Archive for the ‘Ethiopian News’ Category

Ethiopian Airlines says profits may hit record high

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

(REUTERS) ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopian Airlines net profits for the first nine months of 2007/08 reached 484 million birr ($55.67 million), the airline said in a statement.

The state-owned carrier posted net profits of 129 million birr in 2006/07. The statement predicted that, based on the first nine months of 2007/08, the airline would achieve a record net profits and revenues. Expenses for the same period rose by 21 percent, the brunt of which Chief Executive Girma Wake said was spent on fuel.

“Fuel price remains of concern to the industry as a whole and Ethiopian Airlines believes that costs will continue to escalate into the next quarter given the present trend in price of fuel,” Wake said. Revenues for the period rose 29 percent to 6.6 million birr, he said.

The airline transported 1.9 million passengers, a 19 percent increase on last year. Wake said the improvements in revenue and traffic were due to increased frequency of flights, the introduction of new routes and an increase in cargo revenue

The butcher of Addis Ababa University comes to DC in a wheelchair

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

Endrias Eshete, who is known as the butcher of Addis Ababa University, has arrived at Dulles Airport in Washington DC today. He was taken to a van provided by the Woyanne embassy in a wheelchair. The tutor of Meles Zenawi’s daughter, Samuel Assefa, who also acts as an ambassador of Ethiopian in Washington DC, was at the air port to greet him.

Meles Zenawi appointed Endrias Eshete as head of the Addis Ababa University to stamp out any criticism of the Woyanne regime by the university’s faculty and students. Endrias allowed, and often invited, Meles’s death squads, the Agazi special forces, and the notorious Federal police to enter the AAU campus and attack the students. Under Endrias’s watch thousands of AAU students have been savagely attacked, tortured, imprisoned and killed.

Endrias Eshete and Ambassador Samuel Assefa are old time drinking buddies and close friends of Meles Zenawi’s family. Samuel is a personal tutor and chaperon of Meles’s older daughter. When she was admitted to Georgetown University in Washington DC about two years ago, Meles removed the previous ambassador, Kassahun Chekol, and sent Samuel Assefa, who has no diplomatic experience, to DC as an ambassador. Samuel’s main job, however, is not diplomacy. He is a personal servant to the dictator’s daughter.

New draft press law raises eyebrows

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

By Bruck Shewareged, The Reporter

The House of Peoples’ Representatives last week discussed the newly drafted press law. The government believes that the bill will be instrumental in creating and developing a “responsible” press. But to the opposition parties, the bill constitutes a tool which the government can use to suppress freedom of expression.

Five years ago, the government introduced a draft press law which many in the country and abroad described as a “draconian” law. Following an outcry by the private press, and an appeal by some of the western embassies here, the government stopped short of putting it into law.

Now, it has come up with a new one that appears to be less “draconian”, albeit a very restrictive law, as some see it. Some parliamentarians argue that there is no way that the law guarantees access to information.

Some of the MPs spoke out against what they called “restrictive” provisions in the draft press law. Temesgen Zewdie, an opposition MP, said that the draft law severely curbs freedom of expression, and is directed at people’s freedom. The draft, according to him, violates the freedom of expression stipulated in Article 29 of the Ethiopia Constitution.

Ownership of the media is another issue which some MPs raised their concerns about. The draft law prohibits multiple ownership of print and electronic media. It prevents an owner of a media outlet from owning another outlet, or having effective control over other outlets.

The new law also forces owners to divulge their sources of capital, and that any source outside the country is completely prohibited. Temesgen argues that the law is intended to curb the right of citizens from setting up press outlets. He added that Ethiopians in the Diaspora, those who adopted other citizenships, will also be barred from investing their money in the media due to the draft law. “Just because government anticipates challenges from the private press, such shameful proclamation cannot be written into law,” he stressed.

The right of access to information as provided in the draft proclamation is another point of controversy for the parliamentarians. According to Article 14 of the proclamation, the possibility of getting information from government institutions heavily relies on the goodwill of the public relations officer of the institution. Article 14.3 stipulates that the public relations officer has thirty working days to respond to the request by the person seeking a specific information. On top of that, he can refuse to give that information if he deems it necessary.

The public relations officer is also empowered to extend the thirty-day period to sixty days, “if many other similar requests are made by others, if compiling the information requires obtaining the information from branch offices or if it becomes necessary for the officer to consult with other government organizations,” as written in Article 14.8. Temesgen raised his concern about getting timely information from government institutions if such provisions are included in the press law.

Tesfaye Fufa of the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM) opposes the inclusion of articles which by nature belong to the criminal code rather the press law. He said that his party believes that the press law must be re-drafted by an independent board whose members represent different sectors of the society.

The preamble of the proclamation has it that it has become necessary to replace the existing press law i.e., proclamation 34/92 with a more advanced law. Unlike what opposition parties argue about, the preamble stresses that the proposed law guarantees freedom of expression and ensures transparency in government institutions.

Compared to the existing law, the draft proclamation levies heavy fines on press outlets that transgress the law. A media organization can be fined up to 100,000 birr for defamation. This amount of fine has not been stipulated in the previous law.

A federal or regional prosecutor can bar publications from being distributed if he is convinced that irreparable damage could be done once the publications reach the public.

The prosecutor is also empowered to bar the distribution without seeking a court order, if he doesn’t have “enough” time to secure one. After that he has to notify the court of his decision within 48 hours. The court will have 24 hours to approve or disapprove the prosecutor’s decision after it receives notification from the prosecutor.

After the debate in parliament, it was decided to refer the draft press law to the parliamentary standing committees for Legal and Administrative Affairs and the Information and Cultural Affairs. 302 MPs voted in favor and 34 against it.

One could ask what will happen to the several government owned media outlets such as Ethiopian Television, Radio Ethiopia, and the several newspapers if the law is put into effect. Since multiple ownership will be prohibited if the proclamation is voted into law, what will happen to these government owned media organizations? Will they be privatized? Or will the law only apply to private ownership? If that is the case, can the government be above the law?

VIDEO: The Qeranio MedhaneAlem story

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

Part I

Click here for part II

The butcher of AAU comes to DC in a wheelchair

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

Endrias Eshete, who is known as the butcher of Addis Ababa University, has arrived at Dulles Airport in Washington DC today. He was taken to a van provided by the Woyanne embassy in a wheelchair. The tutor of Meles Zenawi’s daughter, Samuel Assefa, who also acts as an ambassador of Ethiopia in Washington DC, was at the airport to greet him.

Meles Zenawi appointed Endrias Eshete as head of the Addis Ababa University to stamp out any criticism of the Woyanne tribal junta by the university’s faculty and students. Endrias allowed, and often invited, Meles’s death squads, the Agazi special forces, and the notorious Federal police to enter the AAU campus and attack the students. Under Endrias’s watch thousands of AAU students have been savagely attacked, tortured, imprisoned and killed.

Endrias Eshete and Ambassador Samuel Assefa are old time drinking buddies (both full time drunkards) and close friends of Meles Zenawi’s family. Samuel is a personal tutor and chaperon of Meles’s older daughter. When she was admitted to Georgetown University in Washington DC about two years ago, Meles removed the previous ambassador, Kassahun Ayele, and sent Samuel Assefa — who has no diplomatic experience — to DC as an ambassador. Samuel’s main job, however, is not diplomacy. He is a personal servant to the dictator’s daughter.

Merchants of death and destruction

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

By Yilma Bekele

Some things are said to be unthinkable. They are beyond the norms of any behavior. They fall into the territory of No and Never. Unfortunately in today’s Ethiopia nothing is off the table. The regime is open to any and all bizarre, strange and odd happenings. What was reported by the French paper Lemonade is one such story that you would think the reporter was making it up. You actually wish it could be proven to be untrue. Alas, we are dealing with the Ethiopian government where the gulf between fact and fiction is a very razor thin line.

A report by Alain Lallemand of LeMonde claims that the Ethiopian Army and Ugandan ‘Peace Keeping’ force are the major merchants of arms to the resistance forces in Somalia. Yes you read it correct. Our government and the Ugandan Army are supplying arms to the people they are supposedly fighting against. If this is not strange enough for you the so-called Somali government Army is also part of this unholy alliance. They are gunrunners in their own right. They resale the arms seized during raids.

(You can read the English translation here.)

According to LeMonde ‘This arms bazaar has taken such a looming twist in the last six months that it has developed not one but seven markets — six in Mogadishu and one in Afgoi.’ It does not make sense does it? You send your troops to fight and win, but turn around and supply arms to the other side. Thus the Somali resistance militia is using weapons furnished by Ethiopia to kill Ethiopians. How many Ethiopians god only knows

Our government does not consider the people are entitled to such information. We have no idea how many Ethiopians perished in Badme. Somalia is another front where the death and maiming of our people is of no consequences to our enlightened leaders.

The only way one can reconcile this bizarre situation is by understanding the nature of the ‘cadre’ government lording it over our country. A little background information is called for. Before the history book was revised concerning the victory of TPLF over the Mengistu regime the real facts were a little different. Telling and retelling of the fiction by the regime have sort of convinced the liars of their own make believe world. We all know they were invited by Herman Cohen and US intelligence to take the mantle of power. The butcher Mengistu was escorted out of Addis with all the loot he can fit in the specially furnished Boeing plane.

The rag tag militia entering Addis was more of a shock to themselves than the residents by the turn of events. If you remember they were mostly young kids completely disoriented and lost in this Metropolis of millions of people. What they found was a city with no leader but willing and hopeful people to start a new era of peace and justice. They welcomed the militia as one of their own. They showered them with flowers and love. There was no single organized resistance to the new ‘liberators’.

It was a most confusing moment to the cadre leaders. Their very being requires the presence of contradictions and animosity. They are used to asserting themselves by using force and terror. Love and acceptance is not part of their programming. They were forced to create phantom enemies. Thus burning the ‘weapons’ depot and random shooting through out the night was their way of making themselves at home.

They proceeded to dismantle and destroy anything and everything that was not in accord with their psudeo Marxist outlook. Where there was unity they created division, where there was love they replaced it with hate, tolerance gave way to intolerance, hope was gone and hopelessness took its place. The Flag was changed without consultation, the Constitution was approved without due process and the country was divided among ethnic lines. This in a nutshell is the basis of our current situation. The Somali invasion is just another chapter in this grand scheme of staying in power by any means.

We invaded Somalia to curry favors with the Bush administration in general and the Pentagon in particular. Ger ger le leba yemechal, it was another situation which the regime took advantage of. The underlying philosophy was no problem for TPLF. Its chameleon nature has already been recognized. Power is its only central theme. All others serve the need for power. It started as a Marxist Leninist Party, replaced it with Enver Hoxa when the Derg allied with the Soviet Union, replaced that with liberal democracy when the Soviet Union and the Derg withered and now replaced that with ‘soldiers for hire’ in the name of fighting terrorism.

The gun running in Somalia is part of the pattern of lawlessness the regime encourages in the country. Respect for the law is the pillar of democracy. In the absence of that the ‘law of the jungle’ takes over. Those who have the power dictate to those who don’t. In today’s Ethiopia the power is in the hands of a few TPLF cadres. Everything is up for grabs. Thus it is no surprise that military commanders dabble in as weapon merchants as a payment for hazardous duty. Their civilian counterparts are amassing a big fortune selling anything and everything of value in the country. Yesterday’s cadres who entered Addis Ababa with nothing but an AK 47 are today’s millionaires and highly respected entrepreneurs. They are the same geniuses who build five story with water only going to the second floor, beautiful imported chandeliers but no electricity, rows of condominiums but no road and no waste disposal system, commodity exchange but no commodity. The cadres are all form and no essence.

Myopia is a Greek term for short sightedness. For the myopic distant things appear blurred. Our leaders suffer from thought myopia. They do not seem to see what happened a short time back. Wealth amassed using questionable means does not seem to have a lasting value. It usually ends up returned to its rightful owners. In today’s small world it does not travel far. It is traceable. It does not matter where. Geneva is no different from Indonesia, Cayman Islands is the same as Luxemburg. They all cooperate for a fee and legitimacy.

Thus if this business of gun running is to make profit, profit will be made. The unfortunate part is for the poor foot soldier that is thrown into this situation so others can stay in power. The US has made it clear to all who can hear. ‘We fight them over there before they come over here”. The Ethiopian regime benefits by being a recipient of spare weapons and a few good words by the West to IMF, World Bank etc. for loans and grants. The looser in this equation is the poor peasant regarded as a sacrificial lamb so others can live and thrive temporarily. So you think you have seen it all. Patience my friend, TPLF wills mange to come up with more.

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The writer can be reached at yilma@pacbell.net

Ethiopian officials say border demarcation with Sudan is underway

Friday, May 16th, 2008

By Argaw Ashine, The Monitor

Ethiopian officials say a border demarcation with neighboring Sudan is underway although an agreement has not yet been reached.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Monday that the demarcation process was being executed with mutual respect and based on historical evidences.

This border demarcation activity is based on the agreements signed with Sudan and former colonial master Britain.

Both countries, which have shared a common border committee since 1972 have been trying to re-demarcate the border since 2001.

The African Affairs Director in the ministry, Mr Wahde Belay, said there was no disagreement between Sudan and Ethiopia to solve the issue without the intervention of third party adding that the demarcation of 1600km border might take a longer time to finalise.

Ethiopia and Sudan first signed the border agreement in 1903 and 1909 and agreed to re-demarcate the border in 1972.

Ethiopia puts logo on its hottest export – coffee

Friday, May 16th, 2008

By AARON O. PATRICK, Wall Street Journal

London - A small design firm here was recently hired by an unusual client with an unconventional request: The Ethiopian government commissioned Brandhouse to come up with a logo that will make consumers feel like they are drinking a luxury when they have Ethiopian coffee.

[coffee]
Brandhouse
Ethiopia hopes its new ‘e’ logo will help elevate its coffee.

This month, the Ethiopian government is releasing the logos for three varieties of Ethiopian coffee beans that it hopes will eventually appear from the burlap sacks that are used to transport coffee beans to coffee cups in cafes. It is the first time the country has introduced a brand for its major export.

The Ethiopian government hired Brandhouse after deciding that branding could establish Ethiopia’s reputation for high-quality coffee around the world, like French wine, Russian caviar, or Cuban cigars. Drinkers would likely pay more for Ethiopian coffee, increasing wholesale prices and helping farmers, the government figured.

“People associate Ethiopia with drought and famine and that colors the perception of Ethiopian coffee,” says Berhanu Kebede, Ethiopia’s ambassador to the United Kingdom who was part of the coffee-industry committee overseeing the project. “Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, but surveys show only 2% of people know that.”

The logos are the culmination of years of sometimes-bitter wrangling between Ethiopia, British charity Oxfam, Starbucks and the National Coffee Association, a trade association for U.S. coffee importers, wholesalers, retailers and roasters. The Ethiopian government has argued that companies such as Starbucks should sign licensing agreements for its coffee. Oxfam supported its cause and last year, the Seattle coffee chain reached a deal with Ethiopia to license, market and promote Harar, Yirgacheffe, and Sidamo coffee.

While the Starbucks deal was seen as a breakthrough, it is unclear how it will work in practice. The world’s biggest coffee chain hasn’t decided how or if it will use the new logos, said Dub Hay, Starbucks’ senior vice president for coffee and procurement.

While other coffees have been marketed into brands based on their origin, such as Colombian coffee with a logo of fictitious farmer Juan Valdez, a logo on its own may have a hard time commanding higher prices. Some 83 companies in nine countries have signed up to licensing agreements, which require them to use the logos, says Crispin Reed, managing director of Brandhouse. That said, Mr. Reed hopes coffee retailers will voluntarily use the logos.

Some marketing experts say Ethiopia needs to create a compelling case that its coffee is special. “There is a story behind every country which makes coffee,” says Mark Cotter, chief executive of WPP Group’s Food Group, a marketing agency that works on coffee brands owned by Kraft Foods, including Maxwell House. “They need to put marketing spending behind it.”

Mr. Kebede says there are plans for “some form of marketing” but he doesn’t know the budget.

Ethiopia’s coffee logo, created by Brandhouse, consists of a letter “e” in the shape of a bean over the name of coffee varieties Harar, Yirgacheffe or Sidamo, and the slogan “Ethiopian Fine Coffee.”

Oxfam estimates the branding could help deliver more than $75 million a year in additional revenue to Ethiopia, on top of the current $350 million a year. Some 15 million Ethiopians depend on the coffee industry, Mr. Kebede says.

Brandhouse was paid by the Ethiopian government for its work, but did not charge full price, Mr. Reed says. The agency doesn’t specialize in charity work and is known in the English ad industry for designing food packaging, including bottles and cans for popular Tango line of sodas.

Court convicts prominent Jijiga residents

Friday, May 16th, 2008

Source: Ogaden Human Rights Committee

On May 12th 2008, Suldan Fowsi Mohamed Ali, a prominent community elder and a peace activist was sentenced to 22 years in prison by an Ethiopian regional court in Jigjiga (also Jijiga). On the same date Haji Ibrahim Had, a well-known businessman and financier of an anti-ONLF (Ogaden National Liberation Front) clan based militia was also sentenced to 16 years in prison by the same court. The two detainees will be transferred to Zuway prison, in ‘Amhara region’.

On August 28th 2007, in Jigjiga, Ethiopian [Woyanne regime] security forces and the local police took Suldan Fowsi Mohamed Ali from his residence in the dead of night. And then he was transferred to an underground military detention in Jigjiga. He was among a number of outspoken critics of the Ethiopian [Woyanne] government’s policies in the Ogaden who were arrested before the arrival of the UN fact-finding mission in the region. He has been brought before the regional court several times. Each time, He was taken back to his cell for lack of evidence.

Recently, Suldan Fowsi was charged with masterminding of two hand grenade attacks which took place in Dhagaxbuur and Jigjiga, on May 28th 2007 and collaborating with the bandits,” a term Ethiopian authorities [Woyannes] frequently use to designate members of ONLF.

Suldan Fowsi was a member of a group of Ogaden elders who were mandated by the Ethiopian Prime Minister [Woyanne leader] Meles Zenawi to negotiate with the ONLF, on June 29th 2005. It should be noted that he was the mediator who successfully negotiated the release of the Chinese Workers who were taken by ONLF fighters, on 24th April 2007, in the Cobolle oil exploration field attack.

It is worthwhile to mention that Suldan Fowsi is a cousin of Bashir Ahmed Makhtal, the Canadian citizen who was handed over to the Ethiopian government [Woyanne regime] by Kenya at Mogadishu airport, on January 21st 2007.Since then Bashir is being held incommunicado without charge or trial.

Suldan Fowsi’s family members and relatives were subjected to constant harassment, intimidation, arbitrary detention and extensive torture. Those who are not in detention went into hiding for fear of their lives.

Haji Ibrahim Had was a sworn enemy of the ONLF. After the killing of his elder brother accidentally by the ONLF, he formed an anti-ONLF militia with the help of the Ethiopian Government [Woyanne]. His militia cooperated and collaborated with the Ethiopian [Woyanne] Armed Forces to undermine the ONLF. His younger brother was killed in one of the many engagements between his militia and ONLF fighters.

Haji Ibrahim Had was detained in December 2007. He was accused of collaborating with ‘the bandits,’ facilitating the Cobolle operation and having secret arrangements with the ONLF. He was brought before the regional court, in Jigjiga, on May 07th 2008, and then was taken back to his cell for lack of evidence and witnesses.

The two detainees were maltreated and denied medical care during their detention.

On April 04th 2008, when Mr. Abdi Mohamoud Omar, the head of the Somali Regional State Security and Justice Bureau, verbally attacked, Suldan Fowsi Mohamed Ali with a hateful and offensive language, during an interview with VOA Somali Section, Mr. Omar then confirmed Fowsi’s eventual condemnation. Since that day, court’s ruling had become a fait accoompli.

Suldan Fowsi and Haji Ibrahim Had pleaded not guilty. But regional court’s sentence was 22 and 16 years’ imprisonment respectively. They were not informed the particulars of the charges and reasons for their arrest, have not had access to any evidence presented against them, and were not represented by a proper legal counsel.

Hence, they did not receive fair trial in accordance with recognized international standards. On the basis of available information about their cases, the OHRC believes that there was not credible evidence for their conviction, and their trial was a mockery of justice, and considers Suldan Fowsi prisoner of conscience and Haji Ibrahim Had a victim of personal vendetta.

To the best of the Ogaden Human Rights Committee’s knowledge, Suldan Fowsi was not involved in any illegal or violent activity. He was a respectable community elder and peace activist. Haji Ibrahim Had was a notable businessman, an anti-ONLF and an ally of the Ethiopian [Woyanne] Government.

The Ogaden Human Rights Committee is concerned about their safety and well-being and opposes their transfer to the notorious Zuway prison.

The OHRC condemns the verdict of the Jigjiga Kangaroo Court and demands their unconditional and immediate release.

Zimbabwe attacks 'out of control' – and the U.S. hypocrisy

Friday, May 16th, 2008

EDITOR’S NOTE: Mugabe is just another blood thirsty vampire like Meles. At the same time, the U.S. Administration has no moral authority to criticize Mugabe while completely ignoring the atrocities of its puppet, the Meles regime, in Ethiopia and Somalia, including throat slashing, rape, indiscriminate firing at civilians, and other types of crimes against humanity as reported by Amnesty International and other international organizations. The hypocrisy and double standard of the U.S. Administration in regards to Mugabe and Meles shameful.

Zimbabwe attacks ‘out of control’

(BBC) — The US ambassador to Zimbabwe warned post-election violence is “spinning out of control”, as the government set a date for a second-round run-off.

James McGee told the BBC he had found evidence of “politically-inspired” violence against hundreds of people.

The diplomat warned the situation made it impossible for the second vote, set for 27 June, to be fair.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai won the first round, but not by enough to avoid a run-off with President Robert Mugabe.

The US ambassador said he had uncovered “firm evidence” of state-sponsored political bloodshed against supporters of Mr Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the aftermath of the elections on 29 March.

He told the BBC’s Newsnight programme: “Violence is spinning out of control.

“Too many people have been killed, too many people have been maimed, too many people have been dislocated from their homes.”

He said the attacks involved “mainly beatings to the back and buttocks, we’ve seen quite a few broken limbs, we’ve seen cuts to the head”.

He also said he had met an elderly woman who had been struck with a hatchet.

“Her two grand-sons were activists with the MDC party,” said Mr McGee.

“They were beaten up and then the people who beat them up found their grandmother and hit this 80-year-old woman in the head with an axe.”

‘Unadulterated violence’

Mr McGee said he had met the victims on a fact-finding trip with British, Japanese, EU, Dutch and Tanzanian diplomats, during which he said they were harassed by police.

Along with so-called war veterans, he said they had evidence “police and military are involved in these attacks”.

It was “pure unadulterated violence designed to intimidate people from voting in the next election”, he said.

But the state-owned Herald newspaper poured scorn on the US ambassador’s claims in an editorial, accusing the US of trying to demonise Zimbabwe.

And Zanu-PF spokesman Bright Matonga told the BBC: “Let me make it very clear that the Zimbabwe government does not support any violence – whether by MDC or Zanu-PF.”

Mr Mugabe told a Zanu-PF meeting on Friday the party should have been more prepared for the election.

‘Disastrous’

“Although the presidential result did not yield an outright winner, it was indeed disastrous,” he said.

Mr Tsvangirai told the BBC’s Orla Guerin Zanu-PF had made “overtures” to the MDC about the possibility of a national unity government.

He has said he will contest the second-round vote, after originally threatening to boycott it.

Mr Tsvangirai has also accused Mr Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party of a campaign of violence and torture against opposition activists, as well as vote-rigging.

The opposition leader has been out of Zimbabwe since the first-round vote because of alleged threats to his life.

But the MDC says he will return to address a rally in Bulawayo on Sunday.

Somali talks end with no meeting (BBC)

Friday, May 16th, 2008

(BBC) — Peace talks on Somalia have broken up without any face-to-face discussions between the government and the main opposition alliance.

After four days meeting UN diplomats in Djibouti, the two sides agreed to attend further talks in two weeks time.

The opposition insists it will not engage in direct negotiations until the government agrees a timetable for Ethiopian Woyanne troops to leave Somalia.

The two sides did, however, issue a joint appeal to improve aid access.

Ethiopian Woyanne troops are in Somalia supporting a transitional government, but an insurgency has led hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.

The parties decided to meet again in Djibouti for further talks on 31 May.

The communique, announced by UN envoy to Somalia Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, called on all Somalis “to put aside their differences to facilitate unhindered humanitarian access and the delivery of assistance to the people with immediate effect.”

Mr Abdallah organised the peace talks, which started on Monday, between the government and the Asmara-based Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia, which includes leaders of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC).

The UIC ruled much of Somalia in 2006 before being ousted by Ethiopian Woyanne forces backed by Somali government troops, who have been struggling to exert their control over the country ever since.

Al-Shabab, the militant wing of the UIC, did not attend the talks.

The talks were held against a backdrop of daily clashes between Islamist insurgents and Ethiopian-backed Somali government troops.

Distribute the food stored in Tigray region

Friday, May 16th, 2008

EDITOR’S NOTE: There is a food shortage in the south, the most fertile region of Ethiopia, because most of the food that is produced there is shipped to the northern region of Tigray and stored in grain silos and food warehouses. As a result, food prices in Tigray are up to 50% less than in other regions of the country. For example, how is it possible that there is food shortage in Wolaita, a region with some of the most fertile lands in Ethiopia, and at the same time we do not hear about food shortages or price hikes in Tigray, a dry region? So instead of begging for money, the Red Cross may want to ask the Meles regime to distribute the stored food in Tigray.

Red Cross seeks $1.7 million for food aid in Ethiopia

(DPA) — Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Geneva – An appeal for 1.7 million dollars to provide emergency food aid to around 40,000 Ethiopians was launched Friday by the Red Cross.

A series of poor rains resulting in under-nourished cattle had sent livestock prices plummeting.

At the same time, inflation had soared and cereal prices rocketed by more than a fifth two years running, the Geneva-based International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said.

“Thousands of people may face starvation in the coming months in the worst-case scenario but the situation is already critical for some 40,000 people,” IFRC’s food security officer in the region Kiflemariam Amdemariam said.

The money would provide food aid for severely-affected people in the Wolaita, Sidama, Moyale and Bale areas south of Addis Ababa for four months until the October harvest.

Further north, the Ethiopian Red Cross had also been distributing millions of litres of water and purification tablets in emergency drought preparedness programmes in East Harage and Afar.

362 Ethiopians and Somalis arrested in Tanzania

Friday, May 16th, 2008

By Amri Lugungulo, Kibaha

(IPP) TANZANIA — A total of 362 aliens from Ethiopia and Somalia were arrested between April 1 and May 8, this year, for entering the country contrary to immigration law.

According to Coast Region Immigration Officer Omari Kipande, the aliens had told immigration officers that they entered Tanzania after fleeing clan and tribal wars in their countries.

Kipande said that the illegal immigrants were arrested at different times and in different groups and places in the region by immigration officers in cooperation with the police.

The Regional Immigration Officer said that most of the aliens were arrested in Bagamoyo and Kibaha districts after disembarking from a boat in which they were travelling through Mombasa, Kenya from their home countries, Ethiopia and Somalia.

“It seems there is a syndicate that harbours them and provides them with transport and food when they arrive in the country, but when they are arrested most of their hosts manage to escape,” he said.

He said 128 aliens were arrested in April this year in Kibaha District and 120 of them were Ethiopians while 234 were also arrested in April, this year and 61 out of them were Somali nationals.

Kipande said that 51 illegal immigrants both Somali and Ethiopia nationals were arrested between May 1 and 8, this year, 13 of whom were Somali nationals.

The official said that the recent 51 aliens were arrested by the villagers at Lazaba Village and took them to Makurunge Village in Bagamoyo District.

However, he said that the villagers could not arrest the people who assisted them to enter the country.

In April, 90 Ethiopian immigrants were arrested by Tanzanian authorities

Ninety Ethiopians are each serving a six-month sentence after they failed to pay 50,000/-, being the fine ordered by Kibaha Resident Magistrate`s Court in Coast Region for illegal stay in the country.

