ethiopiantimes

March 30, 2012

Ethiopia:TPLF is preparing to raze 18 ancient churches, to bulldoze the surrounding forests and pastures,

In yet another egregious assault on its own Ethiopian citizens, the regime of Prime Minister Melees Zenawi and the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) are preparing to raze 18 ancient churches, to bulldoze the surrounding forests and pastures, and to force the indigenous people to relocate to substandard environs far from their heritage homelands. The regime wants the land to lease to large international corporations from China, Saudi Arabia, and India.


“Villagization” and Theft of Millions of Acres
Deeply concerned about preserving the heritage of the Ethiopian people, the Ethiopian Heritage Society of North American (EHSNA) is especially troubled to discover that the Waldba Monastery in Gondar is among the church-lands chosen for demolition. One of the oldest monastic teaching institutions in Ethiopia, countless religious leaders have been educated within its walls for over 1000 years. Waldba also holds an important archive of scriptures and texts in ancient Ethiopian languages, many of which are very important to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and Ethiopian religious and cultural history.

At least 8.8 million acres of land in Ethiopia have already been leased to foreign and state-owned firms since 2008, and the bandit regime will lease another 5.1 million acres presently. Ancestral pastoral and forest lands and church properties are among them. According to a recently released Human Rights Watch report, around 70,000 people from western Ethiopia have already been forcibly relocated under the government’s “villagization” program. The people are forced to move to environs that lack adequate food, farmland, healthcare, and educational facilities.

Any leasing money will go directly to the Ethiopian regime; none will go to recompense the displaced people who are torn from their heritage forests and pasturelands. The prime minister and his ruling elite will benefit directly from the betrayal of their homeland and the betrayal of their fellow citizens. Much of the lease monies will eventually be funnelled into off-shore bank accounts held by elite members of the regime.

The Ethiopian regime has denied any human rights violations and says “villagization” is vital to the nation’s development plans. In most cases the indigenous people who have lived on these lands for generations have not been consulted about the land leases. Water rights regarding these lands may have implications beyond the borders of Ethiopia and seemingly beyond the concern of the present regime. The leasing companies need large tracts of land to exploit without any ecological oversight. The bull-dozed heritage lands will be used to grow soy, sugar cane, and other soil-depleting crops.

P.M. Melees, Church Primate, and TPLF Cadre Suspected of Arson in Church Burning

Recently, the important Ziuala Monastery burned to the ground and the fire originated under suspicious conditions. The fire department of the local government was said to be unavailable while the chapel turned to ashes. People in the area speculate that the fire was set by TPLF cadre.

The current head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Aba Paulos offered no regret and no condolences for the loss of the religious heritage site. Claiming to be the patriarch of Ethiopia, the primate shares the same district background of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and it is suspected that he is in collusion with the corrupt regime. The Ziquala Monastery was in one of the many areas marked secretly for “villagization” by the bandit regime and its TPLF party. The war against religion is not limited to Christians and Christianity, the TPLF government interfering unjustly with Ethiopian Muslims as well.

Horrific Assault on Ethiopian Christian Heritage

Ethiopia has a long-held religious tradition tracing back to the biblical Queen of Sheba and the Judaic King Solomon. Ethiopia has many monasteries. There are Zuquala Abo and Debre Libanos monasteries in Showa Province, Wegeg Asobot Gedam monastery in Hararge Province, Waldba (previously mentioned) and Mahbere Selassie monasteries in Gondar Province, to name some among many others.

Over 1000 monks live in the Waldba region and their displacement alone will cause a sizeable upheaval for the local population; not to mention the disruption in the religious expectations of their followers and the destruction of their places of worship. Many of the churches and monasteries have been designated World Heritage Sites by the United Nations due to the religious art and archives preserved therein.

Crimes Against Ethiopian Humanity

The land leasing schemes by the government will produce an ecological disaster that has already been played out in other areas of the globe where forestlands have been stripped. According to the legitimate Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo church in exile, the government’s assaults on its own Ethiopian people, their freedom of speech, their heritage, their ancestral homes, and their religious and national histories, could make the regime hard-pressed to ever defend itself against charges pertaining to crimes against humanity – Ethiopian humanity.

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March 29, 2012

Group appeals for world attention on genocide-prone Gambella

The number of human rights violations — assaults, arrests, torture and disappearances — in Gambella region is soaring due to an intense crackdown on the local people by government troops, a civic group said on Monday.

The Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia said in a statement that the situation on the ground was so scary that it deserves the close follow-up by the international community.

 
The TPLF/EPRDF regime is justifying this clampdown as necessary to protect the region—and the investors—from these “anti-peace” insurgents; however, from our investigations, we in the SMNE have found no evidence of their involvement and instead, reason to suspect that the tragic murder of these 19 Ethiopians may be another Meles-conspired false flag operation, where disguised TPLF agents attacked the bus themselves in order to blame the local people, especially those who are opposed to the land grabs. According to witnesses from Gambella, in the last few weeks, two to three thousand TPLF/EPRDF defense troops have been sent to the area following the ambush of a passenger bus on March 4, 2012 where 19 innocent people—mostly young students returning from school—were killed. Despite an absence of evidence, the Anuak rebels in the bush have been blamed and with them, the Anuak in general, especially men and older boys who all “look” suspicious in the eyes of this regime. It has resulted in a spiraling number of incidents of violence and arrests of Anuak by the military, creating an atmosphere reminiscent of the Anuak massacre of December 13-15, 2003 and the two or more years of human rights abuses that followed. 

In the last year, Wikileaks released a report that attributed responsibility for a car bomb that exploded in Addis Ababa following the 2005 national election to Meles’ own agents who had then used the incident to arrest members of the Oromo Liberation Front. On the morning of the genocidal massacre of Anuak of December 13-15, 2003, a UN vehicle was ambushed and all its occupants, including an Anuak driver, were brutally murdered and the bodies were strategically laid out in the center of Gambella town, inciting the residents. Anuak insurgents were blamed; however, the plans to eliminate Anuak resistance to the oil drilling, Operation Sunny Mountain, began in Meles’ offices in September 2003, according to documents retrieved from the office of Mr. Omot Obang Olom, the current Gambellaregional governor who was Chief of Security during the massacre.

