ethiopiantimes

July 29, 2011

Deutsche Welle Amharic faces damning allegations

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 6:50 pm
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Ethiopian journalist and broadcaster Mesay Mekonnen has alleged that Deutsche Welle Amharic is poorly managed and accused the head of irresponsibly putting him and his family
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‘Yenegasso Menged’ – Ethiopia’s Former President Regrets Key Decisions He Made in Office

Filed under: Ethiopia,Meles Zenawi — ethiopiantimes @ 8:49 am
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Addis Ababa, July 29, 2011 (Ezega.com) – As far as the Ethiopian politics go in the last 40 years, one way or another, Dr Negasso Gidada, Former Ethiopian President, have witnessed and participated in one of the major changes that took place. During this period, Negasso remained active in politics and became part of the inside circles of politics.

The news book titled “Yenegasso Menged” or “Negasso’s Way” revisits the ups and downs of the Ethiopian politics in the last forty years through the experience of Negasso Gidada. The writer Daniel Teffera interviewed the former president from his childhood times and his university life, to his life in Germany and his engagement with the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). He also questions his active membership in the EPDRF, his life as the president of the country and his decision to remove himself from the ruling party. Negasso explained the mistakes he said he made as a president, and his decisions to initiate a coalition for opposition parties in the country named Medrek and his choice to compete for the parliament independently, and finally his pronouncement to join an opposition party, Hebret.

Negassos’s long and puzzling political life began when he was a high school student. Fortunately, the high school he attended was in the compound of Addis Ababa University, which gave him the opportunity to discuss and share views on politics with university students. The time was the 1950s when there was a wide range of activities by the students against the feudal system. Negasso was in the right place to understand the ideologies and the prevailing views against imperialism.

While this served him to know about the political problems, especially the claims of the Oromo people, Negasso joined the university’s history department. Studying Ethiopian history, especially the history of the Oromo people, Negasso became more sensitive and active in the student movement that took place at the end of 1950s and the beginning of 1960s.

After Negasso went to Germany to work on his master’s degree, he continued his active participation in Ethiopian politics. He said he joined OLF in the late 1970s EC when he willingly wrote a letter to OLF requesting to be an active member and work for the organization. From then on, Negasso has been a lively member of almost all political parties established in Europe. Especially in those working or claiming to be working for the Oromo people, Negasso either established them or took part in some of the most important decisions.

After all this, Negasso came back to Ethiopia and joined the Oromo People Democratic Orgnaization (OPDO), which is a member party of the ruling EPDRF. After that, Negasso has served as the executive member of the party and he has been in many important positions, including Labour and Social Affairs Minister, Communication Minister and finally the President of the country. He took active part in Eritrean referendum and served as member of the constitutional making committee and many other critical decisions that shaped the overall existence of the present Ethiopia.

The sad reality is Negasso regrets most decision he made in those positions. For example, Negasso says that the constitutional committee that was responsible for the making of it did not guarantee every stakeholder participated in the discussion. “Even the people did not get proper opportunity to accept, comment or decline the draft of the constitution. The discussion was just a formality with limited participants most of them from the ruling party. Members parties of the transitional government and those who fought and supported TPLF itself were not invited to participate in the making of it. I think that is why the constitution is called the EPDRF constitution instead of the Ethiopian constitution,” he said.

Negasso became the Ethiopian president not by a choice but, according to him, by his loyalty to his party OPDO. “One evening Kuma Demeksa (former Oromia Region President) invited me to his house for a dinner. When I got there, Aba Dula Gemeda (also Former Oromia region President and the current house speaker for the parliament) and Hassan Ali were at Kuma’s house already. They told me that all the member parties of EPDRF are required to bring nominees to be the president of the country. There were already some nominations. For example, her party nominated Genet Zewede (former Minister of Education) but the ruling party rejected her nomination claiming the Ethiopian society is not ready to accept a women as president. So they told me they nominated me to be the president of the country,” Negasso said.