The sentence was issued by Resident Magistrate, Hamisi Ali Salum, after the accused pleaded guilty to entering Tanzania contrary to immigration rules.

The Coast Regional Immigration Officer (RIO), Omari Kipande, told PST on Wednesday that the driver of the vehicle that carried them, John Mabena (43), and his assistant, Ayub Uhagile (27), were also sentenced to go to jail for three years in default of paying the fine of 100,000/-.

They had earlier pleaded guilty to assisting the aliens by ferrying them from Mlandizi, in Coast Region to Iringa from where the convicted were proceeding to Malawi.

The driver and his assistant were also still facing another charge of conspiracy to assist ferrying the aliens aboard a Scania truck with registration number T990 ACJ.

Kipande said that in the case of immigration prosecuted by an immigration officer, Mwajuma Mfaume, the 90 illegal immigrants would be deported to their home country after completion of their sentence.

He said that the aliens, all males and aged between 18 and 38 years, were arrested on April 4, this year at Mlandizi area in the region.

The illegal immigrants who hailed from Ethiopia had gone through Mombasa, Kenya before they entered Tanzania by boat and later boarded the truck that would have taken them to Malawi, he said.

Press conference with Ginbot 7 officials – Sunday 3:30 PM

Friday, May 16th, 2008

Ethiopian Current Affairs Discussion Forum (ECADF) will host a press conference with Ato Andargachew Tsige and other Ginbot 7 officials on Sunday, at 3:30 PM Washington DC time. The press conference will be aired live via Ethiopian Review Radio Network. Click here to listen.

IFJ calls for charges against magazine editor be dropped

Friday, May 16th, 2008

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on the Ethiopian authorities to drop charges against Alemayehu Mahtemework, the editor of monthly entertainment magazine Enku, and three others who were arrested with him after the publication of a cover story about a jailed popular singer.

Mahtemework and three others, who have not been identified, appeared in court on May 6. The trial will resume on May 19. The charges are still not clear but local sources say the four are accused of publishing “stirring articles that could incite people.” The defendants were held for five days before being released on bail.

“There is no need to hold a trial when there is no offence,” said Gabriel Baglo, the Director of the IFJ Africa Office. “We call on the authorities to drop all the legal proceedings against Mahtemework and the three people arrested with him and to allow the magazine to work in total freedom.”

The case stems from Enku’s cover story for its latest edition on Ethiopia’s most famous pop singer Tewodros Kassahun. Kassahun, known as Teddy Afro, is on trial for murder for a hit-and-run incident in 2006. He is well-known for his songs critical of the government and his fans have protested his trial.

Mahtemework and his three co-defendants were arrested by police on the evening of 2 May in a van carrying 10,000 copies of the magazine for distribution. All the copies were seized. After their first court appearance this week, the judge gave police 14 more days to finalize evidence against the defendants and other journalists who worked on the Teddy Afro story.
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For further information contact the IFJ: +221 33 842 01 43
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries

Ethiopian Catholic Church Pastor axed for speaking out

Friday, May 16th, 2008


SUSPENDED: Pastor Diphapang Potsane

Criticised fellow clerics for sinning
A pastor of the Ethiopian Catholic Church in Zion has been suspended for what he says was his outspokenness against sin.

“I spoke against fellow clerics who smoked, drank, stole, had extra-marital affairs and engaged in sex with members of the congregation,” he said.

Pastor Diphapang Potsane of the church’s Soshanguve, Pretoria, congregation told Sowetan that his six-month suspension came four days after he demanded that action be taken against errant deacons and bishops.

He claimed they stole from the church coffers and had extra-marital affairs with members of the church.

Potsane said he raised his concerns during the church’s provincial synod and convention at Voeteen near Bela-Bela, Limpopo, this month.

“I was summoned to an urgently convened hearing and found guilty of gross insubordination and violation of the church’s constitution.

“Leaders who are supposed to lead by example have sexual relationships with youths in the church,” Potsane said.

“ They drink and smoke publicly. I know was suspended because I wanted to bring order in the house of the Lord.”

He said he feared for his life because a priest in his branch was gunned down in September 2001 after complaining about the misconduct of the church’s provincial registrar.

“The registrar wanted to meet the priest to discuss the matter but the priest refused. Later that afternoon he was gunned down in a hijack attempt but nothing was stolen,” Potsane said.

Leader of the church Archbishop Simon Moloisane said: “Potsane wants to do things his way and with total disregard for authority and that is why he was charged with violating the oath of canons which require respect.”

Moloisane threatened to sue Sowetan if it published the story.

Attacker of an Ethiopian immigrant gets 8 years in prison

Friday, May 16th, 2008

The New Zealand Herald

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND — The mother of a security guard stabbed outside a Wellington bottle store last year dropped dead when he phoned her in Ethiopia to tell her, the High Court at Wellington was told today.

Justice Denis Clifford sentenced Gordon John Tui, 46, to eight years in jail for wounding Mukter Kadir Wadow with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

The judge said Tui had become enraged after a young associate was turned away from The Mill liquor store in Victoria Street for not having identification.

Tui went to the store and stabbed Mr Wadow once in the stomach and once in the back.

Justice Clifford said Wadow was lucky to be alive after the first wound missed his heart by 1cm.

Mr Wadow, a 37-year-old Ethiopian, emigrated to New Zealand in 2001.

When his mother in Ethiopia heard he had been attacked she reportedly fainted and could not be revived, Justice Clifford said.

“This was a severe and serious assault, it was…gratuitous and premeditated.”

Justice Clifford adopted a starting point of 10 years’ imprisonment but mitigating factors, including a guilty plea, reduced the sentence.

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Crown prosecutor Kate Feltham acknowledged the plea as a mitigating factor but said it came very late – 14 months after the attack.

Defence attorney Tony Rickard-Simms said the plea was late because Tui’s understanding on the night of the attack was impaired by alcohol and uncontrolled diabetes.

“When his health improved it soon became apparent that he was responsible and there was no excuse for his behaviour,” Mr Rickard-Simms said.

Tui was sentenced to eight years’ jail with a non-parole period of four years.

He had two previous assault offences.

VIDEO: Teddy Afro steals Beyone's show in Addis

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

VOA coverage of Ginbot 7's formation

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

The Voice of America (VOA) gave a wide coverage of the formation of the Ginbot 7 Movement on its afternoon broadcast. Yesterday, Dr Berhanu Nega and colleagues had announced that Ginbot 7 Movement for Justice and Democracy will be officially created today, May 15, to coincide with the 3rd anniversary of the May 2005 elections that were overturned by Meles Zenawi’s dictatorship. Click here to listen VOA’s report

Ethiopian immigrants found in a truck at U.K.-France border

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

By Matt Wilkinson, Oxford Mail

OXFORD, U.K. — Seven suspected illegal immigrants have been found in a truck at Oxford logistics firm.

The six men and one woman were discovered in a truck at Unipart in Oxford Business Park, Cowley, at around 1.30pm today.

They were detained by police and due to be interviewed by immigration officers.
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Police spokesman Vicky Brandon said it is believed all the detainees are from Ethiopia.

The driver was spoken to and his details were taken but he was not arrested, Mrs Brandon added.

The truck had arrived in Oxford from France.

Car crash claims the life of Ethiopian mother in Texas

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Police Searching For Driver In Deadly Hit & Run

By Seema Mathur

GARLAND, TEXAS (CBS 11 News) ― Police have released new information today about a deadly hit and run case that killed a Garland mother.

Juan Pedro Tobias, 30, is wanted for crashing into Tsigereda Kassaye’s car last week at the intersection of Jupiter and Buckingham. Kassaye later died at a local hospital from her injuries.

Police say Tobias fled the scene on foot.

Berhane Hagos, describes his wife as an angel. Without her, he said his life “looks like hell.”

Berhane fell in love with Kassaye in Ethiopia. But he was forced to move to the U.S. without her to seek political asylum. Ten years later, he went back to get and marry the love of his life.

Together they had 9-year-old Esrom, who finds it too painful to speak of his mom. He expressed his love in a Mother’s Day card he can only hope she will see from Heaven.

“He’s never been away from his mom,” Hagos said.

The family recently learned Tobias’s license was suspended for a list of previous offenses.

In 2004 he was sentenced and served two years for a DWI. In 2001 he was arrested for driving with a suspended license. In 2000, he was arrested for another DWI.

“I pray for him, and I forgive him,” said Hagos. “I believe in the system in this country, and I believe the system will take its course.”

Hagos said he has to forgive for the sake of himself and his son. It’s also the type of faith his wife had.

If you have any information on the whereabouts of Juan Pedro Tobias, you are asked to call Crime Stoppers at 972-272-8477. You can remain anonymous, and police say you may be eligible for a reward.

DW radio on the formation of Ginbot 7

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

DW’s (German Radio) Amharic Program gave a prominent coverage to the formation of Ginbot 7 on its broadcast today. DW has millions of listeners as VOA and Eritrean Radio in Ethiopia. Click here to listen.

Meseret joins Kenenisa at Oregon's Prefontaine Classic

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

The Associated Press

EUGENE, Oregon: A second Ethiopian will try to break a world record June 8 at the Nike Prefontaine Classic.

Meseret Defar will attempt to break her world 5,000-meter mark in a race to be held immediately after countryman Kenenisa Bekele goes after his world 10,000 record, meet officials said Wednesday.

Both races will be held in the morning before the official start of the meet.

Meseret, 24, broke her own world record with a time of 14 minutes, 16.63 seconds last June 15 in Oslo, Norway. She was just 20 when she won the gold medal in the event at the Athens Olympics four years ago.

As with the previously announced race by Kenenisa Bekele, the women’s 5,000 will have a pace-setter, Russian Olga Komyagina, fifth in the 3,000 at the world indoors this year, a race Meseret won. Meseret also won the 5,000 at last year’s world outdoor championships in Osaka, Japan.

Woyanne to assign one police officer for every NGO

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

The Ethiopian government Woyanne is proposing a new law to restrict activities of the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in the country. The law would allow a government agency to assign a police officer or an official to attend any NGO’s internal meetings without a court order.

By Argaw Ashine, Business Daily (Kenya)

It will also authorise the seizing of property, conducting searches and removing NGO staff if their activities are believed to be unlawful. The law excludes international and non-Ethiopian organisations from democracy, human rights, good governance, and conflict resolution activities. Known as Charities and Societies Proclamation, the law restricts local NGOs to source more than 90 per cent of their funding from within the country.

Observers have protested the development, saying the funding clause was unrealistic for a country dependent on high amount of foreign aid.

Most NGOs depend on foreign aid, and local financing is negligible. Western diplomats and donor groups are preparing to request Meles Zenawi, one of the architects and chairman of African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) forum, to reconsider this move which they believe is another attempt at crippling the country’s democracy. After the 2005 post-election crisis, Meles was seen defiant of Western pressure and he described their aid cut as “a shameful act”.

The government has alleged some NGOs affiliated to international organisations operating in Ethiopia have a hidden agenda. Last year, the government expelled the International Red Cross Society from eastern Ethiopia claiming it was involved in “illegal” activities. The charity dismissed the allegations. In the attempts to have the law reviewed, local and international NGOs have appealed to the government for further discussions.

Minas Hiruy, the head and founder of Hope — a local orphanage — has asked the authorities to reconsider the move. “It’s death penalty against us and we are appealing and crying to the government for dialogue before the law is sent to Parliament,” Minas said.

Getnet Assefa, a consultant with the European Union, said a government that receives the highest percentage of international aid lacks the moral stand to disqualify NGOs based on how they get the funds.

Executive director of Poverty Action Network in Ethiopian (PANE), Eshetu Bekele, asked the government to appreciate the role of NGOs towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals. “The government must respect its commitment in various international conventions including NEPAD and African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM),” Eshetu said.

Five religious groups have aslo indicated they will be seeking audience with the authorities, saying the development would not only be limiting participation in development activities, but will also threaten religious rights.

Assefa Kesito, Minister of Justice, however, said the law would first be sent to the Cabinet before it goes to Parliament within a “short period of time.”

“We are running out of time to send out the law and they [NGOs] can forward their inputs in the coming days” Assafa added. Assefa said Parliament had until the end of June this year to approve the law.

There are more than 3,000 NGOs covering various sectors in the country. They are estimated to be controlling more than $1 billion.

Some points on the Ethio-Sudan boarder flap

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

By Fekade Shewakena

News of boundary demarcation between Sudan and Ethiopia that unfairly favored Sudan and reports of harm done to Ethiopian farmers along the border is a subject of intense debate among many Diaspora Ethiopians. The blockage of the internet, the curtailment on the independent media and jamming of radio broadcast from outside, coupled with the raging fear of government seem to have blackened out the news and discussion inside the country. Diaspora Ethiopian community airwaves and cyber media are saturated with the news. Emotions are flaring high at the news that not only was land ceded to Sudan, but also by stories of local villages along the border that were burnt by Sudanese soldiers and that even some workers on farms have been taken prisoners by these soldiers while the Ethiopian government is looking the other way. The government’s response to the demands for explanation is a dismissive and emotional denial and has not been helpful. The press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs dismissed the whole flap as anti-government rumor and rant against people who spread these “rumors”. On the other hand, the evidences trickling out from farmers particularly from western Gondar, that include witness interviews on credible news outlets such as the Voice of America, where investors in the area confirmed their workers have been taken prisoner by the Sudanese, and wide coverage on German Radio, statements from Sudanese officials, and publications on the Sudanese side, do not comport with the denials of the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Add to this the low believability credit of Zenawi’s regime. It hasn’t gone far in cooling the rage. The Ethiopian officials seem to be in a position of a thief who stole a camel and wants to hide. There seems to be some fire to this smoke and there is no doubt that the news I just heard as I write this, Siyum Mesfin travelling to Sudan, has something to do with it. But amid the emotional exchange, the substantive issue surrounding the boundary is getting lost and an opportunity for useful public discussion on such an important issue is completely missed. Ethiopia is a country where most of the national boundary is not properly demarcated and whatever the kind of government we have, it has to deal with this issue one way or the other.

The rulers in power in Ethiopia should understand that boundaries are not simple mechanical drawings. They are also mental constructs that develop in culture and history and they are uniquely so in Ethiopia’s case. The fact that this is an emotional subject should not have been a surprise for Meles Zenawi and his officials and to anyone who is familiar with Ethiopia’s history. Ethiopians have fought more than thirty international wars within the last one hundred fifty years alone to secure the country’s territorial integrity. The boundaries and the epic wars that our fathers fought against foreign invaders are part of our folklore and the exhibition of our pride in repulsing aggressive invaders and living in independence throughout the ages. Most Ethiopians have this in their bones. This pride is a good thing that needs to be cultivated. Our parents tell us about these stories when we are yet small kids. For an Ethiopian a map of Ethiopia that doesn’t include Eritrea, even after the separation became real 15 years ago, looks ridiculously ugly because it contradicts that mental construct. Anytime I see Ethiopia and the Red Sea, and look at the strip of land that separated 80 million of us from the Red Sea only 15 kilometers away, I feel a sense of humiliation and shame, not because I am a lunatic “neftegna” land lover as some silly people would want to call me, but because I know a history of Ethiopia that was a big maritime civilization where the red see was at the center. A look at this map lessens our pride in our great Axumite civilization. Even for anyone who doesn’t know the history, the strip of land that appears to be so deliberately carved out of the edge of Ethiopia to look like a fence and to deliberately bar us from the Red Sea, does not appear right. It may look fine for the TPLF leaders who see everything from the point of view of their stranglehold on power, but it affects the psyche of entire generations with serious consequences for our nation building. Pride dignity, and senses of historical achievement are good things in nation building and all countries use it. That is partly why we study our history, is it not? I am happy people are angry and enraged about a boundary issue. Any sane government should be proud of such citizens. It is patriotism in display, it is a national asset and it is good.

What is stunningly surprising is the insensitivity of the Meles Zenawi’s regime and its blind supporters to this aspect of our history and the demand of citizens for transparency of the actions of the government on the Ethio-Sudanese boundary. I know sensitivity is not any of the virtues of Meles Zenawi. But even dictators have a limit to the contempt they have for their subjects. Granted that all governments have to deal with neighbors and boundaries, but I cannot understand why Meles chose to do it in secret, behind the back of the Ethiopian people, if his intentions were good.

Some basics about boundaries:

  1. The boundaries of every nation are inseparable from the evolution of the nation in question. Like the country, the boundaries also evolve and pass through stages of development. In fact, if you look at their history, you will see marked stages in the evolution of all boundaries. At their first stage all boundaries are horizons, zones of land, separating countries or regions. It is only an initial claim to a mass of land whose extent is only an estimate. At later times, and when interaction between the neighbors gets more intense, political forces on two sides of this horizon come into conflict and are forced to make political agreements to delineate the boundary. This is the first political decision in the making of boundaries. This is followed by demarcation, the identification of geographic coordinates and the actual marking on the ground of the boundary mark. In cases where a combination of both history and political decisions are carefully considered and weighed to the benefit of each side, demarcation will be successful and is always good. Where boundaries are made with these considerations, there are little boundary conflicts. The lucky countries that have no boundary conflicts with their neighbors have made it this way.
  1. The highest and last stage in the evolution of boundaries is administration. Administration is the confirmation of your authority within the land bound by the boundary. In fact, administration supersedes every factor of decision making regarding boundaries. Nobody in their right mind, except those who need military conflict for its own sake would dare to demand a boundary mark within the boundary that a sovereign nation is known to have administered without risking war. That is why many countries argue the “administration” argument rather than any cartographic mark when a boundary contest based on colonial cartography threatened their territories. No unilaterally made or superimposed colonial boundary can, for example, be acceptable on a territory that has been administered under the authority of the country, or its regional and local governments. You only have to prove that you always administered it and you can be justified to militarily defend it. The Badame historic mistake occurred because of this egregious mistake on the part of the TPLF. It could have argued it on grounds of administration rather than allowing the admission of defunct colonial boundary treaties that were null and void when the Italians abrogated it and invaded Ethiopia. (This poor student of Ethiopian geography was among those who cried at the top of their lungs to stop the admission of colonial maps in the Algiers Agreement with Eritrea).
  1. Boundaries are of three types and the boundaries of nations are made of one or any combination of them. The first types are natural boundaries that are marked by rivers, mountain chains or escarpments and other physical features. The second types are known as geometric boundaries, where boundaries are marked by drawing lines connecting dots (geographic coordinates) on maps. The straight line boundaries that separate Egypt and Libya or the boundaries that separate many of the states of the United States are examples of geometric boundaries. The third are ethnic boundaries which follow settlements inhabited by ethnic groups. Ethnic boundaries are mostly undefined and often geographic continuum becoming perennially disputed. Inside Ethiopia, such ethnic boundaries have always been zones of conflict between adjacent tribes. Nonetheless, the people often have mechanisms of resolving these conflicts without outside intervention. When outsiders and central governments get involved and do it with little input from local populations, their history and cultures, the conflicts often intensify. If you have heard ethnic warfare and conflicts in Ethiopia recently on a scale unheard of before, the reason is the hasty zoning and regionalization made by the current regime. This ethnic regionalization of the country by central authority was done with complete disregard for history, sociology and local knowledge. That is what the TPLF/EPRDF did in Ethiopia. That is the reason of continuous bloodletting between ethnic groups in parts of Southern Ethiopia. I hear that there are several hundred thousand internally displaced people in southern Ethiopia currently living in tragic conditions. Look at the Guji-Sidama conflict. There are similar situations along the national borders. In some of the cases the boundary lines run right in the middle of tribes and even extended families and make it complicated. This is also a serious factor that makes boundary demarcation with neighbors a difficult exercise.

When viewed from these perspectives, and as a matter of fact, Ethiopia’s national boundaries have not completed their evolution over most of their extents. Most of the boundary of Ethiopia with its five neighbors still remains unmarked. A good part of this is because of the unique history of Ethiopia. Unlike most of the countries of Africa where colonial powers made the decisions sitting on both sides of the border, decisions on Ethiopia’s side have been made by sovereign Ethiopian rulers. In many cases, the decisions have been made unilaterally by the colonial power sitting on the other side. Ethiopian rulers were often pressured and threatened to accept super imposed boundary decisions by colonial forces.

The Ethio-Sudan Case: The boundary between Sudan and Ethiopia is largely unmarked. There have been some agreements on some parts of the boundary, (clique here to read a 1902 Anglo-Ethiopian Agreement written in both Amharic and English). You will see that the British were more concerned about their control of the Nile and its tributaries than the boundaries.

It is true that both Haile Sillassie and the dergue wanted to resolve the boundary between Sudan and Ethiopia but could not succeed simply because it was hard. A lot of time has gone by since the agreements with the British and there have been changes on the ground since then. The Sudanese know that the boundaries lined by their colonial masters, particularly by one British army major, the so called Gwen Line, are useful to them. It gives them a fertile chunk of land that the Ethiopians in the surrounding area have always claimed as theirs and used. Our fathers love land and there is no logical reason they would ever cede to conquer that fertile piece of land full of alluvial soils on the edge of intensively cultivated western highlands, save their fear of seasonal Malaria and other tropical diseases.

Since the TPLF/EPRDF government does its negotiations in secret, I don’t know what they plan to make their agreements on and what actually is going on. I have suspicion that they are going to repeat what they have done in the Badme case, using crude colonial agreements instead of the more plausible “administration” argument. If that is what they are doing they are doing it at Ethiopia’s expense. Yes, there are international laws regarding boundary demarcations that must be accepted. But one has to be so stupid to think that these laws can be applied mechanically without considerations of local circumstances and history and the socio-economy of the area.

Had the TPLF/EPRDF argued the administration argument instead of allowing nullified Italian maps, Badame would not have been given to Eritrea and we should not have been in this shameful position now of rejecting a binding agreement after the fact. Siyum Mesfin and Meles would have saved themselves from that shameful press release calling us to dance on the streets after the arbitration court’s decision. I am ashamed of what they did as an Ethiopian but more than anything else this shame will follow this “tenured” Foreign Minister of 18 years to his grave. If this is the same principle being applied in the Ethio-Sudanese case, there is no doubt that it will be another disaster for Ethiopia. It means loss of a huge chunk of fertile alluvial farmland that would feed a good part of the population.

One sad aspect of the current discourse is that the TPLF and its supporters are twisting the public outrage and demand for clarification as something that has to do with the people of Tigrai. It now has become a pattern that anytime you oppose Meles Zenawi and his actions, it is construed as if you are against the Tigrean people. Any sane human being understands that the Tigrean people are in the dark as the rest of their fellow Ethiopians and have nothing to do with this boundary decision. I am sure, and I personally know that there are many Tigreans who are angry that this is being done behind their backs. I am not sure how the equation of equivalence is made between the people of Tigrai and the handful of TPLF rulers who keep messing the country. This twist being pursued by pro-TPLF media outlets is getting absolutely ridiculous and devoid of responsibility. An editorial on Aigaforum, a TPLF outlet, has gone to an extent of using language that makes the Nazis less vitriolic against the Jews when it insulted the critics as “Zerebisoch” (people with trash origin) before it tries to tell us the role of Tigreans in our history, which no one denies. I only hope this kind of language is coming out from among the most ignorant of the TPLF operatives and not condoned by the leadership. In many places I know in Ethiopia, anyone would feel justified to blow your head off if you call him a “Zerebis.” Another pattern in the blame game is attributing every bad thing on Shabia, OLF or ONLF and attributing this so called rumor on them. This stupid argument is based on the assumption that we are all stupid and cannot find the truth on our own.

I suggest that we all need to take a step back and deliberate on the issue as one people with calm and reason and well founded evidence. I hope the TPLF/EPRDF officials would let us know what actually transpired regarding the boundary issue rather than rant at us. If they choose to keep denying and close us out, we will get the information from somewhere else. Hey, this is the information age. The TPLF supporters should also understand that they are not helping any cause by blindly touting the official line and should instead stand for transparency. On the side of the opponents, I urge calm and the need to build informed and substantive argument. At the end of the day, the Ethiopian people and history will have to give their verdict. Sooner or later there will be someone to account for any misdeed, if not for us as a people, at least for history.
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The writer can be reached at fekadeshewakena@yahoo.com

Big event in Alexandria, Virginia

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Press Release from Ethiopians for Obama

On Saturday, May 17th, Teddy Fikre will be running to represent the 8th Congressional District for the Democratic National Convention supporting Senator Obama. The 8th Congressional District is home to Alexandria–otherwise known as the Addis Abeba of America. There are more Ethiopians in the Northern Virginia area than anywhere else outside of Ethiopia. Alexandria is our home, and our moment is now.

Teddy’s election represents more than one man’s aspiration, it represents our continuing involvement in the democratic process of our adopted home and our collective interests. So the moment is now for us to come together and turn out in mass on Saturday, May 17th to make our voices heard. This could be a significant moment for the Ethiopian-American community; Teddy could be the first Ethiopian delegate to represent a state at a National Convention. Teddy is not the only Ethiopian-American embarking on a historical moment, Shakespeare is also in the running to represent the great state of Washington supporting Senator Obama. Teddy and Shakespeare are members of Ethiopians for Obama, an amazing group of Ethiopian-Americans who have come together to work for a noble effort.

Virginia is a “battle-ground” state during the fall election. The election of our next President could literally come down to a couple of thousand votes. With over 80,000 Ethiopians living in the state of Virginia, we hold in our hands the possibility of electing the next President and determining the direction of this country and of the world. Regardless of whom one supports, it is a sacred responsibility for Ethiopian-Americans to vote in this historic election. We cannot take for granted the democracy we are blessed to have; there are millions in Ethiopia who would trade all their possessions to have the opportunity we have here in the United States.

So take a couple of hours out of your weekend to go out to Hammond Middle School in Alexandria, Virginia to support our fellow Ethiopian—Teddy Fikre—as he makes his case to be a delegate for the 8th Congressional District. Our moment is now, go out and be a part of our great political process.

Event Details:

Place: Francis Hammond Middle School
Address: 4646 Seminary Rd. Alexandria, VA
Date: Saturday, May 17th 2008
Time: 9:00 AM

Show up early so that you are guaranteed seating.

The Annual retreat of the UN Country Team opens in Mekelle, Tigray Region in Ethiopia

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

The UN country Team composed of 25 agencies opened its first annual retreat today May 14, 2008 in Mekelle in the Tigray region in Ethiopia in presence of the Mr. Tsegaye Berhe, President of Tigray Regional State. In his opening remarks, Mr. Fidele Sarassoro, the UN Resident Coordination indicated that the overall objective of the meeting was to bring the UN system together to take stock of the activities of the agencies, document lessons learnt and agree on a roadmap for the continuous cooperation with the Government of Ethiopia. The agencies will also address strategic elements of the UN Reforms with the view of improving effectiveness in the UN programs in Ethiopia work in a more coordinated manner.
During the two day meeting the heads of the UN agencies in Ethiopia will discuss such important issues as the global food crisis, climate change, the current drought situation and their implications for Ethiopia.

On May 13, 2008 the Representatives of the UN agencies visited Axum the site of a major initiative undertaken by the Government of Ethiopia to restore and erect an obelisk that was returned by at its original site. This project that is supported technically by UNESCO will be completed in September 2008 according to Mr.Nurleldin Satti, the UNESCO representative in Ethiopia.

Ginbot 7, a Movement for Justice and Democracy is formed

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

May 14, 2008
Press Release

Ethiopians’ long quest and struggle for justice and freedom is continuing today. The march, though torturous, towards democracy is on. The millions that participated in the May 15, 2005, general election have vowed that no amount treachery and oppression shall break their will to live in a just, free, prosperous and united Ethiopia.

In 2005, 25 million Ethiopians, trusting the words of the ruling party and its western backers and hoping that the election of 2005 will be different from previous elections, went out and registered to vote. The people, along with opposition, were led to believe that for the first time in the country’s history will have the right to elect those who should assume power and put an end to the chaos and misery associated with the thorny issue of power struggle.

Even though there were tough challenges, both to the electorate and the opposition, in contrast to the 2005 election process before voting day was remarkably fair and free.
On May 15, 2005, over 96% of the 25 million registered voters, went to the polling stations, and voted despite the long wait of eight to twelve hours. In unparalleled dignity and orderliness rarely displayed, Ethiopians proved to the world that they had been ready for democracy long before their rulers allowed them to taste it.

