ethiopiantimes

December 30, 2012

Egyptian Mega Projects on the Nile: Repercussions and Implications to Ethiopia

Filed under: Egypt,Nile — ethiopiantimes @ 6:29 pm
Tags: , ,

By Habtamu Abay
Recently I came across one commentary by an Egyptian management consultant by the name Ms. Rania Al-Maghraby (PM World Journal, Vol. I, Issue III-October 2012). With a candid English and pleasant conceptual flow, she mentioned some of the Mega Projects Egypt is considering executing in the years to come. I was mesmerized with the size and complexity of the projects in the pipeline. Some of the projects indicated in her commentary are Egypt-Saudi Arabia Bridge crossing over the Red Sea, another Aswan type high dam on River Nile, Western Desert New Axis Project, Sinai desert development projects, nuclear power generation plants and even a space program. How great! (Dear Reader, please first read her commentary from http://www.pmworldjournal.net under the title “Mega Projects on Egypt’s Horizon”).

The Nile Basin, specifically including present day Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, is one of the ancient civilizations on planet earth. It is interesting to see the coming up of plans that elevate this part of the world to what it historically deserves. Though implementation is a challenge to be faced with, Egyptians should be applauded for planning the mega projects having a profound impact on the development of their country. However, given the existing geopolitical chemistry, the above mentioned projects are not without some impact to Ethiopia and the entire Nile riparian countries. In this regard, it is logical to infer and argue that there will be both negative and positive impacts affecting Ethiopia depending on how Egyptians choose their future hydro politics avenue.

Direct and Indirect Negative Impacts
With the exception of the space program and the nuclear power generation plants, four of the Mega Projects under consideration are directly linked to River Nile. The new Aswan type High Dam will store water of River Nile in the Sahara desert. The stored water will be used for Western Desert New Axis project and a multitude of projects in the Sinai desert. These three locations are deserts of scorching sun where life barely exists. In this part of Egypt, the loss due to evapotranspiration will be excessively high. Agriculture development in the Sahara desert will definitely require enormous amount of water. Given that the flow of the river is both erratic and limited, water will be scarcer than ever, long before changing the mere desert to a green field. Unless there are some other covert reasons, the idea of planning agriculture in the middle of the Sahara desert is hence more extravagant than economical. As water stress looms, it will lead to confrontations with upper riparian countries. Rather, it will be wise to use the waters for industrial and tourist purposes.

1

In this water stressed region of the world, everyone seems in need of having Nile waters. Knowing this realty, Egyptian regimes have been intentionally too generous in offering the Nile waters to countries outside the basin. Anwar Sadat, during his visit to Jerusalem in 1979, promised two billion cubic meters of water for Israel. Some media outlets have reported in the past that there have been secret discussions by the late Gadhafi of Libya and Mubarak of Egypt in diverting the waters of the Nile to the other water scarce country of the former. The late Yasir Arafat of Palestine is said to have raised a similar question directly to Colonel Mengistu. It is also possible to infer that the Egypt-Saudi Arabia Bridge will not be a mere bridge alone. Given Egypt’s generosity to its Non-Nile basin neghabours, thinking the inclusion of heavy duty water pipes from Nile to Saudi Arabia along with the bridge will be more reasonable than speculative. This purposeful sole Egyptian generosity will Water the Holy places of the three Great Religions: Jerusalem, Mecca and Medina bringing a totally new geopolitical and religious dimension in the already volatile region.

Some Egyptian politicians may think this approach aligns Saudi Arabia and Israel including Libya along the interests of Egypt. By extension, it may be possible that friendly countries of these new additions will reinforce Egyptian interests. Libya and the Saudis, the two oil rich countries, may finance these ambitious projects. Israel, though very much doubtful, will be there for technical support and diplomatic maneuvering. If this scenario holds, the poor Nile Basin African countries, Ethiopia in particular, will be confronted with the diplomatic, security, financial and military muscle of the new additions: Israel, Saudi Arabia and Libya.