These are only some examples of the long-standing pattern of widespread human rights violations by this one-ethnic dominated apartheid regime that makes it one of the worst human rights violators in Africa. The crimes in the Gambella region only declined because the TPLF/EPRDF troops were moved to commit the same or even worse crimes in the Ogaden and into Somalia. These violations include genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other atrocities that they have perpetrated and continue to perpetrate with impunity; much of it documented by multiple human rights organizations.

Eight years after the Anuak genocide, Gambella is again in the spotlight. This region has become the epicenter of land grabs on the African continent and with it, human rights violations in response to dissent; however, with the return of TPLF/EPRDF troops, the numbers and breadth of these incidents have multiplied. From the testimony from people in Gambella, the very heavy presence of troops has terrorized many, triggering post-traumatic memories of the past genocide.

Some of the schools in the Gambella districts of Abobo and Gok, where much of the land development is going on, have now been shut down and the children are no longer going to school. Men and older teens are being intimidated and harassed with reports of many arrests and torture. Troops have been rounding up the men and ordering them to go into the bush, barehanded, to search for unknown insurgents who are now accused of the killings despite a lack of evidence.

Many local people are questioning the regime’s assumption of guilt. Instead, many believe that the government was behind the ambush as a covert means to protect the investors with thousands of troops.There has been no peace or stability in the region since their arrival as they target the local farmers in these rural towns and villages. Now, anyone walking by themselves is labeled as a rebel; particularly any men, young and old.

On March 25th, defense troops went to the teacher’s college to arrest three Anuak students and one Nuer student. These students claimed they had committed no crimes and had nothing to do with the ambush or other rebel activity.  They resisted going with them and as they did, faculty members called the police. Many of the police force are local Anuak and should have been the ones to arrest them or otherwise to protect them.

As the incident created a public spectacle, the defense troops backed off and did nothing. When the police came, they arrested the students and jailed them; however, in the middle of the night, the military removed them from their cells and brought them to the army base for interrogation, all in violation of the law. The outcome of these students is still unknown. One of the students Mr. Opiew Obang allegedly was suspected because his father, a police officer, had been arrested in the Abobo area on March 17th for refusing to search for the insurgents saying he had no idea of their whereabouts. This is only further evidence that no justice exists in this country.

The federal government has now taken complete control of the Gambella region although the governor, OmotObang Olom, remains as a figurehead. Why is the TPLF/EPRDF regime panicking so much? Was this ambush part of a plan to protect the investors? After the car was ambushed, the government-controlled news agency put out a press release regarding the bus ambush and the killing of the 19 students. This is quite unusual for them because they usually do not usually put out a press release. When one puts it all together, we believe it may be all a strategy to protect the regime’s investments in the area as well as the investors with their work crews and professional staff who have been feeling fearful with some threatening to leave according to rumors from the ground.

The motivation to use a high-profile and horrific killing of innocent students to justify bringing in so many troops to assure the investors to stay or even as a means to provide cheap labor (TPLF/EPRDF troops) for the investors if their crews leave is not far-fetched for a government such as the Meles regime who has a long history of pseudo-operations.

On March 21, federal representatives went to South Sudan to meet with the Anuak Commissioner of Pochalla where thousands of Anuak remain who had fled from Gambella during the massacre and its aftermath. They wanted the commissioner to hand over approximately twenty Anuak who they believed might be involved in the insurgency and hiding in the refugee camp in South Sudan. The Anuak there said they did not know the whereabouts of these people. Now, the TPLF/EPRDF regime is exerting pressure on South Sudan to return all of the Anuak refugees toGambella, against international law.

In the last two weeks, an extensive campaign has been launched, especially in the three Anuak districts where the land development is going on. Mr. Omot Obang and federal officials went to meet with some of the Anuak elders and people in these districts to literally beg them not to join the resistance and instead to work with the government against the “anti-peace” elements in the bush. Great efforts were made to convince the Anuak that this land investment was good for the people and that the TPLF was the best government for them because it was a minority government that respected the rights of the minorities and marginalized, unlike the Derg under Mengistu.

Efforts to discourage the Anuak from joining or supporting the resistance are ongoing. On March 26th Mr. AlekaTsegay Berhe an official from the office of the Minister of Defense was in Gambella town and met with the teachers at the college. On March 27th they met with the students; both times with the message to not support the insurgents.

One of the government representatives at the Anuak village meetings with the elders was Mr. Shefarwa W/Mariam the man who replaced Barnabas Gebre-Ab, the former Minister of Federal Affairs for the State of Gambella, who had been an architect of the Anuak massacre. In response to their attempts to gain support of the government, the Anuak elders, at every location, told the officials that one of the problems in the region was Omot Obang and that until he was out of power, the problems would continue. When Mr. Omot was asked about this, he said that these elders had been “…brainwashed by the intellectual Anuak who are against me and those people are not only in Gambella, but also in the Diaspora.” He further said, “These are the people who are against the land deals and who also hold a grudge for December 13th.”

For this reason, in the afternoon of March 26, 2012, Omot Obang, the police commissioner, Mr. Tsegay Berhethe defense commander and the Supreme Court Justice of the Gambella Region made a decision that the Anuak insurgents who are in the bush must have a link to the those Anuak in the West as well as to the intellectual Anuak in the region who do not want him—Omot Obang—to be in power. So on March 27th, instead of having an open meeting at the governor’s office as usual, a secret meeting was held at the Police Commissioner’s office which lasted for only ten minutes.

The decision was made to declare a war on intellectuals. What this meant was that they would identify guilty suspects by retrieving telephone records from the state-owned telecommunication office so as to reveal who had talked to people in the Diaspora. Once identified, those who had engaged in such calls would be arrested. From tomorrow forward, anyone under suspicion by Omot Obang or anyone he thought did not “like” him, he would target for arrest. 