Upon learning that the public had voted for the opposition groups, especially in the major cities across the country, on May 16, 2005 the Prime Minister went on Television at 9:00 P.M. and declared a “State of Emergency”. In the Capital Addis Ababa peaceful gatherings and demonstrations were banned. The Prime Minister personally took a direct command of the Police and security forces. In the rural areas, where international observers were absent and it was easy to apply coercion, the ruling party forcibly removed the opposition poll watchers and began counting votes. On May 17 2005, when less that 20% of the total votes were counted, the incumbent declared the election victory. By blatantly rigging the votes of millions it made its intent how it will cling to power. On June 8 2005, protesters who were outraged by the stolen election went out to peacefully protest in the streets of Addis Ababa. In response over 50 innocent civilian were shot and murdered in cold blood.

All offers of negotiations to placate the wounded ruling tyrants were ineffective. The proposal put by the opposition to allow the ruling party stay in power with votes it has misappropriated, provided it agrees to lay the foundation of democratic institutions necessary to curb the abuse of power by ruling parties and make elections fair, free and meaningful met outright rejection by the government. Further repression ensued.

In October 22 2006, the entire leadership of the main opposition party were rounded up and thrown in to Jail. Many more, journalists, civil rights advocates and human rights activists were added to the prison list. A trumped up charge of treason and genocide was prepared and an 18 month illegal incarceration followed. In the same fateful October day of 2005, the prime minister dispatched the heavily armed and equipped special force of the Agazi brigade and murdered over 193 citizens in the Capital Addis Ababa. The carnage in the rest of the country, away from the prying eyes of international media, was brutal and in mass.

The government unleashed a house to house search and hand picked the supporters of the opposition that it has come to identify through their participation and support for the opposition in the 2005 election. In two weeks alone nearly 100,000 innocent citizens were sent to camps and prisons, and were subjected to in human and degrading treatment. The whole country was turned into a mass concentration camp.

In its own perverse sense of justice, the ruling party wanted to pin the mayhem and the killing that took place after the election onto the opposition. The incarcerated CUD leaders became perfect scapegoats. In unimaginable shamelessness and using treachery, deceit and manipulating mediators, the government coerced CUD leaders into signing a document stating: “…taking responsibility or an admission of guilt and plea for clemency” in exchange for their release from prison.

Since the shock the ruling party suffered in an election it called with the certainty of wining it, its sole occupation has become to terrorize, weaken all opposition forces and remain unchallenged in power. Using the cover of legality of the laws that are designed in its favor, the government destroyed all major political parties, thereby destroying the fledgling pluralism in the country.

Upon denying recognition and legal status to CUDP, and after merely three years it had suffered a crashing defeat at the polls by the opposition, the government now claims that it has won back all seats it lost to CUDP in a recent election conducted to replace the parliamentary seats rejected by CUDP. The CUD refusal to take the seats was to protest against the government refusal to negotiate on future election and parliamentary procedures. Ironically, in the recent election, it was only the ruling party that filed candidates making it clear that the claimed victory is hollow.

The giving away of the land from Quara region, a birth place of Ethiopia’s greatest hero Emperor Tewodros to the Sudan, and detaining and abusing Teddy Afro, an artist whose songs of love, unity, hope and tolerance has inspired millions of Ethiopians at home and abroad has no other intent but to cause pain to the public. It is clearly a demonstration of an utter lack of respect and insult to the people of Ethiopia.

It is, therefore, the continuance of these and similar litany of repression, degradation, trampling on individual and national pride and heritage that resulted in the formation of the Movement, Ginbot 7. As proud Ethiopians whose ancestors have paid untold sacrifice to save us from the type of humiliating treatment by others we say no to life without freedom and honor. No to the home made tyrants whose appetite for blood, treachery, embezzlement and betrayal has surpassed all records.

We are continuing what we began on May 15th 2005 and October of 2006 in which we promised to make the people of Ethiopia the sole source of political power, and that is why we decided to form the “Ginbot 7 Movement.”

The primary objective of our movement is to stir our country towards a stable democratic process and transition. We recognize that this effort or task will not be achieved by one political party alone, or by few political parties who share similar ideologies. It needs a willing coalition of and collective effort of all parties who feel or claim to have a stake in Ethiopia’s political future. We see the need that all stakeholders need to discuss and reach a mutual agreement on how to achieve the stated objective. Our movement is fully committed and dedicated in bringing all parties together to begin dialogue. To that end, we are already seeing promising signs.

The government that is subjecting our people to misery and humiliation is being aided and abated by Western governments’ money, material, training, and other benefits as a reward for its questionable services. Thus, we ought to organize and work tirelessly throughout the world to have Western countries support democracy and correct their misguided policies and challenge the tyrants in Addis Ababa. To illicit the support and camaraderie of citizens of Western Nations, in opposing and pressuring their governments to change their misguided policies on Ethiopia, Ginbot 7 will work tirelessly with Ethiopians in the Diaspora. We are certain that with an intense campaign of “Know Ethiopia” we will put the struggle for justice, freedom and democracy in Ethiopia in frame.

Our Movement would like to make it clear, to foes and friends, that in order to avert the current humiliation and disgrace to our country and ourselves the Movement will cooperate, assist, and form alliance with others who believe in the principle of democracy and human rights. The Movement shall not seek the consent or permission of the tyrannical regime of Ethiopia in any of its future undertakings.

While the EPRDF is invading Somalia, ceding land to the Sudan, making our country landlocked, and remaining in power through treason as it has ascended to power trough similar means, we hereby declare that we shall not sit idle only for the sake of holding the moral high ground and watch the dismantling of our beloved country. We will engage in any action the movement deems proper in advancing our struggle for freedom and democracy. Along this line, the Movement has a plan to forge relationships, immediately, with neighboring countries and others based on mutual benefit and in an effort to rid Meles Zenawi’s destructive practices in the region.

Our Movement shall employ all kinds and means of struggle to reach its stated goal. If there is an opportunity to negotiate with EPRDF in implementing basic democratic principles, the Movement remains open to accommodate such discussions or negotiations. In fact, the Movement full-heartedly gives priority and prefers this method of resolving disputes than all others. However this should not be construed as groveling. This is simply a call stemming from calm and rational thinking that dialogue is beneficial for all involved. Still, our call to negotiate and our willingness to talk will not, under any circumstances, delay, derail, or hinder our zeal and passionate determination of our pursuit of liberty, justice, and democracy.

To Ethiopians, who have had enough of atrocity, who can no longer take humiliation, who yearn for freedom/liberty, we are confident that you will join us, and we are certain that our united struggle shall prevail in the shortest possible time.

We will forever remember May 15!!

The Spirit of Ginbot 7 will prevail!!

'There is a limit to people's patience' – Dr Berhanu Nega

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008
Kinijit leaders arrive in Seattle
Dr Berhanu Nega and Ato Daniel Assefa at a press
conference today in Virginia [photo: Dereje Getachew, Clear Photo]

Addis Ababa Mayor-Elect Dr Berhanu Nega and colleagues gave a press conference on Wednesday at the Ethiopian Television Network’s studio in Virginia where they announced the formation of a new Ethiopian political organization named “Ginbot 7 Movement for Justice, Liberty and Democracy.” The group’s web site, ginbot7.org, was also introduced at the press conference.

Dr Berhanu Nega said at the press conference that “there is a limit to people’s patience.”

“We are not going to beg Meles and Sebhat anymore. We are going to push back.”

Representatives of several media, including the VOA, DW, EriTV, Oromo Community Radio, Addis Dimts, Ethiopian Review, EMF, and Hibret Radio, were present to ask questions.

In a stern tone, Dr Berhanu said the people of Ethiopia will never allow an unelected government to rule over them any more. He repeated this message several times through out the press conference.

As far as elaborating Ginbot 7′s methods of struggle, Dr Berhanu said it’s not going to be wise to discuss the details, but all means that are available will be used by the people of Ethiopia to protect themselves from the Meles regime’s brutal rule.

This coming weekend, Ethiopian Review, in collaboration with the other media, will try to interview Ato Andargachew Tsige and other members of Ginbot 7 Movement who were unable to participate in today’s press conference due to technical proglems.

Press conference with Dr Berhanu Nega today at 4:00 PM EDT

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

Press conference with Dr Berhanu Nega today at 4:00 PM EDT. Click here to listen

Berhanu Nega aims to lead a movement for change

Addis Ababa Mayor-Elect Dr Berhanu Nega and colleagues will give a press conference today, Wednesday, to announce the formation of a new political movement. The press conference will be held in the afternoon (4:00 PM Washington DC time) at the Ethiopian Television Network’s studio in Alexandria, Virginia — a suburb of Washington DC.

The announcement — which is planned to coincide with the 3rd anniversary of the May 15, 2005 elections — has created a great deal of interest in Ethiopian communities around the world. It is currently a subject of much discussion by almost every Ethiopian who follows Ethiopian politics closely. It is not without a reason. Since he was released from prison last July, Dr Berhanu has become the most articulate and forceful voice in demanding the end of Woyanne’s illigitimate rule. His uncompromising stand on respecting the choice the people of Ethiopia made on May 15, 2005, has positioned him as a leading opposition figure. While his colleagues in the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (Kinijit) chose to continue working within the system inside the country, Dr Berhanu has reached a different conclusion: we have seen the extreme savagery and lawlessness of the Woyanne regime and that the people of Ethiopia have the right to use any means necessary and available to them to protect themselves from the regime’s atrocities.

Dr Berhanu is joined by some highly experienced and smart individuals such as Ato Andargachew Tsige, Ato Mesfin Aman, Ato Daniel Assefa and others who are expected to make up the core of the new movement’s leadership.

According to sources close to the group, talks have already started with the Oromo Liberation Front and other major Ethiopian opposition forces to establish a politico-military alliance against the Woyanne junta. The talks could and is hopped to lead to a transitional government in exile.

The press conference will be carried live via Ethiopian Review Radio Network, Current Affairs Discussion Forum, and other media tomorrow, Wednesday, starting at 4:00 PM.

Mahmoud Ahmed performs at the Minnesota Music Festival

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

(jazzpolice.com) — The fourth installment of the Minnesota sur Seine music festival is coming to various Twin Cities locations from May 15 through May 25, 2008. Festival organizers announced the confirmed shows on a lineup that features collaborations between Twin Cities and international musicians performing improvisational jazz, Celtic, hip hop, World Music, spoken word, rock and more. A hip hop show (with La Rumeur and Ursus Minor), a roots show (with the Jacky Molard Quartet and Roma di Luna), an Ethiopian master (Mahmoud Ahmed), two St. Paul Music Crawls, a CD release party for Francois Corneloup’s “Next”, and a celebration of Federico Garcia Lorca (featuring Tony Hymas) are among the events on the 2008 schedule (full schedule follows). Minnesota sur Seine, which debuted in the Fall of 2004, has grown in scope from its Twin Cities-meets-Paris jazz beginnings to become a sweeping showcase of musical styles from around the world.

A NIGHT IN ETHIOPIA
Mahmoud Ahmed and his ensemble
Mahmoud Ahmed: vocals, Moges Habte: sax, Tekle Gebremedhin: sax, Araya Wolde Michael: keyboards, Tamre W. Agede: guitar, Yenesew Tefera: bass, Mikias Abebayehu: drums
Yohannes Tona / Michael Bland / Jef Lee Johnson
Yohannes Tona: bass, Michael Bland: drums, Jef Lee Johnson: guitar
18+ $25 advance, $30 at the door
Doors at 8:00 PM
The Fine Line Music Café
318 First Ave., No.
Minneapolis, MN 55401

Read more >>

Obang Metho on VOA's Straight Talk Africa

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

Obang Metho will be the guest on VOA’s Straight Talk Africa live starting at 2:30 PM Eastern Time USA time today May 14th 2008 to discuss tomorrow’s 3rd anniversary of the May 2005 elections.

VOA veteran journalist Shaka Ssali hosts this live, one-hour call in program, heard and seen on the Voice of America and affiliated stations.

Please note that the show will be streaming live on the internet here, and Ethiopian Review Radio Network. Callers can call and join in.

Two Ethiopians in Dubai fined for illegal status

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

(Dubai Today) — People who use maids and cleaners who have no official sponsor run the risk of incurring huge fines, the head of the Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department warned yesterday. Brigadier Mohammad Ahmad Al-Mur said that these people will face penalties – just like the illegal housemaids. “The problem is that some families recruit housemaids that have run away from their original sponsors. These families often leave them on the old sponsor so they don’t have to pay for another visa,” Al-Mur said.

“These housemaids are cheaper and so more appealing. They know that they can get work quicker, even if it is illegal,” he added. The issue came to light after two families were fined dhs50,000 each by the Dubai Immigration Court for using housemaids they were not sponsoring. One of the two Ethiopian housemaids involved was sentenced to one month in jail and fined dhs10,000 for illegally staying in the country and the second maid was sentenced to two months. They will both be deported after serving their jail terms.

The second housemaid was working for an Arabic family when the owner discovered that somebody had stolen her jewellery. She immediately informed the police. “The owners weren’t to know that the housemaid was a thief, but the family were still fined for accepting the housemaid into their villa without changing the sponsor,” the head of Nationality and Residence Prosecution, Ali bin Khatem said.

“The situation, with no documentation that can link the maid to the house, encouraged the maid to steal, thinking that she would be leaving no evidence behind that could lead to her.”

Bin Khatem claimed that they are pursuing the people involved in such cases. “We are tough with such cases and I ask families not to recruit workers not on their own sponsorship, and also to inform us of anyone who runs away from a sponsor,” he said. The penalty for anyone recruiting a worker not on their sponsorship is dhs50,000. The penalty for illegally working is a maximum of three months in jail and dhs10,000 fine and deportation.

“The families don’t know the backgrounds of these housemaids. What if the housemaid has a criminal record?” Al Mur added.

VIDEO: Britain's got talent (funny)

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

VIDEO: Meles's wife helped police chief to extort money

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Berhanu Nega aims to lead a movement for change

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Addis Ababa Mayor-Elect Dr Berhanu Nega and colleagues will give a press conference tomorrow, Wednesday, to announce the formation of a new political movement. The press conference will be held in the afternoon (4:00 PM) at the Ethiopian Television Network’s studio in Alexandria, Virginia — a suburb of Washington DC.

The announcement — which is planned to coincide with the 3rd anniversary of the May 15, 2005 elections — has created a great deal of interest in Ethiopian communities around the world. It is currently a subject of much discussion by almost every Ethiopian who follows Ethiopian politics closely. It is not without a reason. Since he was released from prison last July, Dr Berhanu has become the most articulate and forceful voice in demanding the end of Woyanne’s illigitimate rule. His uncompromising stand on respecting the choice the people of Ethiopia made on May 15, 2005, has positioned him as a leading opposition figure. While his colleagues in the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (Kinijit) chose to continue working within the system inside the country, Dr Berhanu has reached a different conclusion: we have seen the extreme savagery and lawlessness of the Woyanne regime and that the people of Ethiopia have the right to use any means necessary and available to them to protect themselves from the regime’s atrocities.

Dr Berhanu is joined by some highly experienced and smart individuals such as Ato Andargachew Tsige, Ato Mesfin Aman, Ato Daniel Assefa and others who are expected to make up the core of the new movement’s leadership.

According to sources close to the group, talks have already started with the Oromo Liberation Front and other major Ethiopian opposition forces to establish a politico-military alliance against the Woyanne junta. The talks could and is hopped to lead to a transitional government in exile.

The press conference will be carried live via Ethiopian Review Radio Network tomorrow, Wednesday, starting at 4:00 PM.

Worldwide Ethiopian march for freedom and justice

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Click here for the Washington DC event
The third anniversary of the failed Ethiopian National Election is almost here. As the time approaches, the Worldwide March Committee members are working hard to plan events in cities across North America, Europe, Australia, Africa and Israel.

These events will publicly demonstrate that the Ethiopian peoples’ thirst for freedom, human rights, justice and democracy will not die despite the hijacking of the last election and the increasing repression within the country. This has been a huge organizational task and will not be perfect, but it is the beginning. Let the sleeping giant—the freedom loving people of Ethiopia—awaken and rise up for truth and right!

EPRDF or Woyane reportedly are asking, “Why do these people want to embarrass their government and their country by coming out for this rally?

The real question is, who is embarrassing Ethiopia—those who repress their fellow Ethiopians or those who tell the truth about it? In other words, stop the human rights abuses, injustices and electoral manipulations and we will not have anything to rally about.

Just look at two recent examples, Ethiopian children have the lowest access (83%) to health care in the world!1 Secondly, Ethiopia received another world distinction—the dishonor of being the most backslidden country in the world in regards to freedom of the press!2

Should we admit this? Why not? Are these correctable problems? Of course! Denial of real problems will not do anything to solve them. In all fairness, health care is an enormous problem throughout the world, but Ethiopia is the worst—why? The repression of the press is directly linked to a repressive government. Why should we not rally against this?

We would be happy and proud of our government that was doing its best for the people despite limitations. This is the kind of government for which we are rallying—not a perfect government, but a government that serves the people, not themselves! Anyone who agrees with us should come out this week and not stop working until justice comes to Ethiopia!

This is not about political choices. It is about the basic right to make “a political choice”—whichever choice that might be! If you want a choice, you need to come out from May 15 to 18th and stand up for that right!

One of the greatest joys over these last three to four weeks of planning has been to see so many previous “fighters for liberty” re-emerge to work alongside new Ethiopians at the grass roots level after the deep discouragement among Ethiopians over the last months. There has been a tremendous amount of work accomplished in a very short time—with much more to do—but the highlight has been in seeing new groups and new people joining together to accomplish a shared goal—a free Ethiopia where the rights of all of the people will be respected.

As Ethiopians remember those who have died, let us come together in unity for we have all suffered losses either during this regime or at the hands of earlier ones in our history. These events are meant to remind us that one of the chief roles of government is to protect and uphold the lives of its citizens. How can we do a better job of this as a people and as a nation? These events over these four days are ways to raise the expectations for what we expect as people of Ethiopia, the Horn, Africa and as members of human kind.

Groups will differ in how they accomplish this. The format of these events will take on the creativity, diversity and ownership of the local organizers. In some cities, events will be combined into one or two events. Others will change the dates to accommodate the needs and preferences of various groups.

For instance, Muslims will be having a Day of Marching on Thursday, a Day of Prayer on Friday and a Day of Reaching Out will remain the same, Saturday. For some, celebrating a Day of Reaching Out will mean small gatherings in homes for dinner, tea or coffee while others are organizing community gatherings in town halls or in their places of faith. Prayer gatherings Friday or Sunday might include five earnest people or fifty.

Remember, this is only the beginning. It is an opportunity to reject the worst parts of tribalistic thinking that leave so many out. We can be proud of our own ethnicity while at the same time; we can still embrace others from other backgrounds.

We are hopeful that all these events and suggestions will begin to connect us together in new ways so that the human rights of all Ethiopians will be upheld and valued and so that people will reach out in unity, tolerance, respect, love and care for one another to create a better future for our children.

We still expect more and more people to join by the end of the week, contributing in their own ways to this effort. Some of these efforts will be very simple, but meaningful. Here is one inspiring example of two families from Denmark. We hope many of you will follow this example.

It began with a Tigrayan woman who read about the upcoming events, particularly the suggestion about reaching out on Day Three to your neighbors and those from different groups around you. She immediately thought of an Ethiopian family she regularly met at the grocery store. She said that early on, she had asked the woman, Abasha Neach? the woman replied in English, “I’m an Oromo.”

After that, both of them had merely passed each other in the community for five years. She admitted that she was friendlier with the Danes in the country than with one of her own fellow Ethiopians. She said that after reading about reaching out to others, she had started to feel guilty and knew she had been wrong. She decided she was going to do change.

The next time she saw the woman in the store, she asked her if she could come with her family to her home so she could cook for them and have supper together. The woman asked her why. She explained that it was because those organizing the Worldwide March events had asked people to do simple things such as reaching out to invite someone to your home for supper, not to talk about politics, but to learn about each other. She said she had been passing her in the community for five years and that she wanted to know her better.

At first, the woman told her that she would get back to her, but by the time she had gotten through the store, she went up to the other woman who had invited her and said, “We will come to your home.”

We will not know the end of this story until after next Saturday, but what if more people did this all over the Diaspora and throughout Ethiopia? What would Ethiopia be like if this became common? Changes like this are up to many average Ethiopians, not politicians who sometimes use their hidden agendas or ethnicity to divide average Ethiopians. If many average Ethiopians would extend love and caring actions to others, imagine what could happen!

This is what it means to be human. This is what our complaint is about our government— they have forgotten how to be human. Let us start this week to show each other what it will mean to Ethiopia if each of us is simply “human”, one person at a time!

Let us persist in our struggle for such a society. Come out of your homes and join this week in any way you can to bring about a new Ethiopia! It is up to Ethiopians like you and like me!

For information on events or if you want to participate in some of the planned groups, you should email us at ethiopiansmarchforfreedom@yahoo.ca for details. Events are planned in many different cities in 23 cities and in 17 countries throughout the world.

If you want to join, it is still not too late! If you are already organizing something, email the details to us of the date, the time and the location so we can put it all together with other information. Also, for ideas of possible slogans that are being used throughout the world, contact us.

—————–

For more information please contact
The Worldwide March for Ethiopian Freedom, Human Rights and Justice Organizing Committee
By E-mail at: ethiopiansmarchforfreedom@yahoo.ca

'Children of the Revolution' by Dinaw Mengestu

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Los Angeles Times Book Review: Dinaw Mengestu belongs to that special group of American voices produced by global upheavals and intentional, if sometimes forced, migrations. These are the writer-immigrants coming here from Africa, East India, Eastern Europe and elsewhere. Their struggles for identity mark a new turn within the ranks of American writers I like to call ‘the in-betweeners.’ The most interesting work in American literature has often been done by such writers, their liminality and luminosity in American culture produced by changing national definitions (Twain, Kerouac, Ginsberg), by being the children of immigrants themselves (Bellow, Singer), by voluntary exile (Baldwin, Hemingway) and by trauma (Bambara, Morrison).

Dinaw Mengestu was born in Ethiopia in 1978 and is a graduate of Georgetown and Columbia universities. He works as a journalist and reviewer and is researching a book tracing his extended family’s exile from Ethiopia following the 1974 revolution. Children of the Revolution won the Guardian First Book Award in 2007… Continue reading >>

Addis Ababa faces lengthy power outage

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) — The Ethiopian capital faces a lengthy power outage until next month because of reduced water levels in the country’s hydro- electric plants, a state-owned generator said Monday.

Addis Ababa, a city of 5 million, will have no power for up to three days a week, the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation said in a statement.

“Power rationing will continue until June. Climate change, which is inflicting a great damage worldwide, is the main cause of the poor performance of seasonal rains in Ethiopia,” state media quoted Water Minister Asfaw Dingamo as saying.

Ethiopia lagging behind in telecom due to state monopoly

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Africa mobile subscribers grow 33%… the clear laggard in Africa was Ethiopia which retained a monopoly both on fixed-line and mobile telephone services.

(Reuters) — African mobile operators added 70-million users in the past year, a growth rate of 33 percent, and expanded cell phone coverage by an area the size of France, industry organisation GSMA said on Tuesday.

Africa now has 282-million mobile phone users out of a population of around 960-million, but more than 300-million people living in rural areas still have no cell phone coverage, the GSM Association (GSMA) said.

Around 66 percent of the population are reached by a mobile phone signal, up from 62 percent in 2007.

Some African countries, such as Egypt, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, already have a coverage well above 90 percent, the GSMA said.

The industry is committed to spending more than $50 billion over five years in sub-Saharan Africa to boost the coverage to 90 percent of the population, the GSMA said, adding investment could even be higher if the regulatory environment was right.

Gabriel Solomon, a senior vice-president for public policy at the GSMA, told Reuters a study for the industry group concluded last year that an additional 25 percent could have been invested in Africa under ideal circumstances.

“If you look at our $50 billion, that could lead to an incremental $12,5-billion over the next five years invested,” he said at the sidelines of the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Telecom Africa conference.

An ITU report prepared for the conference also argued that further privatisation, moves to increase competition and more independent regulators could give Africa’s telecoms industry, whose fast growth has attracted interest from buyers in Europe, the Middle East, India and China, a fresh boost.

Solomon said the clear laggard in Africa was Ethiopia which retained a monopoly both on fixed-line and mobile telephone services.

“I know that our members would be ready to invest in Ethiopia tomorrow if they got a licence,” he said.

In other countries, competition is heating up.

“If you look at Kenya for example, this time last year there were two operators, today there are four… Uganda now has six licences. So you have to ask yourself are these sustainable, will some of these guys drop out, will it lead to consolidation?” Solomon said.

Africa on the move, but challenges remain

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Ethiopia is the only country which still maintains a monopoly for both mobile and fixed voice.

(By Skrevet av Mikael Ricknäs, IDG News Service) — There is a lot of good news in Africa, especially in the mobile space, but regulatory and technical challenges remain for both mobile phones and broadband, industry organization the GSM Association (GSMA) said Tuesday.

The number of mobile connections has risen to 282 million, an increase of 70 million, in the last 12 months. Improved coverage has added another 46 million potential customers, according to GSMA.

Currently an average of 66 percent of the continent is covered, but the industry has set the bar higher: in five years that figure should be 90 percent. There are still about 300 million users, in rural areas, not covered.

“Reaching that goal, and serving those communities will be a great challenge”, said Tom Phillips, the GSMA’s chief government and regulatory affairs officer.

Key to growth on the continent has been increased competition, going from a monopoly to a duopoly, and even more operators battling for market share. But more can be done, Phillips said.

For example, Ethiopia is the only country which still maintains a monopoly for both mobile and fixed voice.

But Phillips’ pet peeve is luxury tax — which is added after regular value-added tax (VAT) — for both mobile phones and usage in many countries.

Removing the tax will actually increase revenue, since phone sales increase, and usage goes up, the GSMA said, after conducting a survey on the subject.

The ones which have the best feel for the African market are the local carriers. High on Emirates Telecommunications Corp. (Etisalat) Chairman Mohammad Hassan Omran’s list is a more stable regulatory environment.

It is common in certain areas for a regulator to accept something one day, only to alter the rules the next, and when there is a change of government there is a change of rules. “Money will not come unless there is confidence,” he said.

Omran also said there is a need to relax rules for the use of foreign workers, which is not always allowed, and would ease the roll-out of networks.

Being able to make calls using is a mobile phone an important step, but getting data access at broadband speeds is as important. Only five African countries had broadband penetration of more than 1 percent at the end of last year, according to the ITU (International Telecommunication Union).

Currently the fundamentals to get broadband moving on a larger scale are broken, according to Sanjiv Ahuja, former CEO of Orange SA, who is starting a new company to roll out broadband in developing markets.

International bandwidth is a big challenge. “People are trying to tackle it, several submarine cables are being built, but it will not fix the problem. Inter-country connections are almost nonexistent. That means you still have to use satellite, which is both slow and expensive. As a continent there needs to a significant focus on connecting countries,” he said.

The problem is exaggerated by the fact that international gateways, which connect local operators to international bandwidth, are still a monopoly in many countries.

“The impact is two-fold, there is no strategic long-term planning, and secondly the prices are very high. Sometimes availability is not high, as well,” said Phillips.

Key to broadband growth will also be the use of frequencies in the lower bands, which become available when analog TV is turned off. The use of 800 MHz will cut the capital expenditure for building networks in half, which will greatly help the roll-out of mobile broadband in rural areas, since base stations can be widely spaced, Phillips said.

“In Africa they have to say that rural wireless communications are an absolute priority, not wait for the backwards and forwards negotiations that will happen with broadcasters,” he said.

Food prices in Ethiopia continue to soar

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

(Panapress) — Food prices in Ethiopia have continued to soar with reports of an alarming hike of the cost of the cheapest grain, maize, in some markets of the drought-hit Somali Region reaching 700 birr (about US$70) per 100-kg bag, up from about 350 birr (US$35).

