ethiopiantimes

May 3, 2011

Ethiopia: Addis Abeba Developing New Land Grading System

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 7:36 pm
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The Addis Abeba City Administration has completed the first phase of a study to determine appropriate standard benchmarks on land lease prices and the valuation of property in the city.

Upon the request of the Land Administration and Building Permit Authority of the city administration, the development of a new land grading system was undertaken by the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development (EiABC) at Addis Abeba University (AAU) through its policy chair.

The first draft findings report of the study, which seeks to identify technical and institutional gaps in the existing land grading system, were presented to stakeholders by the EiABC at Ghion Hotel on Wednesday, April 27, 2011.

These stakeholders included bankers, lawyers, engineers, and city officials.

“The input of different stakeholders is crucial to upgrade the study,” Kasim Fite, manager of the land and building permit authority at the municipality, told Fortune. “The report found the existing pattern beyond any theoretical rationalisation.”

The study was commissioned, following the findings of another study conducted by the Addis Abeba Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations (AACCSA), in 2009.

There was no obvious correlation between the lease prices of land in Addis Abeba and existing land grades, the research found.

The system in use divides the city into three zones or grades according to concentric circles starting from the city centre. Plot prices decrease as its distance from the centre increases.

The 1,035 plots surveyed in the study by the AACCSA indicated no pattern in the lease prices of land that is divided into central, transitional, and expansion grades and up to five classes.

While land pegged at grade one class one should fetch the highest price in the city, the survey found grade three class three plots being leased for 3,150 Br per square metre, a higher price than the 2,050 Br per square metre of some grade two class two plots.

In applying the theory, land in Arada should fetch the highest price followed at a long distance by Kirkos, but plots in Kolfe Keranyo fetch much lower prices while land in Bole is higher priced.

“The current land grading system, prepared in 2003, is no longer relevant,” Kasim said. “It is not effective in guiding and facilitating land grading.”

In searching for an alternative to determine reliable trend based price data on land for citywide land valuation, EiABC considered five broad land categories: infrastructure, physical properties of land, developmental factors, social factors, and municipal services to attain a level of homogeneity, according to Sisay Zenebu, an instructor at EiABC and a member of the research team, said in his presentation of the findings.

The team developed a new map by synchronising maps prepared on the basis of these categories.

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“The new grading system opens land up to even 100 grades based on the categories instead of only the 14 grade levels currently in use,” Sisay told Fortune. “The new grading system affords the opportunity to standardise benchmark prices on the lease and valuation of property.”

The input from the stakeholders will be considered and integrated to formulate a final report that will be used to develop benchmark prices for property in the second phase of the project that is to kick off in three weeks.

“In addition, the study could help to improve institutional management, periodical land market assessments, and integrate monitoring,” said Abebe Kebede, another member of the research team who was also involved with the previous study.

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Security tight as Ethiopian militia kill 20 Kenyans

Filed under: Ethiopia,Kenya — ethiopiantimes @ 7:20 pm

The Kenyan government has beefed up security along the Kenya-Ethiopia border following Monday’s attack by the Merille militia from Ethiopia that left 20 Kenyans dead.
Source: KBC News

Meles Zenawie in TOP TEN On line Oppressors

Filed under: Africa,Egypt,Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 4:35 pm
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img alt=”” src=”http://www.cpj.org/reports/Assad.rtr.jpg” class=”alignnone” width=”400″ height=”233″ />
The world’s worst online oppressors are using an array of tactics, some reflecting astonishing levels of sophistication, others reminiscent of old-school techniques. From China’s high-level malware attacks to Syria’s brute-force imprisonments, this may be only the dawn of online oppression. A CPJ special report by Danny O’Brien
SAN FRANCISCO
In reporting news from the world’s most troubled nations, journalists have made a seismic shift this year in their reliance on the Internet and other digital tools. Blogging, video sharing, text messaging, and live-streaming from cellphones brought images of popular unrest from the central square of Cairo and the main boulevard of Tunis to the rest of the world.