After they communicated the decision to him, he claims that he resisted accepting. “I said I am only 51 years old and I want to be an active member of my party. The president hardly has significant role in the politics of the country.”

According to Negasso, Meles Zenawi convinced him to accept the position. “Meles told me that being a president will give me plenty of time to engage myself in strengthening my party. His argument was convincing since the president works only 15% of his time and I had 85% to commit myself to OPDO.” Although Negasso noticeably tried in the book to sound resistant to the presidential position, he could not hide the fact that the decision thrilled him. “I told my families about this decision and they cried because they were very happy. We all wished that our parents lived long enough to see that day”

As a president of the country though, Negasso does not seem to be proud of any decision he made. For that matter, reading between the lines of his interview, he does not seem to have had that much of a say on what was going on around him. Though the constitution clearly stipulates that the Ethiopian president, as the head of the state, only have limited responsibilities that has nothing to do with the politics of the country, Negasso, as a relatively young and active member of OPDO should have at least information on the matter.

Surprisingly, the thing Negasso most regrets from his presidential life is signing on the bill that denies corruption suspects their right to bail. That law, as the public already knows, was made on the night when former high court judge Birtukan Miedeksa decided to release corruption suspect and former executive member of TPLF Seye Abraha on bail. Negasso says, “Teffera Walwa, who was Deputy Prime Minister at the time called me one late night and told me that we need to have a proclamation that denies the right to bail before Seye is released. He said I should sign on the bill as soon as possible,” Negasso remembers. In fact, according to the Ethiopian constitution, the president has only two weeks to sign on any proclamation passed by parliament. If he does not sign during that period, the bill will take effect without his signature. However, Negasso knowing what was going to happen could have at least refused to sign the bill.

“There are people who ask me why I signed that bill. However, I want people to understand that I signed the bill because of my strong stand against corruption. I thought EPDRF had the same stand. It was too late for me to understand it was all scam,” he tries to explain.

Negasso also says he stood up for the things he thought were right at the time. He even remembers the occasion when he challenged the unchallengeable Meles Zenawi. “At the time when there was a split between the TPLF – when Seye and other members of the TPLF boycotted the meeting in Mekelle – Meles reported that the group ran away leaving their cloths behind. I did not like the way he talked and I said he sounded like Mengustu Hailemariam. The house was shocked by this comment. Genet Zewde even cried saying how could I compare Meles to Mengustu,” Negasso says.

Then, after ten years, Negasso decided it was time to walk out of the ruling party. The main reason for this decision was the ideological difference he witnessed between the EPDRF dogma and the practice. “My understanding was that, using revolutionary democracy as a bridge, we will take the country to socialism. However, in one occasion Meles Zenawi said the ruling party is following pure capitalism. That was the most shocking thing I have ever encountered in my political life.”

At the end of the first term of his presidential position, he says, he refused another nomination for president. After he decided to remove himself from office, he left his membership at OPDO. “They begged me to be nominated again, but I refused,” he said.

Negasso tries to establish that his decision cost him a lot. As the rule is ‘what goes around, comes around’, when Negasso decided to disappoint the ruling party, they also geared up to let him down. “After I left the office, they immediately drafted a proclamation saying if a former president involves himself in the politics, he will lose every benefit the government provides for him. They knew my passion for politics and they were trying to keep me away from it. After I decided to run for parliament independently, they terminated all the privileges I enjoyed as a former president. They claim I was then engaged in politics and that was against the law and I do not deserve the privileges. They took the cars, my guards and my retirement salary,” he said.

He won the 2005 election and did get a seat in parliament. However, Negasso said the code of conduct in parliament did not treat independent members properly. The time was too limited that he did not get enough opportunities to represent his people. However, his seat at parliament did give him a chance to meet different opposition parties, which finally led to the coalition. Now Negasso is a member of Hebert party, which is a pillar for the coalition of several opposition parties, Medrek.