Meanwhile, poor performance of the short rains (belg) season in the first half of the year has forced farmers to switch to planting early maturing crops, according to reports by the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

In a weekly update on the food situation in the east African country, the two agencies Tuesday said that the impact of the rains had been limited in Somali, Oromiya, Amhara, Tigray and Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples (SNNP) regions.

Approximately 80 percent of farmers were switching to plantation of early maturing crops after missing the chance to plant long cycle crops due to the delay and poor performance of the ‘belg’ rains, the UN agencies reported.

There was also concern among farmers that the soaring price of fertilizer, from 400 birr to 800 birr per 50-kg bag in SNNP regions, would further affect production.

Already, Ethiopia’s Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Agency (DPPA) has allocated one-month emergency food for 1.06 million beneficiaries in the region.

According to the report, the food situation in SNNP regions was becoming critical, as disease has affected the only root crop available for consumption (enset).

Cases of severe malnutrition have been reported in Siraro district of West Arsi zone of neighbouring Oromiya Region, where therapeutic feeding centres have provided treatment for 1,800 severely malnourished children.

Severe water and pasture shortages persist in Warder and Korahe zones of Somali Region, where a recent assessment by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) indicated increased livestock mortality among goats, camels and cattle.

High concentration of livestock was also reported in areas that received some rain, contributing to over-grazing of the limited browse and pasture.

Lost Ark of the Covenant 'traced to Ethiopia'

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

(Telegraph.co.uk) — German archaeologists have claimed to have found one of the fabled resting places of the Ark of the Covenant, the chest holding the Ten Commandments which gave the ancient Israelites their power.

The University of Hamburg say its researchers have found the remains of the 10th century BC palace of the Queen of Sheba in Axum, Ethiopia, and an altar which at one time reputedly held the precious treasure.

Archaeologist Helmut Ziegert, who is leading the dig said: “From the dating, its position and the details that we have found, I am sure that this is the palace.”

Ethiopian legends holds that the Ark was taken to the palace of the Queen of Sheba by King Solomon, the king of the Jews, after they fell in love.

After the Queen’s death her son, Menelek, rebuilt the palace and dedicated it to the cult of Sirius, but kept the Ark in its resting place there.

The team said evidence at the site included Sirius symbols, the debris of sacrifices and the alignment of sacred buildings to the rising-point of Sirius, the brightest star in the sky.

“The results we have suggest that a Cult of Sothis developed in Ethiopia with the arrival of Judaism and the Ark of the Covenant and continued until 600 AD,” the university said. Sothis is the ancient Greek name for Sirius.

The German research, which began in 1999, is aimed at documenting the origins of the Ethiopian state and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

The hunt for the Ark, which featured in the Indiana Jones film Raiders of the Lost Ark, has become almost as legendary as the artefact itself.

The 1981 film has the artefact recovered by the Nazis from a resting place in the “Well of Souls” in Tanis, Egypt – not to be confused with the Well of Souls on Temple Mount, Jerusalem.

The Nazi treasure hunters are later killed when the Ark is opened.

The Old Testament recounts that Moses, on leading the Israelites from Egypt, received the Ten Commandments from God on Mount Sinai.

These Commandments, written on stone tablets, were later placed in a chest made from acacia wood, plated with gold and topped with two golden angels. This was the Ark of the Covenant.

The Ark was then kept in the Temple of Solomon Jerusalem for centuries, according to the Old Testament.

After Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians in the 6th century BC, the Bible and it entered the realm of legend.

Ethiopian tradition claims that the Ark was moved to Axum from Jerusalem in 10th century BC.

A sect in Ethiopia maintains that the Ark is kept at the church of St Mary of Zion, but the site is defended by monks and only one guardian is allowed to see it, making the claim impossible to verify.
Story from Telegraph News:

U.N. High Commissioner mission to Yemen

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Source: UNHCR

High Commissioner António Guterres leaves for Yemen tomorrow (Wednesday) for a five-day visit that will include a first-hand look at UNHCR’s efforts there on behalf of refugees and internally displaced people and the opening of a regional conference on refugee protection and migration in the Gulf of Aden. The two-day Regional Conference on Refugee Protection and International Migration will be held in Sana’a on 19-20 May.

Prior to the conference, Mr. Guterres is scheduled to visit UNHCR’s offices in Sana’a and Aden, as well the Kharaz refugee camp. He will also meet with urban refugees in Basateen in Aden, and visit UNHCR’s reception centres along the southern coastline of Yemen.

At each stop, the High Commissioner will meet with Yemeni officials as well as with some of the Somalis and Ethiopians who have recently made the perilous voyage across the Gulf of Aden in search of protection or a better life. So far this year, more than 15,300 people have made the dangerous crossing aboard smugglers’ boats, double the number for the same period a year ago. More than 360 people died making the voyage during the first four months of 2008.

The regional conference is being convened by UNHCR in cooperation with the Mixed Migration Task Force for Somalia, composed of international agencies working in Somalia and funded by the European Commission. The objectives of the conference include establishing a regional mechanism and longer-term plan of action on refugee protection and mixed migration in the Gulf of Aden region. The mixed flow of people across the Gulf of Yemen includes a significant number of refugees. Yemen has carried a major burden in dealing with irregular migratory movements in the region, yet has maintained an open-door policy to refugees. But it has been calling for more support from the international community. UNHCR and other international agencies have stepped up their efforts to assist Yemen and other countries in the region, and are jointly calling for global action to better address the challenges.

At the regional conference, participants will review the challenges in the main countries of departure, transit and arrival in the region and develop appropriate responses. The resulting action plan will in part be based on aTen-Point Plan developed by UNHCR in 2006 to assist governments in developing protection-sensitive migration strategies. The conference will bring together senior level government authorities from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia (including Somaliland and Puntland), Yemen and the Gulf Cooperation countries, as well as representatives from the African Union, the European Commission, various UN agencies, NGOs and members of the civil society.

Neha International to acquire floriculture units in Ethiopia

Monday, May 12th, 2008

India’s Neha International Ltd. has informed that its board of Directors at its meeting held on May 12, 2008, inter alias, has considered the acquisition of two floriculture units in Ethiopia.

These units have 56 hectares of land with 12 hectares growing under green houses. The acquisition will be made through its wholly owned subsidiary in Mauritius.

Neha International Ltd. engages in the production and export of cut flowers in India.

The board expects the deal to be completed by the end of June, 2008.

The stock of the company closed today at Rs 79, up 1% compared with previous close of Rs 78. The stock touched an intraday high of Rs 82 and low of Rs 75.

MN doctors offer Ethiopian woman a chance at a new life

Monday, May 12th, 2008

By Lorna Benson, Minnesota Public Radio

Listen to feature audio

A 20-year-old Ethiopian woman is recovering at a St. Paul hospital after having a massive tumor removed from the base of her brain and face. Her case is remarkable because of the disfigurement the tumor caused. As the mass slowly grew over many years, it forced its way out of the woman’s head through her right eye socket. Numerous doctors declined to treat her because her case was so severe and complicated. But a fortuitous meeting between two doctors at a Twin Cities synagogue last fall changed her fortunes.

St. Paul, Minnesota — Dr. Rick Hodes first met Merdya Abdisa a year ago, when she wandered in to the Catholic Mission where he works on behalf of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Addis Ababa. Hodes is an internal medicine doctor who has lived in Ethiopia for 20 years.

His practice is filled with patients suffering from ailments that have gone untreated for far too long. But he had never seen anything like Merdya’s tumor.

“It’s deformed her face. She has to cover half of her face. Her eye is popped all the way out. It’s really quite unnerving to see it,” said Hodes. “And for the last three years she’s basically been inside, because she doesn’t want to walk on the street because people are afraid if they see her.”

Even Hodes’ description doesn’t quite capture the way Merdya’s face was deformed. A cone-shaped mass of skin protruded from her right eye socket. Her eyeball rested at the tip of the cone. She was unable to close the eye because her eyelid was too stretched out.

Hodes was deeply moved by Merdya’s plight. He immediately began sending photos of her to brain specialists, asking if they could help. He contacted at least six world-renowned neurosurgeons without success.

“They all throw up their hands and say, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve never seen anything like it.’ And that’s it. That’s like the end of the story,” sayd Hodes. “It was very frustrating for me, knowing we could potentially save her life. But it was a great challenge because nobody was interested in helping her.”

During a fundraising trip to Minneapolis last November, Hodes said God led him to a doctor who could help Merdya.

An observant Jew, Hodes intended to wake up early and attend morning prayers before his fundraising meeting. But his alarm clock didn’t go off. So he delayed his prayers and went to the synagogue after his meeting.

It was so cold outside that he brought his laptop with him into the synagogue. That’s where he ran into Dr. Eric Nussbaum, who was studying with a rabbi.

“When I heard this guy’s a neurosurgeon I said, ‘Oh, let me show you the type of neurosurgery that I deal with. These are my challenges.’ And I opened up the computer and I showed him these pictures of Merdya,” Hodes recalled. “And he said, ‘Oh my gosh. I’ve never seen anything like this.’ But then he said one sentence that nobody else has said. He said, ‘I’d love to try to help this lady.’”

Nussbaum directs the National Brain Aneurysm Center at St. Joseph’s Hospital in downtown St. Paul. Merdya’s case is exciting for doctors in the U.S. because they never see this kind of extreme deformity, Nussbaum says. That’s because even patients with no money would have access to care long before a tumor could inflict this kind of damage.

Nussbaum was willing to attempt what many other doctors had declined to do, because he knew he could assemble a top-notch team of specialists to help him with the surgery — including some doctors who are competitors from other hospitals.

It’s doubtful that one neurosurgeon alone could have handled a tough case like Merdya’s because her tumor formed in a tricky area at the base of her brain, Nussbaum says.

“Problems with the tumors in that location, or any abnormality in that location, is that it tends to cross disciplines between physicians of different sub-specialties,” said Nussbaum.

For Merdya’s surgery, Nussbaum recruited a cranial-facial plastic surgeon from nearby Region’s Hospital, and a neuro-opthamologist from the University of Minnesota to reconstruct the area around her right eye.

All of the surgeons agreed to do the work for free and St. Joseph’s Hospital didn’t charge for time in the operating room.

Money never factored into the decision of whether or not to help Merdya, Nussbaum says. She would have died without the surgery as the tumor put more pressure on her brain.

“In addition to the potential medical issues, you just look at a young woman who is so disfigured and have to kind of feel for her, and what it must have been like growing up with that,” he said.

Merdya Abdisa’s life has not been easy. She is an orphan with no job. She depends on the good will of others to survive.

Her trip to America has been exciting, but also overwhelming at times. She took her first plane ride, stepped on an escalator for the first time, and is now recovering in a hospital where almost no one but the interpreter speaks her native Oromo language.

The day before her surgery, Merdya sat quietly in a chair in her hospital room. The soft-spoken woman hid half her face with a scarf as hospital workers filtered in and out of her room. She cooperated and even smiled, but tears would occasionally fill her good eye.

She wanted the surgery and was grateful to get it, Merdya explained. But she also felt alone being so far away from home. It’s a feeling she has felt many times even in Ethiopia because of her deformity.

She spoke through Oromo language translator, Fowzi Hassan, before her surgery.

“(I was) unable to go to school because of this problem; shame and not going out in public without me covering (my head), a lot of questions.”

She wasn’t able to marry because of her tumor, Merdya says. She will leave it in God’s hands to determine what her life will be like once she returns home, she says.

From her surgeon’s perspective, her life should be much better. The tumor turned out to be cancer-free and the reconstruction went “spectacularly well,” Dr. Nussbaum said the day after the procedure.

“It was very dramatic. The people who were working in the recovery room, the interpreter who was working with her immediately before surgery and then was back with her after surgery, people were really just shocked, which was great,” said Nussbaum.

Merdya’s result should not only alter the way others perceive her, Nussbaum predicts it will change the way she perceives herself.

Merdya will spend several more weeks in Minnesota recovering from her operation. She will stay with an Oromo family until she is well enough to return home to Ethiopia.

Kenenisa Bekele to attempt 10k record in Oregon

Monday, May 12th, 2008

(Reuters) –Ethiopian Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele will attempt to break his 10,000m world record at next month’s Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, organisers said today.

The race will take place at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field on June 8. The stadium is also the site of the June 27-July 6 US Olympic trials. Bekele set his current record of 26 minutes 17.53 seconds on August 26, 2005 in Brussels.

“The record is not easy,” Bekele’s manager Jos Hermens said in a statement. “But this is an absolutely serious attempt. His training is going well, and he is 100% ‘go’ for the record.” It will be the 25-year-old Bekele’s first outdoor appearance in the United States.

Bekele, who also holds the world 5 000m record, will run in the morning ahead of other events at the 34th annual grand prix meeting to take advantage of what should be more favourable wind conditions.

“We compiled 20 years of data about wind conditions, humidity, temperature – you name it,” meet director Tom Jordan said. “The conditions are slightly better during the morning than the evening.”

Ethiopia's dictatorship confident of its Djibouti trade corridor

Monday, May 12th, 2008

ADDIS ABABA (AFP) — Ethiopia’s dictator said Monday that his regime has the means to secure its vital trade corridor with the Gulf of Aden in the event of conflict between Djibouti and Eritrea.

Tensions have grown between the two Horn of Africa nations since Djibouti accused Eritrean military forces of trench-digging along their common border and infiltrating Djiboutian territory by several hundred metres (yards).

Djibouti denies the allegation.

“They do act silly sometimes, but I don’t think they would go totally insane,” said Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi at a meeting with trade officials, referring to the Eritrean government.

“Even so, Ethiopia has a capacity of protecting the safety of the Ethio-Djibouti trade corridor,” added Zenawi, who was quoted by Ethiopia’s state-run news agency ENA.

Eritrea — which has twice clashed with Djibouti over their common border — broke away from Ethiopia and won independence in 1993 after three decades of conflict. A second, two-year war broke out in 1993.

Ethiopia depends on Djibouti’s seaport for its international trade.

[Posted with minor editing by Ethiopian Review]

Woyanne officers linked to Somali arms trafficking

Monday, May 12th, 2008

By Alain Lallemand, lemonde
(Translated from the French)

No less than 80 percent of weapons and munitions sold today in the Somali black markets are transported by commanders of the Ethiopian Woyanne Army and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), although the chiefs of staff of the former are interested in ceasing the traffic. The gun-running represents millions of dollars. More surrealist yet: while they purport to be there to stabilize the sub-continent, the Ugandan commanders of AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) engage with abandon in the small but lucrative suicidal business; instead of destroying them, they resell arms seized during raids against the Islamist militia known as Shabaab in the clandestine market. One recent transaction alone has fetched 20,000 dollars.

When the UN Security Council has taken note of the latest report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia, Le Soir has received leaks of some of those disclosures in the report to New York. One of the most disquieting elements in that report is the extent of compromise of principle that Ethiopian Woyanne forces have gone to; the level and volume of arms trafficking implies very high level involvement of the high command in the Ethiopian capital. In the first instance, Ethiopian Woyanne commanders sold –- instead of destroying -– weapons seized from their enemies: the Shabaab militia, the ex-Islamic Courts and the Classic National Resistance (“Muqawama”). Then, they sold weapons from their own arms arsenals (warehouses) to the bafflement of the general headquarters in Addis Ababa who did not understand where the large quantities of weapons and munitions had disappeared to. Lately, the situation has further deteriorated: containers laden with weapons and munitions have been spirited away from the arms depots of the regular army in Addis Ababa to be resold directly on the Somali back markets.

Such a level of massive interception of Ethiopian arms is not possible without complicity hatched within the armed forces high command, although the Ethiopian Woyanne Minister of Defense has not apparently been implicated.

And then officers of the regular Somali troops are not immune either. Arms belonging to their troops fallen on the battle field find their ways into the black markets within hours of skirmishes. The chief of national security of the transitional federal government himself is said to be one of the three big arms dealers in the black market.

This arms bazaar has taken such a looming twist in the last six months that it has developed not one but seven markets — six in Mogadishu and one in Afgoi. From the latter location, weapons find their way to neighboring Kenya for the purpose of not only cattle herding, but also to feed the growing insurrection there. Weapons so traded include AK 47 assault rifles, RPGs (rocket propelled grenades), PKMs (heavy Kalashnikovs mounted on tripods).

The collusion of these regular armed forces (Ethiopian Woyanne, Somali and AMISOM) in these criminal activities explains why arms circulating in Somalia have become more and more sophisticated. However, other forces are at work too. Eritrea continues to be the principal platform of arms supply to the Shabaab militia, and through them, to the ONLF (Ogaden National Liberation Front) of Ethiopia. This is why SA-7 and SA-18 surface-to-air missiles have been captured. One of these weapons bearing a Russian serial number has been acknowledged by Moscow to have been sold to Eritrea in 1995. At least one French Milan missile has equally been captured and Paris has confirmed without much ado that it had sold it to “a [Persian] Gulf nation”. The high point of this sophistication was attained when Shabaab fired an American TOW missile on Somali troops two weeks ago. It goes without saying that every time one of these missiles is fired in Somalia, there is behind it an insurgent who has inevitably been trained in operating it by a foreign army.

According to one of the UN regional specialists in the matter, the connections among the Somali, Iraqi and Afghan conflicts have become even more disturbingly close with the combatants moving from one theatre of operation to the other. Palestinian fighters continue to support Shabaab militants, as do the Yemenis and Sudanese — or even native Americans and Britons. In this context, the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia reaffirms its accusations contained in a previous report which implicates Iran and Hezbollah. Just like in south-east Iraq at the beginning of 2006, Somalia has become the scene of sophisticated explosives with the uncanny mark of Iran developing on its territory: the device is more and more compact; its fire is GSM remote-controlled; it is equipped with a homing device that can slam into armor plating of heavy duty equipment that was used with devastating effects in Iraq and, a few months later, in Afghanistan.

UN says Ethiopians, Somalis crossing Gulf of Aden doubled

Monday, May 12th, 2008

By Lisa Schlein, VOA News, Geneva

The U.N. refugee agency reports the number of people arriving on the coast of Yemen after being smuggled across the treacherous Gulf of Aden from the Horn of Africa has more than doubled this year. At the same time, the UNHCR says the number of deaths has gone down by half.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says that by the latter part of April, more than 15,300 people reportedly arrived in Yemen. About 360 were reported killed or missing during the hazardous voyage.

UN refugee agency spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis says records show that during the same period last year more than 7,000 people had arrived in Yemen and about the same number had perished.

“Any reduction in the death toll is incredibly welcome. We do not really know whether this is a new phenomena that is going to continue or not. But, some new arrivals have mentioned receiving water and food during the crossing, which is quite new. And, the boats seem to be less crowded than in previous years,” said Pagonis.

The UNHCR says the surge in arrivals early this year was largely due to the continuing conflict in Somalia and the use of new smuggling routes from Somalia to Yemen and across the Red Sea from Djibouti. Many of the asylum seekers also said they were forced to leave because of crop losses due to drought.

For years, the death toll has been mounting among Somalis and Ethiopians crossing the Gulf of Aden in rickety smugglers boats. People pay smugglers up to $150 to make the treacherous journey, which usually ends up being a nightmare and often fatal.

Pagonis says survivors tell horrific tales of brutality, about passengers being beaten, stabbed, and raped. She says many people have drowned after smugglers have forced them to jump into the sea before arriving on the coast of Yemen.

“What we have been trying to point out to people are the dangers of crossing. When you have refugees who are fleeing, it is one of these tricky situations,” added Pagonis. “You cannot say we do not encourage you to leave your own country because the risks are really great. People who are fleeing for their lives are going to take whatever means they can to get out of there. But, we just need to point out the risk to them that they may well lose their lives.”

Pagonis says the UNHCR has been calling for increased action to save lives in the Gulf of Aden and other waters. She says the agency is stepping up an information campaign to inform refugees of the dangers of traveling in smugglers’ boats.

And, she says, the UNHCR is expanding its work in Yemen to provide additional shelter and assistance, as well as protection for refugees and internally displaced people.

WFP cuts food aid in Ethiopia

Monday, May 12th, 2008

EDITOR’S NOTE: There is no food shortage in Ethiopia. The problem is caused by mis-allocation of resources, mismanagement, and extreme greed by the tribal Woyanne regime. Large quantities of food produced in southern Ethiopia is loaded up daily on thousands of trucks and sent to the northern region of Tigray by the ruling Tigrean People Liberation Front (Woyanne). As a result, in Tigray today food prices are about 50% lower than in other parts of Ethiopia. Food is also being stored in massive grain silos that are being built in Tigray, while the rest of the country is facing shortages.

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ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – A lack of funds has forced the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) to cut by more than half the number of districts in drought-hit Ethiopia it serves, the food agency said on Monday and appealed for $76.4 million in aid.

WFP said shortages would prevent it from providing food supplements to malnourished mothers and children.

“Due to a funding shortfall, WFP has less food in its warehouses and as of the end of last month, it was forced to cut back food assistance operations … from 342 districts to 163 districts,” WFP said in a statement.

“Despite evidence of malnourishment in some drought-affected areas, a food deficit will prevent the agency from providing nutritious, life-saving food supplements to acutely malnourished children and mothers.”

WFP said it needed $76.4 million to feed mothers and children under five and to support the government’s emergency relief programme.

WFP said that in 2007 it provided supplementary food to over 1.1 million Ethiopians.

A U.S.-based early warning system, FEWSNET, had said that up to nine million Ethiopians may need food assistance due to drought in 2008.

(Reporting by Tsegaye Tadesse; Editing by Giles Elgood)

WFP cuts assistance to malnourished children, mothers in Ethiopia

Monday, May 12th, 2008

The Daily Monitor (Addis Ababa)

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said last week it was forced to cut assistance to malnourished mothers and children in Ethiopia because it could not respond to increasing hunger resulting from the drought in southern Ethiopia.

The UN agency said that, due to funding shortfalls, it has less food in its warehouses than it needs, and as of the end of last month, it was forced to scale back food assistance to beneficiaries in drought-affected areas.

It said that, despite evidence of malnutrition in some drought areas, a food deficit will prevent the agency from providing nutritious life-saving food supplements to all of the acutely malnourished children and mothers on the agency’s Targeted Supplementary Food (TSF) Programme, which it said provides a special fortified food that facilitates rehabilitation of malnourished children and mothers.

According to the statement, in 2007, the TSF Programme assisted over 1.1 million beneficiaries.

“This year, WFP has had to cut back the number of districts where TSF is operational from 342 to 163, leaving malnourished mothers and children in many areas, with no assistance,” Mohamed Diab, WFP’s Country Director in Ethiopia said in a statement.

“This scaling back of support during a drought threatens to de-rail the Government’s successful strategies for combating food insecurity in Ethiopia,”he added.

The recently launched Ethiopian Government and Partners Joint Document called for US$ 13.7 million to assist some 238,500 mothers and children under five living in areas worst affected by drought through WFP’s Targeted Supplementary Programme. Some 13,285 metric tons of nutritious food supplements is required.

But the organization said it urgently needs a further US$ 28 million to assist malnourished mothers and children who live outside of the immediate drought stricken areas. In addition, WFP faces a shortfall of US$ 48.4 million to support the government’s emergency relief programme.

The world’s largest humanitarian agency said it remains concerned over serious gaps in meeting other food assistance requirements, particularly as the number of people suffering from drought and harvest failure may increase over the next few months.

83% of Ethiopian children don't get basic health care (VOA)

Monday, May 12th, 2008

By Faiza Elmasry, VOA

Listen audio report >  

Over 200 million children around the world lack basic health care, and nearly 10 million youngsters under the age of five die every year. These are some of the findings of Save the Children’s 9th annual State of the World’s Mothers report.

This year, the global humanitarian organization’s report included the first-ever Basic Health Care Report Card. It ranks 55 developing countries according to their ability to reach children with basic health care.

At the top of that list are the Philippines, Peru, South Africa and Indonesia. Although these countries have been able to extend health care services to many children, the benefits usually go first to the richer segment of society.

“The poor are dying at alarmingly higher rates,” Save the Children’s Mary Beth Powers. “We really have to double efforts to reach the poor with basic health care.”

Powers says common diseases among children in developing countries, like pneumonia, diarrhea and measles, can be treated easily and inexpensively. However, millions of mothers still lose their children to these diseases every year. They are either unaware of the treatments or unable to get them.

“As a mother, the tragedy of losing a child is, I imagine, unbearable,” says actress Jessica Lange, Save the Children’s newest spokesperson, “but to lose a child for something that’s treatable is a thousand times worse.”

Last month, Lange, a mother of three, visited Ethiopia, which ranks last on the Basic Health Care list. Eighty-three percent of Ethiopian children don’t get basic services, such as immunizations, antibiotics and skilled care at birth.

“In Ethiopia, only 6 percent of deliveries are attended by a skilled practitioner,” she says.

During her trip to Ethiopia, Lange visited a community-training program that Save the Children established in a remote area.

“I think one of the biggest things that surprised me was the idea of the community training of health care workers and establishing clinics that are accessible to people because traditionally transportation was almost impossible for them,” she says. “They would talk about having to walk a full day to bring their child who was sick to health care centers.”

Training local caregivers in remote areas is essential for bringing health care services closer to home, according to Mary Beth Powers. Those local health workers, she adds, can also help raise awareness among mothers who are usually uneducated.

“Knowing the difference between a bad cold and something that’s more severe, suggesting pneumonia, that’s a critical judgment,” she says. “A lot of parents are not well enough educated to know the difference so you need a health worker or a Mom in the village who can help them make the assessment.”

Another section of Save the Children’s report compares the well-being of mothers and children in 146 countries. Sweden is rated the best country in which to be a mother, Niger is last.

The United States ranks 27th, and Powers says there’s a reason. “So many mothers do not get adequate health care during pregnancy and at childbirth,” she says. “We have high rates of maternal mortality and child mortality especially among minority communities in the U.S.”

Save the Children Ambassador Jessica Lange says fixing the U.S. health care system is one of the top issues in this year’s Presidential election campaign. She’d like to see more health services available for all Americans regardless of their financial situation. She also hopes the United States and other Western countries will do more to help save children’s lives in the developing world.

“I think people have to become aware. They have to become conscientious about it,” she says. “We have before the Congress right now the Global Child Survival Act. I think people, if they care about children around the world, can contact their [representatives in] Congress and let them know how important it is for this to be passed.”

The act would expand funding for proven health measures like antibiotics and immunizations. Passing it, Lange says, will recommit the United States to leading the way in improving children’s health. She says with such efforts, the global community will be able to save millions of young lives every year.

Bomb blasts killed 16 Woyannes in Somalia

Monday, May 12th, 2008

(Press TV) — Landmine explosions have killed more than 12 Ethiopian Woyanne troops, and eight Somali government soldiers, in the war-torn East African nation.

Anti- Ethiopian Woyanne groups detonated a massive landmine in Towfiikh district, killing at least eight soldiers, and destroying their vehicle, Press TV correspondent in Somalia reported on Monday.

Elsewhere, at least four Ethiopian Woyanne soldiers were killed and more than 10 others injured in southern Mogadishu when their vehicles hit land mines near a military base.

In another incident on Monday, at least six Somali government troops were killed as their vehicle exploded by a land mine, near the Adan Adde International airport in Mogadishu. More than two other Somali soldiers were also killed in attacks in Mogadishu’s Buulo Hubey.

Meanwhile, security forces have arrested at least 25 civilians for unknown reasons in Baidoa.

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Three civilians killed in Somalia attack

MOGADISHU (AFP) — At least three civilians were killed Monday when Islamist insurgents attacked an Ethiopian Woyanne military convoy south of Mogadishu, witnesses said.

“Heavily armed insurgents ambushed an Ethiopian Woyanne military convoy that left Afgoye and the attack occurred between Lego and Jameo,” local resident Hussein Abdullahi told AFP by telephone.

Lego is a small town around 110 kilometres (70 miles) south of the capital.

“The Ethiopian Woyanne forces killed three civilians after the attack and their dead bodies were brought here in Yakbiriweyne,” Abdullahi said.

“We heard an intense gunbattle that lasted for about 35 minutes just after the Ethiopian Woyanne military convoy passed through our village,” said Madkarin Moalim Nur, another resident.

“There were casualties (among the fighters) but we could not confirm a figure except the three civilians that the Ethiopians Woyanne killed in a nearby village after the attack,” he explained.

