in charge. It is a sure sign that their brain how ever small has frozen in time. It is unable, unwilling or refusing to move to a higher level of looking at the big picture. It is still set to function as a liberation front bent on fighting to liberate a village instead of governing a country. The fact that the war is over and now it is time to build and grow is refusing to sink in. TPLF is still fighting EPRP.

Using yesterday’s method to tackle today’s problem. That is TPLF in a nutshell. They are preparing for one of their show trials just like their mentor Stalin. They of course assume that those opposed to them are operating using the same old principle. How wrong they are. The Ginbot7 and Andenet we know seem to approach the problem from a completely different angle. They do not subscribe to palace coup, conspiracy, backroom deals or power at all cost. They believe in the slow deliberative process of teaching the people, working with the people and trusting the people. They are not into shortcuts. They do not convince the population by pointing out how rotten Woyane is but rather by what good they have to offer. They are not into setting out one tribe against the other but they are into including all under one tent. They are not about selling our sovereignty to the highest bidder but safeguarding our national integrity. They are the future Ethiopia.

The new way we fight oppression is completely different. It is not all about going into the bush and raising an army. It is not about coming from the countryside alone. That is an old and tired method. It is but a small component of the re liberation of our country. The new weapon of choice is empowering the people. It is about making people realize their collective power. It is about waking up that old Ethiopian spirit of pride and fierce nationalism. The Derge did a lot of damage to our national psych. Woyane has been trying to extinguish the flame of Ethiopiawenet.

The 2005 general elections woke up the sleeping giant. We in the Diaspora like our brethren at home have been infected with democratic fever. You cannot put the genie back in the bottle. We have built a lethal force that is growing by the day. There are patriotic groups organized in all continents. The new US Congress is getting ready to pick up the Ethiopian Human Rights bill, there are groups working on classifying Ethiopian coffee as ‘blood coffee’ just like ‘blood diamond’, there are Ethiopians working to teach World Bank and IMF about Woyane’s habit of confiscation of private property and there are citizens gathering evidence for International Court of Justice. We have become good at rallying our forces to petition your bankers to see the monster they have created. Sooner or later we will force them to do what is right. We mean to cut Woyane’s oxygen supply and suffocate the varmint. We can do it. We will do it. London was a show of force. There will be many London’s to come.

We understand all this noise coming out of Arat Kilo is to confuse the issue and cover up the utter failure of seventeen years of mismanagement. It is an attempt to get us out of focus. Do we fight for Judge Birtukan’s release; do we concentrate on the coffee debacle, publicize the lack of basic freedom before the coming elections or wonder about the so-called coup? TPLF is throwing all kinds of issues to distract us. TPLF would like to be a moving target. Too bad we are familiar with that game. We know the regime is the ultimate drama queen. The quintessential cry baby always blaming others for its own failures. The OLF is trying to destabilize me, the Eritreans are invading me, the jihadists are threatening me, Andenet does not exist and now Ginbot7 is using the army to overthrow the constitutional order.

Unfortunate for TPLF it is not just thirty-five people but more like thirty five million. It should be clear by now that there is no jail big enough to hold the opposition. We are all Ginbot7.

Canadian detained in Ethiopia to defend against charges

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) — A Canadian man facing terrorism-related charges in Ethiopia and in detention since 2006 will take the defence stand next month, a judge said on Thursday.

Bashir Makhtal, an Ethiopian-born Canadian citizen, is accused of inciting rebellion by aiding and abetting armed opposition groups in Ethiopia and being a senior member of a rebel group.

“The accused should now prepare his defence for next hearing on May 26,” said Adam Ibrahim.

The 40-year-old, who has denied the charges, is also accused of supporting Somalia’s Islamist movement ousted by Ethiopian forces in early 2007 when they intervened in the neighbouring country to prop up its embattled government.

Mukhtal was among some 150 people detained by Kenyan forces in 2006 on the border with Somalia as they fled the Ethiopian onslaught on the Islamists.

The trial has been postponed several times this year due to prosecutors’ failure to provide witnesses.

Home-cooked Ethiopian food in Maryland

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

By Richard Gorelick | The Baltimore Sun

Owner Emu Kidanewolde displays some of the entrees on the menu. [Baltimore Sun photo by Barbara Haddock Taylor]

Elfegne Ethiopian Cafe is a peach. Owned and operated, pretty much single-handedly, by former mortgage broker Emu Kidanewolde, this small and tidy 20-seat storefront cafe is more than just a great place to feast on inexpensive home-cooked Ethiopian food. Elfegne also acts as a de facto community center for the residents of Washington Village (aka Pigtown). It opens at 7 in the morning for breakfast (Kidanewolde will have been there for hours already, making homemade injera, the fermented Ethiopian bread staple) and stays open through dinner. When we visited, a few neighbors had dropped in for a bite to eat but also to keep Kidanewolde company and even lend a hand. This was the day when the Susan Boyle video went viral, and all of us in the restaurant ended up watching it together on one of the neighbor’s laptops.

This was actually the second time we had tried to eat at Elfegne. The first time we came, the restaurant had been commandeered by a single group for a party. That was discouraging, but it suggested this scenario: A few people had fallen in love with Elfegne, had told a few other people about it, and then felt strongly enough about it to invite more people there for a celebratory dinner. It was worth coming back for.

The menu here is simple and streamlined, with only about a dozen or so entrees. The most familiar Ethiopian menu items here are beef and lamb tibs (sauteed cubed meat), wot (stew) and kitfo (raw or rare beef), but only in their most typical versions. So, where another restaurant might have five or six versions of tibs, Elfegne has two. This is actually a kind of relief. Ordering from an Ethiopian menu can be arduous, but here it was easy. It was even simpler because some items are only available on certain days. Kidanewolde only makes the elaborate dulet, with lamb tripe, on Saturday and doro wot, a chicken stew, on Monday. Lamb wasn’t being served on the Thursday when we visited. This system made sense to us – it both eases the burden on the kitchen and lets customers know that their food is being made from fresh meat and poultry.

The thing to get here is the half and half, which gives you a choice of two half-sized dishes, which will be presented together on a platter-sized sheet of injera. One of these choices could be the vegetable combination – gently spiced lentils, yellow peas, collard greens – and the other a meat-based dish. The beef tibs is a fine choice. This is a deceptively simple dish, just cubes of beef sauteed with onions and green pepper in an awaze, the paste made from the berbere pepper. But Elfegne’s version really looked and tasted fresh and homemade.

Kitfo is a little more challenging in that it’s made, usually, from raw beef. Blended with herbed butter and garnished with a dried red-pepper powder, this makes for a tremendously rich and satisfying meal. Kidanewolde also offers a cooked version of kitfo, but if you can handle raw food, order it that way.

We liked our other dishes, too; the bozena shiro, a nourishing and savory meat stew made typically from a powder made of chick peas, but at Elfegne with fava beans; and the quanta fitfit, which tosses dried, jerkylike strips of beef with strips of injera, vegetables and seasoned butter. We enjoyed a refreshing lettuce and tomato salad before the main meal but made the mistake of filling up on too much fermented bread. Elfegne also serves smoothies, homemade ginger iced tea and the best cup of coffee I’ve had in a restaurant in months.

We want to go back to Elfegne for breakfast someday, for an omelet or a bowl of steamed cracked wheat, or the bowl of mashed beans and vegetables that our friend with the laptop says sustains him throughout the day.

Elfegne ethiopian cafe

Where: 821 Washington Blvd.
Call: 410-637-3207
Open: 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday
Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, AMEX, Discover

Entrees: $7-$12
Appetizers/sides: $1.75-$5

On the menu
• Half and half – $11.50
• Beef tibs – $10.50
• Kitfo – $11
• Doro wot – $12
• Vegetarian platter – $10.50
• Tuna firfir – $10
• Elfegne Bozena Shiro – $8

More officers are being arrested in Ethiopia

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

The Woyanne regime in Ethiopia is currently on a witch-hunt, arresting several military officers whom it is suspecting of supporting {www:Ginbot 7}.

Shocked by the level of infiltration in the military by Ginbot 7, Meles Zenawi’s tribal junta seems to be considering all non-Tigran officer as possible opposition supporters.

The highest ranking officer to be arrested so far is Gen. Teferra Mammo. But Woyanne officials says that several lower ranking officers, including colonels, have been arrested and more are expected to be rounded up… [more in Amharic]

Ethiopian student in Maryland charged with murder plot

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

By Dan Morse and Aaron C. Davis | Washington Post

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 — Two Montgomery County teenagers have been charged with arson and conspiracy to commit murder in an alleged plot to kill the principal at their White Oak high school in Maryland with a nail-filled bomb and then trigger a major explosion inside the school, authorities said yesterday.

The Springbrook High School students — juniors ages 18 and 17 — are suspected of having set three fires at the school, including one Tuesday before the discovery of the plot that led to their arrests, police said.

According to police, the students planned “in the near future” to throw the bomb into the principal’s office, and then puncture a gas pipe in the school’s auditorium and use an incendiary device to set off an explosion.

Montgomery Police Chief J. Thomas Manger said investigators think the students “really had an intention of doing this.”

“They were surely doing things that made one believe they were going to try,” he said.

Over the past month, the students “constructed and experimented with several different incendiary devices,” said Lt. Paul Starks, a police spokesman. They had also attempted to puncture pipes in the boys’ locker room to determine whether they were gas lines, he said.

Police identified the teens as Yonata Getachew, 18, of the 11500 block of Sutherland Hill Way in White Oak (a native of Ethiopia) and Anthony N. Torrence, 17, of the 13500 block of Greencastle Ridge Terrace in the Burtonsville area. Torrence has been charged as an adult.

Each is charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, three counts of first-degree arson and other offenses. They are scheduled to appear in court for bond hearings today.

Acting on search warrants obtained Tuesday night, investigators searched both students’ homes. They found flammable liquids and materials used to make “chemical reaction bombs,” police said in a statement. They also found “notes and plans written by Getachew and Torrence about preparations and the physical design of the school building.”

Other students at Springbrook, just north of Silver Spring, said in interviews that Getachew and Torrence kept a low profile.

“He’s a quiet boy,” senior Jared Mohammed, 18, said of Torrence.

Another 18-year-old senior, Yomi Kolawole, said of Torrence, “I didn’t think he would do something like this.”

In a letter to parents, Principal Michael Durso described the situation as serious.