Unlike its proactive generosity to non-riparian countries, Egypt’s reaction to its southern neighabours is clouded by aggressiveness and contempt. It is observed sometimes with military threatening and more often with clandestine disruptive and subversive acts. To Egyptians, every development issue regarding Nile has to be concluded maintaining their hegemony. According to their hitherto approach, their southern neghabours must always bow down to the terms and conditions of Egypt. If not, they posture the military option. The perverse logic here is that for Egyptians to use the waters of the Nile extravagantly, Ethiopians should willingly accept death from poverty and hunger. Generally, as has been described by several commentaries, it is possible to argue that Egypt is a country that has not abandoned its past expansionist ambitions. Whatever they have done so far and planning to do in the future over the Nile is in complete disregard of the consent of upper riparian countries. Contrary to this fact, Egyptians insisted for the creation of an international panel of experts (IPE) to study the impact of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GRD) to Egypt and Sudan to which Ethiopia responded with good gesture. GRD is meant for power generation and is the first of its kind ever attempted by Ethiopia. Will Egypt in return invite Ethiopia for impact assessment studies of the Mega projects? Who knows, if a sense of cooperation prevails in the new leadership, they may.

While keeping Egypt’s hitherto stance in place, upper riparian countries especially Ethiopia needs its appropriate fair shares from the waters of the river. Being a contributor of some 86% of the Nile flow, Ethiopia’s argument for a fair share of the Nile waters is the most humble offer, if

2

not too conciliatory. The need to feed the growing population and the generation of electricity are some of the challenging realities Ethiopia is faced with. With a population of some 90 million suffering from recurring hunger and dehumanizing poverty, Ethiopia’s argument for a balanced fair share is by far the most considerate. Ethiopia is considerate well knowing that its population will double in little over two decade’s time. The situation of other Upper riparian countries is also nearly similar to Ethiopia’s.

Despite this commanding reality, successive Egyptian regime leaders had been saying in public that they will go directly into a military confrontation for any upper riparian country undertaking development projects on the Nile. This military posturing is mostly meant for a psychological war. Although this psychological war is always there, Egyptians have been more successful in the clandestine operations than in the military front. They were successful in blocking Ethiopia’s loan requests from all bilateral and multilateral sources. They were also successful in assisting the Eritrean secessionists which culminated in their favour. Their covert assistance to the late Said Bare of Somalia in the 1970s engulfed the lives of tens of thousands of Ethiopians and Somalis. So did it to the two brothers and sisters, Eritreans and Ethiopians. Egypt was also successful in making Black Africans: Sudan, Djibouti and Somalia, members of the Arab League extending its political influence even beyond the basin. It is widely known to Ethiopians that the Egyptian intelligence service had been busy doing the unnecessary against Ethiopia. A shared vision with countries of the basin has not been fruitful so far.

In a paradoxical approach, Egyptian regimes aspire adding more artificial lower riparian countries than cooperating with the natural ones. Their attempt so far has been disruptive towards their poor African southern neghbours. In the 21st century, this approach will not take them far. The military, diplomatic and clandestine activities may partly work for Egyptians at a tactical level but at the expense of their long term interests. Instead, it will lead to costly wars in which Egyptians themselves may dearly pay. In the unlikely event of the wars tilting in Egyptian favour, an irreversible hatred may follow within the peoples of upper riparian countries. When hatred is incepted inside the prevalence of absolute poverty, it is possible to think the unthinkable. In short, another form of extremism may surface out.

Citizens of the upper Nile, unable to live by the stubborn and greedy manipulation of others, may go for whatever avenue. Brandishing on a military might cannot win somebody who is ready to sacrifice for a cause he believes in. Even in the military front, unlike Israel and other western countries, the Egyptian military capability by itself is not that sophisticated making it vulnerable to defeat. Recent world history teaches us modern sophisticated military or economic supremacy is so fragile that its ruin takes a little bit of thinking the unthinkable in a sinister way. It does not require much research to guess that in the worst case scenario, the Nile water itself may be turned into a curse to humanity in the basin and outside. And no one can be certain as to the depth and extent of the damage that may follow. But, one thing is absolutely clear. A “forced hopeless” human being incepting hatred can do the worst ever. God save us all from a catastrophe. The only way out of this quagmire is cooperation.

