ethiopiantimes

July 23, 2014

Israelis mourn Ethiopian born fallen soldier

Filed under: Israel — ethiopiantimes @ 9:59 pm
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They came by the hundreds to a hilltop military cemetery overlooking this holy city to pay their last respects to a fallen 20-year-old soldier.

Relatives and friends, comrades and politicians, and even scores of strangers who had never heard of Staff Sgt. Moshe Melako gathered under a tan canopy beside rows of graves. All listened solemnly to the prayers and the hymns, the eulogies and the wails.

At any other time, Melako would have perhaps died in anonymity. But he perished Sunday, along with 12 other Israeli soldiers, while fighting Hamas militants in a Gaza City neighborhood on the bloodiest day of the two-week-old conflict. Their deaths shocked a nation that hasn’t seen so many of its own killed since Israel’s war with Lebanon in 2006.

Perhaps Melako’s death was made more tragic because of his history. Israel had saved his family from war and political instability in their native Ethiopia, covertly airlifting them and thousands of Ethiopian Jews in 1991 to give them a better future. Melako, who was born here, died fighting in the latest chapter of a long, intractable war that Israel believes it must win to secure its future.

Monday morning, Melako’s photo was in the local newspapers — a striking figure in olive green clutching two large, black machine guns, evoking at once Israel’s loss and its resilience.

Later Monday, at 4:09 p.m., Melako’s comrades from the elite Golani Brigade carried his casket, draped with the Israeli flag. The wailing grew louder. Tears slid down the cheeks of even hardened soldiers.

“We are burying one of our sons here today, a son of Jerusalem who died in a battle for the state of Israel,” Nir Barkat, the mayor of Jerusalem, said as he began his eulogy.

“Moshe, we will continue to challenge our enemies and send them a strong message that we are not going away, that we will be here forever,” the mayor ended.

Standing before Melako’s casket, a group of Ethiopian rabbis, wearing white turbans and clutching colorful umbrellas, said prayers in Amharic. It was a language understood only by the Ethiopian mourners, but from the sobs and grief-stricken faces all around, the rabbis’ messages required no translation.

Melako’s friends and comrades described him as brave, kind and modest, a person everyone loved and respected. He had always dreamed of joining his elder brother in the Golani Brigade, they said. The government sent its cabinet minister in charge of absorbing immigrants into Israel to thank his family.

“Standing by your fresh grave, I look here at your mother, father, brothers and sisters, and I know there is no way to console them,” said Sofa Landver, the minister. “You went to a battle and you never came back, but we will all go on living without you. We will continue. We have no other country to go to, and you fought the battle for us. You died for us.”

No one at the funeral spoke about withdrawing Israel’s troops from the Gaza Strip. No one spoke about a cease-fire. No one thought Melako and his comrades had paid too high a price.
Melako’s sister Esther delivered a message to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the war against Hamas that every mourner seemed to want to say.“Don’t stop now,” she cried, her voice suddenly swelling. “Don’t stop, so that my brother’s blood was not spilled in vain. Don’t stop till you destroy them.”

At 4:54 p.m., Melako’s comrades and others began to place at his grave garlands of red and white flowers, so many that they eventually covered it.

At 4:59 p.m., the soldiers of the Golani Brigade fired guns in a salute to their fallen comrade, and everyone filed out of the cemetery, save for those who remained to cry by his grave.

 

July 18, 2014

Ethiopian police forces attack Ethiopian Muslims at Anwar Mosque

Filed under: Ethiopian Muslims — ethiopiantimes @ 7:24 pm
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July 17, 2014

Lawyer for detained Ethiopia bloggers challenges detention

Filed under: Uncategorized — ethiopiantimes @ 9:58 pm
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The lawyer for a group of detained Ethiopian bloggers and reporters said Thursday he was filing a civil suit against the country’s police for holding them without charge for nearly three months.

The six members of the blogging collective Zone Nine and three journalists were arrested in April and accused by the government of unspecified “serious crimes”.

Rights groups have condemned the arrests as one of the worst crackdowns on the press in recent years and accuse the Ethiopian government of silencing dissent ahead of national elections next May.

“We are waiting for charges to appear. I’m going to lodge a civil suit against police requesting the court to compel the police to release them,” the lawyer for eight of the suspects, Amaha Mekonnen, told AFP.

He said his clients were currently in legal limbo, because a remand court had closed the case without authorising the police to keep them in jail and without permitting them to be released on bail.

“Their detention is illegal,” Amaha said, adding that he would be filing his challenge on Thursday.

“This is for me a clear campaign from the government to clear the floor so that it’s suitable for the ruling party,” he alleged, saying the investigation was dragging on because the bloggers and journalists were arrested “without sufficient evidence”.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Ethiopia has one of the most closed media environments in the world, with 49 journalists living in exile — the most after only Iran and Somalia.

“Ethiopian authorities are trying to create the impression that this is a legal matter, when in fact it is retaliation and an attempt to silence government detractors,” said the CPJ’s Tom Rhodes.

