November 30, 2011

At UN on Eritrea Sanction, Russia Says Afwerki Should Be Invited Before Vote

Filed under: Eritrea — ethiopiantimes @ 9:09 pm

UNITED NATIONS, November 30 — After a closed door “showdown” in the Security Council between US Ambassador Rice and Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin about when and how to vote on proposed new Eritrea sanctions, Inner City Press asked Ambassador Rice if she thought there would be a vote in the afternoon on Eritrea sanctions. Ambassador Rice did not stop or answer.

Moments later, Russia’s Churkin emerged from the Council. He spoke at length with the Press, recounting that “we had some people working on the sanctions resolution, on and off… All of the sudden last night we were told the sponsors were moving the resolution in blue, voting… today.”

As Inner City Press exclusively reported Tuesday night, US Ambassador Susan Rice said the vote should take place Wednesday since Gabon, Nigeria and the regional IGAD group want the sanctions.

Churkin on Wednesday disagreed, saying “there is a 48 hour rule.. but at least 24 hours” between putting a text into blue and voting on it. He also noted that “more than a month ago, the president of Eritrea asked to address the Security Council. We believe it is his right under the UN Charter.”

Churkin said Afwerki’s request was “consulted on by President of the Council. One delegation was objecting. We did not precipitate this issue, we were not sure, if they were not in a hurry on the resolution… But under those circumstances, we think it would just be wrong to act today on this resolution. We should finalize experts that were interrupted and give a chance to the President of Eritrea to come to New York.”

Churkin said that Afwerki sent “another letter today that he wants to come and speak before the vote.” About the draft, Churkin said, “we have two or three concerns, some other have more, some African countries… it’s not some kind of an urgent matter because of some crisis.”

The Council’s stated agenda was a debate on its Working Methods. Churkin said on Eritrea this is “not a good method of work.”
Inner City Press asked Churkin why no procedural vote had been called for after Ambassador Rice blocked granting Afkerki’s request to address the Council. Churkin explained, “if we were told a vote is going to take place a week from now, we will go for procedural vote… Maybe this is why they rushed into blue, not to let him come. I think it is a ridiculous thing.”

Moments later, Inner City Press spoke with Eritrea’s Permanent Representative to the UN Araya Desta. But that’s another story – watch this site.


The Eritreans In Woyane government of Ethiopia

Filed under: Ethiopia,Meles Zenawi — ethiopiantimes @ 9:36 am
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Meles Zenawi and his Woyanne junta have a disturbing, and some times comical, obsession with Eritrea. They blame the Eritrean government for every bad thing that is happening to them. They like to call their opponents, such as myself, Eritrean. I am not Eritrean, but many of the Woyanne top leaders are full or half Eritreans. So one may ask, why are Woyannes extremely obsessed with Eritrea? The answer: 1) They consider Eritrea as the biggest threat to their rule, 2) As mental midgets they suffer from inferiority complex; and 3) Since Meles and many of the top Woyannes are Eritreans, they feel that their “Greater Tigray” plan must involve Eritrea.

The following is a list of Eritreans in the top echelon of the Woyanne junta.

Meles Zenawi, half Eritrean and naturalized Yemeni, the grand wizard of the TPLF junta

Bereket Simon, full Eritrean, the unimaginative Woyanne propaganda chief who keeps a copy of Joseph Goebbels’ Propaganda Manual under his pillow

Debretsion Gebre-Mikael, half Tigrean, half Eritrean, TPLF politburo member, radio, TV, and Internet jammer

Samora Yenus, half Sudanese, half Eritrean, Woyanne military chief of staff

Tewodros Adhanom, full Eritrean, TPLF politburo member, health minister

Tewodros Hagos, full Eritrean, TPLF politburo member, supervisor of the Eritrean opposition groups, head of political affairs for Tigray region (nothings happens in Tigray without his knowledge — president of Tigray Abay Woldu reports to him)