3

Expected Positive Outcomes
Egypt and Sudan are ancient civilizations with rich culture. They also have reasonably rich intellectual base to think and act at strategic levels. Ethiopians too are well conscious and very considerate when it comes to the interests of their downstream brothers. Despite the continued Egyptian clandestine operations affecting every citizen, Ethiopians are well-wishers to both Egypt and Sudan. It is an inherent culture for Ethiopians to share whatever resources they have. Unless it is a media fabrication, I know no sane Ethiopian saying or feeling Egyptians and the Sudanese should suffer from thirst. Only someone insane or inhuman can think this. The same is true to other upper riparian countries. Given this realty, the age-old hostile geopolitical orientation must be fundamentally changed. Instead of focusing on short term tactical gains, Egyptians have to focus on a lasting solution with cool head and rational approaches, leaving aside the politicization of the Nile and their already failed old expansionist ambitions.

In this case, the possibility of cooperation of all the basin countries needs to be reinvigorated and concluded with a legally binding agreement through collective understanding. Upper riparian countries must understand and legally assure Egypt that its only source of water, Nile, will always be there for Egyptian use. In return, Egypt has to understand that damming Nile in Sahara and leading to extravagant use of water in the desert is irrational. It has to be understood that each drop of water misused is a mutual resource shared by all the peoples of source countries that are dying of hunger and poverty, probably every single minute. Assuring Egypt of its water security is not meant blessing a monopoly. Similarly, sharing water with others is not meant aggressively affecting Egypt’s water security. Rather it is meant for a mutually beneficial approach where, according to the diplomatic language, all riparian countries strike a win-win solution. Egypt being solely dependent on the Nile flow and Ethiopia being a contributor of 86% of the river flow, they should be the ones that need to come first in reconciling their interests. The Sudan, South Sudan and other riparian countries will follow.

Egypt’s attempt in anchoring arguments over colonial treaties will not take us a single step forward in arriving at a binding agreement. Colonialism has been a human disgrace and basing ones arguments on the colonial legacy is even more disrespectful. Neither is the military option feasible. If all upper riparian countries go for the construction of several projects at the same time, can Egypt afford to go to war with all of them? If yes, can it win? What if the countries counter act in unison? What if some people, the “forced hopeless”, in the upper riparian countries go for a sinister approach? Other approaches such as using the Suez Canal embargo or diplomatic maneuvering will not also work in assuring Egypt of its future water security. If the worst comes, Egypt will be more vulnerable than any of the countries up in the basin. Sudan will also be sandwiched. The solution is once again honest cooperation.

In this regard, the development phase of the Egyptian Mega Projects on the Nile is expected to bring together Egyptians, financiers and the would-be beneficiary countries. In order to ensure sustainability, it is reasonable to expect that financiers and the incoming artificial riparian

4

countries including the Egyptian elite will raise the issue of a binding agreement with upper riparian countries. This may push both Egypt and Sudan to come to the negotiating table.

If this scenario holds, all riparian countries will set up a legal framework and equitably fix the water quota of each country. Any surplus water under-utilized by any country can be taken up by Egyptians and the Sudanese. There is also a possibility that some upper riparian countries may release a portion of their share free of charge to Egypt and Sudan as a friendly gesture. Ethiopia should be exemplary in this regard. Having a hostile topography in the basin, Ethiopia’s immediate irrigation potential is limited. Until it reaches the level of using its quota, it can deliver part of its share either freely or in return for some material value. Another option is exporting any surplus to Israel, Libya or Saudi Arabia in return for financial or other material advantage. The revenues from the export should come to the countries of the basin for a basin wide development, where protection of the environment is one basic priority. The Cooperation approach will assure water security changing the entire basin and beyond into a location of collective understanding, shared destiny, peace and tranquility. That will usher in the regeneration of the ancient Nile civilization. Working in cooperation will thus be in the interest of all the children of the Nile.

