Off-term elections were held in Ethiopia over the weekend although they attracted little attention. The elections were a waste of resources since 99.9 percent of the candidates and the voters are members of the ruling party Woyanne. Out of the 10,000 candidates, only 2 were non-Woyanne members, and less than 10 percent of voters went out to vote. More details in the Amharic section here.
Archive for February, 2011
By Teodros Kiros
The defiant citizens of Libya fought against roaring tanks, piercing guns, and fast helicopters intent on destroying the resilient human bodies to silence, to perpetual acquiescence in the culture of tyranny.
Old men and women, boys and girls, even babies, were not spared from the violence of tyranny. A shameless dictator and his family boasted that they were going to fight to the last bullet and that imperialism was going to be taught a lesson. It is not imperialism, which is being taught a lesson, it is dictatorship, which is being shamed, and dictators everywhere are watching their fate, if they do not heed to the people’s demand.
When you anger the people and when Fortuna summons to act, then the people use Virtu and fight in defense of liberty and dignity.
The Libyan people were not going to take any of it. They rose to the barbarism of tyranny and are fighting heroically. The people in combat continue to demonstrate extraordinary military coordination and firepower as they resist the forces of evil. They are resisting tanks, missiles, with anti-aircraft guns, and even dared to display an array of tanks.
The people are repeatedly repulsing the Kaddafi’s Forces outside Tripoli, as they are defending their dignities and respecting their existential rights to live in peace and harmony.
In the heat of a civil war, which began peacefully as a march of liberty, the people quickly learned that dictatorships do not listen to the summons of reason, and they quickly used Virtu, that Machiavellian technique of skillful resistance and took on the challenge, and had to respond to force with counter force, and the result is a stunning military coordination of the streets of democracy.
The stream of the quest for liberty also engulfs the Arab world and soon the African world. The Libyan challenge is not over yet, and there are many days and nights awaiting the combatants on the streets of democracy, and thousands more are going to be sacrificed in defense of liberty, and so is the price of liberty.
Liberty and dignity unlike many other existential rights are priceless and humans are destined to die for their sakes, and this lesson is one of the constants in human history. We always hope that tyranny learns from history and gives up power without bloodshed, which reasonable persons wish, but tyranny never does, and liberty and dignity are forced to resist it.
Alemayehu G. Mariam
Thugogracy in Africa
If democracy is government of the people, by the people and for the people, a thugogracy is a government of thieves, for thieves, by thieves. Simply stated, a thugtatorship is rule by a gang of thieves and robbers (thugs) in designer suits. It is becoming crystal clear that much of Africa today is a thugogracy privately managed and operated for the exclusive benefit of bloodthirsty thugtators.
In a thugtatorship, the purpose of seizing and clinging to political power is solely to accumulate personal wealth for the ruling class by stealing public funds and depriving the broader population scarce resources necessary for basic survival. The English word “thug” comes from the Hindi word “thag” which means “con man”. In India “Thugees”, well-organized criminal gangs, robbed and murdered unsuspecting travelers over a century ago. Africa’s “thugees” today mug, rob, pillage, plunder and rape unsuspecting whole nations and peoples and secrete away their billions in stolen loot in European and American banks.
Today, we see the incredibly extreme lengths Libyan thugtator Muammar Gaddafi is willing to go to preserve his thugocratic empire floating on billions of stolen oil dollars hidden in foreign bank accounts and corporate property holdings. The British Government recently announced that it expects to seize “around £20 billion in liquid assets of the Libyan regime, mostly in London.” The Swiss Government has similarly issued an order for the immediate freeze of assets belonging to Gadhafi and his entourage. The Swiss central bank announced that it will freeze Gaddafi’s 613 million Swiss francs (USD$658 million), with an additional 205 million francs (USD$220 million) in paper or fiduciary operations. In 2008, before a diplomatic incident involving the arrest of one of Gaddafi’s sons for assault in Switzerland, Gadhafi’s Swiss holdings amounted to 5.7 billion in cash and 812 million francs in paper and fiduciary operations. In 2006, the Libyan Sovereign Wealth Fund had investments of $70 billion. The U.S. closed its Embassy in Triopli and slapped a freeze on all Libyan assets described as “substantial.”
To protect his empire of corruption, Gadhafi has ordered his air force to bomb and strafe unarmed civilian demonstrators demanding an end to his 42-year rule. His son Saif al-Islam threatened to dismember the country and plunge it into a civil war that will last for 30 or 40 years. In a televised speech, the young thug promised a bloodbath: “We will fight to the last minute, until the last bullet. I will fight until the last drop of my blood.” The buffoonish al-Islam contemptuously reassured the world: “Plan A is to live and die in Libya. Plan B is to live and die in Libya. Plan C is to live and die in Libya.” For someone who has no official role in government, it was an astonishing statement to make.
Gadhafi himself has vowed to fight on and die “like a martyr” in the service of his thugogracy. He urged his supporters in Green Square to fight back and “defend the nation.” He exhorted, “Retaliate against them, retaliate against them… Dance, sing and prepare. Prepare to defend Libya, to defend the oil, dignity and independence.” Gadhafi promised: “At the suitable time, we will open the arms depot so all Libyans and tribes become armed, so that Libya becomes red with fire.” It is not enough for Gadhafi and his thugs to have bled the Libyan people dry for 42 years, they now want to burn down the whole country to ashes. Apres moi, le deluge! (After me, the flood!)
The Ivory Coast is on the verge of civil war, according to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. In December 2010, Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down after he was decisively defeated in the presidential election. His own Election Commission said his opponent Alassane Ouattara won the election by a nine-point margin. The African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the United Nations, the United States, the European Union all said Ouattara is the winner. Gbagbo has turned a deaf ear and is preparing to plunge the Ivory Coast into civil war to protect his empire of corruption. In 2000, Gbagbo imposed a curfew and a state of emergency and ordered security forces to shoot and kill any demonstrators in the streets: “Police, gendarmes and soldiers from all branches of the armed forces are ordered to use all means throughout the country to oppose troublemakers.” Like Gaddafi’s mercenaries today, Gbagbo’s troops back then went on a killing and beating rampage. The European Union, the Swiss and United States Governments have frozen Gbagbo’s assets in their countries.
In May 2010, Meles Zenawi said he won the parliamentary election by 99.6 percent. The European Union Election Observer Team said the election “lacked a level playing field” and “failed to meet international standards”, a well-known code phrase for a “stolen election”. In its 2005 report, the Observer Team said exactly the same thing. Zenawi’s EPDRF party pretty much owns the Ethiopian economy. “According to the World Bank, roughly half of the rest of the national economy is accounted for by companies held by an EPRDF-affiliated business group called the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT). EFFORT’s freight transport, construction, pharmaceutical, and cement firms receive lucrative foreign aid contracts and highly favorable terms on loans from government banks.” The regime’s own anti-corruption agency reported in 2008 that “USD$16 million dollars” worth of gold bars simply walked out of the bank in broad daylight. A couple of weeks ago, in an incredible display of arrogance and total lack of accountability, Zenawi publicly stated that 10,000 tons of coffee earmarked for exports had simply vanished from the warehouses. He called a meeting of commodities traders and in a videotaped statement told them he will forgive them because “we all have our hands in the disappearance of the coffee”. He warned them that if anyone should steal coffee in the future, he would “cut off their hands”.
In 2005, Zenawi demonstrated the extremes he will go to protect his empire of corruption. Zenawi’s own Inquiry Commission documented that troops under Zenawi’s direct command and control mowed down 193 documented unarmed protesters in the streets and severely wounded nearly 800. Another 30,000 suspected opponents were jailed. In a meeting with high level U.S. officials in advance of the May 2010 election, Zenawi told them in plain words what he will do to his opposition if they try to “discredit the election”: “If opposition groups resort to violence in an attempt to discredit the election, we will crush them with our full force; they will all vegetate like Birtukan (Midekssa) in jail forever.” If Zenawi will “crush” those who “attempt to discredit an election”, it does not leave much to the imagination to figure out what he will do when the people ask him peacefully to leave power.
In April 2010, Omar al-Bashir of the Sudan claimed victory by winning nearly 70 percent of the vote. The EU EOM declared the “deficiencies in the legal and electoral framework in the campaign environment led the overall process to fall short of a number of international standards for genuine democratic elections.” Another election stolen in broad daylight; but that is not all Bashir has stolen. According to a Wikileaks cablegram, “International Criminal Court [ICC] Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told [U.S.] Ambassadors Rice and Wolff on March 20  that [Ocampo] would put the figure of Sudanese President Bashir’s stash of money at possibly $9 billion.” After the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, the first warrant of its kind for a sitting head of state, a sneering Bashir flipped his middle finger at the ICC: “They will issue their decision tomorrow, and we are telling them to immerse it in water and drink it“, a common Arabic insult which is the equivalent of “they can shove it up their _ _ _.” Bashir recently he said he will not run for the presidency again. (It is not clear if had decided not to run because he wants to enjoy his stolen billions or because he expects to put on the jail jumpsuit of the ICC.)
In February 2010, a group of soldiers in Niger calling itself the “Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy” stormed Niger’s presidential palace and snatched president Mamadou Tandja and his ministers. In 2009, Tandja had dissolved the National Assembly and set up a “Constitutional Court” to pave the way for him to become president-for-life. Niger’s state auditor reported that “at least 64 billion CFA francs [USD$128-million] were stolen from Niger’s state coffers under the government of former president Mamadou Tandja.” Tandja is sitting in jail in southwestern Niger.
In March 2008, Robert Mugabe declared victory in the presidential election after waging a campaign of violence and intimidation on his opponent Morgan Tsvangirai and his supporters. In 2003, Mugabe boasted, “I am still the Hitler of the time. This Hitler has only one objective: justice for his people, sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his people and their rights over their resources. If that is Hitler, then let me be Hitler tenfold. Ten times, that is what we stand for.” No one would disagree with Mugabe’s self-description. In 2010, Mugabe announced his plan to sell “about $1.7 billion of diamonds in storage” (probably rejects of his diamond-crazed wife Grace). According to a Wikileaks cablegram, “a small group of high-ranking Zimbabwean officials (including Grace Mugabe) have been extracting tremendous diamond profits.” Mugabe is so greedy that he stole outright “£4.5 million from [aid] funds meant to help millions of seriously ill people.”
In December 2007, Mwai Kibaki declared himself winner of the presidential election. In 2002, Kibaki, criticizing his predecessor Daniel Arap Moi regime, urged the people to “Remain calm, even when intimidated or provoked by those who are desperately determined to rig the elections and plunge the country into civil war.” In 2007, Kibaki and his thugees unleashed such violence against the civilian population that 1500 Kenyans were killed and some 600 hundred thousand displaced, almost plunging Kenya into civil war. The Kroll Report revealed that Moi stole billions of dollars using a “web of shell companies, secret trusts and frontmen” and secreted the loot in 30 countries. Kibaki stonewalled further action on the report, including prosecution of Moi.
The story of corruption, theft, embezzlement and brazen transfer of the national wealth of African peoples to European and African banks and corporate institutions is repeated elsewhere in the continent. Ex-Nigerian President Sani Abacha, who was judicially determined to be a member of a criminal organization by a Swiss court, stole $500 million. Ben Ali of Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt also have their stolen assets in the hundreds of millions of dollars frozen in Switzerland and elsewhere. Other African thugtators who have robbed their people blind (and pretty much have gotten away with it) include Nigeria’s Ibrahim Babangida, Guniea’s Lansana Conte, Togo’s Gnassingbe Eyadema, Gabon’s Omar Bongo, Equatorial Guniea’s Obiang Nguema, Burkina Faso’s Blaise Campore and Congo’s (Brazaville) Denis Sassou Nguesso, among others.
Godfathers and African Thugogracies
In previous commentaries, I have argued that the business of African governments is corruption. African thugtators cling to power to operate sophisticated criminal business enterprises to loot their national treasuries and resources. These African “leaders” are actually “godfathers” or heads of criminal families. Just like any organized criminal enterprise, African thugtators use their party apparatuses, bureaucracies, military and police forces to maintain and perpetuate their corrupt financial empires.
When the U.S. first announced its “kleptocracy asset recovery program” to the world in July 2010, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder delivered the message, not at some international anti-corruption forum, but at the African Union Summit in Kampala, Uganda. Holder told the gathered African thugtators:
Today, I’m pleased to announce that the U.S. Department of Justice is launching a new Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative aimed at combating large-scale foreign official corruption and recovering public funds for their intended – and proper – use: for the people of our nations. We’re assembling a team of prosecutors who will focus exclusively on this work and build upon efforts already underway to deter corruption, hold offenders accountable, and protect public resources.
Holder’s announcement was nothing short of breathtaking. It was as though he was addressing the national convention of the “Commissione” of all the Mafia families from New York City, Chicago, Detroit, Miami, Atlantic City, Las Vegas, St. Louis, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. In Kampala, Holder was talking directly to the African equivalents of the Godfathers of the Bonnano, Columbo, Gambino, Genovese and Lucchese crime families in one place. Absolutely surreal!
The Political Economy of Thugtatorships
Thugtatorships in Africa thrive in the political economy of kleptocracy. Widespread corruption permeates every corner of society. Oil revenues, diamonds, gold bars, coffee and other commodities and foreign aid are stolen outright and pocketed by the thugtators and their army of thugocrats. Public funds are embezzled and misused and state property misappropriated and converted to private use. Publicly-owned assets are virtually given away to supporters in “privatization programs” or secretly held in illegal transactions. Bank loans are given out to front enterprises owned secretly by the thugtators or their supporters without sufficient or proper collateral. Businessmen must pay huge bribes or kickbacks to participate in public contracting and procurement. Those involved in the import/export business are victimized in shakedowns by thugocrats. The judiciary is thoroughly corrupted through political interference and manipulation.
Armageddon: Thugtators’ Nuclear Option
One of the common tricks used by thugtators to cling to power is to terrorize the people with warnings of an impending Armageddon. They say that if they are removed from power, even after 42 years, the sky will fall and the earth will open up and swallow the people. Thugtators sow fear, uncertainty and doubt in the population and use misinformation and disinformation to psychologically defeat, disorient and neutralize the people. Gaddafi thuggish son warned Libya will “spiral into civil war for the next 30 to 40 years and the country’s infrastructure ruined” without the Gadhafi dynasty. He said Libya will be awash in “rivers of blood”. Gadhafi urged his supporters: “This is an opposition movement, a separatist movement which threatens the unity of Libya. We will take up arms… we will fight to the last bullet. We will destroy seditious elements. If everybody is armed, it is civil war, we will kill each other.”
Zenawi has been talking about “genocide” for years. The 2005 European Union Election Observer Mission in its Final Mission Report strongly chastised Zenawi and his associates for morbid genocide rhetoric:
The end of the campaign became more heated, with parties accusing each other of numerous violations of campaign rules. Campaign rhetoric became insulting. The most extreme example of this came from the Deputy Prime Minister, Addisu Legesse, who, in a public debate on 15 April, compared the opposition parties with the Interhamwe militia, which perpetrated the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The Prime Minister made the same comparison on 5 May in relation to the CUD [Coalition for Unity and Democracy]. The EPRDF [Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front] made the same associations during its free slots on radio and TV… Such rhetoric is unacceptable in a democratic election.
Zenawi “is quick to talk up threats to his country, whether from malcontents in the army or disgruntled ethnic groups among Ethiopia’s mosaic of peoples. Radical Oromos, a southern group that makes up about a third of Ethiopia’s people, often fall under suspicion.” Last year, he compared Voice of America radio broadcasts to Ethiopia with broadcasts of Radio Mille Collines which directed the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.
If Africa’s thugtators plan to use the “nuclear option” and bring Armageddon on their societies, they would be wise to know who is destined to win the final battle between good and evil. Gadhafi’s fate now dangles between what he wants to do to bring this unspeakable tragedy to a swift conclusion, the will of the Libyan people once they vanquish his mercenaries and the International Criminal Court to whom the U.N. Security Council has voted unanimously to refer Moammar Gadhafi and members of his government in Libya for investigation and prosecution for crimes against humanity and war crimes. Like al-Bashir of the Sudan, Gadhafi and members of his thugocratic empire will not escape the long arms of justice. The days of massacring unarmed demonstrators, strafing and bombing civilians and detention of innocent people by the tens of thousands with impunity are gone. Justice may be delayed but when the people open the floodgates of freedom, “justice (not blood) will run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream” and wash out the wreckage of thugtatorship into the sea.
Thugtators and Their Business Partners in Africorruption, Inc.
Africa’s thugtatorships have longstanding and profitable partnerships with the West. Through aid and trade, the West has enabled these thugocracies to flourish in Africa and repress Africans. To cover up their hypocrisy and hoodwink the people, the West is now lined up to “freeze” the assets of the thugtators. It is a drama they have perfected since the early days of African independence. The fact of the matter is that the West is interested only in “stability” in Africa. That simply means, in any African country, they want a “guy they can do business with.” The business they want to do in Africa is the oil business, the (blood) diamond business, the arms sales business, the coffee and cocoa export business, the tourism business, the luxury goods export business and the war on terrorism business. They are not interested in the African peoples’ business, the human rights business, the rule of law business, the accountability and transparency business and the fair and free elections business.
Today, the West is witnessing a special kind of revolution it has never seen: A youth-led popular nonviolent revolution against thugtatorships in Africa and the Middle East. Neither the West nor the thugtators know what to do with this kind of revolution or the revolutionaries leading it. President Obama said, “History will end up recording that at every juncture in the situation in Egypt, that we were on the right side of history.” Well, what is good for Egypt is good enough for Ethiopia, Libya, Tunisia, the Sudan, Algeria, Kenya, Bahrain, Djbouti, Somalia…, and Zimbabwe. The decisive question in world history today is: Are we on the right side of history with the victims of oppression, or are we on the wrong side with thugtators destined to the dustbin of history?
Power to Youths in Africa and the Middle East!
The wind of change that is sweeping the Middle East and North Africa has reached at the doorsteps of Ethiopia. Ethiopians through out the country and in the diaspora have resolved to embrace the change, and through a sustained and determined peaceful struggle, will remove Meles Zenawi’s dictatorship that has been misruling Ethiopia for the past 20 years. Hence, the moment of truth has come to every Ethiopian.
The Meles regime is once again preparing to escape change by further dividing the Tigregna speaking community from the rest of Ethiopians. It is clear to all Ethiopians that Meles Zenawi’s Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) has escalated ethnic tensions during the last 20 years. The purpose of this statement therefore is to alert all Ethiopians to be extra vigilant in separating agents of the Meles regime from the people of Tigray who are part and parcel of the Ethiopian pro-democracy movement.
Since Meles Zenawi assumed power in 1991, lacking any semblance of legitimacy, he has ruled Ethiopia with an iron fist. Without the consent of the people, it has divided the country along ethnic lines, and encouraged ethnic based politics in order to fragment and weaken Ethiopia.
Life is becoming unbearable for millions of Ethiopians who are being deprived of their lands, of their resources and of their rights. Small businesses that are not affiliated with TPLF-linked businesses are closing down in large number. While the few privileged ruling party members wallows in luxury, millions of Ethiopians live in abject poverty. To add insult to injury, the Meles regime is issuing thousands of commercial farm licenses to foreign investors from India, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and China. Today, hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians are either being evicted from their ancestral lands or turned into day laborers to foreign government-backed mega investors. Meles promotes neo-colonialism in a country that successfully defeated colonial invaders.
Since the Meles regime is looting and plundering Ethiopia in the name of Tigray, it is incumbent upon our Tigrean brothers and sisters to tell the regime: “Not in Our Name.” Ethiopians are longing for their Tigrean sisters and brothers to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the fight against the Meles regime. Actions are needed now before it is too late.
The choice is clear. It is either to stand on the side of the Meles regime that traces its orgin to Tigray, or to be part of the popular pro-democracy movement
(The above statement is released by Worldwide Ethiopian Civic Action Group, a gathering of activists who are working to bring about the end of dictatorship in Ethiopia. For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Feb. 28, 2011
(Al Jazeera) — Former Libyan justice minister Mustafa Mohamed Abdel Jalil – who resigned from Gaddafi’s cabinet on Monday in protest at the killing of protesters – earlier told Al Jazeera he had led the formation of an interim government based in Benghazi, Libya’s second city, in the eastern part of the country now largely free of Gaddafi’s control.
He said the transitional government “has military and civilian personalities”.
“It will lead for no more than three months – and then there will be fair elections and the people will choose their leader,” he said.
Ali Aujali, Libya’s ambassador to the U.S., has said that he supports the interim government being formed in Benghazi by the country’s former minister of justice.
Aujali said on Saturday the caretaker administration, which announced it would lead the country for three months to prepare for elections, was “the government for the whole of Libya”.
“We want to support this government as the caretaker government until the liberation of all of Libya, which I hope will happen very soon,” he said.
Libya’s deputy UN ambassador, Ibrahim Dabbashi, also said on Saturday that his delegation supported Abud Ajleil’s caretaker government.
“In principle we support this government,” Dabbashi, one of the first Libyan diplomats to denounce Gaddafi, told Reuters. “We are seeking more information about it, but yes, I think we support it.”
Aujali, a veteran Libyan diplomat, praised Abdel Jalil.
“He is a very honest man. He was in charge of the justice issue in the eastern part of Libya when the regime asked him to hang an innocent Libyan citizen and he refused,” Aujali said.
“I am sure he will gain support of all Libyans and of the international community,” he added.
Two U.S. senators call for no-fly zone
(Fox News) — Senators Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and John McCain, R-Ariz., both expressed disappointment Sunday that President Obama has not responded more forcefully against the violence spreading in Libya and called for the arming of rebel forces in that country. Speaking to CNN’s Candy Crowley from Cairo, Egypt, McCain said though U.S. officials had expressed concern for the safety of Americans in Libya as reason for holding back on further action and stronger rhetoric, that was not good enough.
“The British prime minister, the French president, and others were not hesitant, and they have citizens in that country. Look, America leads,” McCain said. “The president should reverse the terrible decision he made in 2009 to not support the demonstrators in Tehran. Stand up for democracy in Iran, and tell those people we are with them.”
The president did say Saturday that the Libyan president should go “now.” Still, Lieberman said, “I wish we had spoken out much more clearly and early against the Qaddafi regime…The fact is, now is the time for action.”
Lieberman said of the recent UN sanctions imposed on Libyan Leader Muammar Qaddafi and his regime that he was “glad pressure is finally being applied,” but the senator said, “Honestly, I think the world has to do more.”
The Connecticut Independent, who some have recommended to be the next Secretary of Defense, called for the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya to ensure Qaddafi cannot continue to attack his own people from military planes and fly in armed mercenaries from Africa. The senator said the U.S. “should recognize the opposition government as the legitimate government of Libya and that we ought to give that government, certainly, humanitarian assistance and military arms.”
By Teodros Kiros
The great Machiavelli, the architect of political thinking spoke convincingly about virtu and Fortuna. Virtu is skill, the ability to be skillful and flexible, when time requires it; Fortuna on the other hand, is the tuning of one’s senses to the language of the right time. We must carefully listen to Fortuna as it directs us, to seize the moment, and act courageously and to the right degree and at the right time.
The Ethiopian world is now ready for action, except that the people might be weary, or simply waiting for a spark. The question then is not, “Are the people ready?” but rather, “Who is going is going to be the catalyst for the uprising, who is going to start the political action?
These are two separate questions, and they demand separate answers. The people are ready, but they are waiting for starters. Nor should the uprising be organized in order to start; it must start first and organization will follow. Leadership qualities are born and mature in the hands of action, of doing, of living practice. Once the uprising begins, the people will know what to do, or as I put it before:
In the people’s revolution, everyone is a leader and a follower. Sovereignty is concrete. It is expressed as lived power. The people learn for the first time they will learn leading and following, managing and obeying, directing and being directed.
The qualities of sovereignty are internalized through practice. The essential attributes of citizenship: obligation, responsibility, duty and order are learned directly by doing. These qualities are not imposed from high on as in monarchies and tyrannies. They emerged directly out of the living movement of action, the people’s action as they fight for their life and defend the lives of others.
These political qualities are practices of the self as they mature on streets, the streets of living democracy.
The people become powerful by practicing power on the streets of living democracy. The people’s revolution is an arena of practice. The streets are the nerve centers, and the practices are the engines of cultural and political transformation.
At the people’s agora, the future of the revolution is organized slowly. There the people originate power and seek to organize it-patiently and decently.
The people very much like rulers, for whom the distinctions were drawn and the advise of acting swiftly and intelligently were given, this shrewd advise also applies to the Ethiopian people.
I firmly advise the Ethiopian people to use Virtu, when real time needs it, and listen to Fortuna when it is gently blowing in the people’s ears. Wise are those, who listen to languages, the language of Virtue, which demands flexibility and the language of Fortuna, which requires stillness.
Fortuna is a woman argued the architect of politics, because woman admires heroes, those who overcome her by calculated force, when the time requires it, so is the Ethiopian real time demanding that we Ethiopians act now or never, for Fortuna is moody, its changes its mind quickly, unless we listen to its directions in the stillness of political action.
I have written a series of articles which appeared in the Ethiopian and all our other websites with concrete recommendations of what we must do to stage a civilized uprising not by the masses but by the Ethiopian people from all walks of life, in defense of dignity and liberty, the pillars of revolt and revolution.
Virtu and Fortuna are awaiting us to respond to their summons and act NOW, or NEVER. We have tried all other permutations, including waiting.
As I argued in “We cannot wait,” we have waited enough, and the more we wait both our existential rights and political rights are going to be abused.
(The writer can be reached at email@example.com)
Finally the Obama Administration starts to take action against Gaddafi today, albeit in a timid manner. What the people of Libya need is a no-fly zone so that Gaddafi will not be able to bomb them from the air and use chemical weapons against them.
(Al Arabiya) — U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday imposed personal sanctions on Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and several members of his family, in a clear attempt to further weaken his teetering regime and punish brutal assaults against his people.
Obama wielded presidential power in an executive order to seize the assets of Gaddafi and named family members in the United States and globally within the auspices of U.S. financial institutions, saying the “human dignity” of Libyans “cannot be denied.”
Washington also shuttered its Tripoli embassy, warned its spies were seeking evidence of “atrocities” in Libya and said that Gaddafi had lost the confidence of his people, in an apparent broad hint that Washington wanted him gone.
Officials said the U.S. sanctions were a direct attempt to prevent any looting of Libya’s assets and sovereign wealth by Gaddafi and his sons amid turmoil which reports said has killed over 1,000 people and split the country.
Privately, sources said, Washington hoped the measures would encourage defections from the regime.
The move also came on the eve of a U.N. Security Council meeting to consider multilateral sanctions on the Gaddafi government, and after the Libyan strongman warned of a looming battle in Tripoli to protect his four-decades-old regime.
“By any measure, Muammar Gaddafi’s government has violated international norms and common decency and must be held accountable,” Obama said in a statement.
“These sanctions therefore target the Gaddafi government, while protecting the assets that belong to the people of Libya.”
“The Libyan government’s continued violation of human rights, brutalization of its people, and outrageous threats have rightly drawn the strong and broad condemnation of the international community,” Obama said.
“We will stand steadfastly with the Libyan people in their demand for universal rights, and a government that is responsive to their aspirations. Their human dignity cannot be denied.”
U.S. Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey told reporters on a conference call that Obama had taken “decisive steps” to hold the Gaddafi regime accountable.
The sanctions contained an annex specifically naming Gaddafi and four sons, but did not single out any other Libyan officials, a sign Washington was hoping to peel off key members of the ruling elite in Tripoli.
The administration did retain the power under the executive order to name other Libyan officials who could be targeted.
And a U.S. official told AFP on condition of anonymity that the measures were specifically crafted to encourage defections.
Fear for safety of Americans
Washington announced the sanctions move — along with the closing of its embassy and withdrawal of U.S. diplomats — after a chartered ferry and a plane carrying Americans and other evacuees left Libya earlier on Friday.
The Obama administration had been criticized for its relatively restrained response so far to the turmoil. But U.S. officials said fears for the safety of the Americans had tempered Washington’s response.
“(Gaddafi) is overseeing the brutal treatment of his people … and his legitimacy has been reduced to zero in the eyes of his people,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said after Libyan security forces shot protesters in the streets of Tripoli on Friday.
The U.S. embassy in Tripoli, which was only opened in 2006, during a tentative rapprochement in U.S.-Libya ties, was shuttered for security reasons and all diplomatic personnel withdrawn, Carney and the State Department said.
The White House also fleshed out its attempts to hold Gaddafi “accountable” in addition to the new sanctions regime.
It warned that it would use the full extent of its “intelligence capabilities to monitor the Gaddafi regime’s actions” and would particularly seek evidence of violence or atrocities committed against the Libyan people.
Carney, however, would not go as far as to say that the White House backed calls for Gaddafi and his lieutenants to eventually face some kind of formal justice, perhaps at the International Criminal Court.
On the financial front, the U.S. Treasury warned U.S. banks to watch out for transfers linked to Libya’s political leaders.
The department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network told banks to be aware of “the potential increased movement of assets that may be related to the situation in Libya,” in a statement released Friday.
Libya and its leaders are suspected of holding billions of dollars in foreign bank accounts, cash largely gleaned from the country’s vast oil wealth.
According to a 2010 message from the U.S. embassy in Tripoli, obtained by WikiLeaks, Libya’s sovereign wealth fund holds $32 billion in cash and “several American banks are each managing $300-500 million.”
Clinton to drum up support
With the Libyan crisis also being taken up at the United Nations, European Union governments agreed on the idea of imposing an arms embargo, asset freezes and a travel ban on the oil-producing North African nation, with diplomats saying a formal decision would be taken early next week.
The Obama administration said earlier this week it was studying a wide range of options, including the freezing of assets, a travel ban on members of Gaddafi’s government, a “no-fly” zone over Libya and military action.
In a first step, the U.S. Treasury has told American banks to closely monitor transactions that may be related to unrest in Libya for possible signs that state assets were being misappropriated.
Several U.S. energy companies in Libya — including Marathon, Hess and Occidental — have continued working through the crisis as other foreign firms have curtailed or suspended operations.
If sanctions gain traction internationally, Libya’s oil output could be restricted.
“Although Libya is not a big supplier to the U.S., any sanctions imposed by the U.S. — particularly on doing business with that country — means the U.S. or other countries affected will still have to tap other suppliers,” said Peter Beutel, president of trading consultants Cameron Hanover.
In New York, the U.N. Security Council was considering a French-British draft proposal for an arms embargo, financial sanctions and a request to the International Criminal Court to indict Libyan leaders for crimes against humanity.
The White House did not express direct support for the proposal but said it was discussing it with members of the Security Council, including the other four permanent members — China, Russia, Britain and France.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will push for unity against Gaddafi on Monday at the U.N. Human Rights Council.
The United States resumed diplomatic ties with Libya in 2004 after Gaddafi agreed to abandon his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.
U.S. economic sanctions were progressively removed after Libya agreed to accept civil responsibility for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland in 1988.
Libya’s envoy to the United Nations, Mohammed Shalgham, a childhood friend of Gaddafi, became the latest official to abandon him, with a diplomat saying he had joined his deputy Ibrahim Dabbashi in defecting.
“Please, the United Nations, save Libya. Let there be no bloodshed, no killing of innocents. We want a decisive, rapid and courageous resolution from you,” Shalgham told the Security Council.
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon on Friday demanded decisive action by the Security Council against Gaddafi’s bloody crackdown, warning that any delay would add to the growing death toll which he said now came to over 1,000.
Ban’s call and an emotional speech by the Libyan ambassador to the United Nations — in which he raised the specter of Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot — jolted the council into ordering a special meeting on Saturday to consider a sanctions resolution against Kadhafi.
In Ankara, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said “Mr. Gaddafi must go,” becoming the first world leader to demand the ouster of the former army colonel who seized power in a 1969 coup.
In a rooftop address on Friday, Gaddafi urged his partisans in the square below to “defend Libya.” “If needs be, we will open all the arsenals.
“We will fight them and we will beat them,” he said as frenzied supporters raised his portrait and waved the country’s green flag.
Almost the entire east of the oil-rich North African nation has slipped from Gaddafi’s control since a popular uprising began with protests in the port city of Benghazi on February 15, inspired by revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia.
By Messay Kebede
While events of historic proportions are occurring in the Arab world, the question that haunts Ethiopians is whether similar uprisings are possible in present-day Ethiopia, that is, whether the inspiring impact of events in Arab countries would be strong enough to provoke unrests and demonstrations in Ethiopia. Since the occurrence of the French Revolution, scholars of revolution are familiar with the outcomes of demonstration effects, some going to the extent of counting as one powerful cause of revolution its tendency to spread to other countries by the sheer effect of its inspirational appeal.
That an increasing number of Ethiopians argue that decisive lessons to topple the Meles regime can be drawn from events in the Arab world is a promising evolution. In an article titled “Way Forward for Ethiopia’s Opposition” posted on various websites (June 2010), I contended that the results of the last election showed clearly that the strategy of changing the Woyane regime by winning parliamentary elections is no longer tenable. I suggested that opposition groups should design a new strategy, which is “to work toward the gathering of conditions favoring a popular outburst with a political organization and a program ready to step in.” In other words, in light of the failure of the electoralist strategy and the little chance of creating in the near future an armed movement capable of threatening the regime, the only option left was to help build up the conditions of a popular uprising and be ready to take up its leadership. Thanks to the events in the Arab world, most Ethiopians now consider a popular uprising in Ethiopia as a very likely possibility and call for opposition groups to be ready for such an event. Of course, the main question is to know whether their expectation is realistic or simply a wishful thinking.
Let me begin by saying that events in Tunisia and Egypt, impressive and mutational as they are, are not yet revolutions. The latter require the overthrow of existing states and the implementation of a new social order. The fact that the two ruling dictators were removed does not necessarily entail a drastic social change in Egypt and Tunisia unless the removal is soon followed by the initiation of profound changes. All we can say now is that the removal is just a first step in the right direction, and that it is too early to speak of revolution.
Even so, the fact that the uprisings remained mostly nonviolent (with the exception of Libya) strongly renews the conviction that nonviolent form of struggle is the best method to remove dictatorial regimes. Nonviolence means here essentially active defiance and noncooperation. So understood, nonviolence is indeed, as one of the apostles of nonviolence, Gene Sharp, puts it, “the most powerful means available to those struggling for freedom” (From Dictatorship to Democracy, p. 13). There is no doubt that protests in Egypt and Tunisia prevented the early intervention of the army essentially because they remained largely nonviolent.
What is most striking about the events in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere is the metamorphosis of ordinary people. These people had so thoroughly submitted to the dictatorships that any prediction just a month ago of impeding protests would have sounded foolish. The uprisings came as a surprise to everybody. Most of all, all these protests were spontaneous in that they were not initiated by any organized opposition.
Spontaneity is undoubtedly one of the strong aspects of the movements. The dictatorships could not stop them because they could not find leaders they could put in jail or kill. People were driven by their own frustration, not by the appeal of a party or a leader. They were now in charge of their own destiny and, more importantly, free of the fear that paralyzed them for so long. How did this metamorphosis become possible?
It is a truism to say that dictatorships rule by fear and collapse the very day that they fail to inspire fear. This issue of fear is the key to the question of knowing whether similar uprisings are possible in Ethiopia. I am not impressed by the argument of those who discard the possibility of uprisings in Ethiopia on the ground that, unlike the Arab countries, Ethiopia does not have a large educated class and a vast means of internet access. Without denying the effective role of internet communications, the argument overlooks that popular uprisings have occurred before the invention of the internet, not to mention the fact that Ethiopians carried out a successful uprising in 1974 that toppled the entrenched imperial regime. Be it noted that the uprising against the imperial regime was successful because it was not initiated by an established leadership.
Another issue is to know whether the Ethiopian army can behave in a way similar to the behavior of the Egyptian army. Most Ethiopians are inclined to say the opposite owing to their belief that Ethiopia has no longer a national army per se, but a TPLF dominated mercenary army exclusively committed to protecting the interests of the ruling clique. The question is indeed a serious one, but there is no way of knowing the answer unless the uprising starts and shows some resilience. The 2005 violent crackdown on protesters cannot be taken as evidence, since except for taxi drivers and protesting young people, no massive movement of protest took place. In fact, the confined nature of the protest may have led to the belief that it could be easily suppressed. We cannot tell how the police and the army would react in the face of a determined massive protest all over the country. We should move the discussion from what the military will do to what a massive uprising can compel them to understand.
What this means is that the crucial issue is indeed the question of fear. Are Ethiopians any less fearful of the Meles regime? Stated otherwise, the possibility of uprising solely hinges on our ability to ascertain that Ethiopians are today angrier than ever before. For anger alone can dissolve fear. More than the availability of internet communications, what explains events in Arab countries is the increasing fury of ordinary people, especially of unemployed young people. When anger grips the human mind, nothing else matters, including the likelihood of death. Anger is force and defiance because it mobilizes the power of emotion. People defy bloody regimes, not because they become suddenly courageous, but because the overwhelming power of rage made them do things that they would not otherwise have done.
I know that many Ethiopians see unity as an essential condition for the occurrence of a massive uprising. In effect, people begin to protest when they see a fair chance of success, and no chance of success can be expected if ethnic divisions prevail over unity. For an uprising to succeed, it must be massive, and it cannot be massive unless ethnic alignments are put aside. What else is this requirement of unity but another facet of the same question of anger? Are Ethiopians angry enough to overcome their divisions so as to rise together against their common enemy? The overwhelming nature of anger unites more than any rational discourse in favor of unity.
Although it is true that the mobilization of emotion explains the power of popular uprisings, it is also true that rage can only be a trigger. It cannot sustain itself over an extended period of time, especially if the regime in place uses deadly means to suppress the uprising. Very quickly, organization and smart politics must take the lead. Notably, anger must be controlled in such a way that it does not burst into an orgy of violence, which will end up by giving the upper hand to the dictator. Everything must be done to minimize the intervention of the army, and the best way to do so is to keep the movement nonviolent. In other words, nonviolent movement is nothing but the control of anger, more exactly, its transformation into a force of internal resistance that wears out the repressive power of the dictatorial state. Nonviolence does not generate anger; it sublimates it by reorienting its compulsion for outward furious expressions toward the buildup of an internal force of defiance.
In sum, the possibility of popular uprising in Ethiopia wholly depends on the psychological state of the masses. No doubt, events in the Arab world can be inspirational, but they are not enough to cause revolts unless the masses are going through the state of anger. Inspiration can strengthen confidence, but it cannot generate the emotional state of anger. What is more, it is not possible to know in advance what drives people to the tipping point of anger. We can definitely say that most Ethiopians are unhappy with the regime, that they even hate it. But dislike and hate are not yet anger. While hate is a contained or differed emotion, anger is in need of immediate reaction or lashing out. You get to live with hatred, not with rage, which, as an impulsive need for outward expressions, explodes.
(Messay Kebede, Ph.D., can be reached at Messay.Kebede@notes.udayton.edu)
By Albert Michael
Today Africa, especially its North region, is in a storm. People of the region are experiencing the momentum of the storm by physical taking part in it. People outside the region have been feeling the flame and shocked with the happenings. This phenomenal time in the history of Africa is a wow time for dictators and all the despots. Knowing that their turn is not far away, African dictators presumably taking unconscious steps in a way that can sustain them in power. Their heart is melting. Their mind is blowing. But the fact is, as some one has said that the idea whose time has come is powerful than artillery, when change begins to spark in its due time no power can hold it back . The change occurring in Africa has two fold outcome: on one hand toppling off tyrants from their comfort seats where they have been sacking the sweat and blood of their own citizen and on the other hand reforming and transforming the whole systems which have been hosting injustice. Both of the outcomes privilege the people to become source of power in Africa. Time is a perfect judge!!
The recent change geared by the people of North Africa nations, for most analysts and observers, is a point of prediction for what would happen next in the other African countries specifically countries stack in the valley of poverty and where the thugs of the ruling class are living their luxurious life. On December 17, 2010 determination of a man to express his feeling in an unusual way by setting himself on fire resulted in the massive people’s movement first in Tunisia and then spread to neighbouring countries. This a historic convergence and its effects which time and change gave birth, through the mighty power of people’s movement never ceased in North Africa but spilled over to the Middle east countries and other parts of Africa. Who thought that Ben of Tunisia, Mubarak of Egypt and most probably Gadhafi of Libya would stand before the court where the people judge in the history of Africa. That was only known by the fact of time. No one can reverse this change. When time carries change that is a real change. Time. Time. Time. A good judge
In the history of human ages, historic convergences and transitional tides have occurred at significant points. Major events befallen in different times of past have heralded socio-economic and political changes. The world we lived so far shaped by the nature of these events. The death of colonialism, the end of the two World Wars, the closure Cold War and globalization are the results of cumulative events of mini reactions occurred in the time frame of our history.
The reality we see in North Africa is not different except it should be taken as part of the foundations laid for a large scale change awaiting for the whole Africa. I am saying that all the major events of change in our history started some where in a corridor in specific places and spread to the vicinities. This reminds me what happened in the history of colonialism in Africa. The process which led to the demise of European exploitations systems started earlier in 1890s. In those early times, Chief Bambatha of Zulu and Maji Maji revolt were some of the popular uprisings which had initiated the massive anti-colonialism movement in Africa. The then factors pushed people to revolt were the colonialists wrong measures against the local people. The people became subjects of the colonial masters. When the yoke of the burden was unbearable to the local people individuals such as Bambantha took the courage to rally for liberation. That was the point to set the remaining pace of the journey to freedom. After four to five decades, colonialism became a history.
In a similar analogy my conviction is that the current phenomenon in the north part of Africa is a riddle of wave which could move the whole continent. In the coming few years Africa will be free of dictators and the will of people shall dominate in the most countries of the continent.
My prediction is based on the fact that, the factors initiated the mass movements in North Africa are similar or even worst in other parts of the continent. In countries like Ethiopia where the unemployment rate is beyond imagination, ethnic divisions is intentionally installed, economic inequalities is fostered through ill-intended policies, anti-free press laws muzzled citizens right expression , institutionalized corruption is widely practiced and one man has become the whole country and every thing in the country unless it is a matter of time popular uprising is foreseeable. In general injustices ingrained into the structure of governance and administrations of majority of countries in Africa make change intrinsic and inescapable. Time is a perfect judge!! People of Africa are fade up of living in darkness of home made slavery, poverty, oppression, and hunger. Time has come. Darkness never endures before light. Tyranny and dictatorial ship is a work of darkness. It will never be established in the land of Africa in the coming years. The next wave of people’s movement will strike East Africa and Horn of Africa, central Africa and Some West and South East African countries. Because the bell of change rung and even felt in the North is already heard in whole Africa and even in other parts of the world. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
Time is ticking at the doors of dictators. They have only two choices: Either to open their heart to accommodate the questions of the people and start genuine reform in the interest of people after asking apology or to get ready for undignified exit by the peoples’ powerful movement. The arrow of change is sharply indicating the doors which would be bumped by the tide of change in the next round. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
African Governments are “failing” Libyan citizens and all Africans
PRESS STATEMENT by Civicus
African Governments’ appalling lack of pressure to force Libyan Leader, Muammar Gaddafi, to halt the violence and step down, reflects persistent inadequacies in the African Union (AU). Their failure to act decisively threatens progress towards democracy and respect for human rights on the continent, according to leading African civil society activists speaking today at a press conference in Johannesburg.
“The response from African governments and the African Union took so long and was so feeble that it emboldens Gaddafi in clinging on to power by any means possible, and permits him to claim the protests are a Western or Al Qaeda conspiracy,” said Ingrid Srinath, Secretary General of CIVICUS.
“African leaders must realise that their failure to speak clearly and act promptly has real consequences and costs lives. Such apathy in the face of atrocities cannot persist,” she added.
Article 3 of the Constitutive Act of the AU lists the promotion of peace, security and stability on the continent as one of its key objectives. Despite this, civil society believes the AU and African governments have been slow to react.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Congress of South African Trade Union joined Srinath and more than 40 other signatories from civil society in a joint statement demanding action from the AU.
“The carnage in Libya must stop. A leader who crushes his own people does not deserve that name – or position,” said Archbishop Desmond Tutu. South Africa has a special responsibility to act
South Africa, Nigeria and Gabon currently represent Africa on the UN Security Council and as such have a special responsibility to ensure the protection of the Libyan people. Rajesh Latchman, Convenor of the Global Call to Action against Poverty in South Africa, singled out the South African Government’s need to act as a non-permanent member of
the UN Security Council since January 2011, despite their aspirations for a permanent seat.
“While an immediate and decisive response to the bloodshed in Libya is needed right now, the South African government needs to have a rapid response system to ensure diplomatic action when faced with such a crisis is not dependent on the push factor from civil society but driven by the values of our Constitution,” he said.
“For president Zuma in particular, this is not a call for you to imitate the out of office behaviour of your predecessor, it is rather a call to bring together a broad based but small collective of business, civil society and government leaders to act as a thought collective for the way our country acts when the rights of people outside our borders are violated.”
A horrifying example of an ongoing problem Latchman’s comments echo those of other civil society representatives at the press conference.
Noel Kututwa, Special Advisor with Amnesty International said that Amnesty International has accused the international community of failing the Libyan people in their hour of greatest need as Colonel Gaddafi threatened to “cleanse Libya house by house”. “The response of the UN Security Council fell shamefully below what was needed to stop the spiralling violence in Libya,” Kututwa said.
Amnesty International has called for an immediate arms embargo and assets freeze and the African Union and its member states to immediately investigate reports that armed elements are being transported from African countries to Libya, acting to secure the land borders into Libya and monitor suspicious flights.
While the situation in Libya is of immediate priority, it is also serving to highlight inadequacies on the part of the AU and African governments to respond when the security and human rights of people across the continent are threatened.
The joint statement from civil society will be distributed to the AU and African governments. It is one step in an ongoing campaign from civil society to support and protect the people of Libya as they strive to assert their democratic and human rights.
Civil society leaders pledged solidarity with all those struggling for freedom across the globe.
