ethiopiantimes

April 30, 2012

Muslims Dead in Ethiopia Ahbashism Protests

April 29, 2012, ADDIS ABABA (onIslam) – At least seven people were reportedly killed in a new wave of Muslim protests against a government campaign to indoctrinate their community with Ahbashism ideology.

“All what you see is a result of a long time oppression of Ethiopian Muslims,” Haji Abdurahman Sadiq, a Muslim community leader, told OnIslam.net.

Ethiopian police shot dead seven Muslims in Assasa town in Arsi province of Oromiya regional state on Friday.

Witnesses say the Muslim victims fell when Ethiopian security forces surrounded a mosque to arrest Sheikh Su’ud Aman on accusations of prompting “terrorist” ideology.

When worshippers tried to stop the Sheikh’s arrest, security forces opened fire, killing seven Muslims.

Scores of people were also reportedly injured in the incident.

The killing

The killings add to the troubling relationship between Muslims and their government over what Muslims describe as government interference in their religious affairs.

Muslims say the government is spearheading a campaign in collaboration with the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs to indoctrinate their community with the ideology of a sect called “Ahbash”.

The government of Ethiopian Premier Meles Zenawi has put the Ahbas in charge of the religious affairs of Ethiopia’s Muslims.

Muslims say the government move is in violation of the constitution, which prevents the government interference in religious affairs.

Muslims also accuse the Ahbash of launching an “indoctrination program” in predominantly Muslim areas, forcing people to attend “religious training” camps or risk police interrogation and possible arrest.

Muslim leaders are planning to meet Premier Zenawi to discuss the situation of their community in Ethiopia.

Founded by Ethiopian-Lebanese scholar Sheikh Abdullah al-Harari, Ahbash is seen by the West as a “friendly alternative” to Wahabi ideology, which the West sees as extreme and militant.

Muslims say Ahbash imams are being brought over from Lebanon to fill the Majlis and teach Ethiopians that “Wahabis” are non-Muslims.

Repression

Muslim leaders accuse the Ethiopian government of repressing their community on the pretext of fighting terrorism.

“The government proclaimed in its constitution that it has no right to intervene in our religious affairs,” Sadiq told OnIslam.net.

“At start, it has allowed Muslims to preach freely, to publish Islamic books, to build Islamic schools etc.”

But all these have turned into a nightmare.

“We were hopeful then and thought that we were beginning a new era,” the Muslim leader said.

“But as time elapsed, the government started to oppress our people brutally.

The community leader said it has now become a “mission impossible” for Muslims to build a mosque in Ethiopia.

“Our children couldn’t express their faith freely in government-owned colleges and universities. Muslim charity organizations are falsely accused of expanding ‘Wahhabism’ and closed down.

“The leadership of the Majlis didn’t say anything when these illegal measures were hurting the Muslim society.”

April 29, 2012

Ethiopia: Four Ethiopians and one Pakistani killed and five Pakistani wounded on a farm owned by Al-Amoudi in Gambela

An official says gunmen attacked a commercial farm in Ethiopia’s western Gambella region and killed five workers.

Government spokesman Shimeles Kemal said Sunday that the attackers wounded nine people as they shot indiscriminately late Saturday at workers on the vast farm. The property is owned by Mohammed Al-Amoudi, an Ethiopian-born Saudi businessman who is among the world’s richest men.

He said that among the dead were four Ethiopians and a Pakistani national. Five Pakistanis were among the wounded.

The official said six of the suspected assailants are now in police custody and that it is still unclear why the farm was targeted.

The farm produces cash crops such as rice.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/04/29/official-gunmen-kill-5-farmworkers-in-ethiopia/#ixzz1tTMA0Md4

[Breaking New] Another Strong Demonstration at Anwar Mesjid denouncing yeWoyanee Mejlis & Ahbash – April 27, 2012

Eritrea¡’S Tyrant Reappears On TV After A 30-Day Absence

Filed under: Eritrea — ethiopiantimes @ 10:48 am
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Thirty days to the day, Eritrea¡¯s dictator Isaias Afwerki re-appeared on state TV to counter rumors that he is seriously sick or dying.

Heavily made up and wearing an over-sized short-sleeved shirt, light blue pants and sandals, the relaxed-looked Eritrean president was animated in his condemnation of the myriad of enemies who “disseminate cheap fabrications.” He attributed their motive to “destituteness, panic, frustration and consternation” at Eritrea¡¯s rapid progress.

His last appearance was on March 28, 2012.