July 15, 2014

Looting Africa with ‘generocity’

Filed under: Uncategorized — ethiopiantimes @ 8:26 pm
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Under the “smokescreen” of giving aid or charity, western governments and multinational corporations are pillaging states in sub-Sahara Africa with losses nearing $60 billion each year, according to research published on Tuesday by a coalition of 10 Africa and UK-based NGOs.

The report, Honest accounts? The true story of Africa’s billion dollar losses, finds that while an estimated $134 billion flows into the continent annually through a combination of loans, foreign investment and aid, African nations lose approximately $192 billion in profits made by foreign multinational companies, as well as through tax evasion and the costs of adapting to climate change.

“Notions of aid and charity are in reality aiding politicians and multinational corporations to continue plundering Africa behind a shroud of ‘generosity’,” the report’s authors write. “It is preventing governments from being held accountable for policies that have a far greater impact on Africa and diverting attention from the structural changes needed to eliminate poverty and gross inequality.”

The losses stem from abuses across a wide range of areas including: “illicit financial flows; profits taken out of the continent by multinational companies; debt payments; brain drain of skilled workers; illegal logging and fishing and the costs incurred as a result of climate change.”

According to the report, if other countries keep looting Africa at the same rate, over the next 10 years the African people will lose $580 billion.

“Common understanding is the UK ‘helps’ Africa through aid, but in reality this serves as a smokescreen for the billions taken out,” said Martin Drewry, director of Health Poverty Action. “It’s sustained looting – the opposite of generous giving – and we should recognize that the City of London is at the heart of the global financial system that facilitates this.”

“The amount of resources flowing out of Africa demands we rethink the idea that Africa is impoverished,” the report continues. “Millions of ordinary Africans are certainly poor, but they are being kept so by a combination of bad policies and immoral or criminal activities perpetrated by elites both inside and outside the continent.

Source: Common Dreams

Amhara National Democratic Movement: A TPLF Surrogate and Watchdog Dominated by Tigryans Marching On Unchecked Destroying Amhara

Abinet Hunegnaw

July, 2014

 

The political organization that is applying into practice Tigray Peoples Liberation Front’s Manifesto in what is now the Amhara Region, where 92% of the population belongs to the Amhara nationality is ANDM. Other than its name it is run and totally controlled by former fighters of the Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement. That was set up by the TPLF and EPLF (Eritrean People’s Liberation front), with the purpose of confusing the Ethiopian people by spreading the notion of deception that their struggle is to liberate the entire population and the country from the bondage of military dictatorship, hegemony and thereby bring democracy.

After the fall of the Mengistu military government, the TPLF, head or lead party of the EPRDF launched successfully pseudo ethnocentric political organizations to run the Apartheid like States on its behalf. Among them, OPDO, SPDO, and ANDM and others were and are given administrative role in the respective states they are assigned to run without decisive political power. ANDM is born out of the Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement that the EPLF and TPLF created to expand their armed struggle beyond Eritrea and Tigray to the rest of Ethiopia. That is why most of its leadership are from Eritrea and Tigray.

Therefore, the former fighters are all Non Amhara and those at the top of the leadership hierarchy of ANDM belong to the Tigray/Tigrigne ethnic group except Adisu Legese. If any one looks at the list of the Executive Committee of the organization, Berket Simeon, Helawi Yoseph, Kasa T/Birhan, Tadese Kasa and the majority of its Central Committee members are all Tigryans. When the TPLF carried out a nationwide conference that led to the present federal arrangement, the only ethnic group that was not represented is Amhara. This fact is even proved in 1991 without a doubt by the deceased former prime minister during an interview on national television. He said, “. . . no one came to us and openly requested to participate in the conference as a representative of the Amhara.” That is why Amhara lost huge chunks of its ancestral territory to Tigray, Oromia, Afar and Benishangul. In other words, the EPDM that didn’t represent the Amhara people and their interest at the above mentioned conference was and is nothing more than an imposition by the TPLF to fill the vacuum and rule what is left of the immensely  shrank Amhara provinces.

After jumping to the horse wagon of ruling Amhara, the immediate task of EPDM was to change its color and appear as an Amhara. That is why it changed its name to ANDM. To the unrepresented and dismayed population of Amhara the imposition was and is felt as if the military dictatorship returned with another tone, but with a more sinister and coercive distractive agenda of dismembering Amhara piece by piece beyond recognition.

The regional state has 10 zones. Each one is run by a Tigryan from behind the desk. For example, South Gondar zone is ruled by Hadish Halefom under the guise of Head of Communication Bureau. Yoseph Reta a Tigryan, who was top in the leadership position of ANDM at one moment, led the Amhara state as president for 5 years between 2000 and 2005. Still, even after 23 years of TPLF/ANDM rule anyone who is assigned to any position in state administration must be approved by the TPLF upon the recommendation of Bereket Simeon (Eritrean), Adisu Legese (Oromo/Somali), Kasa T/Birhan (Tigryan), Helawi Yoseph (Eritrean), and Tadese Kasa (Tigryan). Their ok and TPLF’s blessing is a necessary evil to hold office in the Amhara regional state.