(For more information please contact: Rowena McNaughton, CIVICUS Media Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org, +27 82 768 0250; www.civicus.org)
The brutal attack by mercenary forces against anti-Gaddafi protesters and civilians in Libya is now exposing refugees from Ethiopia and other African countries to vigilante attacks. The brutality of the mercenaries, many of whom were sent to Libya by planes in the past few days, is making Libyan citizens understandably bitter, and while the opposition groups are trying to calm down the angry and traumatized population and promising a fair trial for those who are suspected of being mercenaries, unfortunately incidents of harassment and attacks against innocent refugees are being reported in some of the liberated cities. An urgent call must be sent out to the people of Libya by Ethiopians around the world that most Ethiopians are as victimized as they have been by Gaddafi’s friend, Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia. Libyan’s must take care not to soil their revolution with the blood of innocent refugees.
The following is an interview by DW Radio with two Ethiopians in Tripoli.
Below is an interview with a Woyanne ambassador:
The stupid ambassador need to be told that the Ethiopian refugees have been migrating to Libya in the first place because his regime has made Ethiopia a living hell for most citizens.
The Woyanne ambassador says that his regime did not send mercenaries to Libya. But the evidence is indisputable. Members of the Federal Police, Meles Zenawi’s personal death squad, have been sent to Libya wearing their own standard issue uniform as this photo shows. The dead soldier in the photo is wearing the distinct Ethiopian Federal Police uniform. The Federal Police soldiers were indiscriminately shooting down Ethiopian civilians following the May 2005 elections, the same way as they are shooting down Libyan civilians now. Ethiopians have first hand experience of how brutal and barbaric Meles Zenawi’s death squads are.
Ironically, the poor Ethiopian refugees in Libya, who fled from these soldiers in their own country, are now facing an angry population in Libya for what the regime in Ethiopia and its blood thirsty death squads are doing to Libyan citizens.
A talking point has been sent out from Woyanne propaganda chief Bereket Simon’s office to every Woyanne cadre around the world to say that the captured mercenaries are refugees. While asking the Libyans to protect innocent Ethiopians, we need to also condemn Meles for the reason that the refugees are in Libya, as well as for sending his killers to slaughter civilians in another country.
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Libya opposition forces continue to capture mercenaries who have arrived by planes from other African countries to carry out Gaddafi’s threat of bloodshed. Some of the mercenaries were sent to Libya by Gaddafi’s long time friend and aid recipient Meles Zenawi, who himself is a genocidal dictator. The following video shows some of the soldiers along with their Ethiopian passports.
Ethiopians in the Diaspora have become the largest source of hard currency for the brutal dictatorship in Ethiopia bringing over $3 billion annualy. To keep the revenue flowing, companies that are affiliated with the ruling party are busy exporting poor Ethiopian girls to Arab countries to work as maids in slavery-like conditions. These girls face constant abuse and mistreatment in the hands of their employers. We Ethiopians as a society should be terribly ashamed of ourselves for letting our defenseless girls to be exploited and abused in foreign countries. The girls should be at school and able to find jobs in their own country. The following is a gut-wrenching story of Trungo by a German TV, WDR. It’s in German language, but not difficult to follow the story, which is about a young girl named “Trungo” who comes from a remote area in the northern Ethiopia and traveled to Dubai to work as a maid. The film recounts that Trungo decided to leave her village so that she can support her family. The film also shows the dubious cooperation of the brokers in Addis Ababa and in Dubai and the savage and inhuman behavior of Arab employers who are abusing Ethiopian women. Watch below:
The U.K. government is notorious for its anti-human rights foreign policy. Rejecting the call by France to impose no-fly zone over Libya so that Gaddafi would not commit genocide should not come as a surprise. No wonder people around the world despise the morally bankrupt government of the U.K. that sells weapons to genocidal dictators like Gaddafi of Libya and Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia.
(Guardian) — Nicolas Sarkozy is leading the calls for a NATO-imposed no-fly zone to be enforced over Libya to “prevent the use of that country’s warplanes against [its] population”.
Sarkozy, the current president of the G8 and G20 economic forums, has also called for the European Union to impose sanctions against Libya and suggested that the assets of the family of the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, should be frozen.
William Hague, the British foreign secretary, did not join the calls for a no-fly zone, but David Cameron held out the prospect of imposing sanctions on Libya if Gaddafi continued to respond to the protests with violence. The government is wary of antagonizing the Libyan leadership while it attempts to repatriate British citizens.
In an interview with al-Jazeera television in Doha, the prime minister said: “Sanctions are always an option for the future if what we are seeing in Libya continues. Of course, if Libya continues down this path, there will be a very strong argument [for sanctions].”
Cameron’s remarks appeared to be a hardening of his position from earlier in the day, when he sidestepped questions about whether he would endorse the French president’s call for sanctions.
But the prime minister moved to play down the prospect of military action against Libya, saying: “I do not think we are at that stage yet. We are at the stage of condemning the actions Colonel Gaddafi has taken against his own people.”
It is likely the British attitude towards a no-fly zone will toughen if and when its citizens are evacuated.
The government is also concerned that Russia and China could veto a no-fly zone at the United Nations security council, leaving the international community weakened.
Demands for a ban on flights over Libya have been made by Ibrahim al-Dabashi, the country’s deputy ambassador to the UN, who is among diplomats who have abandoned Gaddafi.
He said the measure would prevent mercenaries, weapons and other supplies from reaching Gaddafi and his security forces. There have also been fears that Gaddafi could resort to bombing his own people.
Hague said he was canceling a planned trip to Washington to handle the crisis from London, adding that it would be difficult to get a security council resolution. The council has, though, made a statement condemning Libya’s actions.
Hague stressed he wanted an international inquiry into possible war crimes, saying this represented the best chance to stop murder and atrocities by the regime. “They will be held to account. They should hear that message loud and clear,” he said.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4′s Today programme, the former foreign secretary Lord Owen became the first British politician to call for a no-fly zone, adding that the west should be concerned about the possibility that Gaddafi would unleash chemical weapons.
“We know that this is a person who could unleash either chemical or biological weapons, which he possibly still has. He is one of the worst despots we have seen for many a century. He is deeply unstable, and has been for 42 years,” Owen said.
He called for a UN charter chapter 7 intervention – meaning the authorization of military and non-military means to “restore international peace and security” – to be enforced by Nato air forces with Egyptian military support to demonstrate regional backing for the effort.
He argued a no-fly zone similar to the one imposed on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 1991 was feasible and wholly desirable. He said he believed the US would already have put its planes on alert.
Sarkozy went further than any other leading EU politician in calling for military action. “The continuing brutal and bloody repression against the Libyan civilian population is revolting,” he said. ” The international community cannot remain a spectator to these massive violations of human rights.”
The scale of the threat to world security was underlined by reports suggesting Gaddafi had ordered the destruction of oilfields, as well as the growing likelihood that he was willing to see a massive death toll rather than relinquish power.
By Dejenie A. Lakew
The Temporal Sign and Demand of Society: Legitimacy of Political Power
A leader exercises power of leadership and service on a particular society. The power he/she has can be legitimate or otherwise. The legitimacy of the power of a leader comes from the people. If not from the people then the power is illegitimate.
A legitimate leader therefore has to be a person amongst the people not somebody who is outside of them, who has a better vision, established and derivable wisdom and virtues and an intrinsic courage that analyzes and understands problems of the society ahead and deliver solutions in an optimal time-shortest time possible. He/she leads the people by providing convincing methods and delivering solutions to problems the society faces in the right and progressive direction. No legal citizen should live in pain and die for a survival of an illegal leader but instead a leader has to live in pain and die for the survival of a legal individual citizen. The immediate concerns and jobs of a leader is to serve the society, not be served by society. He/she is an employee of the society not employing the society and make the society live under his/her mercy. Their power to lead the country is legitimate when it is given by the society. By the time they defy the society, develop contempt to the people and rule by their own will, then they changed the country into their real estate and the society into their own workers. That is the beginning of dictatorship, timocracy, oligarchy, etc, any form of illegal government. Once relations get sour and reach to that stage, leaders lose the legitimacy of their power and receive the rant of the society and ultimately lose their political achievements they have done in their legitimate times. The consequences are catastrophic to them to their family members and great descendants- they all be in the eternal fire of history. Therefore, a leader has to be wise enough to know and listen the society and its will as to when he/she should finish a tenure of service so that they end their power as legitimate and the good things they have done during their legitimate times remain as an eternal candle of history to the society.
Good leaders create administrative structures so that the people get conditions/or resources of life, happiness and freedom in minimal obstacles by providing effective leadership on all levels of their government structures . In order these things to be implemented, there has to be a common space of understanding between the people and the leaders. The people should give time to elected leaders as to when and how they have to come up with solutions to the common social, economic and political problems that they have promised to do so. But at the same time leaders should know that life is short and ephemeral and solutions they promised have to be delivered on time and if that does not happen, then they have to give a path way and in fact invite and solicit the people to elect other new leaders who are capable of understanding the scope and magnitude of the problems and promise to address the issues in a better and short time frame. After all governments are highest forms of social gatherings or structures of a particular society, established to take care of common welfare of the people and therefore cannot behave as an outside power but appended to the people from above for all time.
The protests that are happening in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and across the middle east are clear indicators of society running out of patience in living and carrying problems indefinitely, where society expresses outcry in multitudes to the extent of willing to die of their suffering by the hands common people who happened to be on the pinnacle of power and place of the leadership but unable to deliver anything for the society. Inability is not a sin by itself but not willing to give the place for others who are capable is the political sin. In times where society express suffrage and anger , governments should behave as part of the society and ask an apology from the society and express their willingness to leave office by arranging conditions in order problems be addressed.
Leaders should know and it is to their benefit that they feel and remain part of the society when they were in power and when they are out of power. They have to do their utmost effort to live within the society and contribute more when they are out of power but taking care of their family. It is always possible for them to be listened, heard and contribute more to their people as long as they are alive and as long as they finish legally. That is the right way to stay in politics for life long—not by hanging on power for life. These problems of appetite for hanging on power for life time are common in what are called developing or underdeveloped countries , where leaders take counties as their real estates and the society as employees in their firms — while it is non-existent in developed countries.
The consequences are sever and catastrophic not only for such bad leaders but to their all family members. There is no dictator who left power by will and allow his family members live in peace instead they make all their lifelong happiness and achievements be destroyed forever by angry society and unforgiving history. It is amazing why leaders cannot see that and make their immediate family members, children and grand children pay a price for their selfish and ill advised desire of power for life. All dictators disappear along with their descendants for ever from their society while wise leaders remain political advisors and important figures to their own society. Their descendants remain beloved society members living a good life within their own society, proud of the political works their parents have done and the recognition received by the society and history.
It is therefore the sign and demand of the time that leaders of countries irrespective of under-developed/developing, should be willing to do exactly what politically developed world leaders do:
* Put time frame for a political life-tenure in their constitution.
* Make sure their political power is legitimate.
* Know the difference between a country and real estate. It is only in real estate that individual citizens have lifelong rights to own it and live in it.
* Leave office when people demand and cry of their ineffectiveness.
* Leave office when problems remain unsolved on time and beyond.
* During turmoil times within society ( governments unwilling to yield their power from demand of society), then the police force and army should not always play as killing inanimate partners of illegitimate governments that run amuck and put their very own citizens, who give legitimacy to their power beneath their foot, but instead to carry out their responsibility by keeping the security and safety of the society in general and the rights of the people untouched.
It is only when this happens that the old style of removing governments by guns will stop and a modern and civilized political life begins which is a building block of stability, growth and social development.
(Dejenie A. Lakew, Ph.D., can be reached at email@example.com)
Libyan opposition forces, with the help of troops who joined the protesters, are tightening the noose around Gaddafi by taking more town today. Gulf News reports that the opposition is now controlling 90 percent of the country. Meanwhile, Algeria, Bahrain, Jordan and Saudi Arabia have decided to take a different course by releasing political prisoners, calling for dialogue, and other positive measures to prevent uprising. In Algeria, the regime has lifted the 19-year-old state of emergency yesterday and announced greater freedom and reform. Bahrain has released 250 prisoners of conscience today.
(Gulf News) — Early yesterday, security forces loyal to Sa’edi, Gaddafi’s son, encircled Sirte, blocking the coastal highway and another highway linking Libya’s eastern and western regions. “Tanks and manned armoured vehicles have cut the coastal and the inside road linking east with the west. Sirte is the last stronghold of the man since his tribe lives in the city,” Fateh Al Talhouni, member of the revolutionary committee in Misurata told Gulf News. So far, protesters have claimed control of 90 per cent of Libya, including most of the capital Tripoli and major cities such as Benghazi, Baida, Tobruk, Misurata, Zawiya and Zantan. Guards loyal to Gaddafi have fled from checkposts on the Egyptian border and tribal elders have formed local committees to take their place.
(CBS) — CBS News’ Mandy Clark describes the scene in Libya after entering the country through Egypt: I’m across the border in Libya. We’re heading to Tobruk. Right now there’s a man passing me holding two old Libyan flags, which are pre-Qaddafi era. And he’s giving the sign of victory, and that’s what we’re seeing all over since we’ve got into Libya – people welcoming us to a free Libya. We’ve been offered rides to anywhere we want to go. People want news crews in here to report what’s happening. They’re offering as many people as they can lift to get to where they need to go. Entering here was quite difficult – going through on the Egyptian side, there were layers upon layers of security. And they certainly made you feel that you weren’t going to get into Libya. But, after you had passed the last Egyptian checkpoint, you headed to the Libyan one. There was kind of a rag-tag militia with mismatching uniforms. They were deeply friendly; they kept on saying “welcome, welcome.” When they asked who we were with, we said “CBS America.”
They said, “Welcome CBS. Welcome all international media.” And they drove us. They’re offering free lifts. The people and the mood certainly is jubilant. It’s not a new liberation flag, it’s actually the Libyan flag before Qaddafi. It’s the old Libyan flag, and people are waving it as a sign to show that the old Libya is back and that Qaddafi is gone.
Botswana is the only African country with a freely elected decent government. Their action against Libya is an example of their moral decency.
(CNN) — Botswana’s foreign affairs ministry said in a statement, “In light of the massive and disproportionate force visited upon peaceful protesters by the Libyan security forces, the government of Botswana summoned the Libyan Representative in Gaborone and expressed its revulsion at the Libyan government’s response to peaceful protesters and called for restraint in dealing with the situation.”
Peru and Botswana both announced they were breaking diplomatic ties with Libya. Peruvian President Alan Garcia said his country suspended diplomatic relations after condemning “the repression unleashed by Gadhafi.”
The statement added that Botswana was joining “the international community which is calling for action to be taken against those persons who have committed crimes against humanity in the continuing conflict in Libya and hopes that such persons shall be referred to the International Criminal Court to account for their deeds.”
ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo noted that Libya is not a party to the Rome Statute, which set up the court. “Intervention by the ICC on the alleged crimes committed in Libya can occur only if the Libyan authorities accept the jurisdiction of the Court,” his statement said. “In the absence of such step, the United Nations Security Council can decide to refer the situation to the Court. The Office of the Prosecutor will act only after either decision is taken.”
French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for prompt European Union sanctions against Libya on Wednesday, such as “a ban on access to EU territory and financial monitoring.”
(Bloomberg) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy led calls for European Union sanctions against Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi as political unrest continued in the North African nation.
Merkel said that Qaddafi’s televised speech yesterday in which he threatened his own people with civil war was “alarming.” Sarkozy said today that France may suspend economic and commercial relations with Libya, according to an e- mailed statement in Paris.
The European Union in Brussels is suspending negotiations with the Libyan government on an EU-Libya Framework Agreement and said the 27-nation bloc “is ready to take further measures.” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said “those responsible for the brutal aggression and violence against civilians will be held to account.”
(VOA) — The U.S. State Department says it is considering sanctions against Libya in response to the government’s violent crackdown on protesters.
Spokesman P.J. Crowley said Wednesday the United States has a number of options for taking action against Libya including bilateral or multilateral sanctions. He said it is important that any steps the U.S. takes should be coordinated with the international community.
The Washington Post and New York Times are reporting that anti-dictatorship protests in north Africa are spreading south.
* Anti-government demonstrations, which have spread across Northern Africa, seem to have moved across the rest of the continent to Cameroon, Gabon, Zimbabwe and Mauritania. In Cameroon, protests have been called for Wednesday to demand the ouster of President Paul Biya, CNN reports. Biya has ruled the country for 28 years. The main opposition leader, Kah Walla, told CNN that his group wants to see free and fair elections. – Melissa Bell, Washington Post
* The democracy uprising is spreading to new parts of Africa: Cameroon, Gabon, Zimbabwe, Mauritania. Nicholas Kristo, New York Times
* Activists meet in Zimbabwe to discuss the implications of Egypt and Tunisia and end up arrested. Mugabe did not learn the right lessons. – Philip J. Crowley, U.S. Department of State
* Opposition groups gain ground in Libya. They are claiming victory in Misurata, a provincial center 130 miles east of the capital, in another indication that the rebellion was encroaching on cities closer to Colonel Qaddafi’s stronghold of Tripoli. In the southern city of Sabha, considered a Qaddafi stronghold, large protests were also reported. – New York Times
On February 12 and 13, 2011, Ethiopians in Houston and Dallas, Texas, held public meetings with Dr. Birhanu Nega of Ginbot 7 Movement and Ato Neamin Zeleke of the Alliance for Freedom, Democracy and Justice. The meetings were held at Houston Baptist University, Houston and at Double Tree Hotel, Richardson, TX.
Ato Neamin spoke on the need for the Diaspora to come together and act in unison to help the
Ethiopian people join in the emerging uprisings to oust dictators like Meles and replace them with
people’s power. In his speech, he made specific calls for action to the Diaspora to
* Organize itself world-wide under a single umbrella
* Engage in economic fight with the TPLF through mechanisms such as non-official remittance transfer and through effective boycott of the TPLF and so called EPDRF affiliated companies
* Refrain from getting sucked into being political hostage of the TPLF by participating in its official sham investment schemes
* Support for ESAT and other similar measures.
Dr. Birhanu addressed the audience on the timely topic of the people’s uprising in the Middle East and North Africa and its implication to us Ethiopians. The speech dealt with an analysis of the significance and causes of the revolution that is sweeping our region. He emphasized the fact that the drivers of this revolution exist in Ethiopia in an even more pronounced fashion than in Egypt or Tunisia. His speech also acknowledged and identified some of the negative barriers for people’s uprising that exist uniquely in Ethiopia. Finally, he enumerated the steps that must be taken by the opposition groups, the youth and the people of Ethiopia to enable the revolution in the Ethiopian condition.
We believe the speeches by Dr Birhanu and Ato Neamin are must-listen speeches for all Ethiopians. Watch below:
After the public meeting, the participants of the meeting had an extended informal conversation over dinner with the guests about the present condition in Ethiopia. In Houston, the focus of the discussion revolved around the implication of the absence of a large middle and educated class in Ethiopia for carrying a revolution like we witnessed in Egypt. Dr. Birhanu insisted that this fact is irrelevant for the fight against dictatorship in Ethiopia. He said, “everybody including peasants can and will fight for their freedom and self government”.
In Dallas, the focus of the dinner-conversation was instigated by the provocative question from Dr. Birhanu. He asked the dinner participants on why there were only 200+ participants in the meeting in a city where there are over 20, 0000 Ethiopians. These led to a very productive exchange of ideas in what we all have to do to broaden the participation of the larger community in such event in the future.
Here is a small nation with a big heart standing up for justice. Thank you Peru.
(AP) — Peru’s government has announced it is suspending diplomatic relations with Libya to protest the violence unleashed by its leader Muammar Gaddafi against his people.
A statement released Tuesday evening by President Alan Garcia’s office on its website said Peru would ask the UN Security Council to establish an exclusion zone in Libyan airspace “to prevent the use of that country’s warplanes against (its) population.”
* The Arab League has suspended Libya from its sessions in light of violent crackdowns on anti-government protests, said media reports citing regional news network Al Jazeera. Earlier on Tuesday, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa spoke of ‘Arab anger about what is happening to civilians in Libya,’ the report added. A League statement read out by Secretary-General Arm Moussa strongly condemned what it called crimes against civilians, the recruiting of foreign mercenaries and the use of live ammunition and heavy weapons by Libyan forces.
* Witnesses have reported that Benghazi has essentially been taken over by the opposition. – CNN
* On Sunday, Maj. Gen. Suleiman Mahmoud, the commander of the Tobruk Garrison, took off his shoes and entered a mosque, he said. Inside he hailed the martyrs of the revolution and told the people he was with them. Hundreds gathered around him and wept. Mahmoud said that he had participated in Gaddafi’s 1969 revolution but that his family had persuaded him in recent days to turn against the government. His daughter, who holds a doctorate, sobbed into the phone, telling him of the hundreds who had been killed in their home town of Benghazi. Many were teenage boys, and some were the neighbors’ children. “I decided to withdraw from the revolutionary army and join the people,” Mahmoud said, still in his uniform Tuesday night. – Washington Post
By Shimekit Debalke
Over the last couple of weeks or months, I have been carefully listening to, watching, and reading conflicting messages about the importance and timeliness of a popular uprising in Ethiopia to topple the TPLF-led regime.
Some people argue that the “Jasmine‖” and “Nile Revolutions” that successfully took place in Tunisia and Egypt, respectively, will not be applicable to Ethiopia. Their argument centers on the fact that Tunisians and Egyptians are more literate. But, literacy is only one factor for successful revolution. There are other important ingredients of a successful revolution – unison, patriotism, resoluteness, vision, and a common goal. If literacy is even given undue emphasis, we Ethiopians have enlightened and experienced individuals in the academia, public service, civil society organizations and other walks of life who are courageous and gallant.
Others argue that the military in the Arab World is more enlightened and neutral. I strongly believe that the army in Ethiopia will draw an important lesson that if it continues to support this regime in suppressing the inevitable peoples’ revolution, its fate will be endangered in the aftermath of the successful revolution and Ethiopia will no more consider it as a national army. So the army must be for us, not against us. I understand that the military officials at all levels are from Tigray. But, the rank-and-file of the army are recruited from all ethnic groups and will never shoot their own people down. The rank-and-file of the army are tired of their racist bosses.
Others argue that the Ethiopian youth might not be able to have sufficient access to social media (such as Facebook and Twitter) since all communications are controlled by TPLF. Probably more than social media, revolution requires organization and commitment. Popular uprisings in Georgia, Ukraine, and other nations have been successful well before the advent of any social media and even of the internet. There was no internet when gallant Ethiopians such as Walleligne Mekonnen and Tilahun Gizaw were shaking the Haileselassie regime during the 1960s. There is no need to be obsessed with the importance of social media and neglect other techniques and strategies. I am not downplaying the importance of social media for the uprising. It is a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition.
Others argue that if a popular uprising is called upon, Zenawi’s police, security forces and the military will respond with brute force. I want to remind TPLF officials about John F. Kennedy’s quote ((if at all they read it):
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”
For the last 20 years, we have been arrested, marginalized, dehumanized, and murdered by the regime. What are we waiting for? Can we express ourselves freely? Are we equally treated before the court? Aren’t we in continuous frustration of extra-judicial arrests? Generally speaking, we are in mass detention center under TPLF. The detention center is Ethiopia itself and the prison guards are TPLF thugs and gangs.
Others still argue that if a regime change takes place, some ethnic groups will claim secession. In its 20-years stay, TPLF has been successful only in one thing – that is, creating a misunderstanding among different ethnic groups, encouraging one ethnic group to take vengeance against the other ethnic group – a “divide-and-conquer” principle which the British used during the colonial period. Nonetheless, be cognizant that after this regime is dismantled, Article 39 of the TPLF/EPRDF “constitution” will no longer be in effect to be used by some ethnic groups as a pretext to raise the question of self-determination up to secession. The current”constitution” does not represent Ethiopian national interest and it is TPLF’s political programme solely designed to support “Eritrean independence” and create the Tigray Republic (though they have not sufficient and necessary resources to secede and are still busy amassing resources to make their nightmare a reality). Don’t’ worry! There will be national reconciliation to address both individual and group/ethnic rights – no fear for disintegration after the revolution. If we tolerate TPLF administration any more, we will disintegrate.
Thus, we Ethiopians have strong justification to ignite a revolution probably more than any other nation in the world – leave alone the Arab World.
Needless to say, we are in abject poverty and are fed up with Zenawi’s development/growth propaganda. The economy has fallen victim to Meles’ insatiable families and loyal groups. Probably incomparable to other countries, we Ethiopians are deprived of the indivisible and inalienable human rights — civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. All the draconian legislations passed by the most unpopular “Parliament” in the world, including the NGO Legislation, the Press Law, and the “Anti-Terrorism” Law are all meant to suppress any opposition and plural thoughts. Recently, the government has frozen the assets of the two indigenous human rights organizations – Ethiopian Women Lawyers’ Association (EWLA) and the Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRC). Meles has narrowed the political space to the extent possible and declared a one-man rule. The deprivations in Ethiopia are countless both in depth and width.
Let me bring here Ernesto Che’Guevera’s quote about revolution: “It is not necessary to wait until all conditions for making revolution exist: the insurrection can create them.” The upsurge should be as peaceful as possible. Let me, however, remind you of Fidel Castor’s quote: “A revolution is not a bed of roses. A revolution is a struggle to death between the future and the past.” However, we should devise a mechanism to achieve our goals with no or minimum blood and sacrifice. We have no moral justification to be scared by the Woyanne cliques. They will immediately be inundated and engulfed by gallant Ethiopians storming from all walks of life. This regime does not have a public base. It is solely based on thugs and gangs who are good to endanger our national interest.
Finally, Let me pinpoint some strategies for our struggle (you can improve them since the list is not exhaustive):
1. Share our overall plans to prominent international media, social media professionals and owners, prominent human rights groups, the UN, the US, the UK, and other freedom-loving nations.
2. Disseminate brochures, leaflets, and posters at hotspot areas. (In Addis Ababa: Piazza, Stadium, Sidist Kilo, Arat Kilo, Amist Kilo, Anbessa Bus Stops, regional bus stations, high schools, and universities. In regional cities: high schools, universities, and bus stations). This can effectively be done at nighttime recruiting street adults – be, however, cautious that some of these street adults might be Woyanee informers!
3. Move underground as the EPRP (Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Party) did 30 years back to ignite the revolution. Hold underground consultative meetings with high school and university teachers in very small groups and exchange information through email, SMS, or call by using code names.
4. Launch the uprising in major towns such as in Addis Ababa, Adama, Hawassa, Bahir Dar, Dessie, and other perceived opposition strongholds. This may then be spread to Addis Ababa.
5. Assure the police and the army that it will not be dismantled when regime change takes place as a result of the popular uprising by any means available, especially during the revolt.
6. Once the uprising is ignited, let us stay together at the streets, churches and mosques. If we go back home in the night, the Woyanne security forces will come to our homes and take us to jails.
7. Refrain from any ethnic and religious insult throughout the period of the uprising. Woyane thugs will incite this to abort the revolution – be cautious!
By Teodros Kiros
We Ethiopians know what we do not want, but some of us know what we do not want, as well us what we want and could want. When we ask for regime change, we do so with a firm vision of a new Ethiopia. We have a well thought out possibility for change, ready to be converted into a new reality by our able and underused intelligencia. We have a blue print of a future Ethiopia, and we are ready to share it with the Ethiopian public for their considered judgment. From now on nothing is going to be practiced without the scrutiny of the Ethiopian people’s public reason. Our role is merely to suggest what we think is viable, and our people’s public reason judges our proposals. Together, we practice radical democracy, the peoples’ democracy.
A sharp twitter recently observed:
But as food prices continue to rise and economic hardship tightens its grip on the region, it is plausible to imagine Africans revolting and using means other than the often meaningless ballot box to remove their leaders.
“What people want is the democratization of society, of production, of the economy, and indeed all aspects of life,” says Manji. “What they are being offered instead is the ballot box.”
But, Manji adds: “Elections don’t address the fundamental problems that people face. Elections on their own do nothing to enable ordinary people to be able to determine their own destiny. “
This, according to Kisiangani, is because “the process of democratization in many African countries seems more illusory than fundamental”.
Gabon, Zimbabwe, even Ethiopia may never have the online reach enjoyed by Egyptians, and the scale of solidarity through linguistic and cultural symmetry may not allow their calls to reach the same number of internet users. But this does not mean that a similar desire for change is not brewing, nor that the traditional media and online community are justified in ignoring it.
Screens were put up in Tahrir Square broadcasting Al Jazeera’s coverage of the protests back to the protesters. It is difficult to qualify the role of social media in the popular uprisings gaining momentum across the Arab world, but it is even more difficult to quantify the effect of the perception of being ignored, of not being watched, discussed and, well, retweeted to the throngs of others needing to be heard.
Ignoring the developments in Africa is to miss the half the story.
“The protests have created the ‘hope’ that ordinary people can define their political destiny,” says Kisiangani. “The uprisings … are making people on the continent become conscious about their abilities to define their political destinies.”
Follow @azadessa on Twitter.
What follows is an outline of a vision for the New Ethiopia that we will march for peacefully and confidently.
The new Moral Economy, which I propose, can democratize the entire nation.
MAAT was to ancient Egypt as Wisdom was to ancient Greece. Wisdom was to Plato’s aristocratic regime as Maat was to Egypt ’s social and political life. The concept of Maat insinuated itself with every aspect of Classical Egypt. Pharaohs and the majestic slaves who erected the pyramids swore by Maat. Rich and poor, men and women, slaves and free citizens worshipped the magic of Maat. Matt was the moral organizer of everyday life in classical Egypt. Every facet of Egyptian life was organized by the expansive principle of Matt. Maat framed every facet of Egyptian life. Why did Matt have such a presence in Egyptian life? What was its magical spell? I should now like to address these questions. The human self required an organizing
moral principle. Moral life cannot function without a moral frame, a frame that furnishes the self with boundaries and limiting conditions of social action. It is precisely this lacuna that was lacking in Egyptian morality until the self-creating Egyptian gods originated the expansive concept of Maat. Matt, was symbolized by the feminine principle of “truth, balance, order and justice”. Maat was harmony, righteousness, patience and vision, born out of the feminine principle of patient labor. For the ancient Egyptians, the order of the universe was also the ideal order for the human world.
Logos ordered the universe, by the rational word. It is this order that Plato used in his Republic, when he constructed an ideal city out of Logos. This principle was later translated into, “In the beginning was Logos”, and was with God and the Logos was God (John1:1). Jesus himself was Logos, in marked contrast, for the ancient Egyptians, the organizing principle of Logos was replaced by the organizing principle of Maat. Kings who personified Maat ruled the Egyptian city. The human heart, which was worshipped by the Egyptians, and which was the seat of thinking, was also the seat of Maat. The pharaohs were expected to rule with Maat, and not without it. The pharaoh’s greatness was measured by the quality and quantity of Maat that he or she internalized. After death, the scale of Maat, the scale of Justice, would weigh their hearts.
When famines occurred and deep inequalities became a way of life, it was the duty of the rulers to uphold Maat and measure the depth and extent of the suffering. Not that this ideal was perfectly upheld, particularly when nature overwhelmed the rulers ideals, but there was at least an absolute and objective standard by which social/ political life was judged and measured.
Maat as a moral form requires an appropriate economic form, which has yet to be how elastic and flexible the dominant capitalist economic form, and however generously it is stretched, the capitalist economic form is plainly speaking morally vacuous to accommodate the greatness of Maat as a moral form. The most fitting moral form that could work in tandem with Maat is an economic form that is anchored on a solid moral foundation. Maat is precisely that moral foundation, which is yearning
for an economic form, particularly relevant for the African condition.
A moral form requires a supportive economic form. Classical Egypt had the right moral form but not the right economic form. Whereas Maat singled out the self as capable of stepping out of its ego shell and embracing other egos outside of it, the corresponding famine and hunger situations forced the actual Egyptian motto embrace the other, but to destroy other selves. It is these particular moments of despair and anguish that killed the enabling moments of patience, justice and love, Maat’s feminized principles. The Egyptian self was thus denuded of its potential grandeur, which would make many Afrocentrists, intent on proving the moral superiority of the African self, cry in despair. To say that material deprivation produced moral deprivation is not to argue that at no point, did the African self ever present itself as moral. The idealized attempts by Egypt’s leaders that led to internalize the limiting conditions of Maat proves the Afrocentric hypotheses that there was a particularly Egyptianized/Africanized effort at internalizing moral greatness, but it was not institutionalized in Egyptian life, the way that the capitalist form did in the 17th century and beyond.
The moral form of life that Maat promised remained on paper, as nothing more than an ideal. The ideals were not institutionalized as ideas, which can be lived, which can be practiced. African thinkers did not take the time to embody these ideals in the lifeblood of institutions. In short the moral form did not produce a corresponding economic form, in the precise way that the capitalist form produced a corresponding moral form, and institutionalized the latter in far reaching institutions of the state and its civil society. That is the task that I should like to impose on myself. The celebrated moral features of Maat are generosity, justice, uprightness, tolerance and loving patience. Indeed, these are demanding virtues that capitalism as the dominant economic form cannot support, no matter how diligently it tries.
Adam Smith, the world-famous economist, but who was also a moral philosopher, argued that unless capitalism is restrained by morality, as a limiting condition of greed and superfluity, it would eat itself up. To that effect, he developed an elaborate moral theory comprising of what he called “moral sentiments” to control the excesses of the market. He proposed compassion and sociality as two powerful moral sentiments that could regulate the excesses of the market. The moral sentiment, he thought, could counter the purely instrumental features of the capitalist economic form. Of course, to this day, his warning of an inevitable doom has yet to be heeded, and capitalism itself continues to marvel of its resiliency to create crises and immediately correct them, thereby proving its “naturalness” and making it easy for its proponents to present it to the world as a God-chosen economic form. Any attempt to counter it with something like Maat is dismissed as a pipe dream. No one in his or her right mind is expected to take Maat seriously. And the fact that the geographical origin of Maat is an African civilization conveniently results in dismissing Maat as irrelevant and wishful thinking.
Maat as a moral form is considerably deeper than the passing moral sentiments that the Scottish moral philosopher, David Hume, proposed. Generosity, justice, uprightness, tolerance, wisdom and loving patience go directly against our natural proclivity of injustice, dishonesty, intolerance, closedmindness, ignorance and hate. These vices seem to fit the ready-to-hand tapestry of our makeup, which by now has become so second nature that no Maat is going to dissemble these powerful vices, which were effectively used to build empires and economic forms that support the visions of the rich and powerful. In contemporary life revitalizing the features of Maat requires nothing less than manufacturing a new human being.
We must create new Ethiopians, who have to be willing and capable of acting generously, patiently, tolerantly and lovingly. We do not have such Ethiopians in sufficient numbers that matter to construct an economic \form that values justice, uprightness, wisdom, tolerance and loving patience. Taking the virtues singly, the following picture emerges. Let us begin with generosity.
Generosity is a virtue. It is a virtue that is willing to give without receiving, or is willing to give without the deliberate intent of receiving anything, or that the receiving is only an accident, and not an intentional act. The generous person then gives a particular good A to person B; and person B does not simply receive A as a matter of course. B receives A with a profound respect of the giver, and even plans, if she can, to one day reciprocate not in the same way, but in someway. The reciprocity need not be of equal goods. A and B need not be two equal goods, in which equality is measured by money. What makes the act morally compelling is the desire to reciprocate, and not the quantity of the reciprocity.
One of the economic forms of Maat, as illustrated above, is a vision of the self as generous, and generosity itself does not require a calculated practice of reciprocity but simply the desire and the commitment to give when one can, and sometimes to give A to B, although A has to sacrifice good C for the sake of giving A to B, even when one cannot, and perhaps should not, and yet the generous gives nevertheless. One of the central pillars of Maat as an economic form is the cultivation of a human self willing and capable of acting generously in the relational moral regime of giving and receiving, or simply giving without receiving, or receiving with a profound sense of gratitude and respect. The celebrated moral features of Maat are generosity, justice, uprightness, tolerance and loving patience. Indeed, these are demanding virtues that capitalism as the dominant economic form cannot support, no matter how diligently it tries.
Justice is one of the features of Maat and it is also a potential source of a Moral Economy, appropriate for the African condition.
As Aristotle taught, one does not become just merely by abstractly knowing what Justice is; rather, one becomes just by doing just things. The puzzling question is this: if one does not know what justice is then how can she know what just things are, so that she could choose only just things and not others? The question is not easy to answer. But an example might give us a sense of what Aristotle means, and then proceed to discuss the matter at hand, justice as one of the economic forms of Maat.
It is Christmas evening and a family is gathering for a dinner and the table has been set for ten people. Among the popular dishes are five pies, and shortly before the guests arrive, one of the family members has been asked to cut ambashas into exact sizes, such that no single person would feel that he has mistakenly picked one of the smallest pies, in the event that a person picked a piece and it turned out to be the smallest.
The task of the pie cutter is to observe that justice is served and that all the pies are cut evenly and fairly. This is of course an exceedingly difficult task, but justice demands it, and the just cutter must prove the worthiness of her moral action. What must this person do? That is the moral question. Well, at the minimum the person herself must be just in order to perform just action, and in this instance, justice means nothing more than cutting the pieces equally to ones best ability, and that she must do so fairly.
She must cut the pies with a moral imagination and an intuitive mathematical precision, and must pray to the transcendent to make her see justly, and that she is enabled to measure precisely. There is a spiritual dimension to the science of measurement, which could have been simply done with a measuring tape. That possibility, however convenient, is not elegant. She is not going to stand there with to make an effort to be precise, because her intention is to be just and (2) that her eyes are just, or that she prays that they would be. (1) and (2) are the requirements; the rest is left to moral imagination.
She cuts the ambashas, and it turns out that all the pieces appear to be equal, and when the guests arrived, they randomly pick the pieces, and appear to be clearly satisfied. What we have here is a display of justice in the Aristotelian sense, in which justice is defined as an activity that is guided by a measure of equality, and equality itself is manifest in the attempt at being fair to everyone, and in this example, an attempt to be fair to the guests, without their ever knowing that they are being worked on. They judge the event as illuminated by justice, and the event as uplifting. They eat, drink, converse, dance and leave.
Justice presents itself in this event, through the presence of those delicious pies, each of which was a duplicate of the other. Generalizing this to a higher level, what we can say is that any economic form must be guided with justice as an event of doing things fairly and that all the commodities that human beings should want must be distributed with such a standard, the standard of justice as fairness. Given justice as fairness, commodity A can be distributed between persons B and C in such an equitable way that B and C share commodity A by getting the same amount at any time, any place and for a good reason.
Compassion is another feature of Maat; indeed, it is one of the cardinal moral forms for the new moral economy that I am theorizing here. Compassion is to moral economy as greed is to capitalism. One cannot imagine capitalism without the salient principle of greed, and similarly, one cannot imagine moral economy without the originary principle of compassion. Class, race, gender, ethnicity and groups divide the modern world. Out of these divisions it is class division that is the most decisive, as it is also the one that seems to be so natural that we cannot surmount the pain and agony that it produces. In a class-divided world, compassion is the least present because there is no compelling reason that persuades individuals to be compassionate if they are not naturally compassionate, or are inclined toward it. Of course, where compassion is not naturally present, it could be taught either by example or directly through teaching.
An example should elucidate the place of compassion in moral economy. It’s summer, and exhaustingly hot. People that you encounter are hot tempered too. Everybody is on edge, including you. You happen to be a coffee lover, so there you are standing behind a long line of people to get your fix. The heat has made you really impatient, and you are ready to explode on anything around you. You are also naturally generous but not this day. Soon, before you leave the coffee shop, a homeless person smiles at you and tries to engage you in a conversation, hoping that you will understand the purpose of the conversation. Of course you understand, but you ignore him and walk by. But then something bothers you, and you come back to the coffeshop and generously give the man what he wanted. You are proud of yourself, because you have done what generosity demands, that
you control your temper and perform the morally correct action. Surely, you say to yourself it was not easy, but you did it.
Now you wonder what all this means, and why you did it. It is obvious to you why you did the action. Indeed, it is because you are really a compassionate human being but also a religious person. You really have no obligation topay attention to that person. He is not related to you, he is not an ex friend that fortune turned against, nor did you do it so as to be a hero by the media.
Your action is morally worthy only because you have internalized compassion. To you compassion comes quite naturally. It is part of your moral frame. Any repeated action becomes a habit. So compassionate action comes habitually to you. You rarely fight it. Rather, you exuberantly let it lead your way, as it eventually did on that hot and difficult day. But even on that day you conquered the temptation of doubt, and excessive self-love, by the moral force of compassion. That is why you corrected yourself, when you were briefly but powerfully tempted by forgetfulness on that hot day and returned to do the morally right thing.
Compassion is morally compelling when it is extended to a total other, which has nothing to do with our lives, other than the silent duty we have toward those who await our moral attention. It is much easier to be compassionate toward a loved one, a friend, a relative and even an acquaintance; harder is the task when the subject is a real other, such as that homeless person by the coffee shop. In order for any action to be morally worthy the motive must be pure, and the purity is measured by the quality and quantity of the compassion that is extended to any needy human being, uncontaminated by external motives, such as love, friendship, acquaintance and relation.
It is in this particular way that I am arguing that compassion serves Maat.
Tolerance is a crucial feature of moral economy. In fact, it could easily be argued that it is an indispensable organizing principle, which works in tandem with loving kindness. Just as we cannot love a person without respecting her, except delusorily, we cannot live with one another without tolerating each other’s needs, habits, likes and dislikes.
In the economic sphere tolerance is subtly pertinent. We cannot readily sense its inner working unless we pay attention to its musings at the work place, as we interact with one another as bosses and employees.
Consider the following example to underscore the point. There is this employee who does things in ways that many people find annoying. She customarily comes late to work; she procrastinates; she spreads papers, cans and food stuffs all around her sometimes she cannot even find herself amid the dirt, the pile and the dust. Yet, and this is the point, whatever she does is done flawlessly, as flawless as human products could be. Her boss has agonized over what to do with her; he has contemplated firing her numerous times. Lulled by the elegance of her work and his loving-kindness toward her, he decides to keep her. He has promised himself to erase those occasional thoughts of getting rid of her. As he told one of his friends, he has learned, and not very easily, the ways of tolerance as a principle of management, of managing employees who will not and cannot change their habits for the rest of their lives.
I consider this manager very wise and skilled at the art of management. He
decided, obviously because he could change himself as hard as it was, rather than expect his employee to change. The structure of his thoughts could be put syllogistically. Y can change his way / X cannot change easily / Therefore Y must change for the sake of Z.
Y is the manager. X is the annoying employee. Z is the organization where Y and X work. In this situation Z is saved precisely because the manager internalizes tolerance and loving-kindness as the organizing principles of the organization. Y controls his ego and chooses to advance the interests of Z over and against his own private needs. He did not fire X because his ego demands it. Nor does he ever insist that X must change. He has intuitively and empirically concluded that it is not pointless to expect X to change, nor would it benefit Z to lose X, since X is an intelligent and skilled worker.
Where tolerance is habitually practiced at workplaces it becomes an indispensable good that could save many employers the unnecessary cost that is incurred on hiring and firing employees and ease the distress of the families and loved ones of employers and employees. Tolerance can easily remedy the situation. If it is much easier for managers to change than it is for excellent employees with annoying habits, and then it is those who can change their ways who must change for the sake of a functional and democratic moral economy.
Patience is a feature of Maat. The ideal leader as well as the ideal citizen must patiently wait to witness the appearance of the Transcendent. Nothing great is accomplished without a transcendental intervention, the seal of completeness, of Generosity and Justice, two other features of moral economy, as I have argued in previous essays.
Rarely is patience, however, associated with economic forms. Economic forms are founded on seizing the opportunity before it vanishes. The activity is everything but patient. Patience and quick money making are the virtues of capitalism. In that worldview, success is measured by shrewdness, quickness, impatience and opportunism. Whereas patience is undermined by capitalism, the economic form for Maat reveres it. The economic form for the African condition demands it. Without this virtue the disadvantaged citizen of the African continent is doomed, fated to starve and die.
A moral economy, in contrast, when founded on Maat, shares with Maat an ardent belief in-patient waiting, and this is particularly true during times of famine, poverty and loss. Patient waiting is the much-needed virtue that both generosity and justice demand. An example might illuminate the abstraction.
African Economy in country A has been blooming, and the Western world has been hailing it as a model for the future. Country A gets spoiled and its inhabitants shop madly. No commodity is beyond their reach, so they think. Suddenly, all things, with the exception of the Transcendent change, since no condition is permanent. The oil fields drain. The spoils of the economy are distributed unevenly.
The citizens become impatient with country A, which had introduced them to the pangs of luxury, which have now become the pangs of hunger. Friends turn against friends. The shopping frenzy slows down. Their lovers do not love the men anymore. The rate of divorce increases, since the men’s ability to maintain expensive lifestyles are no more.
Patient waiting for better days is not a norm. Loves and friendships founded on comfort, wealth and excessive wealth are not permanent. They flounder as easily as they initially sprawled. Things that last must be built slowly, in the furnace of time, and be sculpted in accordance with the laws of beauty.
Country A is no longer a model of hope, but a model of despair. Uneconomic form that does not institutionalize patient waiting as a way of life digs its grave when conditions change. That is why patient waiting also must be systematically insinuated in the African citizen’s psyche, as an ethics of living, and a stylistics of what I have previously called-existential seriousness. A responsible economic form must inculcate the virtue of patience among its citizens, from early on. This complicated and demanding virtue must be taught at all levels of school. It must be part of economic principles, and be taught as such, and not be pushed to the sidelines, as part of religion and theology, which does not have much to do with morals, and has nothing to do with economics. It is this dogma of capitalist economics that must change.
My argument here is a modest contribution to challenge one of the foundational dogmas of bourgeois economics. The morals must guide economics and a new moral economy that works in concert with moral philosophy and religion is precisely what the African condition requires. More morality, with a distinct religious voice, such as the notion of patient waiting, will strengthen and expand our horizons as we struggle with poverty, famine and other sorrows of modern life.