Sheikh Abdirahim Ali Ise, a spokesman for the insurgents, claimed responsibility for the ambush and said Ethiopian Woyanne troops were killed.

“Our forces ambushed a military convoy of Ethiopian Woyanne invaders near Lego. We destroyed three of the trucks and killed many of them,” he said. No separate confirmation of this claim was available.

Woyanne's invading army removes Somali governor

Monday, May 12th, 2008

(Press TV) Ethiopian Woyanne troops have removed the governor of central Somalia’s Hiiran district from his post and disarmed his supporters, a report says.

Hundreds of Ethiopian Woyanne soldiers marched into the main town of Baletweyn in Hiiran district and asked governor Yusuf Ahmed Hagar and his supporters to surrender and lay down their guns, a Press TV correspondent reported Sunday.

Hagar and his supporters refused to give in first, but the soldiers managed to take the governor’s headquarters and beat his supporters.

The Ethiopian Woyanne army disarmed Hagar and his supporters collecting at least 2000 guns and 21 military vehicles.

They said they would appoint a new governor for the region who is due to come soon from Baidoa.

Meles-backed Eritrean opposition elects new leader

Monday, May 12th, 2008

This is part of Woyanne’s preparation to invade Eritrea. They did the same thing — creating a puppet Somali government — before invading Somalia.

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ADDIS ABABA (AFP) — A coalition of Eritrean opposition groups elected a chairman over the weekend, ending a long-running leadership dispute that had crippled efforts to topple the Asmara regime, officials said Sunday.

The Eritrean Democratic Alliance (EDA), made up of 13 opposition groups, elected Tewolde Gebreselassie as its new leader on Saturday in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

“Following agreements reached among members, we will now be able to step up our efforts against the government in Eritrea,” Tewolde told a press conference Sunday.

“We will enhance our activities on the diplomatic front as well as holding demonstrations and propaganda (campaigns).”

The EDA had failed to elect a new leader during last year’s conference in Addis Ababa because of tribal rivalry.

The coalition is also hoping to strengthen ties with Eritrea’s large diaspora, which is nearly the same size as the entire population at home.

The Eritrean government relies heavily on the hundreds of millions of dollars in remittances it receives each year as budgetary support from its citizens abroad.

“The diaspora has urged us for a different outcome. They are against (President) Issaias (Afeworki) but they aren’t with us because of our differences,” Noor Idris, head of an opposition party, told AFP.

“They are seeking our unity because the tyranny there is committing abuses,” he added.

Mohammed Noor Ahmed, another opposition official, added: “If we can mobilise our people, there will surely be uprisings. The Eritrean people definitely want to overthrow the government because of its violations.”

Only a few of the group’s members have armed wings to face Issaias’ 300,000-strong army, but they claim to have carried out sporadic hit-and-run attacks inside Eritrea.

Their leaders admit to receiving support from Ethiopia, Eritrea’s arch-rival.

Authorities in Asmara generally charge that opposition movements meeting in Ethiopia have no legitimacy and are nothing more than stooges of the regime in Addis Ababa.

The dictator and his sidekick

Monday, May 12th, 2008

By Yilma bekele

Two of my favorite characters were in the news last week. I do not think they know each other. I am sure of that. But they were both in the news. One was pleading for his life in jail somewhere in the Iraqi desert. His African counterpart was duplicating his past deeds and misdeeds. You know sooner or later he is going to find himself in the same predicament as the Iraqi prisoner. Some of us do not learn from history. Some people think they think they are an exception. ‘That won’t happen to me’ syndrome. Anyway I was surprised to read the small headline in the second page way down at the bottom, ‘Tariq Aziz goes on trial in Baghdad.’ Good old Tariq is still around. I had completely forgotten him.

Let me refresh your memory. His Excellency Tariq Aziz was the former Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq. For some reason he is always the Deputy. We have no idea who the Prime Minister was. Tariq Aziz was an advisor to Saddam Hussein, and the ‘voice of Iraq’ to the outside world. Saddam was not much of an English speaking urbane and savvy leader. He did not care for the foreign press.

Saddam was a Sunni Muslim from the central part of Iraq. His father left before he was born. His stepfather was a brutal person and Saddam left home and was raised by his uncle. He drooped out of Law School and joined the Iraqi Ba’ath Party. In 1959, with the backing of the CIA and US intelligence he took part in an attempt to assassinate the head of state General Qassim. The coup failed. Saddam’s next attempt in 1968 was a success and he was appointed Deputy President and Deputy Chairman of the party’s ‘Revolutionary Command Council.’ He consolidated his power and became President of Iraq in 1979.

Saddam and Tariq Aziz met in the 50’s as activists in the Ba’ath Party. When Saddam assumed the presidency, Tariq Aziz became Information Minister. The madman and his sidekick were inseparable. One was prone to moments of irrational action while the other will dutifully try to explain the logic of the madness.

In June of 1972 Iraq nationalized all the assets of the western oil companies. (http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/oil/5873nation.htm) The Oil crisis took place in 1973. The price of oil had a dramatic increase. Iraqi economy was booming. Education, health and welfare showed a marked difference and Iraq was becoming the envy of the Arab world. Politically, Iraq was weaning itself from the ‘iron fist’ of the West and forging closer ties to the ‘Soviet bloc’. Iraq became a member of the ‘non aligned bloc’ of countries.

It was under these circumstances our friend Saddam assumed the presidency. The most logical and rational policy would have been ‘steady as she goes’. Build up the education system and the infra structure of the country and lay a solid foundation for future growth. Unfortunately matters took a wrong turn.

Saddam of Tikrit village was not born to lead positively. The aphrodisiac of power went to his head. He believed his own press and the sycophants around him. He was viewed as the most intelligent Iraqi alive. The year he became president was the year the Shah was overthrown in Iran. Iran was in turmoil. Saddam thought he saw an opportunity to control the Gulf. He invaded Iran. Bad mistake. Iran fought back with everything it got. The war went on for eight years. Iraq lost miserably. It was stuck with $75 billion debt with its economy in ruins.

Saddam was in debt to western banks and rich Arab monarchy’s. The price of oil was dropping and his economy was in trouble. His response was to invade Kuwait. He figured he can control the oil fields and decrease production at the same time forgive himself of his debt to Kuwait.

This became his undoing. The west helped him to come to power. They encouraged him with his war against Ayatollah Khomeini and Islamic power. He was doing their dirty job. They turned a blind eye when he used poison gas against both Iran and his own Kurdish minority. They forgave his human right abuse so long as he did not join the Soviet camp.

Control of the vast Kuwaiti oil field was a no no. Friend Saddam became public enemy number one. All his past transgressions were brought up. There was no lack of evidence. All those massacres, tortures and corruption came back to bite him. He was no longer the ‘enlightened’ leader. No more the ‘bulwark’ against communism. Just a two bit dictator made into playing cards ‘wanted dead or alive’ poster boy.

So we come back to Tariq Aziz. Since the Ba’athist days he stuck with Saddam. First he was the “Information Minister’ then Deputy Prime Minister. He gave interviews and tried to make sense of all the irrational and bizarre acts of Saddam. He had the toughest job in the world. In one of his interviews he said ‘Saddam Hussein is my friend and my leader. But I have to be honest in my description of this man. Saddam Hussein is really a special leader. He cares about everything concerning the life of the people, and the development of the country. He gets interested in any minute detail when it concerns the fate of the country.’

Today Tariq Aziz is a jail in a US run prison camp somewhere in the Iraqi desert. The evidence against him is his signature on a paper ordering the execution of Iraqi citizens found guilty by Saddam’s court. As we all know Saddam was hanged unceremoniously. Aziz is waiting his turn.

What brought all this was an interview with special advisor to the PM of Ethiopia Ato Bereket Semeon. When asked about the PM running for the fourth time he is quoted to have said ‘I think that is the right signal that he can give. He is a loyal soldier and leader of the party who is exemplary in everything. It is for the EPRDF to decide on each one of our fates because we are soldiers of the party. I do not think that we, as individuals, can decide where we work; the culture of the EPRDF is such that any member takes his assignment whether it is to his liking or not and delivers on his task. That has been the case in the past and it will remain so in the future. The party does not believe that the Prime Minister has finished his job. None of us believes that; he has a lot to do and he is capable of doing a lot of things. The party knows its strategic interests and we will adhere to them.’

Well said Ato Bereket, but this proximity to the PM might pay negative dividends in the long run. The once mighty have this tendency to fall from grace with changing of the priorities of the ferenji masters. What is considered a friend is described as a fiend tomorrow. The fernjis have this nasty habit of freezing all accounts and investments, denying of residency permits and even hauling their former allies in front of the International Tribunal in The Hague. No one is immune. Aziz used to wine and dine with President Ronald Regan, Cyrece Vance, US Secretary of State, the Pope and other notables. Today he is dining in a small cell using aluminum plates and plastic forks. Watch and learn.

——————-
The writer can be reached at yilma@pacbell.net

VIDEO: Woyanne official flees after extorting huge sums

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

Kinijit Dallas opposes giving Ethiopian land to Sudan

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

The Kinijit Support Group in Dallas, Texas, has issued the follwing statement opposing the illegal land give away of Ethiopian land to Sudan.

መሐል ዳር እንዳይሆን

ከዳላስ ቅንጅት ድጋፍ ቻፕተር የተሰጠ መግለጫ

የኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ ፀር እና ባላንጣ የሆነው የወያኔ ኢሀአዴግ ፋሽስታዊ አስተዳደር ገና ከመነሻው የጀመረውን አገርንና ህዝብን የመከፋፈል አባዜ በመቀጠል ለዘመናት ተከባብሮ፤ ተስማምቶና ተግባብቶ የኖረውንና በጋራ መተሳሰብ ፤ መረዳዳት እና በጽኑ ወዳጅነት ላይ የተገነባውን የኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ እንድነት ለመናድ በጎሳ እና በዘር እየከፋፈለ እንዱ ወገን ከሌላው ጋር እንዲጋጭ እና ህዝቡ እርስ በርሱ እንዳይተማመን ለማድረግ የሚሽርበው ሴራ እና እፀያፌ ድርጊት በሰፊው ቀጥሎ ባለበት ባሁኑ ወቅት ይኽው እረመኔ መንግስት በህዝቡ ላይ የግፍ እገዛዝ ቀንበሩን ከጫነበት ጊዜ እንስቶ እስካሁን ህዝቡን ብፋሽስታዊ እገዛዙ ከማሰቃየቱም ሌላ እገርን ቆርሶ ለባእዳን የመስጠት ደባውንም ቀጥሎበታል።

ሁላችንም እንደምናውቀው ከዚህ በፊት ኤርትራንና የባህር ክልላችንን ያለምንም ህዘበ-ውሳኔ በራሱ ፈቃድ ብቻ ለፈጣሪዎቹ ለኤርትራ ገንጣዮች አሳልፎ በመስጠቱ ይኽው ዛሬ በባህር ንግድና በወደቦቿ ታዋቂ የነበረችው ሐገራችን ወደበ-አልባ ሆና የጎረቤት አገሮችን ወደቦች በመጠቀም ለነዚህ ሀገራት የወደብ ግልጋሎት ፣ የ ጉሙሩክ እና ኤክሳይዝ ቀረጥ ሲሳይ ለመሆን በቅታለች ። ይህም ብቻ አይደለም ወያኔ የሰሜናዊ ትግራይ ግዛት የሆነውንና ከሁሉም የኢትዮጵያ ግዛቶች የተውጣጡ ከ 70 ሺህ በላይ ኢትዮጵያውያን መ ለዮ ለባሾች የተሰውበትን ባድመን አስመልከቶ ከሻብያ ጋር በተነሳው የግዛት ይገባኛልጥያቄ ላይ ውሳኔ ለመስጠት በሄግ ተሰይሞ በነበረው አለም አቀፍ ፍርድ ቤት፣ ወያኔ ያለበቂ ጥናት ዝግጅትና ማስረጃ ለይስሙላ ብቻ ለክርክር በመቅረቡ እነሆ የዓለም እቀፉ ፍርድ ቤት ባድመ የኤርትራ ግዛት እንደሆነች አድርጎ ፈርዳል።

ይህ በእንዲህ እያለ ሰሞኑን ደግሞ አንድ አስገራሚና አሳዛኝም የሆነ ጉዳይ ተፈጥሮ በሐገር ውስጥም ሆነ በዓልም ዙሬያ ያሉ ኢትዮጵያውያንን በሰፊው እያነጋገረ እያስቆጣና ምናልባትም ኢትዮጵያውያን በዘረኛው አገዛዝ ላይ ላንዴና ለመጨረሻ ጊዜ የማያዳግም እርምጃ እንዲውስዱ እየገፋፋ ይገኛል፣ ይኸውም ጉድይ የ 1600 ኪ/ሜ ርዝመትና ከ 30-50 ኪ/ሜ የጎን ስፋት ያለውንና ከሰሜናዊ ጎንደር አካባቢ ጅምሮ አስከ ጋምቤላ ድረስ የሚዘልቀውን የኢትዮጵያ ለም መሬት ለሱዳን መንግስት አሳልፎ መስጠቱ ነው። ይህ አይነቱ የወያኔ ተግባር ከ ሐገር ክህደት ወንጀል ተነጥሎ የሚታይ አይደለም። ውያኔ ዝም ከተባለና በዚሁ ከቀጠለ እገሪቷን በየአቅጣጫው ቆራርጦና በጣጥሶ በመቸብቸብ መሃል ዳር እንዲሆን ካማድርግ አይመለስም። ስለሆንም “መሃል ዳር እንዳይሆን” መላው የኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ እንደቀድሞው ሁሉ ዛሬም እምቢ ለሃገሬ ለዳር ድንበሬ ብሎ ክንዱንና አንድነቱን አስተባብሮ በግፈኛው አገዛዝ ላይ መነሳቱና የግዛት አንድነቱንና ሰብአዊ ክብሩን ከማስጠበቅ ሌላ አማራጭ ይኖረዋል ብሎ መገመት የዋህነት ይሆናል።

በዳላስ እና ፎርትዎርዝ የቅንጅት ለአንድነትና ለ ዲሞክራሲ ፓርቲ ድጋፍ ቻፕተር በወያኔ መልካም ፈቃድ ለሱዳን የተሰጠውን የኢትዮጵንያ ግዛት በሚመለከት ይህ ድርጊት ፍጹም ሃላፊነት የጎደለውና ከሃገር ክህደት ወንጀል ተለይቶ የማይታይ በሃገር ላይ የተፈጸመ ደባ መሆኑን በማመን የከረረ ተቃውሞውን ያሰማል ። ከዚህም በተጨማሪ ይህን አምባገነናዊ የወያኔ ኢህአዴግ አሳፋሪና በሃገር ዳር ድንበር ላይ የተቃጣ ሴራ ለማጋለጥ እና የሱዳን መንግስትም በህገወጥ መንገድ ከያዘው የኢትዮጵያ ግዛት በአስቸኳይ ለቆ እንዲወጣ በሚደረገው ሁለገብ ጥረትና ትግል ሁሉ የበኩሉን ድርሻ በቆራጥነት ለመወጣት ዝግጁ መሆኑን አበክሮ አየገለፀ፣ በሐገር ውስጥም ሆነ በውጭ ሐገር የምንገኝ ኢትዮጵያውያን እንዲሁም መላው የኢትዮጵያ መለዮ ለባሽ ይህንን የወያኔ አሳፋሪ ድርጊት ለማጋለጥ እና በህገ-ወጥ መንገድ ግዛታችንን የያዘው የሱዳን ጦርም አካባቢን ለቆ እንዲወጣና ከመሬታችው ላይ በግፍ የተነሱትና የደረሱበት ያልታወቀው ወገኖቻችን ወደ ነበሩበት ቀያቸው እንዲመለሱ ለማስቻል ከመቸውም ጊዜ ይልቅ አሁን የተባበረ ክንዳችንን በወያኔው ዘረኛ አገዛዝ ላይ ማንሳት እንደሚገባ ለማስገንዘብ ይወዳል።

ድል ለ ኢትዮጵያ ህዝብ!!!!

በዳልስ የቅንጅት ለአንድነትና ለዲሞክራሲ ፓርቲ ድጋፍ ቻፕተር
ዳላስ ሜይ10/2008

Ethiopian opposition leader to make major announcement

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

Addis Ababa Mayor-Elect Dr Berhanu Nega and colleagues are preparing to make a major announcement next Wednesday in Washington DC, about their future political move. They have scheduled a press conference at the Ethiopian Television Network’s studio on May 14 at 10:00 AM. All Ethiopian and other media are invited to the press conference.

According to sources close to Dr Berhanu, the group will announce the formation of a new political movement that will aim to bring about an end to the Woyanne bloody regime in collaboration with other Ethiopian organizations, including those that are waging armed struggle.

The press conference will be aired live via Ethiopian Review Radio Network, Ethiopian Current Affair Discussion Forum, and other media.

VOA, DW, EriTV, Addis Dimts and other radio programs are also expected to air the press conference to their audience in Ethiopia.

Queen of Sheba's palace discovered in Ethiopia

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

By Catherine Hickley

(Bloomberg) — A team of archaeologists from the University of Hamburg said they discovered the Queen of Sheba’s palace and an altar that may have once held the Ark of the Covenant in Axum, Ethiopia.

A Christian king built a new palace over the 10th-century B.C. structure, which probably didn’t survive for very long, the university said in a statement. The altar, oriented toward the star Sirius, has two columns and may have been where the Ark of the Covenant, the holiest treasure of early Judaism, was kept until the first temple was built in Axum, the researchers said.

“The special significance of this altar must have been handed down over centuries,” the statement said. “This is shown by the many sacrifices found around this spot.”

The Ark of the Covenant, featured in the Indiana Jones movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” was kept in Jerusalem for centuries, according to the Old Testament. After Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians in the 6th century B.C., the ark’s fate isn’t documented in the Bible and it entered the realm of legend.

Ethiopian Christians contend that the ark left Jerusalem much earlier — during the realm of Solomon — and was brought to Ethiopia, where it has long been enshrined in a church and is now accessible only to its guardian, a monk. This theory was explored by the British author Graham Hancock in “The Sign and the Seal.”

Fate of the Ark

The Hamburg team led by Helmut Ziegert has for nine years been investigating the origins of the Ethiopian state and the Ethiopian orthodox church. The central purpose of the field trip was to find out how Judaism arrived in Ethiopia in the 10th century B.C., and to seek clues to the present location of the Ark of the Covenant, the university said.

The palace built over the Queen of Sheba’s home was also aligned with the star Sirius, the statement said. The researchers conjecture that the second palace was built by Menelik, who, legend has it, was the son of Sheba and King Solomon.

The results of the Hamburg field trip suggest that together with Judaism and the Ark of the Covenant, a cult worshipping Sirius came to Ethiopia and practiced its religion until about 600 A.D., the university said.

According to the Old Testament, God ordered Moses to build the Ark of the Covenant, a box made of acacia wood and plated with gold. It is believed to have contained the tablets listing the Ten Commandments.
————————-
To contact the reporter on this story: Catherine Hickley in Berlin at chickley@bloomberg.net.

Sudanese government hunts rebels after attack on Khartoum

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) – A curfew in the Sudanese capital has been lifted a day after Khartoum was assaulted by rebels.

That’s according to state-run radio in Sudan. It also reports that a curfew remains in effect in the capital’s twin city of Omdurman, where rebels are said to be still on the loose. Extra checkpoints are still in place throughout Khartoum.

The surprise assault late Saturday is the closest Darfur rebels have ever come to Sudan’s seat of government, which is hundreds of miles from their bases in the far west of the country.

Sudan’s government has issued several statements claiming to have crushed the rebels.

Sudan has also severed relations with Chad, which it accuses of supporting the fighters.

————————-

Last Darfur rebels leave capital, officials say

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – The last of the Darfur rebel forces left Sudan’s capital on Sunday after unprecedented battles in the Khartoum suburb of Omdurman, a government official and a security source said.

“All rebel forces have now left the capital,” Mutrif Siddig, the under-secretary at Sudan’s Foreign Ministry, told Reuters.

A security source from Umm Bedda, the furthest outlying reach of west Omdurman, said rebels had retreated to some 70 km (45 miles) outside the city.

Searches continued inside Khartoum for individuals thought to be insiders due to meet the rebels who fought their way into Omdurman with about 70 vehicles on Saturday afternoon.

“And even those are being chased down by security forces,” Siddig added. Dozens of people were being arrested throughout the capital.

No one was available to comment from the Darfur rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). On Sunday morning, a JEM commander told Reuters they were in more outlying areas of Omdurman. But no shooting has been heard there since late morning. (Reporting by Opheera McDoom)

———————-
Sudan cuts Chad ties after Darfur rebel attack

KHARTOUM (AFP) — Sudan on Sunday severed diplomatic ties with Chad, accusing Ndjamena of backing a first Darfur rebel assault on Khartoum, and slapped a multi-million dollar price on the head of the alleged mastermind.

The government said it had repulsed the assault by the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), allegedly backed by Ndjamena, which saw the insurgents reach Khartoum’s outskirts with the declared intent of toppling the regime.

“We are forced to sever diplomatic relations with this regime” in Chad, President Omar al-Beshir said on state television following the attack on the capital’s twin city of Omdurman just across the river Nile.

“We place the entire responsibility for this attack on Chad,” he said, dressed in his field marshal’s fatigues.

Chad said it regretted Khartoum’s decision, denied any involvement in the attack and condemned a raid on the Chadian embassy. “Chad can only take note of this hasty decision with regret,” said the government in a statement.

Uniformed Sudanese men ransacked the Chadian mission in Khartoum, taking away documents and computer equipment, it added.

The Darfuri attack in broad daylight, one day after Khartoum warned that rebels were marching towards the capital, marks the first time regional rebels have ever brought decades of violence so close to the seat of Sudanese power.

A senior official in the military command told the state SUNA news agency that 250 million pounds (123 million dollars) would be paid to anyone who arrests JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim or provides information on his whereabouts.

Beshir convened an emergency session of the national security council, which included Salva Kiir, the leader of south Sudan that fought its own two-decade civil war until reaching a power-sharing agreement with Khartoum.

Government forces were on Sunday hunting down remnant rebel forces all over the capital and in neighbouring states, rounding up arms and explosives.

The official SUNA news agency said the Sudanese military had killed a leading JEM commander, had chased down, fought and wiped out a 45-man rebel force 50 kilometres (31 miles) from western Omdurman and arrested 300 rebels.

Omdurman remained under curfew but restrictions were lifted elsewhere. The Egyptian news agency MENA said Khartoum international airport was closed and commercial airlines told passengers that flights to Sudan were cancelled.

There were no clear indication from either side on casualty numbers.

JEM’s deputy chief of staff Suleiman Sandal said that his forces had taken Omdurman but were having trouble with the urban fighting environment having come from the desert of Darfur, and had suffered deaths and injuries.

“This is the first time for them to fight in towns and now we are gathering our troops and thinking about what we’re doing,” he told AFP.

He said his forces had been prevented from crossing a key bridge into Khartoum overnight after taking three days to drive from Darfur in a convoy of 400 vehicles in order to depose the regime.

Sudan and Chad have long accused each other of backing rebels seeking to topple their respective regimes.

Foreign ministry official Ali Yousif said that Sudan had evidence of communication between the rebels, the Chad government and the Chadian embassy in Khartoum. He said five or six Chadian diplomats were expected to leave.

One Omdurman resident told AFP he could see smashed cars in the streets and plumes of smoke rising after a night of fighting.

“Up until six o’clock (0300 GMT) this morning there was very heavy bombardment. I can see smoke out of the window and smashed cars from the roof of the building,” said the father of one.

“We’re just being told to stay in and keep a low profile,” a US diplomat said, also asking not to be named.

In February, rebels allegedly backed by Khartoum advanced as far as the gates of the presidential palace in Ndjamena before being repulsed.

Sudanese television on Saturday showed images of what it said were captured rebels cowering in the back of an armoured personnel carrier, along with footage of captured rebel all-terrain vehicles, field artillery and shells.

The White House said it was “very concerned” about the violence and urged both the Darfur rebels and government forces to cease hostilities.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the “use of armed force and military means by JEM” and called for “an immediate cessation of fighting.”

Insurgents ambush Somalia's interior minister

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

MOGADISHU (Garowe Online) – Islamist rebels ambushed an armored convoy transporting Somalia’s internal affairs minister Saturday in the outskirts of the capital Mogadishu, sources said.

Muse Nur Amin, the Interior Minister, was in one of the vehicles but his car was not directly hit by the insurgents.

But two other cars which were part of the Interior Minister’s convoy were laced with bullets and later captured by the insurgents, according to witnesses.

At least four government soldiers were killed and two others wounded, with the Interior Minister escaping the ambush unhurt.

Ali “Ganey” Adan, a police commander in Lower Shabelle region, confirmed to reporters that Interior Minister Amin’s convoy was attacked and local authorities dispatched police units to the area reinforce the government minister.

Al Shabaab spokesman Muktar Robow “Abu Mansur,” who claimed responsibility for the deadly ambush in Lower Shabelle region, bragged that no one on their side was hurt during the skirmish.

In Mogadishu, at least 11 people died from a series of overnight attacks, including two Ethiopian Woyanne soldiers who were killed when their vehicle came under rocket fire in northern Mogadishu.

Five civilians were reported dead when shells hit their homes following street fighting between insurgents and government forces, locals said.

Somalia has been mired in armed conflict since 1991, but the ongoing war is being waged between Ethiopian Woyanne-backed government troops and Islamist-led rebels.

Ethiopian-American completes tours of duty in Iraq

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

ST LOUIS, MO (KSDK) – Saturday night on the University City Loop, a homecoming party at the restaurant known as Red Sea had a distinctly international flavor. The red, white, and blue sat silently next to the green, yellow, and red…colors on the flag of Ethiopia.

Sgt. Meron Aymiro, 24, is a U.S. Army Transportation Coordinator and Radio Transmission Operator, and she just completed her second tour of duty, in Iraq.

Sgt. Aymiro says she rarely had an opportunity to work with the Iraqi people. Still, her name and her ethnicity were occasionally a factor. “They had a lot of Indians, people from Sri Lanka, third country nations, and like they kind of… what’s the word?”

Sgt. Aymiro was asked if people related to her, differently than other soldiers. “Yeah,” she said, “They react to me, differently. They see me smile, and I figured they think I’m from the same country as them.”

So was that helpful?

“That would help, they were more friendly and they want to talk more.”

Gedlu Metaferia is executive director of AMAAM, the African Mutual Assistance Association of Missouri, a group that serves African refugees and immigrants.

Metaferia presented Aymiro with a special certificate.

“This certification of appreciation is given to Sergeant Meron Aymiro for unwavering commitment of sacrifice to the public good. New Americans also serve our military with dedication, defending their adopted country. Meron Aymiro had two tours of duty in Iraq, and she came successfully. And this homecoming encouraged our young people to participate, to give to this country, and to serve in honor, duty, and commitment, to sacrifice.”

Metaferia was asked what this occasion should mean to people who know no country, other than America.

He said, “They can understand when they see this, an Ethiopian-born young lady, who gave the commitment of sacrifice… that is an awesome story. The significance is that immigrants also are becoming citizens and permanent residents are serving our troops.”

Sgt. Aymiro’s decision to join the United States military was met with concern, initially, among her relatives from Ethiopia, and America.

Billie Smith is Aymiro’s grandmother.

“American grand-mother,” she points out. “Oh, my. Oh we worried so much about her. But we’re just thankful she’s made it through, and she’s home. She wanted to further her education, and this was a way to help.”

Alemayehu Assfaw is Aymiro’s father.

“I’m very proud,” said Assfaw. “Actually, the first time she asked me to join the Army, I was shocked. But, I said, ‘If you want to serve your country, go ahead.’ Because her momma, she’s an American.”

Kimberly Smith-Assfaw, Alemayehu’s wife, is Aymiro’s step-mother.

“Initially I was not happy, at all,” said Smith-Assfaw, “I was totally against it. I walked along with her until the very last minute, and that’s what she decided to do. So I supported it.”