Bereket Simeon held the federal office of communication as a minister until last year. At present he is a senior advisor to the prime minister with a rank of minister. As an Eritrean and Tigray Tigrigne by ethnicity, his priority is to make sure TPLF’s interests are protected. After 23 long years of TPLF/ANDM rule, the Amhara region unlike any other state in the country is still led and dominated by Tigryans, because of Bereket’s vigilance and heavy handedness against the Amhara people politically, economically and socially. He personally recruited, trained, assigned and promoted a handful of Amharas who completely sold out their soul to serve the TPLF agenda as traitors to their own kind for personal material gains. Such role of Mr. Bereket is ongoing even as we speak.

This few individuals openly, time and again insult the Amhara people at large by using demeaning words like “chauvinists”, and “remnants of the old system” among others. Recently, head of ANDM’s national headquarter office and the deputy president of Amhara state, named Alemnew Mekonnen who is one of Mr. Bereket’s mouth piece was captured on tape cursing the Amhara people using disgusting language. The incident became an issue both in Ethiopia and in the diaspora community. In Bahirdar the capital of Amhara, Unity party held a demonstration attended by thousands of angry citizens denouncing the TPLF/ANDM official and demanded his resignation. Unfortunately in today’s Ethiopia expressing hatred towards Amharas or evicting and deporting them is a way of getting a promotion. For example, Shiferaw Shigute former leader of the Southern state became minister of Education after he forced and deported thousands of Amharas from Guraferda district a couple of years ago.

Bereket is one of the central figures in the TPLF movement in wiping out the Gondar Amhara population from Welkaite, Tsegede, and Tselemt. Bereket’s role in handing over the mentioned Amhara districts to Tigray is not only in favor of advancing Tigray’s territorial advance, and expansion, but also to make sure Amhara no longer has a common border with his country of origin, Eritrea.  His next agenda is to lay the frame work that through speedy Tigryan settlement, the population balance in Quara, Metema and Armachiho switches in favor of Tigryans over Amharans, and there by facilitate their smooth incorporation to the Tigray state. Mr. Bereket’s role in this TPLF policy aspirations is to realize the future Greater and Independent Tigray state territorially stretching up to the Grand Renaissance Dam (in Metekel Amhara, now transferred to TPLF’s created Benishangul state). That is why all these years he chose with purpose not to intervene and stop in the country the wide spread and brutal discrimination of the Amhara population characterized by massacres, evictions and deportations among others.

Kasa T/birhan is chairman of the Federation council and vice chairman of the Meles Foundation. On the 118th year anniversary of the victory of the battle of Adwa, he traveled to the spot and promised that a state of the art museum glorifying the sacrifice of the people of Tigray will be built soon. Surprisingly enough, kasa didn’t even mention the sacrifice of the rest of the Ethiopian people under the leadership of Emperor Menilik. This Tigryan top leader of ANDM simply reflected TPLF’s denial of Ethiopian history.

His office keeps on giving a green light to regional states in the federation to step by step evict and deport every Amhara and eventually become Amhara free Bantustan like states. This is the guy that TPLF uses as a front man and negotiator when interethnic problems arise in the country. Yes, he kept on travelling from place to place talking about nations and nationalities. But not even once attempted to peacefully resolve the plight of Amharas who continue to be victims of organized and forced eviction and deportation. Why should he? After all, the persecution of Amharas is officially sanctioned by the TPLF/ANDM government to destroy Amhara and Mr. Kasa is one of the Tigryans who drafted the policy.

Adisu Legese, another non Amhara top leader of ANDM was president of the Amhara state for 8 years from 1992 to 2000. Then deputy prime minister and now director of the TPLF/EPRDF cadre training institute as well as chairman of the so called Federal Support Board. Adisu recently traveled to Benishangul and gave a serious warning to the state’s handling of the killing of Tigryans in Asosa. Before he left, Adisu also gave a strict order that the Benishangul state, police, militia and other security apparatus must protect Tigryans and their interests at all costs and vigilantly more than anything else.

However, as the former president of Amhara, top leader of ANDM, Adisu who has a senior role in the federal government, didn’t even once intervened to stop the massacre and eviction of Amharas from other Ethiopian states since his party was imposed on the Amhara Regional state. He played a key role in the 2007 census that officially stated the missing of 2.4 million Amharas. He defended the report and strongly criticized opponents in parliament. As chairman of the census committee he is responsible for the false count that resulted in the reduction of federal budget allocation to the state. As a result of which the Amhara state was financially constrained from performing much needed development oriented activities.

Mr. Adisu is also using his position in the so called Federal Support Special Board by encouraging ethnocentric parties to enforce the TPLF policy of Amhara deportations from the regional states they run. As chairman of the board, he facilitates the flow of the necessary finance and security personnel to an official in the ministry of federal Affairs, by the name Shanko Dessalegne (with the rank ofHigher Advisor) whose job is to advance the eviction and deportation process of Amharas from the South, Oromia, Somali, Gambella, Afar, Harere, and Benishangul states. In this TPLF/EPRDF government policy that aims at creating Amhara free regional states, Mr. Adisu plays a key and central role in the intensified persecution process of the regime against the Amhara population.