Isayas Woldegiorgis, full Eritrean, Woyanne chief assassin (carries out Meles Zenawi’s assassination orders), deputy head of national intelligence (but has more power than national intelligence and security chief Getachew Assefa)

Fasil Nahom, half Eritrean, half Jewish, legal adverser to Meles Zenawi

Neway Gebreab, full Eritrean, economic adviser to Meles Zenawi

Yemane Kidane (Jamaica), full Eritrean, former TPLF CC member, became multimillionaire over night, currently personal adviser to Meles and Azeb Mesfin, invests their loot abroad

The above is a partial list. The Woyanne security apparatus particularly is filled with full or half Eritreans

Gondar University hit by food poisoning, protests

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 9:28 am

Gondar University hit by food poisoning, protests

(ESAT) Gondar University has been in chaos in the last three days due to protests that was triggered by food poisoning, which has reportedly affected nearly 1000 students.

The protest rallies mainly in Tewodros and Maraki campuses changed their nature as students started raising issues related to lack of freedom in Ethiopia and rampant human rights violations. Police and students reportedly clashed when thousands of students tried to rally outside the campuses.

According to ESAT sources at the University, security forces have tried to violently crackdown on the protesters, a measure that has reportedly caused injuries and one fatality. Hundreds of Federal Police members have surrounded the university premises.

One of the largest universities in Ethiopia, Gondar University was founded in 1954 as Public Health Training College, Gondar University has currently hosts 11,000 regular and 5,000 extension students. The university runs 35 undergraduate and 8 graduate programs. (More to come)

Ethiopians up in arms against gay conference

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 9:25 am
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Religious leaders on Tuesday denounced the holding of a gay rights meeting scheduled for Saturday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, a day ahead of an international Aids gathering.


The meeting is being organised by the African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR), an African gay rights lobby group, a day ahead of the 16th International Conference on Aids and STIs in Africa (ICASA).

About 10,000 people from around the world are expected to attend the ICASA conference.

But this has enraged Ethiopian religious leaders from Ethiopian Orthodox, Muslim, Catholic and Evangelical groups who expressed their displeasure that Ethiopia will host the meeting.

Ministry of Health officials met with the religious leaders in a closed meeting, moments before they were due to hold a press conference, in attempt to thrash out their dissent.

The press conference has since been postponed.

“Such meetings are against Ethiopia’s culture and values. We do not tolerate such practices in the country,” the religious leaders said.

Religious protests are reported to have begun after word about the meeting spread across the country.

Fundamentalists are said to have spread reports about the convention using text messages and this had led to widespread protests.

“Let us do what we can to stop this gay gathering in our country. It is totally against our culture,” reads one such mobile text message.

But organisers of the meeting are adamant that is should proceed, arguing that it was a human rights issue.

“The aim of this meeting is to increase attention on MSM (male sexual relations), LGBTI and HIV related issues in Africa, to reflect on the state of response in MSM communities on the continent, and to identify ways forward for scaling up MSM and HIV interventions,” the organisers in a statement.

A number of speakers including UNAids Executive Director, Michel Sidibe, United States Global AIDS Coordinator, Eric Goosby and current Chairperson of the Committee for the Protection of the Rights of People Living with HIV Reine Alapini–Gansou, will be in attendance.

At least 15 African experts on health and human rights issues are set to present at the conference.

AMSHeR is the brainchild of several HIV and human rights advocates following the ICASA conference in Abuja Nigeria, in 2005.

Ethiopia is a highly conservative country and religious country, where topics such as homosexuality are regarded as taboo. The country’s laws forbid same sex relations.