We need more people who can patiently wait as everything changes, hopeful that no condition is permanent, including the conditions of nations, when their economies get distorted and the citizens are hardened and become cruel towards one another, and that the notion of helping your fellow citizens sounds indeed very
strange, to those who are comfortable. Instead, during trying times, citizens do not patiently wait for things to change; instead, they give up altogether, or become irreligious and immoral. It is in this way that patient waiting, I argue, becomes one of the pillars of moral economy, one of the features of Maat, along with generosity and justice, which I examined in previous essays.
Justice is one of the features of Maat and it is also a potential source of a Moral Economy, appropriate for the African condition. As Aristotle taught, one does not become just merely by abstractly knowing what Justice is; rather, one becomes just by doing just things. The puzzling question is this: if one does not know what justice is then how can she know what just things are, so that she could choose only just things and not others? The question is not easy to answer. But an example might give us a sense of what Aristotle means, and then proceed to discuss the matter at hand, justice as one of the economic forms of Maat.
It is Christmas evening and a family is gathering for a dinner and the table had been set for ten people. Among the popular dishes are five ambashas, and shortly before the guests arrive, one of the family members has been asked to cut the Ambashas (bread) into exact sizes, such that no single person would feel that he has mistakenly picked one of the smallest pies, in the event that a person picked a piece and it turned out to be the smallest.
The task of the ambasha cutter was to observe that justice is served and that all the ambashas are cut evenly and fairly. This is of course an exceedingly difficult task, but justice demands it, and the just cutter must prove the worthiness of her moral action. What must this person do? That is the moral question. Well, at the minimum the person herself must be just in order to perform just action, and in this instance, justice means nothing more than cutting the pieces equally to ones best ability.
She must cut the pies with a moral imagination and an intuitive mathematical precision, and must pray to the transcendent to make her see justly, and that she is enabled to measure precisely. There is a spiritual dimension to the science of measurement, which could have been simply done with a measuring rope. That possibility, however, convenient, is not elegant. She is not going to stand there with a ruler to cut pies. Rather, the expectations are two, that (1) She is going to make an effort to be precise, because her intention is to be just and (2) that her eyes are just, or that she prays that they would be. (1) and (2) are the
requirements; the rest is left to moral imagination.
She cut the pies, and it turned out that, all the pieces appeared to be equal, and when the guests arrived, they randomly picked the pieces, and appeared to be clearly satisfied. What we have here is a display of justice in the Aristotelian sense, in which justice is defined as an activity that is guided by a measure of equality, and equality itself is manifest in the attempt at being fair to everyone, and in this example, an attempt to be fair to the guests, without they ever knowing that they are being worked on. They judge the event as illuminated by justice, and the event as uplifting. They ate, drunk, conversed, danced and left.
Justice presented itself in this event, through the presence of those delicious pies, each of which was a duplicate of the other.
Generalizing this to a higher level, what we can say is that any economic form must be guided with justice as an event of doing things fairly and that all the commodities that human beings should want must be distributed with such a standard, the standard of justice as fairness. Given justice as fairness, commodity A can be distributed between persons B and C, in such an equitable way, that B and C share commodity A by getting the same amount at any time, any place and for a good reason.
The celebrated moral features of Maat are generosity, justice, uprightness,
tolerance and loving patience. Indeed, these are demanding virtues that capitalism , as the dominant economic form cannot support, no matter how diligently it tries. Adam Smith, the world famous economist, but who was also a moral philosopher, did argue that unless capitalism is restrained by morality, as a limiting condition of greed and superfluity, it would eat itself up. To that effect, he developed an elaborate moral theory comprising of what he called “moral sentiments” to control the excesses of the market. He proposed compassion and sociality as two powerful moral sentiments that could regulate the excesses of the market. The moral sentiment, he thought, could counter the purely instrumental features of the capitalist economic form. Of course, to this day, his warning of an inevitable doom has yet to be heeded, and capitalism itself continues to marvel its resiliency to create crises and immediately correct them, thereby proving its “naturalness” and making it easy for its proponents to present it to the world as a God chosen economic form. Any attempt to counter it with something like Maat is dismissed as a pipe dream. No body in her right mind is expected to take Maat seriously. And the fact the geographical origin of Maat is an African civilization, conveniently results in dismissing Maat as irrelevant and wishful thinking.
Maat as a moral form is considerably deeper than the passing moral sentiments that the Scottish moral philosopher proposed. Generosity, justice, uprightness, tolerance, wisdom and loving patience go directly against our natural proclivity of injustice, dishonesty, intolerance, closedmindness, ignorance and hate. These vices seem to fit the ready to hand tapestry of our makeup, which by now has become, so second nature that no Maat is going to dissemble these powerful vices which were effectively used to build empires and economic forms that support the visions of the rich and powerful. In contemporary life revitalizing the features of Maat requires nothing less than manufacturing a new human being.
We must create new human beings, human beings who have to be willing and capable of acting generously, patiently, tolerantly and lovingly. We do not have such human beings in sufficient numbers that matter to construct an economic form that values justice, uprightness, wisdom, tolerance and loving patience.
Taking the virtues singly, the following picture emerges. Let us begin with
generosity. Generosity is a virtue. It is a virtue that is willing to give without
receiving, or is willing to give without the deliberate intent of receiving anything, or that the receiving is only an accident, and not an intentional act. The generous person then gives a particular good A to person B; and person B does not simply receive A as a matter of course. B receives A with a profound respec to of the giver, and even plans, if she can, to one day reciprocate not in the same way, but in some way. The reciprocity need not be of equal goods. A and B need not be two equal goods, in which equality is measured by money. What makes the act morally compelling is the desire to reciprocate, and not the quantity of the reciprocity.
One of the economic forms of Maat, as illustrated above, is a vision of the self as generous, and generosity itself does not require a calculated practice of reciprocity but simply the desire and the commitment to give when one can, and sometimes, to give A to B, although A has to sacrifice good C for the sake of giving A to B, even when one cannot, and perhaps should not, and yet the generous gives nevertheless. One of the central pillars of Maat as an economic form is the cultivation of a human self willing and capable of acting generously in the relational moral regime of giving and receiving, or simply giving without receiving, or receiving with a profound sense of gratitude and respect .
Individuals who embody maat’s principles must lead the new Ethiopia. All our infrastructures must be infused by these principles. Our schools and work places must nurture Ethiopians who can practice the above features. While we are fighting for regime change , we must in our private lives and public spaces embark on this foundational cultural transformation, as I have repeatedly argued in the pages of all our websites.
I am calling for again, an act of the practice of the self and the activation of the collective Ethiopian soul. Nothing short of the originary change can give us the radical democratic change, which we are yearning.
Regime change must correspond to cultural change, otherwise the New Ethiopia will not be any different from the one, which we are despairing to change.
The new regime has to be a cultural transformer and system builder. Every facet of Ethiopian life has to be guided by matt, a cultural transformer and vision giver. We have to make maat our very own and appropriate her principles of justice.
There is a good news coming out of the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress. Doug Bandow of Forbes Magazine reports that Congress is cutting foreign “aid” by 41 percent this year. This a great news for the people of Ethiopia and other countries who are suffering under U.S.-financed brutal dictators. For the dictators themselves, however, it is a major blow. The good people of United States are allowing their government to hand out money to other countries out of kindness, but Americans need to understand that their hard earned money is being used by the U.S. diplomats to prop up blood thirsty dictators who are using the money to brutalize their people. See here what the U.S-backed regime in Ethiopia is doing to women and children [click here]. There are tens of thousands of similar cases of atrocities that have been committed by the U.S. puppet in Africa, Meles Zenawi. Thank You, Republicans! Shame on you, Obama and Hillary Clinton for proposing $580 million in assistance for Ethiopia’s genocidal tyrant in 2011!
Foreign Aid, Or Foreign Hindrance
By Doug Bandow | Forbes.com
The federal budget deficit will run a record $1.65 trillion in 2011. So why does Washington continue to subsidize foreign governments?
The House Republicans appear determined to reduce spending, and one of their targets is foreign “aid.” This year the State Department would lose 16% of its budget; humanitarian aid would drop by 41 percent.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warns of catastrophe: “Cuts of this magnitude will be devastating to our national security, will render us unable to respond to unanticipated disasters and will damage our leadership around the world.”
She cited the recent political upheaval in Egypt: “We need the resources to do the job; otherwise we will pay a higher price later in crises that are allowed to simmer and boil over into conflicts.” She also pointed to work in Afghanistan and Iraq to argue that the proposed reductions would be “detrimental to America’s security.”
Even some conservatives stand with Secretary Clinton on this issue. For instance, Jennifer Rubin, the Washington Post’s in-house blogger on the right, termed Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) a “neo-isolationist” for proposing to cut what amounts to international welfare.
But despite Secretary Clinton’s extravagant claims, there is little evidence that foreign assistance advances U.S. interests. After all, if America writing checks — more than a trillion dollars worth since the end of World War II — made the world a better place, the globe should be at peace, the poor should be fed, and the Second Coming should be history.
Consider Egypt. Secretary Clinton argued that events in Egypt require Americans to subsidize the new military rulers. For what purpose? The U.S. provided some $30 billion to Egypt over the last three decades but the country remains poor and undemocratic. Indeed, underwriting the corrupt Mubarak dictatorship helped turn Egypt into popular volcano.
The Obama administration has proposed spending $8.7 billion in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq next year. Yet the results of assistance programs in these three nations are no better than in Egypt.
Pakistan has been on the U.S. dole for decades. Tom Wright of the Wall Street Journal reported last month: “The ambitious civilian aid program is intended in part to bolster support for the U.S. in the volatile and strategically vital nation. But a host of problems on the ground are hampering the initiative.”
The problems run deep. Alejandro Quiro Flores and Alastair Smith of New York University charged that “The aid dynamic is similar to that of Pakistan’s war against insurgents: as long as the United States is willing to pay Pakistan ever more to eradicate extremists, Pakistan will not decisively defeat them; the graft that counterterrorism aid brings outweighs the political cost of some continuing violence.”
The waste, inefficiency, and corruption surrounding humanitarian projects in Afghanistan and Iraq are legendary. It doesn’t matter if these conflicts are perceived as getting better or worse. Aid officials will always advocate an increase in funding because the situation is getting better or worse.
At least there is a security argument for trying to buttress allied governments in war. What of the $27 billion in so-called development assistance requested for next year? Since the end of World War II the U.S. and other wealthy nations have spent trillions of dollars trying to raise poor nations out of poverty. These outlays have had no discernible impact on Third World economic growth.
No doubt some projects in some countries have provided some benefits. But the detritus of failed development projects litter the globe. Detailed cross-national studies find neither correlation nor causation between aid and growth. Indeed, generous financial transfers to corrupt dictators often have impeded necessary reforms. Political elites in foreign countries disagree on many things, but all want to preserve their power and position. Observed Flores and Smith: “Autocratic governments’ disregard for public welfare is exacerbated by international relief assistance.”
After decades of failure aid advocates claim they now are doing better. President George W. Bush created the Millennium Challenge Corporation to reward governments with good policies. The MCC currently is running $7.2 billion worth of multi-year programs in 20 countries. Yet, reported the Washington Times last August, the agency: “is giving billions of dollars to nations upbraided by the State Department for corruption in government.”
Of Senegal, observed J.P. Pham of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy: “We have a government that did everything right, up until they got themselves into the queue to get a grant from MCC. They know the metrics [on corruption] will lag by a few years.” Senegal once was considered a democratic and economic “leader in West Africa,” said former deputy assistant secretary of state Todd Moss, but “What we’ve seen is a very steep and worrying decline in the last couple of years.”
The World Bank also has emphasized better governance. Yet, reported Mary Anastasia O’Grady of the Wall Street Journal: “In the midst of the financial turmoil that rocked the international capital markets …, the World Bank proudly announced a new $250 million ‘assistance package’ for [El Salvador]. A few months later a scandal erupted over why a similar amount of money was never accounted for on the government’s books.”
Aid incentives are all wrong. Observed Tate Watkins of the Mercatus Center: “Systematic foreign aid creates opportunities for corruption, cultures of dependency, and disincentives to development. The aid faucet misaligns incentives between donors and recipients, making it extremely difficult to turn off the flow.”
Even money targeted at humanitarian needs has a disappointing record. Disasters like the earthquake in Haiti typically open the aid spigots. To what result? Six months later in Haiti, reported the Wall Street Journal, “the process of reconstruction appears to have come to a halt.”
Aid groups acknowledge that progress has been limited at best. Reported the Washington Post: “The effectiveness of the NGOs is now being questioned, by the groups themselves, and especially by Haitian leaders who complain that NGOs have become a parallel government hobbled by poor coordination, high turnover and a lack of transparency.”
At times assistance programs have been perversely harmful. U.S. “Food for Peace” shipments, used to dump farmers’ domestic surpluses, is notorious for ruining local farmers and thus undermining local production. This problem continues in Haiti. On returning from a private aid mission, Don Slesnick, the mayor of Coral Gables, Florida, complained: “We were saddened to see rice bags travel no more than 20 yards from the gates of the distribution site before ending up in the back of a pickup truck presumably headed for the black market. To our further dismay, we returned home to read news stories that those very same donations were undercutting Haitian rice farmers who needed income to support their own families.”
Ethiopia is the largest aid recipient in Africa. Unfortunately, reported Tom Porteous, the London Director of Human Rights Watch: “multi-billion dollar programs funded by the World Bank and others have been politicized and manipulated by the Ethiopian government and are used as a powerful tool of political control and repression.”
Worse is Somalia. Even the United Nations gives aid in this tragic nation a failing grade. Reported the New York Times last year: “As much as half the food aid sent to Somalia is diverted from needy people to a web of corrupt contractors, radical Islamist militants and local United Nations staff members, according to a new Security Council report.”
It’s déjà vu all over again, as Yogi Berra observed. Two decades ago President George H. W. Bush intervened in Somalia to help deliver food. Michael Maren worked with private organizations and later concluded: “Separately we’d arrived at the conclusion that the relief program was probably killing as many people as it was saving, and the net result was that Somali soldiers were supplementing their income by selling food, while the [insurgent force] — often indistinguishable from the army — was using the food as rations to fuel their attacks into Ethiopia.”
Government should get out of the aid business. There are limited instances when financial transfers might supplement or even substitute for defense expenditures, but the Cold War is over. The U.S. is the sole superpower and faces no global rival.
Most of America’s allies, including regional powers Israel and Turkey, should have graduated from U.S. assistance years ago. Most Third World nations are tangential at best to American security. The more than $5 billion annually to support foreign arms sales is largely a subsidy for U.S. weapons producers.
While it’s hard to criticize humanitarian aid properly delivered, private money spent by private organizations is the best way to help those in need around the world. Any assistance from Washington should be focused on temporary disasters where the U.S. government has unique logistical advantages—such as using an otherwise unemployed aircraft carrier to assist tsunami victims.
As for development assistance, American officials should focus on accelerating economic growth in America and easing access of other nations to the international marketplace. That means reducing trade barriers.
For instance, the U.S. limits sugar imports from Caribbean. Pakistanis would benefit far more from lower textile tariffs than from additional subsidies to their ineffective government. One of the most important roadblocks to international trade liberalization is American and European agricultural subsidies.
Despite this abysmal record, the Obama administration is resisting cuts in domestic “foreign aid” programs, has contributed to increased World Bank outlays, and joined other industrialized nations in calling for more International Monetary Fund lending.
Secretary Clinton should listen to her own rhetoric: “It’s time for a new mindset for a new century. Time to retire old debates and replace dogmatic attitudes with clear reasoning and common sense.”
One of those dogmatic attitudes is assuming that foreign “aid” really acts as assistance rather than hindrance. For too long aid advocates have camouflaged program failures with platitudes: aid is used to “maintain American leadership around the globe,” “invest in global development,” and demonstrate that America is “paying attention” to other countries. However, leadership means husbanding resources, setting priorities, and acknowledging limitations. Development requires good policies, not international welfare. Attention is worth paying for only if it yields positive results.
Washington should stop throwing good money after bad even if we were living in bountiful economic times. With the country drowning in red ink, Washington must cut every unnecessary program. Misnamed foreign aid is a good place to start.
By Yilma Bekele
They say ‘in any relationship, if one party wants a change, that party needs to instigate change.’ The Tunisian people felt change was necessary. The Egyptian people agreed. The Libyans, Yemenis, Algerians, Bahrinians and the Iranians are in the process of adapting the Tunisian model.
They wanted change because hopelessness and apathy were becoming the hallmark of the society their crude leaders were building. Today is like yesterday and tomorrow will be more of the same. They felt that is no way to build a country. They felt change was in order.
Ben Ali of Tunisia abused his people for over twenty years while Mubarak lingered around for thirty years. They both used the formidable power of the state for coercion. Both have no qualms about killing, jailing, bankrupting, exiling those they deemed a threat. As usual the difference between one dictator and another is in the degrees of their insanity and selfishness. If you notice both did not have any problem about sacrificing their close friends when the going got tough.
The Tunisians got the ball rolling. They had a lot of help. The rich experience of the Serbian youth movement called ‘Otpor’ with contribution from the ‘Academy of Change’ from Egypt was instrumental in the Tunisian victory. Their elegant design was based on the teachings of Gandhi, MLK and a generous dose of Gene Sharp.
The Egyptians were relentless in their pursuit of freedom. The chaotic situation we witnessed on television was a well-choreographed play directed behind the scene. The youth leaders were simple and clear on their demands. The ouster of the dictator was the core of their demands. As usual the dictator tried to pacify by promising to loosen his grip. Too little too late should be inscribed on his gravestone. He tried every trick in the book to deflect attention away from his failures. No stone was left unturned to find a way out of this calamity. He dusted old tricks from the attic, borrowed some from fellow tyrants, went along with enablers advice, invented a few himself but nothing seems to work this time.
Two lessons stand out when we look at the ‘uprising’ in both countries. Galvanizing the ‘youth’ was key. Their perseverance when faced by supposedly formidable coercive state power was vital. The fact that the leaders of the movement were those in their thirties was refreshing and a game changer. Both Ben Ali and Mubarak are incapable of understanding the fury of the youth. They were confused and unable to process the information that their subjects were rejecting them and have learnt the language of saying ‘No’ and ‘Enough’.
As an Ethiopian I was awe struck. I laughed at the obstinate Mubarak acting belligerent as he was un robed in public, I cried for those that lost their life for their country, I was filled with joy when I witnessed the raw hunger for freedom and dignity and I fantasized about the tsunami hitting my home land. The last two months have stirred our passion for freedom and self-determination.
So when is ‘people power’ scheduled to arrive in East Africa is a good question. The short answer is now. The freedom train is now boarding. It is up to each individual to board or not. The train will leave soon with or without any one of us. This train requires no fossil fuel. This train runs on raw human energy. It is the ultimate ‘green energy’ train. It is renewable, sustainable and abundant. Our freedom train is equipped with a large sweep in front of it. It sweeps tyrants, dictators and bullies out of sight.
Freedom train is coming to Ethiopia. This is the third appearance of the train in our country. We allowed some undesirable elements to board the last two times. They were able to contaminate the train with their toxic presence and hijack our precious cargo. Our train was derailed.
The Tunisians and Egyptians developed a new vaccine to overcome Fear. Fear is what paralyzes us. Fear is our number one enemy. We spend too much time trying to design a perfect plan. Fear compels us to fret about the little details even before we take the firs step. We worry about the so-called lack of unity, we stress regarding the absence of a strong leader, we exaggerate the might of the enemy and we freeze with a sack full of uncertainty. Fear is our number one enemy.
Did you notice how centralized power was in both Tunisia and Egypt? Did you see both were one man shows? Does this kind of arrangement ring a bell? When we said Meles’s Ethiopia was a one man show people doubted us. Tunisia and Egypt proved dictatorship is a solo affair. You slay the head and the body flails around. The yes people, the sycophants and the spineless around the tyrant burn away like the morning dew.
Today we got a reversal of circumstances. Ato Meles is the one in FEAR. He is the one unable to sleep. The last two months have been a time of round the clock meetings with his fellow criminals. Like Ben Ali and Mubarak he has been pouring over plans on how to instill more fear on his people. He has been working over time to transfer his overwhelming and paralyzing fear on to us. He has sent his Kebele tugs to warn mothers about the fate of their children if they dare to emulate Tunisia or Egypt and now Libya. He has indicated that snipers are stationed on top of every building and his Agazi force is deployed in every intersection. He has promised salary increases. He has invested on more technology to block our ESAT transmission, switched off the Internet and directed his agents in the Diaspora to shout louder and create confusion. He is a picture of a cornered rat.
What is clear is that internally weak regimes like Woyane do not become passive and tolerant when confronted but rather turn to proven method of belligerency. Notice Ben Ali killed a few, Mubarak sent hired tugs and the Monarchs of Bahrain went to the extreme to preserve their lifestyle and ultimately their neck and today tyrant Gaddafi has upped the ante by using helicopters and fighter jets against his own people.
Our tyrant who is in the same league as Gaddafi will not leave silently. Our little tyrant got lots of issues hanging around his neck. Our tyrant has spilled blood. His 2005 murder was duly noted by judge Woldemichael Meshesha. His ruthless act in the Ogaden has been complied and preserved by Human Right Watch. His massacre in Gambella will never be forgotten thanks to my friend Obang.
So one might ask what next? How do we get out of this nightmare? Let us just agree our leader for life does not have any incentive to leave gracefully. On the other hand the society he has built is not sustainable nor is it desirable. Twenty years have proven he is not capable of building a just and free society. No matter what yardstick one uses to measure progress his attempt has been an abject failure. Twenty years into his leadership we are still confronted with over two million in imminent starvation, double digits of unemployment and runaway inflation. The only accomplishment the TPLF regime boasts of is real estate development, even that is the result of Diaspora investment not home grown achievement.
What is needed today is a day, a week, and a month of ‘rage’ against Woyane brutality. Who better to do that than our young ones? Who better to lead us than our young and smart children? Our young people have a glorious history to fall back on. The young people of Ethiopia have always been instruments of change. I know the shoes left behind by the University and high school students of the 60’s and 70’s is hard to fill.
Despite the over forty years of anarchy and destruction our youth have stayed focused. Their strength is displayed all around us. The fact they have survived against all odds despite Woyane bullying is testimonial to their resiliency. All you have to do is look at those that have stayed at home. They wake up everyday in that hostile and hopeless Woyane environment but still manage to eek out a living. They leave no stone unturned in their attempt to make sense of a life that shows no promise of a better tomorrow.
We should also celebrate the determination of those that leave their family and their country to find a better life. How could we forget those that cross the shark infested waters to reach Yemen or those that drown in the process? We will always remember those that cross our frontiers in their trek to unknown destinations. They cross the jungles of Africa, find a miraculous way to fly to South America and cross the US borders by foot, containers trucks and any means to find a better life. Our young ones have been tested by Woyane caused calamity and emerged stronger and wiser.
It is part of Woyane strategy to marginalize the youth by subscribing and encouraging a culture of apathy. The rise in consumption of Khat, a known narcotic and importation of degenerate culture is part of Woyane’s plan to contaminate our culture and identity. The Ethiopian youth have to overcome that. Rest assured our young ones are strong. Twenty years of organized propaganda to belittle our history, revise our glorious past, turn one ethnic against another have fallen on deaf ears.
Those of us in the Diaspora will continue our cry on behalf of our people that are silenced by the illegal regime. We will march, sign petitions, contribute money and work with Senators and Representatives to force the terrorist regime to relinquish power peacefully.
We urge the opposition to refrain from unilateral negotiations with the illegal regime. We want to put the opposition on notice that listening to the foreign diplomats and sitting down with the murderer regime is not part of our strategy to get rid of this cancer imposed on us. If the opposition wants to be included in this journey of liberation we are embarking, we hope they will read the heartbeat of our people and include the young people in their delebrations. If the opposition party’s want respect from us then we expect that they will keep in mind that our respect is earned. It is not a right but a privilege. We hope the debacle of unilateral action like the recent election will not be repeated.
We are certain Ato Meles will follow the footsteps of Gaddafi and unleash unprecedented terror on our people. He will use ethnic divide, religious divide any and all divisive issues to confuse and set us up against each other. We are hopeful that we have learned a lesson from our mistakes in the past and refrain from cannibalizing each other but rather aim our collective fury at the evil regime.
Yes we can, yes we will Ethiopia will be free, that no one can change.
Listen to the death threat in the audio clip below to understand how members and supporters of the genocidal tyrant in Ethiopia are filled with fear of an imminent uprising. Nothing has started yet but they are already having a meltdown.
A South African news site, Business Day, is reporting that among the mercenaries who are shooting at Libyan protesters are troops who have been sent to Libya by Ethiopia’s tyrant Meles Zenawi for training.
Meles Zenawi has a mercenary force known as “Agazi” that is trained to indiscriminately shoot at civilians, as witnessed in June and November 2005.
Several members of Libya’s mission to the United Nation, including the deputy ambassador, have today called on Gaddafi to resign. They also appealed to the U.N. to take action to prevent genocide by Gaddafi’s mercenary forces. When the imminent uprising in Ethiopia starts, will the Meles regime’s top diplomat at the U.N., Tekeda Alemu, take a similar action. He has no choice if he wishes to redeem himself. Otherwise, he will have the blood of Ethiopians on his hand and he will be hunted down for the rest of his life. The same message goes to all ambassadors around the world who are representing the ethnic apartheid regime in Ethiopia.
* Libya’s ambassadors at the United Nations are calling for leader Moammar Gaddafi to step down as the country’s ruler. Deputy Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi said on Monday that if Gaddafi does not relinquish power, “the Libyan people will get rid of him.” Dabbashi urged the international community to impose a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent mercenaries, weapons and other supplies from reaching Gaddafi and his security forces. – NDTV
* Two high-ranking Libyan air force pilots have who fled to Malta in their aircraft are reported to have told officials they escaped rather than carry out orders to bomb civilians. The officers defected as Libyan diplomats in several countries and international organisations resigned in protest at the regime’s violent response to the deepening crisis. They included Muammar Gaddafi’s ambassadors to China, India, Indonesia and Poland, as well as Libya’s representative to the Arab League and most, if not all, of its mission at the United Nations. – Guardian.com.uk
* Libyan city of Misratah, east of Tripoli, is latest to be attacked by airstrikes. Heavy artillery fire devastates buildings as tanks roll into the city, witnesses say. – Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera TV is reporting that military aircraft fired live ammunition at crowds of anti-government protesters in Libya’s capital Tripoli today. Some Libyan air force pilot landed their fighter jets in Malta and told authorities that they are defecting because they are not willing to fire at their own people.
* Hundreds of Libyans stormed a South Korean-operated construction site near the Libyan capital Tripoli on Monday, wounding 17 and causing a stand-off between police and rioters, the South Korean Foreign Ministry said. About 500 rioters raided the site 30 kilometers (18 miles) from Tripoli, the ministry said. – CNN
* Members of a Libyan Army unit told Benghazi residents on Sunday they had defected and “liberated” Libya’s second city from troops supporting veteran leader Muammar Qaddafi.
* Output at one of Libya’s oil fields was reported to have been stopped by a workers’ strike and some European oil companies withdrew expatriate workers and suspended operations. Most of Libya’s oil fields are in the east, south of Benghazi. – Reuters
* In signs of disagreement inside Libya’s ruling elite, the justice minister resigned in protest at the “excessive use of violence” against protesters. In India, Libya’s ambassador said he was resigning in protest at the violent crackdown.
* An international coalition of 70 rights groups today urged world powers and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to suspend Libya from its membership on the UN Human Rights Council, and to convene the UN Security Council to protect Libyan civilians from “crimes against humanity.” (See full text below)
Signatories include UN Watch, a Geneva human rights organization, the U.S.-based National Endowment for Democracy, and Physicians for Human Rights, as well as 67 other groups from South Africa, Switzerland, India, Liberia, Italy, Mali, Nigeria, Germany, Pakistan, Sudan, Venezuela, Somalia, Thailand, the United Kingdom and elsewhere.
The joint statement says that the widespread atrocities committed by Libya against its own people are “particularly odious” actions that amount to “crimes against humanity,” requiring member states to take action through the Security Council under the responsibility to protect doctrine. The letter was sent today to UN chief Ban Ki-moon; EU foreign minister Catherine Ashton; the Security Council representatives from the US, France, and the UK; and to the Human Rights Council delegates from the US and Hungary, which chairs the European Union.
The appeal calls for an emergency session of the Human Rights Council to suspend Libya’s membership, and to dispatch an urgent fact-finding team to the country.
“The muted response of the US and the EU to the Libyan atrocities is not only a let-down to the many Libyans risking their lives for freedom, but a shirking of their obligations, as members of the Security Council and the Human Rights Council, to protect peace and human rights, and to prevent war crimes,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, and an international lawyer who represents Libyan torture victims.
“Baroness Ashton’s call for Libyan forces to exercise ‘restraint’ is entirely inappropriate. We’re dealing with the deliberate murder and massacre of hundreds of peaceful protesters. By signaling diplomatic caution in the face of a bloodbath — instead of urgency and action — the EU is failing the victims. It’s time for basic human rights to come before oil,” said Neuer.
“The EU should also urge the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross to send urgently-needed medical supplies into Libya, particularly for hospitals in Benghazi. Ashton should attempt to visit Libya after her trip to Cairo tomorrow.” Attempts were made from Egypt to send urgent medical supplies to Libya, but the international community needs to step in, said Neuer.
In addition to the 70 NGOs, the letter was endorsed by Dr. Frene Ginwala, former Speaker of the South African National Assembly, philosopher Francis Fukuyama, and Mohamed Eljahmi, a Libyan human rights activist.
Urgent Appeal to Stop Atrocities in Libya
Sent by 70 NGOs to the US, EU, and UN, 21 February 2011
We, the undersigned non-governmental, human rights, and humanitarian organizations, urge you to mobilize the United Nations and the international community and take immediate action to halt the mass atrocities now being perpetrated by the Libyan government against its own people. The inexcusable silence cannot continue.
As you know, in the past several days, Colonel Moammar Gadhafi’s forces are estimated to have deliberately killed hundreds of peaceful protesters and innocent bystanders across the country. In the city of Benghazi alone, one doctor reported seeing at least 200 dead bodies. Witnesses report that a mixture of special commandos, foreign mercenaries and regime loyalists have attacked demonstrators with knives, assault rifles and heavy-caliber weapons.
Snipers are shooting peaceful protesters. Artillery and helicopter gunships have been used against crowds of demonstrators. Thugs armed with hammers and swords attacked families in their homes. Hospital officials report numerous victims shot in the head and chest, and one struck on the head by an anti-aircraft missile. Tanks are reported to be on the streets and crushing innocent bystanders. Witnesses report that mercenaries are shooting indiscriminately from helicopters and from the top of roofs. Women and children were seen jumping off Giuliana Bridge in Benghazi to escape. Many of them were killed by the impact of hitting the water, while others were drowned. The Libyan regime is seeking to hide all of these crimes by shutting off contact with the outside world. Foreign journalists have been refused entry. Internet and phone lines have been cut or disrupted.
There is no question here about intent. The government media has published open threats, promising that demonstrators would meet a “violent and thunderous response.”
Accordingly, the government of Libya is committing gross and systematic violations of the right to life as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Citizens seeking to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are being massacred by the government.
Moreover, the government of Libya is committing crimes against humanity, as defined by the Explanatory Memorandum to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The Libyan government’s mass killing of innocent civilians amount to particularly odious offences which constitute a serious attack on human dignity. As confirmed by numerous oral and video testimonies gathered by human rights organizations and news agencies, the Libyan government’s assault on its civilian population are not isolated or sporadic events. Rather, these actions constitute a widespread and systematic policy and practice of atrocities, intentionally committed, including murder, political persecution and other inhumane acts which reach the threshold of crimes against humanity.
Responsibility to Protect
Under the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document, you have a clear and unambiguous responsibility to protect the people of Libya. The international community, through the United Nations, has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help to protect the Libyan population. Because the Libyan national authorities are manifestly failing to protect their population from crimes against humanity, should peaceful means be inadequate, member states are obliged to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the UN Charter, including Chapter VII.
In addition, we urge you to convene an emergency Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council, whose members have a duty, under UNGA Resolution 60/251, to address situations of gross and systematic violations of violations of human rights. The session should:
Call for the General Assembly to suspend Libya’s Council membership, pursuant to Article 8 of Resolution 60/251, which applies to member states that commit gross and systematic violations of human rights.
Strongly condemn, and demand an immediate end to, Libya’s massacre of its own citizens.
Dispatch immediately an international mission of independent experts to collect relevant facts and document violations of international human rights law and crimes against humanity, in order to end the impunity of the Libyan government. The mission should include an independent medical investigation into the deaths, and an investigation of the unlawful interference by the Libyan government with the access to and treatment of wounded.
Call on the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights and the Council’s relevant Special Procedures to closely monitor the situation and take action as needed.
Call on the Council to remain seized of the matter and address the Libyan situation at its upcoming 16th regular session in March.
Member states and high officials of the United Nations have a responsibility to protect the people of Libya from what are preventable crimes. We urge you to use all available measures and levers to end atrocities throughout the country.
We urge you to send a clear message that, collectively, the international community, the Security Council and the Human Rights Council will not be bystanders to these mass atrocities. The credibility of the United Nations — and many innocent lives — are at stake.
1. Hillel C. Neuer, United Nations Watch, Switzerland
2. Dr. Sliman Bouchuiguir, Libyan League for Human Rights, Switzerland
3. Mary Kay Stratis, Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, Inc., USA
4. Carl Gershman, President, The National Endowment for Democracy, USA
5. Yang Jianli, Initiatives for China, USA – Former prisoner of conscience and survivor of Tiananmen Square massacre
6. Yang Kuanxing, YIbao – Chinese writer, original signatory to Charter 08, the manifesto calling for political reform in China
7. Matteo Mecacci, MP, Nonviolent Radical Party, Italy
8. Frank Donaghue, Physicians for Human Rights, USA
9. Nazanin Afshin-Jam, President and Co Founder of Stop Child Executions, Canada
10. Bhawani Shanker Kusum, Gram Bharati Samiti, India
11. G. Jasper Cummeh, III, Actions for Genuine Democratic Alternatives, Liberia
12. Michel Monod, International Fellowship of Reconciliation, Switzerland
13. Esohe Aghatise, Associazione Iroko Onlus, Italy
14. Harris O. Schoenberg, UN Reform Advocates, USA
15. Myrna Lachenal, World Federation for Mental Health, Switzerland
16. Nguyên Lê Nhân Quyên, Vietnamese League for Human Rights, Switzerland
17. Sylvia G. Iriondo, Mothers and Women against Repression (M.A.R. Por Cuba), USA
18. David Littman, World Union for Progressive Judaism, Switzerland
19. Barrister Festus Okoye, Executive Director, Human Rights Monitor, Nigeria
20. Theodor Rathgeber, Forum Human Rights, Germany
21. Derik Uya Alfred, Kwoto Cultural Center, Juba – Southern Sudan
22. Carlos E Tinoco, Consorcio Desarrollo y Justicia, A.C., Venezuela
23. Abdurashid Abdulle Abikar, Center for Youth and Democracy, Somalia
24. Dr. Vanee Meisinger, Pan Pacific and South East Asia Women’s Association, Thailand
25. Simone Abel, René Cassin, United Kingdom
26. Dr. Francois Ullmann, Ingenieurs du Monde, Switzerland
27. Sr Catherine Waters, Catholic International Education Office, USA
28. Gibreil Hamid, Darfur Peace and Development Centre, Switzerland
29. Nino Sergi, INTERSOS – Humanitarian Aid Organization, Italy
30. Daniel Feng, Foundation for China in the 21st Century
31. Ann Buwalda, Executive Director, Jubilee Campaign, USA
32. Leo Igwe, Nigerian Humanist Movement, Nigeria
33. Chandika Gautam, Member, Nepal International Consumers Union, Nepal
34. Zohra Yusuf, Council Member, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Pakistan
35. Sekou Doumbia, Femmes & Droits Humains, Mali
36. Cyrille Rolande Bechon, Executive Directror, Nouveaux Droits de l’Homme, Cameroon
37. Dr Frene Ginwala, Former Speaker, South Africa’s First democratically elected National Assembly
38. Valnora Edwin, National Coordinator, Campaign for Good Governance, Sierra Leone
39. Patrick Mpedzisi, African Democracy Forum, South Africa
40. Phil ya Nangoloh, NamRights, Namibia
41. Jaime Vintimilla, Centro Sobre Derecho y Sociedad (CIDES), Ecuador
42. Tilder Kumichii Ndichia, Gender Empowerment and Development, Cameroon
43. Amina Bouayach, Moroccan Organisation for Human Rights, Morocco
44. Abdullahi Mohamoud Nur, CEPID-Horn Africa, Somalia
45. Delly Mawazo Sesete, Resarch Center on Environment, Democracy & Human Rights, DR Congo
46. Joseph Rahall, Green Scenery, Sierra Leone
47. Arnold Djuma, Solidarité pour la Promotion Sociale et la Paix, Rwanda
48. Panayote Dimitras, Greek Helsinki Monitor, Greece
49. Carlos E. Ponce, Latina American and Caribbean Network for Democracy, Venezuela
50. Fr. Paul Lansu, Pax Christi International, Belgium
51. Tharsika Pakeerathan, Swiss Council of Eelam Tamils, Switzerland
52. Ibrahima Niang, Commission des Droits Humains du Mouvement Citoyen, Senegal
53. Virginia Swain, Center for Global Community and World Law, USA
54. Dr Yael Danieli, International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, USA
55. Savita Gokhale, Loksadhana, India
56. Hasan Dheeree, Biland Awdal Organization, Somalia
57. Pacifique Nininahazwe, Forum pour le Renforcement de la Société Civile, Burundi
58. Derik Uya Alfred, Kwoto Cultural Center, Southern Sudan
59. Michel Golubnichy, International Association of Peace Foundations, Russia
60. Edward Ladu Terso, Multi Media Training Center, South Sudan
61. Hafiz Mohammed, Justice Africa Sudan, Sudan
62. Sammy Eppel, B’nai B’rith Human Rights Commission, Venezuela
63. Jack Jeffery, International Humanist and Ethical Union, United Kingdom
64. Duy Hoang, Viet Tan, Vietnam
65. Promotion de la Democratie et Protection des Droits Humains, DR Congo
66. Radwan A. Masmoudi, Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy, USA
67. María José Zamora Solórzano, Movimiento por Nicaragua, Nicaragua
68. John Suarez, Cuban Democratic Directorate, USA
69. Mohamed Abdul Malek, Libya Watch, United Kingdom
70. Journalists Union of Russia, Russia
Al Arabyia, Press TV, and a representative of Libyan opposition group have reported that Muammar Gaddafi has left Libya. Germany’s news web site TT.com also reports, quoting opposition groups, that Gaddafi has fled.
On Monday, Gaddafi’s son, Seif al-Eslam, denied the report that his father left the country.
(Guardian.co.uk) — In fast-moving developments after midnight, demonstrators were reported to be in Tripoli’s Green Square and preparing to march on Gaddafi’s compound as rumours spread that the leader had fled to Venezuela. Other reports described protesters in the streets of Tripoli throwing stones at billboards of Muammar Gaddafi while police used teargas to try to disperse them.
BBC Arabic reported automatic gunfire and teargas in the capital for the first time since the unrest began.
But the regime went on the attack when Muammar Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, appeared on state TV to say it was a “tragedy” that Libyans had died but warned of “civil war” unless order was restored.
Wagging a finger at the camera, he blamed Libyan exiles for fomenting the violence but also promised dialogue on the country’s constitution, saying that the general people’s congress, Libya’s equivalent of a parliament, would convene to discuss a “clear” reform agenda, while the government would also raise wages.
“There is a plot against Libya,” said Saif, blaming “an Islamic group with a military agenda” for the bloodshed in Benghazi.
Libya would see “rivers of blood”, an exodus of foreign oil companies and occupation by “imperialists” if the violence continued, he said.
In reality, there has been little sign of Islamist involvement in Libya’s unprecedented unrest. Nor was there in the uprisings in Tunisia or Egypt.
In a rambling speech Saif al-Islam repeatedly said Libya was “not Egypt or Tunisia”, neighbouring countries whose leaders were swept from power in recent weeks.
“Muammar Gaddafi, our leader, is leading the battle in Tripoli, and we are with him,” Saif al-Islam said. “The armed forces are with him. Tens of thousands are heading here to be with him. We will fight until the last man, the last woman, the last bullet.”
“People are in the street chanting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is great) and throwing stones at photos of Gaddafi,”an expatriate worker told Reuters by telephone from Tripoli. “The police are firing teargas everywhere, it’s even getting into the houses.”
According to a Reuters report, Libyan soldiers said they had defected and were joining the protests.
An intelligence source reported that 150 soldiers and officers who disobeyed orders and refused to shoot at protesters would be executed.
Estimates of the total number of fatalities over six days of unprecedented unrest ranged from 233 – the latest figure given by Human Rights Watch – to 285. But some opposition sources gave figures as high as 500.
Two of Gaddafi’s other sons, Khamis and Saadi, and intelligence chief Abdullah Sanussi were reportedly commanding efforts to crush the protests in Benghazi, where buildings were ransacked and troops and police forced to retreat to a compound to pick off demonstrators with sniper and artillery fire.
As-Sharq al-Awsat, the Saudi newspaper, quoted sources close to the Gaddafi family as saying they would “die on Libyan soil” rather than give up power like the presidents of Egypt and Tunisia.
Facts were hard to pin down in the face of a news blackout that included jamming of the signal of the al-Jazeera TV network and interference with telephone and internet connections.
The Libya al-Yawm news website quoted one local doctor as saying that 285 people had died in Benghazi alone.
“Now people are dying we’ve got nothing else to live for,” a student blogger told the Guardian. “It’s like a pressure cooker. People are boiling up inside. I’m not even afraid any more. Once I wouldn’t have spoken at all by phone. Now I don’t care.”
In other signs of mounting domestic anger at Gaddafi, Libya’s representative to the Arab League, Abdel Monein al-Honi, announced that he was resigning in protest at the suppression of the unrest. Libya’s ambassador to China, Hussein Sadiq al-Musrati, resigned on air while on al-Jazeera Arabic, calling on the army to intervene, and urged all diplomatic staff to resign. In another striking development, the leader of a powerful tribe in eastern Libya warned that oil exports to the west – vital for the country’s economy – would be halted within 24 hours unless the authorities stopped the “oppression of protesters”.
(AFP) — Protesters in the Libyan capital Tripoli sacked state broadcast offices and set branches of the People’s Committees that are the mainstay of the regime ablaze overnight, witnesses told AFP on Monday.
“The headquarters of Al-Jamahiriya Two television and Al-Shababia radio have been sacked,” one witness told AFP by telephone on condition of anonymity.
Broadcasts on both channels were interrupted on Sunday evening but resumed on Monday morning.
A number of witnesses said protesters had torched public buildings in the capital overnight, not only People’s Committee offices but also police stations.
(Reuters) – BP has suspended preparations for exploratory drilling for oil and gas in western Libya due to growing unrest in the north African country, a spokesman for the British energy giant said on Monday.
The company does not produce any oil or gas in Libya but has been readying an onshore rig to start drilling for fuel in the west of the country.
“We are looking at evacuating some people from Libya, so those preparations are being suspended but we haven’t started drilling and we are years away from any production,” the spokesman said.
Maybe it is fear of coming down on the wrong side of a coup that has left the Obama administration reluctant to criticize Qaddafi’s crackdown. When asked by a reporter if Qaddafi is a dictator, “State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley remained silent and looked for another question to answer,” Fox News reports. Nonetheless, the journalist persisted, finally prompting an answer from Crowley: “I don’t think he came to office through a democratic process.”
This afternoon the State Department released a brief statement — “The United States is gravely concerned with disturbing reports and images coming out of Libya,” etc.—but so far there is nothing from the White House. This is especially bizarre since an administration that in the course of a month has witnessed two Arab uprisings should presumably have some sort of working script by now to apply to events unfolding in Libya. So why is the Obama administration tongue-tied? After all, this is not a U.S. ally, but a regime that in 2009 won, and celebrated, the release of an intelligence officer responsible for the deaths of 190 American citizens over the skies of Lockerbie, Scotland. Merely giving up a nuclear weapons program, as Qaddafi did in 2003, does not make a regime friendly to U.S. interests. Through his silence, Obama is giving the impression that the White House is standing with Qaddafi. – The Weekly Standard
By Alemayehu G. Mariam
The Berlin Conference of 2009
In 1884, the Berlin Conference was convened by the European imperial powers to carve out colonial territories in Africa. It was called the “Scramble for Africa”.
In 2009, another Berlin Conference was convened by a high level group of diplomats (referring to themselves as the “partners”) from the U.S. and several European countries to hammer out an “agreement” on what to do (and not do) in the Horn of Africa.
According to a recently released Wikileaks cablegram, with respect to Ethiopia, the partners “agreed [on] Ethiopia’s key role in the region” and “the need to support and observe its May 2010 elections.” They acknowledged “Meles as a regional leader, pointing out he would represent Africa on climate change in Copenhagen.” They agreed Meles is “intent on retaining power” and that he is “a guy you can do business with”. They expressed doubts about “being associated with a likely imperfect process” that could result from the May 2010 elections (which subsequently produced a 99.6 percent win for Meles’ party), but “they nonetheless agreed on the importance of international involvement in the elections.”
The German and French partners debated “Ethiopia’s economic situation, namely [the] hard currency and the poor investment climate.” The German diplomat suggested that Ethiopia’s economic problems could be traced to “Meles’ poor understanding of economics”. The French diplomat argued that “Meles actually had a good understanding of economics, but was hampered by his ideological beliefs.” In a single sentence, out of the blue, the partners ganged up and whipsawed the entire Ethiopian opposition: “The [Ethiopian] political opposition is weak, disunited, and out of touch with the average Ethiopian, partners agreed.”