An observer pointed-out that Sgt. Aymiro is an American, now.

“Correct. I mean, I still got my Ethiopian blood in me, and I’m still an American… a good combination.”

Sudan rebels say they entered Khartoum

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

By Opheera McDoom

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – A Darfur rebel commander said on Saturday his JEM group had entered Khartoum and was aiming to take power in Sudan.

Khartoum was placed under an overnight curfew after fighting in the west of the capital on Saturday. It would be the first time a rebel group has entered Khartoum.

Heavy gunfire was heard in the west and helicopters and army vehicles headed towards the suburb of Omdurman, witnesses said. Later, artillery was heard.

The Darfur Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebels said they had taken control of Omdurman which lies on the opposite bank of the River Nile from Khartoum.

“We are now trying to control Khartoum. God willing we will take power, it’s just a matter of time,” senior JEM commander Abdel Aziz el-Nur Ashr told Reuters by telephone.

“We have support from inside Khartoum even from within the armed forces.”

Darfur rebels fought battles with Sudan’s army in the North Kordofan province bordering Khartoum on Friday and Saturday, according to a local government official and witnesses.

The army said the curfew was to preserve the safety of the civilians and the situation was under control.

“We are announcing a curfew in the state of Khartoum from 5 p.m. (1400 GMT) until 6 a.m. starting from today May 10th, 2008,” an army spokesman said on state television.

The shooting in Omdurman could be heard down the telephone of one resident who telephoned Reuters on Saturday.

“There is very, very heavy shooting here and we are all terrified,” the resident called al-Sadig said.

“It’s all green here because of the military uniforms. There is a lot of army on the streets, security men and military trucks,” another witness in the suburb said later.

Many in Khartoum hunkered down at home and the streets were filled by people rushing to their houses.

Diplomatic missions held emergency meetings early on Saturday. They have been on alert since Friday morning. The main phone network crashed in the capital because it was overloaded.

Khartoum houses the bulk of Sudan’s population with an estimated 8 million people living in the state. Despite civil wars ravaging Sudan’s peripheries for decades, the capital has remained a haven of safety with armed clashes unheard of.

ATTACK REPULSED

Earlier, JEM said it was strengthening its forces in Kordofan but not attacking government troops to avoid causing civilian casualties.

But a local government official said the heavily armed rebels had scattered after an army counter-attack.

“The government and the armed Darfur movements are engaged in battles and there was bombing by planes and the rebels have scattered,” Abdel Majid Abdel Farid, a member of the administrative council of North Kordofan’s eastern town of Hamrat al-Wizz told Reuters from the area.

He said the Darfur rebels had spread out on Friday all over the state in an “unprecedented manner,” carrying very heavy weapons.

The army accused Chad on Saturday of backing the rebels. State minister for information, Kamal Obeid, called the events strange and unacceptable. Clearly flustered, he told state television that JEM was “paying the bill for Chad.”

The army told the state news agency SUNA in a statement it had repulsed an attack from the Chadian army which used heavy artillery in the Chad-Darfur area of KashKash late on Friday.

Chad accuses Sudan of supporting rebels who tried to overthrow President Idriss Deby earlier this year.

JEM said earlier it was tightening its control on Kordofan.

“We are deploying our forces as and when we see fit to,” said senior JEM official al-Tahir al-Feki. “We are making a total deployment and getting a grip on Kordofan.

Darfur’s JEM have attacked government forces in Kordofan in the past in hit-and-run raids.

International experts estimate some 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million made homeless in five years of fighting in Darfur after mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms accusing central government of neglect.

The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for a junior government minister and an allied militia leader accused of war crimes. Khartoum refuses to hand them over and blames the Western media for exaggerating the conflict.

——————
Clashes with Darfur rebels reported near Sudan’s capital

By MOHAMED OSMAN and SARAH EL DEEB

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — Hundreds of Darfur rebels reached the outskirts of Sudan’s capital and were clashing with security forces, a rebel leader said Saturday.

Sudan’s army deployed on the streets of Khartoum, putting up checkpoints and imposing an overnight curfew. An Interior Ministry statement said the curfew was in effect while the government was “dealing with the infiltrators.”

The clashes come after days of government warnings that the Justice and Equality Movement, one of Darfur’s most effective rebel movements, was going to target Khartoum. Saturday’s attack is the closest the rebels have ever gotten to the capital.

An Associated Press reporter in Khartoum said security forces ordered residents to clear the streets and armored vehicles were patrolling the capital. Bridges to Omdurman, Khartoum’s twin city, have been cut by government forces.

In a statement, the military said that “elements” of JEM had infiltrated northern Omdurman.

“Your heroic forces are confronting them now,” the statement said, urging citizens to come forth with information.

The statement said the Sudanese forces had stopped the main advance of the JEM forces in neighboring province Kordofan, but that a few had reached Khartoum.

JEM leader Abu Zumam, however, told The Associated Press by telephone that hundreds of his fighters had reached the Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman and engaged government forces. Gunfire could be heard in the background.

“We entered Omdurman by force,” he said, adding that his army of some 700 vehicles planned to take over the state radio building in the city.

JEM once confined its activities to Darfur, where local ethnic African rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated central government in 2003 complaining of discrimination.

In the last year however, JEM has widened its activities to include Kordofan, the vast province between the capital and Darfur.

More than 200,000 have died in Sudan’s Darfur region and 2.5 million have fled to refugee camps since 2003. Sudan denies backing the janjaweed militia of Arab nomads accused of the worst atrocities in the conflict.

Sudan officially accused neighboring Chad of attacking a border area to provide cover for JEM’s attacks against the capital.

The Sudanese army spokesman, Brigadier General Osman al-Agbash said Chadian forces on Friday attacked the border and were repelled with “heavy losses on the attacking Chadian forces,” he said according to the official state news agency SUNA.

Relations between the two countries, which share a long arid border region home to numerous armed groups have long been strained.

Chad has accused Sudanese authorities of arming rebels who launched a failed assault February on the Chadian capital, N’Djamena. The rebels reached the gate of the presidential palace, but fled toward Sudan after Chad’s army repelled them in fighting that left hundreds dead.

Sudan, meanwhile, has repeatedly accused Chad of supporting the rebellion in Darfur.

Though the two countries signed peace agreement in March promising to prevent armed groups from operating along each other’s shared borders, the accusations have continued unabated.

Associated Press Writer Sarah El Deeb contributed to this report from Cairo, Egypt.

Woyanne gives 1,600 sq km of farm land to Sudan

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

The Ethiopia-Sudan Border Committee is reporting that the ruling Tigrean People Liberation Front (Woyanne) has given to Sudan 1,600 square kilometers of fertile farm land. Click here to read the full report [pdf, Amharic]. The Woyanne regime denies the report, but a few months ago, the Sudanese media had reported about it quoting Sudanese government officials. Reportedly, this secret deal between Meles Zenawi and Al Bashir, in return would allow the Tigray region to build a railway from Tigray to Port Sudan. All of the land that was given to Sudan was carved out of Gonder and Oromia regions. Meanwhile, ER Research Unit has learned that the Woyanne regime has moved all air force fighter jets to Tigray. According to eyewitnesses, only a few transport planes and helicopters are left in Debre Zeit.

See also satellite map [click here]

Ethiopian govt gives 1,600 sq km of farm land to Sudan

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

The Ethiopia-Sudan Border Committee is reporting that the ruling Tigrean People Liberation Front (Woyanne) has given to Sudan 1,600 square kilometers of fertile farm land. Click here to read the full report [pdf, Amharic]. The Woyanne regime denies the report, but a few months ago, the Sudanese media had reported about it quoting Sudanese government officials. Reportedly, this secret deal between Meles Zenawi and Al Bashir, in return would allow the Tigray region to build a railway from Tigray to Port Sudan. All of the land that was given to Sudan was carved out of Gonder and Oromia regions. Meanwhile, ER Research Unit has learned that the Woyanne regime has moved all air force fighter jets to Tigray. According to eyewitnesses, only a few transport planes and helicopters are left in Debre Zeit.

See also satellite map [click here]

Kinijit North America opposes land give away to Sudan

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

The Kinijit North America support group takes a stand against the give away of western Ethiopian farm lands to Sudan by the ruling Tigray People Liberation Front (Woyanne). Click here to read [pdf, Amharic]

Ethiopians in the U.S. steps up support for Obama

Friday, May 9th, 2008

By Teddy Fikre

There is something powerful occurring in the Ethiopian-American community. People who were never inspired to take part in the political process are realizing that they have a duty as citizens to partake in the political process and be a part of the change that is taking place. While they will always love the land of their birth, they realize that they are deeply ingrained in United States and are vested in the direction of this great country. Never before has a politician inspired so many people from so many backgrounds and countries to unite for one common purposes.

Senator Obama speaks about the power of one–the power that a sole individual has to change their community and eventually change the world. Throughout history, we have witnessed time and again how one person has been able to change the trajectory of a nation and of the world. What we are witnessing now is the same dynamic, and Ethiopians for Obama have taken on this mantle and decided that the way to seek change is to organize and participate in the political process.

What started off with Maeza Siraj over a year ago when she created Ethiopians for Obama on barackobama.com has blossomed into thousands of Ethiopian-Americans working in multiple states to be a part of a historical moment. Ethiopians for Obama has some of the most amazing and talented Ethiopians working together for a common purpose. This is not a top-down organization where anointed leaders send out directives. It is a decentralized group that believes in the leadership of each member instead of depending on the leadership of any one individual.

They follow closely the unbelievable model inspired by Senator Obama when he was a community organizer and has emulated for his campaign. Obama believes in the inherent power of people, that each person has the ability to do amazing things if the opportunity is presented. Thus, Ethiopians for Obama is a collection of talented Ethiopian-Americans from California, New York, Virginia, Maryland, Oregon, Texas, Washington DC, Minnesota and states in every corner of the United States who communicate regularly and implement ideas that can further galvanized the Ethiopian-American community around the Obama message of hope and change. Moreover, Ethiopians for Obama is a diverse group that work together based on interests that are common to all and do not dwell in the differences that have divided for too long. The aim is unity of purpose for the benefit of all—a unity that bridges the chasms of ethnicity, religion, and nationality.

Ethiopians for Obama has conducted a targeted phone-banking effort in the states of Indiana and Pennsylvania . By relying on the vast volunteer base and a simple tool such as the white pages, they were able to collect hundreds of phone numbers based on common last names of Ethiopian-Americans who live in those states and makes calls on behalf of Senator Obama. One is at a loss to explain the joy that the receiving party felt when they heard their fellow Ethiopians calling to ask them to participate in the political process. There was an overwhelming level of support for Senator Obama from those who were called and a lot of folks who otherwise did not consider voting were motivated to vote as a result of the calls they received. This is how change happens, the power of one to inspire another.

Ethiopians for Obama has also traveled to multiple states to volunteer directly for the Obama campaign. Dynamic leaders such as Emebet Bekele, Yohannes Assafa, Lulit Mesfin, Mike Endale, Bizu Hodge and Jim Tufa to name a few, are constantly reaching out to their fellow Ethiopians to encourage them to be involved in the political process while they continue to do the hard work of making phone calls and traveling to different states. They realize that debating and hoping for change is not enough; while there are countless Ethiopians who have and continue to be involved politically and work selflessly to ensure our collective interests, their effort is only as successful as the people who are behind any initiative.

Ethiopians for Obama is growing by the day. The first road-trip to Ohio organized by Ethiopians for Obama was attended by three supporters and the second trip to Philadelphia was attended by six supporters. The most recent trip to North Carolina was attended by nine while those who could not make the trip stayed behind and made hundreds of phone calls over the weekend to Ethiopian-Americans in Indiana . On May 6th, Ethiopians for Obama held a victory party in Washington, DC; over 45 people showed up to support Senator Obama on a historic night. The power of one—this is how change happens, one person inspires a friend, that friend inspires a sister, that sister inspires a mother, that mother inspires a husband. Before you know it, what started as one over a year ago will grow into thousands of Ethiopian-Americans who are determined to be the change we all have been waiting for.

Berhanu Nega to make major announcement

Friday, May 9th, 2008

Addis Ababa Mayor-Elect Dr Berhanu Nega and colleagues are preparing to make a major announcement next Wednesday in Washington DC, about their future political move. They have scheduled a press conference at the Ethiopian Television Network’s studio on May 14 at 4:00 PM. All Ethiopian and other media are invited to the press conference.

According to sources close to Dr Berhanu, the group will announce the formation of a new political movement that will aim to bring about an end to the Woyanne bloody regime in collaboration with other Ethiopian organizations, including those that are waging armed struggle.

The press conference will be aired live via Ethiopian Review Radio Network, Ethiopian Current Affair Discussion Forum, and other media.

VOA, DW, EriTV, Addis Dimts and other radio programs are also expected to air the press conference to their audience in Ethiopia.

Barack Obama – The Power of One

Friday, May 9th, 2008

By Teddy Fikre

There is something powerful occurring in the Ethiopian-American community. People who were never inspired to take part in the political process are realizing that they have a duty as citizens to partake in the political process and be a part of the change that is taking place. While they will always love the land of their birth, they realize that they are deeply ingrained in United States and are vested in the direction of this great country. Never before has a politician inspired so many people from so many backgrounds and countries to unite for one common purposes.

Senator Obama speaks about the power of one–the power that a sole individual has to change their community and eventually change the world. Throughout history, we have witnessed time and again how one person has been able to change the trajectory of a nation and of the world. What we are witnessing now is the same dynamic, and Ethiopians for Obama have taken on this mantle and decided that the way to seek change is to organize and participate in the political process.

What started off with Maeza Siraj over a year ago when she created Ethiopians for Obama on barackobama.com has blossomed into thousands of Ethiopian-Americans working in multiple states to be a part of a historical moment. Ethiopians for Obama has some of the most amazing and talented Ethiopians working together for a common purpose. This is not a top-down organization where anointed leaders send out directives. It is a decentralized group that believes in the leadership of each member instead of depending on the leadership of any one individual.

They follow closely the unbelievable model inspired by Senator Obama when he was a community organizer and has emulated for his campaign. Obama believes in the inherent power of people, that each person has the ability to do amazing things if the opportunity is presented. Thus, Ethiopians for Obama is a collection of talented Ethiopian-Americans from California, New York, Virginia, Maryland, Oregon, Texas, Washington DC, Minnesota and states in every corner of the United States who communicate regularly and implement ideas that can further galvanized the Ethiopian-American community around the Obama message of hope and change. Moreover, Ethiopians for Obama is a diverse group that work together based on interests that are common to all and do not dwell in the differences that have divided for too long. The aim is unity of purpose for the benefit of all—a unity that bridges the chasms of ethnicity, religion, and nationality.

Ethiopians for Obama has conducted a targeted phone-banking effort in the states of Indiana and Pennsylvania . By relying on the vast volunteer base and a simple tool such as the white pages, they were able to collect hundreds of phone numbers based on common last names of Ethiopian-Americans who live in those states and makes calls on behalf of Senator Obama. One is at a loss to explain the joy that the receiving party felt when they heard their fellow Ethiopians calling to ask them to participate in the political process. There was an overwhelming level of support for Senator Obama from those who were called and a lot of folks who otherwise did not consider voting were motivated to vote as a result of the calls they received. This is how change happens, the power of one to inspire another.

Ethiopians for Obama has also traveled to multiple states to volunteer directly for the Obama campaign. Dynamic leaders such as Emebet Bekele, Yohannes Assafa, Lulit Mesfin, Mike Endale, Bizu Hodge and Jim Tufa to name a few, are constantly reaching out to their fellow Ethiopians to encourage them to be involved in the political process while they continue to do the hard work of making phone calls and traveling to different states. They realize that debating and hoping for change is not enough; while there are countless Ethiopians who have and continue to be involved politically and work selflessly to ensure our collective interests, their effort is only as successful as the people who are behind any initiative.

Ethiopians for Obama is growing by the day. The first road-trip to Ohio organized by Ethiopians for Obama was attended by three supporters and the second trip to Philadelphia was attended by six supporters. The most recent trip to North Carolina was attended by nine while those who could not make the trip stayed behind and made hundreds of phone calls over the weekend to Ethiopian-Americans in Indiana . On May 6th, Ethiopians for Obama held a victory party in Washington, DC; over 45 people showed up to support Senator Obama on a historic night. The power of one—this is how change happens, one person inspires a friend, that friend inspires a sister, that sister inspires a mother, that mother inspires a husband. Before you know it, what started as one over a year ago will grow into thousands of Ethiopian-Americans who are determined to be the change we all have been waiting for.

To join ‘Ethiopians for Obama’, click on: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ethiopiansforobama/

Rally in New York to commemorate May 15

Friday, May 9th, 2008

By Tedla Asfaw

As we all are aware of, from May 15 – May 18 Ethiopians in the Diaspora are showing solidarity with their people and reach out to each other and move on the spirit of May 15, 2005 where Ethiopians on their vote back home shook the foundation of tyranny beyond repair forever.

On this spirit, Ethiopians in New York Metropolitan area and from New Jersey have organized a rally on May 15, 2008 on the third anniversary of our people victory over TPLF tyranny.

Since then many lives have been lost and many jailed including Teddy Afro loved by many Ethiopians for his pro-Ethiopian songs. Moreover, the killing has been exported to neighboring Somalia since December 2006 and to our Ogaden for a diversionary plot without success in the name of war on terror financed by Bush administration.

The victims of TPLF are all nationalities and we need to come together to defeat this regime and the
separate ways we go to defeat the regime though has weakened the regime there should be a united assault to give a final blow and take our liberty from the hands of homegrown fascists.

I call all Ethiopians to come on May 15, 2008 to the famous site here in New York City where people of the world gather to show their denunciation of terror and tyranny.

All Ethiopians are invited to come to the Ralph J. Bunche Park in front of Peace Form One obelisk at
First Avenue 42nd Street across the U.N headquarters and celebrate our people victory three years ago over tyranny.

The rally from 9 am to 2:30 pm is also a call for political parties to form a united front against TPLF
and narrow differences among ourselves. As you know the great obstacle of peace, TPLF, currently is busy in giving away Ethiopia’s land for Sudan in exchange of denying oppositions safe heaven to conduct their struggle.

Our struggle against TPLF can not be won while some fight and die and others look on sideline and it is
critical to hold each others hand and remove the regime who is killing and abusing our people each day.

We are also condemning the illegal occupation of Somalia and the killing of elderly, women and children
and show solidarity with fellow Somalis who are now fighting to liberate their land from TPLF forces.

Come and participate on this rally at a critical time our region and Ethiopia has been forced to after
Ethiopians rejected the brutal regime of Melese Zenawi exactly three years ago.

Ethiopian immigrant teen in Colorado gets scholarship

Friday, May 9th, 2008
By John C. Ensslin, Rocky Mountain News

Meron Fitsum, center, plays Connect Four with her sister Makda, left, and brother Hayelom in their Denver home on Tuesday. Meron Fitsum, an 18-year-old high school senior, is among a record number of Daniels Scholarship winners.

Ken Papaleo / The Rocky

Meron Fitsum, center, plays Connect Four with her sister Makda, left, and brother Hayelom in their Denver home on Tuesday. Meron Fitsum, an 18-year-old high school senior, is among a record number of Daniels Scholarship winners.

Meron Fitsum has a habit of coming right to the point.

When asked how she became one of the record number of 265 Daniels Scholarship winners awarded this week, the 18-year- old high school senior tells you the story – her story, the one that intersects with the American dream.

Her parents are from Ethiopia. Fitsum was born in Sudan.

“When I was 2, my family moved from Sudan to America as refugee immigrants, all in hopes of the American dream. Since then, we’ve come across lots of people willing to help us.”

For the past four years, one of those people was Sherry Shepard, information technology director for the law firm of Holland & Hart. Shepard is a volunteer with Byrne Urban Scholars. They lined her up with Fitsum.

Although Fitsum was shy at first, the two bonded quickly over their mutual love of dance, including taking classes in hip-hop dance at the Cleo Parker Robinson studio.

“This is a family that I’ll know forever,” Shepard said Monday. “Even if they don’t have a lot, they’ll feed you forever,” she said, recalling many cups of strong Ethiopian coffee served by Fitsum’s father, Belay, who works as a valet at the Brown Palace.

“This is the only family I know where the kids argue over who’s the smartest,” she added. “And they are all smart.”

Asked who is the smartest among her and her five younger siblings, Fitsum doesn’t miss a beat.

“Me, of course,” she said laughing.

The decision letter from the Daniels Fund arrived a few weeks ago.

Her father called her and said, “OK, I’ve got the mail. Do you want me to open it?”

“Is it fat or skinny?” she asked.

“Fat,” he said.

“Open it.”

A few minutes later, when she called Shepard, who was at a conference in Las Vegas, Shepard said it was hard to tell who was screaming for joy louder, the mentor or the student.

Today, the Daniels Fund plans to announce the names of all 265 students who will receive $6.6 million of scholarships. Thanks to some good portfolio investments, that number is up from 200 scholars two years ago, said fund spokesman Peter Droege. The scholars are from Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah.

Fitsum plans to use her scholarship to attend Saint Louis University, where she hopes to study creative writing.

Her mentor is not surprised that her protege won the scholarship.

“Every time she hears of something that has to do with leadership, she signs up for it,” Shepard said. “She takes the initiative and makes things happen for herself.”

The Daniels Fund by the numbers

The Denver-based foundation started by the late cable magnate Bill Daniels makes grants to nonprofit organizations in Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and Utah and on a limited basis to national programs.

70% of money paid out by the fund is given to agencies working in nine areas chosen by Daniels, including education, the homeless, the elderly and children.

30% of the fund’s annual payout is devoted to the foundation’s college-prep and scholarship program.

Geographic breakdown of the funds

* Colorado: 65 percent (50 percent in the Denver area, 15 percent in the balance of the state)

* New Mexico: 10 percent

* Wyoming: 10 percent

* National programs: 10 percent

* Utah: 5 percent

Ethiopians in Norway remember May 15

Friday, May 9th, 2008

ANNOUNCEMENT

To All Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia Living in Norway

A call for participation in the Word Wide March for Freedom, Justice and Human rights in Ethiopia.

Ato Obang Metho, the leader of Anuak Justice Council has taken the initiative and is organizing the World Wide March for freedom, justice and human rights in Ethiopia. The event will provide Ethiopians with an opportune moment to mark May 15, come together and renew their commitment to the struggle for democracy, freedom and justice in their home country. Democratic and peace-loving Ethiopians have decisively beaten the regime of the mercenary TPLF in the ballot box in the historic May 15, 2005 elections. The dictatorial regime does not have any legitimacy and does not represent the country in any way. The regime of Meles Zenawi has refused to accept the democratic and legal decision of the people as expressed in the ballot boxes and continued to impose its illegitimate rule on the country.

The anti-Ethiopian ethnocentric dictatorial regime of Meles Zenawi is in the process of plunging our country into deep crisis and chaos. It has remained defiant and is closing all the venues for the peaceful settlement of the political crisis which is its own making. Besides, there are alarming and unsettling reports of secretive agreements between the illegitimate regime of Meles Zenawi and Sudan which allows the later to grab Ethiopian land. Considering the gravity of the crisis our country is facing at the moment, we have no option but to forge unprecedented unity and stand together in defense of our county and rights.

There will be a public rally to be held in Oslo Norway as part of the world wide march for freedom, human rights and justice in Ethiopia. All Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia are cordially invited to take part in the event and demonstrate their solid unity against repression, treason and tyranny which is jeopardizing the existence their country.

Date: Thursday the 15th of May, 2008 (15-05-08).
Place: In front of the Norwegian Parliament (stortinget).
Time: 15:00 or 3:00p.m. in the afternoon.

The Ethiopian Common Forum in Norway

British gov't rewards Woyanne for its murder spree

Friday, May 9th, 2008

The British government rewards its blood thirsty puppet Meles Zenawi with hundreds of millions of dollars for continuing to terrorize the peoples of Ethiopia and Somalia. We all know that malaria prevention, etc. is all lie. The money will be used to keep the dying regime of Woyanne alive.

————

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) — Britain said on Thursday it will give Ethiopia 2.5 billion birr this year to help the Horn of Africa country try to achieve the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Some of the money will be used to send 1 million children to school and buy three million mosquito nets to prevent the spread of malaria, one of sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest killers.

British High Commissioner (ambassador) to Ethiopia Norman Ling said the assistance was the biggest Britain has offered to any African country, adding the aid would be provided through the UK’s Department for International Development.

“The UK is fully committed to helping Ethiopia achieve the MDGs as the assistance of the 2.5 billion birr for this year shows,” Paul Ackroyd, the head of DFID, told a news conference.

DFID has spent some 2.7 billion birr on programmes in Ethiopia over the past four years, Ackroyd said.

One of the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) aimed at halving global poverty by 2015 is reversing the trend toward a constant increase in the incidence of malaria, HIV/AIDS and other diseases.

Tigray court sentences three Ethiopians to death

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

It was a show trial by a hastily formed local Tigrean court that took only a couple of months to hear the case and sentence the suspects to death. More likely all the accused were innocent individuals.

(ST) HUMORA, Tigray — The Tigray regional high court on Thursday passed a death and life sentences over 6 Ethiopian accused of bombing a passenger bus at the northern Ethiopian Tigray regions Humora town on March 13.

Nine civilians were killed and another 31 wounded at the bombing of a bus travelling from Humera to Shira town in northern Ethiopia.

The Temporary High Court which was set up by the regional government for this specific case in its hearing today has found all the defendants guilty. The court sentenced three of death penalty and two others to life imprisonment.

The open court, crowded with some 1000 residents of Humora town sank quiet when the central judge, Abraha Meles, cleared his throat to announce the final sentence over criminals.

“Listening to all the witnesses brought from left and right we have found all the defendants guilty” the central judge, Abraha Meles said. After a short pause he continued “accordingly we have passed a death sentence over 3 defendants namely Birhanu Tesfay, Berihu Legesse and Gebretsadkan Bahta.”

“While the court has passed life sentences to Tesfay Kahsay and Birhanu Welday” judge Abraha added.

Among the defendants Birhanu Kahsay pleaded guilty of masterminding the attacks.

The court has also passed 20 years of prison terms over a town police who cooperated with the perpetrators in negligence to his duty and responsibility.

The defendants were charged with terror acts, treason, plotting attacks, arms smuggling, cross-border attacks, and spying.

The temporary court has earlier sat four times to hear the case.

The court also found that the accused had been in contact to commit more attacks with Eritrean officials.

According to a document read at the court, all the “terrorists” have been receiving orders from Eritrean authorities for attacks and had further plans to destroy 26 electric transformers of Humora town and to carry out attacks over government officials.

Abrehet Belay, relative of a victim and resident of the town after the court closed says that the quick legal reaction Ethiopia took is exemplary.

“The legal action taken in no time over the anti-societies by government is exemplary others should follow against anti-peace bodies and it is a clear warning for other terrorists to refrain from such attacks or face the consequences,” Abrehet told Sudan Tribune.

Eritrea denies Djibouti war claim

Thursday, May 8th, 2008
Eritrea has denied that it has any problems with Djibouti, which accuses it of amassing troops on their border.

Earlier this week, Djibouti appealed to the UN Security Council to intervene in order to prevent a conflict over the border village of Doumeira.

In a letter to the UN, Djibouti alleged Eritrea had published new maps showing Doumeira as Eritrean territory.

Grirma Asmerom, Eritrea’s ambassador to the European Union, told the BBC he knew nothing about the letter.

Since Eritrea gained independence in 1993, the country has been involved in two serious conflicts over territory with its neighbours.

‘Real threat’

BBC Somali Service editor Yusuf Garaad Omar says Djibouti’s interpretation of events is alarming.

He said Doumeira is a small border village of little strategic importance home to ethnic Afar people.

“The sudden growth of troops calls for real intervention by the international community because we see it as a real threat,” Djibouti’s ambassador to the UN Roble Olhaye told the BBC’s Network Africa programme.

“We wanted to urge the Security Council to take all necessary measures to prevent any kind of conflagration because the prospect of a real war is there.”

But Mr Asmerom said he was bemused by such accusations.

“There is no such problem with Djibouti; we have never had a problem with Djibouti,” he said.