November 29, 2011

IN PHOTOS: Eritrean refugees protest torture, rape in Sinai

Filed under: Egypt,Eritrea — ethiopiantimes @ 11:41 pm
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On Friday morning, Eritrean refugees gathered outside the US embassy in Tel Aviv, in hopes of bringing the American government’s attention to the plight of Eritrean asylum seekers who face torture and rape at the hands of the smugglers who take them to the Israeli border.
Desperate to attempt a brutal dictatorship in Eritrea–that includes mandatory military service for young men–Eritrean asylum seekers often flee to Israel. They make the trip on foot, crossing through Egypt and the Sinai, where they rely on smugglers to take them to the Israeli bordeAccording to a report compiled by Physicians for Human Rights- Israel:

Groups of refugees, mainly from Eritrea, are being held captive by smugglers at torture camps in the El-Arish area while on the journey through the Sinai to Israel. The smugglers are demanding ransoms of thousands of dollars for the release of each captive. Methods used to apply pressure on the captives’ relatives to pay up include systematic violence and torture of the hostages. Smugglers telephone captives’ relatives so they can hear the cries of pain over the phone. Survivors report the use of systemic violence, including punching, slapping, kicking, and whipping. Forms of torture include burial in sand, electric shocks, hanging by the hands and legs, branding with hot metal, as well as rape and sexual abuse.
Once in Israel, Eritrean refugees face a policy of non-policy–the state simply does not process requests for asylum. Without a work visa, asylum seekers have extreme difficulties supporting themselves. Other than the services supplied to them by human rights organizations, they have no access to health care. They receive no social services and many are homeless, sleeping in the country’s parks and streets.
There are an estimated 27,000-35,000 African refugees in Israel, most from Sudan and Darfur. Israel is currently building a detention facility to imprison asylum seekers, including unaccompanied minors, children, and those who have fled genocide in Darfur.

Photos: Jillian Kestler-D’Amours; text: Mya Guarnier

Gay gathering sparks row between Ethiopia church and state

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 7:30 pm

By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA Nov 29 (Reuters) – A meeting organised by an African gay lobby group ahead of an AIDS conference in Ethiopia has sparked a rare spat between the government and religious groups.

Religious leaders demand the cancellation of the gathering scheduled for Saturday, organised by African Men for Sexual Health and Rights, saying it would violate the country’s conservative culture.

State officials, however, are unwilling to budge having lobbied hard to win hosting rights for the influential 16th International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa due to start a day later.

On Tuesday, Abune Paulos, partriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, joined the Muslim mufti and the heads of the Catholic and Protestant churches for a meeting before delivering scathing remarks about homosexuals to the media.

Young church activists handed out dossiers railing against the weekend meeting on “men who have sex with men (MSM) in Africa and HIV”, which is scheduled to feature presentations from 15 experts.

“We were prompted to sound this alarm after this group launched immoral activities that would tarnish and dirty our culture,” read part of the dossier.

Health Minister Tedros Adhanom met the religious leaders but made no denunciation of the gay group’s gathering. Abune Paulos afterwards told reporters: “We will continue to pray.”

Homosexuality is taboo in many African nations. It is illegal in 37 countries on the continent, including Ethiopia, and activists say few Africans are openly gay, fearing imprisonment, violence and loss of jobs. Homosexual acts in Ethiopia carry penalties of imprisonment of up to 15 years.

Religious leaders, including Abune Paulos, have in the past called for a constitutional ban on homosexuality, which they once termed “the pinnacle of immorality.”

“For people to act in this manner they have to be dumb, stupid like animals,” he told reporters in 2008. “We strongly condemn this behaviour. They have to be disciplined and their acts discriminated, they have to be given a lesson.

Ethiopian journalists worry after editor flees

* Newspaper editor flees, watchdog says

* Rights activists see wider crackdown on dissent

* Government says tackling terrorism, treats suspects fairly

By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA, Nov 28 (Reuters) – The managing editor of one of Ethiopia’s few remaining independent Amharic-language newspapers publishing critical analysis of local politics said he left the country last week for fear of arrest, a U.S.-based press freedom group said.

Dawit Kebede, managing editor of Awramba Times, spent two years behind bars until 2007 over treason charges, alongside dozens of opposition officials who were rounded up following disputed polls in 2005.

