Sitting amongst the rubble that used to be his home. His old, small eyes are locked in the distance, but as soon as anyone comes…
Posts Tagged ‘Addis Ababa’
Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter Discusses Security Partnership With Leaders in Ethiopia By Cheryl Pellerin | American Forces Press Service ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, July 25, 2013 – Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter met with senior government and military leaders here to discuss the U.S.-Ethiopia security partnership and shared interests in East African security challenges, Pentagon [...]
Ethiopian News July 5, 2013 (ESAT Amsterdam)
Ethiopian News – July 4, 2013, ESAT – Amsterdam
Birmingham, England, 30 June 2013
Ethiopians Sports Federation North America annual event opening ceremony, Maryland, June 30, 2013
«ከውድድሩ ወጥተናል፣ ሆኖም ሰፋ ያለ ተመክሮ አካብተናልና ፣ ከዚህ ልምድ በመነሣት የወደፊቱን ሂደት እንቀይሳለን» ። ይህን ያሉት ፤ የኢትዮጵያ ብሔራዊ ቡድን አሠልጣኝ አቶ ሰውነት ቢሻው ናቸው። ከ 31 ዓመታት ወዲህ ለመጀመሪያ ጊዜ ወደ አፍሪቃ የእግር ኳስ ዋንጫ ውድድር ብቅ ያለውና በመጀመሪያ ዙር ተሸንፈው መውጣት ዕጣቸው ከሆነ 8 የአፍሪቃ ሃገራት ቡድኖች መካከል አንዱ የሆነው የኢትዮጵያ ብሔራዊ ቡድን፣ በደቡብ አፍሪቃ ስላሳየው እንቅሥቃሴ፤ ስለደጋፊዎቹም አስተዋጽዖ፤ ሃይማኖት ጥሩነህ ከደቡብ አፍሪቃ ፣ የሚከተለውን ዘገባ አጠናቅራ ልካልናለች። ያዳምጡ:
ለዶቼቬለ አስተያየታቸውን የሰጡ የፖለቲካ ተንታኞች፣ ያመጹት የኤርትራ ወታደሮች እርምጃ በኤርትራ መንግሥት ውስጥ ውጥረቱ የመባባሱና የአገዛዙ የመዳከም ምልክት መሆኑን ተናግረዋል
ትናንት ባመጹ ወታደሮች ተቋርጦ ነበር የተባለው የኤርትራ መንግሥት ቴሌቪዥን ስርጭት መቀጠሉ ተዘገበ ። በፈረንሳይ ዜና አገልግሎት ዘገባ መሰረት የኤርትራ መንግሥትም በዋና ከተማይቱ አስመራ ሁሉም ነገር ሠላማዊ መሆኑን አስታውቋል ። ይሁንና በጉዳዩ ላይ ለዶቼቬለ አስተያየታቸውን የሰጡ የፖለቲካ ተንታኞች ፣ ያመጹት የኤርትራ ወታደሮች እርምጃ በኤርትራ መንግሥት ውስጥ ውጥረቱ የመባባሱና የአገዛዙ የመዳከም ምልክት መሆኑን ተናግረዋል ።
የኤርትራ ፕሬዝዳንት የአቶ ኢሳያስ አፈወርቂ ቃል አቀባይ አቶ የማነ ገብረ መስቀል እንደ ትናንት ሁሉ ዛሬም አስመራ ሰላማዊ ናት ማለታቸውን የፈረንሳይ ዜና አገልግሎት ዘግቧል ። አንድ የተቃዋሚ ድረ ገፅን የጠቀሰው AFP ወደ 100 ይጠጋሉ ያላቸው ትናንት የኤርትራ ማስታወቂያ ሚኒስቴርን የተቆጣጠሩ ያመፁ ወታደሮች አዛዥ እጃቸውን ለመስጠት መስማማታቸውን ዘግቧል።
የዘገባው እውነትነት ግን በሌላ ምንጭ አልተረጋገጠም ። አንዳንድ ምንጮችም የወታደሮቹን እርምጃ ከመፈንቅለ መንግሥት ጋር አስተካክለውታል ። በብሪታኒያው የጥናት ተቋም ቻተምሃውስ የአፍሪቃ ቀንድ ጉዳዮች አጥኚ አህመድ ሶልሜን ግን ከኤርትራ ትክክለኛ መረጃ ማግኘት በማይቻልበት ሁኔታ የተፈፀመውን ለማወቅ አዳጋች መሆኑን ነው ለዶቼቬለ የተናገሩት።
« መፈንቅለ መንግሥት ወይም በወታደሩ ውስጥ አመፅ ነበር ለማለት አስቸጋሪ ነው ። በአሁኑ ጊዜ የትናንቱ እርምጃ ውጤት ምን እንደሆነ ለማወቅ መጠበቅ አለብን ። ስለዚህ በአሁኑ ጊዜ ሁኔታው ምን እንደሆነ አናውቅም ። ሆኖም የሆነ አይነት አመፅ እየተካሄደ ነው።»
በአንዳንድ ዘገባዎች እንደተጠቆመው ወታደሮቹ ህገ መንግሥቱ እንዲከበርና የፖለቲካ እሥረኞች እንዲፈቱ የሚጠይቀው መግለጫቸው ትናንት በኤርትራ ቴሌቪዥን እንዲነበብ አድርገዋል ። የአፍሪቃ የሰላምና ፀጥታ ጉዳዮች አማካሪና የፖለቲካ ተንታኝ ዶክተር ማሃሪ ታደለ ማሩ የወታደሮቹ እርምጃ ለመንግሥት የማስጠንቀቂያ ደውል ነው ይላሉ።
የኤርትራው ፕሬዝዳንት አቶ ኢሳያስ አፈወርቂ ሥልጣን ከያዙ ወዲህ ይህን መሰሉ የአመፅ እንቅስቃሴ መካሄዱ ሲነገር የአሁኑ የመጀመሪያው ነው ። ይህ ወዴት ሊያመራ ይችላል ? ምንስ ያመለክታል ተብለው የተጠየቁት የቻተም ሃውሱ ተንታኝ አህመድ ሶልመን ሲመልሱ « ይህ በአጭር ጊዜ ውስጥ ለውጥ ማምጣት አለማምጣቱ ወደፊት የሚታይ ይሆናል ። እኔ ግን ለውጥ ማምጣቱን እጠራጠራለሁ ። ኢሳያስ ሁኔታዎችን መቆጣጠር የሚችሉ ይመስለኛል ። ሆኖም በርግጥ ይህ እርምጃ በቅርቡ የማስታወቂያ ሚኒስትር አቶ አሊ አብዶ ከድተው መኮብለላቸው ከተዘገበ በኋላ የተወሰደ 2 ተኛ እርምጃ ነው ። ስለዚህ በራሱ በአስመራ መንግሥት ውስጥ ውጥረቱ እየተጠናከረ የመምጣቱ ምልክቶች አሉ።»
የፖለቲካ ተንታኝ ዶክተር መሃሪም ተመሳሳይ አስተያየት ነው ያላቸው።
ትናንት በኤርትራ ማስታወቂያ ሚኒስቴር ውስጥ ያመፁ ወታደሮች ወሰዱ የተባለው እርምጃ የቻተም ሃውሱ ተንታኝ አህመድ ስልሜን እንዳሉት የህዝቡ ብሶት መገለጫ ተደርጎ ሊወሰድ ይችላል ።
« የተደማመረ ነገር እንዳለ ይታያል የሰብአዊ መብት ይዞታው ወጣት ኤርትራውያን በግዳጅ ለውትድርና መመልመላቸውና በአነስተኛ ክፍያም ለረዥም ጊዜ እንዲያገለግሉ በመደረጉ በርካታ ወጣት ዜጎች ህይወታቸውን ለማትረፍ ወደ ሌሎች የአካባቢው ሃገራት እየተሰደዱ ነው። ስለዚህ ባለፉት 24 ሰአታት የተከናወኑት ድርጊቶች ለተፈፀሙት ሁኔታዎች እንደ ምሬት መግለጫ ሆነው ነው የሚታዩ ይመስለኛል ። ይህ እንደሚሆንም የሚጠበቅ ነው ። ሆኖም በኛ ግምት ይህ የአገዛዙ መዳከም ምልክት ነው። »
-->ዋኤል ጎኔም የግብጽ ደኅንነት ሰዎች ደብድበው የገደሉትን ካሊድ ሰኢድ ለማሰብ ‹‹እኔም ካሌድ ሰኢድ ነኝ›› የተሰኘ የፌስቡክ ገጽ ከፍቶ ለግብጽ አብዮት ያበቃ ሰው ነው፡፡ የመጀመሪያውን የአደባባይ እንውጣ ጥሪ ያቀረበው ይኸው የፌስቡክ ገጽ ነው፡፡ ዋኤል አደባባይ የወጡበትን የመጀመሪያ ቀን (ጃንዋሪ 25) አንድ ዓመት ለማክበር (Revolution 2.0 የተባለ) መጽሐፍ አሳትሟል፡፡ የመጽሐፉ ገቢ በሙሉ በአብዮቱ ለተጎዱ ሰዎች መደጎሚያ እንደሚውልም ተነግሯል፡፡ አሁን እዚህ ልጽፍላችሁ ያሰብኩት ግን ዋኤል ገጹን እና የግል ማንነቱን አስመልክቶ ለሚቀርብለት ጥያቄ ይሰጥ የነበረውን መልስ ነው (መጽሐፉ ላይ እንዳሰፈረው)፤ ዋኤል ኢትዮጵያዊ ቢሆንና የከፈተው ገጽም ኢትዮጵያዊ ቢሆን ኖሮ… በሚል ምናባዊ ምሳሌ፡፡ ስለዚህ ጽሑፉ በዋኤል የተጻፈው በኢትዮጵያኛ ተተርጉሞ ነው ልትሉት ትችላላችሁ፡፡
የጋዜጣ አምደኛ ርዕዮት ዓለሙ በአሸባሪነት ወንጀል የተበየነባት ቅጣት እንዲሠረዝ ለኢትዮጵያ ጠቅላይ ፍርድ ቤት ሠበር ሰሚ ችሎት ያቀረበችዉን አቤቱታ ችሎቱ ዉቅድቅ አደረገዉ።ርዕዮት ዓለሙ ከዚሕ ቀደም የበታች ፍርድ ቤት አስራ-አራት ዓመት እስራትና የገንዘብ መቀጮ በይኖባት ነበር።ይግማኝ ሰሚ ፍርድ ቤት ግን ቅጣቱን ወደ አምስት-ዓመታት እስራት ዝቅ አድርጎታል።ርዕዮት ዓለሙ ለሰበር ሰሚዉ ችሎት አቤት ያለችዉ የአምስት ዓመቱ እስራትም የሕግ አተረጓገም ክፍተት አለበት በሚል ነበር።ትናንት አዲስ አበባ ያስቻለዉ ሰበር ሰሚ ፍርድ ቤት ግን አቤቱታን ዉድቅ አድርጎታል።የርዕዮት ጠበቃ የችሎቱን ዉሳኔ አልተቀበለቱም።ዩሐንስ ገብረ እግዚ አብሔር ዝር ዝር ዘገባ ልኮልናል።
VOA – በጋዜጠኛ ርዕዮት ዓለሙ ላይ የበታች ፍርድ ቤት የሰጠውን ውሳኔ የፌዴራሉ ጠቅላይ ፍርድ ቤት ይግባኝ ሰሚ ችሎት ማፅናቱ ያሣዘናቸው መሆኑን ዓለምአቀፉ የሴቶች የመገናኛ ብዙኃን ድርጅት – IWMF እና ዓለምአቀፉ የጋዜጠኞች ደኅንነት ተሟጋች ድርጅት CPJ አስታውቀዋል፡፡
IWMF መግለጫውን በይፋ አውጥቶ ያሠራጨ ሲሆን የድርጅቱ ዋና ዳይሬክተር ኤሊሣ ሊዝ ሙኞዝ ለቪኦኤ በሰጡት መግለጫ ኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ ያለው ሃሣብን የመግለፅ ነፃነት ጉዳይ ድርጅታቸውን በእጅጉ የሚያሠጋው መሆኑን አመልክተዋል፡፡
“ርዕዮት ለጋዜጠኝነት ነፃነት ያላትን ድፍረት፣ ቁርጠኝነትና ጥንካሬ እናደንቃለን፡፡ ቀደም ፀሰል የተላለፈባት ፍርድ በመፅናቱ ማዘናችንን እንገልፃለን፡፡ ይህ ለእርሷ ሕይወት ብቻ ሣይሆን ኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ ሃሣብን በነፃነት ለመግለፅ ነፃነትም ጭምር አሣዛኝ ቀን ነው፡፡ ለሌሎች በእሥር ላይ ለሚገኙ ጋዜጠኞችም የሚሰማንን መቆርቆር እንገልፃለን” ብለዋል ዳይሬክተሯ፡፡
ዓለምአቀፉ የሴቶች የመገናኛ ብዙኃን ባወጣው ይፋ መግለጫው ኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ እሥር ቤት ውስጥ ባሉ ጋዜጠኞች ቁጥር በየዓመቱ እየጨመረ፣ በፕሬስ ነፃነት አያያዟ በዓለም እጅግ ጨቋኝ ከሚባሉ ሃገሮች ተርታ መመደቧን አስታውሶ ባለፉት ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትር መለስ ዜናዊ ዘመን በአፍሪካ ውስጥ ከኤርትራ በስተቀር ሌላ ማንም ሃገር በማይስተካከለው ሁኔታ ጋዜጠኞችን ማሠሩን አመልክቷል፡፡
“የሚወቅሱትን ድምፆች ለማፈን በአደናጋሪው የኢትዮጵያ ፀረ-ሽብር ሕግ መንግሥቱ በተደጋጋሚ መጠቀሙ እጅግ አሣሣቢ ነው” ያለው ይኸው መግለጫ ርዕዮት በሰኔ 2003 ዓ.ም (በኢትዮጵያ አቆጣጠር) ከተያዘች ወዲህ ለብዙ ወራት ያለ ክሥ መታሠሯን እና በኋላም ተግባሯ ሙሉ በሙሉ የጋዜጠኛ ሥራ ሆኖ ሣለ በሽብር ፈጠራ መከሰሷን ዘርዝሯል፡፡
“ባለፈው ነሐሴ በከፊል በተሣካው ይግባኝ በርዕዮት ላይ ቀድሞ የተላለፈው የ14 ዓመት እሥራት ፍርድ ወደ አምስት ዓመት እንዲቀንስ ቢደረግም እስከአሁን የቆየችባቸው 19 ወራት እያንዳንዷ ቀን ወይም ወደፊት በእሥር የምትቆይባቸው 41 ወራት እያንዳንዷ ቀን የኢትዮጵያ መንግሥት የፕሬስ ነፃነትን ዋጋ እንዳረዳ የምትጎተጉት ማስተወሻ ነች” ብሏል መግለጫው፡፡
በሌላ በኩል ደግሞ ዓለምአቀፉ የጋዜጠኞች ደኅንነት ተሟጋች ድርጅት ሲፒጄ ውሣኔውን እንደሚቃወምና እንደሚያወግዝ የአፍሪካ የአድቮኬሲ አስተባባሪ መሐመድ ኬይታ አስታውቋል፡፡
“ያሣዝናል – አለ ኬይታ – ኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ ለሕግ የበላይነት መከበር ቀኑ የኀዘን ቀን ነው፡፡ ምክንያቱም በርዕዮት ዓለሙ ላይ የተመሠረተቱት የሽብር ፈጠራ ክሦች በማስረጃ ለማስደገፍ የቀረቡት ፍፁም አስቂኝ ናቸው፡፡ እነዚህን ክሦች ፈትሸናቸዋል፡፡ የተከሠሠችው በጋዜጠኝነት ላከናወነቻቸው ሥራዎች ነው፡፡ እነዚህ ተቀባይነት ያላቸውና ሕጋዊም መረጃን የመሰብሰብና የማሠራጨት ሥራዎቿ መንግሥትን የሚወቅሱ ናቸው፣ የተቃዋሚ ቡድኖችን እንቅስቃሴ በተመለከተም ዘግባለች፡፡ ይህ መንግሥቱን የሚተቹ የግርግዳ ላይ ፅሁፍ ሣይቀር እንደማስረጃ የቀረበበት ክስ አስገራሚ ነው፡፡” ብሎታል፡፡
በክሦቹ ላይ የተጠቀሱት ጭብጦች በማንም ነፃ ወገን እንደሽብር ፈጠራ አድራጎት ማረጋገጫ አለማግኘታቸውን ወይም አለመደገፋቸውን የሲፒጄው አስተባባሪ ዛሬ ኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ የታየው “የፍትሕ መጨናገፍ ነው” ብሎታል፡፡
ሃገሪቱ ለሽብር ፈጠራ አድራጎት የተጋለጠች መሆኗንና መንግሥቷም የበረታ የሽብር ፈጠራ እንቅስቃሴዎች ሥጋት እንዳለበት ሲፒጄ እንደሚገነዘብ ሞሐመድ ኬይታ አመልክቶ “የጋዜጠኝነት ሥራቸውን በሚያከናውኑ ባለሙያዎች ላይ የሽብር ፈጠራ ክሥ እየመሠረተ ሽብር ፈጠራን ከእውነተኛው መገለጫው እያሣሣተና ክብደቱንም እያቀለለው ነው” ብሏል፡፡
“በዚህ አድራጎቱ ርዕዮትና ባልደረቦቿ ዓለምአቀፍ ዕውቅና እንዲያገኙ እያደረገና የመናገር ነፃነትን ለማፈን እያደረገ ያለውን ተግባር እያጋለጠ ዋጋውን እራሱ ይከፍላል” ብሏል የሲፒጄው የአፍሪካ አድቮኬሲ አስተባባሪ ሞሐመድ ኬይታ፡፡
ርዕዮት ዓለሙ የዓለምአቀፉ የሴቶች ሚድያ ድርጅት የ2012 ዓ.ም በጋዜጠኝነት ላሣየችው ድፍረት እና የዚሁ የ2012 ዓ.ም የሄልማን/ሃሜት ሽልማቶች ተሸላሚ መሆኗ ይታወቃል፡፡
ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትር ኃይለማርያም ደሳለኝ ስልጣን ከያዙ በኋላ በርካታ ኢትዮጵያዉያን ፤ የመሪ ለዉጡን ተከትሎ በአገሪቱ የሚኖረዉ ፖለቲካዊ እርምጃ በመጠኑም ቢሆን ተሻሽሎ የመናገር ነፃነት ይኖራል፤ በሲቪል ማህበራት ላይ እና በብዙሃን መገናኛዎች ላይ የሚደረገዉ ጫና ይቆማል፤ የሚል ተስፋ ነበራቸዉ። ጠቅላይ ሚንስትር ኃይለማርያም ደሳለኝ ስልጣን ከያዙ መቶ ቀናት አለፋቸዉ፤ በዚህ ግዜ ዉስጥ የጠቅላይ ሚኒስትሩ ሥራ የአገሪቱ ፖለቲካዊ እርምጃ ምን ይመስላል? ሉድገር ሻዶምሲኪ ያጠናቀረዉ ዘገባ እንደሚከተለዉ ተቀናብሯል።
ከመነሻዉ ተስፋ ሰጪ ነበር። ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትሩ ቃለ መሃላ ከመፈጸማቸዉ አስቀድሞ፤ በኢትዮጵያ የዘመን መለወጫ ወቅት፤ መንግስት ለ2,000 እስረኞች ምህረት አድርጎ ከእስር በነፃ ለቀቀ። በተመሳሳይ ወቅት፤ መንግስት አሸባሪ ብሎ ከፈረጀዉ ቡድን፤ ከኦጋዴኑ ብሄራዊ ነፃ አዉጭ ግንባር- ኦብነግ ጋር፤ ኬንያ ዉስጥ ለድርድር ተቀምጦአል። ጠቅላይ ሚንስትር ኃይለማርያም ደሳለኝ በቅርቡ አልጃዚራ፤ በተሰኘዉ የቴሌቭዥን ጣብያ ቀርበዉ፤ ከኤርትራ ጋር ለማንኛዉም የሰላም ዉይይት ዝግጁነታቸዉን ሲናገሩ፤ ሃሳቡ ብሩህ ተስፋን ፈጥቆ፤ የብዙዎች ምኞት እንደሚሳካ እምነት አሳድሯል።
በደቡብ ኢትዮጵያ ከወላይታ ብሄር ተወላጅ የሆኑት፤ የዉሃ ምህንድስና ምሁር፤ አቶ ኃይለማርያም፤ በእርግጥም የፖለቲካ እና የስልጣን ሽኩቻ፤ እንደሚፈጠር በሚገመትበት ወቅት፤ የጠቅላይ ሚኒስትርነት ስልጣኑን መያዛቸዉ፤ ተምሳሌቱ ትልቅ ነዉ ያሉት፤ ከመንግስት ነፃ የሆነዉ፤ ዓለማቀፍ ፖለቲካ ጉዳዮችን የሚከታተለዉ ቢሮ በለንደን፤ የኢትዮጵያ ጉዳዮች ምሁሩ ጃሰን ሞስሊ እንዲህ ይገልፃሉ፤ « እንደ ወላይታ ካለ አነስተኛ ከሆነ ጎሳ የመጣ ሰዉ ስልጣን መያዙ በመሰረቱ ተምሳሌቱ ትልቅ ትርጉም አለዉ። ሆኖም ተግራባዊነቱ መስራትም ይኖርበታል። የሶስት ሴት ልጆች አባት የሆኑት፤ የ 47 ዓመቱ የኢትዮጵያ ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትር ኃይለማርያም ደሳለኝ፣ ከ1997 ዓመተ ምህረቱ ደም አፋሳሽ ምርጫ በኋላ፤ ከግዜ ወደ ግዜ አንባገነን እየሆኑ ከመጡት ከሟቹ ከመለስ ዜናዊ ጋር ሲነፃፀሩ በርግጥም በፖለቲካዉ ረገድ ግርማ ሞገሳቸዉ እንብዛም አይታይም። ኃይለማርያም በመለስ ዘመን፣የክፍለ ሃገር አስተዳዳሪ ፤ የዉጭ ጉዳይ ሚኒስቴር እና ምክትል ጠቅላይ ሚንስትር ሆነዋል። ሆኖም ኃይለማርያም ደሳለኝ በትጥቅ ትግሉ ከኢህአዴግ ጋር አብረዉ ባይኖሩም በትምህርቱ በተሻለ መልኩ በመግፋታቸዉ በርካቶች የጠቅላይ ሚንስትርነቱን ስልጣን እንዲይዙ ፈልገዉ ነበር። ስልጣኑን ከያዙ በኋላ ግን በአገሪቱ አንዳችም ፖለቲካዊ ለዉጥ አላደረጉም ሲሉ ብዙዎች ቅሪታቸዉን ይገልጻሉ። የኢትዮጵያ ፖለቲካ ጉዳዮች ምሁሩ ጃሰን ሞስሊም ይህንኑ ነዉ የሚናገሩት «የአሁኑን መንግስት የፖለቲካ ስራዎች ካለፈዉ አስተዳደር ጋር ስናነፃጽረዉ፤ በእዉነቱ ምንም አይነት ለዉጥ አይታይበትም። በቅርቡ በካቢኔ አንድ አነስተኛ ለዉጥ ተደርጎአል፤ ግን ይህ ለዉጥ ትልቅ የሚባል እና የፖለቲካዉን አካሄድ የሚቀይረዉ አይደለም።
ከጎረቤት ሶማልያ ጋር ያለዉ የፖለቲካ ሁኔታ፤ የዓባይን ዉሃ አያያዝ በተመለከተ ከሱዳንና ከግብፅ ጋር የነበረዉ አቋም አሁንም አልተቀየረም። በመጠኑ በጥያቄ የሚታይ ነገር ቢኖር፤ በሰሜን አጎራባች ከሆነችዉ ከኤርትራ ጋር ያለዉን ግንኙነት ለማሻሻል የሚደረግ እንቅስቃሴ የመኖር አለመኖሩ ጉዳይ ነዉ። ስለዚህ ያለዉ ሁኔታ የድሮዉን መቀጠል ነዉ።» መንግስት እንደተለወጠ የሀገሪቱ የልማት ትብብር አጋሮች ለለዉጥ የነበራቸዉ ጉጉት እየከሰመ መጣ። ምዕራባዉያን ዲፕሎማቶች፤ ጋዜጠኞችን በተመለከተ የፍርድ ቤት ችሎት ላይ፤ አንድም ቀን በታዛቢነት ሳይገኙ የዋሉበት ቀን የለም። እንደ ዓለማቀፉ የጋዜጠኞች መብት ተቆርቋሪ ድርጅት፤ CPJ ገለጻ፤ በጸረ – ሽብሩ ህግ በአሸባሪነት ከተከሰሱት አስራ አንድ ጋዜጠኞች መካከል «እስከ ጎርጎረሳዉያኑ 2012 ዓ,ም መጨረሻ» ስድስቱም በእስር ላይ ሲሆኑ ከነዚህ መካከል ታዋቂዉ ተሸላሚ ዓምደኛ እስክንድር ነጋ ይገኝበታል። ይኸዉ የፀረ-ሽብር ህግን ተመልክቶ 29 ሙስሊም ጋዜጠኞች፤ ሙስሊም የሃይማኖት አባቶች፤ መብት ተቆርቋሪዎች፤ በአሸባሪነት ተፈርጀዋል። ለበርካታ ግዜያት ይህንኑ በመቃወም፤ የኢትዮጵያ ሙስሊሞች ቅሪታቸዉን በማሰማት ላይ ሲሆኑ፤ ዘወትር ዓርብ በአዲስ አበባዉ አንዋር መስጊድ መንግስት ላይ የተቃዉሞዉ ድምጻቸዉን ማሰማታቸዉን ቀጥለዋል። በጎርጎረሳዉያኑ 2012 መጠናቀቅያ ላይ፤ 16 የአውሮፓ ህብረት ፓርላማ አባላት ለጠቅላይ ሚኒስትር አቶ ኃይለማርያም ደሳለኝ በኢትዮጵያ ሃሳብን በነፃ የመግለጽ ነፃነት ይከበር ሲሉ በይፋ በላኩት ደብዳቤ መጠየቃቸዉ ይታወሳል። ይህን ደብዳቤ ከላኩት መካከል፤ ጀርመናዊዉ አሌክሳንደር ግራፍ ላምስዶርፍ ይገኙበታል። ላምስዶርፍ እንዲህ ሲሉ ገልጸዋል፤ «አዲሱ የኢትዮጵያ ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትር ግልፅ የፖለቲካ አካሄድ የሚከተሉ ከሆነ ሀገራቸዉን ወደፊት ለማራመድ እድሉ አላቸዉ። የማኅበረሰቡን ግልፅነት፤ ትችትና ነጻ ሃሳቦችን ለማስተናገድ ከፈቀዱ፤ ከጎረቤቶቻቸዉ ጋ ያላቸዉን ግንኙነት ካሻሻሉ፤ ለምሳሌ አሥመራን ለመጎብኘት ቢሄዱ ለሰላም ላላቸዉ ቁርጠኝነት ዋና አመላካች ነዉ። ይህም ለኢትዮጵያዉያንና ኢትዮጵያ በዓለም ዓቀፍ ደረጃ ላላት ሁኔታ ፍፁም አስተማማኝ እና መሰረታዉ ጉዳይ ነዉ።» በስልታዊ አቀማመጥዋ የአፍሪቃ ህብረት መቀመጫ በሆነችዉ በአፍሪቃ መዲና – ኢትዮጵያ ከባድ ተግዳሮቶች ተደቅነዋል። በከፍተኛ ፍጥነት በማደግ ላይ ያለዉ የህዝቧ ቁጥር ከአፍሪቃ ሁለተኛ ደረጃን እንድትይዝ ቢያደርጋትም፤ አሁንም እድገቱ አልተገታም። በርካታ ብሄር ብሄረሰቦችን ያቀፈችዉ ሀገር፤ ብሄራዊ አንድነትን ከመገንባት አኳያ፤ ትግል ይዛለች። ምንም እንኳ የሀገሪቱ ኤኮኖሚ በሁለት አሃዝ ማደጉ ቢነገርም፤ የዚህ ተጠቃሚዉ በጣም ጥቂቱ፤ መካከለኛ ገቢ ያለዉ የከተማዉ ነዋሪ ነዉ። ከፀጥታ አኳያ፤ በዓለም ጸረ-ሽብርተኝነትን ከሚዋጉት ሀገራት መካከል፤ ኢትዮጵያ በሶማልያ ሽብርተኝነትን በመዋጋት ቀዳሚዉን ስፍራ ይዛለች።
እንግዲህ እነዚህ፤ አዲሱ ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትር ከአዲሱ ከካቤኔያቸዉ ጋ በመሆን፤ ባፋጣኝ ምላሽ ሊሰጧቸዉ የሚገቧቸዉ ጉዳዮች መሆናቸዉ ነዉ። ጠቅላይ ሚንስትር ኃይለማርያም ደሳለኝ ሹመታቸዉን ከተቀበሉበት ቀን ማግስት አንስተዉ በተደጋጋሚ፤ በፓለቲካዉ ከእሳቸዉ ቀድመዉ ስልጣን ላይ የነበሩትን የመለስ ዜናዊን ጅምሮች፤ ሳይበርዙ እንደሚቀጥሉ ተናግረዋል። ጋዜጠኞች እና ሰብዓዊ መብት ተቆርቋሪዎችን የማሳደዱ ርምጃ መቀጠሉን፤ የፀጥታ አስከባሪዎችም ለተቃዉሞ ሰለፍ በሚወጡ ሙስሊሞች ላይ የሚያደርሱትን ጥቃት፤ የተመለከቱ ታዛቢዎች ስልጣን ከያዙ 100 ቀናት የሆናቸዉ አዲሱ የአፍሪቃዉ ቀንድ ጠንካራ ሀገር መሪ፤ ቃል በቃል የተናገሩትን መተግበራቸዉ ነዉ ሲሉ፤ ፍርሃታቸዉን እየገለፁ ነዉ። ከመንግስት ነፃ የሆነዉና ተቀማጭነቱን በለንደን ያደረገዉ ዓለማቀፍ ፖለቲካ ጉዳዮችን በሚከታተለዉ ቢሮ የኢትዮጵያ ጉዳዮች ምሁር ጃሰን ሞስሊም ይህንኑ አስከትሉዉ እንዲህ ይላሉ « የጠቅላይ ሚኒስትር መለስ ዜናዊ ከዚህ አለም በሞት መለየት በኢትዮጵያ የፖለቲካዉን ሁኔታ አልቀየረዉም። ለምሳሌ ሃሳብን በነጻ መግለፅ ሆነ ምርጫን በሚመለከት፤ የተሻለ ነገር አላመጣም። ይህ ፖለቲካዊ አካሄድ ከ1997 ዓ,ም ጀምሮ ተግባራዊ እየሆነ ነዉ። አመራሩን ጠበቅ እያደረገ ተቃዉሞ ሲበዛበት ደግሞ በትንሹ ለቀቅ በማድረግ፤ ሁኔታዉን እያረጋጋ አስተዳደሩን ቀጥሎአል። ይህ ዘዴ አሁንም ሳይለወጥ እየተሰራበት ነዉ»
By Rebecca Whiting
(Al-Akhbar) — The situation of migrant domestic workers in Lebanon, structured by a lack of protective labor laws and a culture of racial inequality, marks a huge failure in the country’s human rights record. Documentary filmmaker Vanessa Bowles chose to explore this cultural phenomenon and her personal relationship with it, having grown up constantly tended to by migrant domestic workers. Alem & Asrat was first screened in Lebanon January 4, a look at the realities of two women’s experiences.