This is all a strong indication that things will get worse. There will be many more arrests, disappearances, torture and killings, the way it was done before in Gambella and in the manner that is still going on in the Ogaden. We call on human rights groups to investigate and for pressure to be put on the Ethiopian government to go after those in the bush, if they can prove their guilt, rather than those in their homes. Even more importantly, they should stop the abuses of the innocent and hold their own troops accountable for human rights crimes already committed. The SMNE is already collecting the names of the people who have disappeared or who have been arrested or tortured. We now have 27 names, with more names forthcoming. We will make this information public when we are ready.

In conclusion, caution should be exercised by every Ethiopian citizen so as not to be entrapped by any TPLF/EPRDF deceit and efforts to divide people along ethnic lines, skin color or as highlanders or lowlanders as a ruse to maintain power, and with it, access to land and resources. We Ethiopians must see the humanity in each of us if we are ever to live in that New Ethiopia. 

March 28, 2012

Ethiopia: Revealed – How Ethiopia’s Plantations Are Killing Vital Waterway

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 8:43 pm
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New photographic evidence proves Ethiopia’s controversial plantations scheme is killing the Lower Omo River, a lifeline for 100,000 tribal people.

The Omo River downstream from the notorious Gibe III dam is now being diverted into a newly-dug irrigation canal, one of several which will feed a massively ambitious plantations scheme for state and private investors.

These manmade canals are key to Ethiopia’s plantations plan, which is already having a hugely negative impact on UNESCO’s Lower Omo World Heritage site.

The government has revealed virtually nothing about the plantations program, but an official map obtained by Survival shows the enormous scope of the project.

One local person, speaking to a Survival researcher who recently visited the area, said, ‘I’ve never seen the river this low. During the dry season, like it is now, you can usually cross by foot, and water reaches your knees. Now I could cross without my feet getting wet.’

The Gibe III dam, 200 kms upstream, will interrupt the river’s natural flow and deprive thousands of tribespeople of their most valuable agricultural land by stopping the annual flood.

The flooding of the Omo River feeds the rich biodiversity of the region and ensures tribes such as the Bodi, Mursi and Dassanach can feed their cattle and produce beans and cereals in the fertile silt left behind.

There was a flood last year, but most Bodi and Mursi were not able to use it for cultivation because of the irrigation project. There will be no flood this year, as the dam reservoir starts to fill, nor in succeeding years. The people have been told they will be given food aid in compensation.

Indigenous communities are also suffering from violent human rights abuses, as plans are implemented forcibly to resettle those who stand in the way of the government’s plans, and to take away their cattle.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Ethiopia’s government is destroying the Lower Omo Valley and the livelihoods of tens of thousands of indigenous people – all in the name of ‘development’. However the human cost cannot be ignored. Re-directing a water lifeline is irresponsible and reckless.’

March 27, 2012

Stolen Childhoods Child Prostitution And Trafficking In Ethiopia

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 9:38 am
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March 26, 2012


Prostitution, perhaps the most distressing form of child abuse in an epidemic throughout Ethiopia. The innocence of a childhood shattered, causing a deep feeling of shame, poisoning the sense of self and excluding the child from education, friends and the broader society. A society, which stands idly by whilst children suffer, speaking not in the face of extreme exploitation, denying the truth of extensive child exploitation and acts not, is a society in collusion. (This article is part of a series; Click the following links for the first and second and thirdinstallments).

In the capital, prostitution abounds, “It is difficult to give an exact figure for the prevalence of child prostitution in Addis Ababa but observation reveals that the numbers are increasing at an alarming rate in the city”1 The joint Save the Children Denmark and Addis Ababa City administration (SCD) study states “Interviewing children revealed that over 50% started engaging in prostitution below 16 years of age. The majority work more than six hours per day”

There are many grades or levels of prostitution, “Some children engage in commercial sex in nightclubs, bars and brothels, while others simply stand on street corners waiting for men to pick them up” (CPAA) The SCD study “identified types of child prostitution: working on the streets; working in small bars; working in local arki or alcohol houses; working in rented houses/beds and; working in rent places for chat/drugs use. Each location exposes the children to different risks and hazards.”

“The major problems that have been faced by children engaged in prostitution include: rape, beating, hunger, etc. Based on the responses of children engaged in prostitution, about 45% of them have been raped before they engaged in the activity”. (CPAA) The dangers associated with child prostitution affect the girls physical and mental/emotional health. Violent physical abuse, being hit and raped is common, Birtuken a 17 year old child sex worker (CSW), “prostitution is disastrous to the physical and social wellbeing of a person.” (CPAA) The impact on the long-term mental health of a child working in prostitution, can often cause chronic psychological problems, “the emotional health consequences of prostitution include severe trauma, stress, depression, anxiety, self-medication through alcohol and drug abuse; and eating disorders.2

The risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) and HIV/Aids is great, so too the chances of unwanted pregnancies, as men, immersed in selfishness and ignorance, refuse to wear condoms. Their arrogance and macho bravado is a major cause in the spread of HIV/Aids in Ethiopia USAID3 suggests, “1.3million people are now living with the virus in the country”. It is estimated that “70 per cent of female infertility is caused by sexually transmitted diseases that can be traced back to their husbands or partners.”4 “Women in prostitution have been blamed for this epidemic of STDs when, in reality, studies confirm that it is men who buy sex in the process of migration who carry the disease from one prostituted woman to another and ultimately back to their wives and girlfriends.” (EoP)

There are various causes for the growth in child prostitution in urban and rural areas as well as Addis Ababa, arranged marriages, illegal under Federal Law is cited as a key factor, “Research carried out in 2005 established that most victims of commercial sexual exploitation found in the streets of Addis Ababa had been married when they were below 15 years of age” (SAACSEC) In highlighting the factors that drive children away from their homes and into commercial sex work, the CPAA study found that “Most of the child prostitutes came from regions to look for a job, due to conflicts at home, early marriage and divorce. Poverty, death of one or both parents, child trafficking, high repetition rates and drop out from school and lack of awareness about the consequence of being engaged in prostitution are key factors that push young girls to be involved in commercial sex work”. (CPAA) In addition to arranged marriage, which is a significant cause, the study found that “the major reasons identified by the children themselves for engaging in commercial sex work are: poverty (34%), dispute in family (35%), and death of mother and/or father. 40% joined prostitution either to support themselves or their parents. Quite a large number of girls (35%) have joined prostitution due to violence within the home. Thus violence within the family is the main cause for children fleeing from home.”