“We learned yesterday of plans being made that could have resulted in damage to the building as well as potential harm to students and staff,” he wrote.

Officials said they knew of no motive.

“There doesn’t seem to be any precipitating event,” said Jerry D. Weast, the county’s school superintendent. “That is one of the mysteries that we want to solve.”

He praised a police officer assigned to the school for knowing one of the suspects well enough that the student ultimately confided in him. “It’s truly about relationships,” Weast said.

The alleged plans came to light Tuesday when the two were stopped while leaving the school, allegedly after setting a fire in a hallway near an ROTC room. Torrence gave the school police officer extensive information about the plans, police said.

According to police, Torrence said the two planned to beat a female guidance counselor with a bag containing rocks and nails. They also planned to maximize harm from a fire they would start by stuffing paper into air vents and disabling the school’s sprinkler system, Torrence allegedly said.

In an interview, Torrence’s mother said her son has a learning disorder and was manipulated by Getachew into doing things he would not have done otherwise.

“He’s a sheltered child,” Andrea Torrence, 48, said of her son. “He has his problems when it comes to understanding things, but he’s never been in any trouble before in his life.”

No one answered the door yesterday at the red-brick townhouse in White Oak where Getachew lives.

Andrea Torrence said her son told her that Getachew was teaching him to shoplift and had forced him to type a threatening letter to a school staff member. At the school Tuesday, she said, Getachew showed her son how to spray lighter fluid onto the ceiling. At one point, she said, Getachew set fire to lighter fluid on the floor, and her son stomped the fire out.

In the past month, the two students twice set fires in bathrooms at the school, police said.

About 2 a.m. yesterday, Andrea Torrence said, seven or eight officers in SWAT gear arrived at her two-bedroom apartment. Police searched her son’s room and took his computer, cellphone and a letter addressed to him from a hobby store, Torrence said.

At the school yesterday, several students spoke highly of Durso, the principal, and Camille Basoco, the guidance counselor.

“The targets are very surprising . . . seeing as though Ms. Basoco is known for her kindness and personality, as well as Mr. Durso,” said junior Ebony Turner, 16.

(Staff writer Daniel de Vise and staff researcher Meg Smith contributed to this report.)

An epidemic of waterborne diseases in Addis Ababa

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

By Desalegn Sisay |

A new consultancy firm that recently took administrative control of the Ethiopian capital, {www:Addis Ababa}, has expressed concern over a looming water related epidemic. The outbreak, which is expected between now and 2013, could hinder the achievement of the capital’s five-year strategic plan put together by the new consultancy firm. Meanwhile, {www:Kuma Demeksa} has outlined a 40 billion {www:birr} plan to address the city’s main problems during his tenure as the city’s mayor.

One of the major financial concerns of the draft strategy is to alleviate the housing and employment challenges facing the city’s 2.7 million residents. The plan includes the construction of 200,000 condominiums as well as the creation of 69,077 new jobs between 2011 and 2012. About a third of the city’s residents are currently unemployed.

The draft outlines a strategy to reduce unemployment by at least 51 per cent through a further development and encouragement of micro and small business enterprises. To achieve this set goal, the city intends to set aside 1.9 billion birr geared towards the creation of a lending mechanism in which small businesses could easily access financial support.

Waterborne diseases

Though the draft outlines a strategy to curb some of the major challenges affecting the development of the city, it also foresees the high improbability of reaching set targets owing to financial constraints and a possible outbreak of waterborne diseases.

According to their recent assessment, 25 per cent of Addis Ababa’s solid waste is not properly discharged while 25 per cent of the overall residential houses lack adequate lavatories. Out of the 800,000 cubic meters of the city’s daily waste only 10 per cent (that is, 8,024 cubic meters) was properly discharged last year, the document indicated.

Cases of contamination

The most alarming part of the findings indicate that the city’s poor sewerage system is bedded close to one of the main fresh water systems that supplies 37 percent of Addis Ababa’s water needs. There have been cases where residents were reportedly exposed to polluted water supply.

Meanwhile, the city is noted as lacking health institutions with only 10 hospitals. The federal government owns six of them. According to a World Health Organization requirement, a medical doctor is expected to treat a 10,000 patients while one nurse is to serve up to 1,000, however, a medical doctor in Addis Ababa treats 29,470 patients against 4,356 for a nurse.

Woyanne: A Government that deserves a coup

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

By Utubo

I think the count down to Woyanne’s demise has just started if the coup attempt, that, they claimed has occurred is to be believed, and that should be something that we Ethiopians have to be proud of and should be supported by the international community, rather than being averted.

What options has {www:Woyanne} left for Ethiopians to exercise their right of electing their leaders, except by coup? It has stolen the 2005 election, vowed to remain in power on the ground of building a developmental state, is stage-playing to conduct a sham election for 2010, and has already started jailing prominent opposition leaders in the country.

Woyanne is a government without a constituency in Ethiopia, just clinging to power by sheer force. Its confidence on its sheer force has reached such an arrogant proportion that it considers itself that it cannot be challenged and can rule with impunity. On their own account, we are now witnessing that they had an inflated perception of themselves. That they are weak and vulnerable.

For a people that has been demanding its freedom, and that has been denied all options of exercising its right, a coup could be an alternative route. Thus the effort of the Ethiopian military to stage a coup is the right step that has to be encouraged and facilitated, not averted by the international community.

The Ethiopian people, the horn of Africa region and the wider intentional community would be better off if the Woyanne regime is deposed from power by all means. This is a regime willing to play all the cards to spread terror in the country and the region if it sees any threat to its power.

As evidenced, after the alleged coup incident, the Woyanne regime has been calling the US government to hand him over, the leader of {www:Ginbot 7} as the culprit, and is threatening to destabilize the region if its question is not answered. They shamelessly reveal their desire to hold America hostage to their sinister motive of staying in power.

It is high time for America and the democratic world to draw the red line. It is time to encourage the military to harness the benefit out of a coup. There is no sovereignty to be lost by doing so. Woyanne is an illegitimate and unpopular regime that deserves to be deposed by a strategic coup, before the country is engulfed by a more costly civil war where the international community pays even more price.

Kenyan govt investigates OLF militia claims

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Kenya (KBC) – The government has launched investigations into reports that heavily armed militias from Ethiopia have been sighted in Merti division of Isiolo district.

District Commissioner Waweru Kimani confirmed claims that some 60 members of the {www:Oromo Liberation Front} (OLF) militia from Ethiopia had pitched tent within Nyachise strategic grazing reserve for the last two days.

Kimani, however, assured residents that there was no cause for alarm because appropriate measures have been taken to ensure their safety.

Kimani who is also the chairman of the district security and intelligence committee said a security team had been dispatched to the area to join another one headed by Merti District Officer.

The presence of the suspected militias has created tension among hundreds of herders who now want the government to intervene and have the heavily armed OLF militias removed.

Residents say the militias comprising of 10 women and 50 men who are in their late twenties accessed the remote Merti area after sneaking into the country through Moyale district.

Herders are reportedly leaving Nyachise grazing fields in droves with their livestock for fear of an attack.

Local OCPD Marius Tum said investigations were on into the motive of the militias, how they made their way into the country and also arrest them and confiscate their weapons.

Last week militias from Somalia threatened to invade the country and annex the North Eastern Province, putting security personnel along the borders of Kenya and her neighbours on high alert.

Swine flu main topic at Ethiopia health conference

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA, (Reuters) – Health officials from seven African countries are discussing a response to swine flu at a conference in Ethiopia, organisers said on Wednesday.

The conference, involving Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania, was planned six months ago to talk about Africa’s poor response to pandemics.

“It’s really fortuitous that this is going on in the context of an international emergency,” Gregory Pappas, pandemic coordinator for U.S. charity Interaction, told Reuters.

“Most African countries haven’t done extensive planning, and this meeting is about helping those countries.”

No cases have been reported on the continent.

Germany and Austria became the eighth and ninth countries to confirm cases of the virus on Wednesday and the United States reported the first death outside Mexico.

Health experts have expressed concern about sub-Saharan Africa’s capacity to deal with a pandemic, given the poor state of health infrastructure on the world’s neediest continent.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appealed for assistance for poorer countries vulnerable to the crisis which may need drugs, diagnostic tools and other help.

South Africa's election: An example for the rest of Africa

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Since 1994, South Africa underwent three national elections with remarkable success free from incidents that often mar elections in much of Africa.

In spite of the fact that the country was under a peculiar form of racialist tyrannical rule before the coming to power of the democratically elected Government in 1994, it has managed to surprise the rest of the world by the way the citizens continue to express peacefully and with strong civic engagement and expression their democratic rights by going to the polls by standing for long hours in long lines with discipline and calm decency to express their voices, make choices and to cast their secret ballots to vote with record numbers.

On April 22, 2009, for the third time, they did it again! They expressed their voices. They made their choices. Finally they cast their ballot papers and voted after hearing spirited campaign debates, discussions and even heated exchanges that would lead in other places to diversionary cantankerous personalized quarrels including possibly leading to bouts of violence… [MORE]

Dubai: Defending the indefensible

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ethiopian Review is interested in this topic because it relates to the thousands of Ethiopian immigrants in Dubai who report of horrible abuses at the hands of their employers.

By Surat S.

A response to journalist Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi:

First thing first. I find your attitude (in the opinion piece you wrote) about Mr. Hari’s article is kind of a tit-for-tat and coming from a self-described journalist totally childish. Mr. Hari wrote about his experience in Dubai and his piece was just that. The people he interviewed and the places he visited are not made up, but that was his experience. If you can refute any part of his writing, you can do so based on facts. But if your line of argument is London is much worse than Dubai, then you miss the whole point of the article because Mr. Hari was not comparing Dubai with any other place but documenting his experience. If you feel that you have something to write about London, you can do that but you need not compare it with any other place unless you are doing a comparative piece.

You did not mention any specifics in Mr. Haris’ article that you find objectionable but condemned it in its totality because sometimes that is the best of course of action when you are short of credible argument. I can go over every example that you mentioned about London and give you a comparison with Dubai but I will give you a glimpse of what you failed to comprehend in Mr. Haris’ piece. For your information, I have lived in Dubai for more than a year and visited the place several times over the span of two decades; and I have been in London many times for a very short period of time.