In February 2012 a video captured on a mobile phone showed Ethiopian domestic worker Alem Dechasa being dragged by her hair and violently forced into a car in front of the Ethiopian embassy. It went viral. Lebanese society and the wider world were shocked by the public scene of abuse.
Days after the video was aired on LBCI, Dechasa, who had been put in a psychiatric hospital, hung herself. Despite the outcry and widespread nature of the video, the murmur soon died away. Though the most public case, Dechasa’s was tragically one of many. Human Rights Watch documented an average of one death a week due to unnatural causes during 2008, which included suicides and falls from buildings. No official count has taken place since.
Bowles began her project at the exact time of Dechasa’s death and wanted to tell her story. Concurrently, she wanted to delve into her own proximity to the lives of domestic workers. She talks openly about the bonds she formed with the women who have passed through her life and introduces Asrat, the young woman who has been with the Bowles’ family for the past five years. As she works, she talks about her reasons for leaving Ethiopia; a voice too rarely heard.
Bowles’ journey took her to Ethiopia to meet the families of Dechasa and Asrat. She is met by a group of young activists called the Good Ethiopians, who have been campaigning for Dechasa’s family. One of the activists says that if he had one message for Lebanese people, it would be that “Ethiopians are humans, too.”
The group take Bowles to meet Lemesa Ejeta, Dechasa’s partner and father of their two young children. In the small settlement of mud houses and lean-tos in Buraya outside Addis Ababa, Ejeta talks of the six years spent planning and the money borrowed for Dechasa’s move to Lebanon. It had seemed like their only hope of providing for their children.
Recruiting agents often tour the villages of Ethiopia, looking for women to traffic to Lebanon. The women have to pay a hefty charge of 10,000 Ethiopian Birr ($547) for their tickets and agent’s fees. Bowles meets other people from Dechasa’s village who have family members in Lebanon who speak out about their fears for their loved ones in such a hostile environment.
The Good Ethiopians organized a fundraising event and successfully secured the money to ensure that Dechasa’s children will have full educations. At the time of filming, Ejeta had still not told them of their mother’s death. The shots of their faces during the fundraising event where they see a large projected video of their mother being beaten are devastating.
At the end of Bowles’ film she goes to meet Ali Mahfouz, the brother of the head of Dechasa’s recruiting agency and the man who beat her. She described him as very eager to tell his version of the story. He talks, with little pity, of Dechasa’s being moved from one house to another when her employers would change their minds about wanting her. According to him she broke down and tried to harm herself after being sent to a third home within one month of arriving and receiving no wages for her work.
He wanted to send her back to Ethiopia as mentally unwell but said that she resisted, insisting that she could not return as she had not succeeded in sending money back to her family. The infamous scene in front of the embassy he describes as him trying to protect her from herself.
Activist Wissam al-Saliby has kept the blog Ethiopian suicides since 2009 in an effort to document the abuses and deaths of domestic workers. He explained that the there is no official incident tally as the only bodies that have the information are the individual embassies of the countries where the women come from. The vacuum in the reporting on these deaths is shocking, with only the severe cases being mentioned in the media. “So many deaths go unnoticed,” said Saliby.
Domestic workers are not covered by Lebanese labor laws, meaning that they have no minimum wage and no social security. Many of the women working here come from countries that have banned their nationals from working in Lebanon, including Ethiopia, the Philippines, and Madagascar, because of the lack of labor rights. Desperate for work, women are often trafficked into the country and have scant or no protection against abuse. Lebanon’s immigration system does not respect these bans from other countries and once out of their homelands, women are not discouraged from coming to work.
After years of pressure to reform labor laws, on 10 December 2012, International Human Rights Day, parliament announced a national human rights action plan, drawn in conjunction with the UN. The plan as yet is a draft that will be submitted to the government for approval and amendment. After eventually being passed through parliament it will be an annex to the constitution and is expected to take five years to implement.
Point 19 on the action plan concerns the rights of migrant workers. Several NGOs and experts were consulted in the drafting process, including Dima Haddad, senior social worker at Caritas Lebanon Migrant Worker Center, an organization that has long championed the rights of vulnerable workers, Dechasa included.
Haddad explained the framework of the plan put forward to the government concerning migrant workers. The plan recommends that Lebanon signs the two international conventions pertaining to the rights of migrant workers. Also, the labor law must be amended to include domestic workers.
Haddad further explained that, importantly, the sponsorship system must be abolished or replaced with one that respects workers’ rights. The plan calls for the regularizing of domestic workers recruitment agencies as well as working on agreements between Lebanon and the countries migrant workers originate from.
It is also suggested that the Ministry of Labor creates a national committee dedicated to developing a strategy for improving the situation of migrant workers on different levels. There is a further suggestion that social workers might take on the role of inspecting and monitoring homes as places of work.
On January 3, attorney at Caritas, Joyce Geha, finally received a date for a hearing of the case against Ali Mahfouz, which will take place February 11. The process took an exceedingly long time as she had to wait to be granted power of attorney by Dechasa’s parents and the Ethiopian embassy before she could represent her case and submit a request to the court against Mahfouz.
Should Mahfouz be charged with assaulting Dechasa and be implemented as a cause in her suicide, the case would be a precedent, Geha explains. According to Human Rights Watch, Lebanon has a very poor record of punishing those who abuse domestic workers.
2013 shall be the Year of Ethiopia’s Cheetah Generation.
“The Cheetah Generation refers to the new and angry generation of young African graduates and professionals, who look at African issues and problems from a totally different and unique perspective. They are dynamic, intellectually agile, and pragmatic. They may be the ‘restless generation’ but they are Africa’s new hope. They understand and stress transparency, accountability, human rights, and good governance. They also know that many of their current leaders are hopelessly corrupt and that their governments are contumaciously dysfunctional and commit flagitious human rights violations”, explained George Ayittey, the distingushed Ghanaian economist.
Ethiopia’s Cheetah Generation includes not only graduates and professionals — the “best and the brightest” — but also the huddled masses of youth yearning to breathe free; the millions of youth victimized by nepotism, cronyism and corruption and those who face brutal suppression and those who have been subjected to illegal incarceration for protesting human rights violations. Ethiopia’s Cheetah Generation is Eskinder Nega’s and Serkalem Fasil’s Generation. It is the generation of Andualem Aragie, Woubshet Alemu, Reeyot Alemu, Bekele Gerba, Olbana Lelisa and so many others like them. Ethiopia’s Cheetah Generation is the only generation that could rescue Ethiopia from the steel claws of tyranny and dictatorship. It is the only generation that can deliver Ethiopia from the fangs of a benighted dictatorship and transform a decaying and decomposing garrison state built on a foundation of lies into one that is deeply rooted in the consent and sovereignty of the people.
Ethiopia’s Hippo Generation should move over and make way for the Cheetahs. As Ayittey said, Africa’s “Hippo Generation is intellectually astigmatic and stuck in their muddy colonialist pedagogical patch. They are stodgy, pudgy, and wedded to the old ‘colonialism-imperialism’ paradigm with an abiding faith in the potency of the state. They lack vision and sit comfortable in their belief that the state can solve all of Africa’s problems. All the state needs is more power and more foreign aid. They care less if the whole country collapses around them, but are content as long as their pond is secure…”
Ethiopia’s Hippo Generation is not only astigmatic with distorted vision, it is also myopic and narrow- minded preoccupied with mindless self-aggrandizement. The Hippos in power are stuck in the quicksand of divisive ethnic politics and the bog of revenge politics. They proclaim the omnipotence of their state, which is nothing more than a thugtatorship. Their lips drip with condemnation of “neoliberalism”, the very system they shamelessly panhandle for their daily bread and ensures that they cling to power like barnacles on a sunken ship. They try to palm off foreign project handouts as real economic growth and development. To these Hippos, the youth are of peripheral importance. They give them lip service. In his “victory” speech celebrating his 99.6 percent win in the May 2010 “election”, Meles Zenawi showered the youth with hollow gratitude: “We are also proud of the youth of our country who have started to benefit from the ongoing development and also those who are in the process of applying efforts to be productively employed! We offer our thanks and salute the youth of Ethiopia for their unwavering support and enthusiasm!”
The Hippos out of power have failed to effectively integrate and mobilize the youth and women in their party leadership structure and organizational activities. As a result, they find themselves in a state of political stagnation and paralysis. They need youth power to rejuvenate themselves and to become dynamic, resilient and irrepressible. Unpowered by youth, the Hippos out of power have become the object of ridicule, contempt and insolence for the Hippos in power.
Ethiopia’s intellectual Hippos by and large have chosen to stand on the sidelines with arms folded, ears plugged, mouths sealed shut and eyes blindfolded. They have chosen to remain silent fearful that anything they say can and will be used against them as they obsequiously curry favor with the Hippos in power. They have broken faith with the youth. Instead of becoming transformational and visionary thinkers capable of inspiring the youth with creative ideas, the majority of the intellectual Hippos have chosen to dissociate themselves from the youth or have joined the service of the dictators to advance their own self-interests.
The shameless canard is that Ethiopia’s youth “have started to benefit from the ongoing development.” The facts tell a completely different story. Though the Ethiopian population under the age of 18 is estimated to be 41 million or just over half of Ethiopia’s population, UNICEF estimates that malnutrition is responsible for more than half of all deaths among children under age five. Ethiopia has an estimated 5 million orphans; or approximately 15 per cent of all children are orphans! Some 800,000 children are estimated to be orphaned as a result of AIDS. Urban youth unemployment is estimated at over 70 per cent. Ethiopia has one of the lowest youth literacy rate in Africa according to a 2011 report of the United Nations Capital Development Fund. Literacy in the 15-24 age group is a dismal 43 percent; gross enrollment at the secondary level is a mere 30.9 percent! A shocking 77.8 per cent of the Ethiopian youth population lives on less than USD$2 per day! Young people have to sell their souls to get a job. According to the 2010 U.S. State Department Human Rights Report, “Reliable reports establish that unemployed youth who were not affiliated with the ruling coalition sometimes had trouble receiving the ‘support letters’ from their kebeles necessary to get jobs.” Party memberships is the sine qua non for government employment, educational and business opportunity and the key to survival in a police state. The 2011 U.S. State Department Human Rights Report concluded, “According to credible sources, the ruling party ‘stacks’ student enrollment at Addis Ababa University, which is the nation’s largest and most influential university, with students loyal to the party to ensure further adherence to the party’s principles and to forestall any student protest.”
Frustrated and in despair, many youths drop out of school and engage in a fatalistic pattern of risky behaviors including drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse, crime and delinquency and sexual activity which exposes them to a risk of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases including HIV. Poor youths (the overwhelming majority of youth population) deprived of educational and employment opportunity, have lost faith in their own and their country’s future. When I contemplate the situation of Ethiopia’s youth, I am haunted by the penetrating question recently posed by Hajj Mohamed Seid, the prominent Ethiopian Muslim leader in exile in Toronto: “Is there an Ethiopian generation left now? The students who enrolled in the universities are demoralized; their minds are afflicted chewing khat (a mild drug) and smoking cigarettes. They [the ruling regime] have destroyed a generation.”
Unchain the Cheetahs
Many of my readers are familiar with my numerous commentaries on Ethiopia’s chained youth yearning for freedom and change. My readers will also remember my fierce and unremitting defense of Ethiopia’s Proudest Cheetahs — Eskinder Nega, Serkalem Faisl, Andualem Aragie, Woubshet Alemu, Reeyot Alemu, Bekele Gerba, Olbana Lelisa and so many others — jailed for exercising their constitutional rights and for speaking truth to power. But in the Year of the Cheetahs, I aim to call attention to the extreme challenges faced by Ethiopia’s youth and make a moral appeal to all Hippos, particularly the intellectual Hippos in the Diaspora, to stand up and be counted with the youth by providing support, guidance and inspiration. In June 2010, I called attention to some undeniable facts:
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. On the other hand, many thousands gripped by despair and hopelessness and convinced they have no future in Ethiopia continue to vote with their feet. Today, young Ethiopian refugees can be found in large numbers from South Africa to North America and the Middle East to the Far East.
In this Year of the Ethiopian Cheetahs, those of us with a conscience in the Hippo Generation must do a few things to atone for our failures and make amends to our youth. President Obama, though short on action, is nearly always right in his analysis of Africa’s plight: “We’ve learned that it will not be giants like Nkrumah and Kenyatta who will determine Africa’s future. It will be the young people brimming with talent and energy and hope who can claim the future that so many in previous generations never realized.” We, learned Hippos, must learn that Ethiopia’s destiny will not be determined by the specter of dead dictators or their dopplegangers. It will not be determined by those who use the state as their private fiefdom and playground, or those who spread the poison of ethnic politics to prolong their lease on power. Ethiopia’s destiny will be determined by a robust coalition of Cheetahs who must unite, speak in one voice and act like fingers in a clenched fist to achieve a common destiny.
I craft my message here to the Hippos out of power and the intellectual Hippos standing on the sidelines. I say step up, stand up and be counted with the youth. Know that they are the only ones who can unchain us from the cages of our own hateful ethnic politics. Only they can liberate us from the curse of religious sectarianism. They are the ones who can free us from our destructive ideological conflicts. They are the ones who can emancipate us from the despair and misery of dictatorship. We need to reach, teach and preach to the Cheetahs to free their minds from mental slavery and help them develop their creative powers.
We must reach out to the Cheetahs using all available technology and share with them our knowledge and expertise in all fields. We must listen to what they have to say. We need to understand their views and perspectives on the issues and problems that are vital to them. It is a fact that we have for far too long marginalized the youth in our discussions and debates. We are quick to tell them what to do but turn a deaf ear to what they have to say. We lecture them when we are not ignoring them. Rarely do we show our young people the respect they deserve. We tend to underestimate their intelligence and overestimate our abilities and craftiness to manipulate and use them for our own cynical ends. In the Year of the Cheetah, I plead with my fellow intellectual Hippos to reach out and touch the youth.
We must teach the youth the values that are vital to all of us. Hajj Mohamed Seid has warned us that without unity, we have nothing. “If there is no country, there is no religion. It is only when we have a country that we find everything.” That is why we must teach the youth they must unite as the children of Mother Ethiopia, and reject any ideology, scheme or effort that seeks to divide them on the basis of ethnicity, religion, gender, language, region or class. We must teach to enlighten, to uncover and illuminate the lies and proclaim the truth. It is easier for tyrants and dictators to rob the rights of youth who are ignorant and fearful. “Ignorance has always been the most powerful weapon in the arsenal of tyrants.” Nelson Mandela has taught us that “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Educating and teaching the youth is the most powerful weapon in the fight against tyranny and dictatorship. In the Year of the Cheetah, I plead with my fellow intellectual Hippos to teach the Cheetahs to fight ignorance and ignoramuses with knowledge, enlightenment and intelligence.
We must also preach the way of peace, democracy, human rights, the rule of law, accountability and transparency. No man shall make himself the law. Those who have committed crimes against humanity and genocide must be held to account. There shall be no state within the state. Exercise of one’s constitutional rights should not be criminalized. Might does not make right! In the Year of the Cheetah, I plead with my fellow intellectual Hippos to preach till kingdom come.
We need to find ways to link Ethiopian Diaspora youth with youth in Ethiopia in a Chain of Destiny. Today, we see a big disconnect and a huge gulf between young Ethiopians in the Diaspora and those in Ethiopia. That is partly a function of geography, but also class. It needs to be bridged. We need to help organize and provide support to Ethiopian Diaspora youth to link up with their counterparts in Ethiopia so that they could have meaningful dialogue and interaction and work together to ensure a common democratic future.
The challenges facing Ethiopia’s Cheetah Generation are enormous, but we must do all we can to prepare the youth to take leadership roles in their future. We need to help them develop a formal youth agenda that addresses the wide range of problems, challenges and issues facing them. All we need to do is provide them guidance, counsel and advice. The Cheetahs are fully capable of doing the heavy lifting if the Hippos are willing to carry water to them.
Ethiopian Youth Must Lead a National Dialogue in Search of a Path to Peaceful Change
I have said it before and I will say is again and again. For the past year, I have been talking and writing about Ethiopia’s inevitable transition from dictatorship to democracy. I have also called for a national dialogue to facilitate the transition and appealed to Ethiopia’s youth to lead a grassroots and one-on-one dialogue across ethnic, religious, linguistic and religious lines. I made the appeal because I believe Ethiopia’s salvation and destiny rests not in the fossilized jaws of power-hungry Hippos but in the soft and delicate paws of the Cheetahs. In the Year of the Cheetahs, I plead with Ethiopia’s youth inside the country and in the Diaspora to take upon the challenge and begin a process of reconciliation. I have come to the regrettable conclusion that most Hippos are hardwired not to reconcile. Hippos have been “reconciling” for decades using the language of finger pointing, fear and smear, mudslinging and grudge holding. But Cheetahs have no choice but to genuinely reconcile because if they do not, they will inherit the winds of ethnic and sectarian strife.
In making my plea to Ethiopia’s Cheetahs, I only ask them to begin an informal dialogue among themselves. Let them define national reconciliation as they see it. They should empower themselves to create their own political space and to talk one-on-one across ethnic, religious, linguistic, gender, regional and class lines. I underscore the importance of closing the gender gap and maximizing the participation of young women in the national reconciliation conversations. It is an established social scientific fact that women do a far superior job than men when it comes to conciliation, reconciliation and mediation. Dialogue involves not only talking to each other but also listening to one another. Ethiopia’s Cheetahs should use their diversity as a strength and must never allow their diversity to be used to divide and conquer them.
Up With Ethiopian Cheetahs!
Africans know all too well that hippos (including their metaphorical human counterparts) are dangerous animals that are fiercely territorial and attack anything that comes into their turf. Every year more people are killed by hippos (both the real and metaphorical ones) in Africa than lions or elephants. Cheetahs are known to be the fastest animals, but their weakness is that they give up the chase easily or surrender their prey when challenged by other predators including hyenas. A group of hippos is known as a crash. A group of cheetahs is called a “coalition”. Only a coalition of cheetahs organized across ethnic, religious, linguistic and regional lines can crash a crash of hippos and a cackle of hyenas and save Ethiopia.
In this Year of Ethiopian Cheetahs, I expect to make my full contribution to uplift and support Ethiopia’s youth and to challenge them to rise up to newer heights. I appeal to all of my brother and sister Hippos to join me in this effort. As for the Cheetahs, I say, darkness always give way to light. “It is often in the darkest skies that we see the brightest stars.” Ethiopia’s Cheetahs must be strong in spirit and in will. As Gandhi said, “Strength does not come from physical capacity”, nor does it come from guns, tanks and war 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.” Ethiopian Cheetahs must never give in!
Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam teaches political science at California State University, San Bernardino and is a practicing defense lawyer.
Previous commentaries by the author are available at:
Amharic translations of recent commentaries by the author may be found at:
(IWMF) — It was only a matter of time before Ethiopian journalist Reeyot Alemu was sent to prison. Her country has become one of the most oppressive in the world for press freedom, with numbers of jailed journalists rising steadily each year.
Alemu was arrested on June 21, 2011, and accused of conspiracy to commit terrorist acts and participation in a terrorist organization under the controversial 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation. Based on no evidence other than her articles criticizing the Ethiopian government, Alemu was sentenced to 14 years in Ethiopia’s notoriously ill-maintained Kaliti prison.
Although the U.S. government has expressed concerns about “the extent to which Ethiopians can rely upon their constitutionally guaranteed rights to afford the protection that is a fundamental element of a democratic society”, Ethiopia remains a key U.S. ally in its battle against al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda’s Somalia affiliate, which some believe has resulted in an unduly lenient attitude towards Ethiopia’s human rights violations.