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Multimedia
• Audio Report:
Offenders and Tactics
In Print
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More on This Issue
• CPJ Internet Channel:
Danny O’Brien’s blog
• Blogging in Egypt:
Virtual network,
virtual oppression
• Burmese exile news
site endures hacking,
DDoS attacks Yet the technology used to report the news has been matched in many ways by the tools used to suppress information. Many of the oppressors’ tactics show an increasing sophistication, from the state-supported email in China designed to take over journalists’ personal computers, to the carefully timed cyber-attacks on news websites in Belarus. Still other tools in the oppressor’s kit are as old as the press itself, including imprisonment of online writers in Syria, and the use of violence against bloggers in Russia.

To mark World Press Freedom Day, May 3, the Committee to Protect Journalists is examining the 10 prevailing tactics of online oppression worldwide and the countries that have taken the lead in their use. What is most surprising about these Online Oppressors is not who they are—they are all nations with long records of repression—but how swiftly they adapted old strategies to the online world.

In two nations we cite, Egypt and Tunisia, the regimes have changed, but their successors have not categorically broken with past repressive practices. The tactics of other nations—such as Iran, which employs sophisticated tools to destroy anti-censorship technology, and Ethiopia, which exerts monopolistic control over the Internet—are being watched, and emulated, by repressive regimes worldwide.
Many countries censor online news sources, using domestic Internet service providers and international Internet gateways to enforce website blacklists and to block citizens from using certain keywords. Since the disputed 2009 presidential election, however, Iran has dramatically increased the sophistication of its Web blocking, as well as its efforts to destroy tools that allow journalists to access or host online content. In January 2011, the designers of Tor, a privacy and censorship circumvention tool, detected that the country’s censors were using new, highly advanced techniques to identify and disable anti-censorship software. In October, blogger Hossein Ronaghi Maleki was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for allegedly developing such anti-filtering software and hosting other Iranian bloggers. The government’s treatment of reporters has been among the worst in the world; Iran and China topped CPJ’s 2010 list of worst jailers of the press, with 34 imprisoned apiece. But by investing in new technology to block the Net and actively persecuting those who circumvent such restrictions, Iran has raised the bar worldwide.
Tactics in practice:
> An array of repressive tactics
> World’s worst jailer

PRECISION CENSORSHIP
Key country: Belarus

Here are the 10 prevalent tools for online oppression.

WEB BLOCKING
Key country: Iran
Permanent filtering of popular websites often encourages users to find ways around the censor. As a result, many repressive regimes attack websites only at strategically vital moments. In Belarus, the online opposition outlet Charter 97 predicted that its site would be disabled during the December presidential election. Indeed it was: On Election Day, the site was taken down by a denial-of-service, or DOS, attack. A DOS attack prevents a website from functioning normally by overloading its host server with external communications requests. According to local reports, users of the Belarusian national ISP attempting to visit Charter 97 were separately redirected to a fake site created by an unknown party. The election, conducted without the scrutiny of critical outlets like Charter 97, was marred by secretive vote-counting practices, international observers said. Technological measures were not the only attacks on Charter 97: The site’s offices were raided on the eve of the election, and editors were beaten, arrested, and threatened. In September 2010, the site’s founder, Aleh Byabenin, was found hanged under suspicious circumstances.
Tactics in practice:
> Blocking sites for an election
> Web journalists targeted

DENIAL OF ACCESS
Key country: Cuba
High-tech attacks against Internet journalists aren’t needed if access barely exists. In Cuba, government policies have left domestic Internet infrastructure severely restricted. Only a small fraction of the population is permitted to use the Internet at home, with the vast majority required to use state-controlled access points with identity checks, heavy surveillance, and restrictions on access to non-Cuban sites. To post or read independent news, online journalists go to cybercafes and use official Internet accounts that are traded on the black market. Those who do get around the many obstacles face other problems. Prominent bloggers such as Yoani Sánchez have been smeared in a medium accessible by all Cubans: state-run television. Cuba and Venezuela recently announced the start of a new fiber-optic cable connection between the two countries that promises to increase Cuba’s international connectivity. But it’s unclear whether the general public will benefit from connectivity improvements any time soon.
Tactics in practice
> Bloggers face huge obstacles
> Sánchez called a “cybermercenary”