Overall, the book seems intended to explain why Negasso did what he did through his years as an active politician. At some points, it looked like he wanted to apologize for some of the decisions that disappointed many and seek a second chance. However, if that was in fact the plan, the book fails big time. All it clarifies is the inconsistencies of Negasso Gidada in his political career. Negasso, in his own words, presented himself as weak, one who can be easily influenced, and a man who gets second thoughts in every decision he makes. The mistakes he admits he made through the years are very serious ones, erros that can even put a question mark on his capacity for top-level positions. Negasso’s regret, especially about the constitution, should raise question as to why this man should or should not deserve another chance in politics.

Of course, he must be appreciated for his courage to come forward and admit the mistakes he made in the past. Admitting mistakes should be a culture every politician in Ethiopia should adopt as a principle. However, after admitting, the second step, based on the seriousness of the mistakes he made, must be to conduct thorough and honest assessment of himself whether he is really fit for high office. Politics, as many would probably agree, is not a stage individuals learn from experience. This is because every decision affects the life of the people and even the entire nation. Every mistake steals the confidence of citizens and the effect can sometimes reach everyone in the country. Based on this, Negasso’s decision to remain active in politics might not be as wise as he tries to articulate in his book. In fact, Negasso may yet again regret the decisions he is making today.

Finally, we must give credit for Negasso’s unbelievable memory, especially if he was not referring to papers during the interview. It seems Negasso must get an award for great memory skills. He remembers names, places, events and occasions in great detail from the time when he was about six years old until now.

Eritrea bankrolls rebels who block Somali aid, claims UN

Filed under: Eritrea,Somalia — ethiopiantimes @ 8:42 am
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By David Clarke
in Nairobi
ERITREA was behind a plot to attack an African Union summit in Ethiopia in January and is bankrolling al-Qaeda-linked Somali rebels through its embassy in Kenya, the UN said yesterday.
A United Nations Monitoring Group report on Somalia and Eritrea said the Red Sea state’s intelligence officers were active in Uganda, South Sudan, Kenya and Somalia, and posed a threat to security in the famine-stricken region.

Al-Shabaab rebels have blocked aid and accused aid agencies of working to the West’s agenda in Somalia

The report said: “The plot to disrupt the African Union summit in Addis Ababa in January 2011, which envisaged mass casualty attacks against civilian targets and the strategic use of explosives to create a climate of fear, represents a qualitative shift in Eritrean tactics.”

The plan was to attack the AU headquarters with a car bomb as African leaders took breaks, to blow up Africa’s largest market to “kill many people” and attack the area between the prime minister’s office and the Sheraton Hotel – where most heads of state stay during AU summits.

The UN said while past Eritrean support for rebels in Somalia and Ethiopia related to border disputes with Addis Ababa, the new approach threatened all of the Horn and East Africa.

It said: “The fact the same Eritrean officers responsible for the planning and direction of this operation are also involved in operations in Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda, Somalia and Sudan implies an enhanced level of threat to the region as a whole.”

Asmara has repeatedly denied any involvement in funding rebel groups in the region. In June, it rejected claims it had anything to do with the Addis Ababa bomb plot as “nonsensical remarks” with no legal basis.

The UN has an arms embargo on Eritrea, as well as a travel ban and an assets freeze on its leaders alleged to be breaking an arms blockade on Somalia.

Ethiopian intelligence officials uncovered the plot to set off multiple bombs in Addis Ababa at the AU summit, usually attended by more than 30 African leaders, in January. The aim was to convince African leaders that Ethiopia was not secure, said the report.

It added that all but one of the people arrested received all their training and orders directly from Eritrean officers. The other detainee was also in contact with an Ethiopian rebel group, the Oromo Liberation Front.

“Although ostensibly an OLF operation, it was conceived, planned, supported and directed by the external operations directorate of the Government of Eritrea, under the leadership of General Te’ame,” the report said.