By way of introduction, the Eritrean dictator explained that he had been out of the country the “last week” and that when he returned, he had been engaged in a 14-hour expedition from the edges of Gash Barka [Western Eritrea], to Afabet, Gulbub, Massawa, and “had breakfast in Gahtelai.” When he returned to Asmara, he went to sleep because “I love to sleep” and that “when I woke up at 7:00, I wasn¡¯t fully awake, Saba [his wife] told me that there is news.” He said that he wasn¡¯t fully awake and did not pay much attention to the “news” [the rumors about his health] until the news spread.

“I don¡¯t follow the internet and I don¡¯t have a mobile phone,” claimed Isaias Afwerki.

“I have no sickness, I am healthy, but because the rumors are repeated¡­but you can¡¯t chase the wind [or] follow those who are mentally deranged [and spread news]¡­ and people should wise up. If you ask me, ¡®are you sick?¡¯ I would say, my illness is in the mental derangement of others.”

He said that those who think this is “psychological warfare” should know that “everything has been tried in the last 10 years.”

The 30-minute interview was conducted at the presidential palace in Asmara.

When the interviewer, State TV reporter Suleiman Osman Abbe asked him to explain why, if he was healthy, he didn¡¯t make an appearance on national TV, the Eritrean strongman said that his expeditions had increased and that not every travel he is engaged in should appear on TV.

This was followed by a lengthy diatribe about how the world isdominated by “9 or 10¡å media corporations, how the world of “brainwashing and advertising agencies” work, and how the people should “wise up” to attempts to make them sycophants.

Isaias Afwerki further explained that he can¡¯t appear on TV every time there are rumors of his health and that the only reason he is reappearing on TV is because the rumors about his health were relentless and that he felt an obligation, “out of respect for the people.”

It is not clear why he felt respect for the people 30 days to the day and not earlier when his disciples were in a state of panic about the rumors.

According to Gedab News sources, Isaias Afwerki¡¯s descent intodepression started on March 17, 2012 when Ethiopia attacked Adi Tekhlay and Sheshbit. He called a meeting with his military officers to discuss the Ethiopian incursion and angrily announced, “we have been disrespected!” In the meeting, he proposed counter offensive but his officers showed reservation citing Eritrea¡¯s readiness after which he abruptly ended the meeting he had called and stormed out.

A binge drinker, Isaias Afwerki is known to disappear for days and lock himself in a place and engage in heavy drinking. Suffering from a liver ailment, Isaias was sick and suffering from alcohol poisoning and rushed for medical attention¨Cthus his travel “outside the country.”

On Monday, Eritrea¡¯s Minister of Information, Ali Abdu, stated that the president does not need to appear to refute rumors and that he was as fit as a fiddle. In an interview with the BBC, Ali Abdu said that the rumors by the enemies, [including the CIA], were intended to create chaos in the country. But if there was a reason for fear of the stability of the country, it took the president one month to appear and assure the people that everything was alright.

Pressure from the diplomatic community in Eritrea and repeated questions from the supporters of the regime forced it to bring the issue to an end. The regime¡¯s embassies and consulates had been pressuring it to refute the rumor because they saw drastic drop in the 2% tax collection because those who pay stopped paying thinking the Isaias Afwerki regime was no more.

The recent rumors caught the Eritrean opposition off guard and reminded the regime¡¯s supporters that Isaias is mortal and will die someday. –awate

April 28, 2012

Gebremedhin Araya Speak on Zenawi’s Hate towards Amhara

Gebremedhin Araya Speak on Zenawi’s Hate towards Amhara>> Read all on ethiopatriots

April 27, 2012

Isaias Afwerki: The end of an era?

Filed under: Eritrea — ethiopiantimes @ 12:30 pm
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For several days, Eritreans are unsure of whether President Isaias Afwerki has died or is seriously sick, or is on a life-support system until the government secures a smooth transition. Photo, courtesy of Assenna.com, shows Isaias on a hospital bed. His ailment is related to liver.

WASHINGTON, DC – Eritreans are torn between two scenarios: President Isaias Afwerki has died or is seriously sick that it is a matter of time before his death is made public.

“I don’t want him to die,” one Eritrean wrote on an opposition blog. “I want him to face justice for the crimes he committed over several years.”

Well, there could be a surprise as well. The much-feared Isaias may make an impressive comeback to public life, a la Fidel Castro style.

For now, what’s certain is Isaias Afwerki has been out of public life for nearly a month, and the top brass of the army is in charge of the country.