The causes listed are complex and interrelated. At the epicenter of these diverse reasons though sits the family. Conflict at home is for many girls (and boys) the force driving them away from family and onto the streets of Addis Ababa, or one of the provincial towns and cities. Division and conflict grow from many seeds, repeated physical abuse at the hands of a parent or stepparent, rape at the hands of a Father, stepfather or extended family member, physical and verbal abuse, all are factors that force girls to leave the home and seek release from what has become a prison like existence of servitude, intimidation and fear. “When physical and psychological punishment becomes intolerable, it may lead to the child running away from home. Girls tend to become prostitutes when they run away from home.” (VACE2)

Another burgeoning group from which many children fall into the net of prostitution is that resulting from HIV-orphans who have lost their parents to the virus. “Ethiopia has one of the largest populations of orphans in the world: 13 per cent of Ethiopian children have lost one or both parents…the number of children orphaned solely by HIV/AIDS has reached over 1.2 million. These children find themselves at a very high risk of entering commercial sex to survive, yet there is very limited support available for them either from government [emphasis mine}.”(AACSE)

Coherent or dysfunctional, the social fabric is a tapestry of interrelated, interconnected strands. Neglect by the Ethiopian Government in areas diverse, and fundamental is the glue that is binding together a polluted stream of suffering and pain.

Bussed In Married Off

Ethiopian children at FSCE. Photo credit Graham PeeblesEthiopian children at FSCE. Photo credit Graham Peebles

In 2006/7, I worked with the Forum for Street Children Ethiopia (FSCE), running education projects for the children in their care. Girls living and working on the streets, mainly the hectic cobbled broken pathways around the Mercato Bus station. “This extremely poor neighborhood in the city has become ‘the epicentre of the capital’s illegal [emphasis mine] industry of child prostitution’5

The children at FSCE ranged in age, although many did not even know their date of birth; most the children do not have documentation “the problem is further aggravated by a widespread lack of birth registration” (CPAA). Some were as young as 11 years old, “over 50% started engaging in prostitution below 16 years of age” the study states. “In almost every case the girls come to the city from the countryside, their families cast many out, others sent to Addis to work”. Arriving at the city’s main bus-station, shrouded in naivety and fear, with little or no education, the girls make easy pickings for the men that greet them, with a warm smile, and a cunning mind only to mistreat, use and exploit them. With nowhere else to go, and no alternatives, the girls find themselves working the street and the journey into the painful, destructive prison of prostitution has begun.

Many, according to Save the Children Denmark (STCD), come from the Amhara region, the second most populated region, with a population of over 20 million. These children arrive in the capital knowing nobody, with (probably) no money and no contacts.”Enforced child marriages, abuse, and the prospects of ending their days in the grip of poverty are factors pushing Ethiopian girls as young as nine years of age’” (VACE), to risk their childhood and their lives in the city. According to (CPAA) “There are many factors pushing the girls away from the region, (Amhara) including poverty, peer pressure and abuse. But child marriage is one of the most common explanations we hear when interviewing the girls,” Arranged marriages are widespread in the (Amhara) region in the north of Ethiopia, where young girls, children are forced to marry adult men, all too often this ‘union’ results in rape, abuse and violence, from which the innocent child is forced to flee, only into the clutches of exploitation, violence and abuse. And do they recover, is there healing and release, is a childhood stolen, a childhood lost, let us pray it is not so.

Marriages entered into unwillingly by extremely young girls, some as young as seven years old usually in exchange for reparations of some kind, money, cattle, land, lead all too often to abuse and violence, “traditional practices like female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriage, are causes for the increased violence against children.” 14-year-old boy 6 “in Wolmera Woreda, the practice of FGM is nearly universal since girls must be circumcised before marriage.” (VACE2) Once committed to a marriage, by parents who often regard the child as no more than an object to be traded, the girl is frequently raped and mistreated and treated as a servant. “Abduction, rape and early marriage may ultimately lead many girls to prostitution. Early marriage and abduction seldom produce successful marriages. In fact, such relationships are short-lived. As a result, most of these young girls run far away from their husbands in an attempt to start a new and happier life elsewhere. Unfortunately, many of them end up as prostitutes.’ (VACE2)

“Early marriage is illegal (except under particular circumstances), weak law enforcement [Emphasis mine] allows this practice to be widely followed throughout Ethiopia; the phenomenon is reported in almost every region of the country. Nationwide, 19 per cent of girls were married by the age of 15 and about half were married by the age of 19; in Amhara region, 50 per cent of girls were married by the age of 15. “When the marriage finally collapses, the girls usually migrate to urban areas since breaking a marriage arranged by their relatives is considered a shameful act and they are no longer welcome within their families and communities. Once in larger towns they end up living in the streets given their lack of skills to find employment. Such dire circumstances lead many girls to be exploited in commercial sex.” (CPAA)

To break free of a forced marriage entered into against the child’s will, and be punished by banishment from the family home, is a form of social injustice based on traditions, which have long failed to serve the children, the family or the community at large. It is time long since past that these practice’s where changed. Education, cultivating tolerance and understanding of the Human Rights of the Child are keys to undoing such outdated destructive sociological patterns, together with the enforcement of the law to deter parents and prospective ‘husbands’.

No Options, No Hope

No child enters into prostitution when they have a choice, “prostitution is seen as a social ill that is unaccepted, prohibited and fought in most parts of our continent. Prostitution is not only a question of morality but a human problem, a problem of human exploitation, a problem of societal failure in providing equal opportunities.” (CPAA) “At the end (of the interview) Belaynesh said that no girl/woman would like to be a prostitute but the problems force them to be in such a situation.” The circumstances that lead a young girl away from the games and innocence of childhood and what should be, the love and gentle kindness of her family, into the shadows of prostitution, may vary and circumstances differ, suffering though is common to all those forced into such a lifestyle, the impact long lasting and severe, the consequences dire, destroying many lives.