He said he had been warned he would be arrested and that his paper was unlikely to continue publishing, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), citing what it said Kebede had told the group.

“The Ethiopian government’s persecution of those seeking to report the news and raise critical questions about issues of public interest has driven the largest number of journalists in the world into exile,” Mohamed Keita, Africa Advocacy Coordinator for the CPJ said in a statement.

A 2009 anti-terrorism law introduced after a series of blasts says anyone caught publishing information that could induce readers into acts of terrorism could be jailed for between 10 to 20 years.

More than 10 journalists have been charged under the law in the past few months, according to CPJ, which says Ethiopia is close to taking the mantle of worst jailer in the continent from Eritrea, a secretive neighbouring country.

The Ethiopian government says the incarceration of journalists has nothing to do with their reporting or political affiliation.


But journalists are worried.

“Ever since the anti-terror law came to effect, I have become too careful to write on issues that might upset the government,” a correspondent based in the capital Addis Ababa who declined to be named told Reuters.

“In effect, it has made me avoid writing on certain issues.”

The government has banned five groups as terrorist organisations: the secessionist Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), the exiled Ginbot 7 group, al Qaeda and Somalia’s al Shabaab militants.

“It is fair that we have a law like any other country, but it is our job to write on any group and no journalist should be suspected of criminal acts by reporting on them,” a local radio reporter who declined to be named said.

“It always sticks in your mind whether your publication or broadcasting of rebel statements might get you in trouble. I have come to believe that I have compromised my profession.”

Terror charges have not been limited to journalists — more than 150 opposition politicians and supporters have been detained this year, according to watchdogs.

Some analysts say Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s ruling party, which was re-elected with a huge parliamentary majority in 2010, is cracking down on opponents.

“The Ethiopian government is exploiting its vaguely worded anti-terror law to crush peaceful dissent,” said Rona Peligal, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

Government officials insist Ethiopia’s laws do not stray from international standards.

“Our law is no different to that of other developed countries. I think many of the comments are politically motivated, they are not realistic,” Justice Minister Berhan Hailu told Reuters.

Berhan said the law proved Ethiopia’s commitment to fighting terrorism and that all suspects were getting fair trials.

Some journalists are not convinced, and want clearer guidelines on offences that could land them in trouble.

“The law needs to clarify offences. Who would want to spend a year or two in detention before being found innocent?” a radio correspondent based in the capital said.

Unbalanced Growth strategy a potential for conflict in Ethiopia

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 9:27 am
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By Geletaw Zeleke

To help boost the economies of low income countries a development strategy named unbalanced growth theory was introduced by development theorists. With the use of this strategy select economic zones grow at rapid rates, while other economic zones experience stagnation or reduced growth as a result. The objective of this strategy is to concentrate wealth in special economic zones to make it easier to build momentum for breakthroughs in the overall development.

According to development theorist Professor Albert O. Hirschman it is vital to create deliberate imbalances in the economy of countries to accelerate development. This is especially true for those countries who may not have enough initial resources to create the “big push” needed on their own. The idea is that acceleration of growth will arise where there is unbalance. The ultimate goal of unbalanced growth strategy, importantly, is not to realize unbalanced development but to realize balanced development.

In fact this approach has worked as an economic model for some countries. For example, South Korea experienced this type of growth. In the 1970s, lacking resources to develop their country rapidly they selected areas to invest their wealth in, in order to boost their overall economy. As they planned they could develop specific economic zones and after that those areas would replicate themselves and be recreated in other industries. Within a few years Korea was able to develop their country and today is a country that has achieved fair economic distribution.

In Ethiopia it appears the government and its fans are unofficially claiming that Ethiopia is experiencing unbalanced growth and because of its nature majority of the peope can not presently feel the effects of development. This translates to mean that it is not the right time to realize redistribution in the case of Ethiopia because concentrated wealth is not ripe enough for the overall development but for the “future” it will change citizen life.