Why is there a heavy presence of the Federal police in the Amhara region than all other states combined? In Amhara they provide security for every government bureau and ANDM offices. The security detail of all top regional and ANDM personnel belong to the Federal Police. The reason is that, the Tigryan and Non Amhara dominated ANDM has no trust and confidence on members of Amhara state police and militia. The latter are reduced to the level of a local supermarket guard.

For example in May 2013, a Non Amhara member of the Federal Police committed mass killings in Bahirdar, execution style. During the horrific incident Amhara police officers and militia forces in the vicinity were watching the crime as by standers, instead of taking action to stop and protect the 12 innocent Amharas who were gunned down without mercy in cold blood. Also, Amhara eviction and deportation victims unanimously testify and accuse that the Federal Police was and is actively taking part during forced and illegal displacements. The chief perpetrator in this regard is Hassan Shiffa a senior TPLF member, who is in charge of the force since its establishment in 1991.This is another proof that ANDM doesn’t have the interest of the Amhara people and the regional state at its disposal.

If you go down the administrative structure, the most important towns in Amhara are run by Tigryans as mayors. For example Gondar’s mayor is Getnet Amare, the mayor of Woldiya is Tsehaye Mengesha, and the mayor of the industrial town of Kombolcha is Abere Abera. Tana Beles Sugar Project’s senior official assigned to eliminate Amhara settlements from the Alefa Tacusa district of Gondar which is transferred to the Awi Zone and replace Amhara settlements and communities by Tigryan and Agew new settlers is Adgoy Mekuria who also call himself Adgeh.

This individual is handpicked by Abay Tsehaye, TPLF chief architect of Amhara displacement and deportation from Welqite and Alefa Tacusa in the name of advancing sugar projects. For example, Mr. Adgoy admitted on Amhara TV, 60,000 people or 12,000 Amhara families are uprooted from Tana Beles to make way for the sugar plantation and the construction of 2 sugar processing plants. But in his statement he didn’t mention about the new non Amhara settlers whom he and the TPLF strong man Abay Tsehaye introduced to the area at the expense of Amhara evictions to reverse the makeup of the population.

The number of forced out Welqite Amharas from their ancestral homeland in the Zarima and Waldeba monastery area for another sugar project is kept top secret by the TPLF, which continues committing a hidden and silent genocide against the whole Welqite population. This led to the incorporation of 3 Amhara Gondar districts namely Welqaite, tsegede and Tselemt into the Tigray state. Now, a modern asphalt road is under construction connecting Shire, a town in Tigray with Zarima and Adi Arqai in Gondar with the big purpose of totally incorporating the Amhara lands of the Simien Mountains to the Tigray state.

In this regard, the TPLF established a smartly grouped civic organization called “Population Health Environment Ethiopia Consortium” or PHE Ethiopia led by its political activist Negash Teklu. The aim of this group is to get funds from the international community by pretending to advocate the urgent need of saving the Simien Mountains from human encroachment.  The hidden agenda of the PHE Ethiopia group is to do all the necessary preemptive ground work of ridding the area from long standing Gondar Amhara settlements recorded since time immemorial.

Already, they dislocated and evicted Amharas from the Arkuazye settlement. Now they are in the process of eliminating the more than 600 year old Amhara settlement and community of Geeche. It is heart breaking to see the mountain life style of Amhara destroyed by TPLF/ANDM and PHE Ethiopia’s genocidal policy unleashed against all Amharas without reservation. This signals the beginning and end of the very existence of Amhara from the face of Ethiopia. Because, this particular eviction and deportation is taking place in the heart of Amhara just like what happened in Welkaite, Tsegede, and Tselemt and not from other regional states .Thus, I am afraid to say that the only memory of Geeche will only remain in the BBC television documentary.

Therefore, ANDM and its top leadership are working hand in hand with the consortium to evict 40,000 Amharas from the world famous Simien Mountains using international fund obtained with false premises. The final objective of this process of eviction or relocation in their own words is to guarantee the realization of Tigryan state’s territorial ambitions and expansion scheme on Debarq, Jan Amora, Beyeda, and Adi Arqai (which is already and unofficially under the control of Tigryan state administration).

So far many Ethiopians and Amharas inside the country itself and in the diaspora failed to stop the further territorial expansion of TIGRAY at the expense of Gondar AMHARA. Apart from Welqaite, Tsegede, Tselemt, Ofla and Alamata, the Adwa extremist group of TPLF led by the now deceased prime minister and Abay Tsehaye used heavy political and military muscle, to take control of Ras Dashen the tallest mountain in the country, and the surroundings of Abdurafee. Most of the sesame and cotton plantations in Metema and western Armachiho now a days belong to Tigryans attached to the TPLF. In these two districts a Tigryan settler holds up to 10 hectare of land while the right full Amharas are forced by the regional government to lease not more than one hectare of farmland or forced out of their ancestral lands to make way for the Tigryan settlers altogether.