INFRASTRUCTURE CONTROL
Key country: Ethiopia
Telecommunications systems in many countries are closely tied to the government, providing a powerful way to control new media. In Ethiopia, a state-owned telecommunications company has monopoly control over Internet access and fixed and mobile phone lines. Despite a management and rebranding deal with France Telecom in 2010, the government still owns and directs Ethio Telecom, allowing it to censor when and where it sees fit. OpenNet Initiative, a global academic project that monitors filtering and surveillance, says Ethiopia conducts “substantial” filtering of political news. This matches Ethiopia’s continuing crackdown on offline journalists, four of whom are imprisoned for their work, according to CPJ records. Ethiopian government control does not simply extend to phone lines and Internet access. The country has also invested in extensive satellite-jamming technology to prevent citizens from receiving news from foreign sources such as the Amharic-language services of the U.S. government-funded Voice of America and the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
Tactics in practice:
> Suppressing news of Middle East unrest
> Controls over all media

ATTACKS ON EXILE-RUN SITES
Key country: Burma
For journalists who have been run out of their own country, the Internet is a lifeline that enables them to continue reporting news and commentary about their homeland. But exile-run news sites still face censorship and obstruction, much of it perpetrated by home governments or their surrogates. Exile-run sites that cover news in Burma face regular denial-of-service attacks. The Thailand-based news outlet Irrawaddy, the India-based Mizzima news agency, and Norway’s Democratic Voice of Burma have all experienced attacks that disabled or slowed their websites. The attacks are often timed around sensitive political milestones such as the anniversary of the Saffron Revolution, a 2007 monk-led, anti-government protest that was violently suppressed. Burmese authorities have coupled these technical attacks with brute-force repression. Exile-run news sites depend on undercover, in-country journalists, who surreptitiously file their reports. This undercover work comes with extreme risk: At least five journalists for Democratic Voice of Burma were serving lengthy prison terms for their work when CPJ conducted its annual worldwide survey in December 2010.
Tactics in practice:
> Cyber-attacks hit exile sites
> Repression precedes election
Harmful software can be concealed in apparently legitimate emails and sent to a journalist’s private account with a convincing but fake cover message. If opened by the reporter, the software will install itself on a personal computer and be used remotely to spy on the reporter’s other communications, steal his or her confidential documents, and even commandeer the computer for online attacks on other targets. Journalists reporting in and about China have been victims of these attacks, known as “spear-phishing,” in a pattern that strongly indicates the targets were chosen for their work. Attacks coincided with the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize award to imprisoned writer and human rights defender Liu Xiaobo, and official suppression of news reports describing unrest in the Middle East. Computer security experts such as those at Metalab Asia and SecDev have found such software is aimed specifically at reporters, dissidents, and non-governmental organizations.
Tactics in practice:
> A Nobel invitation that wasn’t
> Taking over an email account

STATE CYBERCRIME
Key country: Tunisia under Ben Ali
Censorship of email and social networking sites was pervasive in Tunisia under Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, as it has been in many repressive states. But in 2010, the Tunisian Internet Agency took the effort one step further, redirecting Tunisian users to fake, government-created log-in pages for Google, Yahoo, and Facebook. From these pages, authorities stole usernames and passwords. When Tunisian online journalists began filing reports on the uprising, the state used their login data to delete the material. A common tactic of criminal hackers, the use of fake Web pages to steal passwords is being adopted by agents and supporters of repressive regimes. While cybercrime tactics appear to have been abandoned with the collapse of Ben Ali’s government in January, the new government has not relinquished control of the Internet entirely. Within weeks, the administration announced it would continue to block websites that are “against decency, contain violent elements, or incite to hate.”
Tactics in practice:
> Invading Facebook
> Will the revolution endure?