The arrest of Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson, two Swedish journalists, made evident the damage to its reputation the Ethiopian government was willing to accept in its effort to silence independent reporters. They were picked up after crossing the Somali-Ethiopian border illegally while reporting on ONLF rebels and the humanitarian situation in the closed Ogaden region. The 14-month-long diplomatic tug of war under the watchful eye of the international media ended when Schibbye and Persson were pardoned and released in September 2012 after they admitted guilt and were sentenced to eleven years in prison.
Reeyot Alemu refused to admit guilt in exchange for clemency and has, instead, appealed the verdict. In August 2012, to the surprise of many experts in the diplomatic community, and in part due to the international attention Alemu has received, including winning the 2012 IWMF Courage in Journalism Award, two charges against her were dropped and her sentence was reduced to five years. Alemu hasn’t given up – her court dates have been postponed numerous times but there is still a chance that the appeals court will decide to drop the remaining terrorism charges against her on Tuesday, January 8th.
“Reeyot is young and well-educated. She could have easily left her country or chosen a different career – but she loves Ethiopia and her profession. She always held her head high and she gave me strength”, Martin Schibbye said in an interview with the IWMF.
The first time he met Reeyot Alemu was on a prison bus from Makelawi, the central police investigation headquarters in Addis Ababa, to the Magistrate’s Court where the prosecution repeatedly filed 28-day extensions to keep political prisoners in custody without charge. “What do you do?”, Schibbye remembered asking Alemu on their first encounter. “I am a journalist”, she replied. They quickly realized that everyone on that bus was a journalist or a politician from the opposition and that they were all charged with a crime they hadn’t committed: terrorism. “That was the moment when we realized that we had ended up in a major crackdown against free speech in Ethiopia”, Schibbye told the IWMF.
Despite being separated from each other for the majority of their time in prison, the journalists in Kaliti felt a strong bond and built an emotional support network to help each other through their long days of confinement and uncertainty. “Even locked up in a dark room without shoelaces, deprived of your freedom of expression as well as your physical freedom, you can still keep the most valuable thing that nobody can take from you: the right to determine who you are. Every morning we woke up and said to each other: We are journalists, not terrorists … this is just another day at the office”, Schibbye said.
After spending 438 days in the custody of Ethiopian authorities and closely monitoring the cases of his Ethiopian journalistic colleagues, Schibbye delivers a damning verdict on the state of democracy in Ethiopia. “There is no such thing as an independent justice system, it’s completely politicized. If the order comes from the federal level that Reeyot is to let go, she will be free. But if they feel that they gain more from keeping her in prison, for example to scare other independent journalists, they will keep her locked up. This decision lies entirely in the hands of the Ethiopian government.”
Schibbye suspects that intimidation of independent journalists played a substantial role in Ethiopia’s motivation to jail European journalists like himself and Johan Persson. “Reeyot and some of the other jailed journalists were brought to Johan’s and my sentencing hearing”, Schibbye recalled. “The Ethiopian authorities forced them to witness the rendering of our verdict as if to say: ‘Look what we can do to these European guys … imagine what we can do to you!’”
While organizations such as the IWMF may not have the political clout to provide direct protection or effect instant change in situations like Alemu’s, the value of international attention should not be underestimated. “When you’re locked up as a prisoner of conscience, the greatest fear is to be forgotten,” Schibbye explained. “The support from the outside is what keeps you going, it’s more important than food and medicine. And international recognition such as the IWMF Courage in Journalism Award does in fact provide a certain level of protection. Prison guards and administrators will think twice because they know the world is watching”, he said.
Even though their interactions were very limited due to a strict communication ban in Kaliti prison, Schibbye was deeply impressed with Alemu’s strong moral beliefs. She hasn’t grown tired of pointing out that she is a journalist, not a terrorist. “During the interrogation in Makelawi, Reeyot never broke down. She kept explaining to the police interrogators, some of them younger than her, why she was fighting for freedom of speech and democracy”, Schibbye remembers.
The last time Schibbye saw Alemu was in August 2012, not long before he and Persson were released from prison. They passed each other outside the prison administration offices, being escorted to and from their cells, Schibbye recalled. “She looked fragile but she is a survivor!”
ጋዜጠኛ ጳዉሎስ ኞኞ በህይወት ዘመኑ ለአንባብያን ያበረከታቸዉ ሥራዎች ለአዲስ አበባ ዩኒቨርሲቲ ለኢትዮጵያ ጥናትና ምርምር ተቋም ተበረከተ። የታዋቂዉን ጋዜጠኛና ደራሲ ሥራዎች ለተቋሙ ያበረከተዉ ልጁ ሐዋርያዉ ጳዉሎስ በግሉ ቤተመጻህፍት ለማቋቋም አቅሙ ባይፈቅድለት ኅብረተሰቡ ከዩኒቨርሲቲዉ እንዲያገኘዉና እንዲጠቀምበት አስቦ ለመስጠት መወሰኑን ገልጸል። በስነ ስርዓቱ ላይ የተገኙ ታዳሚ ምሁራን የጳዉሎስ ኞኞን ስራዎች ሲዘረዝሩ በተለይ በጋዜጣ ላይ አንድ ጥያቄ አለኝ በሚለዉ አምዱ በወቅቱ የአዲስ ዘመን ጋዜጣን ቅጂ ቁጥር እንዲጨምር ማድረጉን አስታዉሰዋል።
(Deutsche Welle) – ከትናንት ከሰአት በኋላ አንስቶ እስከ ዛሬ ጠዋት በቀጠለው ግጭት ተማሪዎች እንደቆሰሉና በተማሪዎች መኝታ ክፍሎች ላይም ጉዳት መድረሱን የአይን ምስክሮች መናገራቸውን የአዲስ አበባው ወኪላችን ገልጾልናል። በአዲስ አበባ ዩኒቨርስቲ በ4 ኪሎ ቅፅር ግቢ በተማሪዎች መካከል በተነሳ ግጭት ተማሪዎች መጎዳታቸውና በግጭቱ የተጠረጠሩም መያዛቸው ተስምቷል ። ከትናንት ከሰአት በኋላ አንስቶ እስከ ዛሬ ጠዋት በቀጠለው ግጭት ተማሪዎች እንደቆሰሉና በተማሪዎች መኝታ ክፍሎች ላይም ጉዳት መድረሱን የአይን ምስክሮች መናገራቸውን የአዲስ አበባው ወኪላችን ገልጾልናል ። አካባቢውም በፌደራል ፖሊስ ይጠበቅ እንደነበረም ተነግሯል ። ስለ ሁኔታው የአዲስ አበባውን ዘጋቢያችንን ዮሐንስ ገብረ እግዚ አብሔርን በስልክ አነጋግረናል።
2012 is gone. 2013 is on the way. Let us ring in redress to all humankind.
I wish a happy and prosperous new year to all of my readers throughout the world. To those who have unwearyingly followed my columns for nearly three hundred uninterrupted weeks, I wish to express my deep gratitude and appreciation. I am thankful for all of the support and encouragement I have received from my readers in Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Diaspora and others throughout the world.
I ask my readers to ring in the new year with a firm resolution to seek redress for human rights violations in Ethiopia, other parts of Africa and throughout the world. As Dr. Martin Luther King taught, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly…”
Let us bid farewell to the old year and greet the new one with the poetic words of Lord Alfred Tennyson:
Ring out the old, ring in the new,…
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind,…
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws…
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good…
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,…
Ringing Out 2012
I thought I would ring out 2012 by extracting snippets from selected weekly commentaries I wrote during the year.
In January 2012, I wondered aloud if there will be an “African Spring” or “Ethiopian Tsedey (Spring)” in 2012. I cryptically answered my own question taking cover in Albert Camus’ book “The Rebel”. “What is a rebel?”, asked Camus. “A man who says no… A slave who has taken orders all his life suddenly decides that he cannot obey some new command. What does he mean by saying ‘no’? He means, for example, that ‘this has been going on too long,’ ‘up to this point yes, beyond it no’, ‘you are going too far,’ or, again, ‘there is a limit beyond which you shall not go.’ But from the moment that the rebel finds his voice — even though he says nothing but ‘no’ — he begins to desire and to judge. The rebel confronts an order of things which oppresses him with the insistence on a kind of right not to be oppressed beyond the limit that he can tolerate.”
Africa’s Spring will arrive when enough Africans including Ethiopians collectively resolve to rise up from the winter of their discontent and make glorious spring and summer by declaring, “No! Enough is Enough!”
In February 2012, I pointed out the shame and humiliation in receiving a Chinese handout (“gift”) in the form of a gleaming “African Union Hall” to 50 plus African countries who could not afford the measly $200 million needed to build such a quintessentially symbolic continental edifice. I christened it “African Beggars Union Hall”.
The Chinese Dragon is dancing the Watusi shuffle with African Hyenas. Things could not be better for the Dragon in Africa. In the middle of what once used to be the African Pride Land now stands a brand-spanking new hyenas’ den called the African Union Hall (AU). Every penny of the USD$200 million stately pleasure dome was paid for by China. It is said to be “China’s gift to Africa.” Sooner or later China has to come to terms with three simple questions: Can it afford to fasten its destiny to Africa’s dictators, genociders and despots? How long can China pretend to turn a blind eye to the misery of the African people suffering under ruthless dictatorships? Will there be a price to pay once the African dictators that China supported are forced out of power in a popular uprising? To update the old saying, “Beware of Chinese who bear gifts.”
In March 2012, I boldly predicted that Ethiopia will transition from dictatorship to democracy. But I also cautiously suggested that dissolution of the dictatorship in Ethiopia does not guarantee the birth of democracy. There is no phoenix of democracy that will rise gloriously from the trash heap of dictatorship. Birthing democracy will require a lot of collaborative hard work, massive amounts of creative problem solving and plenty of good luck and good will. A lot of heavy lifting needs to be done to propel Ethiopia from the abyss of dictatorship to the heights of democracy. It will be necessary to undertake a collective effort now to chart a clear course on how that long-suffering country will emerge from decades of dictatorship, without the benefit of any viable democratic political institutions, a functional political party system, a system of civil society institutions and an independent press to kindle a democratic renaissance.
In April 2012 , I paid a special tribute to my personal hero Eskinder Nega, winner of the 2012 PEN Freedom to Write Award. Eskinder Nega (to me Eskinder Invictus) has been jailed as a “terrorist” by the powers that be in Ethiopia. But Eskinder is a hero’s hero. His cause was taken up by an army of world renowned journalists who have themselves suffered at the hands of dictatorships including Kenneth Best, founder of the Daily Observer (Liberia’s first independent daily); Lydia Cacho, arguably the most famous Mexican journalist; Akbar Ganji Faraj Sarkohi Iran’s foremost dissidents; Arun Shourie, one of India’s most renowned and controversial journalists and many others. Recently, Carl Bernstein (one of the two journalists who exposed the Watergate scandal leading to the resignation of President Richard Nixon) and Liev Schreiber paid extraordinary homage to Eskinder Nega. Bernstein said, “No honor can be greater than to read Eskinder Nega’s words. He is more than a symbol. He is the embodiment of the greatness of truth, of writing and reporting real truth, of persisting in truth and resisting the oppression of untruths,…”
Eskinder Nega is my special hero because he fought tyranny with nothing more than ideas and the truth. He slew falsehoods with the sword of truth. Armed only with a pen, Eskinder fought despair with hope; fear with courage; anger with reason; arrogance with humility; ignorance with knowledge; intolerance with forbearance; oppression with perseverance; doubt with trust and cruelty with compassion. I lack the words to express my deep pride and gratitude to Eskinder and his wife, journalist Serkalem Fasil (winner of the 2007 International Women’s Media Foundation “Courage in Journalism Award”), for their boundless courage and extraordinary sacrifices in the cause of press freedom in Ethiopia. It is said that history is written by the victor. When truth becomes the victor in Ethiopia, the names Eskinder Nega and Serkalem Fasil will be inscribed in the Hall of Fame for unfaltering courage and steadfast endurance in the face of Evil.
In May 2012, Abebe Gelaw, a young Ethiopian journalist stood up in the audience at the Food Security 2012 G8 Summit in Washington, D.C. and cried freedom. The late Meles Zenawi sat in catatonic silence as the young journalist shouted out: “Meles Zenawi is a dictator! Meles Zenawi is a dictator! Free Eskinder Nega! Free Political Prisoners! You are a dictator. You are committing crimes against humanity. Food is nothing without freedom! Meles has committed crimes against humanity! We Need Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!”
The “heckler’s veto” is one of the most precious rights of American citizens. The idea is really simple. It is always governments who abuse their power to silence their critics and those who disagree with them. With the “heckler’s veto”, the individual silences the government and the powerful. The tables are turned. Zenawi was silenced by Abebe! In that moment, Abebe gloriously realized the true meaning of the tagline of his website addisvoice.com – “A Voice of the Voiceless”. Ironically, the voice of the voiceless rendered speechless the man who had rendered millions voiceless!
In June 2012, I joyously witnessed the unity of Christian and Muslim religious leaders against those seeking to divide them. Hajj Mohamed Seid, a prominent Ethiopian Muslim leader in exile in Toronto, made an extraordinary statement that should be a lesson to all Ethiopians: “As you know Ethiopia is a country that has different religions. Ethiopia is a country where Muslims and followers of the Orthodox faith have lived and loved each other throughout recorded history. Even in our lifetimes — 50 to 60 years — we have not seen Ethiopia in so much suffering and tribulation. Religion is a private choice, but country is a collective responsibility. If there is no country, there is no religion. It is only when we have a country that we find everything… They [the rulers in Ethiopia] have sold the land [to foreigners] and have kept the most arable land to themselves. The money from the sale is not in our country. It is in their pockets… Is there an Ethiopian generation left now? The students who enrolled in the universities are demoralized; their minds are afflicted chewing khat (a mild drug) and smoking cigarettes. They [the ruling regime] have destroyed a generation…
In July 2012, I held a private celebration on the occasion of the ninety-fourth birthday of President Nelson Mandela. May he live long with gladness and good health! Madiba has been a great inspiration for me very much like Gandhi. Madiba and Gandhi were lawyers who spoke truth to power fearlessly. For Madiba, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, true human rights advocacy was devoid of all political ambition. The politics of human rights is the politics of human dignity, not ideology, political partisanship or the pursuit of political office. The committed human rights advocate thrives on hopes and dreams of a better future, not the lust for political power or craving for status, position or privilege. I have been relentlessly “sermonizing” (as some affectionately refer to my weekly commentaries) on human rights in Ethiopia and against dictatorship for many years now. I have done so not because I believed my efforts will produce immediate political results or expected structural changes overnight. I stayed in for the long haul because I believe defending, advocating and writing about human rights and righting government wrongs is right, good and the moral thing to do.
In August 2012, I bade farewell to Meles Zenawi who passed away from an undisclosed illness. It was a difficult farewell to write. For over two hundred seventy five weeks, without missing a single week, I wrote long expository commentaries on the deeds and misdeeds of the man who was at the helm of power in Ethiopia for over two decades. Meles and I would have never crossed paths but for the massacres of 2005 in which some 200 unarmed protesters were shot dead in the streets and another 800 wounded by police and security officials under Meles’ personal command and control.
Meles was a man who had an appointment with destiny. Fate had chosen him to play a historic role in Ethiopia and beyond. He was one of the leaders of a rebel group that fought and defeated a brutal military dictatorship that had been in power for 17 years. In victory, Meles promised democracy, respect for democratic liberties and development. But as the years wore on, Meles became increasingly repressive, intolerant of criticism and in the end became as tyrannical as the tyrant he had replaced. In his last years, he created a police state reinforced by a massive security network of spies and surveillance technology. He criminalized press freedom and civil society institutions. He crushed dissent and all opposition. He spread fear and loathing that penetrated the remotest parts of the countryside. For over 21 years, Meles clutched the scepter of power in his hands and cast away the sword of justice he held when he marched into the capital from the bush in 1991. Meles was feared, disliked and demonized by his adversaries. He was loved, admired, idealized and idolized by his supporters. In the end, Meles died a man who had absolute power which had corrupted him absolutely. In his relentless pursuit of absolute power, Meles missed his appointment with destiny to become a peerless and exemplary Ethiopian leader.
In September 2012, I explained why I supported President Obama’s re-election. I tried to make an honest case for supporting the President’s re-election despite deep disappointments over his human rights records in Africa in his first term. Did President Obama deliver on the promises he made for Africa to promote good governance, democracy and human rights? Did he deliver on human rights in Ethiopia? No. Are Ethiopian Americans disappointed over the unfulfilled promises President Obama made in Accra, Ghana in 2009 and his Administration’s support for a dictatorship in Ethiopia? Yes. We remember when President Obama talked about the need to develop robust democratic institutions, uphold the rule of law and the necessity of maintaining open political space and protecting human rights in Africa. We all remember what he said: “Africa does not need strong men but strong institutions.” “Development depends on good governance.” “No nation will create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy.” Was he just saying these words or did he truly believe them? Truth be told, what the President has done or not done to promote good governance, democracy and human rights in Ethiopia is no different than what we, the vast majority of Ethiopian Americans, have done or not done to promote the same values in Ethiopia. That is the painful truth we must face.
In October 2012, I wrote about breast cancer awareness for Ethiopian women and men. There is a strange and confounding culture of secrecy and silence about certain kinds of illnesses among many Ethiopians in the country and those in the Diaspora. Among the two taboo diseases are cancer and HIV/AIDS. The rule seems to be hide the illness until death, even after death. We saw this regrettable practice in the recent passing of Meles Zenawi. Meles’ illness and cause of death remain a closely guarded state secret. It is widely believed that he died from brain cancer. This culture of secrecy and silence has contributed significantly to the needless deaths of thousands of Ethiopians. There is substantial anecdotal evidence that far too many Ethiopian women living in the U.S. have needlessly died from breast cancer because they failed or avoided to get regular breast cancer screening fearing a positive diagnosis. Secrecy and silence when it comes to breast cancer is a self-imposed death warrant!
In November 2012, I remembered. I remembered the hundreds of unarmed citizens murdered in the streets by police and security officials under the personal command and control of Meles Zenawi in Ethiopia on June 6-8 and November 1-4, 2005, following the Ethiopian parliamentary elections in May of that year. According to an official Inquiry Commission, “There was not a single protester who was armed with a gun or a hand grenade as reported by the government-controlled media that some of the protesters were armed with guns and bombs. [The shots fired by government forces] were not intended to disperse the crowd but to kill by targeting the head and chest of the protesters.” I also remembered Yenesew Gebre, a 29 year-old Ethiopian school teacher and human rights activist set himself ablaze outside a public meeting hall in the town of Tarcha located in Dawro Zone in Southern Ethiopia on 11/11/11. He died three days later from his injuries. Before torching himself, Yenesew told a gathered crowd outside of a meeting hall, “In a country where there is no justice and no fair administration, where human rights are not respected, I will sacrifice myself so that these young people will be set free.” I remembered why I was transformed from a cloistered armchair academic and hardboiled defense lawyer to a (com)passionate human rights advocate and defender.
In December 2012, I fiercely opposed the potential nomination of Susan Rice, the current U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. I argued that Rice has been waltzing (or should I say do-se-do-ing) with Africa’s slyest, slickest and meanest dictators for nearly two decades. Rice and other top U.S. officials knew or should have known a genocide was underway or in the making once RAF and interahamwe militia began killing people in the streets and neighborhoods on April 6, the day Rwandan President Juvenal Habyiarimana was assassinated. They were receiving reports from the U.N. mission in Rwanda; and their own intelligence pointed to unspeakable massacres taking place in Kigali and elsewhere in the country. Rice feigned ignorance of the ongoing genocide, but the irrefutable documentary evidence showed that Rice, her boss Anthony Lake and other high level U.S. officials knew from the very beginning (April 6, 1994) that genocide was in the making in Rwanda. On September 2, 2012 at the funeral of Meles Zenawi in Addis Ababa and at a memorial service for Meles in New York City on October 27, 2012, Rice delivered a eulogy that virtually canonized Meles. In her blind eulogy, Rice turned a blind eye to the thousands of Ethiopians who were victimized, imprisoned and killed by Meles Zenawi. Rice could not see the police state Meles had created. To literally add insult to injury, Rice called Meles’ opponents and critics “fools and idiots”. Truth be told, I was deeply offended by Rice’s hubristic remarks and her audacity, pomposity, nerve and insolence to insult and humiliate Ethiopians in their own country in such callous and contemptuious manner. Ethiopians have been robbed of their dignity for 21 years. But I will be damned if any foreigner, however high or exalted, should feel free to demean, dehumanize and demonize my people as “fools and idoits”. Recently, Rice explained: “I know I’m vilified for having said anything other than, ‘He [Meles] was a tyrant,’ … which would’ve been a little awkward, on behalf of the U.S. government and in front of all the mourning Ethiopians.” Rice has no qualms calling Ethiopians “fools and idiots” but she writhes in agony just thinking about calling Meles a tyrant?!? Some people just don’t get it!!!
In 1994, Rice was willfully blind to the genocide in Rwanda. In 2012, she was willfully blind to the long train of human rights abuses and atrocities in Ethiopia.
America does not need a friend and a buddy to African dictators as its Secretary of State. America does not need a Secretary of State with a heart of stone and tears of a crocodile. America does not need a “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” Secretary of State. America needs a Secretary of State who can tell the difference between human rights and government wrongs!
Let us join hands to ring in redress to all mankind in 2013. Let us all work together for human rights for all and against all government wrongs!
Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam teaches political science at California State University, San Bernardino and is a practicing defense lawyer.
Previous commentaries by the author are available at:
Amharic translations of recent commentaries by the author may be found at:
UPDATE – December 28, 2012: Ethiopian Review sources are reporting that armed forces chief of staff Gen. Samora Yenus is back in a Germany hospital. In August, we reported that Samora, looking frail, returned to Addis Ababa to attend dictator Meles Zenawi’s funeral, and that he will return to the hospital.
UPDATE – August 21, 2012: Samora Yenus has been observed at Bole Airport today along with other TPLF junta officials receiving Meles Zenawi’s body. Our sources have verified that he returned to Addis Ababa two days ago from Germany, but he will return to continue his medical treatment.
The late Ethiopian dictator Meles Zenawi’s military chief of staff, Gen. Samora Yenus, is currently in Essen, Germany, receiving medical treatment.
Doctors at Essen University Hospital have diagnosed Samora with Pneumocystis Carinii Pneumonia, which is a symptom of AIDS, according to Ethiopian Review Intelligence Unit sources.
Samora was taken to Bole Airport by ambulance after he collapsed following a TPLF meeting last week, and flown to Germany.
Lt. General Seare Mekonnen is now in charge of the armed forces in Ethiopia, Ethiopian Review sources in Addis Ababa reported.
By Daniel Kindie
Lorenzo Taezaz could be considered as one of the legendary heroes of the Italo-Ethiopian war of 1935-1941. From the day he left his homeland in 1925, until his untimely death in Sweden in 1946, he had an unusual life. Few Ethiopians of his generation have enjoyed a life so intense and so productive over a period of 21 years. He contributed more than his share to the liberation of Ethiopia from Italian fascism. Yet, the young generation of Ethiopians, which has grown up after the war, are almost entirely ignorant about him. The reason of his consignment to oblivion, for instance, has never been fully known. Similarly, the manner of his death which invites more questions than answers is passed over in complete silence.
The purpose of this study is limited in scope. First, it is to introduce Lorenzo Taezaz to the general reader, and possibly, to stimulate more discussion about him among scholars who study Ethiopia. Second, to investigate the actual role he played in the 1935-1941 period of Ethiopia’s struggle against fascism. This requires some information about the man’s early life, and the circumstances for his departure from Eritrea. Who was he? And what was his background? I will treat the essentials of his early life and discuss the reasons why he left his homeland, how he met Ras Teferi Mekonnen [the future Emperor Haile Selassie I], and how he started his career with the Ethiopian government.
I have reviewed the existing literature. As will be noticed, it gives him scant coverage. Most of the literature refers to him only in passing. Even important events in which he was involved appear in snippets rather than as a whole, so that their overall impact is diffused, preventing one from ever knowing his full story. For this reason, I had to interview a number of people. These include: his daughter, Mrs. Woizerit Lorenzo, the late Ambassador Ephreim Tewolde Medhin, his lifelong friend, Dr. John Spencer, a war time colleague who knew him from 1936-1946, and Mebratu Taezaz, his brother. Three of them were interviewed in Asmara in 1983, and Dr. Spencer, on 30 August 1987 in New Haven, Connecticut.
There is some controversy about the circumstances of his departure from Eritrea. The controversy has something to do with Italian war plans to invade Ethiopia, and Lorenzo’s alleged understanding of that plan as related to me by his daughter. Before coming to grips with his actual role in the fascist Italy period, therefore, I have found it important to evaluate his daughter’s version of Lorenzo’s immigration to Ethiopia. For this reason, I had also to provide some sketchy information about the historical background of the Italian occupation of Eritrea and the subsequent threat to the rest of Ethiopia.
Lorenzo Taezaz was born on 30 June 1900 in the Akele Guzaie province of Eritrea, then an Italian colony. He received his first education in Italian schools in Asmara and Keren and started his career with the Italian colonial administration when he was still very young. Because of his intelligence and hard work, Lorenzo rose to the rank of Secretary to the Governor of Asmara, the highest position that an Eritrean could reach in the colonial administration.
In 1924, while on vacation in Aden, he met Ras Teferi Mekonnen, the future Haile Selassie, who was there on an official visit, and who encouraged him to go to Ethiopia. A year later, Lorenzo went to Addis Ababa. Subsequently, Ras Teferi Mekonnen arranged for his education, and along with other Ethiopians, he sent him to France on a government scholarship. Lorenzo spent the next eight years at the University of Montpelier where he completed his studies in Law and Philosophy. Apart from his native Tigrigna, he already spoke Amharic, Arabic and Italian, but Montpelier also provided him with an opportunity to master French and English.