For quite some time, foreign journalists have been reporting wholly disparaging and categorically dismissive remarks about Ethiopia’s opposition by anonymous Western diplomats. In February 2010, I wrote a commentary decrying and protesting the cowardly and scandalous statements issued by Western diplomats hiding behind the veil of journalistic anonymity. I complained that the derisive characterizations were not only unfair, inaccurate and self-serving, but also dispiriting, disheartening and demeaning of Ethiopia’s besieged opposition. It is gratifying to finally put faces to the surly anonymous lips.
Is the Ethiopian political opposition “weak and disunited”?
It is true that the Ethiopian “political opposition is weak and disunited”, an issue I have addressed on previous occasions. But Western governments seem to be conveniently oblivious of the reasons for the disarray in the opposition. For two decades, Meles Zenawi and his regime have done everything in their power to keep the opposition divided, defeated, discombobulated and dysfunctional. Zenawi has pursued the opposition relentlessly often comparing them to Rwanda’s interhamwe (meaning “those who stand/work/fight/attack together”) genociders. In 2005, he rounded up almost all of the major opposition political and civic leaders, human rights advocates, journalists and dissidents in the country and jailed them for nearly two years on charges of genocide, among many others. Zenawi’s own Inquiry Commission has documented that hundreds of peaceful opposition demonstrators were massacred in the streets and over thirty thousand suspected opposition members jailed in the aftermath of the May 2005 elections. In 2008, Zenawi jailed Birtukan Midekssa, the first female opposition political party leader in Ethiopian history, on the ridiculous charge of “denying a pardon”. He put her in solitary confinement and categorically and absolutely ruled out any possibility of freedom for her declaring: “There will never be an agreement with anybody to release Birtukan. Ever. Full stop. That’s a dead issue.” (He let go in October 2010.)
Zenawi has demonized a major opposition group as a “terrorist” organization bent on “creating a rift between the government and the people of Oromiya.” In his pursuit of the opposition, he has “used extreme force trapping the civilian population between the insurgents and the government forces.” He put on trial and sentenced to death various alleged “members” of Ginbot 7 Movement, and contemptuously described the Movement as an organization of “amateur part-time terrorists”. He has intimidated and verbally shredded his former comrade-in-arms who have stood with the opposition and rhetorically clobbered his critics as “muckrakers,” “mud dwellers”, “sooty,” “sleazy,” “pompous egotists” and good-for-nothing “chaff” and “husk.” He even claimed the opposition was “dirtying up the people like themselves.” Opposition parliamentarians are routinely humiliated in public and treated like delinquent children. In parliamentary exchanges, they are mocked for their pronunciation of English words.
When opposition leaders went on the campaign trial in 2010, they were prevented from meeting with voters in their districts as former president Dr. Negasso Gidada and others have documented. Opposition political and civic leaders and dissidents are kept under 24-hour surveillance, and the people they meet are intimidated and harassed. The culture of fear that permeates every aspect of society is reinforced by a structure of repression that is vertically integrated from the very top to the local (kebele) level making peaceful opposition impossible. Unless one is a member of the ruling party, the chances of higher education, employment and other privileges are next to nil. By becoming part of the opposition, the average and not-so-average Ethiopian invites political persecution, economic hardship and social isolation. Under such circumstances, is it any wonder that the Ethiopian opposition is weak and disunited? Is it not ironic that Western donors are unwilling to help the opposition in any way (including giving moral support) yet skulk behind journalistic anonymity to heap dismissive contempt on them while turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to flagrant abuses of human rights and misuse of their aid money to buy votes?
Is the Ethiopian opposition “out of touch with the average Ethiopian”?
The gratuitous backhanded slap on the face of the Ethiopian opposition as “out of touch with the average Ethiopian” has caused disappointment among some political and civic leaders. But the evidence shows that the Western “partners” may actually be right! For instance, Birtukan Midekssa was completely out of touch with any Ethiopian, except her mother and young daughter, for nearly two years. She was spending time in solitary confinement in Kality prison, a/k/a Kality Hilton, feasting on gourmet food and “putting on weight”, according to one highly placed source. Following the May 2005 elections, for almost two years, nearly all of the country’s opposition party leaders, leading journalists, human rights activists and civic society advocates were completely out of touch with any Ethiopian, except their jailors, at the same Kality Hilton. As to opposition party members and dissidents, tens of thousands of them have completely disappeared from the face of the earth over the past decade alone and are out of touch with anyone. Tens of thousands more are held incommunicado as political prisoners in secret jails. In light of this evidence, could it be denied that the Ethiopian opposition is completely out of touch with the average and not-so-average Ethiopian?
Is the ruling regime in touch with the average Ethiopian?
One would have to answer that question in the affirmative. The whole idea of a police state is to make sure that the rulers stay in very close touch with the average citizen. Zenawi’s regime stays in close touch with the average Ethiopian using the services of hundreds of thousands of secret police operatives and informants spying on each individual. Dr. Gidada has documented one of the common ways the regime stays in extremely close touch with the people:
The police and security offices and personnel collect information on each household through other means. One of these methods involves the use of organizations or structures called “shane”, which in Oromo means “the five”. Five households are grouped together under a leader who has the job of collecting information on the five households… The security chief passes the information he collected to his chief in the higher administrative organs in the Qabale, who in turn informs the Woreda police and security office. Each household is required to report on guests and visitors, the reasons for their visits, their length of stay, what they said and did and activities they engaged in. … The OPDO/EPRDF runs mass associations (women, youth and micro-credit groups) and party cells (“fathers”, “mothers” and “youth”). The party cells in the schools, health institutions and religious institutions also serve the same purpose….
The average and not-so-average Ethiopian looking for a government job or applying for a business license needs to be in close touch with the powers that be to get one. The regime is so in touch with the average and not-so-average Ethiopian that they want them to hear only what they have to say. They have jammed the transmissions of the Voice of America, opposition satellite broadcasts and filtered out websites of regime critics.
Are the Western donors “in touch with the average Ethiopian”?
Western donors are very much in touch with the average Ethiopian, that is in the same way as they were in touch with the average Tunisian, Egyptian, Yemeni, Bahraini and so on. They were so in touch with the average citizens of these countries that they anticipated and correctly predicted the recent popular uprisings. That was the reason President Obama “applauded” the people for throwing Ben Ali out of Tunisia. The U.S. was so in touch with the realities of the average Egyptian over the past 30 years that President Obama and his foreign policy team froze in stunned silence, flat-footed and twiddling their thumbs and scratching their heads for days before staking out a position on the popular uprising. They could not bring themselves to use the “D” words (dictator, democracy) to describe events in Egypt. Western governments were also very much in touch with Hosni Mubarak floating his ship of state on an ocean of corruption and repression with billions of dollars in military and economic aid. They are very much in touch with Zenawi; after all he is the “guy you can do business with,” a partner. Truth be told, they have done tons of business with him over the past 20 years, no less than $26 billion!
Who is “the average Ethiopian”?
Who is the “average Ethiopian” whose contact is so highly prized and coveted? It seems s/he has an average life expectancy at birth of less than 45 years. S/he lives on less than $USD 1 per day. S/he is engaged in subsistence agriculture eking out a living. S/he survives on a daily intake of 800 calories (starvation level). S/he can neither read nor write. If s/he is sick, she has a 1 chance in 39,772 persons to see a doctor, 1 in 828,000 to see a dentist, 1 in 4,985 chance to see a nurse. She has little or no access to family planning services, reproductive health and emergency obstetric services and suffers from high maternal mortality during childbirth. She is a victim of gender discrimination, domestic violence and female genital mutilation. She has fewer employment and educational opportunities than the “average” man and is not paid equal pay for equal work. S/he is likely to die from malaria and other preventable infectious diseases, severe shortages of clean water and poor sanitation. The “average” Ethiopian youth is undereducated, underemployed and underappreciated with little opportunity for social mobility or economic self-sufficiency. The “average” urban adolescent is unemployed and a drop out from school. S/he is frustrated and in despair of his/her future and is likely to engage in a fatal pattern of risky behaviors including drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse, crime and delinquency and sexual activity which exposes him/her to a risk of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases including HIV. The “average” child has a high likelihood of being orphaned and die from malnutrition and is vulnerable to all forms of exploitation, including child labor and sexual. So, who really is in touch with the “average Ethiopian”!?!
Be In Touch With the Youth
Regardless of how the Western donors define the “average Ethiopian”, the fact is that s/he is a young person. An estimated 67 percent of the population is under the age of 30, of which 43 percent is below the age of 15. Two of history’s evil men understood the importance of staying in touch with the youth population. Vladmir Lenin, the founder of the totalitarian Soviet state said, “Give me just one generation of youth, and I’ll transform the whole world.” His counterpart in the Third Reich said, “he alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.” Both failed because they wanted to use the youths as cannon fodder for their warped vision of world domination. Africa’s dictators have ignored and neglected the youths and consigned them to a life of poverty and despair. They have tried to put in the service of their dictatorial rule Africa’s best and brightest. They too will fail.
The demographic data on Africa’s youth is frightening. As Africa urbanizes rapidly and its population population continues to grow uncontrollably (expected to increase from 294 million to 742 million between 2000 and 2030), the number of young people trapped in poverty, hungry and angry will multiply by the tens of millions per year. Frustrated, desperate and denied political space, they will become the powder keg that will implode African societies. African dictators and their Western partners continue to delude themselves into believing that the youth will continue to passively accept and tolerate corruption, repression, abuse of power and denial of basic human rights. But a new generation of African youths is rising up declaring: “Enough is Enough!”
Revolutionary Democracy Meets “Facebook” Democracy in Ethiopia
If Tunisia and Egypt are an indication, Zenawi’s vision of revolutionary democracy will in due course collide with the “Facebook” democracy (tech savvy young people creating a functioning civic community using information technology) taking over Africa’s youth. Zenawi wrote:
When Revolutionary Democracy permeates the entire society, individuals will start to think alike and all persons will cease having their own independent outlook. In this order, individual thinking becomes simply part of collective thinking because the individual will not be in a position to reflect on concepts that have not been prescribed by Revolutionary Democracy.
This is not democracy (revolutionary or reactionary). In the old days, such “democracy” was called fascism where the national leader (Der Fuhrer) sought to create “organic unity” of the body politic by imposing upon the people uniformity of thought and action through violence, legal compulsion and intense social pressure. It is no longer possible to brainwash, mind control and indoctrinate impressionable young people with meaningless ideology as though they are helpless and fatuous members of a weird religious cult. The days of programming human beings as jackbooted robots marching to the order of “Der Fuhrer” are long gone.
“Facebook” democrats reject any totalitarian notions of “individual thinking becoming part of collective thinking”. They do not need a single mind, a single party, a single operating system to do the thinking for them. Africa’s youths have their own unique outlook and independent voice on their present circumstances and their future. History shows that every regime that has sought to force unanimity of opinion and belief among its citizens has found the unanimity of the graveyard. When free speech, free press and the rule of law permeate society, and human rights and the voices of the people are respected and protected, citizens will experience dignity and self-respect and muster the courage and determination to forge their own destinies.
There are enough young Africans with the idealism, creativity, knowledge, technical ability and genius to transform the old fear-ridden Africa into their own brave new Africa. In this effort, they do not need the guiding hands or the misguided ideas of ideologues from a bygone era. Western partners have the choice of supporting a brave new Africa of young people on the march or they can continue their “partnership” in the crime of democricide with the old “stable” police states careening to the dustbin of history. With the recent departure of two of the most powerful and entrenched police chiefs, and others teetering, the West may not be able to shoehorn the youths of (the Horn of) Africa into silence and submission from boardrooms in Berlin, Washington, London, Rome, Paris…
Power to Africa’s Youths!
* In Benghazi, the starting point of the revolt, three witnesses said that special military forces called in as reinforcements had instead helped the protesters take over the local army barracks. “The gunshots you hear are the gunshots of celebration,” said Abdel Latif al-Hadi, a 54-year-old Benghazi resident whose five sons were out protesting.
* In the Libyan capital Tripoli witnesses interviewed by telephone on Sunday night said protesters were converging on the capital’s central Green Square and clashing with the heavily armed riot police. Young men armed themselves with chains around their knuckles, steel pipes and machetes. The police had retreated from some neighborhoods, and protesters were seen armed with police batons, helmets and rifles commandeered from riot squads.
* Under Colonel Qaddafi’s idiosyncratic rule, tribal bonds remain primary even within the ranks of the military, and both protesters and the security forces have reason to believe that backing down will likely mean their ultimate death or imprisonment. – New York Times- The New York Times
* Libya’s ambassador to India has resigned in protest at his government’s violent crackdown on demonstrators calling for the ouster of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported on Monday. The BBC, on its Arabic service website, said Ambassador Ali al-Essawi also accused the government of deploying foreign mercenaries against the protesters. The BBC confirmed to Reuters it had spoken to Essawi. – Reuters
* Among other unconfirmed reports out of Libya right now, one is that Qaddafi’s sons, Muatassem and Saif al-Islam, fought each other, with the former shooting the latter. It’s hard to know much right now, since media coverage out of Libya has gone virtually black. Al Jazeera explains that its signal was disrupted from a building in southern Libya, which seems to be something of a niche industry for Qaddafi’s regime—for a few years the Libyans were found to be blocking a channel owned by exiled Syrian opposition figures, presumably at the request of the government in Damascus. – Weekly Standard
* Members of a Libyan Army unit told Benghazi residents on Sunday they had defected and “liberated” Libya’s second city from troops supporting veteran leader Muammar Qaddafi. Habib Al-Obaidi, who heads the intensive care unit at the main Al-Jalae hospital, and lawyer Mohamed Al-Mana, told Reuters members of the “Thunderbolt” squad had arrived at the hospital with soldiers wounded in clashes with Qaddafi’s personal guard. “They are now saying that they have overpowered the Praetorian Guard and that they have joined the people’s revolt,” Al-Mana said by telephone.
Ethiopia’s tyrant Meles Zenawi has jammed Al Jazeera today, according to residents in Addis Ababa. Meles has also been jamming Ethiopian Satellite TV (ESAT). In an anticipation of imminent revolt in Ethiopia, the Meles regime has been taking preemptive measures, such as warning parents to prevent their children from taking part in any anti-government activity, deploying heavy weapons on major streets, and blocking internet sites.
The American embassy in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa has invited opposition groups for discussion on current developments in the region, Addis Neger reports:
The embassy says that public uprisings, originating in Tunisia and Egypt, are expanding throughout the region to countries such as Bahrain, Jordan, Libya, Yemen and lately to neighboring Djibouti. According to embassy sources, the US government has expressed concern that similar uprisings may begin in Ethiopia, and that symptoms of such uprisings are already being revealed.
The opposition groups in Ethiopia will be ill-advised to start any kind of negotiation with Meles Zenawi other than demanding his immediate and unconditional resignation.
Manama, Bahrain (Los Angeles Times) — Protesters celebrated Saturday in Bahrain when police and soldiers withdrew from Manama’s symbolic Pearl Square, allowing young Shiite Muslims eager for a larger role in Bahraini society to take back their central stage.
“The police backed down when they saw thousands of people coming from four directions,” said one demonstrator.
Confrontations gave way to a massive party as protesters chanted, hugged and waved yellow and red plastic flowers. Hundreds of Bahraini flags fluttered in the wind.
Soldiers had fired tear gas and bullets at demonstrators a day earlier and brutally cleared Pearl Square before dawn on Thursday, rousting sleeping protesters camped in the traffic roundabout.
Crown Prince Salman ibn Hamed Khalifa, told by by Bahrain’s king to open a dialogue with all opposition forces, said in an interview with CNN that he had ordered the removal of the military from the square. He said the protesters would be allowed to gather and voice their concerns without fear.
The crown prince indicated he was deeply sorry for the deaths of protesters, CNN reported.
At least four people died in the confrontations in and around Pearl Square, and dozens were injured, according to hospital sources. At least two people were wounded earlier Saturday when violence erupted for a third straight day at the square. An angry crowd of men and women sang, “Down, down Hamed!” referring to the king, and “Bring down the government!”
An angry woman impatient to march on Pearl Square shouted: “Every day! We need to be on the street!” Protesters wore bandannas over their faces to protect against tear gas.
But when the police left, the mood turned happy.
A protester who gave his name only as Riyad said: “We will stay. It will not end until the government listens to the people. We will not give up until the government collapses.”
SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Residents of Yemen’s second largest city say after 10 days constant protests, security forces have disappeared from the streets, threatening to plunge Aden into chaos.
Residents of thbe port city say groups of men are attacking, looting and burning government buildings and there is no sign of police or armed forces.
In the capital Sanaa, hundreds of Yemenis began demonstrating early in the morning Saturday outside the university demanding the ouster of the country’s longtime ruler as they marched towards the Justice Ministry.
“The people want the ouster of the regime,” they chanted.
Over the past nine days of protests, six people have been killed and more than 150 wounded as police fire tear gas and gunshots.
By Robert Fisk
Rumours burned like petrol in Bahrain yesterday and many medical staff were insisting that up to 60 corpses had been taken from Pearl Square on Thursday morning and that police were seen by crowds loading bodies into three refrigerated trucks. One man showed me a mobile phone snapshot in which the three trucks could be seen clearly, parked behind several army armoured personnel carriers. According to other demonstrators, the vehicles, which bore Saudi registration plates, were later seen on the highway to Saudi Arabia. It is easy to dismiss such ghoulish stories, but I found one man – another male nurse at the hospital who works under the umbrella of the United Nations – who told me that an American colleague, he gave his name as “Jarrod”, had videotaped the bodies being put into the trucks but was then arrested by the police and had not been seen since.
Why has the royal family of Bahrain allowed its soldiers to open fire at peaceful demonstrators? To turn on Bahraini civilians with live fire within 24 hours of the earlier killings seems like an act of lunacy.
But the heavy hand of Saudi Arabia may not be far away. The Saudis are fearful that the demonstrations in Manama and the towns of Bahrain will light equally provocative fires in the east of their kingdom, where a substantial Shia minority lives around Dhahran and other towns close to the Kuwaiti border. Their desire to see the Shia of Bahrain crushed as quickly as possible was made very clear at Thursday’s Gulf summit here, with all the sheikhs and princes agreeing that there would be no Egyptian-style revolution in a kingdom which has a Shia majority of perhaps 70 per cent and a small Sunni minority which includes the royal family. … [Read more]
By Mohamed Keita | CPJ
As news of Middle Eastern and North African protests swirl around the globe, satellite television and the Internet prove vital sources of information for Africans as governments fearful of an informed citizenry and a free press such as in Eritrea, Equatorial Guinea, and Zimbabwe impose total news blackouts on the developments.
Nowhere is the news blackout more extreme than in Eritrea, where the government has banned independent media since 2001. Typing “Egypt” in the search field of the government news website Shabait returns about 50 results, the most recent and relevant of which is a December 3, 2010, item titled: “Presidents Isaias and Mubarak conduct discussion in Cairo.” Eritrean sources told CPJ, however, that satellite dishes in the capital Asmara’s rooftops allowed people to follow the unfolding events.
Earlier this month, Equatorial Guinea’s information minister, Jerónimo Osa Osa Ecoro, issued a statement accusing those who criticize the 32-year authoritarian ruler Teodoro Obiang’s election as the new president of the African Union of failing to “acknowledge the enormous steps” taken by Obiang toward democratization and human rights. Notwithstanding that Obiang won his last national election with 97 percent of the vote amid allegations of poll-rigging, it didn’t take long for his claim to be contradicted by a news blackout by the government-controlled national broadcaster RTVGE on protests in North Africa since February 11, according to news reports. Nevertheless, satellite dishes in Malabo allowed most people to access news and information, according to a local source. The same day the blackout started, Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel, editor of cultural magazine Atanga and a blogger with Spain-based online magazine Frontera Digital began a hunger strike that he vowed not to stop until a transitional government ushering democratic reforms was not put in place in Equatorial Guinea.
Flipping the pages of Zimbabwe’s government-controlled daily The Herald, Vincent Kahiya, editor-in-chief of the private Harare-based daily Newsday said to me on Thursday: “There is nothing on the international page on what’s happening in Bahrain, Libya, and so on.” Instead, he noted, “What we have seen is commentary on what they’re not reporting.” In fact, the ruling Zanu-PF-controlled state media has, among other things, accused the United States, which maintains sanctions restricting travel, financial, and business assets of President Robert Mugabe and members of the ruling Zanu-PF elite, of interfering in Egypt’s “rebellion.” Another journalist, whose name I have withheld for fear of government reprisals, shared in an e-mail: “I have DSTV [South Africa-based Digital Satellite Television] and I hardly watch Zimbabwean TV or read The Herald.” In fact, “CNN etc. is God-sent on these protests,” wrote another journalist. “Zimbabweans are talking about it, and there’s a lot of interest on those issues,” Kahiya said, adding that private newspapers reporting the North African developments were selling quickly.
In Ethiopia, a local journalist who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of government reprisals used the term “silent report” to describe the coverage of the government-controlled Ethiopian Television and Radio Agency, explaining that the station limited newscasters to reading two or three paragraphs without further reporting. Nevertheless, “much of the public is well aware of the issues,” the source said, adding that even rural area people had access to satellite TV.
Ethiopian police became apparently angered by persecuted journalist Eskinder Nega’s coverage of the protests. Nega, whose weekly columns appear on U.S.-based news forum EthioMedia, was picked up on February 11 as he walked out of a café in the capital, Addis Ababa. He later reported that the Ethiopian deputy commissioner of police allegedly delivered to him a warning from the government for his alleged “to incite an Egyptian and Tunisian like protests in Ethiopia,” with his Internet writings. Nega’s columns compared and contrasted Egypt and Ethiopia in terms of the military’s role in politics, and pro-democracy movements, according to CPJ research.
In Djibouti, where a series of protests have erupted since last month, government-controlled state broadcaster Radio Télévision de Djibouti was also censoring news of the North African protests, a local journalist told CPJ on condition of anonymity for fear of government reprisals. However, few Djiboutians watch the channel and most people passionately follow developments through their satellite dishes, the journalist said.
In Gabon, where supporters of opposition supporters have been protesting since André Mba Obame claimed fraud had robbed him of victory in the August 2009 presidential elections and declared himself president, state media’s coverage of the North African protests has also been minimal, said independent editor Norbert Goua Mezuï. “I don’t even watch the national channels, I do when I stumble on them,” he said, “but we rely on France 24, Africa 24, TV5, TF1, and France 2 to tell us what is really happening elsewhere.”
(Mohamed Keita is advocacy coordinator for CPJ’s Africa Program. He regularly gives interviews in French and English to international news media on press freedom issues in Africa and has participated in several panels. Follow him on Twitter: @africamedia_CPJ.)
Deutsche Welle Amharic Service reports that 40,000 residents of Ethiopia’s southern town of Awassa have been asked to vacate their homes. The Woyanne ruling junta’s local puppet administration issued the order saying that the houses the residents own have been built without proper permits. It’s reported that several residents who have voiced opposition to the measure are being rounded up and arrested. Listen the report below [Amharic].
By Alex Thurston
As protests continue across the Arab world, rumblings of political discontent have sounded in sub-Saharan Africa as well. These rumblings range from serious protests in Gabon and Sudan to pro-revolution newspaper columns in countries like Nigeria. Revolution will likely not spread through sub-Saharan Africa, but leaders in Ethiopia and Uganda moved this week to block even the possibility of uprisings. These moves show that the Arab protests are making some African leaders quite nervous, particularly as their countries navigate political transitions.
In Ethiopia, journalist Eskinder Nega has compared his country to Egypt and speculated about the possibility of an Egypt-style mobilization in Ethiopia. Eskinder’s remarks online and on the radio drew the attention, he says, of the Ethiopian government:
Eskinder Nega says six heavily-armed policemen jumped from a truck on a busy central Addis Ababa street last week, grabbed him and whisked him away to federal police headquarters. He says during a two-hour detention, he was brought before a deputy police commissioner who did not identify himself, but who warned him his activities were considered seditious.
“He said, ‘You’ve been trying to incite Egyptian and Tunisian-like protests in Ethiopia through writings you do on the Internet,” Eskinder recounted. “And the interviews you give to various news outlets. And he said, ‘Nothing similar is going to happen in this country.’”
Eskinder was jailed during the 2005 government crackdown in Ethiopia, which followed fiercely contested elections. Last year’s elections in Ethiopia did not produce the same levels of dissent – or violence – that 2005′s elections did, but Eskinder’s latest detention suggests that Ethiopian authorities are keen to shut down any voices who say that the government lacks legitimacy and is vulnerable to the wave of uprisings.
In Uganda, which holds presidential elections today, there seems to be little chance that President Yoweri Museveni will lose, and little chance that mass demonstrations could drive him from power. Still, Ugandan opposition leaders have talked about launching protests if Museveni wins. This threat was enough to worry the government, which “ordered phone companies to intercept text messages with words or phrases including ‘Egypt’, ‘bullet,’ and ‘people power’ ahead of [today]‘s elections that some fear may turn violent.” This preemptive maneuver seems to presage a greater crackdown to come, if the opposition does indeed take to the streets.
Government crackdowns could end up being the decisive factor in stopping sub-Saharan African protest movements before they really get off the ground. Northern Sudan’s repression appears to have stymied protesters there for the most part. And the words of an Ethiopian opposition member that Eskinder interviewed are revealing as to the political realities there:
Could the legal Ethiopian opposition leaders try to replicate what the legal opposition triggered in Egypt? “No,” firmly answered an opposition official I queried. “There will be a massacre, and it will also be the end of us,” he said. I could have been mistaken, but I thought I had sensed alarm in his tone.
There is another important issue also: If government repression did occur, would media outlets cover it? Given how little coverage Gabon has received in comparison with Arab countries, I think it unlikely that international media would devote substantial attention to a short – but merciless – crackdown in a country like Ethiopia. Some people paid attention in 2005, of course, but not on the scale that we’re seeing with Egypt and elsewhere.
In some places, then, African activists’ realistic fears of death and failure are already discouraging potential protesters. Nevertheless, as I said Wednesday, everyone is well aware of the events in Egypt – including governments who are taking steps to signal policies of zero tolerance for dissent.
(Alex Thurston is a PhD student studying Islam in Africa at Northwestern University and blogs at Sahel Blog.)
Tens of thousands of people held a massive protest rally in Djibouti against the regime of President Ismail Guelleh. Opposition leaders say that the police fired live bullets at peaceful protesters yesterday.
(Bloomberg) — Djibouti opposition groups will meet today to decide what step to take next after police allegedly fired on demonstrators yesterday, injuring at least two of them, an opposition leader said.
“The situation is very bad,” Ismail Guedi Hared, president of the Union for a Democratic Alternative, said by phone late yesterday. The police “used tear gas and they shot in every direction. I know two people are in hospital.”
In Djibouti, the Horn of Africa nation that hosts the only U.S. military base on the continent, President Ismail Guelleh’s People’s Rally for Progress party has ruled since independence in 1977. The 63- year-old leader, who was first elected in 1999, amended the constitution in March to allow him to extend his rule by two more six-year terms.
Yesterday’s protest turned violent near the Hassan Guled stadium in the capital, Djibouti, Hared said. Live ammunition was used by both sides and a crowd of about 100 demonstrators threw stones at the police after leaders of the protest were escorted away, according to the Djibouti-based website Djibouti24.
“The police are confronting demonstrators,” Mohamed Daoud Chehem, head of the Djibouti Party for Development, said by phone from the protest yesterday. “They have opened fire,” he said, without being able to specify if anyone was injured or what type of ammunition was used.
Chehem said that as many as 20,000 people had joined the protest against Guelleh. The country has a population of about 860,000.
Exiled Djiboutian opposition leader Abdourahman Boreh, who is currently in London, said the demonstrations may continue.
“We will see how it goes,” Boreh said yesterday. “This is the first day. We will see how the government reacts.”
Last month, Boreh called for elections scheduled for April to be delayed by as much as a year and for international monitors to oversee an electoral roll that includes 130,000 to 140,000 of the population of about 865,000.
Djibouti ranks 148th out of 169 countries in the United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Index, which measures life expectancy, education and living standards.
“We’re closely monitoring, keeping an eye on developments, especially as they relate to any forces we may have in the region,” Pentagon spokesman, Marine Corps Colonel David Lapin, told reporters yesterday.
The U.S has had a base in Djibouti since 2001, while former colonial power France also has 3,000 troops stationed in the country, which is smaller than the U.S. state of Massachusetts. The republic borders the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden and is seen as a strategic location in the U.S.-led fight against terrorism and piracy.
Libya, one of the most repressive regimes in Africa, is unable to stop the wave of popular uprisings against dictators that is sweeping through northern Africa and the Middle East. The Libya pro-democracy protesters are taking their activities outside of the capital city to avoid direct clashes with the security forces that have been firing live bullets on unarmed civilians causing 23 deaths. BBC reports that the protesters today have taken control of an airport in the eastern Libyan town of Benghazi. Protesters also set fire to police stations and government buildings. Ghadafi’s brutal measures that are intended to instill fear seem to be having a reverse effect.
(BBC) — Libya’s dictator Col. Muammar Gaddafi has taken a series of measures, including blocking internet sites and shutting off electricity to protest areas, to try to quell rising unrest.
Gaddafi’s regime has also reportedly offered to replace some top officials in a conciliatory move.
Media outlets loyal to Col Gaddafi have threatened retaliation against protesters who criticize the leader.
Emerging reports suggest a mounting death toll from days of clashes between security forces and protesters.
The mainstay of the unrest is in regional towns and cities, where many people live in poverty.
Foreign journalists operate under restrictions in Libya, so it has been impossible to independently verify much of the information coming out of the country.
But the BBC has confirmed that several websites – including Facebook and al-Jazeera Arabic – have been blocked.
And the airport in Benghazi, the country’s second largest city, has been closed, amid reports that protesters have taken it over.
Residents in Benghazi told the BBC that electricity has been cut off, and tanks are posted outside the court building.
Benghazi protesters have told international media they have learnt from Tunisia and Egypt, and are determined to depose Col Gaddafi.
Media outlets loyal to Col Gaddafi had earlier conceded that security forces had killed 14 protesters in Benghazi on Thursday, though other accounts put the death toll much higher.
Gamal Bandour, a judge in the city, told AP news agency that the mourners set fire to government buildings and police stations on the way back from the funerals on Friday.
Witnesses said 15 people had been killed during Friday’s clashes.
Meanwhile, dissidents based outside Libya claimed that protesters were now battling security forces for control of another eastern city, al-Bayda.
Video footage from al-Bayda showed bloodstained bodies in a mortuary, and protesters torching a municipal building and demolishing a statue of the so-called “green book” – the collection of principles by which Col Gaddafi rules.
The Oea newspaper, owned by one of Col Gaddafi’s sons, earlier reported that demonstrators had lynched two policemen in al-Bayda.
Oea also reported outbreaks of violence in Darnah, east of Benghazi, where it described residents as living in fear.
It said all police stations in Darnah had been evacuated after protesters were killed on Thursday, and rumors were circulating that elite military units were closing in on the city.
Amid the crackdown, the semi-independent Quryna newspaper reported that the government would replace many state executives and decentralize and restructure the government.
It was unclear whether the political move was in response to growing unrest.
Earlier, the pro-government Al-Zahf Al-Akhdar newspaper threatened to “violently and thunderously respond” to the protests.
“The people’s power, the Jamahiriya [system of rule], the revolution, and Colonel Gaddafi are all red lines and those who try to cross or come near these lines are suicidal and playing with fire.”
Col Gaddafi is the Arab world’s longest-serving leader, having ruled oil-rich Libya since a coup in 1969.
Middle Eastern correspondent for CSM, Dan Murphy, reports that Bahrain’s small military is made up of foreign mercenary recruits. No wonder they are willing to gun down unarmed civilians. in Ethiopia we face the same situation. The regime in power rules and behaves like a foreign entity. The ruling junta hates the people of Ethiopia. For Meles and gang Ethiopia is a country to loot and plunder. It’s therefore necessary for opposition groups to adjust their strategy accordingly.
(CSM) — Bahrain, where a US-backed Sunni monarchy rules over a populace that’s about 70 percent Shiite, massive force has been unleashed on peaceful democracy protesters both today and yesterday as well. The Western-looking kingdom plays host to America’s Fifth Fleet, leaving President Barack Obama with even fewer levers of influence in Bahrain than he had in the case of Egypt.
It’s one thing to threaten withholding military aid from Egypt, a card the Obama administration probably played during the height of Egypt’s uprising. It’s quite another to say, “Stop shooting your people, or we’ll remove our naval base.”
Some foreign observers like the influential New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof appear to be shocked that a “moderate” regime (his word) like Bahrain’s would kill its own people. They shouldn’t be. The ruling Khalifa family, like Qaddafi, is engaged in the sort of existential struggle that Egypt and Tunisia’s power brokers didn’t face; while Egypt’s Mubarak and Tunisia’s Ben Ali may be out of power, the officers and political architecture that support their rules remain intact, at least for now.
But the odds that the Khalifas will preserve a powerful role for themselves in Bahrain in the face of true democracy are small. They appear to be acting accordingly. In the early morning Thursday, riot police stormed a democracy encampment at Pearl Square in Manama, Bahrain’s capital – an encampment set up in emulation of Cairo’s Tahrir Square. The police fired shot guns and rubber bullets, killing five and dispersing protesters.
Today, it was the Bahrain Defense Force’s turn to get in on the action. The kingdom’s tiny military, largely made up of foreign mercenary recruits, they assaulted groups of mourners who were burying the previous day’s dead and trying to push protests forward. Reports from Manama said gunfire lashed crowds from helicopters and that dozens, at least, were injured. Al Jazeera quoted a doctor in a Manama hospital as saying the emergency room was “overwhelmed” with casualties. The death toll, if any, is still unclear.
Bahrain’s population is about 1.2 million. While the five confirmed killed on Thursday seems small relative to the 300 or so who died in Egypt’s uprising, it’s already a greater percentage of the population than in Egypt, and that number seems likely to have grown today.
Will force work? Or will it spur on Bahrain’s Shiites to greater cycles of mourning and protest?
The Bahrain military has open fired on thousands of protesters on Friday, according to AP. The number of dead and injured is unknown yet. The international community must not tolerate this atrocity. The Bahrain leaders and military commanders must face charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court. If such barbaric act goes unpunished, dictators in other countries, including in Ethiopia, will continue to commit similar atrocities. Ethiopia’s tyrant Meles Zenawi must be smiling today.
MANAMA, Bahrain (Associated Press) — Soldiers opened fire Friday on thousands of protesters defying a government ban and streaming toward the landmark square that had been the symbolic center of the uprising to break the political grip of the Gulf nation’s leaders.
Officials at the main Salmaniya hospital said at least 50 people were injured, some with gunshot wounds. Some doctors and medics on emergency medical teams were in tears as they tended to the wounded. X-rays showed bullets still lodged inside victims.
“This is a war,” said Dr. Bassem Deif, an orthopedic surgeon examining people with bullet-shattered bones.
Protesters described a chaotic scene of tear gas clouds, bullets coming from many directions and people slipping in pools of blood as they sought cover. Some claimed the gunfire came from either helicopters or sniper nests, a day after riot police swept through the protest encampment in Pearl Square, killing at least five people and razing the tents and makeshift shelters that were inspired by the demonstrators in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
An Associated Press cameraman saw army units shooting anti-aircraft weapons, fitted on top of armored personnel carriers, above the protesters, in apparent warning shots and attempts to drive them back from security cordons about 200 yards (200 meters) from the square.
Then the soldiers turned firearms on the crowd, one marcher said.
“People started running in all directions and bullets were flying,” said Ali al-Haji, a 27-year-old bank clerk. “I saw people getting shot in the legs, chest, and one man was bleeding from his head.”
“My eyes were full of tear gas, there was shooting and there was a lot of panic,” said Mohammed Abdullah, a 37-year-old businessman taking part in the protest.
condemns violence in Bahrain, Libya and Yemen
US President Barack Obama is condemning reports of violence in response to protests in Bahrain, Libya and Yemen. He is calling on the governments of those countries to show restraint.
Obama said the governments of the three countries should respect the rights of citizens demonstrating peacefully in the aftermath of Egypt’s uprising. He expressed condolences to the families of those killed.
The president’s statement was read aloud by White House press secretary Jay Carney to reporters traveling with the president on Air Force One from California to Oregon.
Crown Prince Al Khalifa promises a national dialogue
(BBC) — Witnesses said the army fired live rounds and tear gas, and officials said at least 25 people had been hurt.
Many of the protesters are calling for the overthrow of the royal family.
Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa appeared on state TV on Friday to promise a national dialogue once calm has returned.
The prince, who is also deputy supreme commander of the army, called for everyone to withdraw from the streets.
The BBC’s Caroline Hawley, in Manama, says the funeral procession of one of the dead protesters turned into another anti-government demonstration.
The mourners were trying to make their way to the Salmaniya Hospital, where their injured colleagues are being treated.
But they came under fire as they passed close to Pearl Square, which has been sealed off by the army for the past day to prevent further large-scale demonstrations.
An eyewitness told al-Jazeera TV that the authorities gave no warning.
“They just started shooting us. Now there is more than 20 injured in the hospital. One guy has already passed away because he got shot in his head,” said the witness.
To hear him tell it, Joe Mamo’s move from Ethiopia to North Dakota in 1981 was accidental. Mamo’s father, Yenberber Mamo, was a public transit mogul who manufactured buses and ran the first fleet to provide service across Ethiopia. The operation made his father’s Mamo Kacha bus line a household name in the East African country. It provided a nice life for his family. But it rendered him distinctly unpopular with the Marxist junta that ruled Ethiopia between 1974 and 1991. The elder Mamo was jailed two or three times by the regime. Some of his property was confiscated. As his son approached draft age, the patriarch looked for ways to send him overseas.
That’s how Joe, at the age of 13, found himself attending Catholic boarding school in North Dakota. “He didn’t know the difference between North Dakota and New York City. We didn’t know until we got there,” says Joe Mamo, whose given name is Eyob. But he got used to the cold winters and moved to Chicago after graduation. While he attended community college there, he got a job pumping gas.
By 1987, Mamo had moved to Washington, where an old friend had settled among the region’s large Ethiopian community. This too was “an accidental move,” he says. “I didn’t know Washington that well but I liked it here because it was much more diverse than Chicago. There’s a lot of Ethiopians, a lot of different cultures.” And while Mamo remained far from home, it turned out that his entrepreneurial DNA was still intact in North America. “I always wanted to be a businessman like my father. The only business I knew was a gas station, so I decided to lease a gas station,” Mamo says. … [READ MORE]
Every thing in Ethiopia is being pillaged, plundered, looted and destroyed by the gang of thugs that is currently ruling Ethiopia. After carrying out a genocidal war in Gambela [read here], the Meles regime is now preparing to destroy the region’s natural resources by leasing large tracts of forest land to foreign investors at bargain prices to grow tea for export. Below is a video about Gambella’s stunning natural resources.
Northern California Peace Corps Association (NorCal PCA), in partnership with the Commonwealth Club of California, will hold a discussion on:
LAND GRAB IN AFRICA: THE CASE OF ETHIOPIA
presented by Fikre Tolossa, PhD, Playwright/Author
Though Africa is no longer threatened by armed colonizers, foreign exploiters are threatening Ethiopian farmers by obtaining fertile land from African leaders. The governments of many African countries are benefiting from these land transactions, but the people are left impoverished and hungry. Tolossa will suggest ways to improve the desperate situation for Ethiopian farmers.
Date: March 1, 2011
Time: 5:30 p.m. networking reception, 6:00 p.m. program
For more information visit: NorCalPca.org
Ethiopian activists who are organizing an uprising against the ethnic apartheid dictatorship in Ethiopia don’t have to invent new methods. There are strategies and methods that are proven to be effective against some of the most brutal dictators around the world. One of the pioneers in this field is Gene Sharp. The New York Times writer Sheryl Gay Stolberg has written the following about him:
If people are not afraid of the dictatorship, that dictatorship is in big trouble.” – Gene Sharp
Shy U.S. Intellectual Created Playbook Used in a Revolution
BOSTON (New York Times) – Halfway around the world from Tahrir Square in Cairo, an aging American intellectual shuffles about his cluttered brick row house in a working-class neighborhood here. His name is Gene Sharp. Stoop-shouldered and white-haired at 83, he grows orchids, has yet to master the Internet and hardly seems like a dangerous man.
But for the world’s despots, his ideas can be fatal.
Few Americans have heard of Mr. Sharp. But for decades, his practical writings on nonviolent revolution — most notably “From Dictatorship to Democracy [click here to download],” a 93-page guide to toppling autocrats, available for download in 24 languages — have inspired dissidents around the world, including in Burma, Bosnia, Estonia and Zimbabwe, and now Tunisia and Egypt.
When Egypt’s April 6 Youth Movement was struggling to recover from a failed effort in 2005, its leaders tossed around “crazy ideas” about bringing down the government, said Ahmed Maher, a leading strategist. They stumbled on Mr. Sharp while examining the Serbian movement Otpor, which he had influenced.
When the nonpartisan International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, which trains democracy activists, slipped into Cairo several years ago to conduct a workshop, among the papers it distributed was Mr. Sharp’s “198 Methods of Nonviolent Action,” a list of tactics that range from hunger strikes to “protest disrobing” to “disclosing identities of secret agents.”
Dalia Ziada, an Egyptian blogger and activist who attended the workshop and later organized similar sessions on her own, said trainees were active in both the Tunisia and Egypt revolts. She said that some activists translated excerpts of Mr. Sharp’s work into Arabic, and that his message of “attacking weaknesses of dictators” stuck with them.
Peter Ackerman, a onetime student of Mr. Sharp who founded the nonviolence center and ran the Cairo workshop, cites his former mentor as proof that “ideas have power.”
Mr. Sharp, hard-nosed yet exceedingly shy, is careful not to take credit. He is more thinker than revolutionary, though as a young man he participated in lunch-counter sit-ins and spent nine months in a federal prison in Danbury, Conn., as a conscientious objector during the Korean War. He has had no contact with the Egyptian protesters, he said, although he recently learned that the Muslim Brotherhood had “From Dictatorship to Democracy” posted on its Web site.
While seeing the revolution that ousted Hosni Mubarak as a sign of “encouragement,” Mr. Sharp said, “The people of Egypt did that — not me.”
He has been watching events in Cairo unfold on CNN from his modest house in East Boston, which he bought in 1968 for $150 plus back taxes.
It doubles as the headquarters of the Albert Einstein Institution, an organization Mr. Sharp founded in 1983 while running seminars at Harvard and teaching political science at what is now the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. It consists of him; his assistant, Jamila Raquib, whose family fled Soviet oppression in Afghanistan when she was 5; a part-time office manager and a Golden Retriever mix named Sally. Their office wall sports a bumper sticker that reads “Gotov Je!” — Serbian for “He is finished!”
In this era of Twitter revolutionaries, the Internet holds little allure for Mr. Sharp. He is not on Facebook and does not venture onto the Einstein Web site. (“I should,” he said apologetically.) If he must send e-mail, he consults a handwritten note Ms. Raquib has taped to the doorjamb near his state-of-the-art Macintosh computer in a study overflowing with books and papers. “To open a blank e-mail,” it reads, “click once on icon that says ‘new’ at top of window.”
Some people suspect Mr. Sharp of being a closet peacenik and a lefty — in the 1950s, he wrote for a publication called “Peace News” and he once worked as personal secretary to A. J. Muste, a noted labor union activist and pacifist — but he insists that he outgrew his own early pacifism and describes himself as “trans-partisan.”
Based on studies of revolutionaries like Gandhi, nonviolent uprisings, civil rights struggles, economic boycotts and the like, he has concluded that advancing freedom takes careful strategy and meticulous planning, advice that Ms. Ziada said resonated among youth leaders in Egypt. Peaceful protest is best, he says — not for any moral reason, but because violence provokes autocrats to crack down. “If you fight with violence,” Mr. Sharp said, “you are fighting with your enemy’s best weapon, and you may be a brave but dead hero.”
Autocrats abhor Mr. Sharp. In 2007, President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela denounced him, and officials in Myanmar, according to diplomatic cables obtained by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, accused him of being part of a conspiracy to set off demonstrations intended “to bring down the government.” (A year earlier, a cable from the United States Embassy in Damascus noted that Syrian dissidents had trained in nonviolence by reading Mr. Sharp’s writings.)
In 2008, Iran featured Mr. Sharp, along with Senator John McCain of Arizona and the Democratic financier George Soros, in an animated propaganda video that accused Mr. Sharp of being the C.I.A. agent “in charge of America’s infiltration into other countries,” an assertion his fellow scholars find ludicrous.
“He is generally considered the father of the whole field of the study of strategic nonviolent action,” said Stephen Zunes, an expert in that field at the University of San Francisco. “Some of these exaggerated stories of him going around the world and starting revolutions and leading mobs, what a joke. He’s much more into doing the research and the theoretical work than he is in disseminating it.”
That is not to say Mr. Sharp has not seen any action. In 1989, he flew to China to witness the uprising in Tiananmen Square. In the early 1990s, he sneaked into a rebel camp in Myanmar at the invitation of Robert L. Helvey, a retired Army colonel who advised the opposition there. They met when Colonel Helvey was on a fellowship at Harvard; the military man thought the professor had ideas that could avoid war. “Here we were in this jungle, reading Gene Sharp’s work by candlelight,” Colonel Helvey recalled. “This guy has tremendous insight into society and the dynamics of social power.”
Not everyone is so impressed. As’ad AbuKhalil, a Lebanese political scientist and founder of the Angry Arab News Service blog, was outraged by a passing mention of Mr. Sharp in The New York Times on Monday. He complained that Western journalists were looking for a “Lawrence of Arabia” to explain Egyptians’ success, in a colonialist attempt to deny credit to Egyptians.
Still, just as Mr. Sharp’s profile seems to be expanding, his institute is contracting.
Mr. Ackerman, who became wealthy as an investment banker after studying under Mr. Sharp, contributed millions of dollars and kept it afloat for years. But about a decade ago, Mr. Ackerman wanted to disseminate Mr. Sharp’s ideas more aggressively, as well as his own. He put his money into his own center, which also produces movies and even a video game to train dissidents. An annuity he purchased still helps pay Mr. Sharp’s salary.