INTERNET KILL SWITCHES
Key country: Egypt under Mubarak
Desperately clinging to power, President Hosni Mubarak shut down the Internet in Egypt in January 2011, preventing online journalists from reporting to the world, and Egyptian viewers from accessing online news sources. Egypt was not the first to sever its link to the Internet to restrict news coverage: Internet access in Burma was shut down during a revolt in 2007, and the Xinjiang region of China had either limited or no access during ethnic unrest in 2010. Mubarak’s crumbling government could not sustain its ban for long; online access returned about a week later. But the tactic of slowing or disrupting Net access has been emulated since that time by governments in Libya and Bahrain, which have also faced popular revolt. Despite the fall of the Mubarak regime, the transitional military government has shown its own repressive tendencies. In April, a political blogger was sentenced to three years in prison for insulting authorities.
Tactics in practice:
> Egypt vanishes from the Net
> Online, an enormous loss

DETENTION OF BLOGGERS
Key country: Syria

MALWARE ATTACKS
Key country: China
Despite the spread of high-tech attacks on online journalism, arbitrary detention remains the easiest way to disrupt new media. Bloggers and online reporters made up nearly half of CPJ’s 2010 tally of imprisoned journalists. Syria remains one of the world’s most dangerous places to blog due to repeated cases of short- and long-term detention. Ruling behind closed doors in February, a Syrian court sentenced blogger Tal al-Mallohi to five years of imprisonment. She was 19 when first arrested in 2009. Al-Mallohi’s blog discussed Palestinian rights, the frustrations of Arab citizens with their governments, and what she perceived to be the stagnation of the Arab world. In March, online journalist Khaled Elekhetyar was detained for a week, while veteran blogger Ahmad Abu al-Khair was detained for the second time in two months.
Tactics in practice:
> A blogger becomes a “spy”
> Detention among many tools

VIOLENCE AGAINST ONLINE JOURNALISTS
Key country: Russia

The brutal assault on blogger Oleg Kashin drew worldwide outcry. Here, a protest at the Russian embassy in Kyiv. (Reuters/Gleb Garanich) In countries with high rates of anti-press violence, online journalists have become the latest targets. In Russia, a brutal November 2010 attack left the prominent business reporter and blogger Oleg Kashin so badly injured he was placed in an induced coma for a time. No arrests have been made in the Moscow attack, which is reflective of Russia’s poor overall record in solving anti-press assaults. The attack on Kashin was the most recent in a string of assaults against Web journalists that include a 2009 attack on Mikhail Afanasyev, editor of an online magazine in Siberia, and a 2008 murder of website publisher Magomed Yevloyev in Ingushetia.

Stop trafficking Ethiopian children

Filed under: Azeb Mesfin,Ethiopia,Meles Zenawi — ethiopiantimes @ 10:54 am
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Meles Zenawi has exposed the poor and innocent people to the greed of foreign citizens. Our people were mmaterial poor, but spiritual rich.Now, according to Meles, Ethiopia is on sell or foreign currecny? Chidren are the most valueble commodities for Meles. Meles has no any single large and integrated farming in the past 20 years. All he has is child selling enterprises to earn foreign currency.
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Ethiopia Freezes Nile Water Treaty in Sign of Thaw With Egypt

Filed under: Egypt,Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 9:20 am
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Ethiopia has agreed to postpone ratification of a treaty on sharing Nile River water until a new Egyptian government takes office to join the negotiations. The delay eases a long-running dispute between upstream countries at the source of the Nile and downstream countries that claim historic rights to the water.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has told a visiting Egyptian delegation he will freeze consideration of a treaty that would reverse colonial-era agreements giving Egypt and Sudan rights to 90 percent of the Nile’s water. Six upper riparian states have signed the deal, clearing the way for ratification. But downstream countries Egypt and Sudan have refused.

Ethiopia’s ambassador to Egypt Mohamoud Dirir Gheddi said the delay is a goodwill gesture to allow Egypt time to elect a new government following the popular uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak.

“Ethiopia, having seen the current situation in Egypt, where they need to establish their own government and go through a democratic process of election of their president, sees that it is sane and wise to wait for Egypt and give her time. So it is by way of freezing the ratification at parliament that process will be delayed until such time as Egypt comes up with its own popularly elected government,” Dirir said.

Members of the Egyptian delegation say they received a similar assurance from Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni during a visit to Kampala last month. Delegation leader Mustafa el Gindy said the 47-member group asked for a delay of up to a year.

“Six months or a year because we need to stabilize, we need to finalize our revolution. We got Mubarak, we got his ministry, but 30 years of Mubarak in Egypt, there is a lot of ‘Mubarak underground’ who want to kill this revolution. Then we need the time, the year is a maximum to get back strong enough, to sit all together,” el Gindy said.