The children at FSCE in Mercato told us their stories, often with shame, through tears and embarrassment, always with pain. A thread connected them all, yes poverty, was a major issue, so too poor education however, the stream that united the group of wonderful 11 to 18 year olds, was a breakdown in human relationships, of one kind or another. Once outside the family, and society, young girls desperate to survive have little choice but to work as CSW. For those recruiting and selling girls It is a business, for the children on the streets it a torture. “Almost all respondents do not like prostitution (99%). Almost all the girls are involved in prostitution not because they like what they are doing but due to other factors, to support themselves or their families.” (CPAA) “Child prostitution [is] a big business involving a whole series of actors from abductors at bus stations, to blue taxis and bar/hotel owners who tend to see children as the spices of their trade. The business actors, oblivious to pervasive taboos, have long abandoned recruiting adult prostitutes.” (CPAA)

Trafficking Lives

Child prostitution and trafficking of children are inextricably linked. They are of course both illegal. All international conventions, from The Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) to International Labor Organisation (IL0), as one would expect, outlaw them. So too do Ethiopia’s Federal laws, “The 1993 Labor Proclamation forbids employment of young persons under the age of 14 years. Employment in hazardous work is also forbidden for those under 18. The Penal Code provides means for prosecuting persons sexually or physically abusing children and persons engaging in child trafficking including juveniles into prostitution. Federal Proclamation no.42/93 protects children less than 14 years not to engage in any kind of formal employment.” (CPAA) And yet both child prostitution and the trafficking of minors goes on, and on and on. “The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that girls are trafficked both within the country and abroad to countries in the Middle East and to South Africa.”7

Children are brought from rural areas of Ethiopia to the capital city by brokers, “ttraffickers, who feed on parent’s low awareness with false promises of work and education for their offspring.” The numbers are staggering, the money tiny, the damage unimaginable “up to 20,000 children, some 10 years old, are sold each year [for around $1.20 to $2.40] by their parents and trafficked by unscrupulous brokers to work in cities across Ethiopia.”8 And who would do such a thing. Who would ‘sell’ an innocent child; condemn a child to slavery and brutal exploitation, pain and acute distress? “These traffickers are ‘typically local brokers, relatives, family members or friends of the victims. Many returnees are also involved in trafficking by working in collaboration with tour operators and travel agencies”9 “The Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism has not been signed by any travel and tourism company in Ethiopia.” (CPAA) The Ethiopian Government acting in the interest of the children upon their homeland, and their responsibilities under international law, should rightly and immediately make all tour operators sign the afore mentioned treaty, or face closure, and criminal prosecution.

“The International Organization for Migration (IOM) stated that Ethiopian children are being sold for as little as US$ 1.20 to work as domestic servants or to be exploited in prostitution.” The Middle East is the major international destination of choice for traffickers, “Many Ethiopian women working in domestic service in the Middle East face severe abuses indicative of forced labor, including physical and sexual assault, denial of salary, sleep deprivation, and confinement. Many are driven to despair and mental illness, with some committing suicide. Ethiopian women are also exploited in the sex trade after migrating for labour purposes – particularly in brothels, mining camps, and near oil fields in Sudan – or after escaping abusive employers in the Middle East.”10 “At least 10,000 have been sent to the Gulf States to work as prostitutes.”(CTE) Let us not even begin to look at the complicity of such states in the destruction of the lives of these children and women, the ‘little ones’ that dance upon the waters of life, seeking only a gentle heart to trust, finding the dark days of Rome, and in despair we cry “Men’s wretchedness in soothe I so deplore,”11

Prime Minister Meles loves to ‘talk the talk’ to his western allies, the US, Britain, the European Union and the like, whilst turning a blind eye, a deaf ear to the cries of the child being beaten, the young girl being raped and traded for sex and the teenager separated from her family, her friends and her childhood, sold into servitude and abuse within Ethiopia and across the Red Sea in the oil rich ‘Gulf States’.

(This article is part of a series; Click the following links for the first and second and thirdinstallments).

Notes:
1. Addis Ababa City Admin Social & NGO Affairs Office (SNGOA), Save the Children Denmark (SCD) and ANNPPCAN-Ethiopian. Child Labor in Ethiopia with special focus on Child Prostitution Study. ‘Child Prostitution in Addis Ababa 2006 (CPAA)
2. Health Effects of Prostitution (EOP), Janice G. Raymond
3. http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/global_health/aids/Countries/africa/ethiopia.html
4. Jodi L. Jacobson, The Other Epidemic
5. Sofie Loumann Nielsen. The Reporter 10 September 2010
6. Violence against children in Ethiopia (VACE). Africa Child Policy Forum
7. http://www.childtrafficking.org/cgi-bin/ct/main.sql?ID=2067&file=view_document.sql
8. ILO. http://www.childtrafficking.org/cgi-bin/ct/main.sql?file=view_document.sql&TITLE=-1&AUTHOR=-1&THESAURO=-1&ORGANIZATION=-1&TOPIC=-1&GEOG=-1&YEAR=-1&LISTA=No&COUNTRY=-1&FULL_DETAIL=Yes&ID=2067. (CTE)
9. Ecpat Global Monitoring report status of action against commercial sexual exploitation of children, Ethiopia. (AACSE)
10. http://ovcs.blogspot.com/2008/01/ethiopia-is-source-country-for-human.html
11. Faust Part One, Mephistopheles.

About the author:

Graham PeeblesGraham is Director of The Create Trust, a UK registered charity, supporting fundamental social change and the human rights of individuals in acute need. He may be reached at graham@thecreatetrust.org

March 26, 2012

The sell out of Ethiopia to Al-Amoudi by Zenawi and his tribal gang

The Privatization and Public Enterprises Supervisory Agency, Ethiopia cancelled the proposal to sell Awash Winery due to unsatisfactory bids.