In the twilight of his career, Mr. Sharp, who never married, is slowing down. His voice trembles and his blue eyes grow watery when he is tired; he gave up driving after a recent accident. He does his own grocery shopping; his assistant, Ms. Raquib, tries to follow him when it is icy. He does not like it.
He says his work is far from done. He has just submitted a manuscript for a new book, “Sharp’s Dictionary of Power and Struggle: Terminology of Civil Resistance in Conflicts,” to be published this fall by Oxford University Press. He would like readers to know he did not pick the title. “It’s a little immodest,” he said. He has another manuscript in the works about Einstein, whose own concerns about totalitarianism prompted Mr. Sharp to adopt the scientist’s name for his institution. (Einstein wrote the foreword to Mr. Sharp’s first book, about Gandhi.)
In the meantime, he is keeping a close eye on the Middle East. He was struck by the Egyptian protesters’ discipline in remaining peaceful, and especially by their lack of fear. “That is straight out of Gandhi,” Mr. Sharp said. “If people are not afraid of the dictatorship, that dictatorship is in big trouble.”
Andrew W. Lehren contributed reporting from New York, and David D. Kirkpatrick from Cairo.
Open Letter to Professor Stiglitz
Professor Joseph Stiglitz
Economics Department, Columbia University
814 Uris Hall, MC 3308, 420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
Dear Professor Stiglitz,
First, we Ethiopian economists and scholars express our sincere admiration for and recognition of your distinguished work in advancing the frontiers of economic thinking and your world renowned contributions to the theory of information which earned you and your colleague (Professor Grossman) the highest esteem, the award of the Nobel Prize in economics.
In light of your stature, it will not come as a surprise to you that those of us who hail from developing countries follow what you say very closely. In this regard, we kept a keen eye and learned a great deal of your interest and involvement in matters of development in the Third World over the past few years. You will agree with us that all people—irrespective of race, religion, age or other attribute– aspire to be free of oppression, poverty and corruption. The monumental changes that are taking place in Tunisia and Egypt which are now raging in the rest of North Africa and the Middle East are illustrative of the human passion for freedom and dignity. Given this emerging trend, we were astonished by your recent interview with Bloomberg (2. February 2011, “Real Risk of Spillover from Egypt Unrest”), in which you discussed the situation in Egypt. When the journalist asked what advice you would provide to the Egyptian Government you said that, “at this point they have to open up and democratize; I think there’s just no choice; I think they’ve been very slow at doing this […] they ought to follow what’sgoing on in Tunisia”. We would like to inform you how elated we were to hear your unconditional support of the democratic aspirations of the Egyptian people. The first important step toward democratization took place on February 11 when a peoples’ led popular revolutionforced President Hosni Mubarak to step down from power after ruling Egypt with an iron fist for30 years.
What we find baffling is the contradictory signals you voice. Your appreciation of the importance of democratization in Egypt clashes with your long-held posture with regard to the application of the same principles in Africa in general and Ethiopia in particular. On a closer look, your critical approach to repressive governance does not appear to be applicable to Africa. We say this with justification and with the hope that you will reconsider your stand. In the past two decades you lent incalculable support, through your words and your actions, to Ethiopia’s minority dictator, Meles Zenawi, who has ruled Ethiopia for 20 years. We would like to draw your attention to Peter Gill’s book Famine and Foreigners. This insightful analysis provides the world with a detailed account of how you developed a warm and intimate friendship with the ruler of Ethiopia, and how you and Mr. Meles became brothers-in-arms against the operations of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the country. Our concern is not about personal friendship but about the policy implications the friendship implies. We are talking about the legitimacy that your warm friendship and endorsements gave to the head of one of the most repressive regimes in Africa today.
Video of Stiglitz Interview on Egypt Turmoil
The Ethiopian ruler to whom you lent your undivided attention and support is the same person who has inflicted untold brutality and pain on innocent civilians, communities and the country through acts of alleged genocide, crimes against humanity and human rights violations. Mr.Meles Zenawi has stolen elections repeatedly; massacred hundreds and mass-detained over 40,000 citizens in Addis Ababa and other cities in 2005/06. Genocide Watch, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the New York Times, the State Department’s annual human rights reports and many other media, public, and human rights agencies have given careful account of these and other atrocities. The independent Global Financial Integrity group has documented billions of dollars of illicit outflow of funds under his watch.
You will agree with us that there are real consequences when internationally known intellectuals with power and influence provide legitimacy to dictators such as Mr. Meles Zenawi. On the ground, the lives of ordinary Ethiopians who are denied livelihoods, suffer from unemployment, live with hunger and face the indignities of living under a repressive system each and every day tell the real story. These Ethiopians have been caught up between your policy/ideological preference on the one hand, and your delight in finding an African ruler who is happy to play the African anti-neoliberal Robin to your Batman. Don’t you think this is unfair and unjust? We regret to say that, in your ideological and intellectual battles with the IMF in collaboration with Mr. Meles, you gave a dictator the benefits of your global status as a leading economist. He has used this to polish his international image. The cost to the Ethiopian people has been high.
African intellectuals, academics and fair minded leaders find this kind of affinity with African dictators regrettable and unbecoming of leading economist like you. What saddens and amazes us is your endorsement of Mr. Meles Zenawi’s knowledge of economics and his intellectual acumen. This, we find utterly irresponsible and intellectually dishonest. Ethiopia has many intellectual leaders scattered around the globe. Mr. Meles Zenawi is not one of them. This disservice to the Ethiopian people and to the rest of Africans is contained in your book, Globalization and its Discontents, in which you state that Mr. Zenawi “demonstrated knowledge of economics—and indeed a creativity—that would have put him at the head of any of my university classes”. You speak highly of the way he rules the country, saying “Meles combined these intellectual attributes with personal integrity: no one doubted his honesty and there were few accusations of corruption within his government.”
How do we reconcile your assessments and conclusions with other experts and global institutions such Human Rights Watch, Transparency International, Global Financial Integrity, Mo Ibrahim, Oxford University and even the World Bank? . As far as we are concerned he has several times failed his economics tests miserably. His economic policies and programs have brought untold suffering to the Ethiopian people. In the event you are not aware of his many failures, we would like to identify a most recent one. Recently he imposed price caps on a dozen or so goods. When imposing his ill-fated price caps measure, Mr. Zenawi told us that he was doing it in order to curb the month-to-month double-digit inflation that the country was experiencing. As any student who has taken principles of economics course would have predicted, the colossal failure of the price cap measure has not only backfired on his regime; it has also brought untold suffering to the Ethiopian people. As we predicted, every negative and secondary effect of price caps that any economist would theorize has been realized in Ethiopia. Mr. Zenawi’s price caps measures qualify to be cited as lessons in how to mismanage an economy. As if this is not enough, Mr. Zenawi tried to shift the blame on the Ethiopian entrepreneurs and merchants. A few days before imposing the ill-fated price caps measure, he gathered about 584 businesspersons and accused them of price gauging, hoarding and engaging in unhealthy competition. He told them that he would “cut their fingers” unless they cooperate with him. For anyone who watched the entire taunting process (and the ones before it) and Mr. Zenawi’s rants and the stunned faces and silence of the 584 businessmen and women, it was clear that the attendees were scared and did not know what to say. He met with and freighted the business community despite the fact that he had been informed (see here, for example, ) that the root causes of the price hikes and runaway inflation were the supply rigidities brought about by the opaque system that he imposed on the country. These include the creation and support of party-owned conglomerates which have dominated the vital sectors of the country’s economy, expansionary monetary policy (accompanied by negative real interest rates) and government spending- both of which have played their part in injecting liquidity into the system; lack of productivity; continuous devaluation of the birr – the latest one being the 20% devaluation announced on September 1st, 2010. To make matters worse, the latest information we have indicates that Mr. Zenawi’s government is contemplating to expand the price caps. The piling of mistakes continues unabatedly despite the fact that some of us had illustrated the negative ramifications of price caps (see hereahead of time so that lessons could be learned.
The world knows Mr. Zenawi as articulate when speaking with foreigners. Ethiopians know him as sinister and cunning, brutal and repressive. For these reasons, we are puzzled by your unreserved praise of his economics. It is a disservice to the majority of Ethiopians for you to give legitimacy to a leader whose family, party and endowments control the economy with an iron fist. He runs a party owned and controlled business empire through his wife, decimates the private sector, and instills fear into farmers of losing their land, and access to inputs. Worse, if they complain about unfairness in rural service provision they will be punished. Like us, the Economist magazine strongly differs with your assessment about Mr. Zenawi’s economics acumen, stating that the Ethiopian Government is “one of the most economically illiterate in the modern world.” A Wikileaked cable from the US Embassy to Berlin also stated: “Germany reported addressing Ethiopia’s economic situation, namely hard currency and the poor investment climate, with Meles directly and being struck by what they described as Meles’ poor understanding of economics.”
In no small part to your contribution, Mr. Zenawi’s appearance at Columbia University on 22 September, 2010, shocked the Ethiopian community in the Diaspora and in the country. His speech, the essence of which was the condemnation of neo-liberalism, was preceded by your warm welcome and introduction. You invited Mr. Zenawi to speak at World Leaders Forum at Columbia despite the fact that you were amply informed of his regime’s atrocities by many people of Ethiopian origin. Letters were sent to your institution via Lee C Bollinger, President of Colombia University, the student paper at Columbia, Columbia Spectator, and through several faculty members at Columbia.
Your University’s website initially carried the following scandalous statement about the visit. We presume that you were not unaware of the statement.
Under the seasoned governmental leadership of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, now in hisfourth term, and vision of the Tigrai Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) and Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), Ethiopia has made and continues to make progresses in many areas including in education, transportation, health and energy.”
Mr. Meles Zenawi is hardly a “seasoned leader.” Ethiopians and most objective observers know him as a brutal dictator and his regime is one of the most repressive and corrupt regimes in the world today. We would like to draw your attention to the latest Freedom House report which downgraded Ethiopia’s position from “Partly Free” to “Not Free.” Using the newly installed “Anti-Terrorism Proclamation” and “Charities and Societies Proclamation” law (CSO law), the regime has muzzled freedom of expression and criminalized human rights activities. Yes, progress has been made in infrastructure projects but at the expense of quality and fairness. For example, some of our own research and the researches of others indicate that, thanks to the huge sums of donor funds, student enrolment ratios have improved but quality has deteriorated. This fact has been acknowledged on August 26, 2010, when the Ministry of Education issued a directive that categorically banned all public and private higher learning institutions from running distance education programs, and all private higher learning institutions from offering on-campus law and teachers’ education programs.
In light of the above and the ample reliable documentation of repression, gross human rights abuses, alleged genocide, single party and endowment command and control of the national economy, massive unemployment, land grab and mismanagement of the national economy, we urge you to no longer give legitimacy to the dictatorial regime led by Mr. Meles Zenawi. We believe that your past support and endorsement may have overlooked the real facts on the ground. As a Nobel Prize winner and a reputed leading economist you have provided Mr.
Most Embarrassing Allies”.) Your video of February 2, 2011 has shown that you are able to see the downfall of autocratic rulers who choke their country and economy.
We urge you to be part of a legacy of prominent voices around the globe who believe in human freedom and possibilities. At the end of the day, economic development is about people. You will agree with us that the nexus between economic development and good governance is so compelling that any form of dictatorship can’t be acceptable in North Africa, the Middle East or Sub-Saharan Africa.
We thank you in advance for your attention.
On behalf of Ethiopian Development Policy Focus Group
- Getachew Begashaw, Ph.D. Professor of Economics, W.R. Harper College, Chicago, IL(Member).
By Obang Metho
The Ethiopian Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (MoARD) is ignoring objections from Ethiopian President Girma Wolde-Giorgis, from the Environmental Protection Authority of Ethiopia (EPA) and from the indigenous Mazenger people of Gambella, to the clearing of 5,000 hectares of ancient forests in the Godere District, located at the headwaters of five critical rivers in the Nile Basin that are major tributaries to the White Nile.
Despite the fact that the Mazenger and other indigenous people have depended on these forest-covered lands for their livelihood for generations and despite well-founded fears that the deforestation of the area could have serious and potentially irreversible effects on the people, habitat, wildlife and water, the Minister of Agriculture has authorized a fifty year lease of the land to the Indian company, Verdanta Harvests (VH), who plan to use the land for a tea and spice plantation; destined for export. The absolutely cavalier attitude of the MoARD towards anyone else’s authority, rights or concerns gives evidence of how frenzied and money and/or power-centered these land deals have become in Ethiopia. In Godere, the clearing of the trees has already begun; blatantly disregarding all warnings, protests or claims to the land.
As objections fall on deaf ears, it appears that compliance with publicized protocols is non-existent with decisions being made at the whim of a few Meles-regime cronies at the top. The failure to consider the short and long term environmental risks associated with these land grabs; not even including the impact to the lives of the people, could have extremely dangerous consequences as millions of hectares of choice Ethiopian agricultural land are leased throughout the country. It gives the impression that Meles and his cronies are trying to make “fast money” before the regime collapses; then abandoning these investors to the mercy of a new government who might not be willing to sell out on the people.
Here is a more sequential explanation of what happened in Godere; with more details available through a recently leaked eighteen-page document (see here) in Amharic that we in the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE) acquired regarding the above-mentioned deal. The letters reads like a drama; showing a game of double-talk, manipulation and intimidation being played by this regime with the land, lives and future of the people.
Summary of the Document
Sometime last spring (2010), the local Mazenger and other indigenous people in the villages of Gomare and Bako (Godere district) discovered that their homes and forest-covered land they depended on for everything; including hunting, gathering and beekeeping, were soon to be leased to an Indian company who would be clearing the forests to make way for a tea and spice plantation. As a result, they were targeted for displacement. After hearing about this, the local people in both villages organized and sent a team of representatives to Addis Ababa. The team included: Tamiru Ambelo; Chairman of Gomare village, Ameya Kesito; secretary of Gomare village and Kasahun Kekilo; an elder from Bako village.
While in Addis Ababa, they met with the President of Ethiopia, Girma Wolde-Giorgis, supposedly the Head of State in the administration, and explained to him what was happening. They told him that this land should not be given away to investors; telling him that it belonged to them as indigenous people who had lived there for generations, that without it their livelihood would be destroyed, that they considered the forests sacred and that the environment would be greatly impacted through the deforestation of the region. Much to his credit, President Girma listened to them and supported their position.
In response he wrote a letter to the Environmental Protection Authority of Ethiopia (EPAE); saying that the EPAE should tell the MoARD to suspend this project. Again, much to the credit of the EPAE and in an effort to follow their established mission of protecting the environment, the EPAE also listened and supported the peoples’ position. On May 6, 2010, the EPAE wrote a letter to the MoARD, with copies to Gambella Regional Governor, Omot Obang Olum and President Girma, saying that the short term benefit of leasing this land (including clearing it of its forests) would not outweigh the long-term costs to the country and that the lease should not proceed. They added that there were local environmental NGO’s present in the district who had been very involved in teaching the locals how to protect these valuable forests for the future and that they had done a very good job.
On November 19, 2010, Governor Omot responded indirectly to this EPAE position; not to them, but by writing a letter to Godere District authorities; telling them that this land (5000 hc) had already been given to an investor, Verdanta Harvests (VH) and that the agreement could not be altered at this time. He explained that VH had already paid the government $19,000 US for 3,012 hc of the land; towards an agreement that would give them 5,000 hectares for fifty years at $6 US per hectare. He told them that the project was to proceed without interference.
His letter was backed up by the MoARD, who on November 25, 2010, sent their own team to meet with the local people in the villages. However, when they met, they excluded those officials who had opposed it; including the chairman of the village, Tamiru Ambelo. Instead, they only invited the village vice chairman, a man more “sympathetic” to their own point of view—as well as other select people—to meet with the general public. When they met, they heavily lobbied the people for their support of the project. They labeled any who disagreed with it as being “anti-development;” saying that such people opposed the very development and investment that would bring roads, employment and income to the people.
In response to this meeting, on December 9, 2010, Tamiru, Ameya and Kasahun wrote another letter to President Girma; updating him and asking him to intervene once again because despite his letter and the directive from the EPA, Gambella Governor Omot Obang Olum and the MoARD were proceeding with the clearing of the land. This time President Girma wrote a letter directly to the Minister of Agriculture on December 10, 2010; literally telling him to stop this project from going any further because this land, with its abundant rain forests, should be protected; explaining how the headwaters of these critical rivers could be affected and how the people depended on the forests for their livelihood. He copied the letter to Omot Obang Olum, the EPA, the local authorities, local residents and even to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi himself.
No formal response to his letter is recorded in the 18-page document we acquired; however, on January 25, 2011, the administrator of the Godere district wrote a letter to the two kebele villages of Gomare and Bako; directing them to immediately fire Tamiru from his job as chairman of the village and in his place, to immediately appoint the vice chair as chairman of the village. As mentioned previously, this vice chair had been in favor of the land investment project. Tamiru was accused of working with “anti-development” people in trying to kill the project and of working against the interests of the local people. He was also accused of opposing literacy, job creation and other kinds of development. Currently, the project is moving forward and the forests are being cleared.
What is happening in Godere is only one example of what is going on throughout Ethiopia as the legitimate concerns of the people are manipulated or suppressed and as those who speak out are harassed, intimidated, punished (losing jobs, property, etc), beaten, arrested or killed. This case is only exceptional in that both President Girma and the EPAE took the side of the people; yet, even then, no one listened to them. We hope this government will not take any actions against Tamiru, Ameya and Kasahun; but if any punitive actions result, we will report on it.
Where is the accountability and rule of law in this government that portrays itself as being democratic, environmentally conscious; even representing all of Africa in the climate talks and as a progressive crusader for economic development? The Meles regime is being run like a mafia; a kleptocracy of Meles, his family and his cronies. Regardless of its elaborate laws and grandiose rhetoric, every decision in Ethiopia is at the whim of someone at the top who might profit in some way. Punitive measures; including human rights violations, are the predictable outcome for any who dare resist by getting in their way. From the prospective of the Meles regime, all indigenous land is for sale; regardless of the impact on the people, the environment and the country.
As one local Anuak man said, “Ethiopia has never been colonized, but now it has been colonized by the tiny minority of people who run the country. It is not only the outsiders who are complicit with them in robbing the country, but also the opportunistic Ethiopians; including some in the Diaspora.”
Information has been leaked to the SMNE regarding names of Ethiopians both within and outside of the country who are colluding with the Meles regime in the land grab schemes.
The SMNE continues to receive leaked information from conscientious Ethiopians who are secretly outraged by this injustice and morally convicted to not cooperate any longer with the Meles regime in their corrupt and illegal practices which have been going on for nearly twenty years now. These courageous Ethiopians have provided other information to us as well and we expect continued leaks of such documents and information to still come forth from Ethiopians who can no longer ignore this.
One of those documents is a list of some of the Ethiopians who have capitalized on investing in these land grabs; knowingly leasing the land under situations where the people are not consulted, where the environmental impacts have not been studied or heeded and where people are being forced off their land with no compensation or provision for their needs. This displacement is not only being carried out in the rural communities; but also is going on within the city limits of Addis Ababa. The people are promised “development,” but almost none has been seen. Some see this as an opportunity to make quick money; taking advantage of the great vulnerability of the people as they rush in to exploit the moment. However, even though no one seems to be watching; the eyes of those God-fearing Ethiopians—scattered among the villages, offices and departments throughout the country—are watching carefully and are quietly acting on it. Here is our recent example.
The SMNE has been given a list of more than a hundred names, phone numbers and locations of Ethiopian investors in Gambella, Benishangul-Gumuz, Afar, Amhara region, Southern Nations and Oromiya who have taken advantage of the opportunity; buying 1,000 to 5,000 hectares of land in cooperation with this repressive government who is now starting to forcibly remove the people from their homes to resettlement villages. Many are refusing to go, but others, fearing reprisals, have left. We intend to release these names; including those who live in the Diaspora so Ethiopians can know who is helping rob the country. When this government falls, any agreement that has been signed regarding the land will not be binding. These agreements are illegal; completed without consulting the people, under the threat of retaliation and by a government who has stolen an election and kept citizens captive. Actions that have displaced the people through forced villagization projects will be reversed.
In a “New Ethiopia,” whether in Godere, Addis Ababa, Abobo, Arba Minch, Adwa, Asosa, Awasa, Babille, Bonga, Debre Dawa, Dessie, Debre Tabor, Dimma, Dembidolo, Debre Berhan, Gambella, Gondar, Gorgora, Gog, Harar, Humera, Jimma, Jijiga, Kombolcha, Kulubi, Mek’ele, Mizan Teferi, Metu, Moyale, Negele Boran, Nekemte, Sodore, Sodu Welmal, Tullu Milki, Turmi, Woldia, Wolleka, Abelo, Yeha; and above all; in the north, south, east and west of New Ethiopia, no matter what ethnicity, political view, language, religion or any other differences, this injustice should outrage all of us as citizens of a country where “humanity comes before ethnicity” and where “no one is free until all are free.” This is what the SMNE is all about.
President Girma and the EPAE have tried to do what was right and just for the people, but were ignored! Regardless, we commend them highly for what they have done in trying to implement the law in a country where there is no rule of law. They are examples of some of the good Ethiopians trying to operate with integrity; yet who are totally compromised by a corrupt and lawless few who hold the country hostage. We also give much credit to the representatives and the people of Gomare and Bako for their remarkable work, persistence and courage; particularly the leadership.
All of these people are heroes. May God help increasingly more Ethiopians to follow their conscience; rising up to do what is good, right and just. Eventually, with God’s help and with each other, we will reach the “tipping point;” unbalancing this regime away from evil, ethnic hatred and oppression and towards a New Ethiopia where the God-given rights of all Ethiopians are respected. Be ready for that tipping point may come at any moment! May God free our souls with His presence; lifting up the curtain of fear and apathy that binds us to our past; replacing it with love, truth, courage and the moral conviction necessary to lead us rightly into a new future!
(Please do not hesitate to e-mail your comments to Mr. Obang Metho, Executive Director of the SMNE, at: firstname.lastname@example.org)
By Peter Chrichton
The latest Wikileaks cable details the US Government’s 2007 position on the ongoing conflict in the Ogaden region, following the ONLF’s attack on an oil installation. The cable considers the Ethiopian Government’s rationale for such a “brutal and excessive counter insurgency operation” and provides a fascinating insight into US perceptions about the EPRDF, about US-Ethiopian relations, and the extent that the US is involved in Ethiopian affairs. Anyone who has any doubt about the role that the USG plays in Ethiopian affairs should read this document. It is originally from November 28, 2007, and was released by Wikileaks on February 3, 2011. It is available in full here.
The cable suggests that the underlying reasons for “such an extreme, visceral GoE and Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) response” was because it threatened the EPRDF’s vision for economic development (close links with China and oil exploitation), posed a “fundamental threat to the GoE’s authority”, and “embarrassed the Defense Forces, making it appear to the outside world as unable to control and secure its own territory.” The cable also suggests that the USG is of the opinion that the EPRDF views the ONLF as a “long term threat to the survival of the EPRDF government”. The cable discusses the parallels with the TPLF, who similarly to the ONLF, with just 6% of the population were able to overthrow the Derg. The United States Government (USG) sees the ONLF issue as a “domestic issue” and they are not seen as a “terrorist organization” “though elements of the ONLF may very well support extremist operations.” The cable further explains that the problem is “not the ONLF as an organization, but individuals within the group.” The USG also suggests that there is no “explicit evidence” of Eritrean support for the ONLF outside of evidence provided by the EPRDF.
The cable also suggests that the EPRDF’s vision includes a “heavy government role in promoting & accelerated capitalist development”. It also underscores the strong links between China and Ethiopia suggesting that in China, Ethiopia has found “a cheap, eager, and reliable partner to implement infrastructural expansion without nagging about human rights, social equity, or environmental concerns.”
The cable concludes with three USG recommendations regarding the Ogaden situation. These include:
1. That the USG have a “frank discussion with the GOE” about the fact that “military action alone will not bring a lasting resolution [in the Ogaden]“
2. Sustain a more comprehensive approach with includes an “emphasis on unrestricted humanitarian aid deliveries and on commercial food and livestock trade”
3. Political dialogue with the ONLF could be the key to resolving problems and opening political space with the people of the Ogaden.
It is interesting to note that all meetings with EPRDF officials about counter-insurgency efforts in this cable (and others) include the participation of USAID representatives.
USAID has often been accused of being a front for US intelligence gathering operations in Africa, and their ongoing participation in meetings that have nothing to do with aid and development further raise the suspicion of the close links between US humanitarian assitance and intelligence gathering operations in Ethiopia.
As mainstream reporting on Wikileaks revelations seem to have dried up in the recent months, we fully encourage you to continue to view cables emanating from the US Embassy in Addis Ababa. There are currently 6 cables and new cables are released on an ongoing basis providing an increased and uncensored understanding of the role that the United States Government plays in Ethiopian affairs. Thus far cables have focused on land grabbing in Ethiopia, humanitarian assistance in the Ogaden, US perspectives on Ethiopian government “hardliners”, and briefings on meetings between USG and Meles Zenawi. All cables emanating from the US Embassy in Addis Ababa are available on an ongoing basis at here.
(Peter Chrichton can be contacted at Peter.Chrichton@gmail.com)
Information hungry Ethiopians who are too poor to buy newspapers are resorting to renting them per half hour basis, according to a report that is published by South Africa’s Mail & Guardian. One of the places where newspapers are being rented is the Arat Kilo neighborhood of Addis Ababa where Meles Zenawi and wife Azeb Mesfin are currently building an extravagant residential villa at the cost of 82 million birr.
Ethiopia’s newspaper landlords
By Mohammed Selam
Despite an abundance of national and international newsmakers, Addis Ababa has relatively little in the way of newspapers — no dailies of note — or even newsstands to offer news consumers. But don’t be fooled. This is a city of voracious readers where even the poor are indulged.
In fact, some corners of Addis are reserved for newspaper passions, Arat Kilo being one legendary neighbourhood. And by persisting, there you may stumble upon the city’s secret: consumers too poor to buy a copy of a newspaper but able to rent a read.
Arat Kilo is not only the home of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s spacious palace and the country’s Parliament building but also of flat-broke citizens with rich news-reading addictions.
“Paper landlords” offer “news seats” to readers who gather on the edge of a road, in a nearby alleyway, even inside a traffic circle. And for years, these “paper tenants” have happily hunkered down, reading a copy of a newspaper quickly and then returning it to watchful owners nearby. And even today’s deteriorating economy and “press-phobic” government has not significantly slowed this frenzied exchange.
In a country without a substantive daily Saturday is distribution day for the country’s weeklies. That also makes it the toughest day to find an empty news seat in Arat Kilo, or anywhere on the streets of Addis.
Luckily, Birhanina Selam, the nation’s oldest and largest publishing house, where 99% of newspapers get published, is in Arat Kilo. So readers there can get news hot off the press while the rest of the city gets the paper later that day.
Cliché of journalism
Major cities elsewhere in the country receive newspapers a day or two later and for readers there the cliché of journalism as the first rough draft of history seems senseless. The story is already history by the time it reaches their streets.
Unlike newspaper readers in the countryside, the poor of Arat Kilo must deal with noise. Cars blow horns hysterically. Street children shout for money in the name of God. Lottery vendors call out for customers. Taxi conductors shriek names of destinations. Yet the “renters” tune out the city’s hustle as they run up against rental deadlines. Paper landlords vigilantly act as timekeepers.
Readers dare not hold copies for more than a half hour or they will be charged more birr. One copy of a newspaper may quickly pass through a hundred readers before, late in the day, it is finally recycled as toilet tissue or bread wrap.
Now, as a rising number of unemployed people hunt for jobs through newspapers and a growing population of pensioners distract themselves with news, news seats are popular pastimes.
And this is true despite prices for newspapers doubling as a result of the rising costs of newsprint and the country’s latest round of inflation and devaluation. Addis — dubbed the political capital of Africa because it hosts the headquarters of the African Union — is not as safe a haven for journalists as it is for journalism readers. Some international patron saints of media call the current government one of the world’s most journalist-unfriendly regimes.
As more and more local journalists face threats, the number of newspapers dwindles as diminutive media houses close. Over the past few years, some two dozen journalists have fled to neighbouring countries. They’ve left behind a country hurtling towards a “no free press” zone, with few media houses willing to publish private political newspapers.
Less variety for the poor
Just last year, two journalists in Ethiopia collected two prestigious awards — the Committee to Protect Journalists’ International Press Freedom Award and the Pen American Centre’s Freedom to Write Award for their fortitude and courage working in Ethiopia as political journalists. These honours witness the way the country handles the free press.
At present only a handful of local newspapers and two handsful of local magazines circulate in Ethiopia, with a total weekly circulation that barely equals that of one day of Kenya’s Daily Nation’s 50 000 print run.
By comparison, Fortune, reportedly the leading English weekly in Ethiopia, publishes 7 000 copies a week at most. So, unfortunately, the poor — and everyone else — in Addis have fewer copies and less variety. And a nation with the second-largest population in Africa — some 80-million potential readers — registers among the fewest number of newspapers on the continent.
Ironically, in Addis you do not often see readers riding in taxis, waiting at bus stops or sitting in cafés for hours. Few Ethiopians read newspapers, magazines or books alone in public but they do banter in groups. Only a few cafés allow their verandahs to be news seats to attract more customers. On the contrary, many street-side cafés post No Reading signs next to No Smoking signs. The Jolly Bar, friendly to newspaper renters for more than a decade, now forbids customers to read newspapers inside or outside.
In Arat Kilo, however, no one expects, or can afford, to read their papers in a comfortable seat or on a café verandah. “Here citizens may stand for a while on a zebra crossing and read the headline and pass,” says Boche Bochera, a prominent “paper lord” in the neighbourhood, exaggerating how his place is overrun by newspaper tenants.
Here, stones are aids to reading as are lampposts and pedestrian right-of-ways. And readers lean against notice boards or idle taxis, transforming themselves into “newspaper warms”. The streets of Addis, like Arat Kilo, get warmer with newspapers and newspaper readers lying on them.
Newspaper vendors and peddlers
Nowadays, traditional newspaper vendors and peddlers find themselves challenged by newspaper lords such as Boche. From a flat stone in Arat Kilo, Boche earns bread for his family of six by renting newspapers and magazines from sunrise to sunset.
Wearing worn overalls, he spreads the day’s newspapers around him and passes copies to paper brokers, mostly kids; his “paper constituencies” may reach 300 people a day. His attachment to this task is legendary. “I have a beautiful daughter called Kalkidan,” he says. “I named her after a magazine I lease weekly.”
And he seldom bribes community police to let him sit comfortably. “That is how I survived for the last 15 years,” he says.
When papers start to wear out with over-use, Boche splices them with Scotch tape. Then he affixes his signature so everyone knows which copies belong to him. This, he reasons, is his protection. But, he says: “Some disloyal paper tenants steal my copy and sell it somewhere else to quench their hunger.” As the hub of street newspaper reading, Arat Kilo entertains more than a thousand people a day. Other spots are rising to the challenge.
Merkato, dubbed the largest open market in Africa, now has a place for newspaper addicts around the Mearab Hotel. When daylight wanes, newspapers rented there will be collected and resold in kiosks nearby to wrap chat, a local leafy stimulant.
Other Addis neighbourhoods, like Piassa, Legehar, Megenagna and Kazanchis have also created newspaper circles for paper tenants. Yohannes Tekle (29) has been a regular reader of street papers for seven years. These days, especially, when a newspaper costs up to six birr (75 US cents), he rents one for 25 Ethiopian cents (which is less than one US cent).
For Tekle, a day without newspapers is unthinkable. “It is like an addiction,” he says. “Sometimes, I regret it after renting a paper when it is full of mumbo-jumbo news. I could have used that cent for buying a loaf of bread.” Still, he’s reluctant to set aside the habit.
“If I miss a day without renting, however, I feel like I missed some significant news about my county — like a coup in progress.”
(Mohammed Selman, a lecturer in journalism, is a freelance writer. He lives in Ethiopia. In 2009 he won the Excellence in Journalism award for print from the Foreign Press Association in Addis Ababa.)
Azeb Mesfin, the wife of Ethiopia’s tyrant Meles Zenawi, is building a new residence inside the Menelik Palace compound at the cost of 82 million birr, FORTUNE, an Addis Ababa-based business journal reports.
Azeb, who is known in Ethiopia as the mother of corruption, is building the residence with public funds, while according to the U.N. 2 million Ethiopian are in need of emergency food assistance.
FORTUNE is reporting that taxpayers are paying for the construction of the extremely lavish residence for the Prime Minister and his wife inside the Menelik Palace compound at Arat Kilo. The regime will be spending close to 82 million Birr on this residence, which will incorporate a swimming pool and tennis court as well as guest houses.
A committee of three has been established to follow the construction of the residence. It comprises Azeb Mesfin, an MP and resident of the compound for close to 20 years now; Muktar Khadir, head of the Office of the Prime Minister and secretary of the cabinet; and an individual who is currently following up the landscape work inside the palace.
Please also read this: Who stole 10,000 tons of Ethiopian coffee? It shows the level of corruption on the part of the Meles crime family.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has issued a report today stating that the African Union (AU) is lagging in defense of press freedom and that African governments are criminalizing investigative reporting. What the CPJ forgot to add is that AU is a union of thugs, thieves, and mass murderers like Ethiopia’s Meles Zenawi, Sudan’s Al Bashir, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, to name a few. It is an organization that is created to protect the interest of African dictators, not the suffering people of Africa.
New York (CPJ) — Global and regional institutions with a responsibility to guard press freedom are largely failing to fulfill their mandate as journalists worldwide continue to face threats, imprisonment, intimidation, and killings, according to Attacks on the Press, a yearly survey released today by the Committee to Protect Journalists.
“While international law guarantees the right to free expression, journalists cannot count on a robust defense of those rights,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “The recent unprecedented repression and persecution of journalists in Egypt, for example, provides an important opportunity for global and regional institutions to speak and act forcefully in defense of a free press.”
Attacks on the Press is the world’s most comprehensive guide to international press freedom, with thorough analyses of the key factors that obstruct a free press by CPJ’s regional experts. It includes a special feature on the invisible nature of online attacks meant to curb journalists, including online surveillance, malicious software, and the elimination of news sites from the Internet.
CPJ found that a halfhearted, inconsistent approach to defending press freedom plagues institutions like the United Nations, the African Union, the Organization of American States, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, among others. “While valiant special rapporteurs at various institutions battle anti-media violence, their efforts are stymied by a halting political will to guarantee press freedom,” said Simon.
With a preface by Al-Jazeera English anchor Riz Khan, the book provides an overview of media conditions in more than 100 countries along with data on journalists killed (44) and imprisoned (145) in 2010. Regional trends identified by CPJ include:
A rise in investigative journalism has led governments in the region to crack down on journalists, particularly those reporting on the provision of basic services and the use of public money. From Cameroon to South Africa, authorities are moving aggressively to unmask confidential news sources, criminalize possession of government documents, and retaliate against probing journalists—all while governments across the continent, under pressure from donor countries, are pledging more transparency and accountability.
Decades since democratization took hold in the region, a rise in censorship can be seen throughout Latin America, caused by government repression, judicial interference, and intimidation from criminal groups. In some countries, a climate of impunity perpetuates a cycle of violence and self-censorship. In others, governments abuse state resources to silence critical reporting, and powerful figures routinely utilize politicized courts to override constitutional guarantees of free expression.
With a mixture of violence and official repression, censorship in Asia takes many forms. China’s anti-media policies are becoming ever more entrenched, even as local journalists test the daily guidelines flowing from the Central Propaganda Department. Asian democracies like Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia appear incapable of reversing the impunity with which journalists are being killed, while Sri Lanka’s peace dividend never materialized for journalists. Pakistan was the world’s deadliest country for journalists in 2010.
Europe and Central Asia:
Newer and subtler forms of censorship are taking hold across the region to counter the rise of electronic journalism, particularly in Russia and the former Soviet republics. These include the targeted use of technological attacks and the untraceable disabling of independent media websites. The physical violence already employed in several countries to harass and intimidate journalists working in traditional media now extends to bloggers. Meanwhile, journalists face restrictions and potential punishment from defamation laws and anti-extremism statutes.
Middle East and North Africa:
Throughout the region, governments are conflating critical coverage of counterterrorism with terrorism itself, claiming national security grounds to suppress news and views considered unfavorable. From Egypt to Turkey, sweeping national security legislation has been enacted, criminalizing the coverage of terrorism and politically sensitive topics. Iran leads the region in its abuse of anti-state charges, and from Sudan to Bahrain, authorities resort to threats, harassment, and restriction of movement to limit coverage and conceal controversial activities and flawed policies.
By Natnael F. Alemayehu
For those who hope to see a thriving and united Ethiopia, I say to you: “If home is where the heart is, and the heart is more powerful than the mind”. If we have Ethiopia in our hearts, and no fear in our minds, it is the enemy who should fear us; for the power of “we” is more influential than the logic of “I”. Change is coming! The question is, what are we prepared to do with and for the new and free Ethiopia?
Revolution and reformation? It is always easier to begin an article with a critique of the past because it helps to comfort one’s soul and mind in the face of the coming unknown, after questioning the status quo. In the evolution of mankind, the majority always wanted change when they were robbed, oppressed and stripped of their dignity by a powerful few. In the end, the power of the people and the unity of the oppressed ignited the flame of change, starting a new chapter. Today, we find ourselves at the end of a chapter in Ethiopia’s lustrous history. So, how should we begin the new chapter? What comes after the revolution? How do we reform our country to actually become a nation of the people?
We must first revolutionize our thinking and reform our attitudes towards one another as Ethiopians. Before we question social issues, economical flaws, and lack of law, we must question the “single person’s” understanding of democracy and freedom. Without law, there could be no freedom, and without freedom, there is no democracy. Our plan must not be to create a utopian society, but rather an Ethiopia where the people, first and foremost, are free—free to express their individual identity, free to speak, free to respect, free disagree, free to debate, free to share, free to change, free to exchange, free to remain as they are, free to argue and free to free their minds. The poor of the country must be the beginning and the end of the next chapter for Ethiopia.
We must believe in constructing a government that is by the people, for the people, and we must become a people who understand and believe in that government. Our government and system of governance must also begin with the people. We cannot invite the people to be part of the development and growth of the nation, if they were never included in the constructing plans. Respect and appreciation of the individual must also become part of communal social interaction. Simply, we must view every individual and tribe as part of the “we” of tomorrow.
Our reformation must not be about erasing the past, rewriting what has been done but rather by learn from the past to build a prosperous future. Let us not forget, it took the current administration fifteen years to destroy what previous governments had put in place and five years to destroy what little normalcy was left in their method of governance. As a result, by their own admission, we are fifteen years behind in the transformation development plan, which took them twenty years to manifest.
Most of all, the people must influence political, financial, and economic development, as well as social policy. For too long, the leaders of most African countries have neglected the people of their nations for their own personal short-term, money-driven agendas. The people have to be the nations driving force. A nation is nothing without a strong economy, and an economy is ineffectual without a contributing workforce. Innovators, thinkers, idealists, builders, farmers, laborers, shop owners, merchants are some of the contributors to a strong economy. People should be free to work and financially flourish without direct involvement from the government, but government must continuously monitor the system.
The elected representatives of the people must believe in the separation of government and military along with the separation of government and economics. Political leaders must not be intimidated by educated leaders of the community; rather, they should embrace them, to listen to the people through them, and build a cooperative solution to the troubles of the nation. Government must not be above the uneducated, the educated, or the majority. Government must be of the people and for the people. Politics and politicians must not be above social servants and/or intellectuals, but rather be supporters of innovation and internal social evolution. They must strengthen the country’s economy and development by providing the necessary tools for those individuals and groups to flourish.
Rule of Law and Political Process …
Without rule of law and political process for all citizens, we will go back to the same past we have struggled through. All citizens must be subject to rules; no individual, group, or tribe can be excluded. Instituting a governing law and a transparent political system will allow for the public sector to flourish under new inventions, creations, and a variety of new businesses. It is not inventors or thinkers that Ethiopia lacks. The issue is lack of opportunity and freedom of expression. Under a new process, the wealthy and the politicians must be subjected to the laws of the nation to the same extent as everyone else.
Ideological Reform and Social Reform
In order to reform our thinking for the new chapter, we must analyze four elements of the current system that I feel are critical to opening up dialogue and encouraging action-backed change. We must first ask what democracy is and what it means to have a transparent government. What is a government for the people? What is the role of government? What must government do for the average person? And how must it all relate to, influence and be well understood by the people of Ethiopia to be effective.
The next chapter of Ethiopian politics has to begin with the people. The growth and development must be intertwined in culture, religion, economy, social and political institutions. Elected government officials should not have direct personal influence on the economics of the nation. As long as we continue to have elected officials control political policy and financial regulations, it is only to their best interest, not the countries economy and people, that these policies and regulations will be geared towards. Government has to leave businesses in the hands of the owners to succeed or fail. Government must regulate according to market conditions, but must not control the economy.
Democracy: Understanding Democracy
The basic element of democracy is OPPOSITION, from which is expected a united and improved outcome. Democracy is the “rule of the people”, not “to be ruled by a few”. The result of a revolution must be social equality for all Ethiopians. The widespread people of the country must be a political force in each and every election. Elected representatives must govern the people, under a system in which multi-party ideology can flourish with the interests of Ethiopia at the fore. Democracy, in relation to political representation, is a government vested in the people, to change periodically at the choosing of the people through elections.
In a parliament, championed by individuals who only pretend to represent the people, if one individual preaches to the converted, it is not political or social democracy, it is as simple as that. This type of system does not have a democratic foundation, and cannot claim to practice the theories of democracy because quite simply, the people are not actually represented by the representatives. We have become accustomed to witnessing one leader in every political system to be tried in our country; we must begin a system of governance reliant on collective ideas and participation.
Transparency: Government and the People; Law of the Land
There are two synonymous questions asked after the departure of almost every African leader “How much money did they take?” and “How many people did they kill before fleeing the country?” Corrupt individuals, their families, and selfish human hyenas who listen to them have robbed us for far too long. We must take our Ethiopia back! In order to do so we must begin to respect one another, listen to one other, and help our weakened and psychologically wounded brothers and sisters in Ethiopia.
The flaw in the current African model of governance (which is backed by the West) is “rule with an iron fist, and the people will love you in time.” NO THEY WON’T! That is a lie. As evidenced by Africa’s bloody history students will revolt, people will become angry and in some cases civil war will ensue. If you educate people, give them the freedom to ask questions and be heard by the system, they will be part of Africa’s solution going forward. It is easier to convince the uneducated and the poor to resort to violence and extremism because they are unable to ask questions and convene intellectually. An educated society will use democratic means to take back their freedom. Look no farther than Egypt. The outcome of the revolution again must remain in the hands of the people.
Government must take the lead and give every citizen the opportunity to participate, either conceptually or physically, in the development process through trade and education in social, infrastructural, and financial policies. We must construct a social and political system respectful of people, human rights and values. The future of the world depends on the sovereignty of the individual state, and we must begin constructing Ethiopia as one nation of many groups. Our difference in subculture and religion will bring us together and strengthen us in a united Ethiopia.
Role of Government
The old question of “who will police the police?” is as African as our dark skin. The quote also applies to the continent’s individual state leaders. They believe that by dividing the country through various existing social differences, they will rule longer, most of all become stronger. That’s where they fail, and where we will succeed. People are the strength of a government. That’s why when the majorities rise up and ask questions, leaders flee the country. They never had support!
Protecting the rights of the people and installing constitutional mandates is not enough. The people must understand and know who their representatives are and what they are doing. We must endorse an action-backed, result-oriented system. Merely sitting people in a big room to discuss issues of a political nature does not make a democracy. In a true democracy, it is the needs of the people, and their ability to elect and remove whomever they choose at any given time, that is the foundation and the effect of a national rule of law.
Ideology: Understanding Ethiopia, Ethiopians/Ourselves
Change must ignite within each and every one of us before we can have social change.
The political state of our nation is not the focus of the next chapter in Ethiopia, but rather the social change result of the individual change we must ask of all Ethiopians. What are the everyday needs of the average individual? From their wants and needs, can we construct a system able to grow concurrently with the minds of the educated and a productive workforce?
Yes, this will take time and effort, but we do not lack the resources or the minds to create an adoptable social and political structure designed for Ethiopia. To date, all forms of Western-shaped governance have led Ethiopia into an oligarchy (a structure of power where a few people control everything). Western political ideals will never work in Ethiopia, unless altered to work for Ethiopia. All political and social structures must be constructed according to the current social conditions of the nation. The ideals must also allow for adaptability, for progress and change, which will certainly come with future generations.
Our People Must Understand…
We must teach ourselves that our politicians are elected officials, representatives of the people in a place of liberty and freedom for all under the same constitution. The role and responsibilities of elected officials are to those of the people whom elected them. The majority has to be part of the movement and change. Every individual’s contribution must be recognized and respected regardless of tribe; religion or any other divisive means that other use to divide us. Our diversity will become the foundation of our strength to unite Ethiopia!
Most of all, we must protect the country from outside influence. The new political system must be mandated and implemented with full Ethiopian interests, so that the rights of all Ethiopians will be protected and defended from both domestic and foreign forces who stand to destroy the sovereignty of Ethiopia.
If history ever forgives us for what we have done to this country, God will not!
(The writer can be reached at email@example.com or visit his web site: eskemeche.com)
A U.S. investigative journalist, Wayne Madsen, tells RT TV that Meles Zenawi’s regime in Ethiopia is in danger of falling. Watch below
The Algerian government announced today that it is lifting the state of emergency that has been imposed since 1992 as opposition groups plan more protests. The regime of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is also considering additional measures such as wage increases, importation of more food and major reforms in order to appear responsive to the public demands.
Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci told Europe 1 radio Monday morning that Algeria’s 19-year state-of-emergency laws would be revoked within days, ending tight censorship and lifting a ban on political demonstrations. “In the coming days,” Medelci said, the emergency regulations would be “a thing of the past,” giving way to “complete freedom of expression within the limits of the law.” He then added, “Algeria is not Tunisia or Egypt.”
Algerian regime’s actions are contrary to the normal mode of operation for most dictators who resort to more repressive measures in the face of popular uprisings that usually lead to a disgraceful end for them.
In Ethiopia’s case, Meles Zenawi’s hands are socked with so much blood that his end will be terribly ugly. If he is smart as he claims to be, he would disappear right now and enjoy his loot with his Chinese friends.
More Algeria update
(Deutsche Welle) — After the popular overthrow of the authoritarian regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced that he would lift the 20-year-old emergency law that restricts freedoms in Algeria.
Despite the promise, some 30,000 security forces prevented protests by the National Coordination for Change Democracy (CNCD) from taking place in the capital of Algiers last Saturday. CNCD is an umbrella group that represents numerous opposition factions.
In defiance of the still active emergency law, the CNCD announced subsequent to Saturday’s aborted demonstration that it would hold protests every week until Bouteflika steps down. However, it is unlikely that the Algerian regime will witness a fate similar to that of Ben Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt. While in those cases the military either sided with the opposition or remained neutral, in Algeria the armed forces are deeply invested in the survival of Bouteflika’s regime.
Power of the military
Similar to Tunisia and Egypt, Algeria’s young population – 60 percent of the country is under 30 – struggles with a staggering 30-percent unemployment rate and little hope for the future. Protests in January over rising food prices and lack of economic opportunity turned violent, resulting in several casualties.
“If you go on the street and ask young Algerians what they want to do, most have exactly one idea and that’s a visa for France,” Oliver Schlumberger, an expert on democratic reform in the Mideast with the University of Tuebingen, told Deutsche Welle.
And though the opposition groups have taken to the streets ostensibly against Bouteflika, the real power in Algeria lies with the military. Respectfully called “le pouvoir” – the power – virtually every facet of life in North Africa’s largest nation is dependent on the military, from politics to the resource-rich economy. Regime change in Algeria would ultimately impact the interests of the military itself.
“In Algeria, the president is actually a consensus figure for the military which stays behind the scenes,” Schlumberger said. “The president himself doesn’t come from the military, but instead is a diplomat who was a minister during the 1970s. A group of 10 to 15 generals is the real power behind the scenes.”
Yet the opposition has – up to this point – tried to avoid confrontation with the armed forces. They remember what happened when free elections were held in 1991. The Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) won and the military intervened to annul the results. A brutal six-year civil war ensued which claimed 100,000 lives.
The now polarizing President Bouteflika originally came to power – undoubtedly with the support of the military – on a platform of national reconciliation. He promised amnesty for anyone who laid down their arms. The situation slowly calmed down, but peace never totally returned. The hardcore Islamic fighters vowed to fight on, some declaring their allegiance to al-Qaeda. They roam the vast expanse of the Sahel Desert, kidnapping Westerners and demanding ransoms and carry out bomb attacks from time to time.
Schlumberger visited Algeria just as the civil war came to an end in 2001. He told Deutsche Welle that the conflict makes Algerians different from Egyptians in a very important way.
“They’re war weary,” Schlumberger said. “There was such an extreme, palpable need to return to normalcy. That people could go to work in the morning and return at night without fear or worry and maybe drink a coffee on the street.”
As a consequence, most of the population supported the reconciliation program. War-weary enemies became neighbors once again, despite the fact that most people know exactly who killed whom. But political reconciliation has not resolved the economic and social problems that originally contributed to the Islamist victory in the 1991 elections. And the Algerians currently taking to the streets say that their situation is getting worse every day, despite the fact that the national economy is doing fairly well. However, it remains to be seen whether the opposition movement can win the war-weary population to their cause.
“Repression and lack of modernity surely exists in Algeria,” Schlumberger said. “But I’m not so sure that this will lead to a similarly large number of people taking great risks and going onto the streets and protesting.”
National security petrostate
Algeria has large oil and gas reserves and profits from economic relations with the West. However, wealth from energy exports has done little to alleviate the plight of the population at large. Approximately 60 percent of state income comes from the energy industry while 95 percent of Algeria’s export revenue comes from oil and gas. And according to Schlumberger, the military has a major stake in the country’s energy-dependent economy.
“The military is of course a security actor on the one hand, but also an actor with very important economic interests on the other hand,” he said. “A model dominates there in which you need the consent of a general in order to be economically successful. That means there’s someone from the military behind the scenes who takes a percent of the earnings.”
The military, the real power behind Bouteflika, is invested in and profits from the status quo. So while the armed forces either sided with the opposition or remained neutral in Tunisia and Egypt, which ultimately gave the protesters a window of political opportunity, in Algeria the generals have – at the moment – little interest in political change.
“The military has a lot to lose in terms of privileges,” Schlumberger said. “And in that respect, I don’t really see the military agreeing to meaningful reforms without a fight.”
Iran pro-democracy movement is the latest to join the revolution against dictators in northern Africa and the Middle East as thousands of protesters clashed with the police on Monday and though out the night.
(Al Jazeera) — Clashes between pro-reformists and security forces in Tehran have left several people injured, with one person reported killed.
Thousands of anti-government protesters marched on Monday on Enghelab and Azadi streets [which connect and create a straight path through the city centre], with a heavy presence in Enghelab Square and Vali-Asr Street.
Quoting witnesses, the AP news wire reported that at least three protesters injured by bullets were taken to a hospital in central Tehran, while dozens more were hospitalized because of severe wounds as a result of being beaten.
The semi-official Fars news agency said one person had been shot dead and several wounded by protesters.
“One person was shot dead and several were wounded by seditionists (opposition supporters) who staged a rally in Tehran,” Fars said, without giving further details.
Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari, reporting from Tehran, confirmed reports that security forces used tear gas, pepper spray and batons against the protesters.
As with other foreign media, she was prohibited by government order to witness the demonstrations.
Jabbari said that she had received reports that up to 10,000 security personnel had been deployed to prevent protesters from gathering at Azadi Square, where the marches, originating from various points in Tehran, were expected to converge.
The AFP news agency reported that police fired paintball bullets on protesters.
One video, posted on Youtube (claiming to be from Monday’s protests) shows people chanting, “political prisoners must be freed.” A woman then cries that tear gas has been deployed, dispersing the crowd.
On the Facebook page used to organize the marches, there were also reports of shooting in or around Enghelab Square, as well as demonstrations in the cities of Mashhad, Shiraz and Kermanshah.
Cashes between police and demonstrators — resulting in dozens of arrests — took place in Isfahan, the country’s third largest city.
Twitter and Facebook posts said Mir Hossein Mousavi, the opposition leader and former presidential candidate, and his wife, Zahrah Rahnavard, had joined one of the marches.
Mehdi Karroubi, the other prominent opposition leader, is still under house arrest.
Al Jazeera was unable to confirm whether Mousavi and Rahnavard had joined the protest, and at last report, Kaleme.com, a pro-reformist website, said that security forces had prevented the couple from leaving their home.
As night fell in Iran, the BBC reported that city lights were being turned off and that security forces were attacking protesters in the dark.
While many of the protesters reflected on the day’s marches on Twitter and Facebook, Youtube videos show that hundreds were still on the streets after dark, setting fire to rubbish bins and barricades, chanting anti-government slogans.
Monday’s marches were organized as a one-day event and it is unclear if further protests will take place overnight or tomorrow.
A message on posted by the organizers of the demonstrations posted on the 25 Bahman Facebook site — the site’s title reflecting today’s date on the Iranian calendar — seemed to indicate that there might be more protests.
“The 25 Bahman group will try to announce the programme for of protests for tonight and tomorrow shortly,” it read.
“Please stand by via any means of communication you have. We are victorious.”
The current security clampdown is reminiscent of the one that crushed a wave of protests after the disputed re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, in June 2009.
Opposition supporters revived a tactic from the 2009 protests, shouting “Allahu Akbar” or God is Great, and “Death to the dictator”, from rooftops and balconies on Monday in a sign of defiance towards Iran’s leadership.
Several opposition activists and aides to Mousavi and Karroubi have been arrested in recent days.
Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, hailed the “courage” of the protesters, and pressed Tehran to follow Egypt’s example and “open up” its political system.
Our correspondent in the capital said that as far as Iran’s leaders are concerned, Monday’s protests “are not a reflection of what people actually want”.
They believe these are small groups of individuals who have ulterior motives, they are a threat to national security and therefore the security forces are necessary to prevent them from becoming a threat inside the country,” said Jabbari.
Amnesty International, the London-based human rights group, criticised Iranian authorities for opposing Monday’s protests and making dozens of arrests, saying the crackdown was aimed at blocking the work of activists and stifling dissent.
“Iranians have a right to gather to peacefully express their support for the people of Egypt and Tunisia,” said Hassiba Hadj-Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa deputy director.
“While the authorities have a responsibility to maintain public order, this should be no excuse to ban and disperse protests by those who choose to exercise that right.”
There was no mention of Monday’s demonstrations on state-run television stations or websites.
Instead, one station replayed interviews it did with those who attended the march celebrating the 32nd anniversary of the Islamic revolution on Friday.
(BBC) — In Washington DC, the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters that the US administration “very clearly and directly” supports the protesters.
“What we see happening in Iran today is a testament to the courage of the Iranian people, and an indictment of the hypocrisy of the Iranian regime – a regime which over the last three weeks has constantly hailed what went on in Egypt,” she said.
Mrs Clinton said the US had the same message for the Iranian authorities as it did for those in Egypt, where President Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down after 29 years in power by nationwide mass protests.
“We are against violence and we would call to account the Iranian government that is once again using its security forces and resorting to violence to prevent the free expression of ideas from their own people,” she said.
“We think that there needs to be a commitment to open up the political system in Iran, to hear the voices of the opposition and civil society,” she added.
The United Nations is currently asking the international community to donate food for 2.8 million Ethiopians, and yet the so-called “Ethiopian government” sells fertile land to foreign investors to grow oil seeds and sugarcane for export.
Chandigarh, INDIA (PTI) — A group of Indian farmers in Punjab today said that they are going to grow pulses and oilseeds on 5,000 hectares of land in Ethiopia and import their farm produce to India.
“We will start cultivating 5,000 hectares of land in Ethiopia from September this year and plan to cultivate pulses, oil seeds, sugarcane and maize which are always in short supply (in India),” Confederation of Potato Seed Farmers (POSCON) secretary general Jang Bahadur Singh Sangha said here today.
Additionally, the group wants the government to exempt their farm produce in Ethiopia from duty when imported to India in order to curtail country’s dependence on import of such farm products.
“By bringing crops like pulses, oilseeds to India, we will help the country in making it self sufficient in these crops and ensure food security,” Sangha asserted.
They also want either the Union minister of agriculture or ministry of external affairs to support them in this endeavour by patronising the farming agreements.
Citing farming in Ethiopia as a ‘workable’ venture, 15 members of POSCON, the representative body of the state’s potato growers, have shown keen interest in cultivating land there he added.
Sangha said, “I have already visited Ethiopia twice along with other members of our association and found huge tracts of land available in there. Farming conditions (in Ethiopia) are also similar to what we have in India.”
Also, availability of land in Ethopia at much cheaper cost than in India encouraged farmers to cultivate the land in Ethiopia.
“Land is available for farming on lease of 25 to 45 years period. Moreover, in Ethiopia, the cost of land on lease is Rs500 per hectare, while in Punjab the cost varies between Rs25,000-30,000 per hectare,” he added.
Farmers have zeroed in on a few African areas, including Gambela and Oromia, for cultivating land.
Moreover, the Ethiopian government has promised to support farming by Indian farmers in every manner.
Last year, ministry of external affairs had arranged a meeting of representatives of several African countries, including Ethiopia, Uganada, Zambia, and Tanzania with Punjab farmers and these countries invited them to develop land and invest in agriculture.
Alemayehu G. Mariam
A specter is haunting Africa and the Middle East – the specter of an awesome army of youths on the move, in revolt, marching for freedom, chanting for democracy and dying for human rights and human dignity. Millions of youths are standing up and demanding dictators to stand down and leave town. They are fed up with despotism, totalitarianism, absolutism, authoritarianism, monarchism, fascism and terrorism. They are sick and tired of being told to wait and wait and wait as their future fades into nothingness. They are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Youths rose up like the morning sun to brighten the long dark night of dictatorship in Tunisia and Egypt. They dictated to the great dictators: “Mubarak, irhal (go away).” “Degage, Ben Ali!” (Get out, Ben Ali!). When Mubarak refused to budge like a bloodsucking tick on a milk cow, they brandished their shoes and cried out, “Mubarak, you are a shoe!” (a stinging insult in Arab culture). Mubarak finally got the point. He saw 85 million pairs of shoes pointed at his rear end. In a 30-second announcement, the House of Mubarak dissolved into the dust bin of history.
The Beautiful Egyptian Youth Revolution
What makes the Egyptian youth revolution so beautiful, wonderful, absorbing, hypnotizing and inspiring is that they did it with moral courage, steadfast determination and without resorting to violence even when violence was visited upon them by Mubarak’s thugs. They did not fire a single shot, as Mubarak’s thugs massacred 300 of their own and jailed several thousands more. Egypt’s youths fought their battles in the streets of Cairo, Alexandria and elsewhere, but they won their war against dictatorship and for freedom, democracy and human rights in the hearts and minds of their people. How they went about winning their revolution is a testament to a people whose civilization is the cradle of human civilization. They transformed their oppression-seared nation into a molten steel of freedom-loving humanity: Muslims and Christians prayed together in Tahrir Square for the end of the dark days of dictatorship and the beginning of a new dawn of freedom. Civilians held hands with soldiers who were sent out to shoot them. Religious revivalists locked arms with secularists, socialists and others to demand change. Rich and poor embraced each other in common cause. Young and old marched together day and night; and men and women of all ages raised their arms in defiance chanting, “Mubarak, irhal.”
Victory of Courage Over Fear
For 30 years, Mubarak ruled with fear and an iron fist under a State of Emergency. He established a vast network of secret police, spies, informants and honor guards to make sure he stayed in power and his opposition decimated. Under an emergency law (Law No. 162 of 1958), Mubarak exercised unlimited powers. He banned any real opposition political activity and unapproved political organizations, prohibited street demonstrations, arrested critics and dissidents and clamped down on all he thought posed a threat to his rule. Mubarak had the power to imprison anyone for any reason, at any time and for any period of time without trial. Some he tried in kangaroo military courts and sentenced them to long prison terms. Mubarak held an estimated 20,000 persons under the emergency law and the number of political prisoners in Egypt is estimated at 30,000. Mubarak’s brutal (secret) police are responsible for the disappearance, torture, rape and killing of thousands of pro-democracy campaigners and innocent people. A cable sent to Washington by the US ambassador to Cairo in 2009 revealed: “Torture and police brutality in Egypt are endemic and widespread. The police use brutal methods mostly against common criminals to extract confessions, but also against demonstrators, certain political prisoners and unfortunate bystanders.” When Egyptian youth overcame their fears and stood up to the notorious secret police, spies, informants and bloodthirsty thugs, it was all over for Mubarak and his kleptocratic regime. In less than three weeks, Mubarak’s empire of fear, terror and torture crumbled like an Egyptian ghorayebah cookie left out in the Sahara sun.
All Dictators End Up in the Dustbin of History
These must be days of worry and panic for African and Middle Eastern dictators. No doubt, some are in a state of total depression having sleepless nights and nightmares when they catch a wink. They brood over the questions: “What if IT (the “unspeakable”) happens to me? What am I going to do? How many can I kill to suppress an uprising and get away with it? A thousand, ten thousand?”
African and Middle Eastern dictators who have abused their power must know that sooner or later their turn will come. When it does, they will have only three choices: justice before their national or international tribunals, the dustbin of history, or if they can make it to the airport fast enough to Dictators’ “home away from home”, Saudi Arabia (at least until their turn comes). There will be no place for them to run and hide. Let them learn from the fates of their brothers: Al Bashir of Sudan has an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court hanging over his head. Old Charley Taylor of Liberia is awaiting his verdict at the ICC. Hissien Habre of Chad will soon be moving into Taylor’s cell at the ICC. A gang of Kenyan state ministers which instigated the violence following the 2007 presidential elections should be trading their designer suits for prison jumpsuits at the ICC in the not too distant future. Mengistu, Ben Ali, Mubarak, Al Bashir and others will be on the lam for a while and evade the long arm of justice. Justice may be delayed but it will always arrive as it did a couple of days for Pervez Musharraf who has warrant out for his arrest in connection with the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.
All dictators are doomed to an ignominious downfall. No African dictator has ever left office with dignity, honor, respect and the adulation of his people. They have all left office in shame, disgrace and infamy. History shows that dictators live out their last days like abandoned vicious dogs– lonely, godforsaken and tormented. Such has been the destiny of Mobutu of Zaire, Bokassa of the Central African Republic, Idi Amin of Uganda, Barre of Somalia, El-Nimery of the Sudan, Saddam of Iraq, Pol Pot of Cambodia, Marcos of the Philippines, the Shah of Iran, Ceausescu of Romania, Pincohet of Chile, Somoza of Nicaragua, Hoxha of Albania, Suharto of Indonesia, Stroessner of Paraguay, Ne Win of Mynamar, Hitler, Stalin, Mussollini and all the rest. History testifies that these names will forever be synonymous with evil, cruelty, atrocity, depravity and inhumanity. It is ironic that Mubarak (which in Arabic means “blessed one”) was born to live as the blessed one; but he will forever be remembered in Egyptian history as the “cursed one”.
The Power of Nonviolence Resistance
As Gandhi said, “Strength does not come from physical capacity”, nor does it come from guns, tanks and planes. “It comes from an indomitable will.” Winston Churchill must have learned something from Gandhi when he said, “Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
As odd as it seems, violence is the weapon of the weak. To shoot and kill and maim unarmed protesters in the streets is not a sign of strength, it is a sign of fear and cowardice. To jail wholesale opposition leaders, journalists, critics and dissidents is not a demonstration of control but the ultimate manifestation of lack of control. One speaks the language of violence because one cannot speak the language of reason. Violence is the language of the angry, the hateful, the vengeful, the ignorant and the fearful. Dictators speak to their victims in the language of violence because their raison d’etre (reason for existing) is to hate and spread hate. Their very soul stirs with hatred often damaged by childhood experiences and feelings of inferiority. Hitler and Stalin exhibited strong hatred towards Jews from childhood, and because they felt woefully inadequate, they did things to try and show everybody that they have power. Violence never resolves the issues that triggered the violence; and as Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” Dr. Martn Luther King explained it further: “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate…” To reciprocate in violence is to become one with the perpetrators of violence. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
But the nonviolent resistor is strong, very strong. S/he is willing to sit down and reason with the one brutalizing her/him. Gandhi, Martin King, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Vaclav Havel, Lech Walesa, Rosa Parks and many others have proven to be stronger than those whose heartbeats stroked to the metronome of hate. Gandhi drove the British colonialists out of India without firing a single shot. They mocked him as the “little lawyer in a diaper.” In the end, the British saluted the Indian flag and left. More recently, Eastern Europe shed its totalitarian burden through nonviolent resistance. Now we have seen it happen in Tunisia and Egypt.
But there are some who believe that nonviolent resistance will not work in the face of a morally depraved, conscienceless and barbaric adversary who will mow down in cold blood children, men and women. Others say nonviolence resistance takes too long to produce results. Such views have been articulated since the time of Gandhi, but the historical evidence refutes them. As we have recently seen in Tunisia and Egypt, two of the most brutal and entrenched dictatorships in the world unraveled in less than a month through nonviolent resistance.
As to a long-term nonviolent struggle, there are many instructive experiences. Let’s take Poland as an example. In 1981, the Soviets put General Wojciech Jaruzelski in charge to crackdown on Solidarity, a non-communist controlled trade union established a year earlier. Jaruzelski immediately declared martial law and arrested thousands of Solidarity members, often in in the middle of the night, including union leader Lech Walesa. Jaruzelski flooded the streets of Warsaw, Gdansk and elsewhere in Poland with police who shot, beat and jailed strikers and protesters by the tens of thousands. By the beginning of 1982, the crackdown seemed successful and most of Solidarity top leaders were behind bars. But Jaruzelski’s campaign of violence and repression did not end the nonviolent resistance in Poland. It only drove it underground. Where the jailed union leaders left off, others took over including priests, students, dissidents and journalists. Unable to meet in the streets, the people gathered in their churches, in the restaurants and bars, offices, schools and associations. A proliferation of underground institutions emerged including Solidarity Radio; hundreds of underground publications served as the medium of communication for the people. Solidarity leaders who had evaded arrest managed to generate huge international support. The U.S. and other countries imposed sanctions on Poland, which inflicted significant hardship on Jaruzelski’s government. By 1988, Poland’s economy was in shambles as prices for basic staples rose sharply and inflation soared. In August of that year, Jaruzelski was ready to negotiate with Solidarity and met Walesa. Following the “Polish Roundtable Talks”, communism was doomed in Poland. In December 1990, Lech Walesa became the first popularly elected president of Poland. It took nearly a decade to complete the Polish nonviolent revolution. History shows that nonviolent change seems impossible to many until people act to bring it about. Who would have thought two months ago that two of the world’s worst dictators would be toppled and consigned to the dust bin of history in a nonviolent struggle by youths?
The Wrath of Ethiopian Youth
In June 2010, I wrote:
The wretched conditions of Ethiopia’s youth point to the fact that they are a ticking demographic time bomb. The evidence of youth frustration, discontent, disillusionment and discouragement by the protracted economic crisis, lack of economic opportunities and political repression is manifest, overwhelming and irrefutable. The yearning of youth for freedom and change is self-evident. The only question is whether the country’s youth will seek change through increased militancy or by other peaceful means.
Youths always inspire each other. Ethiopia’s youths seek the same things as their Tunisian and Egyptian counterparts: a livelihood, adequate food, decent housing and education and basic health care. They want free access to information – radio, newspaper, magazines, satellite and internet — as they are absolutely and unconditionally guaranteed in their constitution. Above all, they want to live in a society that upholds the rule of law, protects human rights and respects the votes of the people. They do not want corruption, nepotism, cronyism, criminality and inhumanity. That is not too much to ask.
When the uprising took place in Tunisia and Egypt, it was not the “leaders” that led it. Youth power became the catalyzing force for a democratic revolution in both countries. Africa’s dictators should understand that people do not rise up because it is in style or fashionable, but because their conditions of existence are subhuman, inhuman and intolerable. It is possible to stop the satellite transmissions, jam the radio broadcasts, shutter the newspapers, close the internet cafes, grab a young journalist and human rights advocate as he walks out of an internet café and interrogate, threaten, intimidate and terrorize him, but it is far more difficult to quiet the hungry stomachs, mend the broken hearts, heal the wounded spirits and calm the angry minds of the young people. Youths united in Ethiopia and elsewhere on the African continent can never be defeated.
Power to Africa’s Youths!
Zenawi, irhal! Bashir, degage! Mugabe, irhal! Gbagbo, degage! Ghaddafi, irhal! African dictators, irhal!…. degage!
Savage attacks by Yemen police have so far been unable to stifle the intensifying pro-democracy protests across the country. On Sunday, thousands of students who joined the demonstration came under attacks by security forces and pro-government thugs. The protesters are demanding reform and the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
(Al Jazeera) — Several thousand protesters, many of them university students, tried to reach the central square in the capital Sanaa on Sunday, but were pushed back by police using clubs. Witnesses said several protesters were injured and 23 people were detained by police.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that the security forces had used electroshock tasers and batons against the demonstrators.
The US-based organisation called on the Yemeni government to cease all attacks against the demonstrators and investigate and prosecute those responsible for the violence.
“Without provocation, government security forces brutally beat and tasered peaceful demonstrators on the streets of Sanaa,” Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East and North Africa director at HRW, said. “The government needs to take full responsibility for this abuse.”
On Saturday, clashes broke out in Sanaa between groups supporting and opposing the government after men armed with knives and sticks forced around 300 anti-government protesters to end a rally, the Reuters news agency quoted witnesses as saying.
In Algeria the opposition regroups for more protest
(AP) — The organizers of a pro-reform protest that brought thousands of Algerians onto the streets of the capital over the weekend called Sunday for another rally next week.
The Coordination for Democratic Change in Algeria — an umbrella group for human rights activists, unionists, lawyers and others — has called for the Feb. 19 demonstrations to take place throughout the country.
Saturday’s rally — which came a day after an uprising in Egypt toppled that country’s autocratic ruler — took place only in the capital, Algiers.
Organizers said around 10,000 took part in the gathering, though officials put turnout at 1,500. Many protesters held signs reading “Bouteflika out,” in reference to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in power in the impoverished but gas-rich North African nation since 1999.
Under the country’s long-standing state of emergency, public protests are banned in Algiers, and an estimated 26,000 riot police set up barriers throughout the city in a failed bid to quash Saturday’s gathering, organizers said.
A human rights campaigner said police briefly detained around 400 people. No injuries were reported.
The hours-long rally dissolved peacefully Saturday afternoon, and Sunday was calm in the capital, though youth clashed with riot police in the eastern coastal city of Annaba.
The skirmish broke out after thousands of people responded Sunday to an ad in the local paper announcing job vacancies at Annaba’s city hall. When it turned out no jobs were on offer, members of the angry mob started throwing stones at police.
Annaba is 375 miles (600 kilometers) east of Algiers, near the border with Tunisia.
Tensions have been high in Algeria since a spate of riots over high food prices early last month that left three dead. and recent uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt that deposed those country’s leaders.
The success of those uprisings is fueling activists’ hope for change in Algeria, although many in this conflict-scarred nation of 35 million people fear any prospect of a return to violence. The country lived through a brutal Islamist insurgency in the 1990s that left an estimated 200,000 people dead.
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley called on the security services to exercise restraint.
“In addition, we reaffirm our support for the universal rights of the Algerian people, including assembly and expression,” Crowley said. “These rights apply on the Internet. Moreover, these rights must be respected. We will continue to follow the situation closely in the days ahead.”
(Al Jazeera) — Bahrain’s security forces have set up checkpoints to monitor people’s movements as opposition groups blanketed social media sites with calls to stage the first major anti-government protests in the Gulf since the uprising in Egypt.
Units patrolled shopping centers and other key spots in a clear warning against holding Monday’s rally, which has been the focus of social media appeals and text messages for more than a week.
One cartoon posted on a Bahraini blog showed three arms holding aloft a mobile phone and the symbols of Facebook and Twitter.
The decision by Shia-led opposition groups and others to call for demonstrations on February 14 is symbolic as it is the anniversary of Bahrain’s 2002 constitution, which brought some pro-democracy reforms such as an elected parliament.
A Facebook page calling for a revolution in Bahrain on Monday has nearly 14,000 followers, and an emailed schedule of protests and demonstrations is also being circulated.
The developments came as riot police clashed with a small group of youths who staged a march following a wedding ceremony in Karzakan, a Shia village in the west.
An AP photographer said he had seen several people injured and others gasping from tear gas.
Sunday’s wide-ranging clampdown appeared directed toward Bahrain’s Shia majority, which has led the drive for Monday’s rallies.
Bahrain’s Sunni rulers have already given out cash and promised greater media reforms in an effort to quell discontent.
In an open letter to the king, the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights has called for wide-ranging reforms to avoid a “worst-case scenario”, including the dismantling of the security forces, the prosecution of state officials for abuses and the release of 450 jailed activists, religious leaders and others.
The tiny kingdom is among the most politically volatile in the Gulf and holds important strategic value for the West as the home to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet.
Bahrain’s Shias , which account for nearly 70 per cent of the total popualtion, have long complained of systematic discrimination by the ruling Sunni dynasty, whose crackdown on dissent last year touched off riots and clashes.
Bahrain’s leaders have stepped in with some concessions to try to defuse tension.
Government media monitors began talks on Sunday with newspaper publishers and others to draft new rules to limit state controls.
The official Bahrain News Agency has also launched a new multimedia service that includes social media applications to seek more outreach.
Activists and rights groups have often had to contend with widespread blocks on websites and blogs.
On Friday, hundreds of Bahrainis and Egyptian nationals went out in the streets chanting and dancing near the Egyptian Embassy in Manama moments after Hosni Mubarak stepped down as Egypt’s president.
Bahraini authorities quickly set up roadblocks to contain the crowds.
The chances for confrontation in Bahrain have been further elevated by the ongoing trial of 25 Shia activists – including two charged in absentia – accused of plotting against the state.
The detainees have alleged police torture and being made to sign forced confessions, but the court has moved ahead with the proceedings. The next session is scheduled for February 24.
Dictators try as much as they can to restrict the free flow of information. Ethiopia’s beggar dictator pays China tens of millions of dollars to block web sites, radio programs, and satellite TVs. By some estimate, the Woyanne ruling junta has spent over $250 million for such technology while millions of children in Ethiopia go hungry.
Unfortunately for dictators, technology is out pacing them. One of the reasons Egypt’s revolution succeeded with minimal bloodshed (unlike the uprising in Ethiopia following the 2005 elections where Meles Zenawi’s troops gunned down hundreds of civilians, and China’s Tiananmen Squre protests in 1989 where the Chinese government slaughtered over 3,000 civilians) is that satellite TVs and the internet have helped draw international attention to the legitimate demands of the protesters and the criminal acts of the Mubarak regime. Egyptian army would have been an international pariah and the generals would have been hunted down as criminals had they attacked the peaceful civilians.
To overcome blockade of the internet and restriction of information by dictators, a group named A Human Right is attempting to provide free internet access to every one in the world. It is an exciting project that can expedite the elimination of dictatorships from the face of the earth. The following is a report by Eric W. Dolan at RawStory.com:
Group plans to beam free Internet across the globe from space
The charity group A Human Right said it was planning to purchase a satellite that would provide free basic Internet access to developing countries around the world.
The group, which was founded by 25-year-old Kosta Grammatis, is currently raising money to buy the TerreStar-1, the largest commercial communications satellite ever built. TerreStar, the company that owns the satellite, filed for chapter-11 bankruptcy protection in October 2010, opening the possibility that the satellite may be up for sale.
The group hopes to raise $150,000 to finalize a business plan, investigate the legal and business aspects of submitting a bid for the satellite, and hire engineers to turn the plan into a reality. After this initial phase, the group plans to develop an open source low cost modem that could be used to connect to the satellite and finalize plans with partner governments.
“We believe that Internet access is a tool that allows people to help themselves – a tool so vital that it should be considered a universal human right,” the website for Buy This Satellite stated. “Imagine your digital life disconnected. Without access to the 100 million man-hours that have been put into Wikipedia, how much do you actually know?”
Nearly 5 billion out of the world’s 6.9 billion people don’t have access to the Internet.
A Human Right plans to finance their satellite by allowing telecommunication companies to purchase bandwidth, while providing basic service for free to everyone. “Our goal is to not only get everyone online, but also facilitate the growth of an industry,” their website said.
The group has already managed to raise $44,781.
“The idea for global connectivity was born in Berlin, Germany in an innovation ‘Do-Tank’ called Palomar 5,” according to the group. “Thirty people under the age of thirty came together to innovate on what the future might look like, and how to address some of the worlds problems.”
“In Egypt we’ve watched as the government, in an unprecedented way, shutoff Internet access for the entire country,” Grammatis told TIME. “We’re building a system that can’t be shutoff–it’s as decentralized as possible. You could jam the signal somewhat, but to do that at the scale of a country is a very very difficult task.”
“Big ideas, that can improve our society as a whole, are worth doing, and this one will be done,” he added. “It’s the logical next step in communications: a network available to anyone everywhere for minimal cost.”
Similarly, President Obama announced Thursday his plan to get 98 percent of the United States connected to the Internet in five years.
As the revolution clock is ticking in Ethiopia, the Meles regime is acting and behaving like any other dictatorship — intensify its repressive measures. This week, the ruling party’s security agents have started to gather parents and give them stern warnings to prevent their children from participating in any anti-government activities.
Two days ago, prominent Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega was taken to the Federal Police Headquarters where he was warned not to write any thing that may incite uprising.
The regime has tried to once again force Ethiopian Satellite TV (ESAT) off the air. But ESAT came back on air within 24 hours on a more secure satellite.
EthiopianReview.com and all other independent news web sites remain blocked in Ethiopia.
During the past few days, eyewitnesses at Woreda 23 told Ethiopian Review that officials from the Woreda police and Kebele 11 summoned some parents to the police station and threatened them that they will be sorry if their children participate in any protest. The Woyanne security agents warned the parents that Ethiopia is not Egypt and that there is a serious consequence for any one who engages in anti-government activities.
It’s true that Ethiopia is not Egypt because although Mubarak is a dictator he is not the enemy of the people of Egypt and the army is a national army. The Meles regime is an anti-Ethiopia entity and his ruling junta is a gang of blood thirsty thugs who have been committing atrocities through out the country for the past 20 years while receiving billions of dollars in assistance and loans from the U.S. and EU.
No matter how savage and barbaric Woyannes are, they cannot stop the people of Ethiopia from asserting their freedom.
SANA’A — Yemen security forces with clashed with Yemeni pro-democracy protesters on Friday and Saturday. The protesters were celebrating resignation of Egypt’s dictator Hosni Mubarak. They are also demanding President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen to step down.
Princeton University Yemen scholar Gregory Johnsen told the VOA that some of the protests within the last 24 hours took place “outside the umbrella of the opposition JMP movement” indicating that public discontent could be spreading.
Eyewitnesses say that rallies took place spontaneously in parts of Sana’a, with demonstrators trying to rally in front of the Egyptian Embassy.
The Yemen Post newspaper editor-in-chief Hakim Almasmari says that government security forces skirmished with the crowds. A number of demonstrators were reportedly injured in the clashes. Almasmari adds that several people were also arrested.
Buses ferried ruling party members, equipped with tents, food and water, to the city’s main square to help prevent attempts by protesters to gather there, Fox News reported.
There were about 5,000 security agents and government supporters in the Sanaa square named Tahrir, or Liberation.
(Reuters) — Some 300 anti-government student demonstrators assembled at Sanaa University in Yemen on Saturday morning. As numbers swelled into the thousands, they began marching towards the Egyptian embassy.
“The people want the fall of the government,” protesters chanted. “A Yemeni revolution after the Egyptian revolution.”
But a group of government supporters armed with knives and sticks confronted the protesters at the central Tahrir Square. Scuffles broke out and the pro-government activists used traditional knives and batons to force the anti-government protesters to flee.
Two people were lightly injured, witnesses said.
The clash came after armed men forced around 300 anti-government protesters to quit an impromptu demonstration in the Yemeni capital on Friday night.
Yemeni authorities detained at least 10 people after anti-government protesters in Sanaa celebrated Mubarak’s downfall on Friday, U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said.
The group said the celebrations turned to clashes when hundreds of men armed with assault rifles, knives and sticks attacked the protesters while security forces stood by.
“The Yemeni security forces have a duty to protect peaceful protesters,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “In this case, security forces seem to have organised armed men to attack the protesters.”
Yemen’s ruling party set up tents in Sanaa’s central Tahrir Square last week to occupy the space and prevent people from gathering in large numbers.
Party officials handed out small amounts of money to reward pro-government protesters on Saturday. Some used the cash to buy food or Qat, a mild green stimulant leaf that more than half of Yemen’s 23 million people chew daily and which has been cited as a deterrent to protest.
Following the successful revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt that overthrew entrenched dictators, a new revolution has started in Algeria on Saturday, February 12, 2001. Instead of learning from Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Ben Ali of Tunisia, Algeria’s dictator Abdelaziz Boutifleka is taking similar actions against pro-democracy protesters. Today he sent out on the streets of Algiers over 30,000 of his police to block protesters from staging demonstrations. And in the afternoon he disconnected the internet. His security forces are also rounding up journalists, and thugs hired by the regime are beating up protesters. Too predictable.
Today is named Day 1 of the Algerian Revolution. We wish the freedom hungry people of Algeria success in their fight against the dictatorship.
Ethiopia’s corrupt dictator Meles Zenawi is nervously awaiting his turn. The clock is ticking.
Latest developments in Algeria
(Telegraph.co.uk) — Mostafa Boshashi, head of the Algerian League for Human Rights, said: “Algerians want their voices to be heard too. They want democratic change. “At the moment people are being prevented from travelling to demonstrations. The entrances to cities like Algeria have been blocked.”
On Saturday at least 500 had been arrested by early evening in Algiers alone, with hundreds more in Annaba, Constantine and Oran taking part in the so-called February 12 Revolution.
“The police station cells are overflowing,” said Sofiane Hamidouche, a demonstrator in Annaba.
“There are running battles taking place all over the city. It’s chaos. As night falls the situation will get worse.”
Algeria police arrested hundreds of protesters who are demanding reforms at a rally on Saturday. Thousands of police in riot gear stopped the protesters from entering May 1 Square where the demonstration was called by a coalition of civic and political groups. However, a Small number of protesters succeeded in entering the square, shouting “Bouteflika out!”
(Reuters) — “It is a state of siege,” said Abdeslam Ali Rachedi, a university lecturer and government opponent. After about three hours, hundreds of people left the square quietly, with police opening up gaps in their cordon to let them through. Some 200 young men from a poor neighborhood nearby stayed on the square. Some threw objects at police.
“I am sorry to say the government has deployed a huge force to prevent a peaceful march. This is not good for Algeria’s image,” said Mustafa Bouchachi, a leader of the League for Human Rights which helped organize the protest.
The protest was not backed by the main trade unions or the biggest opposition parties. Nearly all members of Algeria’s radical Islamist groups, which were banned in the 1990s but still have grassroots influence, stayed away.
Officials with the opposition RCD party, which helped organize the protest, told Reuters the demonstrators totaled between 7,000 and 10,000 and that 1,000 people were arrested.
(CNN) — The demonstrations were mostly peaceful, with police rounding up protesters in small groups to break up the crowds, and anti-riot police gathered at the scene.
Khalil AbdulMouminm, the general secretary for the Algerian league, called the situation “very tense on the ground” and said police were preventing protesters from assembling, with authorities blocking all entrances to the capital.
Pro-democracy activists have declared Saturday, Feb. 12, “Day 1″ of the Algerian Revolution against the regime of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. The ctivists have defied a ban against public political gatherings and called a march in Algiers today in which thousands are expected to participate.
In response, the regime has brought 30,000 police officers into Algiers. Hundreds of armored vehicles are parked at key intersections of the capital.
(Bloomberg) — The Coordination for Democratic Change in Algeria, an umbrella group of human rights activists, unionists, lawyers and others, insists the march will take place despite numerous warnings by authorities to stay out of the streets. Buses and vans filled with armed police were posted at strategic points along the march route and around Algiers, including at the “Maison de la Presse,” a small village in Algiers where newspapers have their headquarters.
(Al Jazeera) — Protesters are demanding greater democratic freedoms, a change of government, and more jobs. The demonstration was set to begin at 11:00 am local time.
“We are ready for the march,” said Mohsen Belabes, a spokesman for the Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD) opposition party, which is one of the organisers of the protest. “It’s going to be a great day for democracy in Algeria.”
Mubarak’s resignation on Friday, and last month’s overthrow of Tunisian leader, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, have electrified the Arab world.
The rally is being organised by the National Co-ordination for Change and Democracy (CNCD), a three-week-old umbrella group of opposition parties, civil society movements and unofficial unions inspired by the mass protests in Tunisia and Egypt.
(BBC) — Widespread unrest in Algeria could have implications for the world economy because it is a major oil and gas exporter, but many analysts say an Egypt-style revolt is unlikely because the government can use its energy wealth to placate most grievances.
Protest organizers in Algeria — who say they draw some of their inspiration from events in Egypt and Tunisia — say police may turn people away before they can reach the march in the capital, or parallel protests planned for other cities.
“Algerians must be allowed to express themselves freely and hold peaceful protests in Algiers and elsewhere,” rights group Amnesty International said in a statement. “We urge the Algerian authorities not to respond to these demands by using excessive force.”
In an attempt to head of anti-government unrest, the authorities have cut prices for sugar and cooking oil, bought huge quantities of grain to ensure bread supplies and promised to lift a 19-year-old state of emergency.
By Elias Kifle
Many seem to give credit to the social media (Facebook, Twitter and blogs) for helping the Egyptian and Tunisian youths who brought down the entrenched dictatorships in their country, but there is not enough mention about the contributions made by Al Jazeera, except by the dictators themselves.
I used to dislike Al Jazeera for some of the anti-American vitriol that it some times broadcasts. It’s fine to criticize the U.S. for its often misguided foreign policy by some of its corrupt State Department officials who are propping up dictators such us Ethiopia’s Meles Zenawi. However, the U.S. is a force for good in this world and doesn’t deserve to be demonized.
Having said that, Al Jazeera is becoming a respected and powerful news organization that is transforming the Middle East for the better. For the past few weeks I have been streaming its live video broadcast on the front page of EthiopianReview.com. I myself was glued to one my my computer screens that streams Al Jazeera Live 24/7. Its coverage of the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt is by far the best and the most thorough. I also think that one of the reasons the revolutions in these countries were not as bloody as they could have been is that the live TV coverage of every incident may have made the military leaders aware that they will be held personally responsible for any bloodshed. The international community would be too sickened by televised massacre of civilians and would bring those responsible for the atrocities to the International Criminal Court, like the Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, Sudan’s Al Bashir, and Bosnia’s Radovan Karadzic.
A few years ago, Ethiopia’s vampire tyrant has kicked out Al Jazeera from Ethiopia, but it is still being watched by hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians.
We need to strengthen our own satellite TV, ESAT, if we want to minimize the bloodshed the Woyanne ruling junta is preparing to cause in the next Ethiopian revolution. ESAT, along with all the Ethiopian radio programs, web sites, and social media will play a critical role in not only facilitating and helping coordinate the struggle, but they also could help prevent massive atrocities in Ethiopia.
On behalf of Ethiopian Review, I extend my congratulations and well wishes to the people of Egypt.
(BBC) — Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down as president of Egypt. In an announcement on state TV, Vice-President Omar Suleiman said Mr Mubarak had handed power to the military.
It came as thousands massed in Cairo and other Egyptian cities for an 18th day of protest to demand Mr Mubarak’s resignation.
Protesters responded by cheering, waving flags, embracing and sounding car horns. “The people have brought down the regime,” they chanted.
Mr Suleiman said Mr Mubarak had handed power to the high command of the armed forces.
“In the name of God the merciful, the compassionate, citizens, during these very difficult circumstances Egypt is going through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down from the office of president of the republic and has charged the high council of the armed forces to administer the affairs of the country,” he said.
“May God help everybody.”
The military high command is headed by Defence Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.
Mr Mubarak has already left Cairo and is in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh where he has a residence, officials say.
In Cairo, thousands of people are gathered outside the presidential palace, in Tahrir Square and at state TV.
They came out in anger following an address by Mr Mubarak on Thursday. He had been expected to announce his resignation but instead stopped short of stepping down, transferring most powers to Mr Suleiman.
The BBC’s Jon Leyne in Cairo said the announcement caught everyone by surprise, and all over the city drivers honked their horns and people fired guns into the air.
But the army takeover looks very much like a military coup, our correspondent adds.
The constitution has been breached, he says, because officially it should be the speaker of parliament who takes over, not the army leadership.
Oil price falls after Egypt’s President Mubarak resigns
(The Telegraph) — Oil fell in late trading after Egypt’s President Mubarak resigned, bringing an end to weeks of protests that have spooked the energy market.
The price of Brent crude rose sharply early on Friday when it appeared that the Egyptian leader would cling to power, raising fears about the key Suez canal transport route. Brent, the key London oil contract, has risen more than the US benchmark WTI – at one point trading at a $16 premium – as it is more exposed to the region.
By Desalegn Sisay
ADDIS ABABA (Afrik-news.com) — Fuel prices in Ethiopia will be raised next month following a recent decision by its Sudanese suppliers could also affect fuel availability in Ethiopia. The Horn of Africa country spends an average annual 20 billion birr on the importation of petroleum products.
Ethiopia’s projected budget of 1.42 billion US dollars for fuel importation for the current fiscal year is expected to cover 2,176,188 tonnes of fuel including benzene. An amount that, according to reports, exceeds by 30 percent the 72.2 billion birr annual budget approved for this fiscal year. Despite the Ethiopian government’s decision in 2008 to introduce the blending of ethanol following an increased demand in fuel, the increasing trend has continued.
And the ever increasing local consumption of benzene coupled with the fluctuation of prices on the international market has resulted in an extra 500,000 tonne import of fuel as against the projected imports set for the current fiscal year, according data obtained from Ethiopian Petroleum Enterprise (EPE), an entity in charge of petroleum importation and distribution.
Recently, the country signed an agreement with Sudan Petroleum Company (SPC) to import 80 percent of its benzene demand from the neighboring Sudan. This agreement was to enable the government cut the huge transportation costs, which would in consequence lower the price of benzene on the local market. The agreement with SPC has however been suspended following a three month closure of the Sudanese company’s refinery beginning February 1. And although this is not expected to impact the petroleum deal between Ethiopia and The Sudan, the three-month break coupled with Ethiopia’s inadequate storage capacities may lead to a fuel shortage.
As a result, Ethiopia has designed a contingency plan by raising the percentage of blended ethanol in Addis Ababa, the capital, to 10 per cent from March 7. This follows the success of a similar move in 2008 when the introduction E5 helped the country to reduce the volume of benzene imports by over a million dollars annually.
Having acquired the technology to produce a considerable volume of Ethanol to buttress fuel imports following its various expansion projects, mainly of its sugar factories, including the state owned company Fincha, which has been producing up to eight million liters of Ethanol, and Metehara, which has also embarked on an annual production of 10.5 million liters as of the current year, Ethiopia could handle the arrest of oil imports… to an extent.