The water-sharing dispute gained new urgency last month when Ethiopia announced it is building a huge 5,000-megawatt power project on the Nile, close to the Sudanese border. El Gindy said the announcement frightened many Egyptians, who were told for decades by the Mubarak government that Ethiopia was trying to steal their water.

“I told the prime minister, 30 years of Mubarak made the Egyptians (think) they don’t trust you. They think you are the man who wants to kill them and cut the water on them,” el Gindy said.

Ethiopia’s ambassador Dirir Gheddi says the Mubarak government contributed to the unfriendly atmosphere by blocking international funding for an Ethiopian power project on the Nile.

“There was a baggage of suspicion created by the former regime vis-a-vis Ethiopia that Ethiopia is a conspiring country against Egypt, and of course Egypt has conspired against Ethiopia in the past, persuading international donors like the IMF and World Bank not to fund projects in Ethiopia related to the Nile River,” Dirir said.

Egyptian delegation leader el Gindy says that when all Nile riparian countries reach a deal on water sharing, institutions like the World Bank and IMF will be knocking on their door to fund power generation projects.

News agencies say Egypt’s Prime Minister Essam Sharaf will visit Ethiopia later this month to follow up on the work of the public diplomacy delegation

Ethiopia: Siye says Meles is planning “evil things”

Filed under: Ethiopia,Meles Zenawi — ethiopiantimes @ 8:50 am
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Former Defense Minister Siye Abraha, the former ally of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, is now the vice chairman of the UDJ opposition party, one of the groups inside the MEDREK coalition. In an interview with Ethiopian newspaper CAPITAL, Siye says his party recently launched a new plan for change and the government could face popular revolts like the ones seen in North African countries.

Quotes from Interview

•“We have a situation where there is a one party system, and no independent institutions…it is very important that we secure the neutrality of these institutions.”
•“Is it good to see that about 90 percent of the generals are Tigrayans? No, this has to be changed.”
•“They (EPRDF) are out of touch” with reality
•“There have to be people coming out in the hundreds of thousands demanding change…The Libyans, I would say, were tricked into resorting to violent means…. You need to keep to a nonviolent movement where even kids and women and intellectuals can join”

Capital: Your decision to join UDJ came as a surprise to many; people expected you to join your former colleague, Gebru Asrat’s Arena Tigray for Democracy and Sovereignty. Why UDJ?
Siye Abraha:Why should it be a surprise? That Gebru and I were in the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) doesn’t mean that we will stay together in an ethnic or national party forever.
There was a time when I felt it would be better that I pursue my political dreams through a national front like the TPLF. I feel that time has changed and the order of the day demands we Ethiopians come under an umbrella to move the democratic struggle forward in a united, all Ethiopian party. Of course being in a national or ethnic based party doesn’t make one less or more Ethiopian than someone who joins a multinational party, but I feel the time has changed, that’s why I joined UDJ.
Gebru and I still remain good friends and it doesn’t mean that we have major disagreements.

Capital: It is a very rare case for senior ruling party members to join the opposition; I imagine there could be a lot of issues to work out on both sides. What has been your relation like with UDJ ordinary members; has it been a smooth one as you expected it and were you welcomed by all?

Siye:Yes I was welcomed by all UDJ members at all levels. In fact before I decided to join UDJ I was asked to join the party both by the leadership and the youth. So when the request came, I said I thank you for the respect you have for me but I need time to take my decision. I took my time and made the decision. I was welcomed and I still remain a welcome member of the party… I am happy with my relation within the party… I am satisfied with my decision.

Capital: Tell us about the five year plan UDJ recently announced it has outlined; what are the major tasks and targets set to be accomplished?

Siye: I would like to treat the matter in two separate groups as it is composed of two distinct parts; one is the strategy and the other is the plan [the five year plan].
The strategy defines how we align our core political base and where to base oneself; this requires we approach the social strata in our society based on their interests and on their matters of concerns. We are all Ethiopians, and one can say we all want the integrity and sovereignty of our country protected. We want to see a democratic system in the country that everybody has a right to express themselves and vote. We want to see institutions that facilitate power through elections. Governments that leave voluntarily when they do not have the ‘Yes’ vote of the people; all these are general which all Ethiopian are keen to see happen in Ethiopia.