The agency had cancelled four previous tenders for the winery for similar reasons.

The sole bid for the winery was an offer of 201 million birr received from the partnership between Mulugeta Kiros and Tigist Demeke. PPESA declined the offer as being lower than the minimum it had expected.

It is to be remembered that MIDROC Ethiopia and affiliated companies, Horizon Plantation Ethiopia, National Mining Corporation and Saudi Star Agricultural Development, proffered the highest bids for five of the eight companies put forward for auction by the Ethiopian Privatization and Public Enterprises Supervisory Agency.

The group offered more than 1.3 billion birr for the five companies.

The highest offer of 860 million birr was placed by MIDROC Ethiopia for Upper Awash Agro industry, the largest agro industry in the country claim sources.

Horizon Plantation offered 228.2 million birr for Coffee and 35.1 million birr for Gojeb plantations respectively. The company will pay 141 million up front and the rest over the next two years should PPESA approve the offer.

Saudi Star offered 90 million birr for Ababo Plantation and the National Mining Corporation offered 110 million birr for the Ethiopian Marble Enterprise.

Source: The Reporter

March 25, 2012

Ethiopian Regime war on ancient Ethiopian Monasteries

Ethiopian Regime war on ancient Ethiopian Monasteries

Press Release:
Ethiopian Heritage Society of North America

For Immediate Release

 

Ethiopian Heritage Society Alarmed by Government Plans

In yet another egregious assault on its own Ethiopian citizens, the regime of Prime Minister Melees Zenawi and the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) are preparing to raze 18 ancient churches, to bulldoze the surrounding forests and pastures, and to force the indigenous people to relocate to substandard environs far from their heritage homelands. The regime wants the land to lease to large international corporations from China, Saudi Arabia, and India.

Deeply concerned about preserving the heritage of the Ethiopian people, the Ethiopian Heritage Society of North American (EHSNA) is especially troubled to discover that the Waldba Monastery in Gondar is among the church-lands chosen for demolition. One of the oldest monastic teaching institutions in Ethiopia, countless religious leaders have been educated within its walls for over 1000 years. Waldba also holds an important archive of scriptures and texts in ancient Ethiopian languages, many of which are very important to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and Ethiopian religious and cultural history.

“Villagization” and Theft of Millions of Acres
At least 8.8 million acres of land in Ethiopia have already been leased to foreign and state-owned firms since 2008, and the bandit regime will lease another 5.1 million acres presently. Ancestral pastoral and forest lands and church properties are among them. According to a recently released Human Rights Watch report, around 70,000 people from western Ethiopia have already been forcibly relocated under the government’s “villagization” program. The people are forced to move to environs that lack adequate food, farmland, healthcare, and educational facilities.

Any leasing money will go directly to the Ethiopian regime; none will go to recompense the displaced people who are torn from their heritage forests and pasturelands. The prime minister and his ruling elite will benefit directly from the betrayal of their homeland and the betrayal of their fellow citizens. Much of the lease monies will eventually be funnelled into off-shore bank accounts held by elite members of the regime.

The Ethiopian regime has denied any human rights violations and says “villagization” is vital to the nation’s development plans. In most cases the indigenous people who have lived on these lands for generations have not been consulted about the land leases. Water rights regarding these lands may have implications beyond the borders of Ethiopia and seemingly beyond the concern of the present regime. The leasing companies need large tracts of land to exploit without any ecological oversight. The bull-dozed heritage lands will be used to grow soy, sugar cane, and other soil-depleting crops.

P.M. Melees, Church Primate, and TPLF Cadre Suspected of Arson in Church Burning
Recently, the important Ziuala Monastery burned to the ground and the fire originated under suspicious conditions. The fire department of the local government was said to be unavailable while the chapel turned to ashes. People in the area speculate that the fire was set by TPLF cadre.

The current head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Aba Paulos offered no regret and no condolences for the loss of the religious heritage site. Claiming to be the patriarch of Ethiopia, the primate shares the same district background of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and it is suspected that he is in collusion with the corrupt regime. The Ziquala Monastery was in one of the many areas marked secretly for “villagization” by the bandit regime and its TPLF party. The war against religion is not limited to Christians and Christianity, the TPLF government interfering unjustly with Ethiopian Muslims as well.

Horrific Assault on Ethiopian Christian Heritage
Ethiopia has a long-held religious tradition tracing back to the biblical Queen of Sheba and the Judaic King Solomon. Ethiopia has many monasteries. There are Zuquala Abo and Debre Libanos monasteries in Showa Province, Wegeg Asobot Gedam monastery in Hararge Province, Waldba (previously mentioned) and Mahbere Selassie monasteries in Gondar Province, to name some among many others.

Over 1000 monks live in the Waldba region and their displacement alone will cause a sizeable upheaval for the local population; not to mention the disruption in the religious expectations of their followers and the destruction of their places of worship. Many of the churches and monasteries have been designated World Heritage Sites by the United Nations due to the religious art and archives preserved therein.

Crimes Against Ethiopian Humanity

The land leasing schemes by the government will produce an ecological disaster that has already been played out in other areas of the globe where forest lands have been stripped. According to the legitimate Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo church in exile, the government’s assaults on its own Ethiopian people, their freedom of speech, their heritage, their ancestral homes, and their religious and national histories, could make the regime hard-pressed to ever defend itself against charges pertaining to crimes against humanity – Ethiopian humanity.