Eritrean opposition sources like Assenna.com believe General Sebhat Ephrem has been elected leader of the hastily formed supreme command that’s still meeting behind closed-doors.

Armored vehicles and tanks are positioned around banks, while the mother of Isaias Afwerki has been flown in to the capital from her long-time residence in the United States. The sources say her sudden recall is so that she would pay her last respects to her reclusive son.

The secret meeting is being attended by the very few and most powerful men who have been clustered around Isaias since rebel days, and these are:

Gen. Sebhat Ephrem, Brig. Gen. Abraha Kassa, Major Gen. Oumer Tewil, major general filipos w yohannes, Abdella Jabir, Yemane Charlie. Brig. Gen. Abraha Kassa is second in command, after Gen. Sebhat. While it is reported that political prisoners linked to the G-15, a reformist group that Isaias threw into jail in the early 2000, are released and being treated at clincs in the Eritrean capital, other Eritrean sources call for the release of all political prisoners and the lifting of the news blackout that has thrown the entire country into confusion.

If the fear is proven right, and Isaias fails to crawl back to life like Castro, the following developments are very likely to evolve over Eritrea:

 

  1. Eritrean army officers may split in two: those who will defend the status quo so that those who have been Afwerki’s confidantes wouldn’t be brought to justice if they lose power, and those who abhor dictatorship, and vow a new government should be elected after first ever elections in Eritrea. 
  2. Eritrean opposition parties, almost all of them, about a dozen, based in neighboring Ethiopia, will no doubt push for Eritrea’s clean break with the Isaias past, and call for general elections, possibly monitored by the UN. 
  3. In the event that Eritrea descends into choas, there would be no doubt that Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the man who played the most important role in the fight for the independence of Eritrea at the cost of making Ethiopia landlocked, would send forces to quel any threat to Eritrean peace, stability, sovereignty and independence on the one hand, and on the other, make sure any Eritrean group that is coming to power in Asmara wouldn’t be a bone in the throat of Mr. Zenawi himself.

April 26, 2012

The Reporter blocked for the past five days within Ethiopia

Filed under: Azeb Mesfin,Ethiopia,Meles Zenawi — ethiopiantimes @ 10:35 pm
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Reporters Without Borders is very worried to learn that access to the Amharic website of Ethiopia’s leading independent, privately-owned weekly, The Reporter, has been blocked for the past five days. No one has been able to access the site from within Ethiopia since around 4:30 p.m. on 21 April unless they use a proxy server.

The reason for the blocking is unclear and Reporters Without Borders urges the authorities to provide an explanation. “Everything indicates that the blocking is being carried by the state-owned company Ethio-Telecom, since it is Ethiopia’s only Internet Service Provider,” the press freedom organization said.

Media Communication Centre (MCC), the company that publishes The Reporter, has asked Ethio-Telecom for an explanation but has not yet received a response.

“Website blocking is not new in Ethiopia but a leading independent newspaper’s site has never previously been affected,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Tests carried out by the OpenNet Initiative in 2008 and 2009 showed that certain outspoken or opposition sites based abroad were the target of filtering, but this is the first time a newspaper such as The Reporter has been targeted.”

The Reporter’s site normally has upward of 30,000 visitors a day, more than five times the number of readers of the print version. “Has The Reporter’s site been blocked to prevent the dissemination of sensitive articles,” Reporters Without Borders asked.

Reporters Without Borders urges the authorities to restore access to the site for Ethiopian Internet users and reiterates its opposition to the filtering and blocking of online content.

Its view is shared by of the United Nations special rapporteur for freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, who recommended in a June 2011 report that the flow of information online should be restricted to “few, exceptional, and limited circumstances prescribed by international human rights law.” He also said “the right to freedom of expression must be the norm, and any limitation considered as an exception.”

United Nations employee in jail without charges for well over a year in Ethiopia

Detentions display UN’s impotence in Ethiopia

Ethiopia‘s government, a favored and oft-praised Western partner, has held one United Nations employee in jail without charges for well over a year, while another is facing prosecution under a notorious anti-terrorism law.

The detentions are a stark indicator of the UN’s predicament in the illiberal Horn of Africa nation.

The 27 UN agencies in Ethiopia largely work harmoniously with the government in areas such as funding HIV/AIDS programs, helping care for a quarter of a million refugees, or supporting female education campaigns. UN cash, for example, has helped provide antiretroviral therapy to 249,000 HIV-sufferers from 743 facilities – there were only 3 clinics offering the treatment in 2005. A high level delegation representing six UN agencies visited Ethiopia this month, and praised the country for its progress toward meeting five out of the eight Millennium Development Goals, rapid economic growth, and heavy investment in social services. Few would disagree that advances are being made in providing healthcare, education, and infrastructure for over 80 million Ethiopians.