Beyond this, however, are many policy issues; what matters to Ethiopian farmers may not be of much concern for an Ethiopian investor for example, or what a burning issue is for intellectuals may not be a concern for workers at factories. So we have to clearly articulate our policies so that Ethiopian voters in all social classes could see themselves voting for our party. To have that, we have clearly defined where the party entrenches itself and how. This is one aspect, an issue of getting the majority votes. There is another aspect; we have a situation where there is a one party system, and no independent institutions. We have a situation where the party controls everything and there is no independent judiciary. One cannot confidently say that we have a neutral army or security institutions and there is not a vibrant civil society; it is very important that we secure the neutrality of these institutions. It is very difficult to guarantee a political transition without having these, even in the presence of a majority of votes. So we had to elaborate our vision and strategy in relation to securing the neutrality of these institutions.
There are a lot of issues: what if the ruling party refuses to relinquish power even after having lost an election? There could be an element of fear; they can pull some nasty cards in the last hours. The history of politics in this country is full of reprisals and discriminations and for the country to have a peaceful transition to a democratic system we have to plan in such a way that there won’t be any bloodshed that could be precipitated by a sense of fear from the other side. These are among the issues we have to address in our strategy. There is also the dynamics of rural and urban politics as well.
Our strategy is the one that takes us from where we are now to establishing a popular elected government. When we come to the master plan and how to go about it; the five year plan clearly articulates what we should do [cascaded in timetable] between 2003 and 2007 Ethiopian Calendar. We have a year by year plan; it is a big document…about 140 pages long. So this will be something we will be working on and we will introduce it to the public and all other stakeholders so they can know that they have an interest in realizing this plan.

Capital: The Addis Ababa City election is only two years away…is that something your plan covers?

Siye: We understood the extent the ruling party went to narrow down the political space in the last five years prior to the recent elections [May, 2010]. We only participated in good faith and to show the public that we are ready and it was clearly demonstrated that the ruling party was in no way prepared to give space to the opposition. The 99.6 percent so called victory of the EPRDF is very telling of the political landscape we are in.
There is no point in participating in elections if there is no level playing field. We will work to stay put in the political map in this country, whether there is election or not, but we are not yet sure whether the obstacles that have been created by the ruling party will be cleared so that we will be able to participate in another election. So until then, we don’t have a definite commitment whether to participate in any election or not. But we will prepare ourselves internally to win an election in case the obstacles are cleared.

Capital: Is there any chance where your party can build popular support to force the government to have the obstacles you see cleared for fair elections?

Siye: The best way to do that is to consolidate one’s political base and emerge as a strong political party with capable leadership and structure and to build bridges with other parties and civic associations, clearly articulated plans and policies and communicate them to the public and engage the international community. By doing these we will, to the best of our capability, try to change the political ground so that the ruling party will open space up for free and fair elections.

Capital: As you said you need capable leadership; UDJ recently faced dissent within the party and it fired some senior members and Birtukan Midekssa herself [UDJ chair] is suspending active political participation for an unknown period. There was a crisis right before the May election, hurting the party’s image. Given all these factors how do you plan to change this image and have strong leaders?

Siye: The most important thing is to build a democratic party. In a democratic party there will always be differences, but they can be solved through dialogue. That is what we will try to do. With regards to those who have been in this party and are out now, this happened over a year ago. It is unfortunate, I like to see this rectified. But that is not the end of everything. A party cannot be defined by these types of ups and downs, the most important thing is how the party tries to position itself in the public and that is what we are trying to do.
I think we should look into the Ethiopian public at large; there are a lot of educated and capable people. These people, many of them, want to see change in the country but they want to see a credible political party and to overcome their fears about participating, because participating in a political party is becoming a dangerous enterprise in this country. So we will do our level best to emerge as a credible political party, and by that we will contribute to helping the Ethiopian people to overcome their fears and concerns. I think the issue you raised will be overcome.
With regards to Birtukan, I wish she had stayed in the party and shouldered her responsibilities. But I also appreciate and respect her decision and it is not a consequence of what happened in the UDJ. Her actions have more to do with what happened to her.