These so called Tigryan investors, facilitate and orchestrate the influx of hundreds of thousands of settlers from Tigray with the objective of reversing the population balance in favor of the Tigryan ethnicity over the Amhara. This strategy has already transformed the mentioned fertile Gondar districts to have more of a Tigryan identity. For example Tigryan settlers in Abdurafee and Metema officially demanded the Federation council chaired by Kasa T/birhan to join with Tigray state out of Amhara. Since, ANDM as a policy encourages Tigryan investment and settlement throughout the Amhara state, Mr. Kasa T/Birhan will eventually agree to their request.

ANDM also hires Tigryan fresh college graduates in various regional, zonal, town and local government bureaus, while Amhara youth who completed their higher education either are left to become destitute or turn into daily laborers. Take Kombolcha and Debre birhan towns for example. Because of recent influx of large number of Tigryans, the two industrial towns make you feel like as if you are in Mekelle or Adwa. In June, 2014 Debre birhan residents voiced their concern that the young people of the town are overlooked in favor of the new arrivals when it comes to job opportunities during a public meeting, but the town’s mayor and the chief administrator of the zone couldn’t even explain or give a simple answer. Whereas, Amharas are forced out or evicted from other regional states as if Ethiopia is not their country, leave alone settle and hold employment, Tigryans enjoy all kinds of opportunities anywhere in Ethiopia as first class citizens.  Such is how ANDM operate as a TPLF instrument all over to destroy the wellbeing of the Amhara people.

In June of this year, a delegation of ANDM led by Gedu Andargachew president of the Amhara Region who continues denying about the Ethiopian territory transferred to Sudan from Gondar, visited the boarder districts of Quara, Metema and Western Armachiho. In Abrehajira, capital of western Armachiho, the public protested Tigray state’s bold territorial annexation of their land in the surroundings of Abdurafee, and demanded an explanation. They also mentioned that the modern road being built stretching from Shire Tigray up to the town of Abdurafee in Armachiho, under the supervision of the Tigray regional government, is in violation of the current boarders of the Amhara state. But as usual Mr.Gedu avoided the issue purposely and jumped to other cases not related with the inhabitants concern and request.

All these measures are taken with the green light of the Tigryan led “Amhara National Democratic Movement” which, openly works with the Adwa group of the TPLF to break the political will, economic base, and cultural back bone and finally destroy the wellbeing of the Amhara community at large. Such tactic worked perfectly well in Welqaite and Tsegede, where the indigenous Amhara population is now officially a minority, replaced by 500,000 Tigryan settlers who call the Amhara districts their home.  According to a sound information, since TPLF began ethnic cleansing against the local population, today, there are more people of Welqaite and Tsegede origin living in the US, Australia, and elsewhere than in Ethiopia’s Gondar region illegally controlled by heavily armed Tigryan recent settlers and ruled by TPLF.

Under the 23 years of ANDM rule, the Amhara regional state recorded the highest infant mortality, death rate or lowest life expectancy, and the per capita income as well as the standard of living is at the tail end compared to all other regional states of the country. The only place in Ethiopia where an intensive and coordinated campaign of sterilization of people in the reproductive age is conducted in Amhara as a policy by the TPLF led government to keep the population in check. As a result Amhara has the largest number of the old generation and the lowest number of youth in Ethiopia. The data that anyone can see from the publications of Ethiopia’s central statistics office confirm that Amhara is the least developed and the poorest region in Ethiopia and Africa as a whole. Even Aljazeera, recently aired a documentary that stated firmly that Amhara is the poorest region in Africa.

Therefore, ANDM, led and controlled by the Tigray/Tigrigne group is marching on, unchecked subduing and destroying the Amhara people as enshrined in TPLF’s and EPLF’s Directives and Manifestos. In this regard, it is the firm belief of many Ethiopians in the country and in the diaspora community, that the Amhara population are left with no other option but to wake up, organize themselves and defend their wellbeing and very survival without hesitation.

Finally the writer of this informative article poses a question to all Ethiopians and in particular to anyone who has an Amhara ancestral roots, “By standing on the side line, are you going to allow the piece by piece dismantling of Gondar and the rest of Amhara to continue until it is no more, or, are you going to do something about it by stopping the TPLF/ANDM conspiracy before it is too late”?

ANM

July 11, 2014

Ethiopian Muslims continue nation wide protest against Ethio. Government at Nur Mosque. July11, 2014

Filed under: Ethiopian Muslims — ethiopiantimes @ 9:46 pm
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Ethiopia: End the onslaught on dissent as arrests continue

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 3:11 pm
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The Ethiopian authorities are using a repressive Anti-Terror law as a pretext to crush dissent.The Ethiopian authorities are using a repressive Anti-Terror law as a pretext to crush dissent.