Conclusion
In summary, the Egyptian Mega Projects over the Nile are complex projects worth considering. However, their adverse impact to the upper basin countries is so huge that a prior thorough discussion and collective understanding is imperative. Egyptians must evaluate other more economical alternatives before they embark upon implementation. Instead of building another Aswan at the heart of the Sahara desert, building several dams in Ethiopian highlands benefits both Ethiopia and Egypt in terms of power generation for the former and water loss reduction for the latter.

Due to suspicion and naive hostility, the foregone opportunities so far are quite immense. In the
21st century, suspicions and subversive approaches must give way to civility and pragmatism. After all, we are inseparably linked in all aspects. Naïve hostility must be replaced by true cooperation. When mutual understanding and cooperation prevails, it is possible to think the unthought-of benefits accruing from this great gift of Mother Nature, River Nile. Through cooperation, it is possible to save a sizable loss of water in South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt. Imagine the benefits of cooperation in changing the basin’s nearly half a billion population into a common market. Imagine also reducing military expenditures of basin countries and directing the resources to the development of the poor people in terms of education & health, improving food supply, job creation from agro processing & tourism development, etc. This will have a magnetic effect in attracting FDI, greatly enhancing trade and creating a myriad of social, political and economic benefits. Though it seems challenging, it is possible. It only takes positive thinking followed by true negotiations that lead to a final binding agreement on the quota. The ones that can make it happen are Egyptians by fully abandoning their past

5

expansionist and hegemonic mentality! Let us not forget that Europeans who were fighting each other for centuries are now united under one umbrella. Why not we?

December 29, 2012

TPLF army units in Bure front clash with each other

Filed under: TPLF — ethiopiantimes @ 10:25 am
Tags:

Ethiopian Review says Gen. Samora Yenus in a German hospital

Filed under: Samora Yenus — ethiopiantimes @ 10:22 am
Tags: ,

UPDATE – December 28, 2012: Ethiopian Review sources are reporting that armed forces chief of staff Gen. Samora Yenus is back in a Germany hospital. In August, we reported that Samora, looking frail, returned to Addis Ababa to attend dictator Meles Zenawi’s funeral, and that he will return to the hospital.

UPDATE – August 21, 2012: Samora Yenus has been observed at Bole Airport today along with other TPLF junta officials receiving Meles Zenawi’s body. Our sources have verified that he returned to Addis Ababa two days ago from Germany, but he will return to continue his medical treatment.

Samora YenusThe late Ethiopian dictator Meles Zenawi’s military chief of staff, Gen. Samora Yenus, is currently in Essen, Germany, receiving medical treatment.

Doctors at Essen University Hospital have diagnosed Samora with Pneumocystis Carinii Pneumonia, which is a symptom of AIDS, according to Ethiopian Review Intelligence Unit sources.

Samora was taken to Bole Airport by ambulance after he collapsed following a TPLF meeting last week, and flown to Germany.

Lt. General Seare Mekonnen is now in charge of the armed forces in Ethiopia, Ethiopian Review sources in Addis Ababa reported.

[Source: Ethiopian Review]

December 27, 2012

EUFF Rebels kill 17 prison guards, free five comrades from Markos Prison

Filed under: EUFF — ethiopiantimes @ 9:31 am
Tags: ,

A partial view of the city of Debre Markos

DEBRE MARKOS, Northern Ethiopia – Rebels on December 22 killed 17 prison guards, wounded at least 13 members of the security personnel and freed five of their comrades who have been languishing behind bars for several months, a source told Ethiomedia by phone on Tuesday.

 

The attack was carried out by combatants of the Ethiopian Unity and Freedom Force (EUFF).

The report couldn’t be verified by an independent source. If proven true, however, the latest attack constitutes the third major offensive after operations on Adigrat Prison in November and Metema town in May in which several business units belonging to ruling party officials were razed to the ground (See details below).