Capital: Let me share with you an assessment I heard from a senior EPRDF official in the Adama congress, it was briefly mentioned recently by the PM himself. The EPRDF says the hardliner Ethiopian opposition has been marginalized by the latest elections and since they are disappearing and after an economic transformation there will emerge a liberal ideology advocate party supported by the private sector and EPRDF will evolve [possibly to a social democratic party] and the two will be contesting for power after that in elections. Basically they expect you to disappear in few years’ time but here you are coming out with plans; what is your take on this?

Siye: Let me give you my counter assessment; the EPRDF will fail to deliver, even in economic transformation. The EPRDF will be burdened by its science. And given the direction [strategy] we are heading we will create a strong, solid opposition and the EPRDF will leave office by the will of the Ethiopian public. This is another, credible assessment and it is time that will decide [tell] which one will prevail sometime down the line.

Capital: Is there any time table you expect this to happen in…five years…ten years?

Siye: There are a lot of factors I cannot predict at this time, but it could be short. Nobody ever imagined Mubarak would leave power in a matter of two weeks, the Russians never expected the Berlin wall would collapse… so the world is sometimes fast changing. Rulers can dream… Mubarak was planning to pass on power to his son, Ben Ali to his wife… but what happened occurred in a short time and nobody expected it. So it is very difficult to put these things in a time table.
What the EPRDF thinks will happen is delusionary, it is better that they open up their mind, open up their eyes and speak to the people and come to their senses instead of talking about these delusionary offspring of power and arrogance.

Capital: When you and other opposition figures say popular revolt in Ethiopia is inevitable, EPRDF is saying that Ethiopians are currently enjoying economic progress and the nation is embracing a democratic system that only the opposition can’t appreciate?

Siye: What else can they say? They cannot say what happened in Cairo would be repeated in Ethiopia, they cannot speak of their own doomsday. Everybody would say that; Mubarak was saying this isn’t Tunisia, and Ghadaffi is saying this isn’t Cairo… so any dictatorial group thinks it is different… this is one of their problems… they are out of touch. But I can tell you, given my knowledge of these people; they must be very worried about what is happening in North Africa. They must be planning all dirty, evil things – planning for such a scenario… not a positive plan but a negative plan; but publicly they cannot admit of a dooms day happening here. I don’t want to see bloodshed and damage of property happening in this country, this [change] can be achieved in peaceful way. Such democratic changes could better be served through nonviolent means than by violent means and they have a chance to avoid any such occurrences; it is in their hands. The best thing for them is to act proactively and learn from others.

Capital: One of the major elements in the popular revolts in other countries has been the involvement of the army; in countries like Egypt the army remained neutral; in other countries it aided the public protests, while in places like Libya its involvement led to a civil war. Given your experience, leading the army from early days of TPLF itself, how do you expect the army to react if such revolts occurred in Ethiopia?

Siye: First of all there have to be people coming out in the hundreds of thousands demanding change. What we have seen in Egypt and Tunisia is that people overcame their fears and came out to the streets; I think it is the most important factor; the role of the army came later. The massive turnouts, people overcoming their fear and having the resilience to stay put, are the most important, decisive factors. They overwhelmed all the institutions and the rulers. This is the issue and the most important factor for a successful peoples’ movement. The second thing is the movement has to be peaceful; it should never get in the trap of the leaders and turn itself into a violent struggle. The Libyans, I would say, were tricked into resorting to violent means; they should by no means have entered into. The rulers want to turn a nonviolent struggle into violent one; there were similar attempts in Egypt but the people didn’t drag themselves into the mess and paid sacrifices to keep the struggle a nonviolent one and this is a very important thing. You need to keep to a nonviolent movement where even kids and women and intellectuals can join; better not to do anything than to engage in a violent conformation.
The army staying neutral is a third and very decisive factor; Mubarak would have turned the fight in the streets into a civil war, which could have pulled the army into the game. But there were two factors; the protesters didn’t go down the drain [stayed with nonviolent strategies] and the army didn’t want to intervene even under this critical situation and it is good to have this type of army. The fourth factor was the whole world watching what was happening, there was Al Jazeera… and the rulers were under abig radar. Ordinary people in America, London and Brussels, were watching it and they were making statements – the capitals, White House were hearing those statements and the leaders too had to make statements. The Diaspora was also making a strong effort; parties weren’t the ones that made it possible; a well connected youth is the one that made it possible. The youth took over; the old people with grey hair came later, some from Europe. Where are the young Ethiopians? They are victims of unemployment and denial of freedoms. Unless the society starts to release the might of this interconnected generation transformation is going to be difficult; Egyptians and Tunisians have demonstrated that.