Ethiopian Satellite TV (ESAT) is back online today after being off air for 24 hours, according to the station’s management. ESAT is now transmitted on the following frequency:
C-BAND Intelsat 10 at 68.5E
DOWN LINK 3808 V
SYMBOL 10340 FEC 3/4
EGYPTIAN President Hosni Mubarak has reiterated his intention to stand down in September, igniting the wrath of thousands of protesters in Cairo’s Tharir Square.
His comments in a national TV address confounded earlier reports that he was preparing to stand down immediately.
The 82 year old dictator said he had passed on some of his authority to his vice president and former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as he addressed the Egyptian people on state television and announced that the transition of power will take place from today until September.
Mubarak also said that errors can happen in any political system, and he wants to continue the national dialogue that has begun to get through this crisis.
He apologized to the families of protesters killed in clashes with the security forces in recent weeks, and said those responsible for their deaths would be punished.
“I express a commitment to carry on and protect the constitution and the people and transfer power to whomever is elected next September in free and transparent elections,” Mr Mubarak said.
(UK Daily Mail) — Hopes were growing in Cairo this evening that President Hosni Mubarak might be about to step down – with immediate effect.
Military and ruling party officials said the unpopular 82-year-old was about to speak to the nation. Sources indicated he would make an announcement that would satisfy the protesters’ demands. Since their main demand is that he leave office, speculation was high that he would declare his resignation.
The armed forces’ supreme council has been meeting all day long and said it would issue a communique ‘soon’.
Thousands once again thronged Tahrir Square today, the main seat of resistance for 16 days now, while in other areas of Cairo violence flared.
They were cheered further when they heard CIA chief Leon Panatta say there was a ‘strong likelihood’ Mubarak would walk tonight. There was undiluted joy as protesters mobbed soldiers and kissed and hugged each other.
The scenes were a marked contrast to those earlier in the day around the country, but particularly in Port Said, where state buildings and cars were ransacked and set alight in protest at continued corruption and incompetence.
Hossam Badrawi, secretary general of the National Democratic Party said he would be surprised if Mubarak was still leader when Egypt woke up tomorrow.
He revealed that he and his colleagues had been to visit the presidents and asked him to make the decision to satisfy the demands of the people, ie to step aside
He told BBC News 24 Mubarak had been ‘very accommodating’ and ‘showed respect for the people and young people
Events had moved quickly after Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah warned President Barack Obama earlier in the day the U.S. should ‘go easy’ on Egypt, or face a cooling of diplomatic relations.
The Saudi monarch said earlier in the day that his country would prop up Mubarak if America withdrew its aid programme.
Abdullah, 86, told Obama not to humiliate Mubarak, who is under pressure from protesters to quit immediately, in a fiery telephone conversation on January 29, according to the Times, who cited a senior source in Riyadh.
King Abdullah has his own problems in the Middle East, however, after 10 moderate Saudi scholars claimed they have formed the country’s first political party and are seeking his recognition.
Obama’s administration has wavered between support for Egypt in Washington’s conflict with militant Islam and backing for Egyptians who have been protesting for weeks to demand Mubarak and his government quit.
Meanwhile, a wave of strikes added to the chaos in Egypt today with thousands walking out of their state jobs in support of anti-government protests.
Activists called for bigger street demonstrations, defying a warning that the crowds calling for Mubarak’s removal would not be tolerated for much longer.
Efforts by vice president Omar Suleiman to open talks with protesters over reforms have broken down since the weekend, with the youth organizers of the movement suspicious that he plans only superficial changes far short of real democracy. They want Mr Mubarak to step down first.
Showing growing impatience with the rejection, Suleiman raised the prospect of a renewed crackdown. He told Egyptian newspaper editors that there could be a coup unless demonstrators agree to enter negotiations. He suggested Egypt was not ready for democracy and said a government-formed panel of judges, dominated by Mubarak loyalists, would push ahead with recommending its own constitutional amendments to be put to a referendum.
‘He is threatening to impose martial law, which means everybody in the square will be smashed,’ said Abdul-Rahman Samir, a spokesman for a coalition of the five main youth groups behind protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
‘But what would he do with the rest of the 70 million Egyptians who will follow us afterward.’
Mr Suleiman is creating ‘a disastrous scenario,’ he said. ‘We are striking and we will protest and we will not negotiate until Mubarak steps down. Whoever wants to threaten us, then let them do so.’
Mubarak to transfer power to vice-president
(BBC) — Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak is to make an address on national television, amid suggestions that he is preparing to step down.
A senior member of Egypt’s governing party, Hossan Badrawi, has told the BBC he “hopes” Mr Mubarak will transfer power to Vice-President Omar Suleiman.
It comes on the 17th day of protests against his 30-year rule.
Earlier, Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq told BBC Arabic that the scenario of President Mubarak stepping down was being discussed.
The BBC’s Lyse Doucet, in Cairo, says the fact that President Mubarak’s departure is even being talked about is a huge development.
Our correspondent, who spoke to Mr Badrawi by telephone, says the 25 January movement – the day when the protests began – will see this as a great victory.
State television has carried footage of a meeting of the high council of the armed forces. State news agency Mena said the high council was in a state of continuous session “to protect the nation, its gains and the aspirations of the people”.
Thursday’s sudden developments came as thousands of Egyptians again took to the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian towns and cities, calling for President Mubarak to step down.
Doctors, bus drivers, lawyers and textile workers were on strike in Cairo on Thursday, with unions reporting walkouts and protests across the country.
The BBC’s Jon Leyne, in Cairo’s Tahrir (Liberation) Square, the focal point of the anti-Mubarak protests, reports that the protesters there are starting to celebrate after hearing news of Mr Mubarak’s possible departure.
Egypt state-run media journalists state their own uprising
CAIRO (Washington Post) — Over the past few days, journalists working for Egyptian state media have orchestrated a remarkable uprising of their own: They have begun reporting news that casts the embattled government in a negative light.
Whether the change is a sign of a weakened regime that is losing control or the result of a decision by the government to loosen its grip on information remains unclear. But the shift has been hard to miss.
State-run television and newspapers such as the iconic al-Ahram initially dismissed the mass demonstrations against President Hosni Mubarak as nonevents. As the crisis has unfolded since Jan. 25, most people have relied on Arabic satellite channels such as al-Jazeera and news accounts from independent Egyptian dailies and social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook to keep up with events.
As protests against Mubarak’s nearly 30 years of authoritarian rule intensified, state television reported on the first lady’s gardens and call-in shows featured hysterical women and men entreating people to stop demonstrating. Protesters began carrying banners in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square denouncing state-run media and calling the news organizations “liars.”
A day after pro-Mubarak forces were unleashed into Tahrir Square last week, inciting a bloody battle that left thousands wounded, al-Ahram reported on its front page that millions of government supporters had flooded the streets, grossly exaggerating their numbers. State television called the anti-Mubarak demonstrators “destabilizing” forces and accused foreign powers of instigating instability.
“During the first 10 days or so, the Egyptian media was shameful,” said Rasha Abdulla, chairwoman of the journalism and mass communication program at the American University in Cairo. “It was like they were living on another planet.”
But in recent days, state media organizations have started to shift their coverage.
At al-Ahram, after journalists signed a petition telling management that they were frustrated with the paper’s reporting, chief editor Omar Saraya changed his tune. Saraya, who is close to the government and is seen as a staunch regime loyalist, wrote a front-page column praising the “nobility” of the “revolution” and urging the government to carry out constitutional and legislative reforms.
At state-run Nile TV, after two of her colleagues quit, Reem Nour met with her boss and told him that she could not tolerate being censored. She said last week that she would not cover pro-Mubarak demonstrators unless she was permitted to cover anti-government demonstrators as well.
The 22-year-old reporter told her news director that people were laughing at the station’s coverage. He told her to go out and report, she said. On Monday, for the first time, she told her viewers that protesters were demanding that the regime resign.
“There has been a shift,” Nour said. “The shift is happening because there is going to be a change in Egypt after this revolution.”
Hisham Qasim, an independent newspaper publisher in Egypt, called the change in state media coverage a clear sign that “Mubarak is slowly losing control.”
“There’s a feeling that [Mubarak] is going down and nobody can help him so it’s time to save face,” Qasim said.
Pressure from journalists began to increase late last week, after two al-Ahram reporters were killed during demonstrations and the government rounded up dozens of journalists, including employees of state newspapers.
Some joined protesters in Tahrir Square, calling for freedom of expression. Some are turning on their bosses, calling them apologists for the regime.
But a revolt by journalists was probably not the only reason for the change in coverage, Abdulla said. Senior Egyptian officials must have signed off on editorial changes that have led to more straightforward reporting in recent days.
“Nothing in state television happens because journalists want it to happen,” she said. “They all wait for orders to come from above.”
Shahira Amin resigned Feb. 3 from Nile TV after she watched mobs attack anti-government demonstrators in Tahrir Square and saw vehicles run over unarmed civilians, all on Arabic satellite channels.
The anchorwoman said she had not been allowed to portray the protests honestly and could not tell her viewers that the demonstrators’ top demand was the resignation of Mubarak. Another reporter resigned from the channel a few days later in protest.
“We were dictated what to say and we were reading press releases from the Ministry of Interior,” Amin said. “I couldn’t be a mouthpiece for someone who slaughters his own people.”
Since her resignation, she has spent every day on the streets, demonstrating against the government. She said she has seen the coverage change. “This could be the start of a liberal media in Egypt,” Amin said. “I hope it’s not just a cosmetic change.”
Brian Stewart, a journalist for CBC and one of Canada’s most experienced foreign correspondents, writes that Ethiopia’s regime has a blasé attitude about food shortage in the country and that he supports The Economist’s description of the regime as one of the most economically illiterate in the world. The following except is taken from Brian’s 2009 article, but still applies today as the U.N. is making yet another call for emergency food aid alert on behalf of 2.8 million Ethiopians.
Ethiopian regime’s blasé attitude about food shortage
The Ethiopian government has said it doesn’t expect this year to be much worse than last, and it is “confident it has done everything it can to feed its hungry people.”
This almost blasé attitude in Addis, gives no comfort at all to aid officials who tend to agree with an Economist magazine’s characterization of Ethiopia’s government as well-meaning but “one of the most economically illiterate in the modern world.”
President Meles Zenawi is unlikely to be reckless enough to downplay a real emergency, but there is always concern that regional officials might dismiss rising malnutrition figures to protect their own political hides.
From what I have seen, Ethiopians hate their nation’s image as a perpetual victim of disasters. And donor nations have clearly grown weary of annual calls for aid.
One can sympathize with both views. But such sentiments cannot be allowed to obscure facts.
Yes, development efforts on the ground are indeed starting to yield progress (and I intend to write about these another time).
But Ethiopia, the 12th poorest nation on Earth, will simply not be able to fully feed itself for many years, likely a generation at least.
The abject poverty of land and population are simply too stark, too intractable to offer a quick end to this recurring nightmare, no matter what economic or market reforms are tried.
Back when I was covering the famine in 1984, I never imagined — or perhaps let myself fear — that Ethiopia would be such a difficult problem for the world to fix.
I underestimated what a grinding, unrelenting effort would be needed to confront its timeless poverty. This time back, I fear we underestimate it still.
Former finance head of the Tigrean People Liberation Front (Woyanne), Ato Gebremedhin Araya, has called on the people of Tigray to rise up against Ethiopia’s tyrant Meles Zenawi. Ato Gebremedhin, who accuses Meles Zenawi of crimes against humanity and looting Ethiopia’s treasury, made the call to Tigreans in an interview with Yewarkaw. Listen to the 3-part interview below:
MAPUTO, MOZAMBIQUE — The UNHCR said it has learned that 8 Ethiopian asylum seekers died on February 2 from suffocation aboard a closed container truck in Mozambique. The UNHCR reported the men were among a group of 26 young Ethiopians trying to reach South Africa.
The UN refugee agency said the Ethiopian asylum seekers had been living in the Maratane refugee camp in northern Mozambique, from where they embarked on their ill-fated journey.
The driver of the truck in which they were traveling reportedly only realized the eight had suffocated when he made a stop at Mocuba, after seven hours of driving from the camp.
UNHCR spokesman, Andrej Mahecic, said the truck also was loaded with oil. He said three other men in the group had to be hospitalized and later were discharged.
He said desperate people from the Horn of Africa increasingly are taking this dangerous overland route in search of safety.
“They are fleeing the situation of the violence and conflict in Somalia and in the Horn of Africa and, of course, some of them are also fleeing poverty and lack of opportunities in their countries,” said Mahecic. “As far as we know, and the information on this is very sketchy, it is not easily available, many of these people have no other option but to embark on a risky journey and this is a service that is often provided by people with a financial interest in it.”
Mahecic said asylum seekers pay smugglers on average about $2,000 to be transported to safety. He said a lot of them head for South Africa, which is the most popular country of destination. South Africa received more than 222,000 asylum seekers in 2009, he said. That is about one-quarter of the global figure.
“Just to give you the idea of the size of the asylum applications in South Africa, if you combine all the 27 countries of the European Union, they do not match up to the numbers that South Africa is receiving,” said Mahecic. “So, there is definitely a flow in that direction.”
Mahecic noted the Maratane refugee camp is a stopping-off point for many asylum seekers whose ultimate destination is South Africa. He said the camp is becoming congested under the weight of new arrivals. He said the UNHCR is working closely with the Mozambique authorities to improve conditions in the camp.
The ruling party in Ethiopia is going ahead with the destruction of 3,012 hectares of forestry land in the Gambela region over the objection of local population, officials, and environmental groups .
The land has been leased to an Indian company for 70 years to be used for growing tea. The beneficiaries of such investment are only members of the ruling party and the foreign investors, while the people are left with destroyed land.
Local residents and their representatives led by Ato Tamiru Ambelo have appealed to the Ministry of Agriculture to save the forests in Gambela. Even the figure head president, Girma Woldegiorgis, has expressed opposition to the plan. The Ministry, however, rejected their appeal saying that “we cannot just hold on to the forests.”
Cutting down Ethiopian forests to grow tea while the U.N. is currently sending out an emergency food aid alert on behalf of 2.8 million people in Ethiopia is beyond comprehension.
Ato Tamiru Amelo is making an appeal to all Ethiopians in the Diaspora and the international community to help him and his people save their land and forests from destruction by the Meles regime.
The West’s favorite dictator in Africa, Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia, and his wife Azeb Mesfin, the mother of corruption, are busy stealing Ethiopian coffee, gold and other resources, while, according to the UN, 2.8 million Ethiopians are currently facing sever food shortage. The solution is not for the 2 million Ethiopians to receive food aid from the U.N. The solution is for them to march to 4 Killo and get rid of the vampire regime that is exposing them to hunger and disease by stealing the country’s resources.
(Reuters) — Ethiopia and the United Nations said on Monday 2.8 millions Ethiopians will need emergency food aid in 2011, and appealed for $227 million to fund programs for the first six months.
The Horn of Africa nation is still one of the world’s poorest countries, with nearly 10 percent of the population of 77 million people relying on emergency food aid last year.
The U.N. cited poor performance of rains in the Somali and Oromiya regions late last year for the increasing food problem.
In addition, donor representatives said access was still restricted in nine out of the 52 localities in the Somali region, where a low-level insurgency still prevails. About 40 percent of the beneficiaries are in the Somali region.
“Presently, we all remain concerned about the situation in the eastern and southeastern lowlands of Somali and Oromiya regions, where renewed drought conditions are having a significant humanitarian impact,” said Eugene Owusu, the resident United Nations coordinator.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has said his country may not need any food aid within five years thanks to an ambitious development plan that targets an average economic growth of 14.9 percent over the period.
Addis Ababa has posted high economic growth figures over the past five years, averaging about 11 percent, according to government figures.
Ethiopia is one of the world’s largest recipients of foreign aid, receiving more than $3 billion in 2008, according to the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Ethiopia is a key Western ally in the Horn of Africa, where it is seen as a bulwark against militant Islamism. Addis Ababa also wants to attract foreign investment in large-scale farming and oil and gas exploration.
(Reporting by Aaron Maasho; Editing by James Macharia and Mark Heinrich)
Local elected officials in southern and western Ethiopia are bitterly opposing the selling away of farm land by the Woyanne ruling junta to foreign investors. Some of the local officials who take a stand are receiving threats and being summarily dismissed by Meles Zenawi’s puppets who are installed as regional administrators. One of these officials is Ato Tamiru Ambelo, chairman of the Gumare Kebele in Gambella, western Ethiopia.
Ato Tamiru and people in his kebele have been protesting the leasing of a large tract of land to an Indian company to be used for tea farming. even though there is a severe food shortage in the country. Read the threats and dismissal letters here. Also read Timiru Ambello’s letter here. It is a testimony by a local official of how the Woyanne junta is destroying the country’s irreplaceable forest.
All opposition parties in Ethiopia have decided to boycott the off-term elections that is scheduled for the end of this month. The elections will be held to fill vacant seats in the rubber-stamp parliament and regional assemblies, according to Ethiopian Review sources.
Medrek, a coalition of 8 opposition parties, informed the election board, which is controlled by the ruling party Woyanne, that it will not participate in the elections since the outcome is predetermined as in the previous elections.
Voter registration has also been minimal, prompting the election committee today to extend the deadline for registering by one more week.
Meanwhile, a Medrek official (who wishes to remain anonymous for his safety) told Ethiopian Review that he is dismayed by the U.S. diplomats’ assessment of the opposition parties in Ethiopia. A U.S. diplomatic cable that is released to Wikileaks.org describes the Ethiopian political opposition as “weak , disunited, and out of touch with the average Ethiopian.” [read here] The Medrek official argued that the opposition parties in Ethiopia remain weak primarily because of the brutal repression they are subjected to by Meles Zenawi’s regime that is getting over $1 billion in assistance and loans from the U.S., EU, IMF and World Bank.
Indeed the U.S. and EU support to Meles Zenawi, one of the most blood thirsty and corrupt dictators in the world, is a great injustice against the people of Ethiopia. The Meles regime is the kind of dictatorship that steals 9 million kilograms of coffee (valued at over $100 million) and says let’s forget about it, as shown here.
General Manager of Al Amoudi’s Sheraton Addis told department managers last week that the hotel will be closed down soon and will stop taking reservations starting February 15 unless the management is unable to reach an agreement with the union, according to The Reporter. Sheraton Addis, built 13 years ago, is the largest hotel in Ethiopia. Read more in Amharic here.
This is a good news. Sheraton Addis is a whorehouse for Al Amoudi and his Saudi millionaire friends as well as the ruling party elite. Other Woyanne-affiliated businesses will soon follow suit.
Ethiopians residing in Munich, Seattle and Washington DC held protest rallies today and over the weekend demanding the resignation of Ethiopia’s corrupt and brutal dictatory Meles Zenawi.
In Washington DC, the protest took place today at the Woyanne-controlled Ethiopian embassy. The protesters held chanted ENOUGH! Meles has to go! 20 Years of Dictatorship Must End!
On Saturday, Ethiopians in Seattle joined Egyptians at a protest rally at Westlake Park in downtown in a show of solidarity to pro-democracy protesters in Egypt, and to also demand Ethiopia’s dictator to step down.
And in Munich, Germany, Sunday, over one thousand Ethiopians went out to confront Meles Zenawi who was attending the 47th Conference of Global Security.
By Hundee Dhugaasaa
The suffering of farmers in Ethiopia, especially in Oromia, Benishangul, Somali and Gambella regions is going from worse to the worst in Ethiopia as a result of inequitable land acquisitions, better called “neo-colonial land grabbing,” by foreign investors in the name of lease by the Ethiopian regime. This act is worsening the already broken food security situation in Ethiopia. The peasants are losing their farming and grazing land they owned for centuries in a matter of months. The draconian proclamations and the brutal police force behind the mess is a point to be noted. This new form of agrarian neo-colonialism is launched under the pretext of utilizing “Wastelands” while the reality and reason behind is completely different.
The Ethiopian regime officials already acknowledged that 8420 foreign investors have received licenses for commercial farms. Even if the problems started when contemporary Ethiopia assumed its current territorial definition at the end of the nineteenth century, the danger posed by this regime — even if it looks it is going under the pretext of law and the cover of investment — is extremely huge. The regime change in 1991 and the subsequent ratification of the Constitution (1995) failed to restore any tangible land ownership right. Articles of the new Constitution complicated the problems of alienation and powerlessness experienced by the people for so long. In the FDRE Constitution, the rights of citizens to possess farming land are maintained (Art.40.4). Proclamation no.89/1997 (Art.2.3) provides for the right to lease one’s holding. In line with the provisions of the decree, the Oromia State issued a Directive (no.3/1995) which states that any farmer may rent a maximum of half of his holding to anyone at any rate for a maximum of three years (Art.23.2). But contrary to all these pillars and precedents, proclamation 455/2005 gives authority to the Woreda and urban administration, not to defend and protect but to confiscate and expropriate land for any purpose the higher authorities believes are for ‘public purpose and/or investment.’ The farmers are expected to evacuate from their ancestral land with a short notice of 30 days, as per Article 4(4) of the same proclamation in discussion. Failure to comply with this short notice will entitle authorities to use police force to forcefully evict farmers from their land. This very proclamation clearly marked the end of land right of Ethiopian farmers and opened big door for land grabbers.
Looking at the controversial and self contradictory part of the constitution itself, the FDRE constitution Article 52(2) d that relate to the powers of Regional States are defective as they tie the latter’s power to administer land and the use of other natural resources to the provisions in the Federal Laws. Put it another way, the provisions give only nominal power to the Regional States, because the latter are not free to exercise full freedom to administer land and other natural resources in their respective regions. In effect it is the Federal State that decides how the land and other natural resources of Regional States should be administered and used. They maintain that the Federal State deliberately shaped the constitution in such a way that Regional States do not enjoy real autonomy, because if they did, the former could not manipulate the laws to fit its interests. The constitution and federal laws are designed to empower the Federal State to influence the decisions made at the level of the Regional States. This is particularly so when it comes to the use of land and other natural resources. State monopoly of land under the guise of ‘public ownership’ reduced land to a marketable commodity contrary to what had been the case before the state formation when land was seen not only as a vital source of life but also, if not more, as a symbol of identity since ‘people relate to land not just as individuals, but also as members of groups, networks, and categories’. What is more, even if the laws are perfect and states are autonomous on land issue, the regional state authorities are not there to protect the interest of the nation they claim to represent but that of the TPLF top decision makers. They are picked from their region just to show up and boost with empty federal structure. This can be well understood by looking at the formation and the last 20 years functioning of OPDO and others surrogate regional authorities.
Very recently, the Ethiopian government has offered a huge land for a long term lease to private and government backed investors such as Karuturi Global Ltd of India which has acquired 1.8 million hectares, Saudi Star Agricultural Development Plc of Sheikh Mohammed Al-Amoudi, Saudi Arabia 100,000 hectares, German company Flora EcoPower 13,000 hectare, Djibouti’s first lady and president about 10,000 hectares and a group of Egyptian investors who have acquired 500 hectares. Ethiopia has already committed to hand over 1.7 million of the 2.7 million hectares of arable land to foreign investors. Prime Minster Meles has offered the land grabbers a “tax holiday” in which he exempted them from paying taxes and lease fees up to the first five years of production and allowed them to export all their production.
The federal government of Ethiopia has taken over millions of hectares of farmland from the States of Benishangul, Gambella and Oromia to distribute it to the so-called investors. By his speech of December 1, 2009 on World Economic Forum, Meles Zenawi claimed that his government’s policy will bring new ‘technology’ and ‘development’ into Ethiopia. However, as witnessed in many places of Oromia and Gambella, the mega-farms use rudimentary methods of farming similar to the typical Ethiopian farming. The new thing is that, the farmers turned labourers and have lost their dignity, ownership right and become slaves in their own country and land. Shamelessly, Mr. Zenawi said that this land giving policy works only in the south, revealing its racist policy of governance. He said the northern part of the Country is out of discussion as far as land selling is concerned.
After all, this is the same government that has closed down multi million hectares of mechanized state farms in few years after it seized a power in almost all part of Ethiopia, mainly in Wollega, Arsi and Bale. These farms used to employ high tech-machines including airplanes. The tractors, the combiners, and all the multibillion dollar investment of the farms properties were ignored as if it serves nothing and forced to collapse with its thousands of employees. In Wollega only, 65,000 head of families were thrown on the streets, exposing them and their extended families to starvation and humiliation. This will remain to be one of the dozens of crimes for which the EPRDF government headed by Meles Zenawi is going to answer sooner or later. The land and the property were neither privatized nor allowed to continue in corporation. Today these farms could have feed at least millions of Ethiopians looking for western hand outs, if not able to generate foreign currency. It looks as if this government is deliberately subjecting the people to a systematic impoverishment and shame.
Yet, in Gambella, the other fertile south-western region of Ethiopia, most of the land is forcibly taken from the indigenous subsistence farmers; not for the development of a needed infrastructure, but for lease to private foreign companies mostly from India, where neither the profits nor the majority of the produce will be shared with the communities. In all cases, the farmers and indigenous people receive little or no compensation for their land.
Currently millions are believed to be in need of food aid. But the government in Ethiopia is offering at least 3m hectares of its most fertile land to rich countries and some of the world’s most wealthy individuals to export food for their own populations. This fact clearly indicates that the minority PM Meles regime has neither a consideration nor accountability to the Ethiopian people but only to its corrupted will and interests.
A closer look at how this government handling of the land issue shows that the reason behind its decision to lease and sell fertile farm lands to foreign investors for an indefinite or century old contract. It is neither a quest for technology nor utilizing the excess land. The reality is, the TPLF dominated EPRDF officials are busy building their personal business empire for the last 20 years they are in power. TPLF officials own more than ¾ of the total business in the country, majority of them in decisive government positions and military ranks. As popular discontent grows, the TPLF leaders are getting worried about the future of their personal and group wealth and their Business Empire, which stretched to all corners of Ethiopia and dominates from small biscuits to large truck industry. The idea they came up with is that, to call up on foreign investors to cover them in this big scam they are involved. That is precisely the reason why land confiscation is so heated, foreign hands are lined up and the name of investors rather than native farmers is flown full over the air of Ethiopia.
Several governments have come and gone in Ethiopia. However, the land issue has never been addressed satisfactorily to redress the injustices committed. Neither the existing laws nor resources are utilized so as to serve the interest of its citizens. In a country where 85% of its population rely as a means of subsistence on what is obtained from agriculture, the relation of land to man is crucial in a manner similar to the need of air to breath, sunshine and water to live. To deprive anyone of any of these vital resources is equal to rendering a death sentence on him or her and to their extended family members. Consequently the current land grabbing will fuel conflict, create political instability, uproots the indigenous peoples and results in food insecurity.
The land question in Ethiopia is a potential time bombs waiting to explode. The land issue was the major factor for the demise of all Meles’s predecessor in the history and has also already consumed a government in Madagascar. However the impact on health, Soil, water, food security, ownership right and the environment will remain an expensive price for the next generation to pay.
Hence, it is very important for the international community to stand in unison against brutal regime of Ethiopia and uphold the right of the peoples to land ownership, which is exploited, left defenseless and currently are running out of means to protect their right. The land grabbers (investors) should also understand the complicated reality they are involving in and need to calculate their risk on time before it is too late. Any land deal that has not been agreed to by the Ethiopian nations and nationalities will not be honored and will bring neither lasting peace nor development in the country and for the investors too.
It is also a high time for the UN and its concerned stake holders to call special investigation on this serious matter and issues immediate resolution against the continued suffering of farmers due to eviction and the serious poverty that followed. It is also very important to exert the at most possible pressure to undo the unfair law with regards of land issues.
(The writer can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://jajjabee.wordpress.com)
By Alemayehu G. Mariam
John F. Kennedy said:
Those who make peaceful change impossible, make a violent revolution inevitable.”
The English colonial government made peaceful change impossible in the American colonies leading to the American Revolution in 1776, an event memorialized in the American Declaration of Independence and celebrated annually on July 4.
On July 4th 2007, an informal group of Ethiopian human rights defenders, civic society activists, academics, journalists, concerned individuals and others signed a Declaration pledging to defend freedom, democracy and human rights in Ethiopia, and set up an online petition for all Ethiopians worldwide to join in the pledge. The Declaration was signed by 1,875 individuals in 2007.
At this critical moment in African and Middle Eastern history when decades-old dictatorships are being challenged by the people, it is vitally important for all Ethiopians who believe in freedom, democracy and human rights to stand up and take a stand.
The online petition remains open for signature here.
The Declaration with the list of 74 original signatories as it appeared in 2007 is reproduced at the online petition site and here and various other websites.
DECLARATION TO DEFEND FREEDOM, DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN ETHIOPIA IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM July 4, 2007
In the history of all great nations, there comes a moment when the people must make a choice that will define them in their own time, vindicate the enormous sacrifices of their ancestors and enable them to bequeath an enduring legacy for generations yet unborn. They are often forced to make that choice by arrogant tyrants who use brute force to entrench and perpetuate their dictatorial rule, and unabashedly proclaim to the world their contempt for the rule of law, democratic principles and civil liberties.
In the history of oppression, tyrants have spared no effort to erode the natural courage of their people and force upon them a life of cowardice and submission, debilitate their natural instincts for bravery and valor and intimidate them into accepting servility, replace their yearning for liberty with false hopes and pretensions of freedom, trick them into bartering their desire to live in dignity for a life of shame and fear, subvert their natural sense of honor, duty and patriotism for vulgar materialism, and corrupt them into selling their fidelity to truth at the altar of falsehood.
In 1776, the American people had their defining moment when they stood up and defended their liberties against a tyrannical king who taxed them without representation, closed down their legislatures and imposed upon them laws made by representatives for whom they did not grant consent. They declared then, as we do now:
“When a government has ceased to protect the lives, liberty and property of the people, from whom its legitimate powers are derived, and for the advancement of whose happiness it was instituted, and so far from being a guarantee for the enjoyment of those inestimable and inalienable rights, it becomes an instrument in the hands of evil rulers for their oppression.”
Our Moment to Stand Up Against Evil Rulers and For Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights in the New Ethiopian Millennium is Here! We Must Act Now!
Ethiopians the world over must now make a choice, a choice that will define them today, tomorrow and in the next Millennium. We must plant the seeds of liberty today so that future generations may harvest its bounty.
We MUST therefore rise to defend freedom, democracy and human rights in Ethiopia against a tyrant who has:
Connived and made alliances with enemies of the Ethiopian people to break up the country and bargain away its territory.
Subverted the civil and criminal laws of the land and encroached upon the fundamental rights of the people by denying them due process of law.
Forbidden the people from speaking freely, assembling peacefully, petitioning government for grievances, and the press from reporting.
Trampled upon the basic human rights of the people, and flagrantly violated international human rights laws and conventions.
Employed the malicious methods of divide and conquer, and dredged up historical grievances to sow hatred and discord among the people.
Threatened and made good on his threats to visit violence, intimidation, terror, arbitrary arrest and imprisonment and torture and untold privation upon the people.
Dispatched swarms of soldiers throughout the land to harass the people and administer street justice against them.
Refused to step down and leave office after he was overwhelmingly defeated in a democratic election, and rejected by the people.
Unjustly imprisoned the elected representatives of the people and persecuted peaceful political opponents on false and fabricated charges and crimes.
Obstructed the administration of justice by neutralizing and intimidating the judiciary to do his bidding.
Intervened in the internal affairs of neighboring countries and waged war against their people creating lasting and insurmountable enmity.
Refused the aid of Great Nations to build democratic institutions and institutionalize human rights and the rule of law in Ethiopia, and has hired at great expense to the people’s treasury, mercenaries to lobby against such efforts in the Legislatures of such nations, and
Practiced cruelty and crimes against humanity scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages.
In every stage of these oppressions, the people have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms. We have sought the intercession of international human rights organizations, the Legislatures of the Great Nations of the world and appealed to his sense of native justice, magnanimity and patriotism.
He has sneered at the people’s pleas for justice, scoffed at their petitions for redress of grievances and turned a deaf ear to the advice of the international community.
We, the undersigned, therefore, solemnly publish and declare, that the People of Ethiopia have the God-given right to live in freedom, democracy and human rights, to be free and establish a government that is of their own choosing and consent, and that we shall work tirelessly and without reservation or evasion to:
Gain the unconditional release of ALL political prisoners of conscience.
Restore the democratic rights of the people.
Institute democratic reform and accountability.
Enhance the capacity of legislative institutions to enact fair and just laws.
Strengthen civil society groups and organizations and support human rights advocates.
Cause the arrest and prosecution of human rights abusers, and to bring to justice the killers of 193 innocent men, women and children and wounding of 763 others.
Increase the independence of the judiciary.
Establish permanent human rights monitoring and reporting processes.
Secure the rights of women and promote families as a foundation for a stable society.
Encourage and engage youth to become future leaders.
Remove all press censorship, restore full press freedom and strengthen private media.
Improve the electoral process to ensure fraud-free elections, and strengthen competitive party politics.
Limit the use of U.S. security assistance to maintain global peace, and NOT against the civilian population, and
Work tirelessly to bring to justice all persons guilty of crimes against humanity.
In support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other and to the People of Ethiopia that we will defend and promote, without evasion or reservation, the cause of freedom, democracy and human rights in Ethiopia in the New Millennium.
IN SUPPORT OF THIS DECLARATION,
ALEMAYEHU GEBRE MARIAM
MARIA C. LUGO
JOSEPH M. CIUFFINI
BELAYNESH T. HAIMANOT
MEKDESE B. KASSA
Ethiopia’s khat-addicted dictator Meles Zenawi likes to show off his expertise in economics to his puppets at the rubber-stamp parliament. It is always a hilarious scene when he talks about economic issues with confidence and authority while members of parliament looked on in bewilderment (see here). It’s to be remembered that ECONOMIST magazine on its Nov. 2006 issue said that the Meles regime is “one of the most economically illiterate in the modern world.” (Read here). Even though Ethiopia’s economy has been growing backwards since he came to power, some Woyanne cadres dare to argue that Meles is knowledgeable in economics. Germany, an economic powerhouse in the world, doesn’t think so. A representative of Germany’s Foreign Affairs Ministry describes Meles Zenawi as having poor understanding of economics. This was revealed in a U.S. diplomatic cable that is released to Wikileaks.org. Read full text of the cable below.
Ref ID: 09BERLIN1467
Date: 11/18/2009 9:20
Origin: Embassy Berlin
Header: VZCZCXYZ0001PP RUEHWEBDE RUEHRL #1467/01 3220920ZNY CCCCC ZZHP 180920Z NOV 09FM AMEMBASSY BERLINTO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5820INFO RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE PRIORITYRUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA PRIORITY 0078RUEHDJ/AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI PRIORITY 0006RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI PRIORITY 0151RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0888
C O N F I D E N T I A L BERLIN 001467 SIPDIS DEPARTMENT PLEASE PASS TO AF/E GEETA PASI E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/18/2019 TAGS: PREL, PHUM, PTER, PHSA, SENV, DJ, ER, ET, GM, KE, SO SUBJECT: EUROPEANS TRACK U.S. ON EAST AFRICA BUT REMAIN RELUCTANT TO SANCTION ERITREA Classified By: Minister Counselor for Political Affairs George Glass fo r reasons 1.4 (b,d).
1.(C) Summary: During a German MFA experts level meeting in Berlin to discuss the challenges facing East Africa, it was clear the Europeans saw eye to eye with the United States on most Horn issues but differed on the advisability of sanctions against Eritrea. We agreed Ethiopia’s role in the region was key and on the need to support and observe its May 2010 elections. On Somalia, the EU and United States were of like mind on challenges facing the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG), agreeing on the importance of continuing to support it. On Kenya, there was consensus on the need to push for greater political reform, including on the constitution, and acknowledgment that next year would be critical. Participants saw the need to support regional organizations, including the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). End Summary.
2. (SBU) MFA A/S equivalent for African Affairs Matthias Muelmenstaedt hosted the day-long conference on the Horn of Africa in mid-October with a focus on Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, and Kenya. The European Commission ((Henriette Geiger, Deputy Head of Unit, relations with the countries and the regions of the Horn of Africa, Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean), the European Secretariat (Guillaume Lacroix), France (Stephane Gompertz Director for Africa and the Indian Ocean for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Italy (Guiseppe Morabito, DG for Sub-Saharan African Countries for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Sweden – EU presidency (Marike Fahlen, Ambassador and Special Envoy, Division for Africa, Ministry for Foreign Affairs), the U.S. (AF Deputy Assistant Secretary Wycoff and AF/E Office Director Pasi) and the UK (Jonathan Allen, East Africa and Great Lakes Department, Foreign and Commonwealth Office) attended. We met separately with German representatives – Muelmenstaedt and Deputy Head of the East Africa Division Karsten Geier earlier (other meeting topics will be reported septel).
3.(C) Ethiopia is an “indispensable partner” to stability in the region, the border conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea is “frozen” for the foreseeable future, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles is intent on retaining power, and the political opposition is weak, disunited, and out of touch with the average Ethiopian, partners agreed. Stressing the importance that the U.S. and Europeans track our messages to Meles, Wycoff noted the Carter Center was considering sending observers to the May 2010 elections and that the U.S. would work to promote a democratic track for Ethiopia.
4. (C) The EU presidency stressed the importance of Meles as a regional leader, pointing out he would represent Africa on climate change in Copenhagen. Climate change, stressed the Europeans, particularly Italy, would have a huge impact on food security in the region. MFA Africa Advisor Muelmenstaedt described Meles as “a guy you can do business with.” (NOTE: In our separate bilat, Muelmenstaedt said Ethiopia was the third largest recipient of German development assistance.) The EU believed the key to Ethiopia was to understand its long-term strategic interests – stability and economic development, acknowledging the conflict in Somalia was the Ethiopian government’s main preoccupation. Echoing EU views, the U.K. highlighted excellent cooperation between EU and U.S. missions in Addis.
5. (C) Regarding the May 2010 elections, participants welcomed the possibility of Carter Center observers, calling on the EU to send some as well. Acknowledging the difficulty of being associated with a likely imperfect process, they nonetheless agreed on the importance of international involvement in the elections. Muelmenstaedt said that “it would be a mistake not to send an observer mission.” According to the EU, the Ethiopian government has not yet made a formal request for election observers, but Ethiopia was on a priority list for EU election observer assistance. The EU confided that the likely head of the observer mission would be Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid. (NOTE: In response to a question about whether Michel was viewed as a neutral figure given his involvement in Eritrea, the EC claimed Michel had a “good rapport with all the (region’s) leaders.” In communications with the Ethiopians, the EU reporting having already warned Addis they would not accept any Government of Ethiopia pre-conditions for the mission, something the Ethiopians have hinted at already.
6. (C) The EU suggested the EU and U.S. concentrate on the elections for now as well as on a post-election scenario for Ethiopian-Eritrean re-engagement on the border conflict. The EU called for a comprehensive package from the EU, U.S. and Arab countries with economic incentives and perhaps a deal on the Asaf port. The EU expressed concern that Ethiopia continued to pursue an aggressive policy toward Eritrea within the Organization of African Unity. Wycoff observed that Eritrea’s behavior was the core problem that needed to be addressed. Regarding conditions for the observer mission, the French agreed observation needed to be “no strings” but added there was a possibility of a “gentlemen’s agreement” with Ethiopia on details.
7. (C) Germany reported addressing Ethiopia’s economic situation, namely hard currency and the poor investment climate, with Meles directly and being struck by what they described as Meles’ poor understanding of economics. The French (Gompertz had served there as Ambassador recently) challenged the German assessment, clarifying that Meles actually had a good understanding of economics, but claiming it was hampered by his ideological beliefs, especially regarding privatization.
8. (C) In our bilateral meeting, Wycoff raised the question of whether Ethiopian training of Somalis met UN standards and thus allowed for UNDP support after their return. Muelmenstaedt agreed there were legitimate questions and said that Germany intended to resolve this issue. East Africa Division Deputy Geier noted that the Germans were surprised about the development as the UNDP had not mentioned the issue before the training. Muelmenstaedt dismissed the UNDP, noting it did not have a very positive image anywhere in the world. In Somalia, the UNDP was making a real effort to be effective.
9. (C) Whether to engage or isolate Eritrea as a spoiler was what the quint group addressed. Germany reported not being encouraged by its efforts to engage with Eritrea and noted that the German government had decided to freeze its support for the Bisha mining project, which he predicted would paralyze the project. DAS Wycoff outlined the U.S. position, highlighting the USG’s efforts to reach out to Eritrea. So far this effort had not brought results, and Eritrea continued to serve as a spoiler, continuing its support of violent extremists, including those who promote publicly and implement violent attacks against the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM). After noting the strong and clear positions of IGAD and AU vis a vis Eritrea, Wycoff noted that the U.S. would support our African partners in addressing this issue.
10. (C) European participants generally did not support sanctioning Eritrea, opining that the threat of sanctions would hold enough sway with the Asmara government. They acknowledged, however, the argument that the Asmara government played a “spoiler role” with regard to Somalia and also supported elements hostile toward the West. Italy described Eritrea as governed by a “brutal dictator,” and noted that Italy had not gotten results from its efforts at engagement. He cautioned, however, against “creating another Afghanistan” by applying Eritrea-focused sanctions. The Italian representative questioned whether the sanctions should be focused on spoilers in general and include others beyond Eritrea. The French said that while engagement was “useless,” France would continue on this track as there was no other option. Recent discussions between Asmara and French Foreign Minister Kouchner had been inconclusive, and he pointed to the UN Security Council (UNSC) sanctions committee list of 10 names for possible sanctions, including three Eritreans. The Swedish representative agreed that pressure would be more useful than sanctions, reasoning that Eritrea could still act as a spoiler even under sanctions. The UK representative agreed, adding that while the UK was still considering sanctions, “a way out” for Asmara would have to be included. The EU representative saw the “long arm of Ethiopia” behind the sanctions initiative and cautioned against this action because the “paranoid” mentality of the Eritrean leadership should be taken into account to make sure we do nothing that makes them feel “cornered.”
11. (C) DAS Wycoff pointed out the inconsistency between the private acknowledgement that Asmara was not only playing a spoiler role with regard to Somalia but also supporting violent, anti-West elements and the provision by some countries provided assistance packages to Asmara. He also noted that strong actions, including sanctions, were needed to have a chance of changing Isaias’s behavior. The UK representative said London has already made clear to Asmara that the UK was aware Eritrea was supporting anti-Western groups that threatened British security. In a separate bilat earlier, Muelmenstaedt told Wycoff that while Asmara has assured Germany of its interest in a stable Somalia, Germany views that statement as empty rhetoric.
12. (C) Participants expressed frustration with the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia in general but agreed that there was no other choice but to work with the TFG. The UK and others underlined there was no military solution in Somalia but there was consensus on the essential need to address the security needs of the country. Sweden noted mounting frustration that the TFG ministers were not performing, adding that the TFG had not defined any strategy whatsoever. The TFG should not be asking AMISOM to do its job, she said. Sweden also commented that the International Contact Group needed attention and suggested that a preparatory meeting take place soon in Brussels.
13. (C) DAS Wycoff noted we had to support efforts to make TFG forces more effective, including expanded training, better logistical support, ensuring proper pay, and possibly providing mentors for Somali troops as well as described USG support for AMISOM. Wycoff stressed again that there was conclusive evidence that al Shabaab militants continued to be backed by Eritrea, undermining Somalia’s security, and contributing to attacks on AMISOM. While some participants questioned the focus on military support, all agreed on the need to strengthen security in the country as a first step toward moving forward on other goals.
14. (C) The Italian representative agreed on the need to focus on the security situation. He noted that Italy had tried to send a mission to Mogadishu to search for a building suitable for an embassy right before the May 17 suicide bombing. Italy is still considering whether to open an embassy in the capital city, he said. The EC representative agreed, saying that while there was no military solution, there was also no solution without the military. All agreed the TFG needed to be seen as a government by the Somali people. In response to a question about recent fighting between Hizbul Islam and al Shabab in Kismayo, German MFA Geier said a recent TFG visitor had explained it as a local phenomenon, noting the view that Hizbul Islam was trying to distance itself from extremist groups and get closer to the TFG.
15. (C) During the separate bilat, Muelmenstaedt said “it was a miracle” that the TFG was still in power and al Shabab had not succeeded in chasing out the TFG. He attributed this to two factors: the change in U.S. policy on Somalia and U.S. support, and the new relationship between Somalia and Ethiopia. Muelmenstaedt said Germany was currently supporting various TFG projects and doing police training as well as humanitarian assistance. Once the situation was appropriate, Muelmenstaedt added, Germany is ready to provide 90 million Euro in development assistance.
16.(C) Agreeing that avoiding a recurrence of the violence that followed the 2007 election was critical, participants were of one mind on the importance of reform. The group suggested that the U.S. and EU speak with one voice on what needs to be done and combine carrots and sticks to ensure progress. The UK stressed the importance of allies working together to push the reform process forward, particularly on institutional reform. Like the U.S., he said, the UK enforced visa exclusions for corrupt officials. DAS Wycoff detailed U.S. efforts in the wake of post-election violence, including additional funding for civil society and youth with the purpose of building pressure for reform from the ground up, a strong message condemning violence, stressing accountability, and pushing for full implementation of the agreed reform agenda.
17. (C) In the earlier bilat, Muelmenstaedt confided that while the UK and The Netherlands were pushing Kenya hard on reforms, Berlin was less enthusiastic about this approach since Germany needed Kenya’s help in prosecuting pirates. “We don’t want trials against pirates in Germany,” he added, explaining the difficulty in preventing asylum applications. While Germany sees the need for Kenya to make progress, “we need them,” he said, limiting the role that Germany would play in this area.
Regional View ————-
18. (C) Discussion touched on the role of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Eastern Africa. Participants viewed IGAD’s capacity as limited, although they agreed it has the potential to play a greater role. IGAD should also be viewed as a peer organization of other regional organizations, including the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). The EC warned against overtaxing IGAD, suggesting its role should be limited to non-controversial areas that build up IGAD’s technical capacity. DAS Wycoff noted IGAD has not figured prominently in Washington although the USG supports regional organizations. He explained that the USG was working on several major initiatives – Food Security and climate change – both of which have a regional dimension. The USG will continue to support IGAD as it seeks to become a more effective organization. Muelmenstaedt pledged Germany’s support of IGAD, but at a low level, opining that were IGAD to collapse few would notice. Even though its effectiveness is limited, Sweden said IGAD’s collapse would send the wrong signal. The fact that IGAD promotes interaction between countries in the Horn is essential. Participants questioned why Eritrea left IGAD, with the EU clarifying that they did so because they could not politically support IGAD positions.