It also included copies of payments slips from Eritrean officials in Kenya’s capital Nairobi to known members of Somali rebel group al Shabaab.

July 28, 2011

Eritrea planned massive bomb attack on African Union summit, UN says

Filed under: Eritrea,Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 4:12 pm
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‘Baghdad-style’ car bomb attack planned in Addis Ababa, capital of neighbour and foe Ethiopia, which hosted 30 heads of stateEritrea planned a massive attack on an African Union summit in Ethiopia in January this year that was designed to “make Addis Ababa like Baghdad”, according to a new UN report.

At the time, Ethiopia claimed it had foiled the large bomb plot by its tiny neighbour and foe, the latest in a series of accusations and counter-accusations by the two governments. Now an investigation by the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea suggests that the plot was genuine, and says it represented “a qualitative shift in Eritrean tactics” in the Horn of Africa.

According to the report, Eritrean intelligence services planned an operation to detonate a car bomb at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa at the end of January this year, when 30 of the continent’s leaders were meeting there. Separate bombs were to be placed between the Ethiopian prime minister’s office and the Sheraton Hotel, where most of the heads of state were staying, as well as in a giant open-air market in the hope of “kill[ing] many people”.

“If executed as planned, the operation would almost certainly have caused mass civilian casualties, damaged the Ethiopian economy and disrupted the African Union summit,” the report said.

The planned attack indicates the increasingly dangerous and very personal level of animosity between the Horn of Africa neighbours.

Ethiopia’s prime minister, Meles Zenawi, and the Eritrean president, Isiais Afewerki, were allies during their respective liberation struggles, but relations deteriorated soon after Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993. War erupted over a border dispute in 1998, ending two years later at a cost of tens of thousands of lives.

An international boundary commission later found in favour of Eritrea, but Ethiopia refused to accept the ruling. While Afewerki had legitimate cause for anger – many independent observers have criticised Ethiopia’s intransigence over the border disagreement – his decision to wage proxy wars by funding rebel groups in neighbouring countries has made Eritrea a regional and international pariah.

One of the Asmara-sponsored rebel groups is the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) in Ethiopia, according to the monitoring group. It said that OLF members were recruited by Eritrea as far back as 2008 and given training in preparation for the planned attack on Addis Ababa.

“Although ostensibly an OLF operation, it was conceived, planned, supported and directed by the external operations directorate of the government of Eritrea, under the leadership of General Te’ame”, the report said.

General Te’ame Goitom, Eritrea’s external intelligence operations chief in the horn, allegedly told one of the would-be attackers that the intention was to “make Addis Ababa like Baghdad”. The monitoring group said it had an audio recording of a conversation between Te’ame and the attacker, as well as records of payments made to the bombing team by a senior Eritrean army official.

In foiling the plot, Ethiopian security officials seized plastic explosives, gas cylinders, detonators and a sniper’s rifle.

Eritrea has repeatedly denied funding foreign rebel groups, including the al-Shabab Islamist militia in Somalia. Afewerki’s government has not yet commented on the UN report, which concluded that his government’s geopolitical strategy was “no longer proportional or rational”.

“Moreover, since the Eritrean intelligence apparatus responsible for the African Union summit plot is also active in Kenya, Somalia, the Sudan and Uganda, the level of threat it poses to these other countries must be re-evaluated,” the report said.

How Ethiopia Diaspora can help: Solar thermal pumping

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 8:37 am
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One of the many ways the Diaspora from Ethiopia can assist small farmers and people in Ethiopia is thru funding for small scale development projects. People-to-people support allows those Ethiopians in the Diaspora, who do not want to be involved with the current government or who do not share the policies of the current regime, the chance to help farmers in their homeland and contribute to their country.

In areas where rain does not fulfill the crops water needs, groundwater can become a source of water. With proper water management, groundwater can be used in the long-term for agriculture. Observe the amateur video below on the use of solar power to extract the groundwater in Ziway of east Shewa zone of Oromia.