He returned to Ethiopia in 1933 and began to serve the Ethiopian government in several capacities: Secretary, Ministry of Justice (1933); member of the Anglo-Ethiopian Boundary Commission which demarcated Ethiopia’s borders with former British Somaliland (1933-34); member of the same Commission which was charged with the duty of surveying the grazing grounds of the Ogaden, and investigating the causes of the Wal-Wal incident of 1934, which led to the Italo-Ethiopian War of 1935-1941; appointed private secretary of Haile Selassie, and in addition he served as liaison officer to the international press (1935-1936). He even saw action at the Battle of Maichew (1936) that culminated in the defeat of the Ethiopians by the Italians.
Lorenzo had presented a plan to Haile Selassie to transfer the government center to Gore (1) – a remote and inaccessible town in western Ethiopia from where the counter-offensive could be prosecuted. However, the costs and risks of fighting the mechanized Italian army was debated and measured against the risks and costs of not fighting. When the Council of Ministers agreed by twenty one to three vote(2), that the risks were too grave and the costs too high, it was decided that Haile Selassie should go and personally present Ethiopia’s case to the League of Nations. In May 1936, therefore, Lorenzo left Ethiopia and accompanied Emperor Haile Selassie in his exile to Europe. There, he was appointed Ethiopia’s Permanent Delegate to the League of Nations and subsequently took an active role in the struggle against Italian fascism. During the occupation, Lorenzo secretly entered Ethiopia on several occasions. After Ethiopia’s liberation in 1941, he was appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs (1941-1943), Minister for Posts, Telephones and Telegrams (1943), President of the Chamber of Deputies (1943-1944), Minister to Moscow, USSR (1944-1946), and Delegate to the Paris Peace Conference (May 1946). A month later, he died in a hospital in Stockholm, Sweden.(3)
When I visited the late Ambassador Ephreim Tewolde Medhin at his residence in Asmara, he was ninety years of age. The following is a summary of what I was able to gather from him:
Interview I. Ambassador Ephreim Tewolde Medhin:
Lorenzo was my life long friend. Ever since we left Eritrea, we shared adversity and happiness together. There was no future for both of us in Eritrea. In 1925 we escaped to Aden. It should be recalled that Lorenzo had met Ras Teferi Mekonnen in Aden a year earlier and had thus invited him to go to Addis Ababa. I took the boat and waited for him in Djibouti. When we met in Djibouti, both of us were in tears. From there, we took the train and went to Addis Ababa. Ras Teferi Mekonnen asked us what we wanted to do. Both of us requested him to send us abroad to school, which he did. I went to Beirut. Lorenzo went to France… What we did for Ethiopia during the war, is for history to judge. We stayed in Europe to help intensify the diplomatic struggle, but Lorenzo was exceptional. He even traveled inside Italian occupied Ethiopia on secret missions. I can assure you that he was a selfless patriot. At a time when an entire generation of educated Ethiopians was simply wiped out by fascism, he was Ethiopia’s eyes and ears. The British only talked to him.(4)
Dr. John Spencer knew Lorenzo for some ten years. The following provides what he could recall from memory:
Interview II: John Spencer:
I met Lorenzo on 15 January 1936 in Dessie at the headquarters of His Majesty the Emperor Haile Selassie. I remember everything very well. Even the place where we met was kept dark for fear of Italian air raids. In general, he gave me the impression of an extremely reserved man. Perhaps his inner nature needed privacy and solitude for reflection. He had a quick mind and a sharp tongue. He impressed me as being an intellectual. He spoke excellent French and English. We collaborated on the war bulletins for some months in Addis Ababa. We met again in London in June 1936 where we worked together. He was very meticulous. It was easy to work out a sentence with him. He helped draft Haile Selassie’s 1936 address to the League of Nations, translated his speeches and led the Ethiopian delegation to Geneva. In 1938, Haile Selassie wanted to return to Ethiopia to lead the resistance, and so, he sent Lorenzo to Ethiopia to assess the situation and to help organize the Arbegnoch (the patriots). He did a thorough job. As a result, the Emperor decided to move. However, the British strongly objected to the plan, contending that it was premature. But the truth is, since they were negotiating with the Italians over the Mediterranean, they did not want the talks to be prejudiced. Lorenzo again spent some months inside Ethiopia in 1939 and re-organized the resistance. He did a marvelous job. The Italians left Ethiopia in 1941, and I met Lorenzo in Addis Ababa in 1943. This time, he was the foreign minister. He performed very well. It was not an easy task to evict the British from Ethiopia. He had a terrible time as they were toying with the idea of establishing a protectorate over Ethiopia. But, nevertheless, he came out with flying colors. The last time I met him was at the Paris Peace Conference in May 1946. A month later, he died in Sweden.(5)
There is an enormous literature on Italian fascism and Ethiopia. But as pointed out earlier, however, the coverage on Lorenzo is scanty, and where it is not, disconnected details are not united.
Kebede Tesema, an important Ethiopian intelligence officer of the time, who was later to occupy several ministerial posts in Haile Selassie’s government, published Historical Notes (Addis Ababa, 1955). Among other things, his book contains invaluable information on how the Ethiopians managed to sustain effective guerrilla warfare against the mechanized Italian Army. Although he fully recognizes Lorenzo’s vital contribution to the prosecution of the war, strangely enough, he does not say much about his role in making that operation effective. Similarly, the Italian journalist, Del Boca, in his illuminating book, The Ethiopian War 1935-1941, (London, 1965), mentions Lorenzo three times. Even then, this is done in the context of his exile to Europe along with Haile Selassie, the speech he made at the League of Nations in 1938, and how he distributed arms to the insurgents in Western Ethiopia in 1939.
In the same way, Richard Greenfield, in his Ethiopia, A new Political History, (New York, 1965), provides some insight into the valuable information Lorenzo brought out of Ethiopia describing the extent of guerrilla operations and the poor morale of the Italians.
John Spencer, who served the Ethiopian government for many years as advisor in foreign affairs, as has already been pointed out, knew Lorenzo from 1936-1946. In his informative book, Ethiopia At Bay (Algonac, Michigan 1984), he writes of Lorenzo’s French education, the information he used to collect from the war fronts (1934-35) for the publication of war bulletins, his translation of Haile Selassie’s speeches into French in Geneva, and the detailed information he brought out of Ethiopia in 1939 regarding the status and operations of the patriotic forces. He also mentions the invaluable contributions Lorenzo made to the military campaigns through which the emperor returned to Ethiopia in 1941, and Haile Selassie’s praise of the significant role played by Lorenzo in the liberation campaign of Ethiopia.
In his recent book on the Italo-Ethiopian War, Haile Selassie’s war: The Italian-Ethiopian Campaign, 1934-1941 (New York, 1984), Anthony Mockler provides Lorenzo’s biographical sketch in just six lines and dismisses his activities with the Ethiopian refugees in the Sudan and Kenya, in just a couple of paragraphs. Beyond that, there is nothing. There is also the autobiography of Haile Selassie, My Life and Ethiopia’s Progress, 1892-1937 (London, 1976). In this book, Haile Selassie praises Lorenzo’s diplomatic skill and the outstanding services he rendered to the country.
Let us then begin with a brief survey of Italy’s involvement in the affairs of the area – an involvement which probably caused Lorenzo’s departure from his place of birth.
Background to the Italian Occupation of Eritrea and the Threat Against Ethiopia
The Eritrea of the 1920s that Lorenzo left, was a sad place. Eritreans were constantly reminded of their inferiority in their own country by their colonial masters, the Italians. The Asmara municipality excluded them from all participation. In the central government hierarchy, they had no part. Eritreans could at best aspire to be low-paid clerks or orderlies. There was no trace when they could advance towards participation in government, or of administration scheme which could lead to it. There was to be, in perpetuity, only rulers and the passive ruled.(6) The combined effect of the policy of colonial oppression, social humiliation and material deprivation had several results in Eritrea. Of immediate concern to us during this particular period is the immigration of some 200,000 Eritreans to Ethiopia. One such Eritrean was Lorenzo Taezaz.
Why did he escape from Colonial Eritrea? Was his immigration to Ethiopia largely inspired by personal feelings of hopelessness in his future in colonial Eritrea, or by some other purpose? Was he conscious of a specific threat against Ethiopia at the time? How was it possible for him to play an outstanding role in the resistance movement against fascism, and eventually to become Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister? These questions are pertinent. It is useful to consider them in the context of the historical background that led to Italy’s involvement in the affairs of the people of the region.
As far as Italy was concerned, Asmara was merely a stepping-stone to bigger designs: Eritrea was acquired with the larger objective of the whole Ethiopia in mind.(7) The fact that between 1890 and 1896 Italy launched a series of assaults against Ethiopia from Eritrea is a sufficient testimony to that design. In any event, the series of intolerable military encroachments on Ethiopia’s sovereignty culminated in the Battle of Adowa of 1896, in which the Italians were routed.
As The Spectator of March 7, 1896 observed regretfully:
The Italians have suffered a great disaster – greater than has ever occurred in modern times to white men in Africa. Adowa was the bloodiest of all colonial battles. (8)
Italy’s pride was wounded. If ever Rome was to occupy a respectable place in the councils of Europe, that national humiliation and disgrace had to be avenged. Thereafter, propelled by Mussolini’s 1922 dictum, that “Italy must either expand or explode,”(9) fascism came to power. In such a situation, the first policy declaration el Duce made was to settle once and for all, the great account which has been left open since 1896.(10) “If only Italy had 6,000 more soldiers in Adwa, the result would have been different,” he was to say later.
To that end, he gave the necessary directives for building up Eritrea’s economic infrastructure in order to facilitate military mobility for the conquest of Ethiopia. Such a direction can be discerned from a letter Mussolini wrote in 1925 to the Prince of Scala, the Minister of the Colonies, in which Mussolini called his attention to the poor defensive conditions of Eritrea, and to correct such deficiencies as might exist.(11) Since nobody was threatening Eritrea, one can only interpret that message to mean preparations for committing aggression against Ethiopia.
Similarly, Pietro Badoglio, the Chief of Staff of the Italian Armed Forces, had instructed General Malladra in 1926 to carry out a thorough study of Eritrea’s defenses (read preparations for war), including the possible use of poison gas, either through aerial bombing or through artillery shelling.(12) Ten years later, Badoglio, who directed Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia from Colonial Eritrea and Somaliland, did precisely that.
Lorenzo’s Departure from Eritrea
I had heard contradictory accounts about Lorenzo’s departure from Eritrea. Since the evidence provided by anyone of the people I talked to was insufficient to prove any point, I decided to interview Woizerit Lorenzo, his daughter. In response to my question why her father, who was privileged by the standards of many Eritreans, because he was working at the Civil and Political Affairs Department of the colonial administration, left Colonial Eritrea and went to Ethiopia, Woizerit Lorenzo explained her father’s immigration in the following way:
One day, while he was filing papers, he read a secret military document which spelt out Italian war plans against Ethiopia, including the intention to use poison gas. Taken by shock and horror, while he was weeping, his tears dropped on the papers and spoiled the document. No sooner had this taken place than his Italian boss discovered what had happened and asked him why he was sprinkling water on vital government document? Being naive and innocent, he confessed that it was not water that spoilt the pages, but his tears. “Why did you have to weep”? asked the Italian. “Because I read the secret document which tells a lot about what you intend to do against Ethiopia,” he replied. “Yes, but that has nothing to do with you Eritreans. You are worried about a different people and society, which should not be of concern to you,” retorted the Italian. Three days later, Lorenzo told Ephreim Tewolde Medhin about what he had read. After that, both discussed the matter and escaped to Aden and from there they went to Addis Ababa where they met Haile Selassie.(13)
How much reliance could be attached to the information, especially that provided by his daughter? Did he really escape from Eritrea because of what he had read? And did such information ever exist? The 1925 letter of Mussolini to the Minister of the Colonies may provide a clue. There is also Badoglio’s handwritten instruction to General Malladra regarding the use of poison gas. These clues, when considered along with the fact that mustard gas that had been shipped into Massawa was utilized to substitute for the mountain warfare in which Italians lacked training (14), may lend considerable weight to what Woizerit Lorenzo contends. However, when Italy launched its unprovoked aggression against Ethiopia in 1935, the country was not prepared to resist the aggression. In fact, the primary cause of Ethiopia’s defeat was that it had no arms, and was allowed none. The secondary cause of its defeat was that it had no aviation.(15) It therefore appears very unlikely that Lorenzo had access to secret war plans. For, if he did, he would have made it available to Hale Selassie, and that would have given Ethiopia a span of ten years with which to strengthen its defenses.
One is inclined to think that his daughter has read back into the past on the basis of the actual use of poison gas, the likely Italian preparations to do something against Ethiopia and Lorenzo’s patriotic role against fascism. In such a set-up, it becomes easy within the family to make Lorenzo into an even more prescient hero. While one does not deny the utility of oral sources, perhaps the most one can say in this particular case is that her information cannot be used to supply adequate answers to the type of questions we raised earlier.
That Lorenzo served the Italian authorities from 1920-1925, is not debatable, and that he met Haile Selassie in Aden in 1924 is not also in dispute. But what cannot be sustained is the contention that he escaped from Eritrea because of the “secret document” he had read. Available evidence does in fact support the view that his escape from his home land was likely motivated by his daily exposure to constant humiliation, provocation and racial discrimination.
In this regard, let us consider the views of the London Times correspondent George Steer, who was expelled from Addis Ababa by the Italians in 1936, and who later participated in the liberation campaign of Ethiopia in the capacity of a British Intelligence Officer in charge of Offensive Propaganda. Steer who knew Lorenzo both in Europe and in Africa has this to say:
He rose to be Secretary to the Governor in Asmara when he was still very young, for Lorenzo is quick as lightening. It was the highest position that he could reach: Lorenzo is not a white man. Embittered by his servile condition, he could bear it no longer after a scene in a small cinema to which Italian friends had invited him. Other Italians hissed them for bringing in a colored man. Lorenzo was already miserable enough. With his savings he fled to Aden and waited there in poverty until [Haile Selassie] picked him up.(16)
One is inclined to accept this version of Lorenzo’s escape from Colonial Eritrea. It is also likely that Steer heard it from the man himself. Since impressions of youth are more lasting that those of the immediate past, it seems that such an experience had a chilling effect on his outlook. It made him resent the Italians very deeply. In expecting him to treat them not as an equal, but with a submissiveness demanded of a subject, the Italians succeeded in converting him into an envenomed and resolute enemy for all time.
Thereafter, and as mentioned earlier, Lorenzo went to school in France, and having returned to Ethiopia in 1933, he began to serve the government in several capacities until he was forced into exile again by the Italians, this time to Europe along with Haile Selassie.
Lorenzo’s Role Against Italian Fascism
Haile Selassie’s moving address to the League of Nations that stirred the conscience of the world and which was drafted by Lorenzo in part reads:
I am here to give Europe warning of the doom that awaits it, if it bows before force. I ask the fifty-two nations assembled here to give my country the support they promised her. There is not on this earth any nation that is higher than any other, apart from the kingdom of God. God and History will remember your judgment.(17)
It should be noted here that after delivering this historic address to the League of Nations, the Emperor Haile Selassie settled in Bath, England. As far as the League was concerned, therefore, it was Lorenzo, who in his capacity as Permanent Delegate of Ethiopia accredited to that world body, who continued the diplomatic struggle in Geneva. To that end, he even carried his credentials signed and sealed in his pocket. If any motion prejudicial to Ethiopia were to be tabled at the Council, he had all the intention of walking into the Assembly Hall and occupying the vacant post.(18) However, he was also impatient with the obstacles that loomed on all sides. As was to be expected, when Ethiopia was sacrificed by the League at the altar of political expediency, Lorenzo could not but agree with those few Ethiopian ministers who saw the virtues of guerrilla warfare.
With regard to the situation inside Italian occupied Ethiopia, it should be noted that Italian atrocities that were regarded by many as the apogee of fascist barbarity had reached a climax. The Ethiopian nationalist movement was gaining ground. There was continuous rebellion, even if it was uncoordinated, bedeviled as it was by factions which adhered to personalities rather than programs. Italian censorship was so strict that little information reached the outside world. It was therefore assumed that the fascists were making good their occupation of the country. Hence, in February 1938, Haile Selassie decided to dispatch Lorenzo to make a secret visit to Ethiopia and to explore the possibilities of his return to lead the resistance. Lorenzo had to succeed in this mission, if only because the prospect of failure was too grim to contemplate. Accordingly, he went to Ethiopia and spent several months inside the country. He delivered Haile Selassie’s messages to the various leaders of the resistance, assessed their strength and weakness, mediated their disputes, distributed arms at strategic points, helped to integrate them into a cohesive fighting force, and left the country.(19) Three months later, Lorenzo was back in Europe. Haile Selassie was so impressed by what he had to tell him, that he decided to report the whole situation to the League of Nations, some of whose members had started recognizing Italian occupation of Ethiopia. But since the emperor was ill, Lorenzo had to read the speech for him, which in any case, he had drafted:
Is the League, the appointed guardian of the principles of international justice, about to sign its own death warrant by tearing up with its own hands the covenant which is the sole justification of its being? Is right to triumph over Might, or Might over Right? [Let me reiterate to you here and now] that an implacable guerrilla warfare is being waged and will continue to be waged until either the [country] is evacuated by the Italians, or the Ethiopian people have been exterminated.
… The Italian government exercises no control over the greater part of Ethiopia… Its troops merely control the towns (where) garrisons can only be supplied with provisions and munitions by means of aircraft. (I am annexing to this statement) the petitions presented by the Ethiopian warrior chiefs setting forth the situation and asking for the assistance of the League of Nations.(20)
The petitions, no doubt, were written by warrior chiefs, at Lorenzo’s suggestion. He took the petitions with him and annexed them to Haile Selassie’s speech. And from the point of view of those States that were hesitating to recognize Ethiopia’s occupation by Italy, the speech and the petitions mush have had a restraining influence. Countries like Sweden, Mexico, the USA, USSR and others never recognized Italian occupation of Ethiopia.
In 1939, Lorenzo went back to Ethiopia on a similar mission. According to George Steer, who seems to have closely following his activities:
Lorenzo, a lively man who used to worry where to get the next stamp to send a letter to the Secretariat of the League of Nations, came to Paris by arrangement. His timing was good. The League of Nations did not meet that year. He went off dressed in a tarboosh, saying that he was a Sudanese of the Eritrean frontier tribe of the Habab.(21) The volcano (the Ethiopian resistance movement) permanently simmered, and Lorenzo’s coming gave it a poke. He poked it all around – north and south, east and west, skillfully exploiting the resentment that had been simmering. Among other things, he composed the quarrels of the resistance leaders in Gojjam after three days of negotiation. Elsewhere, he promised the people that the end is not far off.(22)
Similarly, Christopher Sykes, who describes Lorenzo as “an Ethiopian of high character and distinguished record,” reports that he was known at this time as Wolde Michael, elsewhere as Thompson and correctly as Lorenzo Taezaz.(23) The French intelligence officer, Colonel Robert Monnier, who had also made a clandestine journey in the interior of Ethiopia in July 1938, taught Lorenzo how to use a compass in his arduous travels. Lorenzo therefore extensively traveled inside Ethiopia. He constantly disguised himself in order to elude the Italians.
But in areas where he felt secure, he appeared in an Ethiopian army officer’s uniform with a considerable escort of Ethiopian soldiers. The fact that Lorenzo was able to wonder about Ethiopia in uniform and with an escort, it was said, is an indication of the state of affairs prevalent inside the country.(24) At other times, he traveled disguised as a priest or as a peasant.(25) After several months in the country, and after having established an Ethiopian Intelligence Bureau in Khartoum Lorenzo proceeded to Cairo to give full account of his discoveries to the skeptical British Middle East Headquarters.(27)
By the winter of 1939, he was back in England with news to gladden and inspire. Again Haile Selassie wanted to move, but this time, the British were not convinced that he had a large following in the country. In 1938, if Britain did not act in support of Haile Selassie, it must have been certainly acting, when it argued that the emperor’s wish to move to Ethiopia and to lead the resistance was premature. But the truth is, as Spencer remarked, since Britain was negotiating with the Italians over the Mediterranean, it did not want the talks to be prejudiced. However, British reluctance a year later had some merit worthy of note. At a meeting of some 900 patriotic commanders which took place in Gondar, the need to abolish the monarchy and declare Ethiopia a republic was discussed. To that end, even a document was prepared for the League of Nations touching on the form which a future government of the country might take.(28) Since Britain was aware of that, London did not want to end up by backing a man whose leadership was challenged. To dispel their doubts, however, Lorenzo was sent back to Ethiopia. This time, he was to provide evidence that important members of the resistance affirmed their allegiance to the emperor. He collected 10,000 signatures in a matter of weeks and helped to persuade the British to support Haile Selassie’s claim to the throne.
On June 10, 1940, Italy declared war on France and Britain. As a result, Haile Selassie was allowed to go to Khartoum to organize and lead a liberation army. He immediately asked for the battalion of trained Eritreans which had deserted from the Italian army in 1937, but which was kept in internment in Kenya.(29) Who else but Lorenzo could go to Kenya? He went there and read them Haile Selassie’s invitation requesting them to join the resistance. They responded with wild cries of delight,(30) and they did. Back in Khartoum, more work was waiting for Lorenzo, and more duties that needed his attention. He wrote the decrees and the military mobilization orders of Haile Selassie, which the British Royal Air Force effectively utilized in the propaganda warfare against the Italians. Eritreans in Kassala, for instance, were seen to kiss the seal, press it to their foreheads and weep.(31) At long last, as the British army moved to evict the Italians from Ethiopia, it entered the country along the tracks blazed by Lorenzo Taezaz.(32)
It was pointed out earlier that because the existing literature gives scant coverage to Lorenzo’s background in general, and to the actual role he played in the Italo-Ethiopian war of 1935-1941 in particular, this study would attempt to rectify that limitation. From the discussion we have already had, we can therefore make the following conclusions.
Although Lorenzo’s escape from Eritrea was largely motivated by the reality of an empty future in his homeland, his uncompromising position against fascism seems to have been largely inspired by his early experience of constant humiliation and racial discrimination. Those painful memories have lived with him for very many years. In those days, Haile Selassie needed educated young Ethiopians to help him in his modernization program. He sent several of them to Europe to study European methods of administration, science and technology. As fate would have it, in sending Lorenzo to France, he did make a wise decision. It paid off.
Lorenzo, who lacked neither ideals nor insight, successfully played several roles as a pressman, diplomat, intelligence officer, agitator, and counselor, and discharged his responsibilities with great distinction. In the process, he displayed great fortitude and endurance. For no one can dispute the key role he played in Ethiopia’s liberation. But more than most, Lorenzo’s commitment to duty must have strengthened Haile Selassie’s faith in education.
By delivering the Emperor’s messages to the various leaders of the resistance, Lorenzo provided the movement with a sense of direction and helped co-ordinate the internal and external struggle against Italian fascism. Whenever disputes arose among the leaders, by appealing to their sense of patriotism and by mediating their conflicts, he helped in the emergence of a cohesive and formidable fighting force that carried out devastating guerrilla operations against a mechanized army considered invincible at the time.
If thousands of peasants could turn into soldiers overnight, fight with limitless courage, and turn the tide of the war, they owe it to Lorenzo’s organizational and agitation ability and to the arms he distributed to them at critical times and places. If Eritrean soldiers, who were in the service of fascism, could desert the Italian army and join the Ethiopian forces of resistance, it was in part because of the knowledge that Lorenzo was around.
As a lawyer, and fluent in several European languages, Lorenzo effectively argued Ethiopia’s case in Geneva, and gained for his country considerable sympathy and support.
When the British government hesitated in supporting Haile Selassie’s return to Ethiopia, contending that the emperor had no power base inside the country, Lorenzo was instrumental in changing London’s mind. He went to Italian occupied Ethiopia, collected the signatures of 10,000 important members of the resistance who affirmed their allegiance to the emperor, and convinced the British to go along with Haile Selassie. Is there any wonder then, if the late Prime Minister Endalkachew Mekonnen could immortalize Lorenzo’s name in the funeral oration by paying tribute to his memory in words that are both fitting and deserving?(33)
Bibliography and Endnotes
1. Steer, G. L. Caesar in Abyssinia, Hodden and Stoughton Ltd., London 1936, p. 356.
2. Ibid, p. 364.
3. The rumor mills in Ethiopia have been grinding out conflicting stories about his death. It is strongly alleged by many Ethiopians that Lorenzo was poisoned by Wolde Giorgis Wolde Yohannes, Haile Selassie’s powerful Minister of the Pen, who deeply resented Lorenzo’s wide popularity with Haile Selassie. Spencer for one is convinced that he died a natural death. He claims that Lorenzo suffered from intestinal adhesions.
4. Interview I, December 10, 1983, Asmara. The Ambassador was very sick, but still he was kind enough to talk to me for some minutes. While trying to recall the circumstances of their departure
from Eritrea, tears were constantly in his eyes.
5. Interview II was conducted on August 30, 1987, New Haven, Connecticut.
6. Longrigg, H. Stephen: A Short History of Eritrea, the Claredon Press, 1945, p. 135.
7. Marcus, Harold: Haile Selassie I, the Formative Years, 1892-1936, University of California Press, 1987, p.84.
8. The Spectator, March 7, 1896.
9. Coffey, M. Thomas: The Lion by Tail, the Story of the Italo- Ethiopian War, Viking Press, New York. 1970, p.7.
10. Kirkpatrick, Ivor: Mussolini, A Study in Power, Hawthorn Books, New York, 1964.
11. de Bono, Emilio: The Conquest of the Empire, London 1937, p.2.