———

State-run ETV denies that no harm was done at the monasteriesobject>

March 24, 2012

Ethiopians Evicted from their land for Land grab crowding Addis Abeba( Amharic)

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 9:16 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Source: ethiopatriots.com

1
መጋቢት 14/2004 ዓ.ም.
ከቤንቺ ማጅ በገዥው ፓርቲ የተፈናቀሉ ዜጎች አዲስ አበባ መግባት ጀመሩ፡፡
ተፈናቃዮቹ በመኢአድ ዋናው ጽ/ቤት ግቢ ውስጥ ሠፍረዋል፡፡
በደቡብ ኢትዮጵያ በቤንቺ ማጂ ዞን በጉራ ፋርዳ ወረዳ የሚኖሩ የአማራ ክልል ተወላጆች ለብዙ ዓመታት ከኖሩበት ቀዬ ባስቸኳይ ለቀው እንዲወጡ በክልሉ መንግሥት ተጽዕኖ የተደረገባቸው

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TPLF down-sized to a single-family party: Seeye Abraha

Atlanta (Gerogia) — After the 2005 farce election, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front(TPLF), has been downsized to a single family party, namely that of Melez Zenawi and Azeb Mesfin, Seeye Abarha senior member of Unity for Democracy and Peace Party said last Saturday while addressing a public gathering in Atlanta.

 

The former TPLF top official who later joined the opposition group and became founding member of Medrek, a coalition party, said that TPLF no more exists today in the fashion that we used to know it years ago.

Seeye, who is currently studying at Harvard University, said the present socio-economic situation in Ethiopia is in the same state of expose with the final days of the military government of Colonel Mengistu Haile-mariam, characterized by exorbitant cost of living and deepening public discontent. In a country where inflation is soaring over 30%, corruption has become the order of the day, Seeye said. Ethiopia now supersedes neighboring country, Kenya which at one time was well known for corruption throughout the continent. He also noted that with such slippery economy EPRDF is facing insurmountable economic challenges.

Meles, after the 2005 election, not only created pseudo political parties but also pseudo propaganda machinery. Referring to 10 million Birr fund allocated to political parties for the forthcoming local election, EPRDF has already fetched the lion’s share, that is 9 million Birr and sadly only 3500 Birr goes to Medrek, Seeye remarked. His party is unable to even lease an assembly hall anywhere in Addis Ababa, albeit all fees are paid in full.

Cognizant of the fact that EPRDF is unable to cleanse its tarnished records in human rights and undemocratic deeds, is now attempting to legitimize its actions by calling itself “development-oriented government.” Government owned mass media are sanctioned to report nothing but economic development, he said. He recalled the ban on Deutsche Welle Amharic Service (German Radio Amharic service) last year and the warning given to it by EPRDF to focus its report only on the economic activities the country undertakes.

No matter how EPRDF attempts to portray itself, the Ethiopian people are fully aware of the genesis of the economic problem — the political system of EPRDF, Seeye remarked. Poverty and excessive rise of living cost have become core economic agenda of the people, Seeye said, adding that “… adversely, the ruling party has made all economic issues to sound political issues. Politics is no more an issue of politicians alone.”

According to the head of Medrek, this is “a new phenomenon”.. a phenomenon which opposing political parties should count on to rally and organize the public against the decadent regime of Meles Zenawi.

Referring to Andinet’s 5-year plan, Seeye Abraha explained that the party which the Ethiopian people would form has to have the ability to bring to an end the intrinsic problems of the nation. He put special emphasis on the need for peaceful struggle and to wage a national reconciliation venture. He said, “Ethiopians have to be ready to forgive and reconcile with one another,” with the view to co-existing in peace and harmony.

The former minister of defense said over 90% of the military personnel come from Tigray region and said “they too aspire the rule of law and freedom,” once again referring to national reconciliation scheme.

During a question and answer session, Andinet’s executive member was showered with a number of questions most of them related to the days that he served as part of EPRDF nucleus body, to which he repeatedly attempted to stress the need to close the past history and focus on the future. With his eloquent approach, Seeye Abraha, at times being a little emotional, managed to address every pertinent issue including the nature of the federal police and the saga that evolve around Hawzen massacre.

Referring to Hawzen , Seeye ardently explained that it was the Derg that committed the massacre in an open Hawzen market. “I wouldn’t dare to stand and face you today, if we had been involved in the annihilation of Hawzen.”

With regards to the federal police, Seeye pointed out “it is not a regular police force; rather it is a para military police trained to defuse public unrest and mass demonstrations in and around cities.”

He outrightly rejected the idea of armed struggle as a means to bring change in Ethiopia, for the prevailing geo-politics of the world doesn’t warrant such form of struggle for social justice and equality.

Earlier, a hand-written letter of Andualem Aragie, the jailed Andinet Party’s secretary, was read out to the audience. The letter from Kaliti was later put to public auction and fetched a little over $1,000. Andualem is charged with ‘terrorism,’ a trumped-up charge for the man publicly known as an ardent opponent of any form of violence to effect political change.

All the proceeds from the event goes to finance Finote Netsanet, the official organ of Andinet party, Girmaye Gizaw, chairman of the Atlanta Andinet support group told the participants. Cheru Terefe, who chaired the meeting, who himself is a veteran political activist since late 60s stressed the importance of a newspaper, particularly in the struggle that the Ethiopian people are waging and urged the audience to support the newspaper in any way they could.

Girmaye, an organizer within the Atlanta Andinet support chapter, emphasized that “to judge people in their current political stand rather than scrutinizing their past history”. He made a call to develop the habit of accommodating each others’ opposing views and focus on viable solutions to our pertinent national issues.

The most amazing feature of the day was the fact that Girmaye Gizaw and Seeye Abraha who at one time had been fighting against each other during the armed struggle in late ’70s and early ’80s are now sitting next to each other one as host and guest speaker, respectively, both fighting for the same cause now.

Seeye recalled the specific place, Bizet, where the two had waged an armed struggle against each other decades ago.

One elderly woman who observed this amazing incident said, “What a historical coincidence. These two individuals are living examples for the old and universal saying that “in politics there is no permanent enemy nor could there be a permanent friend.’

The meeting that lasted for over 5 hours was opened by observing a moment of silence in honor of YeneSew Gebre and for all those who paid the ultimate price in the struggle for freedom, justice and equality.

At the end of the meeting Seeye Abraha was presented with a plaque that recognizes his struggle and reminds him to continue his fight with fervent and zealous manner.