© AFP/Getty Images

These latest detentions add to Ethiopia’s ever-increasing number of journalists, opposition members, activists and other dissenting voices locked up for alleged ‘terrorism’ offences

Claire Beston, Amnesty International’s Ethiopia Researcher
Thu, 10/07/2014

 

The Ethiopian authorities must halt their continuing onslaught on dissent, Amnesty International said today, after the arrest of four more opposition party members this week, who are believed to be at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

 

All four were arrested on 8 July in the capital Addis Ababa and the northern city of Mekele on “terror” accusations: a charge commonly used as a pretext to put dissenters behind bars in Ethiopia.

 

“These latest detentions add to Ethiopia’s ever-increasing number of journalists, opposition members, activists and other dissenting voices locked up for alleged ‘terrorism’ offences,” said Claire Beston, Amnesty International’s Ethiopia Researcher.

 

“In the run-up to next year’s general election, the fear is that this number will continue to grow as the government continues its onslaught on dissent. Everyone who has been arrested because of their peaceful expression of dissenting opinions, their blogging activities, membership of a legally-registered political opposition party or participation in peaceful protests must be immediately and unconditionally released.”

 

Latest arrests and torture concerns

 

Those arrested on 8 July are: Abraha Desta of the Arena Tigray party, who is also a lecturer at Mekele University; Habtamu Ayalew and Daniel Shebeshi, both members of the Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ) party and Yeshewas Asefa of the Blue Party.

 

Abraha Desta is believed to be detained in Mekele, in the northern region of Tigray, while the other three have been taken to the Maikelawi federal police detention centre in Addis Ababa.

 

Blue Party and UDJ members say they tried to visit the men in Maikelawi on 9 July but were not permitted access and were told they could not have contact until the police investigation was concluded.

 

It is commonplace for detainees in Maikelawi to be denied access to legal representatives and family members in the initial stages of detention. This can last for as long as two or three months and is in violation of Ethiopian and international law. This incommunicado detention significantly increases the risk of detainees being subjected to torture. Political detainees in Maikelawi are frequently subjected to torture during interrogation.

 

Illegal transfer from Yemen

 

Also on 8 July, state-run Ethiopian Television (ETV) confirmed that an opposition leader who had disappeared on 24 June in Yemen was being detained in Addis Ababa. Andargachew Tsige, Secretary General of the outlawed Ginbot 7 movement, was illegally transferred from Yemen, and his precise whereabouts in the Ethiopian capital have still not been disclosed. A British national of Ethiopian origin, he continues to be denied access to consular or legal representatives or relatives.

 

In the broadcast, ETV (the country’s only TV channel) showed footage of Andargachew Tsige looking haggard and exhausted saying his arrest was a blessing in disguise and he just wanted to rest. His wife told Amnesty International that she did not understand what the footage or the message was intended to mean.

 

There are a number of precedents of the authorities taking footage of defendants in terrorism trials and broadcasting it on ETV. In each case, this violated the individuals’ right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Andargachew Tsige has already been tried on three separate occasions in absentia and sentenced to death as well as life imprisonment.

 

The same broadcast announced that other opposition leaders had been arrested, based on their contact with Ginbot 7 and Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) – a satellite TV channel broadcast in exile and which the Ethiopian authorities called the “official media of Ginbot 7”. Details of the arrests emerged subsequently.

 

Ethiopia has previously used alleged contact with Ginbot 7 and ESAT as a reason to imprison and thereby silence other dissenting voices on allegations of terrorism. In 2011, the Ethiopian authorities banned Ginbot 7 as a terrorist organization.

 

Journalists and bloggers held under Anti-Terrorism Law

 

Six bloggers from the group Zone 9 and three journalists are also among those detained under the Anti-Terrorism Law in Maikelawi. All nine have been detained without charge since their arrest on 25 and 26 April 2014 for alleged terrorism offences. The deeply flawed Anti-Terrorism Law allows for up to four months’ detention without charge – one of the longest remand periods in the world.

 

On 9 July, six of the detainees were granted access to visitors for the first time since their arrest two and half months ago. They reported they had been moved from the underground cells in Maikelawi where political detainees are regularly held in the early stages of their detention to a different part of the prison which detainees jokingly call “Sheraton”.

 

All six said that they have been forced to sign confessions of their alleged crimes. Three had previously complained in court remand hearings that they had been tortured. The court took no action on the allegations.

 

The remaining Zone 9 members, Abel Wabela and Mahlet Fantahun, and journalist Edom Kasaye, continue to be detained incommunicado.

 

“The Ethiopian government’s record on respecting the rights of detainees is alarming to say the least,” said Claire Beston.

 

“All detainees must be granted immediate access to lawyers and family members, must be charged with a recognizable offence or immediately released, and the Ethiopian government must ensure that no-one is ever subjected to torture.”

Amnesty International

July 10, 2014

Ethiopia:WHAT IS TO BE DONE!

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 8:16 pm
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By Guest writer:

Needless to say, the tyrants in Addis Ababa have opened a new chapter that may or may not change the course of history when it comes to Ethiopian politics and possibly that of the region. It also remains to be seen whether this is an act of timely calculated risk or blind act. However, one also may speculate, based on past experience, the current phenomenon is nothing but a continuation of irresponsible and treacherous act of violence against innocent citizens, be it that of journalist, persons of the Amhara, Afar, Ogaden Somalis ethnic groups; opposition members, Oromo students and remotely situated minority tribes, such as the Anwak and other Omo-valley tribesmen who possess fertile lands.