EU-AU Summit ————
19. (C) Participants questioned EU attendance at the next EU-AU summit to be held in Sirte, Libya in July 2010 and chaired by Libyan leader Qaddafi. All agreed this would be a politically difficult venue, and Muelmenstaedt speculated that Chancellor Merkel would find it difficult to attend the summit given the location and host.
20. (C) There is much more that unites than divides Europe and the U.S. on Horn of Africa issues. One issue that appeared to remain problematic is the question of Eritrea-specific sanctions, an issue that will require further work. The day-long meeting in Berlin was particularly useful in providing a window onto how the various players, particularly the EU, see future assistance levels, priorities, etc. Meeting in a smaller group of like-minded nations was in stark contrast to the International Contact Group on Somalia where posturing featured more centrally than policy discussions.
21. (U) This cable was cleared by AF DAS Karl Wycoff. MURPHY
Business partners of Egypt’s ruling party have started to take their money out of the country, according to Bloomberg. Ethiopia’s super rich who are looting the country in partnership with the Woyanne ruling junta have been doing that for a while now. We have previously reported (read here) about one of them, Samuel Tafesse, who has recently built a $5-million mansion in a suburb of Washington DC. Most of the Woyanne leaders are currently on a property buying frenzy in the U.S. and Europe.
Egypt’s Super-Rich Begin Moving Their Money To Switzerland
(Bloomberg) — Egypt’s rich are considering taking money out of the country as violent protests against President Hosni Mubarak enter a 10th day, and Switzerland is a popular destination, a Swiss-based Arab banker said today.
“We’ve been getting inquiries about moving money” from Egypt to the Alpine nation, said Karim al-Korey, an associate director at Arab Bank (Switzerland) Ltd. “I have two or three clients who could transfer 10 to 15 million dollars each.”
Two Arab Bank (Switzerland) executives sent an emailed statement disputing al-Korey’s comments after they were published, saying he was not authorized to speak publicly for the firm.
His comments as published do “not represent the official position of the bank,” wrote Alain Dargham, the head of investment advisory, and Jean Kamitsis, head of wealth management. “We formally deny the content.”
Protests against Mubarak have left about 300 people dead and hundreds more injured in the past two weeks. Egypt’s ruler has replaced ministers and promised free elections before stepping down in September. That hasn’t calmed protesters who say his 30-year presidency must end immediately.
“Everything in Egypt is now closed but we think banks could start to reopen on Sunday. If this is the case, we expect funds to come in,” al-Korey told Bloomberg by telephone from his Geneva office. If Mubarak goes, “people all over the region will get scared and start transferring money.”
Switzerland on Jan. 19 froze any assets belonging to Tunisia’s ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his entourage. Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia after a popular revolt ended his 23-year rule.
Most Egyptians close to Mubarak aren’t worried that their funds will be seized abroad and still see Switzerland as the safest haven, al-Korey said.
“There is a fear but only for a very few people,” the banker said. “You are talking about Mubarak, his sons, and Ahmed Ezz, the richest man in Egypt, as well as maybe 10 or 15 of the top businessmen.”
Ezz, chairman of Ezz Steel, was among the businessmen ousted from cabinet and ruling party positions yesterday. UBS AG and Credit Suisse Group AG, Switzerland’s biggest banks, declined to comment on possible movements of funds from Egypt.
Business partners of Egypt’s ruling party have started to take their money out of the country, according to Bloomberg. Ethiopia’s super rich who are looting the country in partnership with the Woyanne ruling junta have been doing that for a while now. We have previously reported (read here) about one of them, Samuel Tafesse, who has recently built a $5-million mansion in a suburb of Washington DC. Most of the Woyanne leaders are currently on a property buying frenzy in the U.S. and Europe.
Egypt’s Super-Rich Begin Moving Their Money To Switzerland
(Bloomberg) — Egypt’s rich are considering taking money out of the country as violent protests against President Hosni Mubarak enter a 10th day, and Switzerland is a popular destination, a Swiss-based Arab banker said today.
“We’ve been getting inquiries about moving money” from Egypt to the Alpine nation, said Karim al-Korey, an associate director at Arab Bank (Switzerland) Ltd. “I have two or three clients who could transfer 10 to 15 million dollars each.”
Two Arab Bank (Switzerland) executives sent an emailed statement disputing al-Korey’s comments after they were published, saying he was not authorized to speak publicly for the firm.
His comments as published do “not represent the official position of the bank,” wrote Alain Dargham, the head of investment advisory, and Jean Kamitsis, head of wealth management. “We formally deny the content.”
Protests against Mubarak have left about 300 people dead and hundreds more injured in the past two weeks. Egypt’s ruler has replaced ministers and promised free elections before stepping down in September. That hasn’t calmed protesters who say his 30-year presidency must end immediately.
“Everything in Egypt is now closed but we think banks could start to reopen on Sunday. If this is the case, we expect funds to come in,” al-Korey told Bloomberg by telephone from his Geneva office. If Mubarak goes, “people all over the region will get scared and start transferring money.”
Switzerland on Jan. 19 froze any assets belonging to Tunisia’s ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his entourage. Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia after a popular revolt ended his 23-year rule.
Most Egyptians close to Mubarak aren’t worried that their funds will be seized abroad and still see Switzerland as the safest haven, al-Korey said.
“There is a fear but only for a very few people,” the banker said. “You are talking about Mubarak, his sons, and Ahmed Ezz, the richest man in Egypt, as well as maybe 10 or 15 of the top businessmen.”
Ezz, chairman of Ezz Steel, was among the businessmen ousted from cabinet and ruling party positions yesterday. UBS AG and Credit Suisse Group AG, Switzerland’s biggest banks, declined to comment on possible movements of funds from Egypt.
When Ethiopia’s dictator Meles Zenawi announced recently that 10,000 tons (20 million pounds, or 9 million kilograms) of coffee disappeared without a trace, the Ethiopian Review Intelligence Unit (ERIU) immediately went to work to find out who took it. For ERIU’s crack team of investigators it was not difficult to find out how 25,000 truck loads of coffee beans could disappear without a trace. The ERIU team has uncovered that the coffee was stolen by none other than the dictator’s wife, the mother of corruption Azeb Mesfin. Fully aware in advance that it was Azeb who stole the coffee, Meles called a meeting with traders and asked them to forget about what happened to the disappeared coffee, but warned them that if any one steals coffee against I will cut off his hands. Watch the press conference below.
When Ethiopia’s dictator Meles Zenawi announced recently that 10,000 tons (20 million pounds, or 9 million kilograms) of coffee disappeared without a trace, the Ethiopian Review Intelligence Unit (ERIU) immediately went to work to find out who took it. For ERIU’s crack team of investigators it was not difficult to find out how 25,000 truck loads of coffee beans could disappear without a trace. The ERIU team has uncovered that the coffee was stolen by none other than the dictator’s wife, the mother of corruption Azeb Mesfin. Fully aware in advance that it was Azeb who stole the coffee, Meles called a meeting with traders and asked them to forget about what happened to the disappeared coffee, but warned them that if any one steals coffee against I will cut off his hands. Watch the press conference below.
Protesters in Sudan regrouped and launch another protest today after the security forces savagely attacked and dispersed them last week. The following is by Reuters:
(Reuters) — Police beat and teargassed students protesting in Sudan’s Sennar state, the latest in a series of short-lived demonstrations partly inspired by uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, witnesses said.
Around 200 students, protesting against price rises and calling for change, tried to rally outside Sennar university on Thursday afternoon, before officers moved in with batons and then surrounded the compound, witnesses told Reuters.
Sudan has used armed riot police to disperse a series of demonstrations by young Sudanese across the north of the country in recent weeks.
Protests earlier last month focused on food prices and human rights abuses and broadened to include calls for political change after images of massed protests in Cairo, Tunis and other cities were broadcast across the world.
The protests, many around universities, have so far not been supported by wider parts of the population and have failed to gain momentum.
Also on Thursday police arrested dozens of people near the scene of a planned protest in the capital’s Khartoum North suburb, said witnesses. The demonstration, which had been publicized on the internet, did not take place.
Police set up road blocks in and around Khartoum to search cars and lorries overnight. A Reuters witness saw officers even checking inside bags of vegetables in one vehicle on the road from Khartoum to the town of Kosti.
No one was immediately available to comment from Sudan’s police on Friday, the start of the weekend in Sudan.
Sudan is facing an economic crisis marked by soaring inflation. It is also vulnerable politically after the south of the country — the source of most of its oil — voted overwhelmingly to secede last month.
Introducing the ETHIOPIAN HERITAGE SOCIETY OF NORTH AMERICA
The Ethiopian Heritage Society of North America “EHSNA” Board is proud to announce the formation of the Ethiopian Heritage Society of North America a 501(c)(3) organization. EHSNA’s primary mission and vision is to promote, and preserve the rich heritage and traditions of our Ethiopian ancestors. EHSNA seeks to develop a strong link among the new generation of Ethiopians born and raised in the Diaspora, and to introduce our historical and cultural heritage to the Larger Community in our adopted country.
EHSNA plans to execute its stated mission and goal, among other measures, by holding an annual Ethiopian heritage week in Washington DC every summer that will attract Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia from over the world. Accordingly, EHSNA will host “Ethiopian Heritage Festival” to be celebrated annually on the first week of July. The festival will showcase the historical, cultural, artistic, athletic and culinary treasures, creativity and talent of our community at large. This will be achieved through the sponsorship of lecture series, stage productions, art exhibits, sporting events and the recognition of past and new achievements within the Ethiopian community both in the Diaspora & Ethiopia. EHSNA aims to bring together Ethiopians from all walks of life residing in North America and connect various Ethiopian organizations annually to amplify our rich culture.
EHSNA embraces values and celebrates Ethiopia’s wealth of cultural and philosophical diversities. EHSNA believes our common goals can only be accomplished through working together as individuals and groups. EHSNA encourages amicable, honest and respectful dialogue as the best way of addressing seemingly complex issues facing our society. EHSNA aspires to build open and trusting relationships within our community to advance excellence as a means of building a strong and viable community with a United Voice to become the master of our own destiny and to leave our footprints as we Celebrate and Discover Ethiopia. Furthermore, EHSNA strives to create role models for the new generation of Ethiopian youth.
We are aware our mission and goals are vast, our aspirations are high, and we accept our limitation to execute our stated objectives without the active involvement of our community. Therefore, we request the assistance, expertise, resources and support from members of our community to make this new organization a success. We call upon, and invite all Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia to join us in making the upcoming Ethiopian Heritage Festival in Washington D.C. a success and reflective of our stated mission and goals.
If you are interested in knowing more about EHSNA, volunteering, or joining us, you are invited to visit our website: ethiopianheritagesociety.org. Please direct your inquiries through our interactive website.
Renowned Middle East journalist Robert Fisk speaks from Cairo on the historic uprising and how U.S. President Barack Obama has lost an opportunity to back a democratic movement in the Middle East. “One of the blights of history will now involve a U.S. president who held out his hand to the Islamic world and then clenched his fist when it fought a dictatorship and demanded democracy,” Fisk said. Watch he video below:
The United States Senate has passed a resolution by unanimous vote on Thursday calling on Egypt President Hosni Mubarak to transfer power to a caretaker government. The resolution was authored by Senators John McCain and John Kerry. Read the full text below.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
Mr. KERRY (for himself and Mr. MCCAIN) submitted the following resolution:
Supporting democracy, universal rights, and the peaceful transition to a representative government in Egypt.
Whereas the United States and Egypt have long shared a strong bilateral relationship;
Whereas Egypt plays an important role in global and regional politics as well as in the broader Middle East and North Africa;
Whereas Egypt has been, and continues to be, an intellectual and cultural center of the Arab world;
Whereas on January 25, 2011, demonstrations began across Egypt with thousands of protesters peacefully calling for a new government, free and fair elections, significant constitutional and political reforms, greater economic opportunity, and an end to government corruption;
Whereas on January 28, 2011, the Government of Egypt shut down Internet and mobile phone networks almost entirely and blocked social networking websites;
Whereas on January 29, 2011, President Hosni Mubarak appointed Omar Suleiman, former head of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate, as Vice President and Ahmed Shafik, former Minister for Civil Aviation, as Prime Minister;
Whereas the demonstrations have continued, making this the longest protest in modern Egyptian history, and on February 1, 2011, millions of protesters took to the streets across the country;
Whereas hundreds of Egyptians have been killed and injured since the protests began;
Whereas on February 1, 2011, President Hosni Mubarak announced that he would not run for reelection later this year, but widespread protests against his government continue;
Whereas on February 1, 2011, President Barack Obama called for an orderly transition, stating that it “must be meaningful, it must be peaceful, and it must begin now.” He also affirmed that: “The process must include a broad spectrum of Egyptian voices and opposition parties. It should lead to elections that are free and fair. And it should result in a government that’s not only grounded in democratic principles, but is also responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people.”;
Whereas despite President Hosni Mubarak’s pledge in 2005 that Egypt’s controversial emergency law would be used only to fight terrorism and that he planned to abolish the state of emergency and adopt new antiterrorism legislation as an alternative, in May 2010, the Government of Egypt again extended the emergency law, which has been in place continuously since 1981, for another 2 years, giving police broad powers of arrest and allowing indefinite detention without charge;
Whereas the Department of State’s 2009 Human Rights Report notes with respect to Egypt, ”[t]he government’s respect for human rights remained poor, and serious abuses continued in many areas. The government limited citizens’ right to change their government and continued a state of emergency that has been in place almost continuously since 1967.”;
Whereas past elections in Egypt, including the most recent November 2010 parliamentary elections, have seen serious irregularities at polling and counting stations, security force intimidation and coercion of voters, and obstruction of peaceful political rallies and demonstrations;
Whereas any election must be honest and open to all legitimate candidates and conducted without interference from the military or security apparatus and under the oversight of international monitors: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate–
(1) acknowledges the central and historic importance of the United States-Egyptian strategic partnership in advancing the common interests of both countries, including peace and security in the broader Middle East and North Africa;
(2) reaffirms the United States’ commitment to the universal rights of freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and freedom of access to information, including the Internet, and expresses strong support for the people of Egypt in their peaceful calls for a representative and responsive democratic government that respects these rights;
(3) condemns any efforts to provoke or instigate violence, and calls upon all parties to refrain from all violent and criminal acts;
(4) supports freedom of the press and strongly condemns the intimidation, targeting or detention of journalists;
(5) urges the Egyptian military to demonstrate maximum professionalism and restraint, and emphasizes the importance of working to peacefully restore calm and order while allowing for free and non-violent freedom of expression;
(6) calls on President Mubarak to immediately begin an orderly and peaceful transition to a democratic political system, including the transfer of power to an inclusive interim caretaker government, in coordination with leaders from Egypt’s opposition, civil society, and military, to enact the necessary reforms to hold free, fair, and internationally credible elections this year;
(7) affirms that a real transition to a legitimate representative democracy in Egypt requires concrete steps to be taken as soon as possible, including lifting the state of emergency, allowing Egyptians to organize independent political parties without interference, enhancing the transparency of governmental institutions, restoring judicial supervision of elections, allowing credible international monitors to observe the preparation and conduct of elections, and amending the laws and Constitution of Egypt as necessary to implement these and other critical reforms;
(8) pledges full support for Egypt’s transition to a representative democracy that is responsive to the needs of the Egyptian people, and calls on all nations to support the people of Egypt as they work to conduct a successful transition to democracy;
(9) expresses deep concern over any organization that espouses an extremist ideology, including the Muslim Brotherhood, and calls upon all political movements and parties in Egypt, including an interim government, to affirm their commitment to non-violence and the rule of law, the equal rights of all individuals, accountable institutions of justice, religious tolerance, peaceful relations with Egypt’s neighbors, and the fundamental principles and practices of democracy, including the regular conduct of free and fair elections;
(10) underscores the vital importance of any Egyptian Government continuing to fulfill its international obligations, including its commitment under the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty signed on March 26, 1979, and the freedom of navigation through the Suez Canal; and
(11) ensures that United States assistance to the Egyptian Government, military, and people will advance the goal of ensuring respect for the universal rights of the Egyptian people and will further the national security interests of the United States in the region.
By Kirubeal Bekele
SEATTLE — Most of us Ethiopians are simply watching it like a movie. As if we were free people. When revolution is spreading like wild fire in Tunisia, Egypt and all over against brutal dictators, we Ethiopians are just watching. Stop it. We have work to do. We have a killer dictator terrorizing our people. We have a historical obligation to help topple a dictator in Ethiopia now so that he joins his friends Ben Ali of Tunisia and Mubarak of Egypt. This is the moment we have been waiting for. Let us ride this storm of revolution that swept North Africa and the Middle East.
On Saturday, Egyptians will hold a protest rally against Mubarak in downtown Seattle. Let us come out and join our Egyptian friends in solidarity. I was told that TV, radio, and print media will be there to cover this demonstration. This is a golden opportunity to expose Meles Zenawi together with Mubarak in front of the Seattle and international media.
Please show up this Saturday at noon at Westlake Park in downtown Seattle.
(For more information I can be reached at email@example.com)
Renowned Middle East journalist Robert Fisk speaks from Cairo on the historic uprising and how U.S. President Barack Obama has lost an opportunity to back a democratic movement in the Middle East. “One of the blights of history will now involve a U.S. president who held out his hand to the Islamic world and then clenched his fist when it fought a dictatorship and demanded democracy,” Fisk said. Watch he video below:
Conditions in Ethiopia are more ripe for regime change than in any other country in the world. These are some of the facts:
1. The dictator, Meles Zenawi, has been in power for 20 years. He is the most despised politician in Ethiopian history.
2. The economy is in shambles with over 40 percent unemployment.
3. Millions of Ethiopians go hungry.
4. The regime is extremely incompetent, corrupt and brutal.
5. In the 2005 elections, Ethiopians voted by an overwhelming margin against the regime. Their vote however was stolen, and when the people protested, Meles unleashed a campaign of terror against them.
The 2005 Ethiopian uprising failed primarily due to the opposition party’s timidity, luck of creativity and absence of leadership. The people of Ethiopia were ready to remove the regime through the ballot box, and when Meles refused accept rejection, they revolted. Unfortunately, the opposition leaders blinked and exposed the people to horrific attacks that have left them traumatized to this day.
Tthe people of Ethiopia need not depend on one leadership. Like Egypt and Tunisia, the campaign to remove Ethiopia’s ethnic apartheid regime must be structurally decentralized while united in its common goal. At the right moment, the various political, civic, youth and other groups who are involved in the campaign will elect transitional leaders. Until then, every organization can play a valuable role in the campaign to free Ethiopia from the Meles regime.
The following set of recommendations [in Amharic] by Ginbot 7 is helpful and needs to be distributed widely by all Ethiopian media, civic and political groups who need to come up with their own ideas and suggestions as well.
Please help distribute the following message from Ginbot 7
ለስኬታማ ህዝባዊ አመጽ ልንጠቀምባቸው የሚገቡን ዘዴዎች
ቱኒዚያውያን ከአንድ ወራት በፊት ለሃያ ሶስት አመታት የገዛቸውን አምባገነን ካስፈረጠጡት በኋላ፣ የነጻነት መንፈስ እሳት በግብጽ ላይ ወርዶ ለአስርተ አመታት የቆየን ፍርሃት በልቶታል። ቀድሞ አንገታቸውን ዝቅ ያደረጉ ቀና ብለዋል። ትናንት ሲረገጡ እራሳቸውን ዝቅ አድርገው የተቀበሉ፤ ዛሬ በቀጥቃጦቻቸው ትክክል ቆመው እውነትን በድፍረት የሚናገሩ ሆነዋል።
ህዝባዊው ሞገድ ግብጽ አላቆመም። የመንም እየተናወጠች ነው። አልጄሪያ፣ ሞሮኮ፣ ዮርዳኖስ፣ እና ጎረቤታችን ሱዳንም እጣ ደርሷቸዋል። በሳውድ አረቢያ እና በጋቦንም መለስተኛ የተቃውሞ ሰልፎች ተስተውለዋል። የአልጄሪያ እና የሶሪያ የዴሞክራሲ ታጋዮች በሚቀጥለው ወር የተሟሟቀ ተቃውሞ ለማካሄድ በዝግጅት ላይ እንደሚገኙም ተሰምቷል።
እንግዲህ ከዚህ ሁሉ በስተጀርባ፤ በተለይም ከስኬታማው የቱኒዚያ ንቅናቄ እና ግብጽን እያንቀጠቀጠ ካለው እንቅስቃሴ በስተጀርባ፤ የሚያስገርሙ የወጣቶች የፈጠራ ሃሳቦች እና ድርጅቶች ተስተውለዋል። ለረዥም አመታት፥ በርካቶች በነዚህ አገራት እንዲህ ያለ ህዝባዊ አመጽ መንግስት ሊጥል አይችልም፤ የመንግስታቱ አፈና ከባድ ነው ብለው ሲያጣጥሉ ቆይተዋል። ያም ደግሞ በተወሰነ ደረጃ እውነት ነው፤ ህዝቡ እነዚህን ሰልፎች ለማካሄድ ብዙ መስዋእትነት እየከፈለ ነው። ብዙ የፖለቲካ ተንታኞች፥ ይህ የሚካሄደው በአገራችን ቢሆን ኖሮ ከዚህ እጅጉን የከፋ እና በብዙ እጥፍ ያየለ መስዋእትነት እንደሚከፈል ይናገራሉ።
ይሁን እንጂ፥ በነዚህ በሰሜን አፍሪካ አገራት ከተከሰቱ ህዝባዊ አመጾች የምንማረው አንድ ቁምነገር አለ። ይህም ቁምነገር ለአገራችን ወጣቶችም ቢሆን አስተማሪ ነው። በአጭሩ ሲቀመጥ፥ “ለሁሉ ችግር መፍትሄ ያለው በገዛ እጃችን ውስጥ ነው።” የሚለው ነው። በአሁኑ ሰዓት፥ በኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ የአመጽ ሰልፍ የጠራ ቡድን የለም። ይሁን እንጂ፥ በሰሞኑ ክስተቶች በመገፋፋት፣ ብዙ ወጣቶች ተነሳሽነት እያሳዩ ይገኛሉ።
ስለዚህም የቱኒዚያ እና የግብጽ ወጣቶች፥ ከነፍሰ ገዳይ የመንግስት የደህንነት ሃይሎች እና ፖሊሶች ለማምለጥ እና ስኬታማ አመጽ ለማካሄድ ከተጠቀሙባቸው ዘዴዎች ውስጥ የተወሰኑትን፤ እንዲሁም ሌላ ቦታ የተገኙ ሃሳቦችን ሰብስበን ለማካፈል ወደናል። እንደሚከተለው እናቀርባቸዋለን።
- በቱኒዚያ እና በግብጽ ህዝባዊው አመጽ ያለ ከልካይ እንደ ጎርፍ እንዲፈስ ከረዱት ዘዴዎች አንዱ፥ ሰልፈኞቹ በፖሊስ ላይ ያሳዩት ብልጣብልጥነት/ወይም ወጣቶቻችን እንደሚሉት ሽወዳ ነው። የፖሊስ መኪና ሊገባባቸው በማይችሉ ትናንሽ የመንደር መንገዶች ላይ በየሰፈሩ መሰብሰብ እና ሰልፉን እና የአብሮነትን ስሜት ማሟሟቅ፤ የፖሊስ ወይም የደህንነት ሰራተኞች ቁጥር ከህዝብ ቁጥር ጋር ሲነጻጸር ሁልጊዜም ቢሆን ዝቅተኛ መሆኑን መረዳት፤ በተጨማሪም፥ ፖሊሶች ብቻቸውን ወዲያ ወዲህ ለማለት ስለሚፈሩ በቡድን መጓጓዛቸው ሽፋናቸውን እንደሚቀንስባቸው ማወቅ፤ እና የመሳሰሉት ተስተውለዋል።
- በቱኒዚያ፥ ሰልፎች የጀመሩት በትናንሽ ከተሞች ነው። ከዛ ቀስ እያሉ ወደ ዋና ከተማው መጡ። ከ1997ቱ ምርጫ በኋላ፥ የአዲስ አበባ ህዝብ ብቻውን የተጨፈጨፈው ተቃውሞ የተጀመረው እዛ ስለሆነ እና አብዛኛው ፌዴራል ፖሊስ እና በአስር ሺሆች የሚቆጠሩ የጦሩ አባላት በመዲናይቱ ስለተሰባሰቡ ነው። ተቃውሞ የሚጀመረው በሺሆች በሚቆጠሩት የኢትዮጵያ መንደሮች ቢሆን ግን፥ አገዛዙ ያንን ለመቆጣጠር ሲል ፖሊሶቹን ወደየክፍላተ አገራቱ ይልካል። ያም ሃይሉን ይለጥጥበትና ይዳከማል። አዲስ አበባ ላይ ሃይሉ ከተዳከመ ደግሞ፥ በሚሊዮኖች የሚቆጠረው የከተማይቱ ህዝብ የተቀሩትን የፖሊስ እና የደህንነት ሰራተኞች ተቋቁሞ የአራት ኪሎን ቤተመንግስት እንደ ንብ የማይወርበት እና አምባገነኑን በቁጥጥር ስር የማያውልበት ምንም ምክንያት አይኖርም። አገዛዙ ይህንን ፈርቶ በገጠር የሚከሰቱ ተቃውሞዎችን ለመቆጣጠር የጦር ወይም የፌዴራል ፖሊስ ሃይሎችን ካልላከ ደግሞ፣ ያም ይጎዳዋል። ምክንያቱም፥ እያንዳንዱ የገጠር ነዋሪ እየተነሳ የወያኔ ካድሬዎችን፣ ሰላዮችን እና ሚሊሻዎችን በቁጥጥር ስር ሲያውል፤ ቀጥሎ ያለው መንደርም የልብ ልብ እያገኘ ያንኑ ያደርጋል፤ ያም እየተስፋፋ ይሄድና የአገዛዙን ውድቀት ያፋጥነዋል።
- ፖሊስን ማዳከም። ሰሞኑን በግብጽ፥ ወጣቶቹ ከፖሊስ ጋር የድመት እና የአይጥ ጫወታ ሲጫወቱ ነበር ይባላል። አንድ የፖሊሶች ቡድን መጥቶ አንድ የወጣቶች ስብስብ በስንት መከራ ሰብሮ እና ወጣቶቹን በተለያየ አቅጣጫ አሯሩጦ እፎይ ከማለቱ፤ በአስር አቅጣጫ የሮጡት ልጆች መንደራቸውን ከማንም በላይ ስለሚያውቁ እንደገና አንድ ቦታ ተሰብስበው ቁጭ ይላሉ። ፖሊስን የማዳከም ጥቅም እራሱን የሚገልጠው ህዝባዊ አመጹ ለቀናት ሲቀጥል ነው። የተዳከመ ፖሊስ ህዝቡን መጋፈጥ ይሳነውና ሰልፉ ከቁጥጥሩ ውጪ ይሆናል፤ የስፋም ይቆርጣል።
- የፈረቃ ሰልፍ። የግብጽ የሰልፍ አቀናባሪዎች፤ ህዝቡ በፈረቃ ሰልፍ እንዲወጣ መልክት አስተላለፉ። ማለትም፥ የመጀመሪያው ፈረቃ ለስምንት ሰአታት ሲሰለፍ፣ ሁለተኛው ለቀጣኡ ስምንት ሰዓታት፤ የተቀረው ደግሞ ለቀጣዩ። ህዝቡ ብዙ ሚሊዮን ከመሆኑ የተነሳ፣ እንደዚህ እየተፈራረቀ ሌሊቱን ሙሉ መንገድ ላይ ለመቅረት ይችላል። ፖሊሶች ግን በቁጥር ትንሽ ስለሆኑ፣ እንደዚህ በፈረቃ እንስራ ቢሉ ቁጥራቸው የባሰውኑ ያንሳል። ይህ ፖሊሶቹን ከማዳከሙ በተጨማሪ፤ ሌሊት ላይ በየቤቱ በመዞር የአመጹ መሪዎች ናቸው ብለው የሚጠረጥሯቸውን ዜጎች ለማሰር የሚያስፈልጋቸውን ፋታ አይሰጣቸውም።
- የታቀደ መበታተን እና ፖሊስን አሳስቶ ህዝቡ ወደሚፈልገው አቅጣጫ መምራት። በአንድ ወቅት በመራቤቴ አካባቢ፣ ህዝብ አምጿል የሚል ወሬ ተሰምቶ፣ ያንን በቁጥጥር ስር ለማዋል ወደ ከተማዋ የተላኩትን የደህንነት ሰራተኞች፣ ህዝቡ “ሽፍታ! ሽፍታ!” ብሎ እየጮኸ ወደ ጫካ መራቸው ይባላል። እዛ ምን እንደተደረጉ አይታወቅም። ነገር ግን ተመልሰው አልመጡም። ለማንኛውም፥ በተለያየ አቅጣጫ በመበተን እና ፖሊሶች ተከትለው እንዲመጡ በማድረግ፤ ህዝብ የቁጥር አብላጫ ያለው መስሎ ከተሰማው፤ በቁጥጥር ስር ሊያውላቸው ይችላል። ይህኛው ዘዴ፥ ፖሊስ እና ደህንነት ከማዳከም አኳያም ትልቅ ጥቅም አለው።
- ብቁ የሆነ የመረጃ መለዋወጫ እና ለህዝብ መልክት ማስተላለፊያ ማግኘቱም ለሰልፎቹ ስኬት ቁልፍ ነበር። ቱኒዚያ እና ግብጽ ከአገራችን ጋር ሲነጻጸር ከፍተኛ የሆነ የኢንተርነት አገልግሎት ሽፋን ያለባቸው አገራት በመሆናቸው ወጣቶች ለመገናኘት እና ሃሳብ ለመለዋወጥ ችግር አልነበረባቸውም። ይሁን እንጂ፥ መንግስታቶቻቸው አጣብቂኝ ውስጥ ሲገቡ ያም ተዘጋባቸው። ያ ግን ተቃውሟቸውን አላቆመውም። በሁለቱም አገራት፥ ደርግን የሚቃወሙ ወጣቶች በአገራችን ያደርጉ እንደነበረው፣ ወጣቶች በየግድግዳው ላይ መፈክሮችን በመጻፍ ህዝባቸውን ያበረታቱ እና አምባገነኖቹን ይቃወሙ ነበር።
- ሰሞኑን ኢትዮጵያውያን ወጣቶች ፌስቡክ በተባለው የኢንተርነት መገናኛ መረብ ላይ ኢትዮጵያውያን ወጣቶች ሲካፈሉት አየሁ ብለው አንድ ግለሰብ የላኩልን ዘዴ ደግሞ በብር ላይ ተቃውሞን መጻፍ ነው። ይህ ሃሳብ ከዚህ ቀደም በሌሎች አገራት በስራ ላይ የዋለ ሲሆን፤ ብር እራሱን በራሱ ስለሚያጓጉዝ መልክቶች በፍጥነት እንዲዘዋወሩ ይረዳል።
- መልክቶችን የአገዛዙ ሰላዮች ሳያዩ ማዘዋወር በትኩረት ቢታሰብበት ከማንም በላይ ለኢትዮጵያውያን ይቀላል። ከጥቂት አስርተ አመታት በፊት አደን ማደን በህግ ክልክል ነው የተባሉ አባቶቻችን፤ ባጠመዱት ወጥመድ ሲሮጥ መጥቶ የገባላቸውን ድኩላ ደብቀው ወደቤት ለመውሰድ ችግር አልነበረባቸውም። በኬሻ ጠቅልለው አህያ ላይ ይጭኑትና፤ ከላዩ ከሰል ወይም እንጨት ይጭናሉ። ድኩላ ጭኖ ብዙ ኪሎሜትር ሳይነቃበት መሄድ የሚችል ኢትዮጵያዊ ታዲያ፣ ጥቂት መቶ በራሪ ወረቀቶችን ከአዲስ አበባ ደብረብርሃን፤ ወይም ወልቂጤ መውሰድ እያቅተውም።
- መረጃን የማከፋፈል ስራን የሚወስዱ ሰዎች ለህዝባዊ አመጽ ቁልፍ ከመሆናቸው የተነሳ፣ የአምባገነናዊ አገዛዞች የደህንነት መዋቅር ዋና ኢላማዎች ናቸው። ስለዚህም በጥንቃቄ መመላለስ አለባቸው። ለምሳሌ፥ በራሪ ወረቀቶችን እያባዙ ማከፋፈሉን በአንድ ማእከላዊ ስፍራ ከመስራት ይልቅ፤ ለተለያዩ እና ለማይተዋወቁ አካላት ማከፋፈሉ ይቀላል።
- እራስን መከላከል። አምባገነኖች ሲጠበቡ፤ ሰው ከቅጠል ለይተው አያዩም። አገርንም ከአንድ ብጣሽ ወረቀት አስበልጠው አያዩም። መጨፍጨፍ ያለባቸውን ይጨፈጭፋሉ፤ ማቃጠል ያለባቸውን ሁሉ ያቃጥላሉ። በአንድ አገር ለውጥ የማምጣት ተግባር፤ በተለይም አምባገነናዊ አገዛዝን የማስወገድ ስራ፤ መስዋእትነትን የሚያስከፍል ነው። ከቤትህ ስትወጣም ይህንን አውቀህ ነው። ይሁን እንጂ፥ እስከ ሞት የሚደርስ መስዋእትነት ለነጻነትህ እና ለአገርህ ለመክፈል ዝግጁ ብትሆንም፤ እሞታለሁ ብለህ ግን ከቤትህ አትውጣ። አላማህ ለመኖር፤ ድል ለማድረግ እና ነጻ አየር ለመተንፈስ ይሁን። ውድ የሆንክ የፈጣሪ ልጅ መሆንህን፤ አገርህም ከመኖርህ እንጂ ከመሞትህ እንደማታተርፍ አትርሳ። ስለዚህ እራስህን ከጥቃት መከላከልን ጠንቅቀህ አስበህበት ውጣ።
- የመለስ ዜናዊ አገዛዝ፥ ባለፉት አምስት አመታት ሰልፈኞችን መቆጣጠር በሚችልበት መንገድ ላይ ከምእራባውያን መንግስታት ስልጠና አግኝቷል። በርካቶች፥ አገዛዙ ገና ከጅማሬው ግብጽ እና ቱኒዚያ እንዳደረጉት አስለቃሽ ጭስ መርጨት ሳይሆን፣ ጥይት መተኮስ እንደሚጀምር ይገምታሉ። ያ እንዳለ ሆኖ፥ ለይስሙላ ያህል፤ ለፈረንጆቹ፥ “ይኸው የሰጣችሁኝን ጋስ ተጠቅሜበታለሁ” ለማለት፤ ወይም ከተኩሱም አቀላቅሎ አስለቃሽ ጭስ የሚረጭ ከሆነ፤ በኮምጣጤ እና በሎሚ ጭማቂ የተነከሩ ሻሾችን ይዞ ከቤት መውጣት እና ጋሱ መረጨት ሲጀምር ያንን ወደ አይን ማቅረብ ይረዳል ይባላል። ለማንኛውም፥ አፍና አፍንጫ ለመሸፈን፤ እንዲሁም በወገን ላይ አደጋ ቢደርስ ቁስል መሸፈኛ እንዲሆን፤ በተቻለ መጠን ነጠላ እና ሻሽ ይዞ ከቤት በውጣት ይጠቅማል።
- ምግብና ውሃ። ወያኔ ከዚህ ቀደም ከኦጋዴን ብሔራዊ ነፃነት ግንባር ጋር ጦርነት በሚያካሄድበት ወቅት፤ ወደ ኦጋዴን የሚወስዱ መንገዶችን በመዝጋት ህዝቡን በረሃብ የመጨረስ “ስልት” ተብዬ ጭካኔ ተጠቅሞ ነበር። አምባገነናዊ አገዛዞች አልገዛ ያላቸውን ህዝብ በማስራብ ይታወቃሉ። አገዛዙ አሁንም ተቃውሞ ቢነሳበት፤ ይህንን ስልት ሊጠቀም ይችላል። ይሁን እንጂ፥ ይህ ኢትዮጵያውያንን የሚያሰጋ ጉዳይ አይደለም። በአገራችን፥ እንኳን በመንደሮች እና በትናንንሽ ከተሞች ይቅርና፤ በመዲናይቱ ውስጥ እንኳ፣ ብዙው ሰው ትንሽም ትሁን ጓሮ እና ግቢ አለው። ይህ ማለት ደግሞ፥ ቲማቲም፣ ካሮት፣ ጎመን፣ ድንች እና የመሳሰሉትን በቀላሉ እና በአጭር ጊዜ ውስጥ ማብቀል ይችላል። እነዚህ አትክልት፤ ያለ እንጀራ በተለያየ መልክ ተዘጋጅተው ሊበሉ ይችላሉ። እንደ ስኳር እና የምግብ ዘይት የመሳሰሉትን ለተወሰነ ጊዜ ማጣት በሰውነት ላይ የሚያደርሰው ጉዳት የለም። የመጠጥ ውሃ ችግርን ለመቀነስ፤ እያንዳንዱ መንደር በመተባበር የውሃ ጉድጓድ መቆፈር ይችላል። የጉድጓድ ዉሃ ብዙውን ጊዜ ለመጠጥነት ንጹህ ቢሆንም፤ በቀላሉ ማጽዳት፣ ወይም አፍልቶ እና አቀዝቅዞ መጠጣት ይችላል። እንግዲህ እነዚህ ከሁሉ አስቀድሞ ሊደረጉ የሚገባ ዝግጅቶች ናቸው።
- የአላማ ጥራት እና ጽናት። የምናምጽበትን ምክንያት ጠንቅቀን ማወቅ ከብዙ አደጋ ይጠብቀናል። በራሳችን እና በአገራችን ላይ ጊዜያዊም ሆኔ ዘላቂን ጉዳት ከማድረስ ያተርፈናል። ሰሞኑን በግብጽ፥ ተስፋ የቆረጠው መንግስት የደህንነት ሰራተኞቹ እና ከእስር የተለቀቁ ወንጀለኞች የህዝብ እና የአገር ንብረት እንዲዘርፉ መንገድ ላይ ለቋቸዋል። የዚህ ዘረፋ ሰለባ ከሆኑት ተቋማት እንዱም ከአለም ታሪካዊ ቅርሶች ውስጥ ሶስት አራተኛውን ይዟል የሚባለው የአገሪቱ ሙዚየም ነው። ይህ ሲሆን፤ ሰልፈኞቹ እጅ ለእጅ ተያይዘው በሙዚየሙ ፊት በመቆም ከዘራፊዎቹ ጋር ትልቅ ተጋድሎን በማድረግ የአገራቸውን ሃብት ተከላክለዋል። ይህ ሲሆን፥ ሰልፈኞቹ ዞር ብለው ከዘረፋው በመቀላቀል እራሳቸውን ሊጠቅሙ ይችሉ ነበር። ነገር ግን የወጡበት አላማ ያ እንዳልሆነ፤ ከምንም በላይ ደግሞ የአገርን ሃብት እና ቅርስ መጠበቅ የያንዳንዱ ዜጋ ሃላፊነት እንደሆነ ስለተረዱ በርትተው ቆሙ። የትግራዩ ገዢ ቡድን ባለስልጣናት፥ የኢትዮጵያን ታሪካዊ ቅርሶች ከአገር እያስወጡ እንደሚሸጡ ከዚህ ቀደም ተወርቷል። በቅርቡ በኢትዮጵያ ህዝባዊ አመጽ ቢከሰት፣ ይህንን አጋጣሚ ተጠቅመው የተለያዩ የህዝብ እና የመንግስት ተቋማትን ለማስዘረፍ እንደሚሞክሩ እና በሰልፈኞች ላይ እንደሚያላክኩ ይገመታል። ዝርፊያ በሌለበት ዝርፊያ ተፈጽሟል ብለው እንደሚከሱ ከምርጫ 97 ልምዳችን እናውቃለን። ታዲያ በእንዲህ አይነቱ ወቅት የአገርን ሃብት ሊጠብቅ የሚችለው ዜጋው ብቻ ነውና፤ ለዚህ እንዘጋጅ።
- የመለስ ዜናዊ አገዛዝ፥ ከዚህ ቀደም ጭንቀት ውስጥ ሲገባ የዘር እና የሃይማኖት ግጭት እንደሚያነሳሳ ከልምዳችን እናውቃለን። ወደፊትም ቢሆን አጣብቂኝ ውስጥ ሲገባ ያንን ለመቀስቀስ ተዘጋጅቶ እና፤ ያንን ስራ የሚሰሩለትን ሰዎች በዙሪያው ኮልኩሎ እንደሚቀመጥ ጠንቅቀን እናውቃለን። ባለፈው ሳምንት በግብጽ የሆነው ክስተት ከዚህ አኳያ ትልቅ ትምህርት ሊሆነን ይችላል። ሙስሊሞች ወደ ጁማአ ጸሎት ሲገቡ፤ ክርስቲያን ወንድሞቻቸው ውጪ ቆመው ጸሎተኞቹን እና መስጊዶችን እንደሚጠብቁ ቃል ገቡ። እኛም በኢትዮጵያችን እንደዚህ ያለ ፍቅርን እና መተሳሰብን ልናሳይ ይገባናል። ከሁሉ አስቀድመን፤ ባህላችን እና ሃይማኖቶቻችን ስለ ጉርብትና የሚያስተምሩንን አንርሳ። መለስ ዜናዊ የሲቪል ልብስ የለበሱ ቅጥረኞቹን አሰማርቶ በዚህና በዚያ ዘውጌ ማህበረሰብ ላይ፤ በዚህና በዚያ ሃይማኖት አባላይ ላይ ተነሳ እያለ በጆሮህ ቢያንሾካሹክ፤ ጥላቻን የሚያውጆ በራሪ ወረቀቶች በአገዛዙ ሰዎች ተዘጋጅተው ቢበተኑ፤ አንዱንም አትስማ። አንተ የወጣኸው ነጻነትን እና የተሻለ ኑሮን ፍለጋ እንጂ ወገኖችህን ልታጠቃ አይደለም። ስለዚህም፥ በአቋምህ ጽና።
- ሰልፈኞች፥ የህዝብ ንብረት እነሱን ለማፈኑ ስራ ጥቅም ላይ ሲውል ሲያዩ፤ ያንን ንብረት እንደ ጠላት ንብረት ያያሉ። ለምሳሌ በግብጽ በርካታ የፖሊስ መኪናዎች ተቃጥለዋል። ህዝቡ ይህን በማድረጉ ወንጀል አልፈጸመም፤ እራሱን የመከላከል መብት ስላለው። ይሁን እንጂ፥ ይህ አምባገነኖች የሚጠቀሙበት ተሽከርካሪ ወይም ህንጻ፤ ዞሮ ዞሮ የኛው ንብረት ነው። ሲቃጠል የሚከፍለው ህዝብ ነው እንጂ አምባገነኑ አይደለም። ታዲያ እንዴት አድርገን እራሳችንን እንከላከል? ላሰበበት ሁልጊዜም ቢሆን የተሻለ አማራጭ አይታጣም። ለምሳሌ፥ ሰሞኑን አንዳንድ ብልጥ የግብጽ ወጣቶች፤ የፖሊስ ተሽከርካሪዎችን በማቃጠል ፈንታ፤ ባትሪዎቻቸውን በማስወገድ እና ከፖሊሶቹ አይን በመሰወር መኪናዎቹ እንዳይንቀሳቀሱ አድርገዋል። ይህ አንድ ዘዴ ነው።
- ድፍረት። እንግዲህ አምባገነናዊ አገዛዞችን ለመገልበጥ፤ በመጀመሪያ ፍርሃትን ማሸነፍ ይገባል። በአመጽ ስራ የሚሳተፉ ሰዎች፤ ብዙ ጊዜ መጀመሪያ ላይ ፍርሃት እንደሚሰማቸው ይናገራሉ። ነገር ግን የመጀመሪያዋን እርምጃ ከወሰዱ በኋላ፤ ስጋታቸው እየሟሸሸ ይሄድና ጨርሶ ይጠፋል። ስለዚህ፥ ጀግና ሁሉ ከፍጥረቱ ጀምሮ ደፋር ነበር የሚል አመለካከት ከያዝን ተሳስተናል። ድፍረት የሚገኘው በሂደት ነው። እናም የመጀመሪያዋ እርምጃ ወሳኝ ነች።
እንግዲህ፥ እነዚህ የሃሳብ ስብስቦች ያቀረብነው፤ ለችግር ሁሉ መፍትሄ በገዛ እጃችን እንዳለና፤ ለሰው አእምሮ የማሰብ ችሎታ ማቆሚያ እንደሌለው ለማሳሰብ ያህል ነው።
Egypt’s pro-democracy protesters, who have so far rejected the idea of storming the presidential palace, are now planning to force Mubarak out of power on Friday.
The declaration was made by Dr Mohamed El Baradei, whom the protesters and opposition groups designated as their spokesperson.
Egyptians have marked Friday as “Departure Day,” El Baradei told the media last night after thugs hired by Mubarak savagely attacked peaceful protesters while the army looked on without any attempt to intervene.
In a hand-to-hand combat the lasted several hours, the protesters succeeded in chasing away Mubarak’s thugs.
On Thursday morning, as Mubarak’s thugs regrouped and returned, the army moved for the first time to stop the fighting.
The protesters, hundreds of thousands of them, are now planning to head for Mubarak residence following prayer on Friday morning. It is not clear whether the army will try to stop them. If they army remains neutral, the protesters can easily overwhelm the presidential guards.
First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.” – Gandhi.