March 23, 2012

Drama in UAE as Ethiopian woman tries to jump to her death

Filed under: Ethiopia,UAE — ethiopiantimes @ 5:55 pm
Tags: , ,

Drama in Sharjah as woman tries to jump to her death

Suicidal housemaid in Sharjah taken into police custody for questioning

    • By Rayeesa Absal, Staff Reporter
    • Published: 00:00 March 23, 2012
    • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: READER
  • An eyewitness took this picture of the woman hanging from the window. A neighbour, who lives downstairs, went up to the apartment and helped pull her back to safety.

Sharjah: An African woman, believed to be in her 30s, is in police custody after she allegedly attempted to commit suicide by jumping from the window of a sixth floor apartment, Sharjah Police told Gulf News.

Many panicked onlookers, mostly women, cried as she dangled precariously from the window, eyewitnesses said.

The incident happened in the Abu Shagara area yesterday morning around 9.30am.

“The woman was dangling from the window by just one hand for several minutes and was screaming out for help after she seemingly changed her mind about the suicide. But she could not climb back up. One person, I think a man, was holding her by the other hand and trying to pull her back up,” Sharly Benjamin, an eyewitness, who lives in the vicinity, said.

Pulled back up

Fortunately, the woman was pulled back up, just as the police arrived. She has been taken into custody for investigation, a police official confirmed, adding that initial reports suggest a suicide attempt.

“I was just leaving for work when I heard her cries for help,” Benjamin, the managing director of a private firm, said, adding that onlookers crowded the area within minutes.

The 12-storey building is located near the Abu Shagara Park, opposite a mosque. Some people ran behind the building and returned with a huge carpet, he continued.

“About 20 people held up the carpet hoping to cushion her fall. In the meantime, I ran up the building to assist the person trying to help her climb back into the apartment. But by the time I reached, she was already taken into safety,” he added.

A Syrian man living downstairs went up to the apartment and helped pull the woman back to safety.

The woman is Ethiopian and was working as a housemaid for the family, according to sources.

The husband, an Emirati, was at work in Abu Dhabi and the wife, a Moroccan national, had taken her mother to the hospital when the incident occurred.

“Only the lady’s brother, who is here on visit now, and the family’s two young children [about three and five years old] were at home at the time,” said a source, who asked not to be named.

The brother-in-law was also taken for police interrogation, added the source. However, this could not be immediately verified from the police.

“The lady was hired by the family only very recently, about two weeks or so,” the source said.

The apartments in the building have no balconies, but only broad windows which can be opened sideways.

— With additional inputs from Mariam Al Serkal, Staff Reporter

March 22, 2012

Ethiopia Condemns Italy’s Position On Eritrea

Filed under: Eritrea,Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 10:52 pm
Tags: ,

Ethiopia on Thursday condemned Italy’s position on Addis Ababa’s standoff with Asmara, accusing the European country of issuing “biased and ill informed information” following Ethiopia’s recent decision to attack military installations in Eritrea.

Ethiopia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry expressed dismay over the Italian position on “Eritrea’s destabilising activities” in the Horn of Africa after Italy, last week, said it firmly condemned “every recourse to violence”.

“The Italian Foreign Ministry issued a totally biased and ill-informed statement concerning Eritrea on 16 March 2012,” said the ministry, “Italy has come out in defence of Eritrea’s subversive activities in the Horn”.

This is the first diplomatic row to have erupted after Ethiopia attacked military bases inside Eritrea last week, shortly after which Shemeles Kemal, State Minister of Communications, argued that [LINK=http://theafricareport.com/index.php/2012011950179602/east-horn-africa/ethiopia-eritrea-threats-over-deadly-afar-attacks-50179602.html]the attacks[/LINK] did not constitute direct military confrontation between the Ethiopian and Eritrean forces but rather as a response to “an Afar rebel group from Eritrea” that recently “killed five European tourists.”

The victims including two Austrians, two Germans and a Hungarian were killed when 27 international tourists were attacked while visiting the lava lakes of the volcanic Afar region, close to the Eritrean border.

But right from the onset, Ethiopia’s official stance indicated a “direct involvement of the Eritrean government” in the attacks. Addis Ababa said tourists who had been kidnapped by the Eritrean government on previous occasions had been used as a bargaining chip in Asmara’s diplomatic activities.

However, the Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front (ARDUF), an Ethiopian rebel group later claimed responsibility for the attack and [LINK=http://theafricareport.com/index.php/2012012350179838/east-horn-africa/ethiopian-rebels-to-release-kidnapped-germans-deny-eritrean-role-50179838.html]denied working in cahoots with the Eritrean[/LINK] government which is [LINK=/index.php/201107285168012/news-analysis/ethiopia-and-un-accuse-eritrea-of-backing-al-shabaab-5168012.html]under United Nations sanctions[/LINK] for playing a part in the Somali crisis. Somalia has been without a functioning government for over two decades.

And while a number of countries have called for calm between the two countries, the Ethiopian government’s reaction against Italy’s position on the affair has been rife.

“Italy has never condemned Eritrea’s continuous violent acts of destabilisation in the sub-region despite the numerous resolutions of the UN and IGAD to that effect,” said Ethiopia.

After last week’s attack, Ethiopia’s Indoctrination and Public Relations Head at the Ethiopian Ministry of Defence, Colonel Gebrekidan Hailu said several soldiers and “anti-peace forces” had been wounded and some arrested in the attacks on Ramid, Gelehibe and Gibina military camps, and also warned that the attacks will continue until the Eritrean government restrained from its “destructive role”.

Ethiopia said Italy was aware of Eritrea’s support for terrorist activities in the sub region which over the years had caused the loss of civilian lives including Italian tourists. “Italy’s lack of genuine concern for such matters of grave concern to the region and the international community as a whole is indeed baffling,” the statement from the foreign ministry read.

About 50 000 people from both sides lost their lives when the two countries got embroiled in a war a decade ago. Intermittent border conflicts between Ethiopia and Eritrea have since 1998 led to a “No peace, No war” situation. Ethiopia has also in the past accused its neighbour of supplying extremist Somali group, al-Shabab with weapons and assistance.

Meanwhile, observers have expressed fears that a diplomatic row between Ethiopia and Italy could have some serious repercussions. –TheAfricaReport

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