Kidnapping opposition members/leaders or anyone that was seen as a threat to the statuesque in Addis Ababa has been a common practice by the government of Ethiopia. In 2007 Tesfahun Chemeda and Mesfin Abebe, both of whom are member of the Oromo ethnic group and refugees in Kenya at the time of their abduction by Ethiopian and Kenyan security officers. They both were eventually snatched back to Ethiopia and thrown into the notorious ‘MAIKELAWI’ prison with allegation that they were members of OLF (Oromo Liberation Front). Tesfahun Chameda died in 2013 while still in prison allegedly due to torture and malnutrition. Another man who is serving life in Ethiopian prison since 2006 is Bashir Makhtal. He is of Ethiopia’s Ogaden somlai ethnic and a citizen of Canada. He was a business man by profession. He too was kidnapped in Kenya and was taken to Ethiopia. If you wonder what his crime was: just an allegation that he might be a member of ONLF (Ogaden National Liberation Front). There was also the case of Sulub Ahimed and Ali Hussein, members of the Ogaden National Liberation Front. They both were in Kenya upon accepting an invitation by Kenyan Government which claimed to mediate peace talk with their Ethiopian counterpart in January 26, 2014. They too were kidnapped by Kenyan security officers who were allegedly bribed hundreds of thousand dollars by Ethiopian government. Their whereabouts is unknown to this day. Followed was the abduction of Okello Akoy in Southern Sudan with the collaboration of Ethiopian masked security officers and Southern Sudan police force. Mr. Akoy, the former president of the Gambella region of Ethiopia, defected early and fled to Norway where he took citizenship, in opposition to a massacre of innocent members of the Anwak tribesmen by the locals orchestrated by Ethiopian security force.

The abduction, detention and possibly repatriation back to Ethiopia of G7 (Ginbot 7) general secretary Andargachew Tsige is just a continuation of such treacherous act by the government of Woyane in Ethiopia. What makes this recent act exception is the fact that it took place outside of the continent of Africa. Mr Tsige was in transit at Yemen’s Sanaa airport waiting for his next flight to Eritrea when he was abducted by Yemeni’s security officers. Mr Tsige is a renowned political figure both within Ethiopia and the Ethiopian diaspora.

What we should and must pay attention to is the fact that almost each country that was involved in these abductions broke either local or international or both laws. None of the abductees were given a chance of due process to determine whether there is legal ground for their detention and eventually repatriation to Ethiopia. They were not represented by any lawyer nor even given an opportunity to be heard.

We also have to pay attention to the fact that most of these abductees were citizen of other nations, not Ethiopia. Hence if there is legal ground to deport them, it should be to the country of their citizenship. Though they were born in Ethiopia, according to Ethiopia’s current law; one losses citizenship automatically once one becomes a citizen of other nation. Here we are also talking about jurisdiction. Kenya, South Sudan or Yemen for that matter could arrest a foreign citizen if he/she is found committing a crime in either one of these countries.

Now, we should also extend responsibility to the nations where these individuals are citizen of and to that of the international community. These nations did not interfere in the abduction of their citizens, nor did they attempt to halt their repatriation to Ethiopia. The only case that I remember of where these foreign nationals did help their citizen is when they interfered in the arrest of two Swedish citizens (both of whom are white) who were abducted by Ethiopian government in the Ogaden region and thrown to Ethiopian prison. I wonder if there is racial diamension to this.

The international community too failed to do anything about these abductees and other form of arrest and killings of innocent Ethiopians who number in thousands ever since the Woyane came to power. Every single day, there is a killing of Ethiopian citizens by its (Ethiopian government) brute security, police and military forces. The regions of Oromo, Amhara, Afar, Benshangul Gumuz and others have witnessed such ethnic cleansing act by its squads. We also witnessed mass arrest and killing of Ethiopian Muslims whose crimes was nothing other than holding peaceful demonstrations in Addis Ababa, Jima, Desie and other cities in the country. Today, there are thousands of political prisoners throughout the country; among them journalists, legal opposition members and leaders, peaceful demonstrators and etc.

It seems to me that if one is black and/or Muslim, one is irrelevant to the international community and it’s so called democracy and rule of law. Hence, at the end of the day, the solution has to come from within us, blacks and/or Muslims. We have to come together for our own sake; for the continuation of our survival and that of our country, Ethiopia!!! The question is: what is to be done?