I think they believe all huge economic disparities are the results of the nature of the growth strategy that they are employing.
We have no problem with the science of unbalanced growth theory as far as it is implemented carefully. In my opinion the strategy of unbalanced growth can be useful for many low income countries but it can not work in the case of Ethiopia because of the following arguments.

1) The political Setup

At the very beginning, to chose unbalanced growth strategy, their should be a conducive political environment and setup. In a country whose politics are shaped by tribes and where Ethnic Federalism is practiced there is not enough confidence in the circle of concentrated wealth. The nature of Ethiopian politics pushes citizens to identify themselves in terms of their cultural group and this tendency is also seen in the individuals who own and manage the concentrated wealth who also identify themselves in terms of their cultural groups.
Weak nationalism and bias to the tribe prohibit unbalanced growth strategy from succeeding. The nature of identity politics damages the psychological attachments of the people. It is difficult to concentrate wealth in the hands of small groups since nationalism is weaker. In a country that promotes identity politics this type of growth strategy can not be effective.

2) Very Low Certainty About Redistribution

As we have said above the goal of unbalanced growth theory is to speed up development not to create economic classes. Ethiopian people do not have faith that wealth can be redistributed fairly after it has been ripened by unbalanced growth. Since the trust of people is very low they are not certain that concentrated wealth will be redistributed or given to develop the country. In a nation who politicizes geography and culture there is no guarantee for the people who work hard to concentrate wealth in specific economic zones.

3) Corruption Culture

Taking a look at the Transparency International yearly reports a surprising fact is that since the Ethiopian Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission was established the Transparency International CPI (Corruption Perception Index) score is decreasing. In 2002 the CPI score was 3.5 after years it has decreased to 2.7 in 2010. Ethiopia also placed 60th in 2000 and after a decade it is placed 116th in the index. This shows that corruption is growing.
The irony is that GDP is growing and strangely corruption is growing simultaneously. This might indicate the type of corruption is more likely not of a competitive type but rather of a monopolistic type of corruption.
The problem is the risk is very high to implement unbalanced growth in this kind of country.

4. The Theory Needs Independent Institutions
A guarantee for the choice of using the unbalanced growth development strategy is the existence of independent institutions. An independent banking system, independent court and the like are responsible for risk takers.
According to the World Prosperity Index Ethiopians have very low trust in these institutions.

“A lack of democratic ability and confidence blights the Ethiopian political system […] the judiciary lacks independence[…]there appears to be little respect for the rule of law and the country is notable for its poor regulatory environment for business, placing 101st in the index on this variable. Levels of confidence in the military and judiciaries are both very low. Ethiopians have few political rights, but 16% reported having voiced an opinion to a public official recently. Unsurprisingly, only 19% of the population believe that the electoral process is honest.” (2010; World Prosperity Index)

In such a country as Ethiopia, that lacks independent institutions, it is impossible to actualize unbalanced growth strategy.

5) Article 39 vs. Unbalanced Growth

Ethiopia is most likely the only country which declares secession in its Constitution. This article is a potential problem to implement the unbalanced growth. There is no guarantee for the people that wealth will be returned for redistribution because this article practically declares it while creating psychological fragmentation among cultural groups at the same time.

6) Potential for Conflict

If there are no independent institutions and if culture and geography are politicized then concentrated wealth can not be a development accelerator as it ought to be, rather, it becomes a potential for conflict among groups.
Let’s take a look at the EFFORT (Endowment Fund For Rehabilitation Tigray). This organization is the wealthiest organization in Ethiopia. The wealth of the country is concentrated here. The problem is that the people believe that the wealth belongs to all Ethiopians but the TPLF official Mr. Sibehat Nega the former EFRT chairman declared that the organization belongs to the Tigray tribe but it is “serving” the whole people. This attitude creates a psychological gap and as a result people develop mistrust. This huge proportion of the country’s wealth could be a stimulant of politics. Since the leaders of this organizations are all from one tribe and these individuals are very high rank government officials it is difficult to trust in. The people have a well founded fear that this money can not be put to developmental activity rather it confined to a profit oriented monopolized organization. The group does not worry about development and service rather it is embezzlement in order to maintain the economic upper hand.