In 1995, Eritrea clashed with Yemen over the Hanish islands in the Red Sea – one of the world’s major shipping lanes.

Three years later, Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a two-year war over the border town of Badme, in which tens of thousands of people died.

Djibouti and Eritrea clashed twice over their mutual border in the 1990s and nearly went to war.

Both US and France have military bases in Djibouti.

Somali insurgents seize police HQ in Mogadishu (AP)

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) – Firing rocket-propelled grenades and heavy submachine guns, Somali fighters seized the police headquarters at the heart of the government’s stronghold in Mogadishu on Thursday, in a bold attack that witnesses said killed two soldiers and two policemen.

The insurgents have tried many times to attack the heavily guarded K4 district but Thursday’s raid was their first major success.

It came a day after a bloody Wednesday in the Horn of Africa nation. Insurgents attacked Ethiopian Woyanne military convoys in two rural areas Wednesday, and the soldiers responded by opening fire on civilians, killing at least 17 villagers, witnesses said.

It was not known how many Ethiopians Woyannes died in that fighting. The insurgents said one of their regional commanders was killed.

Elsewhere, a roadside bomb killed three Somali soldiers Wednesday, a military officer said. A separate attack on a World Food Program convoy in central Somalia killed one of the organization’s drivers, U.N. officials said.

In Mogadishu on Thursday, witnesses said, an explosion rocked Makalal Mukrama Road outside the police headquarters in K4 district and plumes of black smoke rose into the night air after fighters set ablaze a captured «technical» — a pickup truck with a submachine gun fixed to its bed.

The blast came after the insurgents seized the police station, yelling «God is great,» witnesses said.
«The fighting was hideous, terrifying,» said resident Hawa Abdi. The gunfire was so heavy that «I thought it would smash the walls of my concrete home.

Elmi Osman, another resident of the area, said bullets crashed through the window of the house where he lives, killing his aunt and a nephew.

Street hawker Abisaq Mohamed said he saw the bodies of two police officers sprawled in the middle of Makalal Mukrama Road, where he lives. He said he also saw two government soldiers killed in the fighting, and one insurgent being carried away.

Insurgents’ spokesman Abdirahim Issa Adow told The Associated Press that his fighters had killed eight policemen. He said one rebel fighter was killed and two were wounded in the attack.

He said the insurgents also fired mortars into two Ethiopian Woyanne military bases in the capital — a claim that could not be verified.

By 8 p.m., the witnesses said, the attackers had disappeared, abandoning the police station as they have other targets, using the guerrilla tactics that have kept alive their insurgency.

On Wednesday, in the central province of Hiran, suspected insurgents attacked an Ethiopian Woyanne convoy with rocket-propelled grenades, witnesses said. «I saw two Ethiopian Woyanne military vehicles burning and several soldiers underneath them, but I cannot confirm whether they were dead,» Ahmedey Farah Hilowle told The Associated Press by telephone from his village 40 miles (65 kilometers) south of the provincial capital, Beletweyne.

The Ethiopian Woyanne troops retaliated by opening fire, killing eight civilians including a woman who was collecting water from a well, villager Abdisalan Muxsim said. Residents said they found the bodies of six insurgents lying in nearby bush.
But Adow, the insurgents’ spokesman, said only two insurgents were killed, including regional commander Amin Barqadle Daad.

Their accounts could not be verified Thursday by Somali authorities. Ethiopia Woyanne, which sent troops into Somalia to back up soldiers fighting insurgents, does not make public its troops’ fatalities.

International human rights groups have accused Ethiopian Woyanne troops of targeting civilians out of frustration over their failure to halt insurgents.

«We inflicted a great loss of lives on them (Ethiopians Woyannes) and destroyed their vehicles, but in retaliation the enemy troops mercilessly killed civilians,» Adow said.

Also Wednesday, in the Lower Shabelle region, Ethiopian Woyanne troops killed nine civilians after suspected insurgents ambushed a military convoy between Yaqberiweyne and Belidogle, 65 miles (110 kilometers) south of Mogadishu, witnesses said.

«During the battle, we ran away from our village to the bush,» resident Said Abukar Ganey said. «This morning, we came back and we found the bodies of nine of our villagers.

Elsewhere, a roadside bomb hit a truck carrying Somali soldiers, killing three troops and wounding six, military officer Madey Hassan Nur said late Wednesday by telephone. He said the explosion occurred just outside Baidoa, the seat of the interim parliament, about 150 miles (250 kilometers) southwest of Mogadishu.

«An explosion sent us into the air. When we fell back to the ground, three of my colleagues were lying there dead and six others were screaming from their wounds,» Nur said.

In the Mudug region, militiamen demanding money opened fire on a 12-truck convoy transporting food into central Somalia, the U.N. World Food Program said. The driver died of his wounds, officials said.

Hundreds of Ethiopian soldiers have died in Somalia, Ethiopian Woyanne Foreign Affairs spokesman Wahide Belay said from Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, earlier in the week. About 3,000 Ethiopian troops are deployed in Somalia, he said. [This is a lie. The fact is that there are over 20,000 Woyanne soldiers in Somalia currently.]
————————-
Associated Press writer Mohamed Sheikh Nor contributed to this report from Mogadishu.

Woyanne bans Ethiopian athletes from Doha Grand Prix

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

ወያኔ የሚሰራውን አሳጥቶታል:: የችጋራም ጥጋበኛ አያድርስ ነው::

DOHA, Qatar (AP) – Ethiopian athletes pulled out of Friday’s Doha Super Grand Prix meet because of political tension between the two countries, organizers said.

«We had prepared everything for them: the visa, the tickets and everything,» said Dahlan Al-Hamad, the president of the Qatar athletics federation. «Unfortunately politics got into sports.

Last month, Ethiopia broke off diplomatic relations with Qatar, saying the energy-rich Gulf state had become a source of instability in the Horn of Africa. It cited Qatar’s relations with Eritrea, which is involved in a long-standing feud with Ethiopia over their border.

Qatar said it was astonished by the diplomatic action and denied the accusations that it is hurting Ethiopia’s security.

Seven Ethiopian athlete were on the starting list of Friday’s meeting, including indoor world champions Deresse Mekonnen in the 1,500 meters and Tariku Bekele in the 3,000.

Al-Hamad said the IAAF world athletics federation would look into the matter.

Oromo American Citizen Council joins May 15 rally

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

The Oromo American Citizen Council joins the Worldwide March for Freedom, Justice and Human Rights in Ethiopia, starting on May 15, 2008 and ending on March 18

Press release May 7, 2008

We in the Oromo American Citizen Council are writing this letter to declare that we are joining our sisters and brothers of Ethiopia in the March for Freedom, Justice and Human Rights to be held on May 15 – 18, 2008, especially remembering those who fought and died for human rights, freedom, and democracy in Ethiopia.

We are not only commemorating the abortive elections of May 2005, but the event will also serve as a reminder and commemoration of all the atrocities against Ethiopia and its people throughout Ethiopia since 1992.

The Oromo, as well as countless other Ethiopians, have suffered. We have often worked independently to stop these abuses, but it is clear that as we continue our endeavor, we must stand shoulder to shoulder to work together to further this cause if we are to succeed.

The 2005 massacre in the Ethiopian capital is only symptomatic of a much bigger political problem. Even though the May 2005 election in Ethiopia was hailed as a step forward in many corners, the current government is ruling over Ethiopians against their consent.

Our major worry at this time is, unless this is resolved, and resolved to the satisfaction of all the major contending forces, is that the crisis could spin out of control and lead to a full-blown civil war, something which could destabilize the whole of the Horn of Africa.

The continuation of human rights violations in Ethiopia has been partly made possible because the international community has chosen to turn a blind eye to what is happening in Ethiopia. This problem was exacerbated since Ethiopia jumped on the bandwagon of anti-terrorism.

It is our firm belief that Ethiopia supported the anti-terrorism coalition, precisely to get soft treatment from other coalition forces regarding her human rights violation issues. We believe human rights issues should not be traded off for the fake support one gives to anti-terrorism forces.

The international community should in an unequivocal manner tell the Ethiopian government that it should stop the killings and hold free and fair elections in the future. This is a great opportunity for all of us Ethiopians to show our solidarity. So, let us stand together and make our voices heard! It is up to all of us to make these efforts succeed. We call on all other Oromo to come out, wherever you are throughout the world and support this effort.

Oromo American Citizen Council
1821 University Avenue, Suite 336
St. Paul, MN 55104

The fascist dictator travels to South Africa

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

The Ethiopian Community Association in South Africa
PRESS STATEMENT, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, 7 MAY 2008

The Ethiopian Community Association in South Africa has a proud tradition of activism, and once again issues this joint communiqué in association with the support groups of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party and The United Ethiopian Democratic Forces on the occasion of the planned visit of Meles Zenawi, the butcher of Addis Ababa, to South Africa. Reliable sources indicate that the embassy is using gullible Ethiopians, opportunists and the supporters of the tribal regime to finalize the reception for Meles. They have hired propagandists.

Meles Zenawi leads a blood thirsty minority tribal regime. The number of people that were killed during the last 17 years of Meles Zenawi’s misrule warrants international investigation. The perpetrators of the grand massacres in Addis Ababa, Afar, Ambo, Awassa, Borena, Hosaina, Gambella, Gojam, Gonder, North Shoa, Nekemt, Ogden, Tigrai and other places are well known to Ethiopians. To counter the international campaign for investigation, the dictatorial regime is spending millions, closing diplomatic doors and also confusing Ethiopian emigrants in South Africa and the rest of the world through sectarian politics, and making false economic promises. The fact is in 2008 there are over 10 million Ethiopians that need food aid. There is rampant inflation and unknown amount of war expenditure.

In April 2008 the minority regime made yet another effort to legitimize its atrocities. It administered a local election in which it was the only contestant. This is in addition to the stolen election of May 15, 2005 in which elected parliamentarians were jailed for more than 20 months on concocted charges. The commander of the minority regime himself was personally responsible for ordering the massacre of civilians in Addis Ababa and the rest of Ethiopia. It is for this blood thirsty dictator that Ethiopians in South Africa are being invited to attend a reception! It is evident that Ethiopia has nothing to celebrate and it is rather bizarre that a forum such as the Pan-African Parliament is used to promote a regime with such poor human rights record.

Africa should stop using double standards. It should show the same concern to Ethiopia as it has done for Kenya and Zimbabwe. It is ridiculous to put Meles at the helm of NEPAD when in fact he is a leader of an illegal minority regime. The “war on terror” should not be used to cover up human right abuses in the Horn of Africa. Therefore, we call upon the international community to disassociate itself from this undemocratic regime.

Pan-African Parliament program [pdf]

FREE POLITICAL PRISONERS! FREE TEDY AFRO!
STOP THE WAR IN THE OGDEN! STOP THE WAR IN SOMALIA!
WE DEMAND A FREE AND FAIR ELECTION IN ETHIOPIA!

The Ethiopian Community Association in South Africa
Tel: 27+0824819541 or 27+ 0827444860 P.O.Box 17051 Doornfontien 2028, South Africa

Battle rages between Woyanne soldiers, Somali insurgents

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

(Garowe) — Ethiopian Woyanne troops in central Somalia were ambushed Wednesday as they withdrew from one town and were heading back towards the Ethiopian border, locals said.

The fighting erupted around noon as a 30-truck Ethiopian Woyanne army convoy left their positions in Bulo Burte, a town in Hiran region.

The Ethiopian Woyanne contingent was attacked in a hilly village between Bulo Burto and Beletwein, the provincial seat of power.

Local villagers reported that the battle lasted for nearly two hours, as Ethiopian Woyanne soldiers exchanged a barrage of gunfire and artillery with Islamist insurgents.

Unconfirmed reports obtained by Garowe Online indicated that four Ethiopian Woyanne army trucks were burned after sustaining insurgent rocket fire.

There were heavy casualties on both sides of the conflict, according to villagers, but casualty figures were difficult to obtain because of the fierce fighting.

In one brutal incident, Ethiopian Woyanne soldiers who left the frontlines entered a small village where they pulled three Somali civilians from their home and executed them, according to local sources.

Meanwhile, the Ethiopian Woyanne army’s largest base in Hiran region, located near the border village of Kala-Beyr, was pounded by at least seven mortars early Wednesday.

It is not clear if any soldier was hurt in the mortar attack, but locals said Ethiopian Woyanne soldiers entered surrounding villages to conduct an investigation.

Somalia’s Hiran region remains without a governor, even though Prime Minister Nur “Adde” Hassan Hussein appointed a new administration last month.

Many members of the new regional authority have refused to accept the jobs, citing lack of resources and political discord domestically.

Yusuf Daboged, an Ethiopian Woyanne-backed warlord who was the last governor of Hiran region, has maintained that he is the de facto governor, despite the Prime Minister’s decree replacing him. Mr. Daboged was last reported to be in Kala-Beyr alongside Ethiopian Woyanne military commanders.

Sudan annexing Ethiopian territory (Tecola W. Hagos)

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

By Tecola W. Hagos
Source: tecolahagos.com

Now we are being informed by a patriotic committee of Ethiopians that Meles Zenawi is actively engaged in the handing over of extensive Ethiopian Territory, tens of thousands of acres, to the Government of Sudan. It seems that the Committee that brought to our attention the recent abrogation of duty by Meles Zenawi to defend and preserve Ethiopia has the added difficulty of penetrating the news blackout imposed by the Meles Government. However, it is to the great credit of such courageous and patriotic Ethiopians that we were able to follow and monitor the activities of Meles Zenawi and the EPRDF and the Sudanese Government Officials and military in connection with the ongoing attempt to dismantle and destroy Ethiopia. It is no news that Sudan has ambition to extend its control of the Tikur Abayi (Blue Nile) River basin and conquer the most prized cistern—Lake Tana, but what is unfathomable is the possibility of an Ethiopian leader collaborating with Ethiopia’s historic enemies handing over Ethiopian territory… Read more >>

Teddy Afro denounces his lawyer's statement

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

Teddy Afro, who is currently detained in Kaliti jail, said that he rejects the recent statement by his lawyer, Ato Million Assefa, who said in an interview that those who are protesting the artist’s arrest are “bankrupt politicians.” Read more by zikkir News Service

Teddy needs to fire this hodam banda lawyer.

ቴዲ አፍሮ የጠበቃውን መግለጫ አወገዘ

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

የቴዲ ጠበቃ የሆኑት አቶ ሚሊዮን አሰፋ በአገር ውስጥ ለሚታተም (በሳምሶን አሳታሚ) ኢትዮ ቻናል ለተሰኘ ጋዜጣ ደንበኛቸውን ወክለው የሰጡትን መግለጫ አወገዘ፡፡

በኢቲቪ መንግስትን በማወደስ የሚታወቁት ጠበቃው አቶ ሚሊዮን ያለቴዲ ፈቃድ በአገር ውስጥና በውጭ የሚካሄዱና አርቲስቱ እንዲለቀቅ የሚጠይቁ ተቃውሞዎች ‹‹የከሰሩ ፖለቲከኞች ተግባር ነው›› ማለታቸውን አርቲስቱ እንደሚቃውም በቤተሰቦቹ አማካይነት ለደጋፊዎቹ በሙሉ እንዲደርስ ጠይቋል፡፡

ቴዲ በቤተሰቦቹ አማካይነት ባስተላለፈው መልእክት በእንደዚህ አይነት ጉዳይ ላይ ጠበቃው እኔን ወክሎ እንዲነናገር አልፈቀድኩም ብሏል፡፡

Djibouti says Eritrean army entered its territory

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

It is to be remembered that last year the president of Djibouti had handed over to Ethiopia’s fascist dictator 8 helicopter pilots who sought political asylum in his country. Djibouti government officials from the president on down are a bunch of khat-addicted prostitutes.

—————–
Djibouti has accused Eritrea of violating its border by sending troops into its territory.

BBC NEWS — “The two armies are facing each other. The situation is explosive,” said Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh.

Eritrea has denied accusations that its soldiers had dug trenches on the Djibouti side of the border.

The Arab League and the African Union have urged both sides to avoid any action that could lead to an escalation of the long-running border dispute.

The Djibouti leader said he had asked both bodies to help arbitrate.

They are reportedly sending fact-finding missions to the area.

The two countries clashed twice over their mutual border in the 1990s and nearly went to war.

Both US and France have military bases in Djibouti.

America's bipartisan atrocity deepens in Somalia

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

By Chris Floyd

Until we have a politics that considers the fate of all people to be just as important as the fate of “Americans,” there will be no end to this cycle of atrocity and terror, no end to ruin and revenge, no real change, no matter who is elected.

Do you want to know what the entire American political establishment – Democrat and Republican, conservative and “progressive” – really stands for? Do you want to know what they all support, whole-heartedly, without the slightest objection or demur? Do you want to see their true vision for the world, behind all the pious rhetoric and poisonous lies? Then look no further; here it is, in the raw:

A leading human rights group on Tuesday accused Ethiopian troops in Somalia of killing civilians and committing atrocities, including slitting people’s throats, gouging out eyes and gang-raping women. (AP)

The people of Somalia are being killed, raped, tortured; looting is widespread and entire neighbourhoods are being destroyed,” said Michelle Kagari, Africa Programme Deputy Director at Amnesty International, speaking from Nairobi.

Witnesses described to Amnesty International an increasing incidence of Ethiopian troops killing by what is locally termed “slaughtering” or “killing like goats” – referring to killing by slitting the throat. The victims of these killings are often left lying in pools of blood in the streets until armed fighters, including snipers, move out of the area and relatives can collect their bodies.

In one case, a 15-year-old girl found her father with his throat cut upon returning home from school, after Ethiopian security forces swept through her neighbourhood.

Other cases in the report include:

Haboon, a 56-year-old woman from Mogadishu, who said her neighbour’s 17-year-old daughter was raped by Ethiopian troops. When her 13 and 14-year-old sons tried to defend their sister, the soldiers beat them and took their eyes out with a bayonet. The mother fled. It is not known what happened to the boys. This girl is in a coma as a result of the injuries she sustained during the attack.

Guled, aged 32, who said that he saw his neighbours “slaughtered”. He said he saw many men whose throats were slit and whose bodies were left in the street. Some had their testicles cut off. He also saw women being raped. In one incident, his newly-wed neighbour whose husband was not home was raped by over twenty Ethiopian soldiers. (Garowe Online)

Ceebla’a, aged 63, from Wardhiigley, said she fled Mogadishu on 15 November 2007 with her young children after some shooting in the area. One day she saw three men leaving their shops being picked up by Ethiopian soldiers for investigation. The next morning she saw the bodies of the three men on the street. One was strangled with electrical wire. The second had his throat cut. The third had been chained ankle to wrist, and his testicles had been smashed. (Amnesty report)

These Ethiopian (Tigrean People Liberation Front) Woyanne troops were armed, trained and funded by the Bush Administration, then sent into Somalia as a proxy army for yet another Terror War “regime change” operation in late 2006. American military forces have been directly involved in the operation, on the side of the invaders, throughout the conflict, from the very beginning to this day –- as evidenced by the U.S. missile attack last week that killed at least two dozen civilians in the course of an “extrajudicial” assassination of a Somali insurgent leader.

American forces have bombed fleeing refugees, slaughtered innocent herdsmen and destroyed villages in attempts to assassinate a handful of individual alleged, on shaky and specious evidence, to be “part of” or “associated with” or “linked to” al Qaeda. American agents have seized refugees from the Somali war, including U.S. citizens, and had them “renditioned” to the notorious prisons of the Ethiopian dictatorship. And as we have noted here many times, the Bush Administration has sent in death squads to “kill anyone left alive” after American strikes.

There has been no objection to any of this from any major figure in American politics. Barack Obama doesn’t object to it. Hillary Clinton doesn’t object to it. Nancy Pelosi doesn’t object to it. It goes without saying that John McCain and the Republicans don’t object to these latest war crimes. The entire Washington power structure has lined up to support this hideous project: military aggression, murder, destruction and rampant atrocity. Somalia -– already one of the world’s most fragile and ravaged nations -– is being battered into utter destruction before our eyes… and in our names.

“The human rights and humanitarian situation in Somalia is growing worse by the day. This report represents the voices of ordinary Somalis, and their plea to the international community to take action to end the attacks against them, including those committed by internationally-supported [Transitional Federal Government] and Ethiopian forces.”

Security in many parts of Mogadishu is non-existent, and the entire population of Mogadishu bears the scars of having witnessed or experienced egregious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

“There is no safety for civilians, wherever they run. Those fleeing violence in Mogadishu are attacked on the road and those lucky enough to reach a camp or settlement face further violence and dire conditions.”

The American-backed invasion, and the depradations of the American-backed TFG, which was helped into power by Somali warlords in the pay of the CIA, have, inevitably, radicalized opposition forces, some of whom respond with similar brutality. The chaos wrought by the war in Somalia breaks down all vestiges of society and human communion, leaving people prey to freebooting criminal gangs and the ravages of desperation.

In the face of all this deliberately fomented horror –- and its embrace by the entire American political establishment –- it is difficult to regard the U.S. presidential race as anything other than a sickening obscenity, played out on a stage drenched in viscera. “Oh my god, did you hear what Harold Ickes said about Barack?!” “Mercy me, did you hear what those latte-swilling Obamaniks said about Hillary’s gas tax plan?!” This is juvenile navel-gazing taken to sinister extremes. I honestly cannot fathom such people, who pretend to care about politics and policy –- yet ignore the unspeakable ruin and suffering that are the reality of our politics, the accepted, bipartisan results of our policies.

Until we have a politics that considers the fate of Haboon and her children to be just as important, just as meaningful, just as real as our own, there will be no end to this cycle of atrocity and terror, no end to ruin and revenge, no real change, no matter who is elected.

Below we see from the Amnesty report that U.S. proxies in Somalia are using the kind of “counterinsurgency techniques” that fuels extremism and insurgency:

In many cases TFG and Ethiopian Woyanne forces were searching for specific, named individuals believed to have collaborated with armed groups, and in several such cases they beat, arrested or killed someone other than the person they were looking for. In many other cases, TFG and Ethiopian Woyanne forces would sweep entire streets, moving door to door, beating or shooting those they found in areas from which armed groups were believed to have launched attacks, or areas presumed to be armed group strongholds. Many individuals and families under such circumstances were accused of collaboration with armed groups by association or mere proximity to attacks.

Bush’s proxy warriors in Somalia are also practicing “extrajudicial assassination” in the manner of the Crawford Caligula:

Among the most common violations reported were an increased incidence of gang rape, and scores of reports of a type of killing locally referred to as “slaughtering,” or “killing like goats.” These terms refer to extrajudicial killing by slitting of the throat. Amnesty International heard dozens of testimonies stating that the bodies of such victims were left lying in pools of blood in the streets and in homes until combatants, including snipers, evacuated the area and it was considered safe for family and neighbors to retrieve them.

Here are more stories of the actual human beings being ground to bits by the Terror War machine:

Mahad, aged 41, a refugee from the Black Sea area near Bakara Market, described the actions of the TFG: “I cannot say in one story why I wasn’t safe, there are too many stories. My worst experience was one day when the TFG soldiers raided my village. These are the authority troops of Mohamed Dheere (the Mayor of Mogadishu). This was two and a half months ago at about 5am in the morning. I was watching from upstairs in my house. They were in a line and everyone had their hands against the wall. Then the soldiers fired on them, in bursts from their AK47s. They were six or seven meters away from me. I didn’t hear the soldiers say anything. I heard the people screaming, others were reciting the Koran, others were crying. After one hour, when the troops left, we came out to see the bodies. They also looted the village. They were Somali TFG forces. Everyone was killed because they were accused of being al-Qaeda. On another day [in early November], a Tuesday morning, I went to Bakara Market at 7:30am and I saw 21 bodies. I counted them. The bodies were lying alongside the road, all together in a row. They were all shot dead, with bullet holes all over their bodies. I saw two of them had their hands tied. I think they were killed because their clan was supporting the ICU…

Ruwe in Mogadishu, who fled in October 2007, told Amnesty International: “I saw girls get raped in my neighborhood and on the streets. I saw people get slaughtered. I saw people killed in their houses, their bodies rotting for days. It happened to my neighbor’s two girls.

Barni, aged 15, from Hawl Wadaag District in Mogadishu, said her area was controlled by the TFG in mid-2007. But when armed groups attacked the TFG and overwhelmed them in the area, the Ethiopian Woyanne forces came in too. When she came home from school on a day of significant fighting, she found her father with his throat cut, and the rest of her extended family was gone…

Canbaro, aged 35, from the Dayniile District of Mogadishu, lost her eldest son (aged 15), who was killed when he left their house to watch some fighting and was caught in the crossfire in late 2007. On the same day two male neighbors were killed by Ethiopian Woyanne troops when they entered their house. Their wives were “caught by force” (one of many euphemisms for being raped).

Fatima, 28, from the Wardhiigley District of Mogadishu, fled in late 2007 because she and her sisters were “mishandled” (another euphemism for being raped) by Ethiopian Woyanne troops, she said, and she was afraid for her children…

Hibo, aged 52, from the Yaaqsheed area of Mogadishu, now has nine children. Her husband and two other children were killed by Ethiopian Woyanne troops on 27 March 2007. She told Amnesty International, “My story begins with the men not spending the night at home anymore. We were afraid they [Ethiopian Woyanne troops] could break in and take them [family members]. One night when they were entering the bush they were stopped by soldiers who told my husband not to move. He didn’t move, but they searched him and found some money. One of my sons cried out, ‘Don’t take this, we don’t have anything else at home for my mother and the other children.’ One of the soldiers beat my son, and my husband responded by trying to protect him. The soldier beat my husband, and my other son grabbed onto him. The soldier took out his gun and shot him. I saw this from my window. Both boys were shot [dead] and they took my husband. After two days I was called to the hospital to collect my husband. When I arrived he was dead.

Zakaria, aged 41, from the Black Sea area, near Bakara Market, in Mogadishu said, “On 16 October 2007 I was in Somalia. On the fourth night I was there the village was occupied by Ethiopians Woyannes. I was among 41 who were arrested by the Ethiopians Woyannes. We were taken to the military base. I could see the battle wagons, and more than 15 technicals [Technicals are jeeps with heavy machine guns mounted on the back]. I was questioned by a Somali guy who was working with the Ethiopians Woyannes. We were all asked the same question: ‘Why are you here?’ We said we were just living in our homes. When the questions ended, nine of us were taken away and dropped into a lorry. I think these nine were taken to Ethiopia. I think this is because two of them were mullahs with long beards. Others looked ‘normal,’ mostly teenagers, under 20. I used to hear that when the Ethiopians Woyannes made arrests they pick up people who look like Islamists, and they take them to Ethiopia. The rest, 32 including me, we ran away, we escaped, but 11 were killed, shot dead. I could see them falling as they were ahead of me, they were the first group running away. That was the day I decided to flee the country. Later, on 22 November I saw five bodies that had their throats cut. Two of them were beheaded. The area was occupied by Ethiopians Woyannes.

Ebyan, aged 35, from Medina in Mogadishu, just arrived in a settlement two days before Amnesty International interviewed her. She said, “They killed my husband and my father on the same day on 25 November 2007. They were riding together in a car. When they were stopped, my husband started speaking in Somali, but the soldiers didn’t understand. They shot my husband in the forehead. When my father intervened they shot him too. After they killed my husband I hid two of my four children under the bed, and took two with me. I broke the bed over the two beneath so that no one would find them there. Later I came back and found them. I fled and left everything behind.

As noted above, the chaos and societal collapse caused by the “regime change” is breeding extremism and criminal anarchy. From the Amnesty report:

…clan, sub-clan and local political leaders and militias… have acted as bandits, perpetrating raids, robberies and other abuses against civilians, including rape and other forms of sexual violence. For example, those called “Mooryaan” are described as “gun totting young men” or “street kids,” who behave as criminals against civilians.

Nasteexo, aged 25, left Mogadishu because of insecurity. Break-ins had become common. Armed men opposing the TFG, called Mooryaan took her sister: “First they steal, then they take away the girls. Sometimes the girls come back, sometimes they don’t. It was a Thursday in mid-November. We were robbed by armed men. They were only two, and they were masked. They tried to take my sister, but my husband intervened, saying ‘this girl is too young and poor.’ This is when they shot him in the chest with rifles. Then the two masked men ran away with my sister. My husband died after he was shot. I ran away from my home because my husband was shot in front of my kids.