We have tried peaceful process to voice for the voiceless. We stood in lines in rain and sun asking for our rights. We rallied in thousands peacefully, yet the response we got was either prison or bullets. We lost so many and continue to lose so many more of our brothers, sisters, fathers sons and daughters. It is our birth right to live on this earth in peace with respect and dignity. Nobody can take them away nor give them to us. They belong to all of us humans. If we cannot live with our birth rights, there is no meaning to continue living. We should hold hands and rise up!! Let’s once more sing, “Ye Oromo Amaraw Yetigrew bemulu; le democracy membet satinetatelu, bereat angibachehu bandinet tagelu”

Yes, I am advocating for armed struggle. You don’t have to belong to any organization; it is something you can do on your own, just like Boko Haram! I hate what Boko Haram does, but I must admit I admire the methodology it uses: no organization, no leader, and each strike on his own. If you catch one, that is where the story ends, you have no lead. You cannot infiltrate it because it is not an organization. You can act like Boko Haram against Ethiopian killing machines and its collaborators such as state media persons, bankers, businessmen, diplomats, cadres, beneficiaries and etc., in Ethiopia or in the diaspora. Yes, you can make any place hell for them. Your strike should also include officials and diplomats of those nations who collaborated with the junta in Addis Ababa by abducting our fellow countrymen.

We must be careful of innocent bystanders, children, and women. We also have to be careful of starting ethnic conflict. This is not to be something against the Tigrean ethnic group; it is against those who are using the name of the group to advance their own power monger interest. Remember, the ordinary Tigreans are as victims as all of us!! If we don’t do this, we are nothing but an average terrorist.

Yes, those of you who believe that you could be more effective if you operate under organization, it is your prerogative. Join, OLF, G7, ONLF and etc. Those of you who believe there is still room for peaceful dialogue; it is also your prerogative. But you need to work harder. You need to be creative because it seems that the international community is not getting it; or I should say, they don’t care because you are black and/or Muslim. Remember, it is the USA, Israel and British who have been funding and training Ethiopia’s brutal security and police force. Remember, it is USA’s weapons and machinery that were used to massacre the over 200 young men and women (most of whom were under 18) in the streets of Addis Ababa during the 2005 election. It is these nations and other so called western democracies that have been arming it (Ethiopian Government) toe to hair. It is also the Chines who have been involved in assisting Ethiopia’s brute security force in using the internet to surveillance citizens and block free press that happened to differ from the ruling junta when it comes to their political view point. Whatever it is you chose to do, I wish us the best.

STRIKE, STRIKE HARD IF YOU WISH YOUR CHILDREN TO SEE A BETTER TOMORROW

July 9, 2014

Ethiopia arrests four young, prominent opposition figures


Habtamu Ayalew

WASHINGTON, DC – Police on Tuesday arrested four young and prominent political leaders: Habtamu Ayalew, Daniel Shibeshi (both Andinet Party leaders), Yeshiwas Assefa (Semayawi Party) and Mekelle University instructor Abraha Desta, also a leader of Arena Opposition Party in Mekelle, Tigrai region.

Habtamu Ayalew, public relations head of the opposition Andinet Party, widely known as a great protest rally organizer and inspirational speaker, is jailed at the notorious Makelawi Prison.

Habtamu was preparing to travel to the United States where substantial supporters of Andinet Party live. In the meantime, police have also arrested Daniel Shibeshi and Yeshiwas Assefa. The house of Daniel Shibeshi was being searched in his own presence, Andinet Party chairman Gizachew Shiferaw told the Voice of America (VOA) on Teusday.

Away from the Ethiopian capital to Mekelle, the regional capital of Tigrai, Abraha Desta, a Mekelle University political science instructor widely known among Ethiopians for his opposition notes on his FaceBook page, was being beaten brutally when scurity men took him to an unidenitifed prison, eyewitnesses told Asgede Gebreselassie, a veteran opposition activist who informed Ethiomedia by phone from the city of Mekelle on Tuesday.

 

Abraha Desta
Abraha Desta

“We have asked seven police stations in the city; we couldn’t find him there. We don’t know if he is jailed at ’06′,” Asgede said, the inference of “06″ meaning an absolutely secret underground prison where hundreds or even thousands of opposition supporters have disappeared.

Believed to be on the outskirts of Mekelle, the hellish “06″ Prison is unknown to the “legal system”, and no inmate from “06″ has ever appeared in any court of law, even if the courts are under the control of the regime.

Abraha Desta, 31, shot to prominence a few years ago via his FaceBook page, for his sharp and witty notes critical of the ruling TPLF/EPRDF regime. As executive committee member of the opposition Arena Party, Abraha has been a lone, fearless voice in a society that has been tormented by the TPLF regime.

Seen by the West as a partner in the war on terror, Ethiopia has used the leverage to weaken and eventually decimate dissenting voices since TPLF came to power in 1991.

Nationwide crackdown in Oromia, Amhara, Ogaden and other regions of the country go unnoticed by the rest of the world. Peaceful and law-abiding Muslims are targets of the government for asking the respect of religious freedom, an activist from Addis Ababa who sought anonymity emailed Ethiomedia following the arrest of the activists.

“Clearly, the political climate is ripe for change,” said Asgede, “what’s left is for the opposition to unite and act.”

 

July 8, 2014

ETV Report – Andargachew Tsege Detained in Ethiopia

Filed under: Andargachew Tsige — ethiopiantimes @ 10:42 pm
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