Video info: Solar thermal pumping in Ziway, Ethiopia. New type of solar thermal pump being used to irrigate cash crops on smallholder farm in Central Ethiopia

July 27, 2011

Ethiopia frees two journalists

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 9:21 pm
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Addis Ababa – Ethiopia has freed two journalists detained 15 months ago on copyright infringement charges, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said on Tuesday.

Haileyesus Worku and Abdulsemed Mohammed, who worked for Ethiopian Radio and Televsion Agency, were released on a $290 bail each.

“We are relieved that after enduring 15 months of imprisonment on questionable criminal charges, Haileyesus Worku and Abdulsemed Mohammed can prepare their defence in freedom,” Mohamed Keita, the media watchdog’s Africa Advocacy Co-ordinator, said.

“We call on the prosecutors to drop the charges altogether.”

Abdulsemed, who said he was happy to be reunited with his family after 15 months in Addis Ababa’s Kaliti prison, denied the charges.

“We’re not guilty. We didn’t do anything,” he told AFP.

The pair were accused of illegally copying ERTA material and selling it to a third party.

CPJ said it had doubts over the charges’ validity “in light of the Ethiopian government’s documented practice of using bogus criminal charges to silence critical journalists”.

Government spokesperson Bereke Simon declined to comment on the case.

With six other journalists behind bars, Ethiopia trails only Eritrea among the countries in Africa jailing the most journalists, according to the CPJ.

– SAPA

VOA “no censorship” campaign scores big victory

Filed under: Ethiopia,Meles Zenawi — ethiopiantimes @ 6:42 am
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WASHINGTON, DC – Hours after hundreds of protesters demanded Monday top executives of Voice of America (VOA) and Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to stop censoring and putting undue pressures on the Horn of Africa section, VOA Acting Director and Executive Editor, Steve Redisch, gathered the section’s staffers and told them to continue their work without any restrictions or self-censorship.

In the brief meeting, Mr. Redisch said that he felt sorry for not meeting them sooner and thanked the section’s staffers for the “marvelous” job they have been doing. He also expressed VOA’s trust on them and their professionalism, informed sources told Addis Voice.

“I have no problems with your shows,” Redisch was quoted as saying. He told them to perform their duty as they used to, regardless of the complaints of the government of Ethiopia. He said that VOA had never asked anyone to give less priority and airtime to political coverage.

The director noted that in a country like Ethiopia, which is beset with serious political problems, VOA journalists cannot ignore political matters. According to our sources, what Redisch told staffers was contrary to orders and restrictions issued by the Africa Division Director, Gwen Dillard, who insisted on less coverage on political matters, introduced a “clearnace” system and restricted some issues, including critical listeners’ comment on recent developments within VOA. The situation had created fear and anxiety among some staffers.

Though he declined to give more details on the questionable “administrative” measures taken against former Horn of Africa Chief, David Arnold, who was suspended for his comments in a June 23rd VOA Amharic report, Redisch expressed support to his colleague. He assured them that he would fight for Arnold and confirmed the fact that he was reinstated but transferred to the English section.

One of the experienced broadcasters of VOA Amharic service, Adanech Fissehaye, thanked Redisch for putting an end to the confusion, which had made their job very difficult. She told the VOA director that she was very relieved to hear his assurances, according to our sources.

“The last few weeks have been a roller coaster for us. I am very happy that our self-confidence has been restored.

“We were gripped with fear but Redisch uplifted our morale and spirit,” a source said. “The coordinated campaign Ethiopian activists have launched to rescue the service we render has undoubtedly made a real difference,” the source added.

Earlier in the day, Ethiopian protesters braved heat waves and demanded VOA and BBG to make sure that the Horn of Africa section operates freely without any undue pressures and censorship. “No censorship! VOA remain true to your missions…,” chanted the protesters. In a letter they submitted to VOA and BBG executives, they demanded investigation into reports of censorship and maladministration.