Capital: Yes these are important factors…but can you share with us how you think the Ethiopian army will react in such events?

Siye:It depends on how we see them and how we treat them; we have to change our perception. I think the Ethiopian public has to change its perception. Yes, the generals [a big majority of them] are Tigrayans, they were ex TPLF combatants. I would say, so what? They are Ethiopians after all. To be a Tigrayan is also to be an Ethiopian…. Tigrayans should not be stigmatized; they should be embraced and take them as ours. What if we alienate them? Then they will be used by the ruling elite. What if we embrace them? They will be part of the Ethiopian public. After all these people fought to bring about change in this country; they fought the Dergue regime and they paid a huge sacrifice, we should give this due credit. They fought for the sovereignty of their country during the Eritrean invasion, give them due weight and embrace them.
Is it good to see that about 90 percent of the generals are Tigrayans? No, this has to be changed. But, maybe it is not their fault and it doesn’t disqualify them as Ethiopians by any means. So, we have to change the language and the mindset. The fact that Meles is a Tigrayan doesn’t mean that all Tigrayans support Meles… I am Tigrayan, I have been a TPLF leader. It is with hope that we are standing together. We have a stake in this country; we have to work with all, to change for the good of all of us including Tigrayans. And every Amhara, Oromo, Tigrayan and everybody has to be happy about a positive change; it is only when we work together, embrace each other and when we trust each other and when we change the mindset and language that we can bring unity among Ethiopians. Short of unity among Ethiopians- this change will not happen. We should go out of talking about them and us – and think in term of us all Ethiopians. Fear and suspicion will serve the rulers. We have to free ourselves from this trap or we will remain in chains. People are worried about the army and possible ethnic strife, but we should talk about what we can do about it. Every Ethiopian should discuss these issues. This should not create a sense of helplessness inside us… it should create a sense of rising to the challenge and doing something constructive, positive about it. And we can and we should. If you love your country, you should love all Ethiopians… you should embrace all Ethiopians. You may disagree with them but you cannot deny or disqualify their Ethiopianism – this is very important

CPJ: Ethiopia named among top 10 Oppressors of Internet Freedom

Filed under: Ethiopia,Meles Zenawi — ethiopiantimes @ 8:35 am
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Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2007. (AP Photo/Les Nauheus)

CPJ: Ethiopia named among top 10 Oppressors of Internet Freedom

New York, May 2, 2011 – As journalists increasingly use social media to report breaking news and the number of people with Internet access explodes worldwide, governments are employing sophisticated new tactics to suppress information, according to a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists, issued today to mark World Press Freedom Day.

CPJ’s assessment of the 10 prevailing strategies for online oppression and the leading countries utilizing such tactics shows that traditional mechanisms of repression have evolved into pervasive digital censorship. The tools utilized include state-supported email designed to take over journalists’ personal computers in China, the shutting down of anti-censorship technology in Iran, monopolistic control of the Net in Ethiopia, as well as synchronized cyber-attacks in Belarus.

“These techniques go well beyond Web censorship,” said Danny O’Brien, CPJ Internet Advocacy Coordinator and author of the report. “The Internet is being used to spy on writers and sabotage independent news sites where press freedom is most threatened. The aim is not only to censor but to block or disrupt the reporting process and the dissemination of news and information.”

The digital offensive is often coupled with physical intimidation of online journalists. In 2010, CPJ research shows that 69 journalists whose work appeared primarily online were jailed as of December 1, constituting nearly half of all those in prison.

“These sophisticated, often invisible, attacks constitute a new front in the fight for press freedom,” said O’Brien. “Bypassing censorship is important but basic protection of source data and identities should take priority as well. Combined, these digital attacks undermine our universal right to seek information.”

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