Your first negative example about London is the number of homeless people and let me take the figure at its face value because it is not even relevant. I live in America and I know first hand that almost every major city has a problem with homeless people. And among the homeless, a good percentage of them are mentally sick and need immediate care. The government and welfare agencies are constantly trying to address the problem so far with little success. But the point I am trying to make is you don’t even have the right to be homeless in a city such as Dubai or all of the Gulf States because they will ship anyone who is staying in the land if they are unemployed. This is not like comparing apples to oranges; this is something like comparing apples to a rotten, insect infested orange. The sad fact of the matter is human rights violations are rampant across the region and if you really need to write about anything, do not be offended because someone find the will to write about the land of your ancestors, but try to tell us about a great deal of injustice that Mr. Hari did not find the time to document.

And then you mentioned about the awful nature of women prisoners in Britain (I thought we were talking about London) and by implication you tried to tell us that any journalist who comes from a nation of such atrocity should have no business writing about other places. Again, it all comes down to the issue of human rights and the places where it is respected. Not only in London or England, but almost all industrialized countries have their share of social problems be it in the form of drug and alcohol problems, ethnic issues, gender issues, economic hardship, gang problems, homelessness, lack of medical care, etc. But unlike any of the Gulf States or Middle Eastern countries, these and many others societal problems are constantly debated among the population and the lawmakers to find a solution. Some countries are getting better in managing the problems and others are having a difficult time dealing with them. But the point is, unlike much of the Arab states, the problems are not shunned or ignored but are discussed openly in an effort to find a solution. Because of the system of governance, sometimes governments are changed because of these issues. I wish I could say the same about the city you tried to defend needlessly.

In your zeal to defend the honor of your region, you dug deeper to find examples of injustices that Britain did against other than its own people and you brought us the example of the millions of Indians who served the Queen during World War II. I agree with you that we should learn a great deal from the history of injustices and suffering that Britain, America or the western world had brought against the third world countries. Thousandths of books have been written about the unjust nature of colonialism and its aftermath. And I am quite confident that many more will be written by future historians to enlighten us and guide us not to repeat those mistakes. But Mr. Qassemi, I am sure that you will be the first one to admit that Britain of today is not the place you knew a decade or two ago. And I have to admit that America of today is the not the nation that I saw when I landed the first time more than two decades ago. America is not proud of the way it treated the native Indians, African Americans and many other ethnic groups throughout the centuries. We have also to admit that nothing is static; we are all witnesses to the dynamic changes that is taking places all around us which is also changing us as result. No one is immune and everything is changing. We are living in an interesting time that let us see changes immediately. But unfortunately, all of the Gulf States are intentionally missing this dynamic human revolution. They are good at importing and adopting the western technology while at the same time ignoring the suffering of the immigrant population who are doing all the work to bring material modernity to the region.

The point is human rights group can raise the issue of the suffering of army conscript of Indian origin and demand just compensation for their suffering; I have seen first hand America discussed and addressed, thought not adequately, the issue of Japanese-American prisoners during World War II after a number of decades. The same could happen in Britain and all the colonial powers. Can we say the same thing about millions of slave labor conscripts who are suffering in the desert heat of Gulf States right at this moment? Most of the Arab states have forgotten that these are human being after all, with the same blood running through their veins as those who employ them. Mr. Qassemi, it is not only Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Pilipino, etc, but many of my fellow Ethiopians are suffering because of slave labor conditions throughout the Gulf States. I personally heard numerous examples of abuse of domestic workers who work from the time they wake up early in the morning until they go to bed late at night without any rest in between. Sometimes, the wages of these “slaves” are held for months and at times it is totally forfeited when the employer gets rid of them or if and when they escape from their captivity.

Mr. Qassemi, we are all thankful that we are living in a democracy and have the right to address any wrong that is done to us. Sometimes, we get the short end of the law and we do not get everything that should be ours by right. But no one can doubt that we live in a much better condition that our immigrant brothers and sisters in the Gulf States. Granted, we have so many social issues that we need to address to become a fair and just community, but don’t you dare to compare us with the unfortunate human beings in the deserts of Arabia who have no way out. I think you should be ashamed of yourself in trying to defend the indefensible just because someone wrote not so nice things about your region. You are no better than the people who are putting these people under such terrible conditions because you are trying to tell the world that it is no worse than Britain. You know that is not true and that is a shame.

Ethiopian immigrants follow a new epic route to the U.S.

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Jailed repeatedly for his political views, Ethiopian immigrant Sharew paid smugglers around $10,000 to move him through a dozen countries and leave him a year later in the grubby southern Mexican city of Tapachula.

Once on Mexico’s southern border, which has grown into a major stepping-stone for hundreds of migrants fleeing conflicts in the Horn of Africa, he was still 2,000 miles away from his destination: the United States.

The immigrants, mainly from Ethiopia and Somalia are increasingly following a new, epic route down the continent to South Africa, across the Atlantic by boat or plane and then a trek overland though South and Central America… [MORE]

A tribute to Tilahun Gessesse, a cultural asset

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

By Maru Gubena
Some of my readers may think that my tribute upon the untimely death of the phenomenal, the irreplaceable asset of Ethiopia, the unchallenged cultural and musical symbol and the undisputed role model for Ethiopian musicians of my generation, Tilahun Gessese, whom I, as a political economist and organization strategist have characterized not as a “King of Ethiopian Music,” but as “Edilegnaw Niguse,” is too late and perhaps too little as well. But I know it is neither too late nor too little. Because in our Ethiopian culture, families who have lost a loved one and who are grieving and weeping uncontrollably over the sudden loss of their family member, or someone well loved and highly respected by Ethiopians of all ages and sexes, can be extremely happy to receive any condolence at any time, whether written or in person. Yes, all Ethiopian families experiencing such sorrow, always feel tremendously comfortable and happy with the presence of those who come to share their grief and those who come while shading their tears. This is a part of our Ethiopian culture – a culture implanted deep inside our minds and our bodies.

Also, I know I did not write this text early this morning or yesterday evening but last Friday, the 24th of April 2009, intending to present it in person in my own personal capacity and in my own way, to express my grief and deep sadness at the abrupt disappearance – the death of the Edilegnaw Niguse, Tilahun Gessese, who unquestionably will remain in the hearts and minds of all Ethiopians of all generations. Yes, I wrote this text with the full intention of presenting it in the form of a memorial speech at the memorial service organized for artist Tilahun Gessese by the Association of Ethiopians in the Netherlands, held on Saturday, the 25th of April 2009. But due to the organizational style, the objectives, and the atmosphere of the event itself, which seemed, at least to me, not to correspond with my objective in presenting my talk, I thought it would be wiser to find other means to express and share my grieve with my Ethiopian compatriots in other ways.

Yes, the highly loved, highly respected icon and cultural asset of our country – Ethiopia – was and is indeed Edilegna Niguse, the Lucky King, and the Extraordinary King of the land of Ethiopia. Artist Tilahun is also Edilegna, because, completely different from our previous Kings and Emperors, Princes and Princesses, he was and is a Niguse of every Ethiopian, with no a single social or political enemy. Not even a single person. Artist Tilahun himself and his images will therefore live and sleep so comfortably and so widely in the hearts and minds of all Ethiopians, including the coming generations. Yes, indeed, he is absolutely different from Ethiopians who have had the highest socio-cultural and political positions within Ethiopian society.

It is also undeniably true that, at least as far as my recollections are concerned, in the past fifty or more years there has never been such an extensive, well organized and most memorable state and people’s funeral service as the one we all saw and witnessed last Thursday, the 23rd of April 2009 in Addis Ababa. Again, as far as I can recall, Ethiopians have never witnessed such a hugely attended, unforgettable funeral service for any member of Ethiopian society, not for Emperor Haile Selassie, or for his ministers, who had had the highest political positions in the country. Artist Tilahun is just an extraordinary, very special and unique social animal and far more. Not just a musician or singer, but a son, a patriot, a brother, a husband, a father and above all, a loving friend to everyone, all Ethiopians, not just those who live in cities, towns, or villages, but also those who reside deep inside the most complicated Ethiopian forests or its low and high mountains.

(Dr Maru Gobena can be reached at

Ginbot 7 will hold public meeting on May 3, Sunday

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009


Ginbot 7 Movement for Justice, Freedom and Democracy will hold a town hall meeting in Washington DC next Sunday, May 3, 2009. Click here for more information.

I'm Woyanne's worst nightmare

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

By Netsanet Habtu

This commentary concerns a recent article written by the “Ethiopian” Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) under the name Adal Isaw, and was published on Aigaforum. In the article, MoFA calls for the extradition of {www:Berhanu Nega}, leader of {www:Ginbot 7}, on the basis that he is a “terrorist”. Never mind the legal definition of a terrorist or what a legitimate government is, we are more interested in the fact that the article is an epitome of the mindset of leaders of the regime.

Of course we don’t expect it to be anything else but that. However, we would still like to point out to them that, even looking at the matter from their point of view, they are engaged in a futile exercise.

The piece is a perfect portrayal of the regime’s continued refusal to acknowledge Ethiopians as citizens to whom it ought to be accountable, and whose interests it should serve above all. It also reflects perfectly what has for a long time been the defining character of the ruling party, which is inability to understand the fundamental ideas associated with the struggle for freedom and democracy.

Although the overriding theme appears to be the call for Dr. Berhanu’s deportation, equally important is MoFA’s plea of rescue to America. In fact, it goes further than a plea; it is a warning for America that unless the latter acts upon MoFA’s request, their “counter-terrorism” alliance may be broken.

The article draws a background of a country located in “one of the roughest neighborhoods in the world”. It emphasizes the fact that this happened not by choice, as if that is not apparent already. It appears as if the regime is trying to hide that it actually loves that exact location our country is at. After all, it has been receiving the support that has so far contributed to its survival from the US in the name of fighting terrorism in this “rough neighborhood”.

That is why, in going further to endear itself to the US, the regime portrays itself as an entity whose very existence is to serve the interests of the US. Nowhere does it mention Ethiopians’ interests. Of course one cannot blame it for not acknowledging Ethiopians as its constituents, because they are not. Since that became glaringly obvious especially after the 2005 elections, the regime had to come up with the “developmental state” rhetoric to justify its existence. But in this article, even that fake development talk was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps it is an implicit admission that it has not worked either.