“We are writing today to request an investigation into reports of censorship at the Voice of America Horn of Africa section, which has been serving Ethiopians as the only powerful source of uncensored news and views. What is more worrying is the fact that the difficulties facing the VOA Horn of Africa section transpired after the Meles regime reportedly demanded VOA to banish a list of critics from appearing on its programs and coverage,” the letter stated.

“It is with high regard for BBG and VOA in particular, we humbly request you to ensure and guarantee that VOA continues to give the vital service it has been providing to the silenced people of Ethiopia consistent with its mission, the First Amendment of the United States constitution and America’s cherished values of freedom and democracy,” the letter demanded. The letter further noted that Ethiopians do not want VOA to be hijacked by the agenda of Ethiopia’s repressive regime and added that they do not wish to see “VOA lose its vitality and service as a truly independent alternative media to the people of Ethiopia.”

In a separate letter the activists addressed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, they urged the Obama administration to give utmost priority to the hunger starvation stocking millions of Ethiopians especially in the Ogaden, where the Meles regime has been waging war against dissidents and NOGs providing lifelines to the starving millions. They also appealed Clinton to put pressure on the Meles regime to unconditionally release two young journalists, Reyot Alemu of Fitih and Wubishet Taye, Deputy Editor of Awramba Times. Both journalists are held under the anti-terrorism act only for writing sharply critical stories and articles.

The rally opposite the headquarters of BBG and VOA was loud and rousing. A few protesters came from faraway places. Finland resident Yeworkwoha Asrat attended the rally with her husband Belaneh Bekele. Though they came to the US on holiday, the felt that it was very important to join the rally to add their voice in the effort to rescue VOA Amharic, which has been seriously affected by the recent crisis. “VOA has to operate freely and serve the people of Ethiopia as it used to,” Yeworkwoha said.

Tedla Asfaw drove all the way from New York. He said that the Voice of America should not be transformed into the Voice of China. “VOA should never be censored in the land of freedom,” he said.

The VOA director promised to explain current developments in relation to the Horn of Africa section. He is expected to give an elaborate interview with VOA Amharic section, according to our sources.

Ethiomedia.com – An African-American news and views website.
Copyright 2010 Ethiomedia.com. Email: editor@ethiomedia.com

July 26, 2011

Is Eritrea hiding a looming humanitarian crisis?

Filed under: Eritrea — ethiopiantimes @ 9:56 pm
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The United States said, the number of people needing emergency assistance in the Horn of Africa region is now more than 11 million people. In Ethiopia, at least 4.5 million people are in need of assistance. Almost 3 million people need assistance in Somalia and an estimated 3.6 million people have been affected in Kenya. Others include Djibouti, Eritrea Sudan and Uganda. Speaking at State Department briefing on the crisis in the Horn of Africa region, Assistant Secretary of State, Johnnie Carson, accused the Eritrean regime of failing to provide data on the humanitarian needs of its own people. He said, “Many of these most recent refugees are suffering from life-threatening malnutrition, and there may be many more in need of assistance in Eritrea

where a repressive regime fails to provide data on the humanitarian needs of its own people. The free flow of information is what allows people to make early choices that can help avert catastrophe. We urge the Government of Eritrea to cooperate with the UN agencies and other international organizations to address the issue of hunger and food shortage in that country.”

In the briefing Al Jazeera journalist asked Mr. Carson about the situation in Eritrea and here is the excerpt

QUESTION: Camille Elhassani from Al-Jazeera English Television. I had a question about Eritrea. You – Mr. Carson, you’ve called for them to provide the data so that you know what the situation is there. Has there – have you seen refugees from Eritrea moving into neighboring countries, and do you have an expectation that they are going to cooperate so that you and the other international community can help them?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Eritrea is a closed and increasingly reclusive country, and its government has not been particularly helpful in sharing data and information about the severity of the food shortages or the drought in its country. Because it is a part of the Greater Horn of Africa, we assume that conditions in Eritrea are probably quite similar to the drought conditions that we are seeing in other places – in Ethiopia and in Kenya, Djibouti, and in Somalia. Because we don’t know what’s happening, our understanding of the situation is limited, but we encourage them to be more open about their needs and the needs of their population.