The dignitaries, however, made no mention of Ethiopian national and UN Local Security Assistant Yusuf Mohammed, who has been languishing in a remote regional jail – without charges – since December 2010. Human rights activists say Ethiopia may use Mr. Mohammed as a bargaining chip in gaining custody of his brother, wanted for bankrolling a rebel group from Denmark.

A colleague of Mohammed’s in the UN Department of Safety and Security, Abdirahman Sheikh Hassan, is being prosecuted for links with the same designated terrorist group, the Ogaden National Liberation Front. The group operates in Ethiopia’s Somali region, which is inside Ethiopia but is majority Somali ethnic. Mr. Hassan’s arrest in July came shortly after he negotiated the release of two abducted UN World Food Program workers with leaders of the ethnic-Somali insurgents.

While Prime Minister Meles Zenawi‘s two-decade-old government welcomes international assistance as it strives to haul Africa’s second-most populous nation out of poverty, there is no doubt about who’s in charge.

“The UN and any other member of the international community are caught between a rock and a hard place,” says an aid worker with years of experience in the Somali region, who asked not to be named. “While there is clearly some great work going on in many key sectors, if anybody were to push their agenda beyond a limit considered acceptable by Ethiopia’s notoriously strong and rigid government, then they would risk being expelled from the country.” Or, he says, if you are Ethiopian; imprisoned.

Confidentially – public protestations may jeopardize career advancement – UN staff tell of regular harassment by the Ethiopian authorities: equipment is impounded at customs, UN workers’ spouses are denied work permits, and vehicles are searched in contravention of the government’s 53-year-old agreement with the organization.

In a public statement earlier this month on its imprisoned workers, the UN said it had advised the government of “the appropriate procedure to be followed in such cases under the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations” and that it had inquired about the “legal basis for their arrest.”

While the local workers should be immune from detention under the convention, the government may have mistakenly believed that only international UN staff are protected, according to a UN official. This seems an unlikely mistake to have made in the case of Milan Dubcek, Slovakia‘s Ambassador to Ethiopia, who was held over a weekend in November by security agents after picking a sensitive spot on the fringes of the capital, Addis Ababa, to go for a Saturday stroll. “The local authorities neither informed Slovakia nor offered any explanation for why Dubček had been arrested,” reported The Slovak Spectator.

In the case of Mr. Hassan, after taking almost a week to track down the file, government spokesman Shimeles Kemal was bullish about the “prima facie” evidence the state had against him. Officials have not commented on Mr. Mohammed’s case.

Although a UN worker held in arbitrary detention may be unusual, the practice itself is not uncommon in Ethiopia, according to advocacy groups. “We believe that there were hundreds of individuals arbitrarily detained last year alone and the practice appears to be widespread,” says Laetitia Barder from Human Rights Watch. Both HRW and Amnesty International – frequent, vociferous critics of Mr. Meles’s administration – say identifying an exact figure is impossible due to the lack of independent monitoring of Ethiopia’s prisons.

This lack of scrutiny is partly due to Ethiopia’s 2009 Charities and Societies Proclamation, which bars NGOs that receive more than 10 percent of funding from abroad from participating in rights work. The rationale is to allow Ethiopia’s civil society to develop organically without undue and unaccountable foreign influence, explained Meles to journalist Peter Gill in his 2010 book Famine & Foreigners, Ethiopia Since Live Aid. Critics say the less-prosaic purpose is to shut out  foreign charities, such as those that allegedly helped try to unseat the ruling party in 2005.

“The government would very much like to control the UN and other multilaterals the way they control the NGO sector,” says an Ethiopia expert who asked not to be named for fear of limiting his future access to the country. But without the legal power to do so, and recognizing the UN’s vital work, “it is a constant game of cat and mouse,” says the aid worker about the government’s relationship with the UN. “Yet the cat, it seems, will always get the cream.”

But at times, offshoots or smaller branches of the UN are quite critical: Five UN Special Rapporteurs on rights slammed the government for a crackdown on dissent in February; last year the International Monetary Fund was instrumental in highlighting the role of central bank lending to state enterprises in fueling soaring inflation; and the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization joined a chorus of criticism of the Gibe III hydropower dam.