Considering all that, it may be fair for MoFA to direct its appeal for rescue at America. After all, according to the regime’s own press release, the recent challenge on its illegitimate seat came from the military. Considering how it has used the armed and security forces to repress dissent in the past and had confidence to rely on them for the future, for the challenge to come from the military is a sign that its ground is shaking.

In the past several years, there have been widespread politically motivated layoffs within the army. The regime has weeded out those it believed supported opposition. The upper level positions within the army were given to those the regime can trust, and are of the same ethnic group as the ruling clique. Despite all these “precautions”, a few people found a way to organize a challenge. So, for a regime that does not have the backing of its citizens, whose attempts to justify its existence have been futile, and whose own army challenges it, it doesn’t come as a surprise for it to totally ignore its own citizens and prostrate itself before a foreign power and beg for rescue. It has to ask some one for help.

The manner in which the request to deport Berhanu Nega is being made to the US government is also worthy of attention. As if there are no laws or procedures in America, the Department of Defense is supposed to take Berhanu’s name because he is challenging an illegitimate government, pass it on to DHS, who will ask no questions about the rights of an individual.

The different agencies of the US government will not take a person as a terrorist just because some rogue government with a habit of labeling all of its opposition a terrorist labels him too. This reflects on the part of MoFA a crucial misunderstanding of the values upon which America was built, in addition to the tenets of basic human rights. It is also a reflection of how business is conducted in Ethiopia, where the judiciary and other branches of government have repeatedly proven themselves to be no more than the executioners of the ruling party’s repression.

MoFA explains that the deportation of Berhanu Nega to Ethiopia will make Ethiopia’s “counter-terrorism” efforts more “effective”. What it really means is that the regime hopes to slow down or destroy the struggle for democracy and justice in Ethiopia. We know this because it has been the story of our country for the last eighteen years. This belief that going after individuals will stop opposition has been the defining character of the regime.

Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that the US government deports Dr. Berhanu Nega to Ethiopia. He may be put in the same prison he has repeatedly been put in before, or he may even get executed. Is that supposed to be success? Absolutely not.

The problem with the regime has always been its failure to understand that the question of democracy and justice is one that is shared by millions of Ethiopians. If it wasn’t, the question would have died the day they tortured and killed the first Oromo boy they suspected of being a member of an illegal opposition group a couple of years after they took power. The question would have stopped coming throughout the years the lives of countless Ethiopian citizens were unjustly taken because they stood up for what they believed in. It would have stopped some months ago when they put {www:Birtukan Mideksa} in solitary confinement.

Dr. Berhanu is our brother in the struggle. He, just like the rest of us, understands the sacrifices attached to waging a struggle against repressive regimes. Prison or not, death or not, deportation or not, we will fight the TPLF. And we will remove the illegitimate and repressive government.

The regime needs to understand that killing or imprisoning a person never amounts to killing his or her values. The values are location and time transcendent, and are shared by millions. Just a few weeks ago, the regime’s mouthpieces were questioning just how exactly Berhanu Nega was going to sit in exile and remove the government in Ethiopia. “Is he going to use a remote control?” they mocked. Little do they understand that Berhanu connected with millions of Ethiopians back home through shared values. And this week, they have found themselves claiming that he was the mastermind of a coup attempt locally led by an active military general. The contradictions could not be more glaring. Ginbot 7 denies involvement, but that is beside the point.

Since the claim is coming from the regime itself and they believe it to be the case, what exactly does that teach them? Berhanu Nega could not have used a remote control to direct human beings to make such risky moves and put their lives in danger. These are adults who must have given this a serious thought and chose to go ahead with their plan because they have conviction for it.

Clearly, these men aren’t the ordinary robotic generals (the likes of Gen. Kasa Deme) the ruling party loves to keep close to itself. These are men who have their own brains, and who chose to do what they believed in regardless of the danger their actions entailed. They did what they did while THINKING. And it is perfectly within reason to think that there are more of these people within the army and elsewhere. So, how exactly is going after a few individuals supposed to destroy the movement?

The answer is really clear and short. Leaders of the dictatorship have never understood the concept of individual choice and of principles. That should be self evident because if they did, they wouldn’t be dictators; assuming they are sane and all. They could never understand why a person would turn down their bribes, and their open door policy towards corruption, in order to go do something he/she “believes in”.

They never seem to wake up to the lesson either. They have arrested this man, Berhanu, several times before and each time, he seems to come at them stronger. They thought their attack on {www:Kinijit} has destroyed the movement that humiliated them and showed their nakedness to the eyes of all Ethiopians and the international community. But it seems to get more sophisticated and keep coming at them.

The struggle for justice and democracy keeps getting bigger and bigger. That is so because the organizations are nothing more than the reflections of our beliefs. Each time they and their leadership are attacked, more of us are awakened to injustice. The harsher the attacks get, the closer they get to most of us. So we come to find it in our advantage to join in the chorus and demand justice.

One cannot “foil” Ginbot 7. Because I am Ginbot 7, and I am as alive and free as ever. When you arrest me in Addis Ababa, I will be free in Gambella. When you kill me in Gondar, I will be alive in Wollega. I am whispering the message of freedom in the ears of young people in Welqitte; while you toil to find me in Adama. That is the same whisper that wakes you up abruptly at night. You may rape my sisters and burn our village in the Ogaden, but I am eating at what you claim to be the basis of your existence in Tigray. I speak several languages, and I send your faxes and take the minutes at your meetings. You will be defeated by me. I am Ginbot 7, and I stand for unity, justice and freedom. And I am everywhere.

If you think Dubai is bad, just look at U.K.

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Dear Ethiopian Review, I was interviewed for the “Dark Side of Dubai” article from Britain’s The Independent newspaper that you have posted on the Ethiopian Review and would like to submit my rebuttal that also appeared in The Independent to be published in the Ethiopian Review as well to even it out as it would only be fair. Kind regards, Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi

If you think Dubai is bad, just look at your own country

By Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi

I recently figured that if British journalists such as Johann Hari who come to Dubai don’t send back something sensationalist it won’t get printed and they won’t get paid. After all, sleaze sells.

I called a British journalist friend of mine and said: “I’m going to write an article about London, the same way your compatriots write about Dubai.” By the time I was back at home I had come to my senses, it’s not fair to London, a city so dear to my heart, or Londoners to be judged by the actions of a few. It’s easy to generalize about a country when figures are manipulated to sensationalize and sell papers.

Homeless man in the streets of London

Say for example that I had written an article that states that, in wealthy first world Britain there are 380,000 homeless people, many of them mentally ill, starving and abandoned in sub-zero temperatures to live on the streets.

Say then that I wrote an article that states that Britain, the so called “jail capital of Western Europe” sentenced in 2006 alone a staggering additional 12,000 women to prison and that up to seven babies a month are born in jail where they spend their crucial first months.

I could have written an article that stated Britain, victor in the Second World War, had given refuge to 400 Nazi war criminals, with all but one of them getting away with it. Or one stating that the number of Indians who died while serving the British Empire, to build your Tube and grow your tea, is so large it is simply unquantifiable by any historian.

Or say I write an article about the 2.5 million-strong Indian volunteer army who served Britain during the Second World War, where 87,000 of them died for their occupiers’ freedom and yet until recently those who survived continued to be discriminated against in pay and pension.

I could have written an article that stated that, in civilized Britain, one in every 23 teenage girls had an abortion and in 2006 more than 17,000 of the 194,000 abortions carried out in England and Wales involved girls below the age of 18.

I could have written an article stating that Britain, the human rights champion, not wanting to get its hands dirty, had resorted to secretly outsourcing torture to Third World states under the guise of rendition by allowing up to 170 so called CIA torture flights to use its bases. Or that Britain’s MI5 unlawfully shared with the CIA secret material to interrogate suspects and “facilitate interviews” including cases where the suspects were later proven to be innocent.

I could have written an article that stated that the Britain of family values is the only country in the EU that recruits child soldiers as young as 16 into its Army and ships them off battlegrounds in Iraq and Afghanistan, putting it in the same league as African dictatorships and Burma.

I could have written an article that states that Britain either recently did or has yet to sign the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict or the UN’s International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families .

I could have highlighted the fact that liberal Britain is responsible for the physical and racial abuse of hundreds of failed asylum-seekers at the hands of private security guards during their forced removal from the country .

I could have written about the countless cases of slave-like working conditions of immigrant labors such as the 23 Chinese workers who lost their lives in 2004 as they harvested cockles in the dangerous rising tides in Morecambe Bay.

I could have written about how mortality rates from liver diseases due to alcohol abuse have declined in Europe in recent decades but in Britain the rate trebled in the same period reflecting deep societal failures.

I could have written about how in “Big Brother” Britain maltreatment of minors is so serious that one in 10, or an estimated one million children a year, suffer physical, sexual, emotional abuse or neglect.

Or that according to Oxfam 13.2 million people in the UK live in poverty – a staggering 20 per cent of the population in the sixth richest nation in the world.

I could have written all that, but out of respect for Britain, I decided not to. Because when you stitch together a collection of unconnected facts taken out of context, you end up with a distorted and inaccurate picture: something that Britain’s Dubai-bashers would do well to learn.

(The writer is a journalist based in Dubai.)

The life-and-death struggle for freedom in Ethiopia

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

(The Daily Item) Berhanu Nega’s story is a frightening testament that in some parts of the world, people are still enmeshed in life-and-death struggles for freedom.

Ethiopia’s regime recently announced that {www:Berhanu Nega} and other opposition leaders had been plotting a coup. Thirty-five opposition party members were arrested in Ethiopia, and a government official said if Berhanu ever returns, he will be jailed, too. It is not the first time Berhanu, a Bucknell University economics professor, has been targeted by the government in his native country.

Berhanu was elected mayor of Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa, in 2005 but was arrested afterward along with more than 100 other opposition politicians and stood trial for treason. He and the others were freed in 2007 in a pardon deal. He left Ethiopia after the trial.

Berhanu’s crime? Leading protests in response to alleged election fraud. Demonstrations started peacefully, but led to turmoil that culminated in a slaughter by government soldiers that left 193 people dead and another 765 wounded. The Ethiopian government pinned the blame for the deaths on the opposition leaders, and 38 people, including Berhanu, were arrested and placed on trial, originally facing possible execution.