To sum up unbalanced growth strategy in the current general condition of Ethiopia is not only disadvantageous but also it is a harmful strategy.

November 28, 2011

Can the TPLF regime in Ethiopia survive 2012 ?

The “World in 2012”, a publication by the Economist Group, predicts the revolution that swept North Africa and the Middle East will spread to Sub-Saharan Africa in 2012. The paper says, the successful popular uprisings that started in Tunisia and spread to the Middle East were closely watched farther south on the continent and have already spawned some local protest movements in some African countries, south of the Sahara Desert. The paper predicts authoritarian rulers in Africa can expect a year of growing opposition and attempts to dethrone them.

The protest bug has already spread in much of the continent and in 2012, many countries could see popular revolutions, it says. In many of the authoritarian countries, there is no shortage of things to protest about. Jobs are rare and food prices are rising, which are also seen in Ethiopia.

Although the magazine did not name Ethiopia or Meles Zenawi in its predictions, many of the harsh conditions that led to the Arab Spring is in plenty supply in Ethiopia. The Economist also neglected to include Ethiopia’s autocratic leader Meles Zenawi as one of Africa’s longest serving dictators. Meles Zenawi who has been in power since 1991 (not 1995 as many western media incorrectly mention) is not only one of the longest serving dictators, but also tops the list of World’s nastiest dictators, according to Parade Magazine.

Arrest Sudan’s Bashir, Kenyan court orders

Filed under: Kenya,Sudan — ethiopiantimes @ 10:49 am
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NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 28 – The High Court has issued a warrant for the arrest of Sudan President Omar al-Bashir if he ever sets foot on Kenyan soil.
Justice Nicolas Ombija issued the order after the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ-Kenya), applied for his arrest on the strength of a pending order for his detention by the International Criminal Court.
Al Bashir is wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity that he allegedly committed against civilians in the worn torn area of Darfur.
“I am satisfied that the applicant (ICJ-Kenya) has locus standi (the right to appear before a court) to seek the orders because Kenya is obligated to arrest him being a member state to the Rome Statute,” Ombija said.
“The court hereby issues a warrant of arrest against Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir as urged by the applicant. The order should be effected by the Attorney General and the Minister for Internal Security should he ever set foot in Kenya.”
In an affidavit in support of the case which was filed a year ago, ICJ Executive Director George Kegoro had said that Kenya should effect two outstanding warrants against President Bashir, being a signatory of the Rome Statute.
“There are also two requests for cooperation in the arrest and surrender of Omar al Bashir issued by the ICC on March 6, 2009 and July 21, 2010 to states that are parties to the Rome Statute,” Kegoro said.

“Al Bashir came to Kenya on August 27 and Kenyan authorities in utter disregard of their obligations under the international law and the laws of Kenya failed to enforce the warrants of arrest,” he added.
The ICJ is troubled that President Bashir will come to Kenya once again in the near future.
“The applicant is apprehensive that should Omar al-Bashir come to Kenya, the respondents in total disregard of the law will once again fail to effect an arrest warrant against him as they previously did.”
Following al-Bashir’s visit to Kenya, there was widespread outcry and condemnation against the Kenyan government. The ICC was forced to report Kenya to the United Nations Security Council for action.
The International Criminal Court is also investigating the 2007/2008 post election violence that rocked Kenya, leaving at least 1,500 people killed and close to 500,000 others uprooted from their homes.
ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo in December last year presented two sets of offences against six Kenyans who are most responsible for the violence.
The six, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura, former Police Commissioner Hussein Ali, William Ruto, Henry Kosgey and radio presenter Joshua arap Sang will know early next year if they will be committed to trial.

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