But unless lead agencies also find a critical and concerted voice, there is no substantive UN opposition to the government’s rogue tendencies. Or, as online Ethiopia commentator Jawar Mohammed puts it: “Meles does not give a damn about the toothless UN.”

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Ethiopia: Man sets himself on fire in Addis Ababa

April 25 (ESAT News)–A man sets himself alight yesterday in central Addis Ababa. Eye-witnesses said that the man in his early 30s doused himself with petrol and burned himself at around 5 pm local time in front of the famous statue of Emperor Menelik.

Some people who were around the shocking incident tried to put off the flame that quickly engulfed the man causing severe burns. The man reportedly refused help and cried his desire to die than living under unacceptable conditions, it was learned.

The eye-witnesses said that the man was severely burned above his waist including his hair which was seared and fell off his skull.

A man sets himself alight yesterday in central Addis Ababa. Eye-witnesses said that the man in his early 30s doused himself with petrol at around 5 pm local time in front of the statue of Emperor Menelik.

Some people who were around the shocking incident tried to put of the fire that quickly engulfed the man causing severe burns. The man reportedly refused help and cried his desire to die than living under unacceptable conditions, it was learned.

The eye-witnesses said that the man was severely burned above his waist including his hair that was seared and fell off his skull.

One of ESAT’s reporter that arrived at the scene after half an hour saw the victim’s jacket on the asphalt and a checkered shirt that was also badly burnt. The man was taken to undisclosed an location by the police that were patrolling the area.

The eye-witnesses also told ESAT that the man had come to the spot he chose for the self-sacrifice by taxi. The man talked loudly to air his grievance.

The police quickly arrived at the scene and dispersed the crowd. Some of the onlookers were briefly detained and were track-record. But the police quickly dispersed the crowd and took the man by a police patrol car. A few of the witnesses who took pictures with their mobile phones were briefly detained but were released after police deleted the pictures.

The police quickly arrived at the scene and dispersed the crowd. Some of the witnesses who recorded the incident with their mobile phone were briefly detained. But the police quickly dispersed the crowd and took the man by a police patrol car.

A few of the witnesses who took pictures with their mobile phones were briefly detained but were released after police deleted the pictures. The self-immolation of Yenesew Gebre was the first known to happened in Ethiopia in protest against oppression and lack of injustice in the country.

April 24, 2012

Rights group slams NATO, others for the deaths of Citizens of Ethiopia, Nigeria, Eritrea, Ghana and Sudan. at sea

Filed under: NATO — ethiopiantimes @ 6:04 pm
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BRUSSELS (AP) — A top European rights watchdog has blamed NATO, Libyan authorities and smugglers for the deaths at sea of 63 people fleeing the Libyan war in March 2011 — a charge the military alliance is disputing.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, known as PACE, said Tuesday that NATO in particular “failed to react to distress calls” from the boat carrying the refugees in part of the Mediterranean Sea under its control.

The victims included citizens of Ethiopia, Nigeria, Eritrea, Ghana and Sudan.

NATO, whose warships and aircraft were patrolling the area at the time, rejected the accusations, saying its ships and aircraft helped to rescue over 600 people in the Mediterranean and coordinated in the rescue of many others during the seven-month conflict.

NATO warplanes flew more than 9,600 strike missions in the war, which ended after the capture and death of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in October.

Tens of thousands of people fled Libya in 2011, many of them aboard rickety boats heading for Malta and Italy. Many were Africans who lived and worked in Libya but were wrongly viewed by rebels as being Gadhafi supporters.

Search and rescue authorities, NATO, states with naval vessels in the area, Libyan authorities and people traffickers shared responsibility for the 63 deaths, PACE said.

The boat, which left Tripoli with 72 people on board a week after the beginning of international air strikes on Libya, washed up on the Libyan coast 15 days later with only nine people still alive, even though distress messages giving its last known position were regularly broadcast to all ships in the area, PACE said.

It said a helicopter dropped biscuits and water to the migrants but never returned, while a large military vessel came close to the boat but ignored obvious distress signals.

PACE demanded that NATO conduct an inquiry into the incident and provide comprehensive answers to outstanding questions.

NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said the tragedy appeared to be the result of an unfortunate sequence of events.

“If there was a missed opportunity to help, we deeply regret it,” Lungescu said in a statement. “But it is clear that the primary responsibility for this tragedy lies with the Gadhafi regime, human traffickers and the captain of the boat, all of whom put in danger the lives of the innocent people onboard.”

Slobodan Lekic can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/slekich

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