Berhanu offers heroic evidence that those who experience democracy in action will risk everything to spread freedom.Through its history, Ethiopia was mostly governed by monarchy or dictatorship. The African nation has been struggling to live up to its formal name of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

Berhanu’s efforts to encourage the growth of democracy in Africa deserve the full support of the American government. The United States just completed an historic election that led to a transformational shift in power. The triumph of American democracy provided that the results of the election were accepted without a hint of civil unrest. The United States provides the model for sustainable democracy. This country should also foster the growth of freedom around the globe, including in places such as Ethiopia.

Ethiopia coup leader identified as Gen. Teferra Mammo

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — The state-controlled Ethiopian Television (ETV) reported that the military leader of the alleged coup plot by Ginbot 7 is General Teferra Mammo.

It is alleged that a military committee that is headed by General Teferra, who is an active duty officer, included several other active and retired military personnel.

The civilian coordinator of the coup is Ato Melaku Teferra, a local organizer of the Union for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJ), ETV has reported quoting Woyanne security officials.

Ato Melaku had spent 21 months in Kality prison along with Dr Berhanu Nega and other Kinijit leaders before he was released in July 2007.

ETV program tonight has showed several automatic weapons, bombs, communications gears and documents belonging to the alleged coup plotters.

Watch the ETV report below:

Message in a Bottle

Monday, April 27th, 2009

By Alemayehu G. Mariam

Patriots and Tyrants

Dr. Hailu Araya: Ethiopian patriot. Political prisoner. Educator. Poet. I am not writing to talk about Dr. Hailu, the Ethiopian patriot, the man who gave the brutal former military dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam a passionate six-minute discourse on democracy, freedom and human rights 18 years ago to the month.[1] Who would forget that historic showdown between the patriot and the tyrant. Thus spoke Dr. Hailu [2]:

First because I am an intellectual, second because I am a people’s representative in the Shengo, and third because I am an educator, I have to speak the truth. Truth even if it may lead to death has to be uttered … Before we even discussed the merits of professor Mesfin’s peace formula [3], you went into a vitriolic attack … We cannot accept this kind of behavior any more because Ethiopian problems are our own problems, not only yours!… Why is it that you [President Mengistu] are always under the impression that you are the only one who can analyze and solve Ethiopia’s problems? Ethiopia’s intractable problems cannot be solved through your uncontrolled tirade and shouting!… You cannot solve problems by ignoring other people’s opinion. You have time and again hinted at the idea that your officials should gather courage and swallow the quinine [tablet] of self-criticism; Why is it that you are the only one who is immune to it?… Why do you put us under terror? Why do you gag us?

Dr. Hailu did not stop there; he also gave Mengistu a sermon on citizenship and patriotism (love of country). “A country is not just the mountains, the fields and the rivers,” he counseled the pitiful dictator. “A country is also about the rule of law and justice.” Mengistu squirmed and wiggled in his seat as though he had ants in his pants; and he pivoted his neck sharply to the left to hide his anger and shame. He had been paralyzed by Dr Hailu’s sheer audacity. In apparent despair and resignation, Mengistu tried to mask his face with the palm of his right hand as Dr. Hailu rained down a torrent of truth-darts on his granite-clad conscience. That day Mengistu was forced to swallow the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth: “It is not that the people and the government are not connecting heart to heart,” Dr. Hailu reminded the smug dictator. The fact “is that the people and the government have become belly and back (hode-na-jerba).”

Like all true patriots, Dr. Hailu was not interested in quibbling with a petty dictator glory-bound to oblivion and the dustbin of history. No, his concern was the future well-being of his people and his country; and of that he spoke prophetically to the craven dictator:

“The only way we can defeat our enemies is when we are all of the same heart and mind. It is only when we create a united front that we can stand up to our enemies, and never by beating around the bush. But we seem to be having difficulty accepting this simple fact. We have to strengthen our unity. That is what I want. To achieve that, I am not going to do it with only one eye open. I will do it with both eyes open and a clear and open mind. That is how we will be assured of a lasting victory.”

He summed it all up for Mengistu: “We have to find the solutions to our problems together, collectively, concertedly.”

I will say just a few words about Dr. Hailu the political prisoner who was illegally jailed along with dozens of other patriotic and courageous opposition and civic society leaders, journalists and human rights advocates by the current dictator. Dr. Hailu is not the kind of patriot who will bow down to any tyrant or dictator, even if one is called Tweedle Dee and the other Tweedle Dum. For him, dictatorship has no ethnicity, no religion and no language. It has only one face painted in the bloody colors of cruelty, barbarity and depravity. So when the current dictator jailed him and his brothers and sisters in Kality prison, he knew they had committed no crime, but courageously, all of them endured the hard time. True to himself, to this day Dr. Hailu preaches the same message even as he gasps for air, his neck crushed to the ground under the heavy boots of a wicked dictator: “We have to find the solutions to our problems together, collectively, concertedly!”

Patriot and Poet

I do want to talk about Dr. Hailu the patriot-poet, the man driven to tell the truth in verse; the man condemned by his own conscience to stand up and speak out for his country and people: “First because I am an intellectual, second because I am a people’s representative in the Shengo, and third because I am an educator, I have to speak the truth.” I want to talk about the man who bared the innermost “sickness in his soul” — that he could never leave his country, only love it. Who can forget his expression of lonely despair and anguish in his poem “Yager Fikir Likift” [4] (roughly translated below, begging forgiveness for being unable to do justice to the original)? In the last verse, he wrote:

When the young leave their country because life had become sheer misery,
When the old leave their country because life had become intolerable,
When the educated go into exile because life had become so harsh,
When ordinary citizens are unable to live in the land of their birth,
When everyone is talking about leaving and going away (never to return),
I remain a prisoner of a voice in my soul that commands me:
“Don’t even think about leaving!”

To be sure, I want to talk about a poem Dr. Hailu recently read in Amharic entitled (roughly translated) “Don’t Be Like the Billowing the Smoke”[5]. I took that poem personally. Very personally. I read it dozens of times. I set it aside. I ignored it. I tried to forget it. But the words kept on echoing in my mind: “Educated. Teacher. Light. Hope. Smoke.” It kept me awake at night. In the end, I gave up; and I picked up my pen hesitantly to try and unlock the conscience-gnawing message bottled up in that verse.

Don’t Be Like the Billowing Smoke!

You educated citizen,
Your country’s wealth, your country’s honor,
Your people’s hope,
Your people’s teacher.
Stand up and be counted.
Demonstrate your knowledge
Illuminate, give light.
Don’t be like the billowing smoke.

“What is the meaning — the message — of this verse?” I pondered. Is Dr. Hailu ringing an alarm bell to wake up “educated” Ethiopians? Or is he despairing over the melancholic state of “educated” Ethiopians who have taken the vow of silence in the face of injustice? Is he accusing his brothers and sisters who claim to be educated of moral indifference and cowardice? Perhaps he is pleading for help. I dug deeper: Could it be that he sees us as a swarm of self-centered, self-aggrandizing and self-indulgent hypocrites? And as to some of us in exile, could it be that he thinks of us as the prodigal sons and daughters who ran off to distant lands and wasted our lives “in riotous living” while our people suffered under tyranny? Is it possible that he is challenging us to rise above our pettiness and do right by our people and country? Why does he insist that we “stand up and counted”? Are we that invisible? Have we been so waterlogged by “education” that he thinks we have no fire in our bellies, and must be cautioned not to be like the billowing smoke? Why is he holding our feet to the fire?

Where There is Smoke, There is Fire, and Firefighters Not Far Behind

There is no point scrutinizing the verse. We all know what he is talking about. Some of us who claim to be “educated” have already been convicted in the court of our individual consciences. There is no need for a defense to the caustic message bottled in velvety verse. No doubt, some of us will continue to wallow in our mucky lakes of moral relativism: “I am a scientist, a businessman, a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer… I can not get involved.” Some of us will circle the wagons around our personal interests: “No, we can’t get involved. We have houses, bank accounts, businesses, relatives… in Ethiopia.” Others will seek moral remission: “I really want to get involved, help out. But I just don’t have time. I am busy. I have family responsibilities. I have professional obligations…” Then there are the perennial excuse-mongers: “I will be happy to help out. But not today because it is sunny. Not tomorrow, it will be raining; and the day after it will be windy. But I will get involved.” And there are a few who are brutally honest enough to tell you: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn about your cause or you!”

But Dr. Hailu is not asking for much from his “educated” brothers and sisters. His message is not condemnatory; it is redemptive. When he says “stand up and be counted”, he means to remind us to use our knowledge and education to speak out against tyranny and injustice. He wants us to stand up and be counted on the side of the uneducated masses, political prisoners, dissidents, human rights advocates, and the millions muzzled and condemned to suffer oppression in silence. He wants us to stand up for free elections, free political parties, a free and independent media and an independent judiciary in Ethiopia. There is no hidden meaning in his message.

When he is asking us to “demonstrate our knowledge”, he is reminding us to put our education, technical skills and specialized experience to help out our people. When he says, “illuminate, give light”, he is asking us to share our knowledge with our less fortunate brothers and sisters, to teach and to educate them. He understands that our people are victimized not only by the tyranny of a wicked dictator, but also by the tyranny of ignorance. He is asking us to fight the forces of darkness with the light of truth. As the Rev. Dr. Martin L. King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” We can be, if we choose, the forces of light and love, and drive out darkness permanently from our homeland.

It is never too late to stand up and be counted; never too late to shine the light of hope on the darkness of despair. It is never wrong to do the right thing. It is always the right time to stand up and speak out against tyranny and injustice. It is always right to right a wrong.

Perhaps many of us will never be able to experience the blazing fire of love of Ethiopia burning deep in Dr. Hailu’s soul. Whenever I read his poem “Yager Fikir Likift”, I am moved to tears by the image of a man on fire, burning in the flames of love of his country. But he knows there are armies of arsonists that have spread out through our homeland to stoke up the wildfires of ethnic and religious hatred, division and antagonism just to cling to power. That is why we, the “educated”, can not afford to watch idly from the sidelines and armchairs the billowing smoke. We must become firefighters.

So, I say to Dr. Hailu, “Thank you for holding our feet to the fire; for putting us, the “educated” Ethiopians, on trial in the court of our individual consciences.” I want you to know that where there is smoke, there is fire; and where there is fire, firefighters will not be far behind. We’ll fight the fire wherever it is sparked, but we will not be like the billowing smoke! Let others tell fairy tales about goblins, unicorns and coups d’etat; let them fantasize fire-breathing dragons, vampires and conspiracies to overthrow the state. You keep on blowing your trumpet of truth, brother! “We have to find the solutions to our problems together, collectively, concertedly.” We hear your sweet lyrics and melodies and notes of harmony, LOUD AND CLEAR!!