12 Instructions for General Malladra, Rome, 10 July, 1926, IFM/MAI, 50/24/64, ibid., Marcus, p.76.
13. Interview III, July 15, 1983, Asmara.
14. Barker, A.J.; The Civilizing Mission: A History of the Italo-Ethiopian War of 1935-1936, the Dial Press, New York, 1968, p.242.
15. Ibid, Caesar in Abyssinia, p.8.
16. Ibid, p.73.
17. The Autobiography of Emperor Haile Selassie I, translated by Edward Ullendorff, Oxford University Press, 1976, pp.299-312.
18. Sanford, Christine: Ethiopia Under Haile Selassie, J.M. Dent and Sons Ltd. London, 1946, p.100. His brother, Mebratu Taezaz whom I interviewed in Asmara on August 15, 1983, informed me: “Between 1937 and 1941, Lorenzo entered Ethiopia several times. He had to disguise himself sometimes as a woman, sometimes as a peasant, and sometimes as a priest. The Italians could not tolerate his activities and had to issue an award for anyone who could catch him.”
19. An important Italian source that provides interesting reading about Lorenzo especially from the Italian point of view is Angelo del Boca’s Gli italiani in Africa Orientale, Vol. I: Dall’Unita alla marcia su Roma, Bari, Laterza, 1976, pp.97, 189, 246, 691; Vol. II: La conquista dell Impero: (1979); pp. 336-339, Vol. III (1982), La caduta dell’ impero, pp.27-28.
20. League of Nations, Provisional Agenda of the 101st Session of the Council, May 9th, 1938, Geneva: Document C. 193. M. 104. 1938. VII.
* Why Paris? Britain also was not making much progress in its negotiations with Mussolini. Haile Selassie was still in England and he could be used against Italy. Since Steer was working for the British Intelligence Service, he must have been instructed to contact Lorenzo.
21. Steer, G.L.: Sealed and Delivered, Hodden and Stoughton Ltd. London, 1942, pp. 8-41.
23. Sykes, Christopher: Orde Wingate, A Biography, The world Publishing Co., 1959, New York, pp. 240-244. Wingate commanded the British army in the liberation campaign of Ethiopia.
24. Ibid, Sanford, p. 104.
25. Ibid, Baker, p. 309.
26. Gabre Meskel Habtemariam was from Seraie, Eritrea. He completed his studies in engineering, University of Paris in 1928. In the 1940s he was editor of the Voice of Eritrea, which demanded Eritrea’s unification with Ethiopia.
27. Sanford, Christine: The Lion of Judah Hath Prevailed, J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd., London, 1955, p.86.
28. Greenfield, Richard: Ethiopia, a New Political History, Frederick A. Praeger Publishers, New York, 1965, pp. 247-48.
29. Ibid, Sykes, p. 244.
30. Ibid, Sealed and Delivered, p. 103.
31. Ibid, The Lion of Judah, p. 33.
32. Ibid, p.26.
33. Lorenzo! You are no more with us. But history will remember you as a great patriot. You stand head and shoulders above us all. The outstanding services you rendered to the cause of Ethiopia’s liberation have already occupied a prominent place in the history of Ethiopia. Your tenacity, bravery and single mindedness of purpose, will, forever, inspire millions of Ethiopians. For more of the oration, see Sendick Alamatchin, Amharic Weekly, June 25, 1946.
By Obang Metho | Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia (SMNE)
December 13, 2012
December 13, 2012 marks the 9-year anniversary of the brutal massacre of 424 disarmed Anuak in Gambella, Ethiopia by the TPLF/EPRDF Defense Forces armed with guns and militia groups armed with machetes. Not just the families of the victims, but all Anuak, will forever remember that dark day that brought so many pains, tears and suffering.
Even after 9 years, some widows, some fathers, some mothers and children are still waiting to bury their loved ones properly. Some day their bodies, which were buried in mass graves, will be exhumed and buried with proper respect by their families and loved ones. Someday a memorial of remembrance may be erected in Gambella in their honor, to remind people that behind every name on that memorial, is a human life, given as a precious gift from God, our Creator.
Such memorials may be erected all over Ethiopia where innocent lives of Ethiopians have been taken. Someday, a large monument—a wall of shame—could be erected in Addis Ababa with the names of the Anuak and the names of all other people throughout Ethiopia who have lost their lives at the hands of this government that devalues human life.
On this Anuak Memorial Day, Anuak in Gambella cannot join with Anuak in the Diaspora in observing this day. It is prohibited by the TPLF or EPRDF government. Instead, they will have to look forward to the day they will be able to join together in a service such as the ones being held in USA, Canada, Europe, Australia, Kenya, South Sudan and in other cities where there are Anuak where they are free to remember the death of more than 1500 other Anuak who were killed in the next two years following the December massacre.
Because public mourning is not allowed, those who want to remember family members, friends and community members who died, must quietly carry out some kind of observances within their homes and hearts.
This TPLF regime wants to erase it from the memory of the Anuak, but this will never happen. Someday, all the details will be revealed for all to see on the shame-filled pages of our Ethiopian history books. Until then, Anuak are still waiting for those responsible to be brought to justice. As one Anuak who lost a family member recently said, “the TPLF and it killers have moved on, but we will never stop grieving or rest until the killers have been brought to justice and until our family members are buried properly.”
For the Anuak people and supporters of the Anuak, let us all remember this day together. Let us take this day of sorrow and make it a day of reconciliation and healing among all peace-loving Ethiopians. This pain we feel was brought because of hate, anger, envy and greed and we want to create a different Ethiopia.
May God bless all of those who are remembering this day of tragedy and may God help bring about an Ethiopia where truth, justice, freedom, reconciliation and harmony prevail over death and destruction.
Please take a few minutes and watch this heartbreaking video below: The testimonies of survivors and other witnesses of the December 13th Massacre. http://www.youtube.com/watch?
The Bible Says (Ecclesiastes 11:4), ”
- If You Wait for Perfect Conditions, You Will Never Get Anything Done – “
” – One Action is More Valuable Than a Thousand Good Intentions -
EDITOR’S NOTE: While Ethiopia’s regime cooks up fantastic numbers to show double digit growth, the realities on the ground are more sobering and depressing. The political elite is addicted to foreign handouts and human trafficking. In an economy where unemployment runs as high as 50% and foreign exchange is continuously in short supply, the regime has embarked on a major initiative to export young women for profit. Within Ethiopia itself, poverty, bad cultural practices and the presence of so many alms givers in a destitute country is exposing poor and vulnerable children to exploitation.
Stolen Childhoods: Child Prostitution And Trafficking In Ethiopia
By Graham Peebles
Prostitution, perhaps the most distressing form of child abuse, is an epidemic throughout Ethiopia. The innocence of a childhood shattered, causing a deep feeling of shame, poisoning the sense of self and excluding the child from education, friends and the broader society. A society, which stands idly by whilst children suffer, speaking not in the face of extreme exploitation, denying the truth of extensive child exploitation and acts not, is a society in collusion.
In the capital, prostitution abounds, “It is difficult to give an exact figure for the prevalence of child prostitution in Addis Ababa but observation reveals that the numbers are increasing at an alarming rate in the city”1 The joint Save the Children Denmark and Addis Ababa City administration (SCD) study states: “Interviewing children revealed that over 50% started engaging in prostitution below 16 years of age. The majority work more than six hours per day”
There are many grades or levels of prostitution, “Some children engage in commercial sex in nightclubs, bars and brothels, while others simply stand on street corners waiting for men to pick them up.” (CPAA)
The SCD study “identified types of child prostitution: working on the streets; working in small bars; working in local arki or alcohol houses; working in rented houses/beds and; working in rent places for khat/drugs use. Each location exposes the children to different risks and hazards.”
“The major problems that have been faced by children engaged in prostitution include: rape, beating, hunger, etc. Based on the responses of children engaged in prostitution, about 45% of them have been raped before they engaged in the activity”. (CPAA)
The dangers associated with child prostitution affect the girls physical and mental/emotional health. Violent physical abuse, being hit and raped is common, Birtuken a 17 year old child sex worker (CSW), “prostitution is disastrous to the physical and social wellbeing of a person.” (CPAA)
The impact on the long-term mental health of a child working in prostitution, can often cause chronic psychological problems, “the emotional health consequences of prostitution include severe trauma, stress, depression, anxiety, self-medication through alcohol and drug abuse; and eating disorders.2
The risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) and HIV/Aids is great, so too the chances of unwanted pregnancies, as men, immersed in selfishness and ignorance, refuse to wear condoms. Their arrogance and macho bravado is a major cause in the spread of HIV/Aids in Ethiopia USAID3 suggests, “1.3million people are now living with the virus in the country”. It is estimated that “70 per cent of female infertility is caused by sexually transmitted diseases that can be traced back to their husbands or partners.”4 “Women in prostitution have been blamed for this epidemic of STDs when, in reality, studies confirm that it is men who buy sex in the process of migration who carry the disease from one prostituted woman to another and ultimately back to their wives and girlfriends.” (EoP)
There are various causes for the growth in child prostitution in urban and rural areas as well as Addis Ababa, arranged marriages, illegal under Federal Law is cited as a key factor, “Research carried out in 2005 established that most victims of commercial sexual exploitation found in the streets of Addis Ababa had been married when they were below 15 years of age” (SAACSEC) In highlighting the factors that drive children away from their homes and into commercial sex work, the CPAA study found that “Most of the child prostitutes came from regions to look for a job, due to conflicts at home, early marriage and divorce.
Poverty, death of one or both parents, child trafficking, high repetition rates and drop out from school and lack of awareness about the consequence of being engaged in prostitution are key factors that push young girls to be involved in commercial sex work”. (CPAA)
In addition to arranged marriage, which is a significant cause, the study found that “the major reasons identified by the children themselves for engaging in commercial sex work are: poverty (34%), dispute in family (35%), and death of mother and/or father. 40% joined prostitution either to support themselves or their parents. Quite a large number of girls (35%) have joined prostitution due to violence within the home. Thus violence within the family is the main cause for children fleeing from home.”
The causes listed are complex and interrelated. At the epicenter of these diverse reasons though sits the family. Conflict at home is for many girls (and boys) the force driving them away from family and onto the streets of Addis Ababa, or one of the provincial towns and cities. Division and conflict grow from many seeds, repeated physical abuse at the hands of a parent or stepparent, rape at the hands of a Father, stepfather or extended family member, physical and verbal abuse, all are factors that force girls to leave the home and seek release from what has become a prison like existence of servitude, intimidation and fear. “When physical and psychological punishment becomes intolerable, it may lead to the child running away from home. Girls tend to become prostitutes when they run away from home.” (VACE2)
Another burgeoning group from which many children fall into the net of prostitution is that resulting from HIV-orphans who have lost their parents to the virus. “Ethiopia has one of the largest populations of orphans in the world: 13 per cent of Ethiopian children have lost one or both parents…the number of children orphaned solely by HIV/AIDS has reached over 1.2 million. These children find themselves at a very high risk of entering commercial sex to survive, yet there is very limited support available for them either from government [emphasis mine}.”(AACSE)
Coherent or dysfunctional, the social fabric is a tapestry of interrelated, interconnected strands. Neglect by the Ethiopian Government in areas diverse, and fundamental is the glue that is binding together a polluted stream of suffering and pain.
Bussed in Married off
In 2006/7, I worked with the Forum for Street Children Ethiopia (FSCE), running education projects for the children in their care. Girls living and working on the streets, mainly the hectic cobbled broken pathways around the Mercato Bus station. “This extremely poor neighborhood in the city has become ‘the epicentre of the capital’s illegal [emphasis mine] industry of child prostitution’5
The children at FSCE ranged in age, although many did not even know their date of birth; most the children do not have documentation “the problem is further aggravated by a widespread lack of birth registration” (CPAA). Some were as young as 11 years old, “over 50% started engaging in prostitution below 16 years of age” the study states. “In almost every case the girls come to the city from the countryside, their families cast many out, others sent to Addis to work”.
Arriving at the city’s main bus-station, shrouded in naivety and fear, with little or no education, the girls make easy pickings for the men that greet them, with a warm smile, and a cunning mind only to mistreat, use and exploit them. With nowhere else to go, and no alternatives, the girls find themselves working the street and the journey into the painful, destructive prison of prostitution has begun.
Many, according to Save the Children Denmark (STCD), come from the Amhara region, the second most populated region, with a population of over 20 million. These children arrive in the capital knowing nobody, with (probably) no money and no contacts.”Enforced child marriages, abuse, and the prospects of ending their days in the grip of poverty are factors pushing Ethiopian girls as young as nine years of age’” (VACE), to risk their childhood and their lives in the city.
According to (CPAA) “There are many factors pushing the girls away from the region, (Amhara) including poverty, peer pressure and abuse. But child marriage is one of the most common explanations we hear when interviewing the girls,” Arranged marriages are widespread in the (Amhara) region in the north of Ethiopia, where young girls, children are forced to marry adult men, all too often this ‘union’ results in rape, abuse and violence, from which the innocent child is forced to flee, only into the clutches of exploitation, violence and abuse. And do they recover, is there healing and release, is a childhood stolen, a childhood lost, let us pray it is not so.
Marriages entered into unwillingly by extremely young girls, some as young as seven years old usually in exchange for reparations of some kind, money, cattle, land, lead all too often to abuse and violence, “traditional practices like female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriage, are causes for the increased violence against children.” 14-year-old boy 6 “in Wolmera Woreda, the practice of FGM is nearly universal since girls must be circumcised before marriage.” (VACE2) Once committed to a marriage, by parents who often regard the child as no more than an object to be traded, the girl is frequently raped and mistreated and treated as a servant. “Abduction, rape and early marriage may ultimately lead many girls to prostitution. Early marriage and abduction seldom produce successful marriages. In fact, such relationships are short-lived. As a result, most of these young girls run far away from their husbands in an attempt to start a new and happier life elsewhere. Unfortunately, many of them end up as prostitutes.’ (VACE2)
“Early marriage is illegal (except under particular circumstances), weak law enforcement [Emphasis mine] allows this practice to be widely followed throughout Ethiopia; the phenomenon is reported in almost every region of the country.
Nationwide, 19 per cent of girls were married by the age of 15 and about half were married by the age of 19; in Amhara region, 50 per cent of girls were married by the age of 15. “When the marriage finally collapses, the girls usually migrate to urban areas since breaking a marriage arranged by their relatives is considered a shameful act and they are no longer welcome within their families and communities.
Once in larger towns they end up living in the streets given their lack of skills to find employment. Such dire circumstances lead many girls to be exploited in commercial sex.” (CPAA)
To break free of a forced marriage entered into against the child’s will, and be punished by banishment from the family home, is a form of social injustice based on traditions, which have long failed to serve the children, the family or the community at large. It is time long since past that these practice’s where changed. Education, cultivating tolerance and understanding of the Human Rights of the Child are keys to undoing such outdated destructive sociological patterns, together with the enforcement of the law to deter parents and prospective ‘husbands’.
No options, no hope
No child enters into prostitution when they have a choice, “prostitution is seen as a social ill that is unaccepted, prohibited and fought in most parts of our continent. Prostitution is not only a question of morality but a human problem, a problem of human exploitation, a problem of societal failure in providing equal opportunities.” (CPAA) “At the end (of the interview) Belaynesh said that no girl/woman would like to be a prostitute but the problems force them to be in such a situation.” The circumstances that lead a young girl away from the games and innocence of childhood and what should be, the love and gentle kindness of her family, into the shadows of prostitution, may vary and circumstances differ, suffering though is common to all those forced into such a lifestyle, the impact long lasting and severe, the consequences dire, destroying many lives.
The children at FSCE in Mercato told us their stories, often with shame, through tears and embarrassment, always with pain. A thread connected them all, yes poverty, was a major issue, so too poor education however, the stream that united the group of wonderful 11 to 18 year olds, was a breakdown in human relationships, of one kind or another.
Once outside the family, and society, young girls desperate to survive have little choice but to work as CSW. For those recruiting and selling girls It is a business, for the children on the streets it a torture. “Almost all respondents do not like prostitution (99%). Almost all the girls are involved in prostitution not because they like what they are doing but due to other factors, to support themselves or their families.” (CPAA) “Child prostitution [is] a big business involving a whole series of actors from abductors at bus stations, to blue taxis and bar/hotel owners who tend to see children as the spices of their trade. The business actors, oblivious to pervasive taboos, have long abandoned recruiting adult prostitutes.” (CPAA)
Child prostitution and trafficking of children are inextricably linked. They are of course both illegal. All international conventions, from The Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) to International Labor Organisation (IL0), as one would expect, outlaw them. So too do Ethiopia’s Federal laws, “The 1993 Labor Proclamation forbids employment of young persons under the age of 14 years.
Employment in hazardous work is also forbidden for those under 18. The Penal Code provides means for prosecuting persons sexually or physically abusing children and persons engaging in child trafficking including juveniles into prostitution. Federal Proclamation no.42/93 protects children less than 14 years not to engage in any kind of formal employment.” (CPAA) And yet both child prostitution and the trafficking of minors goes on, and on and on. “The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that girls are trafficked both within the country and abroad to countries in the Middle East and to South Africa.”7
Children are brought from rural areas of Ethiopia to the capital city by brokers, “ttraffickers, who feed on parent’s low awareness with false promises of work and education for their offspring.” The numbers are staggering, the money tiny, the damage unimaginable “up to 20,000 children, some 10 years old, are sold each year [for around $1.20 to $2.40] by their parents and trafficked by unscrupulous brokers to work in cities across Ethiopia.”8 And who would do such a thing. Who would ‘sell’ an innocent child; condemn a child to slavery and brutal exploitation, pain and acute distress? “These traffickers are ‘typically local brokers, relatives, family members or friends of the victims. Many returnees are also involved in trafficking by working in collaboration with tour operators and travel agencies.”9
“The Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism has not been signed by any travel and tourism company in Ethiopia.” (CPAA) The Ethiopian Government acting in the interest of the children upon their homeland, and their responsibilities under international law, should rightly and immediately make all tour operators sign the afore mentioned treaty, or face closure, and criminal prosecution.
“The International Organization for Migration (IOM) stated that Ethiopian children are being sold for as little as US$ 1.20 to work as domestic servants or to be exploited in prostitution.” The Middle East is the major international destination of choice for traffickers, “Many Ethiopian women working in domestic service in the Middle East face severe abuses indicative of forced labor, including physical and sexual assault, denial of salary, sleep deprivation, and confinement. Many are driven to despair and mental illness, with some committing suicide. Ethiopian women are also exploited in the sex trade after migrating for labour purposes – particularly in brothels, mining camps, and near oil fields in Sudan – or after escaping abusive employers in the Middle East.”10 “At least 10,000 have been sent to the Gulf States to work as prostitutes.”(CTE)
Let us not even begin to look at the complicity of such states in the destruction of the lives of these children and women, the ‘little ones’ that dance upon the waters of life, seeking only a gentle heart to trust, finding the dark days of Rome, and in despair we cry “Men’s wretchedness in soothe I so deplore,”11
Meles Zenawi loves to ‘talk the talk’ to his western allies, the US, Britain, the European Union and the like, whilst turning a blind eye, a deaf ear to the cries of the child being beaten, the young girl being raped and traded for sex and the teenager separated from her family, her friends and her childhood, sold into servitude and abuse within Ethiopia and across the Red Sea in the oil rich ‘Gulf States’.
(This article is part of a series).
1. Addis Ababa City Admin Social & NGO Affairs Office (SNGOA), Save the Children Denmark (SCD) and ANNPPCAN-Ethiopian. Child Labor in Ethiopia with special focus on Child Prostitution Study. ‘Child Prostitution in Addis Ababa 2006 (CPAA)
2. Health Effects of Prostitution (EOP), Janice G. Raymond
4. Jodi L. Jacobson, The Other Epidemic
5. Sofie Loumann Nielsen. The Reporter 10 September 2010
6. Violence against children in Ethiopia (VACE). Africa Child Policy Forum
8. ILO. http://www.childtrafficking.org/cgi-bin/ct/main.sql?file=view_document.sql&TITLE=-1&AUTHOR=-1&THESAURO=-1&ORGANIZATION=-1&TOPIC=-1&GEOG=-1&YEAR=-1&LISTA=No&COUNTRY=-1&FULL_DETAIL=Yes&ID=2067. (CTE)
9. Ecpat Global Monitoring report status of action against commercial sexual exploitation of children, Ethiopia. (AACSE)
11. Faust Part One, Mephistopheles.
(About the author: Graham Peebles is Director of The Create Trust, a UK registered charity, supporting fundamental social change and the human rights of individuals in acute need. He may be reached at email@example.com)
Matriarch of the Unholy Trinity
Susan Rice, the current U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., has been waltzing (or should I say do-se-do-ing) with Africa’s slyest, slickest and meanest dictators for nearly two decades. More cynical commentators have said she has been in bed with them, as it were. No doubt, international politics does make for strange bedfellows.
Rice’s favorite dictators in Africa are the “Unholy Trinity” — Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and the late Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia — all former rebel leaders who seized power through the barrel of the gun and were later baptized to become the “new breed of African leaders” (a phrase of endearment coined by Bill Clinton to celebrate the “Three African Amigos” and memorialize their professed commitment to democracy and economic development). She has been best friend for life and the acknowledged Guardian Angel, champion, apologist, promoter, advocate, grand dame and matriarch of the trio. She has shielded the “Fearsome, Threesome” from legal and political accountability, deflected from them much deserved criticism and thwarted national and international scrutiny and sanctions against the.
Rice, Rwanda and the Genocide That Was Not
In April 1994, when the Clinton Administration pretended to be ignorant of the unspeakable terror and massacres in Rwanda, Susan Rice — who by her own description “was a young Director on the National Security Council staff at the White House, accompanying the then-National Security Advisor, Anthony Lake” — and currently the putative heir apparent to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, was unconcerned about taking immediate action to stop the killings. Rather, she was fretting about the political consequences of calling the Rwandan tragedy a “genocide”. In a monument to utter moral depravity and conscience-bending callous indifference, Rice casually inquired of her colleagues, “If we use the word ‘genocide’ and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November [congressional] election?” Rice later shed crocodile tears for having made her senseless statement while simultaneously claiming she does not quite remember making it, but regretted “if I said it.” Lt. Colonel Tony Marley, the U.S. military liaison to the Arusha peace process (the Arusha Peace Accords which resulted in the 1993 agreement for power sharing between Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda) was so baffled by Rice’s statement, he observed, “We could believe that people would wonder that, but not that they would actually voice it.”
In less than 100 days, 800 thousand Rwandans by U.N. estimate had been killed in the genocidal madness. For weeks, Rice, her boss Lake and other top U.S. officials labored and agonized not to call the monstrous Rwandan genocide, a genocide. They continued to play their sinister semantic bureaucratic games to make sure there were no official references to “genocide”, “ethnic cleansing”, “extermination” and the like in connection with the Rwandan tragedy. But far from regretting her role in underrating the Rwandan genocide and the massive and gross violations of human rights, over the past decade and half Rice has turned a blind eye, deaf ears and muted lips to extrajudicial killings, suppression of the press, decimation of opposition parties and imprisonment of large numbers of dissidents in Africa and aided and abetted Africa’s dictatorial trio. She has coddled, pampered, nurtured, protected and sang praises for these ruthless dictators.
U.S. policy in the 1994 Rwandan genocide will remain a testament to shame, diplomatic duplicity, bureaucratic sophistry and plain old fashioned callous deceitfulness. On April 6, 1994, the plane transporting Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, Burindian President Cyprien Ntaryamira and other officials was shot down as it returned from Tanzania. The prime suspects in the assassination are believed to be elements of the Rwandan Armed Forces (RAF) who had rejected a power sharing agreement Habyarimana had reached with the rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) a year earlier. Immediately following Habyarimana’s assassination, RAF members aided by extremist militia elements known as the Interahamwe (which in Kinyarwanda means “those who stand/work/fight/attack together”) went on a rampage indiscriminately killing government officials, ordinary Tutsis and other moderate Hutus.
Rice and other top U.S. officials knew or should have known a genocide was underway or in the making once RAF and interahamwe militia began killing people in the streets and neighborhoods on April 6. They were receiving reports from the U.N. mission in Rwanda; and their own intelligence pointed to unspeakable massacres taking place in Kigali and elsewhere in the country. In a Memorandum dated April 6, 1994, the day of the Habyiarimana assassination, Deputy Assistant Secretary Prudence Bushnell, the State Department’s number two official for Africa matters, predicted:
If, as it appears, both Presidents have been killed, there is a strong likelihood that widespread violence could breakout in either or both countries, particularly if it is confirmed that the plane was shot down. Our strategy is to appeal for calm in both countries, both through public statements and in other ways…
On April 11, 1994, in a Talking Points Memorandum prepared for the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East Africa concluded:
Unless both sides can be convinced to return to the peace process, a massive (hundreds of thousands of deaths) bloodbath will ensue that would likely spill over into Burundi. In addition, millions of refugees will flee into neighboring Uganda, Tanzania and Zaire…Since neither the French nor the Belgians have the trust of both sides…, there will be a role to play for the U.S. as the “honest broker.”
But Rice and company intentionally chose to minimize the extreme nature of the violence and kept on issuing empty declarations, pleas for a cease fire and calls to the parties to come to the negotiating table.