Meanwhile, those who flee the hell of Mogadishu and other cities find no respite from horror on the road:

One woman stated, “On the road from Mogadishu, there are robbers who come and take your money or just fire directly at the buses. Sometimes, there are roadblocks where they stop and ask you for money. If you don’t stop, they will kill you. Other bandits will jump out and shoot straight at the car, killing the driver and robbing the occupants. They will rob them of everything, and drive away with the car, leaving the women and children abandoned on the road. Sometimes, bandits will threaten and rape women—even if they are pregnant or breast feeding. My own family members have experienced things like this.

Amnesty concludes with a ringing declaration that “that war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity have been committed by all parties to the conflict in Somalia.” It goes on to name the TFG and Ethiopia Woyanne as bearing special responsibility for the level of atrocity. But the report omits one chief conspirator in this monstrous crime against humanity: the bankroller, armorer and trainer of the Ethiopian Woyanne invaders, the paymaster of the Somali warlords, the missile-striker, the refugee-bomber, the “extrajudicial” assassin, the renditioner, the wielder of death squads: the United States government, under the direction of George W. Bush, and with the full and willing complicity of the entire political establishment.

——————————

Chris Floyd has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at cfloyd72@gmail.com.

Video: Norway to withdraw its diplomats from Ethiopia

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

OLF denounces the illegal give away of Ethiopian land

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

By Tedla Asfaw

OLF Radio’s Amharic Service May 6 commented that the recent land “transaction” between TPLF and Sudan is a mutual agreement benefiting both regimes.

Sudan according to the commentary will hand opponents to TPLF and make sure its land including the one it was given by TPLF as a “gift” not to be used as a military base by TPLF’s opponents.

We have seen another deal between Puntland administration, Somalia and TPLF that resulted to the handling of ONLF high officials for exchange of guns. There was no land transaction between Puntland and TPLF this time because Puntland has no strong army to challenge ONLF. However, we can not rule out that possibility for the future.

The long term goal of the land “gift” to Sudan according to the OLF commentary is to plant a long term conflict between Sudan and Ethiopia mirroring the Badme “fiasco” which took the lives of tens of thousands of Ethiopians.

It went further and challenged all opponents of the regime to come together and remove this regime to detonate all the bombs planted inside and outside Ethiopia before it takes our people and country for a devastating conflict among ourselves and with neighboring countries.

Ethiopians in Switzerland to commemorate May 15

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Ethiopians in Switzerland will commemorate May 15 by holding a rally in Geneva in front of the United Nations building starting at 2:00 PM.

On May 15, 2005, millions of Ethiopians voted for change. The ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front (Woyanne) reacted by unleashing its death squads killing thousands, throwing over 50,000 civilians in concentration camps, shutting down the independent media, and arrested all the top leaders of the opposition party.

Similar activities are being organized to commemorate this day in Washington DC and other cities around the world.


ታላቅ ህዝባዊ ሰላማዊ ሠልፍ ጥሪ በስዊዘርላንድና አካባቢ ለምትኖሩ ኢትዮጵያውያን በሙሉ

ለተከበራችሁ ውድ ኢትዮጵያውያን ሁሉ

የህዝብ ድምጽ የተቀማበትና በአደባባይ የህዝብ ልጆች በአጋዚ ጦር የተጨፈጨፉበት ቀን በማስታወስ ለሚደረገው አለም አቀፋዊ ሰላማዊ ሰልፍ ላይ ለመገኘት ጥሪአችንን እናቀርባለን።

የሰላማዊ ሰልፉ ዓላማ በሃገራችን ላይ የተጣለው የጥፋት ደመናን ለማርገብም ታስቦ ነው።

ይሄዉም ፡-
* በሃገራችን ፍትህና ዲሞክራሲ ከምንጊዜዉም የበለጠ ታፍኖአል
* ህዝባችን ሰብአዊና መሰረታዊ የመኖር መብቱ ተነፍጓል
* መለስና ግብረ-አበሮቹ በህዝባችን ላይ ቀጥተኛ የሆነ ብቀላ እየፈጸሙበት ነው
* የአምባገነኑ መለስ አስተዳደር የዕለት ጉርስን የፖለቲካ መሳርያ በማድረግ በሚሊዮን የሚቆጠሩ ኢትዮጵያውያን ለረሃብ ተዳርገዋል
* የባህረ ነጋሽ ቁስል ሳይደርቅ የሰሜን ምዕራብ የድንበር መሬታችን ቆርሰው ለሱዳን ሰጥተዋል
* መለስና ግብረ አበሮቹ በኢትዮጵያ ላይ እና በህዝቧ ላይ የማያልቅ ጦርነት በመጫር ላይ ናቸው
* የሃገርን ሉዖላዊነት፤ታሪክንና ቅርስን ማጥፋታቸዉን ከጥለዉበታል
* በህዝባችን ላይ አፈናዉና ግድያው በአስከፊ ሁነታ ቀጥሎአል
* በብዙ ሺህ የሚቆተሩ የኢትዮጵያ ልጆች በሃገሪቱ ዙሪያ እየማቀቁ ነው
* ኢትዮጵያዊ መሆንና ስለኢትዮጵያዊነት መናገር ወንጀል ሆኗል ለዚህም እንደ ትልቅ ምሳሌ ኢትዮጵያዊው አርቲስት ቴዲአፍሮ መጥቀስ ይቻላል
* በቴዲ አፍሮ ላይ የሚወሰደዉ ኢ-ፍትሃዊ ድርጊት በኢትዮጵያዊነት ላይ ብሎም የአዲሱን ትውልድ ልብ ለማቁሰል ሆን ብሎ የሚፈጸም ድርጊት ነው

ስለኢትዮጵያዊነትና ለኢትዮጵያ ለመቆም ከእኛ ከኢትዮጵያውያን ሌላ ማንም ሊቆምና ሊቆረቆር አይችልም ።ስለዚህ ህዝባችንና ሃገራችን ካሉበት አጣብቂኝ ችግር ለማዉጣት የዘር የሃይማኖትና የፖለቲካ ልዩነት ሳይገድበን የዜግነት ድርሻችንን እንወጣ።

ስለዚህ ግንቦት 7 ቀን ወይም 15 May 2008 በሚደረገው ሰላማዊ ሰልፍ ላ እንድትገኙ ጥሪአችንን እንቀርባለን

ቦታው ጄኔቫ የተባበሩት መንግስታት ጽ/ቤት ፊት ለፊት ነው
ከ14 ሠዓት ጀምሮ

ኢትዮጵያ ለዘልዓለም ትኖራለች!
የፖለቲካ እስረኞች ባስቸኳይ ይፈቱ!
ቴዲ አፍሮ ባስቸኳይ ይለቀቅ!

ጊዜአዊ አስተባባሪ ተግባር ኮሚቴ

ለበለጠ ኢንፎርሜሽን በዚህ ስልክ ይደዉሉ 0041 79 672 42 87

Amnesty report only "scratches surface of atrocities"

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

NAIROBI (IRIN) – The Somali government denied claims by a rights group that its forces and their Ethiopian Woyanne allies were committing atrocities against the civilian population — even as a civil society source said the report did not go far enough.

Government spokesman Abdi Haji Gobdon told IRIN on 7 May that in a war situation “some people may get caught in a crossfire but no civilian is deliberately targeted”, insisting that neither the TFG forces nor their Ethiopian allies committed atrocities.

Gobdon said the report was “pure propaganda and fabrication”. He was reacting to a report issued on 6 May by Amnesty International (AI), which has accused all parties to the conflict of committing war crimes against the civilian population.

“The people of Somalia are being killed, raped, tortured; looting is widespread and entire neighbourhoods are being destroyed,” Michelle Kagari, Amnesty’s Africa programme deputy director, said in the report.

In one incident, a 56-year-old woman described to Amnesty officials how Ethiopian Woyanne troops raped a neighbour’s 17-year-old daughter in 2007 and that when the girl’s two brothers, 13 and 14 years old, tried to help her, Ethiopian Woyanne soldiers gouged out their eyes with a bayonet.

In another, Amnesty reported, a 32-year-old man said he saw his neighbours “slaughtered”, adding that he saw many men whose throats were slit and whose bodies were left in the street.

“Some had their testicles cut off,” the man told Amnesty. He also saw women being raped.

Yet the real scale of Somalia’s “dire” rights crisis remained unknown because international aid agencies were under heavy pressure not to expose the abuses they witnessed, Amnesty said, and local journalists were often silenced by threats.

A civil society source in Mogadishu agreed and said the report “only scratches the surface” and did not go far enough. “It touches on a very small portion of what actually happens here,” said the source, who requested anonymity.

He said that killings, rape and disappearances were daily occurrences in Mogadishu.

“As I speak to you we are looking for two young men, Osman Mohamed Haji and Ahmed Abdulle Soomane, who disappeared on 24 March.” He said no one knew who took them or why. “This is becoming normal in Mogadishu,” he said. “I have no doubt in my mind that war crimes and crimes against humanity are being committed with total impunity.”

Amnesty’s Kagari said: “The testimony we received strongly suggests that war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity have been committed by all parties to the conflict in Somalia – and no one is being held accountable.”

The report also quoted witnesses who accused the insurgent group Al Shabaab militia of indiscriminate attacks on civilians and threatening journalists perceived as not favorable to them.

The report said the transitional government, as the recognised government of Somalia, bore the primary responsibility for protecting the human rights of the Somali people, adding that the Ethiopian Woyanne military, which is the main backer of the TFG, also bore responsibility.

It called for the “attacks on civilians by all parties to stop immediately. Also, the international community must bear its own responsibility for not putting consistent pressure on the TFG or the Ethiopian Woyanne government to stop their armed forces from committing egregious human rights violations.”

OLF denounces the give away of Ethiopian land to Sudan

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

By Tedla Asfaw, New York

The Oromo Liberation Front’s (OLF) radio Amharic service on its May 6 broadcast commented that the recent land “transaction” between TPLF and Sudan is a mutual agreement benefiting both regimes.

Sudan according to the commentary will hand opponents to TPLF and make sure its land including the one it was given by TPLF as a “gift” not to be used as a military base by TPLF’s opponents.

We have seen another deal between Puntland administration, Somalia and TPLF that resulted to the handling of ONLF high officials for exchange of guns. There was no land transaction between Puntland and TPLF this time because Puntland has no strong army to challenge ONLF. However, we can not rule out that possibility for the future.

The long term goal of the land “gift” to Sudan according to the OLF commentary is to plant a long term conflict between Sudan and Ethiopia mirroring the Badme “fiasco” which took the lives of tens of thousands of Ethiopians.

It went further and challenged all opponents of the regime to come together and remove this regime to detonate all the bombs planted inside and outside Ethiopia before it takes our people and country for a devastating conflict among ourselves and with neighboring countries.

Woyanne accuses Amnesty of smear campaign

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Woyannes, who have accused Norway and Qatar of supporting terrorism, and Ethiopian Review and other media of genocide, is now going after Amnesty International, one of the most respected human rights organizations, for exposing the war crimes of Meles Zenawi’s occupation forces in Somalia. Reuters and other media are smearing Ethiopia’s name by associating Woyanne and its evil deeds with Ethiopia, or calling it Ethiopian government. Woyanne is not a government or a political party. It is a gang of murderers, thieves and rapists — it is a criminal enterprise acting as a government or ruling party.

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia Woyanne accused Amnesty International of a smear campaign against it on Wednesday after the rights group said Ethiopia Woyanne troops in Somalia had killed civilians by slitting their throats.

Thousands of Ethiopia Woyanne soldiers are stationed in Somalia where they are helping the government fight Islamist-led insurgents.

In its second report on abuses in Somalia in two weeks, Amnesty said on Tuesday that all parties to the conflict had committed abuses.

However, it said it had received an increase in reports of violations of Somalis by Ethiopia Woyanne troops, with allegations of gang rape and civilians having their throats slit among the most common.

“This is an outright and deliberate lie, fed to Amnesty by groups affiliated to al Shabaab, groups that use the cover of human rights to promote their terrorist agenda,” Ethiopia’s Woyanne Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

“It is deplorable that Amnesty International has lent itself to an obviously disgraceful smear campaign against the armed forces of Ethiopia Woyanne, using highly emotive, even racist language.”

The ministry accused Amnesty of ignoring widespread human rights abuses by the al Shabaab, including assassinations of political and religious leaders, desecration of dead bodies and the cutting of throats of Muslim clerics who oppose it.

Al Shabaab is the armed wing of a sharia courts movement that ruled most of southern Somalia for six months in 2006 before being ousted by allied Somali-Ethiopian Woyanne forces.

Ethiopia Woyanne said the timing of Amnesty report was designed to help al Shabaab “in the recruitment of terrorists by deliberately inciting hatred and animosity based on lies” and to derail talks due to start in Djibouti on Saturday.

The United Nations has brokered tentative peace talks due to begin on Saturday between 15 officials sent by Somalia’s interim government and a similar number of delegates from the Eritrea-based Somali opposition.

Amnesty urged Ethiopia to read its report and study the allegations against its troops, rather than issue accusations.

“In light of the devastating testimony we received from ordinary Somalis who have been the victims of brutal attacks by all parties to the conflict, we expect the Ethiopian Woyanne government to support a call for an international independent commission into the serious crimes being committed,” a spokesperson said.

Last month Amnesty said Ethiopian Woyanne troops killed 21 people in Mogadishu’s Al Hidaaya mosque, adding that seven of the victims had their throats slit. Ethiopia Woyanne rejected the report and said its forces had never been involved in such incidents.

(Additional reporting and writing by Katie Nguyen in Nairobi; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Jon Boyle)

Musicians at risk of speaking out

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

(IFEX) — Musicians are the latest target in Cameroon’s quest to silence critics of the recent constitutional amendments that eliminate term limits for the President, report the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) and the Network of African Freedom of Expression Organizations (NAFEO). Elsewhere in Africa, Ethiopian police have detained an editor and seized a magazine over the cover story of a pop icon, say the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists Association (EFJA) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Lapiro de Mbanga, a prominent Cameroonian protest singer and a known member of the opposition party Social Democratic Front, was arrested on 9 April and accused of masterminding February’s riots against the high cost of living. According to MFWA sources, Mbanga’s arrest was tied to a song he wrote called “Constipated Constitution”, which warns President Paul Biya of the amendments’ dangers.

Joe La Conscience, who also wrote a song condemning the amendments of the constitution, was arrested in March and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, allegedly for arranging an “unlawful” sit-in at the U.S. Embassy in Yaoundé. La Conscience was reportedly protesting against the closure of leading broadcasters Equinoxe TV and Radio Equinoxe in connection with their coverage of the ongoing crisis. The day after his non-violent protest, security forces stormed his home in Loum and killed his 11-year-old son, say news reports.

The Constitutional Amendment Bill, adopted by the National Assembly in Cameroon on 10 April, allows an unlimited number of presidential mandates, which critics say empowers President Paul Biya to continue to rule for life. The amendments also grant immunity to the President for any acts committed by him during his time in office.

Freemuse, a free expression organisation for musicians and composers, is leading a campaign in support of the two arrested singers. Get involved, at: http://www.freemuse.org/sw26753.asp

Meanwhile, a magazine with a cover story about the imprisonment of Ethiopia pop singer Teddy Afro was seized on 2 May and its editor and three support staff were themselves jailed, a move coinciding with World Press Freedom Day, says the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists’ Association (EFJA).

Ten thousand copies of the monthly entertainment magazine “Enku” were impounded by police on 2 May, the day before it was due to hit the newsstands. The publisher and deputy editor of the magazine, Alemayehu Mahtemework, was put in jail, along with three support staff.

CPJ says that police impounded the paper allegedly after receiving a tip from an informant at the printer that the cover story could lead to “incitement”.

The story focused on the trial of reggae star Teddy Afro, whose real name is Tewodros Kassahun. Kassahun was arrested and charged last month with causing the death of a young man in a hit and run accident in November 2006.

Kassahun’s popular song, “Jah Yasteseryal”, became a popular anthem of anti-government protesters during unrest following the disputed 2005 parliamentary elections, according to local sources.

Despite releasing 15 Ethiopian journalists who were jailed on trumped-up anti-state charges last year in connection with a brutal 2005 media crackdown, Ethiopian authorities have not relented in their long-standing pattern of repression of independent media through intimidation and arrests, CPJ says.

DW radio reports about Ethiopian farm land give away

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

Germany Radio today reports, among other news, about the giving away of Ethiopian farm lands to Sudan by the Woyanne regime. Click here to listen.

Woyanne troops behead, castrate Somalis (AI)

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

guardian.co.uk — Soldiers, insurgents and bandits are routinely attacking Somalian civilians, carrying out murder, rape, and robbery on villagers, and destroying entire districts, Amnesty International said yesterday.

Gang rape and throat cutting — referred to locally as “killing like goats” — is prevalent. Incidents of gouging out eyes, beheadings and castration have also been reported. Amnesty’s report is based on interviews with scores of traumatized refugees who fled the war-ravaged country, where 6,500 civilians have been killed in the past year.

Unarmed civilians are reported to be caught up in the battle between Ethiopian Woyanne soldiers and Somalian government troops fighting the remnants of the Islamic Courts Union, which was ousted by Ethiopian Woyanne forces in 2006. Amnesty said the blame for civilian deaths was shared by all parties but it highlighted an “increasing incidence” of gruesome methods employed by Ethiopian Woyanne forces following incidents in which the bodies of several Ethiopian Woyanne soldiers were dragged through the streets of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, by Islamist insurgents.

Ethiopia’s government Woyanne dismissed Amnesty’s report as unbalanced and “categorically wrong”. A spokesman said hundreds of Ethiopian Woyanne troops had died fighting the Islamist insurgency.

Guled, a 32-year-old refugee, described seeing neighbors with their throats slit, and their corpses left in the street. “Some had their testicles cut off,” Guled said, adding that a newly married woman who lived next door to him was raped by more than 20 Ethiopians. Another interviewee told Amnesty of a report that Ethiopian Woyanne soldiers had cut the throat of a young child in front of the mother. “Even schools are being used as cemeteries, because people cannot take bodies outside the city,” Galad, a 60-year-old journalist, was quoted as saying.

Michelle Kagari, the deputy director of Amnesty’s Africa Programme, said: “The people of Somalia are being killed, raped, tortured; looting is widespread and entire neighbourhoods are being destroyed. The testimony we received strongly suggests that war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity have been committed by all parties to the conflict in Somalia and no one is being held accountable.”

The Amnesty report said: “Among the most common violations reported were an increased incidence of gang rape, and scores of reports of a type of killing locally referred to as… ‘killing like goats’.”

It quotes Butaaco, a 30-year-old refugee from Mogadishu, as saying: “I saw girls get raped in my neighborhood and on the streets. I saw people get slaughtered. I saw people killed in their houses, their bodies rotting for days.”

Somalia has been in a state of chaos since 1991, when warlords overthrew the dictator Mohamed Siad Barre after 21 years in power and then turned on each other. Last year, Islamist militants took control of most of southern Somalia, including Mogadishu. Ethiopia Woyanne sent in troops in December 2006 and ejected them. Since then, Mogadishu has been caught up in a guerrilla war between the government and its Ethiopian Woyanne allies and the Islamist insurgents. Up to 1 million Somalians are internally displaced.

German radio reports about farm land give away

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

Germany Radio today reports, among other news, about the giving away of Ethiopian farm lands to Sudan by the Woyanne regime. Click here to listen.

Video: Sosina Wogayehu's amazing circus performance

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

Sosina performing in New York City

Ethiopian circus star Sosina Wogayehu

Sosina was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1978. She started doing gymnastics at the age of 7, and was Ethiopian Gymnastics Champion at ages 9 and 11. She joined Circus Ethiopia in 1993, and toured the world for five years as an acrobat, contortionist and dancer, including performances at the Adelaide Festival, the Womad Festival in England, and a performance for the Queen of the Netherlands.

Sosina moved to Australia in 1998. In 1999 she completed a Diploma in Small Companies and Community Theatre at Swinburne University, including spending a month doing work experience with Australia’s flagship contemporary circus, Circus Oz, and participating in a Melbourne Women’s Circus community performance. She supported her studies and training with a job at Africako, where she was employed for her specialist Ethiopian hair braiding skills. Sometimes Sosina performed as a “hair busker”, braiding hair, adding colorful extensions and bright found objects and offering a free smile to the shoppers in Auckland St, St Kilda.

Sosina was fortunate to complete her diploma just as the Swinburne University National Institute of Circus Arts (NICA) sought applications for their inaugural two-year diploma in circus arts. She was a successful applicant, and was one of its very first graduating students in 2001. While studying at NICA, she developed her world-class, solo, bouncing ball juggling act, and a ladder-balancing act. These acts, along with her stage presence, her contortion, her creativity, and her ability to work effectively in a collaborative creative environment led Circus Oz to offer her a position in their permanent performance ensemble in 2002.

Ethiopians march for freedom, justice and human rights

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

Press Release: May 6, 2008

Plans are well underway for the four-day event, Worldwide March for Freedom, Justice and Human Rights in Ethiopia, starting on May 15, 2008 and ending on Sunday, March 18, but the invitation is still open for more people to join in as organizers and support people. Teleconference meetings are being held daily to assist participants in the process.

On May 4th and 5th, two teleconferences each day were held by the organizers of these events and we want to update the public about what is going on.

First of all, those involved in this international committee include representatives from twenty different organizations from all over the world. Although some represent political groups, all those participating have agreed to work together as a non-political group focused on bringing freedom, justice and human rights to Ethiopia. If you are someone or an organization who did not get an invitation from us, we are sorry because we may not have your contact information, but we would look forward to you contacting us because what we are planning is for all organizations, communities, religious groups and civic groups.

Once this Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia starts after this four-day event, we would not want you to feel that we intentionally excluded you. We do not want anyone left out that is interested in joining so please contact us now. It is absolutely not too late. You are welcome! This includes Woyane supporters and EPRDF members who want a better and more humane Ethiopia for the future.

Four events are scheduled and they include:

Day One: Thursday, May 15 – A DAY OF REMEMBERANCE: The Tent of Grieving and Celebration

Day Two: Friday, May 16 – A DAY OF UNITY: Worldwide March for Ethiopian Freedom, Justice and Human Rights

Day Three: Saturday, May 17 – DAY OF REACHING OUT: Building New Connections

Day Four: Sunday, May 18 – DAY OF PRAYER: Confession, Thanksgiving, Reconciliation and Petition

Because of time constraints, every committee member on the international worldwide committee is to act as the mobilizer of the group(s) in their area. This committee member then will act as the liaison between the local groups and the international worldwide committee. This central committee will have the responsibility to oversee the overall planning, assisting the implementation at the local level as much as is needed.

We continue to ask for more volunteers who would be willing to organize and participate in one or in all of the four events occurring over the duration of the four days—the day of remembrance, the day of the march, the day of unity and the day of prayer. If possible, we ask that you participate in all of the four daily events in your community.

It does not matter the number of people who participate, even if you could bring together five or ten. Others may be able to mobilize more, but together, Ethiopians worldwide may be able to call attention to the lack of freedom and justice in Ethiopia and so begin the hard work of coming up with solid solutions for the dilemma we are in.

If there is a community not connected yet, you can start immediately and then contact us. If there is a group in some state or region who has never been involved before, we ask you to get involved now and we will help you—step by step.

Some immediate tasks to be completed:

  • We ask you to reach out to other civic or religious organizations—not necessarily Ethiopian—to be part of this. For example, in Switzerland, the Switzerland Trade Union has agreed to rally with Ethiopians for Human Rights. Ethiopians should reach out to non-Ethiopians like this as it will only increase the interest in what is going on and it will also encourage the press to want to cover the story.
  • Each committee in each community will need to identify a person ready to answer questions from the press and make the initial contacts with the press so there is press coverage of the event. This person, or another appointed person should be ready to answer questions as to why this rally is necessary and important.
  • Reach out to others in the Horn of Africa or in Africa and include them in these activities. Many of them have been suffering as well and we need to bridge the gaps between nations as well as within our nation.
  • On day three, hold a town hall meeting or another kind of meeting at a community center, religious building or public building where Ethiopians can talk—not about politics, but about how to build new relationships with people from different groups coming together as one people.
  • Collect funds in your community to be used for flyers, posters or travel expenses for those who may need to travel outside their areas.
  • Make requests for permits to allow your group in front of your state capital. The goal is to have the rallies occur simultaneously all over the world. The posters and signs used in the rallies will be similar.
  • The universal petition of what we are rallying for will be prepared and distributed to everyone. It will discuss the human rights abuses in Ethiopia.
  • Mobilize people—call people in your community—go to the churches, mosques, synagogues, community centers, schools and any other place you might be able to engage people.
  • In all activities, reflect and act on this principle: In order for Ethiopians to survive, we need to put humanity before ethnicity.

Worldwide Committee Meeting Schedule:

Because of the time constraints, every day until next week, there will be a meeting at 3:00 PM Eastern time for those in Europe, Africa, Australia or the Middle East. Another meeting at 8:00 PM Eastern time for those in North America. If anyone wants to participate, email us at ethiopiansmarchforfreedom@yahoo.ca. Remember, there is still a need for more people. It is not too late to join and to contribute in making this successful. It depends on individuals doing their share.

Important points about the proposed May 15-18 March:

  1. It is non-political.
  2. The programs will involve as many Ethiopians and Ethiopian organizations as are willing to participate.
  3. The reasons for the previous failure to have an impact on the dictatorship in Ethiopia has been the unwillingness or inability of the various organizations to come together to form a united front against the regime.
  4. The main objective of the march is to commemorate the first truly democratic election in Ethiopia in May 2005, which was stolen from the people of Ethiopia. It will also commemorate the loss of thousands of lives among people from all the ethnic groups in Ethiopia!
  5. Most importantly, the events will be a starting point of a movement to reclaim Ethiopia for Ethiopians, by uniting under one movement.
  6. It is of critical importance that all participants tone down politics while efforts are being made to put out the fire of division that has engulfed Ethiopia, and instead to look around to find brothers and sisters from other organizations and ethnic groups in order to hold hands and forge a united front.

What is next?

The march is really the first step in a unified approach to address the problems within Ethiopia. An umbrella organization will be necessary to coordinate further actions. This is just the beginning signifying the launch of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia.

  1. Draft the petition to be used universally all over the world: A petition for the March, to be used by all participants, will be drafted. This will be done in the next few days and should be available to be studied and adopted by the March Organizers before distribution to participants.
  2. Fund raising: Urgent actions on this front was suggested and plan for collections should be in place immediately to make money available for purchase of necessary items, payment for transportation etc. It was noted that there is very little time available for this, immediate institution of the process should start.
  3. Follow-up Meeting: In view of the urgency of this process and the limited time available a follow-up meeting has been arranged for Tuesday, May 6, 2008. The meeting for the European members will be at 3.00 p.m. EST and for the North American members it will be at 8.00 p.m EST.

For further questions, please contact: ethiopiansmarchforfreedom@yahoo.ca

RSF condemns the arrest of magazine publisher

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

Reporters Without Borders condemns the arrest of Alemayehu Mahtemework, the publisher and deputy editor of the entertainment monthly Enku, on the night of 2 May in Addis Ababa, and the seizure of 10,000 copies of its latest issue.

The press freedom organisation also condemns the arrest of three people with no connection to the magazine who happened to be in the vehicle carrying the copies that were about to be distributed.

“The Ethiopian authorities have sent a very negative signal by choosing the eve of 3 May, World Press Freedom Day, to arrest a journalist and seize an issue of an independent magazine,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“Although aware of the climate of self-censorship prevailing in Addis Ababa, we chose to send the government a positive signal by withdrawing Prime Minister Meles Zenawi from our list of press freedom predators, in order to salute the efforts it has made in the past year,” the organisation added. “But if this case is not resolved quickly and this kind of incident recurs, we will have to review our decision.”

The cover story of the issue that was seized by the police was about the controversial arrest of Tewodros Kasahun, a very popular singer who supports the opposition.