[1] (move clip to 3:30 seconds)

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

Ethiopia opposition leader's father arrested

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia — The father of Ginbot 7 high ranking official Andargachew Tsige has been roughed up and taken to Maekelawi prison by Meles Zenawi’s gunmen, according to Ethiopian Review sources.

On Friday, April 24, several gunmen surrounded Ato Tsige Habtemariam’s house in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa. The gunmen then roughed up the 80-year-old Ato Tsige and took him to Maekelawi the same day.

Ato Tsige continues to languish in jail. He is diabetic and recently had a heart bypass surgery.

Attacking elderly parents of opposition party officials — which did not occur even during the brutal Derg regime –shows how far Meles Zenawi’s traibalist dictatorship would go to silence dissent. Such inhumane attacks, uncharacteristic of Ethiopian tradition, also indicates the regime’s desperation and paranoia.

Earlier today, Ethiopian Review and EMF have reported that Ginbot 7 chairman Berhanu Nega’s family home has been surrounded by Meles Zenawi’s gunmen. Dr Berhanu’s father, Ato Nega Bonger was roughed up and mobile phones belonging to both Ato Nega and his wife, Wzr. Abebech Woldegiorgis were confiscated. Family members have been beaten up, at least on person was taken to jail.

The {www:Woyanne} regime alleges that Dr Berhanu Nega and Ato Andargachew Tsige, leaders of Ginbot 7 Movement for Democracy and Justice, are behind a coup plot that it claims to have foiled.

A Colorado library honors Ethiopia's Yohannes Gebregiorgis

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

By Christin Fynewever |

Ethiopia — What do you get when you cross a donkey and a book? A mobile library! Yes, thanks to Liberian Yohannes Gebregeorgis, tens of thousands of Ethiopian children have learned to read.

Gebregiorgis, a native of Ethiopia, was taught to read by Peace Corps volunteers in his village. He was inspired to create the program Ethiopia reads while working as a children’s librarian in the San Francisco Public Library.

Gebergiorgis became cognizant of the importance of a good education after securing an education himself, and wanted the children in his native country to embrace the love of reading. He came up with the idea of a mobile library, that would deliver books to the different villages throughout Ethiopia. His program would help many Ethiopian children gain access to literature.

Together with author Jane Kurtz, they established the Shola Children’s Library, which has served thousands of children, connecting them to a wide range of educational programs like art, dance, sanitation and more.

In honor of literacy and Yohannes Gebregiorgis’s remarkable program, the Aurora Central Library will host a celebration on May 9th from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be dancing, and you guessed it donkeys! So come celebrate a noble program and get down with the donkeys

Leading Kenyan law scholar dies in Ethiopia

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

By By DAVE OPIYOP | Sunday Nation

One of Kenya’s most respected law scholars, Prof Hastings Winston Opinya Okoth-Ogendo, is dead.

Prof Ogendo, a former vice-chairman of the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission, died on Friday night in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he had gone on an assignment for the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

He had left the country last Saturday. According to Ed Rege, a close family friend, Prof Ogendo fell ill last Monday.

“And for the next three days, his illness got worse,” said Mr Rege while briefing the media at the deceased’s {www:residence} in Karen.

“He was, on Wednesday, joined by his wife, Mrs Ruth Okoth. We understand that he was taken to hospital on Thursday to seek treatment but, unfortunately, he did not make it.

He died on Friday night while under intensive care,” Mr Rege said.

He told the Sunday Nation plans were already in place to bring the body back home by Tuesday this week.

He said an autopsy would be done before the release of the body.

A tentative burial date has been set for May 9 at Gem Rae in Nyando district. This is subject to approval from the family.

On receiving the news of Prof Ogendo’s death, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said it was a “blow to the pro-reform movement in the country”.

“I have received the news with disbelief. In Prof Ogendo, the country has lost a top brain. He was an undisputed authority on land law,” said the Prime Minister in a statement.

Mr Odinga said the don had hugely contributed to the National Constitutional Conference at the Bomas of Kenya and the search for a new constitution.

He added that the country had lost a patriot, a fighter and a high-calibre scholar.

Similar messages of condolences were sent by Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi and former Nyakach MP Peter Odoyo.

Dr Ben Sihanya, the dean of University of Nairobi Law School, said Kenya had lost a distinguished scholar, who participated in the {www:establishment} of the school.

“It’s a big shock to us. He is indeed irreplaceable. His expertise in land law was unrivalled on the continent. He has advised many governments on these issues. We shall miss him,” the dean said.

Born in 1944, Prof Ogendo attended Maseno and Alliance high schools before proceeding to the University of East Africa in Dar es Salaam and the Oxford University for his bachelor’s degree in civil law.

He then attended University of Yale between 1973 and 1978, where he earned a Doctorate of Science of Law.

Yemen security forces arrest 101 Ethiopians

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Yemen police arrest 101 migrants from Ethiopia SANA’A, YEMEN (Saba) – Interior Ministry of Yemen has given orders to close sea outlets to Ethiopian migrants, reported on Saturday.

The minister asked the security forces in coastline area to close sea regions in front of the Ethiopians who tried to enter Yemeni territories.

Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry’s media center reported that Yemeni security forces have arrested 101 Ethiopians who reached coastline of Shabwa governorate.

According to official statistics, around 300 Ethiopians reached Yemeni territories by boats last month.

Wzr. Sinedu Gebru's legacy

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Woyanne ambassador to Washington DC Samuel Assefa at his mother’s funeral in Addis Ababa (Photo: Addis Journal)

The funeral of Ethiopia’s first woman parliamentarian Wzr. Sinedu Gebru took place two days ago at the Holy Trinity Cathedral Church in Addis Ababa in the presence of family, friends and {www:Woyanne} regime officials.

Wzr. Sinedu is an amazing Ethiopian who severed her country throughout her life as this brief biography shows (click here to read). Unfortunately, her legacy also includes having Woyanne ambassador Samuel Assefa as a son whose consciousness level is lower than that of a donkey. It is indeed sad that such a patriotic woman who fought for and diligently served her country had managed to raise a useless drunkard who is at the service of an anti-Ethiopia fascist regime.

Addis Journal reports Wzr. Sinedu Gebru’s funeral as follows:

The funeral for author, activist, patriot, and Ethiopia’s first woman parliamentarian, Sinedu Gebru has taken place at the Holy Trinity Cathedral Church on Wednesday, April 22, 2009, in the presence of Abune Paulos Aba Tagay Gebremedhin, the Woyanne-installed fake patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

President Girma Wolde Giorgis [Meles Zenawi's puppet] paid his respect to the late Sinedu by sending flowers to her funeral. Mourners included the Ethiopian parliament’s woman representative, Netsanet Asfaw and other Woyanne officials.

The late Sinedu’s son, Ethiopia’s Woyanne’s current ambassador to the United States, Dr. Samuel Assefa, arrived in Addis Ababa on Tuesday to attend the funeral service. He was visibly shaken as prayers and blessings were chanted during the ceremony.

The Honorable Sindeu Gebru, who had been in a frail condition recently, died on Easter night at the age of 94.

Rita Pankurst, who has known Sinedu for many years, described her as a very independent-minded and formidable woman. “I have always been a great admirer of her. She was the heroine of my life.” Rita told Addis Journal.

Rita said she always went to see her on holidays with some flowers, including this past Easter morning where she was awake, but died that evening. Rita says Sindu, who has been the first Ethiopian school director of Etege Menen school, had done tremendous amount of job in promoting girls education. She was “a great believer in the importance of education, in general, and girls in a particular” according to Mrs. Pankurst.

Another former student of Etege Menen School said, “The loss of Woizero Sinedu is enormous but she leaves a legacy of accomplishment, hope and commitment for the community and her country.”

Pennsylvania prof. denies leading alleged Ethiopia coup plot

Saturday, April 25th, 2009


Pennsylvania, USA (AP). – An economics professor at a Pennsylvania university said Saturday he supports efforts to spread democracy in his native Ethiopia, but denied backing an alleged coup attempt there that led to the arrests of 35 people by the government.

“I’m very suspicious that there was an attempt at all,” said Berhanu Nega during an interview at his home outside of Lewisburg in north-central Pennsylvania. “This is not a government that has any credibility whatsoever in terms of telling the truth.”

He said he did not know who may have been arrested, and said it could have easily been some sort of overreaction.

“The government, every time, it panics,” he said. “It’s always treason, always acting against the government.”

Berhanu, 51, said he came to the U.S. as a young man in 1980, is married to an American citizen and has two sons. He is an associate professor of {www:economics} at nearby Bucknell University, a private liberal-arts school that enrolls about 3,400 undergraduates.

He previously taught at the university from 1990 until 1994, when he returned to Ethiopia to work at Addis Ababa University, according to a profile on the university’s Web site.

In 2005, he became the country’s first elected mayor when he won the mayoral race in Addis Ababa, the nation’s capital. But post-election violence over the election results led the Ethiopian government to shoot 193 protesters and to later jail Berhanu, other opposition leaders and thousands of supporters. Berhanu said the party was not responsible for the violent demonstrations.

The opposition leaders stood trial for nearly two years on charges of challenging the constitutional order — the charge was lessened from treason. The main clique of 38 opposition leaders pleaded guilty and were pardoned in 2007 after appealing to the government.

Berhanu and several other party leaders then left for the U.S., returning to the country in August 2007. He rejoined Bucknell as a visiting international scholar in economics in Spring 2008.

“It became very clear immediately after our release that they will not at all tolerate any opposition, meaningful opposition,” he said.

Berhanu also urged President Obama’s administration to “carefully revisit its policy toward Ethiopia.”

“It is just unseemly for any democratic government such as the United States to have any relationship with it,” he said.

(Associated Press writer Anita Powell in Nairobi, Kenya, contributed to this report.)

Ethiopian and Somali refugees received asylum in Norway

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

NORWAY (Epoch Times) — Droves of African families recently received asylum status from the Norwegian quasi-judicial Appeals Board (UNE), which handles appeals of rejections by the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI).