Two weeks into the genocide on April 22, presidential National Security Advisor Anthony Lake, Rice’s boss, issued a statement “expressing deep concern over the violence that continues to rage in Rwanda following the tragic deaths of Rwandan President Habyarimana and Burindian President Ntaryamira two weeks ago.” Lake called on “all responsible officials and military officers” to bring the “offending troops under control” and implement a “cease fire and return to negotiations.” By late April, the U.S. was still playing a “see no genocide, hear no genocide and speak no genocide” public relations game. On April 28, Bushnell “telephoned Rwandan Ministry of Defense Cabinet Director Col. Bagasora to urge an end to the killings.” Bushnell told Bagasora that in the “eyes of the world, the Rwanda military engaged in criminal acts, aiding and abetting civilians massacres” and demanded that the Rwandan “Government make every effort to implement the peace accords.” Three weeks into the genocide, Bushnell was still talking about “massacres” as others “expressed deep concern over the violence.
On May 1, the central issue facing the Defense Department intra-agency group established to generate proposals on what to do in Rwanda was how to characterize the mindboggling genocidal carnage (excuse me, “massacre”). According to the “Discussion Paper” of this group, participants were warned not to use the “G” word because using that label could result in U.S. taking preventing action, exactly the same kind of concern explicitly raised by Rice:
1. Genocide Investigation: Language that calls for an international investigation of human rights abuses and possible violations of the genocide convention. Be careful. Legal at State was worried about this yesterday– Genocide finding could commit USG to actually “do something”.
By May 5, the U.S. had considered jamming Rwandan radio stations such as Radio Mille Collines which was coordinating attacks and broadcasting highly inflammatory ethnic propaganda against Tutsis, moderate Hutus, Belgians, and the United Nations mission in Rwanda resulting in thousands of deaths. That idea was discarded as “ineffective” and “expensive costing approximately $8,500 per flight hour”.
A little over one month into the genocide, a Defense Intelligence Report dated May 9, 1994, concluded:
… In addition to the random massacre of Tutsis by Hutu militias and individuals, there is an organized, parallel effort of genocide being implemented by the army to destroy the leadership of the Tutsi community. The original intent was to kill only the political elite supporting reconciliation; however, the government lost control of the militias, and the massacre spread like wildfire. It continues to rage out of control.
By May 21, six weeks into the genocide, incredibly, U.S. officials were still debating whether they should call the carnage a “genocide” despite the open and notorious fact that tens of thousands of Rwandans were being slaughtered. In a May 21 “Action Memorandum” sent to Secretary of State Warren Christopher the question presented was “Has Genocide Occurred in Rwanda?” under the heading “Issue for Decision”, the Memorandum formulated the policy question as follows:
Whether (1) to authorize Department officials to state publicly that “acts of genocide have occurred” in Rwanda and (2) to authorize U.S. delegations to international meetings to agree to resolutions and other instruments that refer to “acts of genocide” in Rwanda, state that “genocide had occurred.
Of course, there was no question genocide was taking place in Rwanda. The Legal Analysis drafted on May 16, five days preceding the “Action Memorandum”, left no doubt about the occurrence of genocide. After citing the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, to which the U.S. is a party, the Legal Analysis concluded:
The Existence of Genocide in Rwanda
There can be little question that the specific listed acts have taken place in Rwanda. There have been numerous acts of killing and causing serious bodily or mental harm to persons. As INR [Bureau of Intelligence and Research] notes, international humanitarian organizations estimate the killings since April 6 have claimed from 200,000 to 500,000 lives. (INR also notes that this upper figure maybe exaggerated, but that is not critical to the analysis.).
[The UN estimated the number killed in Rwanda in less than 100 beginning on April 6, 1994 as 800,000; the Rwandan Government estimated 1,071,000 were killed in the genocide.]
Despite public protestations of ignorance of the Rwandan genocide, rivers of crocodile tears of not having done something to prevent it and moral expiations about Clinton’s “worst mistake of my presidency”, Rice, Lake, Christopher and others high in the Clinton Administration knew beyond a shadow of doubt that genocide was in the planning or underway from the day Habarymana was assassinated.
Rice, Kagame, Museveni, M23 and “Looking the Other Way”
In 1996, two years after the end of the genocide, on the pretext of pursuing Hutu insurgents and militia who were responsible for the Rwandan genocide and to prevent their incursions into Rwanda from bases in the Congo (at the time Zaire), Kagame began arming ethnic Tutsis in the eastern part of that country. He also sent Rwandan troops to support them. The so-called Congo Wars were underway and continue to rage to the present day resulting in millions of lost lives.
The First Congo War lasted from November 1996 to May 1997. Congolese rebel leader Laurent-Désiré Kabila overthrew long ruling dictator Mobutu Sésé Seko. The Rwandan-created destabilization in eastern Congo was the decisive factor in the fall of Mobutu’s regime. Kabila seized power in May 1997 and was assassinated by one of his bodyguards in January 2001. In March 2012, former Kagame right hand man and secretary general of the RPF, Theogene Rudasingwa made the shocking revelation that “it’s Paul Kagame who assassinated the Congolese President, Laurent Desire Kabila; Kagame is the murderer of the Congolese President Kabila.” The Second Congo War began shortly after Kabila took power and continued until 2003. Eight African countries and dozens of armed groups were involved in the conflict.
In March 2009, the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) signed a peace accord with National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) (an armed militia established by Laurent Nkunda in the eastern Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in December 2006) making the CNDP a political party. In April 2012, several hundred ethnic Tutsi members of the CNDP turned against the DRC government over alleged lack of implementation of the March 2009 Accords and formed the M23 Movement [a/k/a Mouvement du 23-Mars] under the leadership of the notorious war criminal General Bosco Ntaganda, (a/k/a “The Terminator”). Ntaganda was initially indicted by the International Criminal Court on August 22, 2006 for recruiting child soldiers and committing atrocities. He was indicted by the ICC for the second time on July 13, 2012 on three counts of crimes against humanity and four counts of war crimes including murder, rape, attacks on civilians and slavery. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, Ntaganda’s boss and co-defendant, was the first person ever convicted by the International Criminal Court in July 2012. Last month, Ntaganda’s M23 rebels took control of Goma, a provincial capital with a population of one million people causing some 140,000 people to flee their homes. They were “persuaded” to leave mineral-rich Goma in early December under international pressure although they presumably rejected similar calls by Kagame and Museveni.
Kagame and Museveni of Uganda have been the prime supporters of M23. Various U.N. and other international human rights organization have documented Rwanda’s and Uganda’s ongoing support for M23. According to a recent U.N. Report of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (October 2012),
Rwanda officials coordinated the creation of the [M23] rebel movement as well as its major military operations… Senior Government of Uganda officials (GoU) have also provided support to M23 in the form of direct troop reinforcements in DRC territory, weapons deliveries, technical assistance, joint planning, political advice and facilitation of external relations. Units of the Ugandan People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) and the Rwandan Defesse Forces (RDF) jointly supported M23 in a series of attacks in July 2012 to take over the major towns of Rutshuru territory, and the forces armees de la RDC (FARDC) base of Rumangabo. Both governments have also cooperated to support the creation and expansion of M23’s political branch and have consistently advocated on behalf of the rebels. The M23 and its allies includes six sanctioned individuals, some of whom reside in or regularly travel to Uganda and Rwanda.
This past August, Museveni secretly met with Ntaganda and M23 rebels. Prof. Howard French of Columbia University, in his NY Times article “Kagame’s Secret War in the Congo” described the conflict in the Great Lakes Region (the seven great lakes in the Rift Valley region) since 1996 in which six million people have died in the from armed conflict, starvation and disease as an epochal event of the Twentieth Century. He argued:
Few realize that a main force driving this conflict has been the largely Tutsi army of neighboring Rwanda, along with several Congolese groups supported by Rwanda…. Until now, the US and other Western powers have generally supported Kagame diplomatically. Observers note that Rwandan-backed forces have themselves been responsible for much of the violence in eastern Congo over the years… The Rwandan Patriotic Front was directly operating mining businesses in Congo, according to UN investigators; more recently, Rwanda has attempted to maintain control of regions of eastern Congo through various proxy armies.
Rice has been shielding Kagame and Museveni from scrutiny and sanctions in their role in the DRC. She has made every effort to suppress U.N. investigative reports showing Kagame’s role in supplying and financing M23. According to the National Journal, Rice “has even wrangled with Johnnie Carson, the assistant secretary of State for the Bureau of African Affairs, and others in the department, who all have been more critical of the Rwandans.” The Journal reported that Rice was dismissive of the French ambassador to the U.N. who advised her of the need for the U.N. to do more to intervene in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She reportedly told the French Ambassador, “It’s the eastern DRC. If it’s not M23, it’s going to be some other group.” The Journal quoting Prof. Gerard Prunier of the University of Paris reported:
When Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Susan Rice came back from her first trip to the Great Lakes region [of East Africa], a member of her staff said, “Museveni [of Uganda] and Kagame agree that the basic problem in the Great Lakes is the danger of a resurgence of genocide and they know how to deal with that. The only thing we [i.e., the US] have to do is look the other way.”
Such is the true nature of Rice’s crocodile contrition for the Rwanda genocide. Simply stated, Rice’s attitude towards Africa’s Unholy Trinity can be summed up as “see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil” of genocidal dictators.
Susan Rice and the Adoration of Meles Zenawi
“Palpable sorrow felt here in Addis Ababa. We extend our condolences & best wishes to the Ethiopian people.” “Meles leaves an indelible legacy for the people of #Ethiopia, from opposition to extremism to support for the poor.” “I am honored to represent the United States at the funeral of late PM Meles Zenawi of #Ethiopia.”
Rice may have believed she “represented the United States” in her appearance, but her funeral oration for Meles Zenawi was personal and bordered on beatification. She described Meles as “an uncommon leader, a rare visionary, and a true friend to me and many.” She said he “was disarmingly regular, unpretentious, and direct. He was selfless, tireless and totally dedicated to his work and family.” Rice reminisced about her close familial ties and deep friendship with Meles:
Whenever we met, no matter how beset he was, he would always begin by asking me about my children. His inquiries were never superficial. He wanted detailed reports on their development. Then satisfied, he would eagerly update me on his own children. Meles was a proud father and a devoted husband. As he laughed about his children’s exploits and bragged about their achievements, a face sometimes creased by worry, would glow with simple joy. In his children and all children, Meles saw the promise of renewal and the power of hope.
She said Meles “retained that twinkle in his eye, his ready smile, his roiling laugh and his wicked sense of humor.” In an incredibly insensitive and callous manner, she related how Meles “was tough, unsentimental and sometimes unyielding.” She announced that Meles “of course had little patience for fools, or idiots, as he liked to call them.” (These “fools” and “idiots” are, of course, Ethiopian opposition leaders, dissidents, independent journalists, human rights advocates and regime critics.)
But Rice’s adoration of Meles would put the Three Magi who followed the star to Bethlehem to shame:
For, among Prime Minister Meles’ many admirable qualities, above all was his world-class mind. A life-long student, he taught himself and many others so much. But he wasn’t just brilliant. He wasn’t just a relentless negotiator and a formidable debater. He wasn’t just a thirsty consumer of knowledge. He was uncommonly wise – able to see the big picture and the long game, even when others would allow immediate pressures to overwhelm sound judgment. Those rare traits were the foundation of his greatest contributions.
Still, there was no shortage of occasions when, as governments and friends, we simply, sometimes profoundly, disagreed. But even as we argued – whether about economics, democracy, human rights, regional security or our respective foreign policies – I was always struck by two things: Meles was consistently reasoned in his judgments and thoughtful in his decisions; and, he was driven not by ideology but by his vision of a better future for this land he loved. I will deeply miss the challenge and the insights I gained from our discussions and debates.
In her “Adoration”, Rice was completely blinded to Meles’ atrocious human rights record. She was willfully ignorant of the findings of her own State Department U.S. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices in Ethiopia issued in May 2012, which stated:
The most significant human rights problems [in Ethiopia] included the government’s arrest of more than 100 opposition political figures, activists, journalists, and bloggers… The government restricted freedom of the press, and fear of harassment and arrest led journalists to practice self-censorship. The Charities and Societies Proclamation (CSO law) continued to impose severe restrictions on civil society and nongovernmental organization (NGO) activities… Other human rights problems included torture, beating, abuse, and mistreatment of detainees by security forces; harsh and at times life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; detention without charge and lengthy pretrial detention; infringement on citizens’ privacy rights, including illegal searches; allegations of abuses in connection with the continued low-level conflict in parts of the Somali region; restrictions on freedom of assembly, association, and movement; police, administrative, and judicial corruption; violence and societal discrimination against women and abuse of children; female genital mutilation (FGM); exploitation of children for economic and sexual purposes; trafficking in persons; societal discrimination against persons with disabilities; clashes between ethnic minorities; discrimination against persons based on their sexual orientation and against persons with HIV/AIDS; limits on worker rights; forced labor; and child labor, including forced child labor.
On October 27, 2012, Rice attended a “Memorial Service for Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi” at Abyssinian Baptist Church and gave a second eulogy:
I come again both as a representative of the U.S. government and as a friend of a man I truly miss… The Meles I knew was profoundly human and down to earth. He probably often figured he was the smartest person in the room, and most of the time Meles was right – at least about that. His legacy is one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies. He laid the foundations for Ethiopia’s sustainable development. He gave new momentum to Africa’s struggle to address climate change. He spurred his nation to double its food production and redouble its commitment to forestall another famine that could snuff out so many innocent lives. He played mid-wife to the birth of South Sudan and worked energetically to help South Sudan and Sudan resolve their differences peacefully. Last month’s accords, though fragile, are a monument to his unyielding efforts. Meles helped build the African Union. He sent peacekeepers to the world’s hottest spots and countered terrorists such as al-Shabab who target the innocent….
May the spirit of Meles Zenawi spur us all to work ever harder, together, for a better Ethiopia, a better Africa, and a better world.
Rice completely ignored the fact that 200 unarmed protesters were massacred in the streets and nearly 800 seriously wounded by police and security forces under the personal command and control of Meles following the 2005 elections. She turned a blind eye to crimes against humanity committed in Gambella in 2004 and war crimes committed in the Ogaden in 2008 . She had forgotten the stolen election of 2010 and fact that Meles’ party won 99.6 percent of the seats in parliament. She was completely oblivious of the thousands of political prisoners, including opposition leaders, dissidents and journalists, rotting in Ethiopian prisons as she was waxing eloquent in her emotional eulogy. She could see Meles’ “brilliance” but not his arrogance. She could see his “world-class mind” but not his black heart. She said he was “uncommonly wise”, but could not see his common folly. She “profoundly disagreed with him on democracy and human rights”, but she would ignore all his crimes against humanity because he was “a true friend” of hers.
The words of contrition Rice gave when she visited Kigali on November 23, 2011 could have been incorporated in her eulogy in Addis Ababa on September 2:
Today, I am here as an American ambassador. But I also will speak for myself, from my heart. I visited Rwanda for the very first time in December 1994, six months after the genocide ended. I was a young Director on the National Security Council staff at the White House, accompanying the then-National Security Advisor, Anthony Lake. I was responsible then for issues relating to the United Nations and peacekeeping. And needless to say, we saw first-hand the spectacular consequences of the poor decisions taken by those countries, including my own and yours, that were then serving on the United Nations Security Council.
I will never forget the horror of walking through a church and an adjacent schoolyard where one of the massacres had occurred. Six months later, the decomposing bodies of those who had been so cruelly murdered still lay strewn around what should have been a place of peace. For me, the memory of stepping around and over those corpses will remain the most searing reminder imaginable of what humans can do to one another. Those images stay with me in the work I do today, ensuring that I can never forget how important it is for all of us to prevent genocide from recurring.
How important is it for all of us, particularly Susan Rice, to prevent extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests and detention, detention without charge and lengthy pretrial detention, infringement on citizens’ privacy rights, illegal searches, restrictions on freedom of assembly, association, and movement… on the African continent?
Susan Rice and the Ghosts of Ethiopia
On September 2 and October 27, 2012, Rice had no idea, no recollection, no remembrance of the hundreds of unarmed protesting Ethiopians who were massacred in the streets, the thousands of political prisoners and hundreds of dissidents and journalists languishing in jail in Ethiopia today. In 1994, Rice was willfully blind to the genocide in Rwanda. In 2012, she was willfully blind to the long train of human rights abuses and atrocities in Ethiopia. America does not need a friend and a buddy to African dictators as its Secretary of State. America does not need a Secretary of State with a heart of stone and tears of a crocodile. America does not need a “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” Secretary of State. America needs a Secretary of State who can tell the difference between human rights and government wrongs!
Is it not true that one can judge a (wo)man by his/her friends?
Professor Alemayehu G. Mariam teaches political science at California State University, San Bernardino and is a practicing defense lawyer.
Previous commentaries by the author are available at:
Amharic translations of recent commentaries by the author may be found at:
የኢትዮጵያ ህዝቦች አብዮታዊ ዴሞክራሲ ግንባር /ኢህአዴግ/ ሥራ አስፈጻሚ ኮሚቴ መደበኛ ስብሰባ የተለያዩ ውሣኔዎችን አሣልፎ ማክሰኞ፤ ነሐሴ 29 ቀን 2004 ዓ.ም ማምሻውን ተጠናቅቋል። ስብሰባው በተለይ ከጠቅላይ ሚኒስትር መለስ ዜናዊ ሕልፈት በኋላ ባሁኑ ወቅት «ሀገሪቱን እየመራ ያለው ማነው?» ለሚለው እጅግ አንገብጋቢ ጥያቄ በቂ ምላሽ ይሰጣል ተብሎ ተጠብቆ ነበር።
ትላንት ማታ ባሣለፋቸው ውሣኔዎች ላይ ግን ይህን አስመልክቶ በግልፅ እና በማያሻማ ቋንቋ የተገለፀ ነገር የለም።
የተባለው፥ “… የግንባሩን ሊቀ መንበርና ምክትል ሊቀ መንበር የመሰየም ጉዳይ የግንባሩ ምክር ቤት ሥልጣን በመሆኑ በመስከረም 2005 የመጀመሪያ ሣምንት በሚካሄደው የምክር ቤቱ ስብሰባ እንዲፈፀም የሥራ አስፈፃሚ ኮሚቴው ወስኗል …” ነው።
«ዲሞክራሲ በተግባር ፕሮግራም» ይህንኑ መነሻ ያደረገ ዝግጅት አለው። ሰሎሞን ክፍሌ የሕገ መንግሥት ባለሙያ ጋብዞ አወያይቷል።
የኢትዮጵያ ጠቅላይ ሚኒስትር መለስ ዜናዊ የጤንነት ይዞታና ያሉበት ሁኔታ አነጋጋሪ የሆነዉ በኢትዮጵያዉያን ዘንድ ብቻ አይደለም። ጉዳዩ በሀገር ዉስጥና በዉጭ በሚገኙ በርካታ የዲፕሎማሲዉ ማኅብረሰብ አባትም ጭምር መነጋገሪያ ስለመሆኑ ከየአቅጣጫዉ እየተገለፀ ነዉ።
በዓለም ዓቀፍ ደረጃ የታወቁ መፅሔቶችና ጋዜጦችም ለጉዳዩ ትኩረት ሰጥተዉ አቶ መለስ ዜናዊ የትናቸዉ በማለት እየጠየቁ፤ ስለጤንነታቸዉም ሆነ ስላሉበት ሁኔታ በመንግስት በኩል እስካሁን የተሰጠዉ መግለጫም የሚያረካ ሳይሆን ጥርጣሬዎችን የሚያጭር መሆኑን በመግለፅ ፅፈዉ አስነብበዋል። አንዳንዶቹ ዘገባዎች ሁኔታዉ በየዓመቱ በቢሊዮኖች የሚቆጠሩ ዶላሮችን ለመንግስታቸዉ የሚለግሱ ወገኖችንም ማሳሰቡን ነዉ ያመለከቱት።
|የለንደን ኦሎምፒክ ፓርክ|
በሴቶች ማራቶን ደግሞ በአፍሪካ የመጀመሪያውን የኦሎምፒክ ወርቅ ፋጡማ ሮባ በአትላንታ ኦሎምፒክ ካመጣች በኋላ በአራተኛው ኦሎምፒክ ዘንድሮ ቲኪ ገላና ወደቤቱ መልሳዋለች፡፡ በታሪካችን ለመጀመሪያ ጊዜ በመሰናክል ዝላይ (3000 ሜትር) በሶፊያ አሰፋ ሜዳሊያ ሰንጠረዥ ውስጥ ለመግባት በቅተናል፡፡ በዘንድሮው ኦሎምፒክ ሴቶች ወንዶችን በውጤት እያስከነዱ ነው፤ መጨረሻውስ?
የተለያዩ ምንጮች የጤና ይዞታቸውን አስመልክተው የሚያቀርቧቸው መረጃዎች መለያየትና ይፋ ተጨባጭ መረጃ ያለመኖር የአቶ መለስን ወደ አገር መሪነት መንበር መመለስም ሆነ የአገሪቱን አመራርና ቀጣይ ሁኔታ ይበልጥ አነጋጋሪ አድርጎታል።
ይሄንኑ ወቅታዊ ሁኔታ አስመልክቶ ተንታኝ ጋብዘናል። ፕሮፌሰር ዓለማየሁ ገ/ማርያም በካሊፎርኒያ ዩኒቨርሲቲ ክፍለ ግዛት የካሊፎርኒያ ዩኒቨርሲቲ የፖለቲካ ሳይንስ መምህርና የኅግ ባለ ሞያ ናቸው።
ፕሮግራሙን ለማዳመጥ እዚህ ይጫኑ፡
By Yilma Bekele Dictator Meles Zenawi has not been seen for over three weeks or so. We know he is not in good health after we saw his picture with the Chinese Prime Minister in Mexico. Some are claiming we did Photoshop on his picture to make him look sicker than what he was. As [...]
By Yilma Bekele No one likes a whiner. Why complain insistently when it is of no use. We used to be good at that. Whining was our domain. Did I just say ‘was’? Yes I did. It seems that we are coming out of our shell. The Arab Spring has arrived. The Diaspora is infected [...]
By Yilma Bekele I am not making this up You can follow the link below and watch the four part video of the leader for life meeting with Ethiopian business leaders. It is a very interesting video. The video is edited and posted on You Tube by Ethiopian TV. I am very grateful. They should [...]
By Yilma Bekele
The people’s uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East have been the talk of Ethiopians both at home and the Diaspora for the last month and half. We are surprised by the sudden fall of the tyrants of Tunisia and Egypt. We are watching with keen interest the volatile situation in Libya and Yemen.
You know the one thing in common these far away places have is the large number of displaced Africans caught in this wave. Most of our people are refugees from bad economy, civil war, lack of opportunity, tyranny and other curable ills. There are plenty of Ethiopians that are currently exposed to danger while searching for a meaningful life. It was sad to hear Meles Zenawi pretending about using air and sea to pluck our people from Libya. When you consider most of these people paid large sums of money to reach Libya escaping sadness and misery in their homeland it is inconceivable that they will return to hell willingly.
Even though the world media was transfixed by the upheaval in the lands of the Arabs, the Government controlled media was going to great length to pretend nothing out of the ordinary was going on in the neighborhood. The Ethiopian peoples information regarding the tsunami in their vicinity came from a few brave Independent News Papers at home, ESAT (Ethiopian Satellite TV (http://www.ethsat.com/), Diaspora Web sites, VOA, Deutche Welle, and Al Jazeera. The regime was also investing large amounts of money and labor to jam and interfere with ESAT and Diaspora based independent Web sites.
Denial of independent news is the hallmark of a dictatorial regime. Creating confusion, misinforming and revising the news is also a prefered and a known modus operandi of a closed system. It is with this in mind the Ethiopian Prime Minster called his government certified reporters for press conference after a month long hiatus from public view to tell us his version of the story. He wanted to bully, threaten, scold and warn eighty million people against an attempt to remove him, his family and friends from power. As you know his lieutenant Berket offered some bogus explanation a la Seif Gaddafi to show why an uprising is not possible in a 12% growing economy. Needless to say he was laughed out of town.
Ato Meles decided to approach the situation from a different angle. It looks like Ato Melese’s strategy is to stick to the good old method of belligerency as the best way out of this mess he finds himself in. We the rest of ordinary Ethiopians have been looking at the unfolding situation and learning a valuable lesson in overcoming our fear and devising low cost methods of removing this TPLF tumor from our home land. It looks like Ato Meles sitting in his guarded bunker has been pouring over documents to draw a lesson on how to avert being Mubaraked by the people.
The so-called press conference was to unfurl his ‘doctrine’ regarding the hard lessons of the last few weeks. The usual suspects from Walta, Aiga Forum, The Reporter, Ben’s page etc. were summoned and given the prepared question to ask. It is always perplexing to see six microphones on the podium when one should be more than enough considering they all go to the same news editor.
Ato Meles was exhibiting a brand new haircut, a five thousand dollar Savile Row suit and a better makeup than the last time we saw him. You can tell that he has been under tremendous stress by looking at the bags under his eyes and the violent way he was pounding the table to make his point. When it came to answering the question regarding the ‘uprising’ the pounding got louder, the head scratching and fidgeting got intense and the internal fury was producing lots of heat like the crippled Japanese Nuclear plants and needed venting to avert explosion.
I want to concentrate on his response regarding the chances of an uprising in Ethiopia, but I would like to comment on a few of the points raised by the TPLF leader before he got to his main talking point.
Ato Meles seems to have a very strange understanding of the office he occupies. He said that ‘his contract with the Ethiopian people is for an eight hour a day labor’ and he does not feel it is important for him to be ‘a role model’ for anybody. That is a disturbing statement coming from a person entrusted for the welfare of eighty million souls. One would think being a leader of such a poor country with over eight million citizens suffering the scourge of hunger, double-digit inflation, high rate of unemployment etc. is more than a 24/7 responsibility. As for the issue of being a ‘role model’ who better than the head of the government and guardian of what is good and noble in all of us for the people to follow.