Have Your Say. Is Eritrea hiding a humanitarian crisis?

Source: Nazret .com

Two Ethiopian journalists released on bail after 15 months

Filed under: Ethiopia,Meles Zenawi — ethiopiantimes @ 9:06 am
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New York, July 25, 2011–The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes Thursday’s ruling in Ethiopia to release on bail two journalists imprisoned on pre-trial detention for the last 15 months on vague criminal charges.

Magistrates Redaei Belay, Yirga Aycheh, and Zerihun Aragaw of the Lideta branch of the Federal Court in the capital Addis Ababa ordered the release of editor Haileyesus Worku and producer Abdulsemed Mohammed of the ruling EPRDF-controlled national broadcaster Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency (ERTA) from Kality Prison on bail of 5,000 birr (US$290) each, according to local journalists and news reports. The judges forbade Worku and Mohammed from leaving the country pending a verdict in the case, the same sources said.

The ruling followed public prosecutors’ amendment of the charges against the journalists from vague corruption allegations, a non-bailable offense, to copyright infringement, the sources said. ERTA General-Manager Zeray Asgedom ordered the arrests of Worku and Mohammed in April 2010 on accusations of illegally copying ERTA audiovisual materials to sell to a third, unnamed party.

A week after their arrests, Ethiopian government spokesman Bereket Simon told CPJ that the journalists had been “caught red-handed,” but public prosecutors did not file a formal charge until June 2010, according to CPJ research. CPJ has questioned the validity of the charges in light of the Ethiopian government’s documented practice of using bogus criminal charges to silence critical journalists and the EPRDF’s censorship of ERTA by purging the publicly funded national broadcaster of senior professional journalists in favor of party loyalists. Worku and Mohammed have both been ERTA veterans for more than 10 years.

“We are relieved that, after enduring 15 months of imprisonment on questionable criminal charges, Haileyesus Worku and Abdulsemed Mohammed can prepare their defense in freedom,” said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. “We call on the prosecutors to drop the charges altogether.”

With six other journalists behind bars, Ethiopia trails only Eritrea among the nations in Africa jailing the most journalists, according to CPJ research.

July 25, 2011

Exposed: Ethiopia gives farmland to foreigners while thousands starve

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 7:33 pm
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A Survival investigation has uncovered alarming evidence that some of Ethiopia’s most productive farmland is being stolen from local tribes and leased to foreign companies to grow and export food – while thousands of its citizens starve during the devastating drought.

Vast blocks of fertile land in the Omo River area in south west Ethiopia are being leased out to Malaysian, Italian and Korean companies, as well as being cleared for vast state-run plantations producing export crops, even though 90,000 tribal people in the area depend on the land to survive.

The government is planning to increase the amount of land to be cleared to at least 245,000 hectares, much of it for vast sugar cane plantations.
Tribal peoples will be devastated by the current boom in dam-building.A Survival investigation has uncovered alarming evidence that some of Ethiopia’s most productive farmland is being stolen from local tribes and leased to foreign companies to grow and export food – while thousands of its citizens starve during the devastating drought.

Vast blocks of fertile land in the Omo River area in south west Ethiopia are being leased out to Malaysian, Italian and Korean companies, as well as being cleared for vast state-run plantations producing export crops, even though 90,000 tribal people in the area depend on the land to survive.

The government is planning to increase the amount of land to be cleared to at least 245,000 hectares, much of it for vast sugar cane plantations.
Tribal peoples will be devastated by the current boom in dam-building.

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