If these families were not allowed to {www:remain} in Norway, their daughters risk circumcision—a brutal practice that can leave women crippled. Most of these African applicants come from Somalia and Ethiopia, while a few of them are from Nigeria, Sudan, and Mali.

New data from Norway this year shows that 91 percent of Somalian applications have been approved and only seven have been rejected. Last year 84 percent of applicants were accepted into Norway.

The {www:percentage} for Ethiopian applicants are even higher. This year, 436 out of 467 applicants from Ethiopia have had their cases approved by the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI).

Ethiopia's regime arrests 35 for coup plot

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

By ANITA POWELL | The Associated Press

The Woyanne-led Ethiopian government has arrested 35 people suspected of a coup {www:attempt} allegedly backed by an Ethiopian economist now teaching at a Pennsylvania university, a government spokesman said Saturday.

Government spokesman Ermias Legesse said the group, which calls itself “Ginbot 7″ (May 15) after the date of {www:controversial} 2005 elections in Ethiopia, was led from the U.S. by former opposition leader Berhanu Nega, who is an assistant professor of economics at Bucknell University.

“It is the party led by Berhanu Nega,” said Ermias. “If he comes to Ethiopia, we’ll arrest him.”

He said the alleged plotters were arrested Friday.

Interviewed in Lewisburg, Berhanu, 51, said he had no role in organizing any coup attempt.

“I’m very suspicious that were was an attempt at all,” he said. “This is not a government that has any credibility whatsoever in terms of telling the truth.”

Berhanu was elected mayor of Addis Ababa in 2005 but was arrested afterward along with more than 100 other opposition politicians and stood trial for {www:treason}. He and the others were freed in 2007 in a pardon deal. He left Ethiopia after the trial.

“It became very clear immediately after our release that they will not at all tolerate any opposition, meaningful opposition,” he said Friday.

Ermias said the group of suspects arrested Friday was comprised of two cliques, one of former soldiers, another of civilians.

“They were caught with weapons, uniforms, even plans,” he said. “I don’t want to give details about the plans; it’s for the court case.”

Ermias said the charges have not been set and court proceedings will begin soon.

“They decided to change the government in an unconstitutional way,” he said.

Asked if he considered violent regime change inevitable, Berhanu said he was still pushing for a peaceful, negotiated solution, but the Ethiopian government was showing “absolute intransigence.”

“When the option becomes freedom (or) living in some sort of slavery, I have no doubt that people will fight for freedom,” he said.

He did not deny raising money in the U.S. for Ethiopian opposition groups.

“All opposition groups raise money in the U.S.,” he said.

He said he hoped the administration of President Barack Obama would realize it is “unseemly” for the U.S. to have any relationship with the Ethiopian regime.

The opposition won an unprecedented number of parliamentary seats in the 2005 vote, but not enough to topple Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. The opposition claimed the voting was rigged, and European Union observers said it was marred by irregularities. The election was followed by violent protests. Ethiopia acknowledged that its security forces killed 193 civilians protesting alleged election fraud.

Since 2005, there has been only one opposition-led political protest in Ethiopia, held this month in Addis Ababa.

Berhanu said he believed the government is wracked by internal {www:turmoil}, perhaps even within the military.

“The government is becoming increasingly unstable and is lashing out at anyone it thinks is even mildly popular inside the country,” he said.

Berhanu Nega family's home in Ethiopia surrounded

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — The family home of Dr {www:Berhanu Nega}, leader of the Ethiopian opposition, Ginbot 7 Movement for Justice and Democracy (Ginbot 7), has been surrounded and his parents have been roughed up by {www:Woyanne} gunmen, according to Ethiopian Review sources.

Dr Berhanu’s 80-year-old father, Ato Nega Bonger, was inside the house when the gunmen forced their way into the house and started beating up family members, including Ato Getu Worku, who was later taken away and his whereabouts right now is unknown.

Meles Zenawi’s armed thugs also confiscated mobile phones belonging to Ato Nega and Dr Berhanu’s mother, Wzr. Abebech Woldegiorgis.

The extended family was gathered at Ato Nega’s house in Addis Ababa to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the death of Wzr. Abebech Woldegiorgis’ brother when the lawless regime’s security forces suddenly descended on them earlier today.

The Woyanne regime today also announced that it has foiled a coup attempt by Ginbot 7 and that it has arrested over 30 suspects who were found with a variety of weapons.

Woyanne claims it has foiled Ginbot 7 activities in Ethiopia

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Ginbot 7 has issued its own press released regarding the Woyanne cliam. Click here the statement. Below is a report by the Woyanne-controlled Ethiopian News Agency (ENA).

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (ENA) – Terrorist operation being advanced by a terrorist group calling itself “Ginbot 7” was foiled, the National Intelligence, Security Service and Federal Police Joint Anti-Terrorist Taskforce, disclosed.

In a press statement it sent to ENA on Saturday, the taskforce said the subversive activities of the terrorist group, which was established by Dr. Berhanu Nega, has declared an armed struggle to dismantle the national constitutional system through force saying that there is no more peaceful struggle.

However, the taskforce said, the activities of the terrorist group was foiled by the security force.

It said the operation of the anti-peace group has organized a military and civilian sub-team in the country with millions of Birr which it said has been foiled.

The military sub-team embraced some members of the army and a lot of x-army members who were dismissed from duty for disciplinary reasons, according to the Taskforce.

It further said the civilian sub-team comprised employees working in various private and government organizations.

The taskforce, which has been closely following up the activities of this terrorist network for a longer period, detained 35 suspects on Friday based on the country’s law.

In addition to this, the taskforce through a search warrant issued by the court has caught different arms, bombs, satellite, computers, radio communications, military uniforms and planning documents, among others.

The taskforce said it is investigating the cases on the suspects and will disclose the details soon.

It expressed appreciation to the cooperation shown by the public and the active participation of members of the army in foiling the conspiracy against the national constitution.

Clarification from the EPPF leadership

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

The top leadership of Ethiopian People Patriotic Front (EPPF) has issued a statement regarding accusations that was posted on an anti-EPPF web site against Ato Sileshi Tilahun, head of EPPF International Committee’s organizational affairs.

The statement, which is signed by the EPPF chairman and posted on the official EPPF web site, clarifies that only the top leadership has the authority to issue statements about the organization and that internal disagreements, if they occur, are resolved based on the organization’s bylaws and rules.

The EPPF fighters and leaders in the field continue to express confidence in Ato Sileshi’s ability to perform his task of organizing EPPF support chapters around the world and appreciate his tireless work on behalf of the organization.

Click here to read the full text.

EPPF is making advances both inside the country and worldwide. For more information watch the following videos that were recently released by the EPPF Press Office.
Below is Part I (Watch Part 2, 3 and 4 here)

Watch Eri-Tv live

Friday, April 24th, 2009 has started to carry Eri-Tv live. Eri-Tv’s Amharic program is being watched by more people than the Woyanne-controlled ETV in Ethiopia. Click here to watch.

Who the hell is Tilahun?

Friday, April 24th, 2009

By Kiflu Hussain

Lately, in the past four years, I learned the hard way how deep pain and grief can penetrate due to the loss of someone you love or admire. Although I’ve always felt sad when someone I know very well or someone close to me dies, the grief I used to experience has never been all consuming; not until 28 October 2005.

That fateful day was the day I was bundled to the notorious detention center called “Maekelawie”whereupon I got transferred after a few days to Kaliti concentration camp to rot for one solid year. While I was there I learned the death of three people I cherished dearly. Two were prominent Ethiopians who had been distinguished in their own respective career. They were the late Poet Laureate Tsegaye Gebremedhin and the renowned former NASA scientist Kitaw Ejigu. Of course, Kitaw died in America and was buried there. Nonetheless, to learn of their loss in a highly congested place not even fit for animals which is mostly inhabited with all sorts of weirdos interspersed with guys like me and some other decent fellows was really devastating. But that’s what happens in a repressive system where your incarceration would surely be protracted indefinitely. And, so I learned about the third person’s death who had been a senior colleague and whose unsung integrity and patriotism I used to admire. Ato Aseffa Taye — a lawyer who worked for Ethiopian Insurance Corporation for nearly 30 years, before and after the nationalization of insurance companies by the military regime.

I thought that kind of ordeal would be over once I get released. But, no Sir! I had to come to exile in January 2007 and learn about three more deaths that really shook me up. Again, I had to learn about the death of a friend who was also another lawyer but much younger, even some three years younger than me. Apart from being known as a symbol of generosity in our circle, he was a genial man always with an exploding infectious laughter. Most of us beer drinkers in our office used to enjoy our nectar with him after a long hard day. Though Betre Dawit –that’s his name — had been terminally ill for some time due to the inefficiency of health care — no care really — system that was unable to diagnose his problem on time, his death still came as a shock. I witnessed before I sneaked out of my country that his positive mentality and cheerfulness never deserted him despite being bedridden for long. You go to cheer him up but you get back being cheered up. And, there was this friend of mine with whom I grew up in a neighborhood at Bole and whose bohemian lifestyle never failed to give me a kick despite his background from a stiff “petit bourgeois” family. Unfortunately, unlike Sebhat Gebregziabiher’s generation when one can afford to be a bohemian without running any fatal risk, this bohemian friend of mine called Abiy Gudeta bought the farm with his untimely death a couple of months ago. I was unable to bid him farewell except grieve in a distance as had never grieved before, while reminiscing all his mischief, witty remarks, sarcastic humor and his total disdain for the uptight society in which he grew up.

And, now came the passing away of the greatest Ethiopian celebrity to whom I became a fan just like any child in any modern Ethiopian family through inheritance. My love for Tilahun’s music, my perception of that great artist is no different than any other modern Ethiopian. I cannot tell a different story about how I passionately became his fan. Like Fekade Shewakena said in his piece titled “Tilahun’s passing away: End of an era,” once again I also felt bitter about “Sidet.” Yet, this time my bitterness emanated not only due to the frustration of not being there to salute this great Ethiopian artist for the last time. Rather, it’s due to the inability of transferring the legacy of Tilahun to my kids as had been transferred to me by my parents, especially by my father who was absolutely crazy about Tilahun’s music.