When asked about inflation the price of fuel and general failure of the economy, again I find his response very illiterate and far from the truth. His take on basic economics 101 is a little confusing to say the least. He said ‘ why would the price of potatoes go up due to the increase in gasoline?’ Let us see. Potatoes are generally grown in the countryside and require trucks to transport them to the market. In some instances fertilizers are applied for good harvest, tractors are used to dig out the bounty and the warehouse they are stored require electricity. What is common here is the importance of oil in this chain of economic activity. Why wouldn’t the hike in the price of fuel affect potatoes my dear Meles?
So much for economics, now to the important issue at hand, the current trend of peaceful peoples uprising to bring democracy and the rule of law. This press conference was to deal with the problem before it rears its ugly head in Ethiopia. It was Ato Melese’s response to the Ethiopian people on how he was going to handle the situation. It was his way of putting lipstick on a pig in a futile attempt to stop the impending implosion. It was a nice try. Unfortunately like everything else he tries it was an abject failure.
What Ato Meles learned from the uprisings became clear from his response to his own questions as read by his staff. From Tunisia he learnt quick exit is not the answer since Ben Ali’s exile did not save his family’s fortune from being under consideration for confiscation or stop the demand by the people to haul his criminal ass back to Tunisia for trial, Mubarak’s futile attempt to hang on only postponed the inevitable for a few days and resulted in his being a virtual prisoner in his home land, Saleh’s attempt both to offer concessions and kill at the same time has only resulted in his hanging on to power by his fingernails while Gaddafi and sons are in a do or die situation with no light at the end of the tunnel.
Ato Meles decided to attack before the idea of uprising took roots. The pres conference was to bully his people and at the same time show his followers that he is still in charge; he is not afraid and give them a nudge to intensify the offense. In a nutshell the main speaking points could be summarized as follows. ‘There is no chance of uprising here because we carried an election about ten months ago and EPDRF won overwhelmingly, we have in place a constitutional method of changing leaders unlike Egypt and Tunisia and all our problems can be traced to Shabia and Al Qaeda Islamists blah blah.’
What is revealing is the charge he leveled against his ‘enemies’ regarding the crimes they are supposedly hatching against his regime. According to him Shabia in cooperation with rogue Ethiopians and some of the legal opposition is planning to turn ‘Addis into Baghdad.’ That is his story and he is sticking to it. If you notice this madness has similarity to the charges leveled against Kinijit leaders and Civic organization heads in the aftermath of the 2005 elections where they were accused of planning a ‘genocide.’ You see even before the civil disobedience starts Ato Meles is accusing all those that oppose him of planning violence to justify his gangster type response. Not a bad tactic if you ask me. Hijacking the cry of the victim is nothing new. What is sad is the idea of a ‘government’ spending so much time and energy to sabotage and suppress the dreams and aspirations of its own population for the benefit of a few individual’s thirst for power and money.
So what do you think of Ato Meles’s take on the situation? Is he correct in his assessment of the situation both at home and the neighborhood? Is he telling the truth when he says ‘we do not consider it (the question of civil disobedience) as an immediate and relevant issue…and it is not discussed by his Politburo?’ In other words as they say here in the US ‘would you buy a used car’ from this salesman?
If you have your doubts, I understand. I concur that It is very difficult to accept Meles’s analysis as correct and based on facts. He does not seem to have a good track record when it comes to having a clear understanding of the situations in the neighborhood and his assessment of the moods and wants of the Ethiopian people. In other words the individual is clueless when it comes to relating to the people he is supposed to lead. We don’t have to go far to prove our point.
Do you remember his conclusion that Shabia is not going to attack? Shabia did and we paid the price with over eighty thousand dead and millions of dollars wasted on weapons from Korea and East Europe. We are also aware of Siyoum Mesfin’s lying declaration that the International Court have agreed with Ethiopia regarding Badme and four years later it is still unresolved issue. How could we forget the so-called ‘cake walk’ into Somalia and the ensuing humiliation? Do I need to remind you of the 2005 election and EPDRF’s loss of Addis and most of the country? There is no need to mention the utterly weird situation of 12% growth to go with hyperinflation, famine and the dwindling foreign reserve? As you can see the palace folks are poster children for miscalculation and fiction rather than a sober and realistic assessment of any situation. It is my firm belief that TPLF folks are not capable of finding the exit door in a studio apartment.
If we are permitted we can actually give our friends some advice on avoiding the fate of Ben Ali, Mubarak or Gaddafi. There is a cheaper solution that does not require spending time and energy on exotic and expensive scenarios to fight what is inevitable. History is full of examples where in the end no matter how much one tries victory of good over evil is as sure as the sun rising from the East tomorrow morning. Here is a short list of responses by Meles and company that will assure them keeping their head intact with the rest of their body and avoiding humiliation in front of the people of Ethiopia and humanity in general.
The simple and more direct solution will be to resign. The TPLF boss can say he wants to spend more time with his family and we will understand. If that is too radical then there are other options. Let us start by abandoning this self-serving Constitution and starting fresh. We can undo the illegal act of the Derge that made land property of the government instead of the people. All land and property should be returned to the rightful owners with no ifs or buts. The concept of Kilil and formation of Ethnic based party and organization should have no place in our new Ethiopia. The internal security will be dismantled never to show its ugly and brutal face ever again. The new Ethiopia will allocate large portion of its budget on education instead of Arms and repressive organs. The emerging free and democratic Ethiopia will sit down with our Eritrean cousins and resolve the issue of security and use of port facilities in amicable ways. Ethiopia will sign a non aggression pact with all is neighbors including Somalia and work towards cultural, educational and sports exchange to turn East Africa in to a zone of peace and tranquility.
Tell you what if you take our advice we will even convince Judge Wolde Michael Meshesha not to press on this issue of criminal act committed way back in October 2005. It is not easy but we will do our best in lieu of the benefits to our poor and tired country and people. We might even go as far as looking the other way regarding the loot some of you have stashed in foreign banks but it all depends on your cooperation and your solemn oath that you will refrain from denying your guilt and will ask the Ethiopian people for forgiveness and show real remorse. I believe our way is a lot better than a protracted and ugly struggle you might wage for a few days before the inevitable collapse of your ponzi scheme.
You know it, we know it and everybody and his dog knows it that there is no easy way out. The bullying and repression have bought you a measly ten years or so. It is not effective anymore because of the new international situation being allergic towards despots and finally to the current deteriorating economic situation where gas costs 18.50/liter, Oil costs 36 or more, teff costs thousands, chicken costs triple digits etc. etc. You see what I mean, people are coming to the realization that there is nothing to loose anymore. That is scary and that is what is keeping you awake at night. That is what makes you come up with scenarios like ‘Addis into Baghdad’ and the specter of all those unemployed youth breaching the palace walls with Meles and company running around in their pajamas pursued by an angry mob! It gives me shivers just to think about it. Let us agree to nip this horrible situation in the bud before it gets traction. Good luck my friend, please don’t make me say ‘I told you so!’
By Yilma Bekele
What is referred to at the domino effect is “a chain reaction that occurs when a small change causes a similar change nearby, which then cause another similar change, and so on in a linear sequence.” We are witnessing that phenomenon right now.
Fear of the domino effect is what got the US involved in Vietnam in the ‘60’s. When The Vietminh under Ho Chi Minh took over North Vietnam and established the Democratic Republic of Vietnam the US was convinced the communists will over run South Vietnam then continue on to Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand and so on. The war was to arrest the Communist juggernaut. Whether it failed or was a success is a matter of interpretation.
A recent example of the fear of the domino effect is the bailout of the Banking system here in the US and Western Europe. The US Treasury came up with the term ‘too big to fail.’ It was felt that allowing a major bank to go bankrupt would start a chain reaction that will threaten the capitalist system, as we know it. The taxpayer was compelled to prop up the banks with no interest loans and a guarantee by the Federal Reserve to do what is necessary to protect the integrity of the system.
This last week the domino effect came home to roost in every capital city where freedom and civil rights have been put in the back burner. Our beautiful and brave friends in Tunisia started the ball rolling in a spectacular fashion. May the almighty bless Tunisians and their ancestors. The elegant system they devised to topple a tyrant of over twenty years was awe inspiring in its simplicity and ease of application. It was a work of art. They are still fine tuning their copy righted manual “Seven Easy Steps to Get Rid of A Tyrant©”
An ordinary citizen named Mohamed Bouaziz set himself on fire because he decided it was not worth living in such an environment. I have no idea if he saw the bigger implication of his one-person defiance. For whatever reason he did it for, his public immolation set the domino effect in motion. Let us just say tyrants everywhere are rethinking their future prospects. No matter what brave face they present or pretend to do business as usual Tunisia has scared the pants out of them.
There was no fighting force in Tunisia. There was no opposition party that seized the leadership. Religion was not a factor. There were no glaring signs that things were simmering. But in less than thirty days the eruption of dis-content engulfed a whole nation. In a blink of an eye el macho, full of himself, the leader for life, tyrant and bully Ben Ali was stripped of his humanity.
It looks like Egypt is the next domino piece to fall. May be not. It really don’t matter, the foundation is showing cracks as big as Abbay gorge. Sooner or later it will crumble. As I write this, it is the third day of spontaneous protests and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel for Mubarak and company. His son who was considered the heir apparent left for London with his wife and family. Now Mrs. Mubarak is reported to be in London too. I assume the tyrant of thirty years will join them soon enough. I will also venture to state that dictator Mubarak and family will settle in the US for the rest of their life in exile. Welcome fellow refugees.
Since I am in this euphoric mood may I predict the fall of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the demise of “The Leader”. For you not in the know, that is how they refer to Corporal Gaddafi of Libya to be followed by Saleh of Yemen. Even Lloyds of London will deny King Abdallah II and Colonel Gaddafi’s life insurance coverage.
With all this excitement twirling in North Africa and the Middle East it was strange to listen to Secretary of State Hillary Clintons advice to the Egyptian people. Reuters reported that “US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday urged all sides in Egypt to exercise restraint following street protests and said she believed the Egyptian government was stable and looking for ways to respond to its people’s aspirations.”
It sounds familiar to Ethiopians. In the aftermath of the 2005 elections the US and European Diplomats were urging Kinijit to show restraint. It is sort of strange advice after her forceful statement congratulating the Tunisian people. It would not be surprising if the Department of State condemns the abuse of power by former President Mubarak and his associates of course after his downfall. It is not only dictatorships that refuse to learn, super powers are short sighted too.
With all this drama around us, it is not asking a lot to see if we can learn a few lessons so we can make our transformation less painful. The last two times we tried this game of change we sort of stumbled and fell hard. Let us hope the third time it will be a charm.
We have a lot in common with both Tunisia and Egypt. All our leaders have abused their welcome by twenty years and over. The regimes are based on single party rule. Opposition is not tolerated. They speak the language of democracy and emerging economies. They trade heavily with the current currency of being anti terrorism. They are favored by both the IMF and the World Bank. The youth unemployment hovers 30% and more. No matter how much rosy picture the IMF and their propaganda machines paint, the reality is their economy has stagnated. It cannot support the aspirations of the people.
Compared to the two, Ethiopia is a little different. We are lot poorer. Ethiopia is still a peasant society. Communication like Internet, Television, and Radio are deliberately suppressed. Our leader understands knowledge is power. In Ethiopia there is a Communications Department that oversees what is being said and printed in the country.
In both Tunisia and Egypt what is being called ‘Social Media’ played a big role in the citizens ability to be informed and organize. Facebook and twitter are the new heroes. That is what we lack in Ethiopia. The Meles regime was aware of the power of information and suppressed the media. The 2005 general elections proved to Meles and company the danger of even a half free press.
But we are innovative people. We will always find a way out. We created ESAT. I know Voice of America and Deutche Welle are doing an excellent job of informing our people. But ESAT is different. ESAT is you and I. It is the result of our own labor and sweat. It is accountable to no one but us. ESAT is our Facebook and twitter. The TPLF regime knows that. They will spare no amount of expenses to shut ESAT down. They have done it once. They will try again. We will deny them that pleasure.
You know how we do that? We make ESAT strong. We make ESAT independent. We contribute to make ESAT to have the best capability to inform our people. It is easy. Go to ethsat.com and you can give using pay pal, bank transfer or just call them. It is not how much you give. That is not the issue. It is all about building from scratch and encouraging the best in us. There is no point feeling good about Tunisia and hoping for Egypt. We can help them by contributing our share of liberating our corner of the world. Go to ethsat.com and give your share. It could be ten dollars or a thousand but what matters is you gave. Are you up to the challenge?
By Yilma Bekele
Hopefully you have all heard or read about WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks is an international non-profit organization that publishes documents from anonymous news sources and leaks. It has been doing that since 2006. These past few days it has been publishing leaked US State Department diplomatic cables. The US is not amused. It is ironic to see the “Western Democracies” crying foul, hacking and forcing Amazon, Pay Pal, Visa and eBay from offering service to WikiLeaks. On the other hand those that abhor government secrecy are overjoyed.
Naturally I was curious to read what the US has to say about our country. I was eager to find out what our Ferenji ‘enablers’ think of their little ‘Kebele’ administrators. The Ethiopian people do not need WikiLeaks to know the ruthless nature of the ethnic based regime in power. They live the nightmare. I was more focused to see if the US Embassy assessment of Meles and company reflects reality on the ground.
I was not disappointed. Actually I was rather impressed by the richness, detail and frank reporting by the diplomats. They actually get it! Their analysis of Zimbabwe and Mugabe is brilliant to say the least:
To give the devil his due, he is a brilliant tactician and has long thrived on his ability to abruptly change the rules of the game, radicalize the political dynamic and force everyone else to react to his agenda. However, he is fundamentally hampered by several factors: his ego and belief in his own infallibility; his obsessive focus on the past as a justification for everything in the present and future; his deep ignorance on economic issues (coupled with the belief that his 18 doctorates give him
the authority to suspend the laws of economics, including supply and demand); and his essentially short-term, tactical style.
One can actually substitute Meles for Mugabe and the description will be right on target. The Embassy cables from Mr. Putin’s Russia is downright scary. Today’s Russia is described as ‘highly centralized, occasionally brutal and all but irretrievably cynical and corrupt. The Kremlin, by this description, lies at the center of a constellation of official and quasi-official rackets.’ Again the similarity with the Meles regime is eerie to say the least. The regime doesn’t seem to discriminate where it gets its arsenal of coercive ideas.
Well the cables from Addis Abeba are beginning to come out. I am not disappointed. We have seen two and they seem to bring everything we know about the banana republic into sharp focus. It gives us a clear picture of the nature of Meles and his relationship with his ‘enablers’. One can stretch the analogy and describe it as ‘mutually beneficial.’ The tricky part is answering exactly beneficial to whom? Yes my friend that is the gist of the matter.
I am going to concentrate on the meeting between Meles Zenawi accompanied by his advisor Gebretensae Gebremichael and US Assistant Secretary Maria Otero, Assistant Secretary Johnny Carson and NSC Senior Director Michelle Gavin in January of 2020. One thing the cables shows us is the fuzzy nature of ‘diplomatic speak.’ The language is very anemic leaving it open to various interpretations, the sentences are short and ideas are thrown in as suggestions to nudge the listener to a desired outcome.
This particular meeting was to get Meles, who represented Africa at the Copenhagen climate summit, to sign the Copenhagen accord. Although the summit was felt to be a failure due to the absence of a binding agreement, the US was convinced it serves its interest and was focused on forcing its friends and client states to sign on the doted line.
Mrs. Otero’s mission was to get the signature, Mr. Carson’s role was to point out President Obama’s ‘commitment’ to democracy and the rule of law while the NSC’s (National Security Council) representative was there to assure Meles to take Carson’s pronouncements with a grain of salt. As usual, language played a central role in the discussion. Please note that the US diplomats, in order not to be seen as clueless idiots, informed the regime their concern regarding the forthcoming elections, the so called charities law enacted by the regime and the situation regarding opposition leader Birtukan, and the Diaspora that is a constant headache. It was all done in a low-key manner.
There is no such thing as subtlety and finesse when it comes to Meles Zenawi. The description ‘a bull in china store’ is a perfect fit. He must have been in a euphoric mood. His words were very forceful and crude. His logic was clear only to himself. It requires cojones to lecture Assistant Secretary Carson regarding the true meaning of fighting for democracy. Assistant Secretary Carson was born when a Black American was a second-class citizen in his own country. He was part of the Civil Right struggle. He knows what it means to be denied freedom. I will quote the cable so you can feel the anger:
Meles said his country’s inability to develop a strong democracy was not due to insufficient understanding of democratic principles, but rather because Ethiopians had not internalized those principles. Ethiopia should follow the example of the U.S. and European countries, he said, where democracy developed organically and citizens had a stake in its establishment. When people are committed to democracy and forced to make sacrifices for it, Meles said, “they won’t let any leader take it away from them.” But “when they are spoon-fed democracy, they will give it up when their source of funding and encouragement is removed.” Referencing his own struggle against the Derg regime, Meles said he and his compatriots received no foreign funding, but were willing to sacrifice and die for their cause, and Ethiopians today must take ownership of their democratic development, be willing to sacrifice for it, and defend their own rights.
Please read it again. The statement does not make sense. The statement is full of holes and is based on lies and made-up facts. It is a product of a deranged mind. The Ethiopian people have internalized the true meaning of democracy. Based on the principle of one-person one vote the Ethiopian people stood all day to cast their ballot in May 2005. When Ato Meles tried to nullify their vote they came out and protested. They were met with an overwhelming force. Like any rational human being they retreated. Weakness should not be looked at as ignorance. No one has ‘spoon-fed democracy’ to our people; rather our rulers have shoved the bayonet down our throat. As for the struggle Ato Meles and his party waged, it is not a license to further abuse and ill govern. I thought Ato Meles and his party fought for our collective freedom then what is this talk about further struggle after they liberated us. Do we have to pick up arms to get rid of them too? It is doable but is it necessary?
I said Assistant Secretary Maria Otero came to collect a signature. The cables are a good example of big power using big stick diplomacy cushioned in diplomatic language:
U/S Otero urged Meles to sign the Copenhagen accord on climate change and explained that it is a point of departure for further discussion and movement forward on the topic.
You know what that means in simple everyday English? Unless you sign on the doted line there is no need to speak anymore. The record shows Meles protested that he has ‘personal’ assurance from Obama for releasing the money and it has not happened yet and Secretary Gavin assured him she ‘would look into it.’ It looks like Meles does not understand that Mr. Obama does not have the authority to make personal assurance. He has to talk to his experts, consult his allies and inform Congress. Only despots make personal decisions in the name of their subjects.
You know what came to mind when I read that? My son when he was a baby always wants to eat the desert before the meal and I tell him eat your dinner and then you can have your dessert. Here we are as a government and Meles wants his dessert before he delivers Africa. How pathetic.
You notice the title says orphan Ethiopia. I read Prof. Alemayehu’s analysis regarding our conflict with Somalia. I felt depressed. I read WikiLeaks cable regarding elections and climate change and I felt more depressed. We have President Obama, Secretary Otero, Secretary Carson and Secretary Gavin systematically advancing the national interest of their country. Sitting across the table from them we have a despot fighting for his family and friends communal interest. The US strategy is to fight the terrorist menace far away from American shores and they are willing to make friends with the devil as long as it keeps the battle far from the homeland. We have Meles and company using every trick to stay in power even if it means betraying their people, their country and their flag to stay in power one more day.
We ventured into Somalia to deflect attention from election theft; we support climate change accord for a fistful of dollars and may be a future job for Meles. In the mean time our country and people are on a forced march backwards into the past. The revelations from WikiLeaks are not done yet. What would tomorrow bring?
By Yilma Bekele
What is it about us Ethiopians that invite abuse? Is there a big fat lettering stuck on our forehead that proclaims ‘I am stupid?’ It is not some idle question but a subject that requires some soul searching and must be answered if we have to move forward and expect to bring positive change to ourselves, our surrounding and our poor country.
What brought this important question to the surface is the recent action by none other than the infamous ESFNA (Ethiopian sports federation in North America) and its Board of Director’s ongoing dysfunctional behavior. This is not the first time ESFENA have gone the extra mile to humiliate its constituents. What I have in mind is ESFNA’s acceptance of large amount of money from good old Sheikh Al Amudi back in 2008 and the condemnation it received from the North American public. They promised to be mindful of their responsibility to the public and claimed that they will work on the question of accountability. It was an empty gesture.
Here we are 2010 and we can see this wild animal is not tamed yet. They decided to insult and disrespect their cash cow once again. This time it is no other than the honorable Judge/Chairwoman Bertukan they decided to dis.
Very timely and educational articles were written to clarify the situation and encourage rational discussion on the subject. I am referring to the opinion pieces by Ato Ephrem Madebo and Ato Shakespear N. Feyissa on our independent Web sites.
The response to this invitation for reasonable and grown up discussion took a bizarre turn. The article by Ato Tesfaye Abebe, a member of one of the clubs is a little disingenuous to say the least. It is a well-written article as far as the grammar goes but the facts are revised to fit the writer’s bias. That is not an honest thing to do. I spoke to two individuals that were present in Atlanta to have a good understanding of what exactly happened in that meeting.
Is Ato Tesfaye not telling the truth or simply put is Ato Tesfaye lying in his article? He wrote:
‘ As those that nominated Birtukan spoke passionately to underline the importance of inviting her, those that did not believe she should be invited expressed theirs. Reasons for not inviting her, ranged from the inappropriateness of inviting her in the cultural category to her being a leader of a political organization whose invitation might compromise our non-profit and non-political status.
Upon the insistence of those members that nominated Birtukan, and following parliamentary procedure a vote was taken by the Board Members and Birtukan narrowly won.’
In my opinion what Ato Tesfaye is doing is what is called ‘lying by omission’. He is cleverly using ambiguity in order to deceive and mislead the reader. Weizero Bertukan was nominated; the issue discussed and voted upon, that much is true. But there is more to it than that. The issue on the so-called jeopardizing the ‘non profit’ status was mentioned in passing but was not brought as a major hurdle. The main argument by those opposed was the question of ‘timing’. They felt it was not a good idea ‘at this time’ since she was just released from jail and it would create a bad impression on the organization (I guess by the government of Ethiopia) After a lengthy argument the issue was voted upon. When he says ‘Bertukan narrowly won’ that is a bold lie. She won 14 to 4 and that is 77% majority. Some will call it a landslide.
If you noticed I characterized it as an ‘argument’ not a ‘discussion’. According to my sources it was a very shameful meeting fit for gangsters. The Chair was clueless and weak and members were on each other’s face taunting and insulting like kids in a playground. Some members were forced to leave the meeting out of shame and disgust. The real purpose by those who lost was to create chaos so those well meaning individuals will be discouraged and will give in to the demands of the bully’s. If you think about it there is no rational reason or parliamentary procedure that allows an issue that was settled by an overwhelming majority to be brought back for further discussion.
Please notice the fact that Ato Tesfaye qualifies both Ato Ephrem and Ato Shakespear with their political party’s affiliation. What brought that about? They wrote their opinions as concerned individuals not Party officials. We are familiar with that kind of argument, smear rather than answer the charges is the logic behind it.
I have noticed these two characteristics to be a must among TPLF school graduates. None other than junta leader Meles Zenawi practices the best example of ‘lying by omission’. During the question and answer at Columbia University when asked why he jams Ethiopian Satellite TV and our independent web sites he responded by saying ‘the US does not allow VOA to broadcast to the American people either. Yes it is true VOA does not broadcast inside the US but it is not due to jamming. It is because the US government does not think it is appropriate to use taxpayer’s money to distribute the news. There are zillions of news outlets operated privately. Ato Meles on the other hand does not want independent newscasters telling the truth and unravel his house built on sand. Technically he did not lie, but he just subverted the truth.
There was also a second article written by Ato Tibebe Ferenji titled ‘In defense of ESFNA’ I don’t think it is a wining strategy to baselessly attack those who you disagree with instead of presenting one’s opinion and letting the reader be the judge. There is no point in putting words in your opponent’s mouth when the reader can easily go to the source and verify. My copy did not include such allegations as Ato Ephrem claiming to be an attorney nor asking organizations to break their rules.
On the other hand Ato Tibebe gave us a section of IRS rule as if reading those five lines will entitle us to reach a reasonable conclusion. I truly believe my friend Ato Shakespeare’s approach is most appropriate here. Interpreting the law is his domain. That is why he invested time and money to qualify and hold a license to practice the law. This Ethiopian habit of being an expert after a cursory glance is not a good idea. I ask both Ato Tibebe and ESFNA to read Ato Shakespeare’s analysis and correct their mistake and wrong interpretation of IRS code.
What can we do to remedy this unfortunate situation is an important question. The organization is too important to be left to individuals that do not have the interest of the community at heart. It has been a playground of those whose sole aim is to enrich themselves at the expense of others and use the organization as a commodity to be sold to the highest bidder. In its over twenty-five years of existence it has nothing worthy to show that could be mentioned in public. Its own supporters have no example or instance to mention to convince the public of their good deeds. Ato Tibebe is forced to say ‘more over, ESFNA has been engaged in various charity activities including providing scholarship in Ethiopia.’ Looks like we are a little short on verifiable facts here because there is nothing to show.
The fact that during the Atlanta meeting the financial report showed that the 2009 festival in San Jose showed a profit of just $13.000.00 is cause for alarm. Either the Board is engaged in creative accounting or they are not fit for the position they hold. When you consider they were bilking our local business people $3,000.00 per tent and were charging us $20 for admission one wonders where the money went. As the name implies it is an Ethiopian sports organization. I agree with my friend Ato Ephrem. The use of ‘E’ in the name is not a simple matter. I do believe the use of ‘E’ is a privileges and an honor. Yes my dear Ato Tesfaye it can be taken away too! I don’t think you will put Abuna Petros and some Banda like Dejazmach Gugsa in the same league, would you? The ‘E’ in front of Abuna Petros brings warmth to our heart while the ‘E’ in front of Banda Gugsa looks out of place.