My father used to tell us how they used to waltz to their hearts content after inviting the Orchestra of the Imperial Bodyguard at Army Aviation where he served during the good old days before he joined Ethiopian Airlines in May 1974. At home we had loads of reel and later cassette tapes of Tilahun and his contemporaries. Perhaps, they would hook up again, up there in the heavens and waltz in the after-life for my father too became no more in August 2000. At any rate, the day I learned of Tilahun’s death was just like any other day. Expecting nothing out of the ordinary, I went out in the morning of April 20 to check my email. Before I settled down at the Café, a friend of mine and a fellow refugee in Kampala called me to break the sad news about Tilahun. Considering his declining health for some time, I wasn’t that much jolted. However, a creeping void began to overwhelm me as the enormity of it hit me. He was the first, the best and unparalleled vocalist in the modern Ethiopian music. He dominated the scene for over five decades. So, like everyone agrees, his death entails the closing of a big chapter in the formidable continuing Ethiopian saga. Anyway,to confirm the news, I went directly to But no mention about Tilahun. Then to Addisvoice, nothing. Finally EMF confirmed my worst fear on which I scribbled some words about the loss I felt.

While leaving the café and still reflecting about Tilahun, I called my wife and broke the news to her which she naturally found shocking. Around lunchtime, I went to my kid’s school to pick my second daughter who only spends half a day there. She is eight years old. Though, normally I don’t discuss death or about dead people with her, this time I couldn’t resist.

I said “Sophie, Tilahun Gessese died.”

Her response: “who the hell is he?”

Now that shocked me more than Tilahun’s death. It’s only been two years since we sought refuge in Uganda, a tiny country not very far from Ethiopia. Though there are many Ethiopian exiles here, because of absence of economic opportunities, the Ethiopian community is weak to address its basic needs let alone to pass on Ethiopian history and culture to children born in exile or who came to exile in their infancy.

The other factor is the majority of Ethiopian exiles here are waiting for resettlement to a third country which is an impediment to strengthen the community with people who can dedicate themselves with long term commitment. Thus, it’s impossible to even find a story book in Amharic. Consequently, many Ethiopian kids are finding it more and more difficult to speak in their own mother tongue. Reading in Ge’ez script, a truly indigenous and sole African script, has become a luxury to contemplate here. Personally, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s easier for an Ethiopian kid in Northern America to learn Amharic than an Ethiopian kid who is unfortunate enough to be exiled with his family in another African country such as Uganda.

In any case, to provide answer to my kid’s question, I asked her and her elder sister, who’s 12 years old, to listen to VOA Amharic service with me so that she will know or remember who Tilahun Gessese was. They both snubbed me for a fool who expected them to trade off their favorite program from the many channels of Ugandan TV. I was forced to listen to VOA alone through my headset. I didn’t give up hope. I just decided to bid my time and when the right time comes, I deluge them with the power of Tilahun’s music. After all, it’s the hallmark of Tilahun’s music to galvanize anyone without even paying attention to the lyrics.

Apart from being the first and the best in modern Ethiopian music, I think that is one of the factors that made Tilahun’s music abiding from generation to generation. The other factor was Tilahun’s ability to consummate a message in his music without appearing an activist for this or that cause. Also, despite the absence of his overt activism for any high sounding “lofty” cause, he never engaged in any scandal that compromised the sovereignty of Ethiopia nor the unity of its people. On the contrary, he moved heaven and earth with his shattering performance during the peak of the fight in 1977 with Ethiopia’s archenemy, TPLF and the then invading army of Siad Barre. The title of that song was “Atintem Yikeskes” which made him an object of hateful propaganda along with Neway Debebe, Tsehaye Yohannes and Tamegn Beyene by the current rulers of Ethiopia in the early 1990s.

So then, does the sending of letter of condolence on his funeral by Meles Zenawi, the number one enemy of Ethiopia and anything Ethiopian, mean that he has repented or modified his anti-Ethiopian stance? Or does it mean that he finally acknowledged the talent as well as the patriotism of Tilahun Gessese?

The answer is a resounding no! What forced Meles & Co. to put on a public charade was first, the universal appeal of Tilahun’s music, which even wooed tycoons and financiers of TPLF such as Al Moudi to the extent of becoming an unconditional patron for his past and current artistic works. Second, TPLF’s fall out with its erstwhile comrade-in-arms, EPLF, over a tiny barren land in1998-2000.

Woyanne realized then that its Eyassu Berhe et al weren’t enough to summon the public for that senseless war in the name of “sovereignty.” Hence, it had to dust off from ETV’s sound archive and play “Atintem Yikeskes” grudgingly. Later, it had even enlisted Tilahun in person as it had never detested him before so that he goes to the front and boost the morale of the army. When the war was concluded with the Woyanne side gaining the upper hand, Tilahun’s patriotic songs were sidelined. It’s also public knowledge that the current rulers of Ethiopia aren’t keen to hear any of Tilahun’s song that praises Ethiopia and Ethiopianess in the media they monopolized. The only time you get to hear these songs with ample opportunity is when the opposition political parties campaign once in every five year for farcical elections as the one that ended in bloodshed in 2005. Otherwise, it’s in your own private place. As the Ethiopian renaissance is in the horizon, to which Woyanne’s reluctant accession to Tilahun’s state funeral is a clear sign out of many, I will also find “Atintem Yikeskes” and play it again on a blaring gramophone to listen and make others listen to the following verses which is roughly translated.

Let my bone be crushed
Let my blood be spilled
Than to see my country
Be defiled by the enemy.

In the meantime, I say goodbye to the Ethiopian Star for the last time as the British bade farewell to their beloved Princess Diana to whom they dedicated a song titled “Goodbye England’s Rose.” Also all the dead I mentioned above: May they rest in peace, except Tilahun for he has an obligation there too to entertain his fans.

(The writer can be reached at

Scientists find a new species of tree in Ethiopia

Friday, April 24th, 2009

By Alister Doyle

OSLO (Reuters) – A tree that covers a large area of eastern Ethiopia but has only recently been categorized by botanists raises hope for finding new {www:species} elsewhere, experts said.

The acacia fumosa tree, which grows in an area the size of the island of Crete, was not “found” for scientific purposes until 2006-7, mostly likely because its main habitat is a war zone.

“I have spent a lifetime looking at plants and describing species — it knocked me sideways when I heard about this tree,” David Mabberley of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England, told Reuters.

“The total numbers must be in the millions,” he said of the pink-flowered, 6-m (20-ft) tall tree that covers hillsides in an {www:inaccessible} area of 8,000 sq kms (3,100 sq miles) near the border with Somalia.

In an article in Friday’s edition of the journal Science, he wrote that the tree had been overlooked by generations of botanists, apparently because of few visits to the area where the Ogaden National Liberation Front is fighting for autonomy.

The discovery was an encouraging sign that other overlooked large species might still be found, from rainforests to the ocean depths. Still, he said, scientists were “highly unlikely” to find another tree dominating such a large area.

The discovery contrasts with gloom about destruction of habitats and global warming threatening more extinctions. Environment Ministers of the Group of Eight are meeting in Italy from April 22-24 discussing ways to slow a loss of biodiversity.

“It’s an upbeat story for a change,” Mabberley said. The tree was found by Swedish botanist Mats Thulin and previously described in a Nordic journal.

People in the sparsely populated region did not exploit the tree except for firewood but it might have commercial uses, for instance in gum used for foodstuffs or glues.

About 10,000 new species of plants or creatures are described worldwide every year, most of them tiny, he said.


Among exceptions, a coelacanth fish known only from fossils was caught off South Africa in 1938. The wollemi pine, also known from fossils, was found in Australia in 1994. And the saola antelope in Vietnam and Laos was identified in 1992.

“I suspect there are still large species out there to be discovered,” Craig Hilton-Taylor, head of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of endangered species, told Reuters.

He said that countries that have suffered conflicts — such as Democratic Republic of Congo, Cambodia or Colombia — were likely places to find overlooked species.

And some types of beaked whales that dive to great depths were only known from washed up corpses. “There are probably still a few things in the deep ocean we haven’t found,” he said.

More by Susan Milius of

An acacia in northern Africa that grows six meters tall and dominates the {www:landscape} across an area almost three times the size of Rhode Island is new to science.

“It’s astounding,” says David Mabberley of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England. He summarizes the findings in the April 24 Science, though the tree was officially named Acacia fumosa online in the Nordic Journal of Botany in September 2008.

Finding a new species in itself isn’t such a surprise, he says. Scientists describe and give Latin names to some 10,000 new organisms a year. About 2,350 of these are flowering plants, with a new one from Africa appearing on average every weekday. Many of these new names go to plants that have been languishing misidentified or unidentified in collections, Mabberley says, and the complete surprises are typically uncommon plants or those that have tiny ranges.

But no herbarium specimens or botanical mentions of the new acacia existed, even though it’s widespread in its homeland, says Mats Thulin of Uppsala University in Sweden, who named the plant. He has named several hundred plants but never seen a case like this.

Science got such a shock from the tree because the acacia grows in Ethiopia’s Somali National Regional State, or Ogaden. Though politically part of Ethiopia, the sparse population of the region is mostly ethnic Somali, Thulin says. The Ogaden National Liberation Front is fighting for independence and has made traveling to the region perilous.

Thulin, who spent 18 years as editor of Flora of Somalia, had never visited Ogaden until 2006, when he joined a German zoologist who had arranged to study antelopes there.

“What happened to us several times both in 2006 and 2007 was that a group of rebels was suddenly standing on the road with machine guns directed toward us,” Thulin says. The scientists carried no weapons and had put a sign on their car saying so. Each time, after an hour or two of questioning, the armed party let them go. “An American, an Ethiopian or someone working for the Ethiopian government would have been in big trouble,” he says.

Almost immediately on seeing the acacia, Thulin says, he recognized it as an unknown species. It had unusual, smooth, gray bark, for example. On a later trip, he discovered that it burst into pink, sweet-smelling blooms during the dry {www:season}, when no leaves were on the trees. Its relatives bloom in yellow or creamy flowers during the wet season.

With a bit of travel and some help form Google Earth, Thulin realized how widespread the acacia is in its arid habitat. The tree provides vegetation in a landscape too dry for perennial grasses. And, like other acacias, has glands where ants sip nectar, so there may be a tree-insect mutualism.

Finding another such surprise may not be too likely, according to Tom Daniel, botany curator at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. New species, yes. Plenty to name. But something this widespread that scientists haven’t seen — “This is pretty unusual,” he says.