What we should strive for is ‘empower’ the clubs to exercise their right as owners and main actors of this outfit and run it like a business and make us proud. After all it is the clubs and the players that we all gather to see and there is no need for a Board of vultures to lord it over and abuse us all. The clubs can hire professional Ethiopians that are experienced in the hospitality and convention business and produce a better product that what we have now. Twenty-five years have shown that the current leaders are void of new and creative ideas and repeat the same old tired formulae until it is beaten to death. Frankly I don’t see any difference between them and their Woyane masters. It is up to us to work with the clubs and make them aware of their strength. It requires work, perseverance and unity of purpose. Like their Woyane cousins they are good at creating side issues, character assassination and a lot of smoke. On the other hand we have a good cause and the support of the majority of our people. We got work to do. Now quit talking and take the garbage out.
By Yilma Bekele
There is a three days conference on Ethiopia to be held in Alexandra, Virginia. There are plenty of notables involved in this dialogue regarding our neighborhood. All are peoples of stature that have been involved in trying to make life tolerable for their fellow human beings.
If we have to drop a few names here we are tempted to mention Senator Russ Feingold, Congressman Donald Payne, Congressman Chris Smith, the Honorable Ana Gomez, Ambassador Emeru Zeleke, Ambassador David Shinn, Dr. Berhanu Nega and plenty more sitting around a circular table and discussing the dreams and hopes of creating a better future in our neighborhood.
The horn of Africa is a major trouble spot. No one can deny that. Our country Ethiopia is not in good condition. Our nation is epicenter of chaos in the region. Seventeen years after the TPLF assumed power we still find our selves exactly where we started. Famine is still with us, migration of the best and ablest is common and we always show up at the bottom of any and all statistics regarding human accomplishment. No matter how we interpret the statistics today’s Ethiopia is not famous for science, engineering and contribution to human knowledge base. We are famous for civil war, famine and un-relentless migration outwards.
The conference in Virginia is to discuss how to bring about a positive change and build a better future for our people. The participants are people that are working hard to make a difference in the lives of eighty million people. They are not getting paid to attend. There is not any net gain in their private lives for attending the conference. I am sure they spent plenty of their time to prepare for the conference to make their personal contribution a success.
Dialogue and discussion is a preferable method to resolve conflict over fighting. Human experience has proven that approach to be correct and durable. I am sure the organizers are following that footstep pioneered by our ancestors. Thus they have taken the time and resources to apply this proven method to solve the problem facing our old country. We are lucky to have such well-meaning people to take the time and assume responsibility to try to find a solution for our shortcoming.
The question is why are some working over time to derail such a noble cause? Why are a few disparaging such an attempt to find a solution for an old age problem that is evident in our life? Why are a few trading on hate and division to derail our train loaded with hope and goodwill? The short answer is because they don’t know any better. It has become second nature to their existence to put down others worthy contribution.
A friend of mine suggested I visit the web site of the nay Sayers to see the negative and hate filled venom expressed by our brethren. It was not a pleasant experience. It is a sad sight. It begs the question why? Why in the world would anybody oppose an open forum dedicated to find a solution for a problem spot that is affecting over a hundred million humans? There is no rational reason one can think of. May be they have been so comfortable bullying and ignoring the genuine demands of their population that they feel threatened by the mere attempt of others to find a solution to our common problem. Yes the saying ‘like father like son’ comes to mind. It perfectly fits the pattern.
A few weeks back the Prime Minister of Ethiopia was in Mekele, Tigrai celebrating his triumphant anniversary. Instead of using the occasion to celebrate his party’s accomplishment he used the venue to insult, demean and degrade those who do not agree with his views. He painted a dark and sinister picture of those who dare to differ with his blueprint for the future of our country. Their subjects do not view statements by leaders as an empty rhetoric. Words have ramifications. A few days after that hate instigating speech a candidate running for parliament was slayed by the Prime Minster’s supporter. That speech opened the floodgates of hate and negativity. Several candidates running for office have been killed, beaten and threatened through out the country for daring to dream of public service.
It is following that footstep that supporters of the regime have portrayed the ‘horn of Africa’ conference as a negative assembly of anti Ethiopians. The few websites they run has been dedicated to saw discord and ill feeling among people. They have used vile language to describe the participants and organizers of forum. They have resorted to defaming and insulting such worthy public servants because they took the time and showed concern for our country. Their behavior is a sad reflection of the current trend of disparaging and attacking individuals as a person instead of discussing ideas and opinions. It is not like the Ethiopia we know.
Their uttering is far from the truth. Their vain attempt to condemn and vilify is nothing but an attempt to cover their eighteen years of neglect and crime against their own people. Their hate filled diatribe is an attempt to deflect their failure to solve the problems facing the region. On the other hand the conference is an attempt to find a lasting solution rather than blame and finger point. Dialogue is superior form of forging a common path to find a lasting solution. When there is an open and transparent discussion, the outcome is always better and acceptable. It is with that in mind the Virginia conference is set in motion. That is why many East Africans welcome such a positive event knowing the good is definitely far better than the silence and indifference we got on the ground.
Guess what the organizers have decided to involve all of us and judge the event for ourselves. The Conference on the Horn of Africa events will be live-streamed, meaning that you could watch Live Video on your computer with your Internet access where you live in the world. The following is link for the Live streaming of the event on Saturday & Sunday. http://www.ethiov.com/events
We are indebted to the organizers for arranging such a worthy conference. We thank our foreign friends for taking time from their busy schedule and showing concern for our people and country. We are proud of our Ethiopian participants for their relentless work on behalf of their people. Our old nation is better off when her friends and children sit around a table and brainstorm to find a solution and build a better country for all of us. We hope and pray the Ethiopian government will involve itself in building a bridge to find a common ground that will include all the people in finding a solution for our problem. The attempt to bully the participants and vilify the organizers is not worthy of a national government. We hope hate is replaced with love.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a glorious moment for the people of Somalia. A job well done for kicking Woyanne invaders out of your country. Ethiopian Review sends heartfelt congratulations to Somali freedom fights who stood up and fought the Woyanne fascist forces. The same fates await Woyannes in Ethiopia. They will be kicked out of our country too soon by EPPF, OLF, ONLF and other Ethiopian freedom fighters.
By Steve Bloomfield, Sunday Herald
ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA — SOMALIA’S FRAGILE government appears to be on the brink of collapse. Islamist insurgents now controls large parts of southern and central Somalia – and are continuing to launch attacks inside the capital, Mogadishu.
Ethiopia Woyanne, which launched a US-backed military intervention in Somalia in December 2006 in an effort to drive out an Islamist authority in Mogadishu, is now pulling out its troops.
Diplomats and analysts in neighbouring Nairobi believe the government will fall once
Ethiopia Woyanne completes its withdrawal, and secret plans have been made to evacuate government ministers to neighbouring Kenya.
That may happen sooner rather than later. A shipment of
Ethiopian Woyanne weapons, including tanks, left Mogadishu port last month as part of the withdrawal. Bringing the equipment back to Ethiopia by land would have been impossible – analysts believe Ethiopian Woyanne troops and their Somali government allies control just three small areas in Mogadishu and a few streets in Baidoa, the seat of parliament. There are now estimated to be just 2500 Ethiopian Woyanne soldiers left inside Somalia, down from 15,000-18,000 at the height of the war.
Somalia’s overlapping conflicts go back, at the very least, to 1991, the year the country’s last recognised government was overthrown. Men and women who were children then have since given birth to a second generation of Somalis who have known only war.
But analysts believe Somalia is now in the midst of its worst ever crisis. The ongoing conflict, which has claimed the lives of at least 9000 civilians and forced more than 1.1 million to flee their homes, has combined with devastating droughts and rocketing food prices to create one of the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophes.
Almost half the population – 3.2m people – are in need of emergency aid (the figure has almost doubled in the last 12 months). One in six children is thought to be malnourished.
“This crisis is broadening as well as deepening,” said Mark Bowden, the head of the UN’s humanitarian effort. “It is now the world’s most complicated crisis.”
Violence and insecurity have made it almost impossible for aid to get through, and 24 aid workers have been killed in Somalia so far this year. A recent shipment of food aid needed a military escort to navigate Somalia’s pirate-infested waters. But within hours of the food being unloaded in Mogadishu’s port most of it was stolen by gun-toting gangs.
Oxfam, Save The Children and 50 other aid agencies working in Somalia last week said the international community had “completely failed Somali civilians”.
As the crisis worsens thousands are trying to leave the country every week. Around 6000 people are now crossing the border into Kenya every month – despite the Kenyan government’s decision to close the border. Some are arriving at the overcrowded Dadaab refugee camp in eastern Kenya, which is now one of the largest refugee camps in the world with nearly 250,000 people.
Others try to leave by sea, travelling to the northern town of Bosasso and paying $100 to people smugglers who ram more than 100 people onto a small fishing boat and set sail for Yemen.
Many do not make it. Smugglers last week forced 150 people off the boat three miles off the Yemeni coast. Only 47 made it to shore.
Attempts to find a political solution have stalled. The UN claims progress has been made, citing an agreement signed in neighbouring Djibouti by the Somali government and the opposition Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia (ARS).
But the deal has been signed only by the moderates on each side: Prime Minister Nur Adde and the ARS’s Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.
President Abdullahi Yusuf, a former warlord who controls the government’s security forces, has refused to get involved. Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, the hardline Islamic leader of another faction of the ARS, has denounced the deal, as have the leaders of the insurgents, a group called Al Shabaab.
Since the deal was struck in June, the level of violence has increased.
Few Somalis will weep if the government falls. In most respects it is a government in name only. Few ministries have offices, let alone civil servants to fill them. There are no real policies – and no real way to implement any.
Worst of all, this government, which is backed by the United Nations and funded by Western donors including Britain and the EU, has been accused of committing a litany of war crimes. Its police force, many of whom were trained under a UN programme part-funded by Britain, has carried out extrajudicial killings, raped women and fired indiscriminately on crowds at markets. Militias aligned to the government have killed journalists and attacked aid workers.
The government’s fall would mark the end of a disastrous US-backed intervention. For six months in 2006, Somalia was relatively calm. A semblance of peace and security had returned to Mogadishu. The reason was the rise of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), a loose coalition of Islamist leaders who had driven out Mogadishu’s warlords.
Hardline elements within the UIC vowed to launch a jihad against Somalia’s traditional enemy, Ethiopia. The US viewed the UIC has an “al-Qaeda cell” – a belief not shared by the majority of analysts and diplomats.
Ethiopia Woyanne, with the support of the US, sent thousands of troops across the border to drive out the UIC. It took just a few days to defeat them. Their leaders fled towards the border with Kenya, while many of the fighters took off their uniforms and melted into Mogadishu.
Within weeks, an Iraq-style insurgency had begun, targeting Somali government and Ethiopian troops. Al Shabaab began laying roadside bombs and firing at Ethiopian troops from inside civilian areas.
Ethiopians Woyanne responded by bombarding residential areas. Hundreds were killed and hundreds of thousands fled Mogadishu. Human rights groups accused Ethiopia Woyanne of committing war crimes.
The US must now be wondering whether it was all worth it. Western backing for the unpopular Somali government and US support for the
Ethiopian Woyanne intervention has created a groundswell of anti-West sentiment in Somalia.
The Islamist leaders they were so keen to oust are the same ones they are now engaged in negotiations with. US officials have met both Sheikh Sharif and the more hardline Sheikh Aweys in an effort to find a peace deal.
Meanwhile, in Somalia, the Islamists taking control of towns and villages across the country are considered far more extremist than Aweys. “They are real international jihadis,” said one Nairobi-based diplomat. “The Americans’ fear of al-Qaeda in Somalia is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
By Peter Heinlein, VOA
Listen the report:
ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA –
Ethiopia’s government The Woyanne dictatorial regime in Ethiopia is coming in for fierce criticism over a draft law before parliament that would prohibit or criminalize many activities of foreign charities and NGOs. VOA’s Peter Heinlein in Addis Ababa reports the bill is almost certain to pass easily in a legislature overwhelmingly controlled by Ethiopia’s ruling party. Ethiopian Woyanne officials have told western diplomats that parliament will approve a proposed Charities and Societies Proclamation within weeks. The bill would give the government supervisory powers over non-governmental organizations that receive at least 10 percent foreign funding, including money from Ethiopians living abroad.
The text before lawmakers prohibits such NGOs from promoting democratic or human rights, the rights of children and the disabled, and equality of gender or religion. Violators could face up to 15 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
Foreign NGOs have reacted with alarm to the bill, saying it could make it impossible for them to operate in Ethiopia. A group of ambassadors in Addis Ababa recently warned
Ethiopian Prime Minister Woyanne dictator Meles Zenawi that passage of the Charities and Societies Proclamation could mean the loss of untold millions of dollars in desperately needed aid.
The organization Human Rights Watch issued a statement urging Ethiopia’s lawmakers to reject the bill, calling it ‘repressive’. But the leader of an opposition parliament faction, Bulcha Demeksa, said he and like-minded lawmakers are powerless to stop it in the face of an overwhelming ruling-party majority. “The government is going to silence the NGOs and their leadership when they speak about human rights, when they spoke about democratic rights, when they spoke about giving democratic education to the citizens.”
He continued, “The government does not like it, that is why the government wants to silence them, and I am very sorry about it, I am very hurt about it. I wish I could do something about it, because practically all the NGOs are doing something good for this country.”
A senior adviser to the
prime minister dictator, Bereket Simon, says NGOs will still be welcome to help fight poverty. But he says the bill is designed to prevent foreign interference in the country’s political affairs. “We need foreign NGOs to participate in poverty alleviation programs and to participate in development works, but we definitely believe the political realm must be left for Ethiopians. That is the prerogative of Ethiopians.”
Tom Porteous, the U.K. country director of Human Rights Watch says laws governing the behavior of foreign NGOs can be positive. But he says the draft before Ethiopia’s parliament is contrary to the country’s constitution. “NGOs should not be immune from accountability, and we would support efforts by the
Ethiopian Woyanne government to increase the accountability of civil society organizations.”
Porteous added, At the same time, many other countries in Africa have managed to achieve this without criminalizing human rights activities for example, and in fact this law contravenes not only international and regional African treaties on freedom of association and so forth, but it actually violates Ethiopia’s obligations under its own constitution.”
Ethiopian Woyanne officials, however, say they see nothing repressive or unusual about the draft law. Bereket Simon says NGOs who stay out of Ethiopia’s internal affairs should have nothing to fear. “It is not repressive, because this is a matter that is between Ethiopia and foreigners, so foreigners have their domain, we have our domain. As a sovereign state which runs Ethiopia, we are designing our own law, and any foreigner who is ready to work in Ethiopia should come and see the law, and if it feels comfortable with the law, it can continue to work. If he does not feel comfortable, then we are not going to force them to work here.”
Bereket says the law is aimed partly at what he described as ‘NGOs collaborating with terrorist organizations’. He declined to elaborate.
There are an estimated 3,000 NGOs in Ethiopia. Their combined budgets are believed to be more than $1 billion a year.
Ethiopia’s Woyanne government expelled the International Committee of the Red Cross, charging its workers with providing assistance to rebels fighting for independence in the country’s Somali region known as the Ogaden. The ICRC dismissed the allegations.
Ethiopia is Africa’s second most populous nation, and one of the world’s largest recipients of international aid. The United States is the largest single donor to
Ethiopia Woyanne, with aid donations this year expected to top $800 million.
By Andrew Heavens
KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan summoned the Kenyan and
Ethiopian Woyanne ambassadors on Monday to protest against what it said were illegal shipments of arms to its semi-autonomous south, state media reported.
Khartoum was protesting over “violations” linked to an arms shipment seized by pirates off Somalia’s coast that Western diplomats said was bound for south Sudan, and a plane-load of weapons from Addis Ababa, state news agency SUNA reported.
SUNA stopped short of accusing Ethiopia and Kenya of directly supplying the arms to south Sudan, which won its own government and the right to its own army in a 2005 peace deal with Khartoum that ended a two-decade civil war.
But it said that “against the backdrop” of the two shipments, the foreign ministry asked both envoys to “inform their governments of its protest at these violations”.
The move raised the heat in a simmering row over the shipment of 30 tanks seized by pirates last month off Somalia that western diplomats said were heading for south Sudan in possible breach of the peace agreement.
The pirates, who are still holding the cargo, said paperwork showed the tanks were heading to south Sudan through Kenya’s port of Mombasa. South Sudan has denied ordering the tanks and Kenya has insisted the machines were meant for its own army.
Sudan’s foreign ministry also protested about unspecified weapons that it said had arrived in south Sudan’s capital Juba on Friday on an Ethiopian military plane, SUNA said.
Southern officials and army officers on Monday denied the weapons were part of an arms delivery and told Reuters they had been brought in as exhibits in a long-planned trade fair.
Lieutenant General Biar Ajang of the south’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) said that rumours of an Ethiopian delivery of armaments were “confused”.
“They are coming to show local products, tents, uniforms, armaments, shells … like a shop,” he said.
Ethiopia’s Consul General Negash Legesse told Reuters some of the weapons had been taken to SPLA headquarters for inspection. “They are samples. Some Kalashnikovs. Some others that Ethiopia is producing,” he said.
Sudan’s foreign ministry said it was surprised at the shipments as both Kenya and Ethiopia had backed a 2005 peace deal that ended the civil war between north and south Sudan, SUNA said.
There are currently no global arms embargoes banning south Sudan from buying arms or supplying the SPLA.
But the terms of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement ban both the north and the south from building up arms without the approval of a north-south Joint Military Board.
Activists have repeatedly accused the northern Khartoum government of also re-arming, and of breaching the terms of a U.N. arms embargo covering the warring parties in the separate Darfur conflict.
(Additional reporting by Skye Wheeler in Juba, editing by Mark Trevelyan)
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – The number of Ethiopians needing emergency food assistance has jumped to 6.4 million from 4.6 million in June, the aid agency Oxfam said on Friday.
Drought and high food prices have both contributed to the worsening crisis in Ethiopia and other parts of the Horn of Africa like Somalia and north Kenya, aid workers say.
Oxfam, citing U.N. figures, said there was a $260 million shortfall for agencies trying to address Ethiopia’s crisis.
“Compared with the funds going to shore up the global financial system, the aid needed to save lives in Ethiopia is a drop in the ocean,” Oxfam’s country director Waleed Rauf said.
While government figures showed 6.4 million people needed emergency assistance, more than 13.5 million were in need of some sort of aid, Oxfam said. “The number of those suffering severe hunger and destitution has spiralled,” Rauf said.
(Reporting by Barry Malone, editing by Tim Pearce)
ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA – On Saturday, I woke up bright and early at 5:30 AM to leave for my first shift as a volunteer/English/Music teacher at Menagesha – the Cheshire Services Rehabilitation Facility for children with disabilities. I caught a mini-bus to Meskal Square where I boarded the Cheshire Services employee bus which transports all of the Cheshire employees to Menagesha from Addis and then back to Addis at the end of the shift. Menagesha is about 25 km away from Addis and the bus leaves Meskal Square about 6:45 AM. The bus was really nice, unlike any of the mini-buses or local transport I had taken so far. In fact, it was reminiscent of a Greyhound bus back home with plush seats and head rests. As expected, I fell asleep and awoke 1 hour later to find myself at Menagesha.
The first order of the day was to meet with the teacher at Menagesha who taught the children math and languages during the week. I was told that I would teach my class from 9 to 10:15 AM. For the first hour (i.e. from 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM), I worked in the handicraft room with the children. The children taught me how to make woven bags, wallets, purses etc. One of the children also told me that he would show me how to use the sewing machine next week. I told him that I barely passed sewing in Grade 9 and this was after my sewing teacher had practically made my whole final project for me. The craft room was such a treat and reminded me of the many crafts that my mom taught me when I was a child.
At 9 AM, I started to teach my first English class which included about 40 students ranging in age from 4 years old to about 15 years old. The levels of English comprehension also varied from child to child with some children being quite fluent in English and others wanting to learn the basics. I started off with some easy conversational questions including asking the children to tell the group their names, their hometowns etc. The children are all from outside of Addis and while they are staying at Menagesha, they often do not have much (or any contact) with their family. The children were all very happy to talk about their hometowns and tell me about themselves. I told them a bit about life in Canada which generated a number of questions, especially from the older children – about the weather in Canada, whether the people were nice, what it was like compared to Ethiopia etc. They asked how I traveled from Canada to Ethiopia – by boat or plane?
It was fascinating to hear all of their questions and to engage them in conversation. It was often hard to communicate though given the linguistic barriers and the teacher (Hailu) who teaches the class throughout the week served as a translator. This linguistic barrier is further complicated by the fact that all of the children do not speak Amharic, as they are from different regions of Ethiopia with different linguistic traditions.
Afterwards, I taught them a song that I learned when I was taking music/human values classes in Canada. I wrote the lyrics on the blackboard and the children who could read English automatically lifted their voices in order to serve as beacons for the children who could not read. Eventually, after about 5 or 6 go-arounds on the song, the children were good to go and really enjoyed it. They also learned all of the actions that went with the song. I was so impressed.
They then asked me what type of music I liked and I told them that I really enjoyed Teddy Afro and his song Ababaiyo. The children were thrilled and then one child counted the beat and the entire class burst into a rousing rendition of Ababaiyo complete with the rhythmic clapping beat that is so central to the song. I was so touched and they could tell I was totally enjoying it. It was like a musical where suddenly the entire cast bursts into song! No joke.
After class, the kids were so sweet and wanted to visit with me. It was not the gawking or over-inquisitiveness that I often encounter in Addis when some people are fascinated by the “farenji”, but instead it was a genuine concern and outpouring of love. I ended up playing soccer with some of the kids. Yes – you all read that correctly. I played a sport. I was actually running around on a field kicking a soccer ball. Luckily the traumatic memories of my one year in soccer in Grade 4 did not come flooding back. I then had a chance to play table tennis with one of the kids.
Apparently, word spread that there was this farenji teaching music and English lessons to the children. You see, many of the children at Menagesha are confined to their beds, as they have just underwent surgical procedures that require them to remain on strict bed-rest for a long time. These children heard that I had given a class and asked that I come and visit them also. It was so wonderful to meet these kids. As I mentioned earlier, I was super nervous about what it would be like to teach given the huge linguistic barriers (with me knowing virtually no Amharic).
The children in the recovery wing were super awesome. They could sense that I was not sure how to communicate with them. They pointed to different things around the room and taught me how to say them in Amharic. They taught me how to count to one million in Amharic (not each and every number but the main numbers i.e. 1 to 100, 1000, 10000, 100000, and 1000000). They taught me about colours and animals and furniture and the corresponding words in Amharic. They would repeat words with difficult pronunciations to make sure I understood them correctly. At 11:45 AM, it was time for their lunch and it was time for me to leave to catch my bus back to Addis which departed at noon. The children insisted that I stay and have lunch with them and when I told them I would come back next week, each one of them called me to come close and gave me a huge hug. It took everything in me not to burst into tears (which admittedly did happen on my walk back to the bus).
These children, full of love, laughter and light, have touched my heart in a way that I cannot even begin to express, just by accepting me so unconditionally. On Saturday morning, I traveled to Menagesha hoping to help in some small way. The truth is that I did nothing. These children helped me. They taught me Amharic. They got me to play soccer (I know – shocking!). They got me to laugh. They sang me Ababaiyo. They got me to see that life, with its many obstacles and complexities, is so precious. They are absolutely incredible and I am so grateful to them.
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The writer is a lawyer from Saskatchewan, Canada, who is currently in Ethiopia on an international placement. Menagesha is a rehabilitation facility which helps children during their post-surgery rehabilitation. Most of the children face a permanent physical disability and the center specializes in working with these children. The center includes physical rehabilitation services, a department which builds wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs, and assistive footwear devices. The children are also given daily instruction both in subjects such as English and arithmetic but also in life skills and art. The children typically arrive at Menagesha immediately after their surgery and remain there for a period of 4-6 months for post-surgery rehabilitation.
ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA – The Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo) signed an agreement worth 210m euros with Vergnet Groupe, a French company, providing the former to generate electric power from Ashegoba Wind Power Project.
EEPCo General Manager Mhret Debebe and the president of the company, Marc Vergnet, signed the agreement here on Thursday [9 October].
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Minister of Mines and Energy Alemayehu Tegenu said the project has a capacity of generating 120 MW along with annual energy production of from 400 to 450 GWH. He said the government has been aggressively working to meet the ever growing energy demand in the country.
Activities are well in progress to make three electric power stations operational before 2009.
The project, the first of its kind in Ethiopia, has an implementation schedule of 36 months, the EEPCo general manager said. The first phase, yielding 30 MW capacity, will be commissioned in 16 months, he added.
The French minister of state for foreign trade, Anne-Marie Idrac, said the agreement will contribute a lot to further scale up the existing cooperation between the two countries.
Ashegoba Wind Power project is going to be one of the six generation projects currently under construction with an overall budget size of 3.1bn euros.
The feasibility study of the project was conducted by Lahmeyer International of Germany through close collaboration of GTZ.
The project is financed by AFD [expansion untraced] and one of the largest French banks, BNP Paribas, and is to be constructed by one of the leading French contractors, Vergnet.
Source: state-owned Ethiopian News Agency
Popular Ethiopian singer Teddy Afro is ordered to come back to court in one month again because the prosecutor did not bring with him supporting evidences for some of his allegations at the hearing that was held in Addis Ababa today. When the defense argued that if the prosecutor doesn’t have evidence, the court should dismiss the case, the judge told him to sit down and shut up. Read more in Amharic here from sources in Ethiopia.