 

 

Over 14 killed, dozens injured in bomb attack on Adigrat Prison.

ADIGRAT, Northern Ethiopia (Nov 2, 2012) – Over 14 inmates were killed and dozens were injured when a building housing at least 1300 prisoners was destroyed in a bomb attack in Adigrat town on Wednesday, a source said.

Bulldozers were used to pull out bodies from the debris. Those critically injured were admitted to the hospital in town. Fears have mounted that the death toll may rise.

The government has remained quiet.

 

Adigrat
Adigrat town, which is about 900 km north of Addis Ababa, has an estimated population of 150,000, according to “Adigrat Vision”

Meanwhile, rebels of the Ethiopian Unity and Freedom Force (EUFF) have claimed responsibility for the attack. However, their claim couldn’t be verified by an independent source.

An EUFF spokesperson told Ethiomedia by phone that the action was taken to free political prisoners that the government had kept behind bars since the ill-fated 2005 elections in which the opposition Kinijit was believed to have won.

Most inmates were Kinijit supporters arrested from Gonder, Gojjam, Addis Ababa and other parts of the country during a brutal government crackdowns in the aftermath of the 2005 elections, the source said. “Demands that the government release the political prisoners had fallen on deaf ears, thus prompting a public demand that the rebels take action.”

Over 40 prisoners have remained at large, according to the spokesperson. A climate of fear and uncertainty has engulfed the once-bustling town of Adigrat.

Unlike other rebel groups that claim support from Ethiopia’s arch enemy Eritrea, the fiercely-independent EUFF has been active in northern Ethiopia in recent years.

Last April, the rebels set on fire a business district in Metema town on the border with Sudan. Over 60 business units that belonged to the ruling party officials were razed to the ground.

 

EUFF rebels burn down Metema town’s TPLF-owned business units

 

Contraband and other businesses thrive in the redlight district of the town of Metema, known locally as Jinghera.
Daytime Metema is bustling with people of all sorts – from contraband workers to shoppers of all sorts: contraband goods as well as agricultural produces

METEMA, Northwestern Ethiopia (May 1, 2012) – A business district in this town on the border with neighboring Sudan was burned down on April 28, rebels said on Sunday.

Over 60 units in the business quarter of the town called Jinghera were sent up in smoke as they were housing security agents of the ruling TPLF regime, rebels of the Ethiopian Unity and Freedom Force (EUFF) told Ethiomedia on Sunday.

Metema has been a transit point for those who import and export – legally or illegally – items into Sudan and Ethiopia.

Earlier in April, the rebels had set fire to Khartoum Hotel in Metema, claiming it was owned by a ruling party official. In June 2011, EUFF had decimated about a dozen stores owned by ruling party officials.

 

On April 9, EUFF forces opened fire on Sudanese Al-Qadarif governor, Karam Allah Abbas, who had tried to stop an Ethiopian farmer from working on a farm the Sudanese official thought was a Sudanese territory.

Karam Allah Abbas protested to Ethiopian officials whom he was to meet across the border in the Amhara region.

The Meles regime, which is resented by the Ethiopian people for selling off fertile lands to Sudan as well as many other governments and multinational corporations, blamed EUFF rebels as Eritrean-backed shiftas.

In a recent interview with Bloomberg’s William Davison, Ethiopia’s second-in-command Bereket Simon confirmed the news report that those who had fired on the Sudanese governor were rebels assisted by neighboring Eritrea.

Many believe EUFF is a politically conscious, self-reliant patriotic group that operates 100% in Ethiopia, scoffing at those who seek shelter in Eritrea.

 

EUFF rebels burn down Metema town’s TPLF-owned business units

 

Contraband and other businesses thrive in the redlight district of the town of Metema, known locally as Jinghera.
Daytime Metema is bustling with people of all sorts – from contraband workers to shoppers of all sorts: contraband goods as well as agricultural produces

METEMA, Northwestern Ethiopia (May 1, 2012) – A business district in this town on the border with neighboring Sudan was burned down on April 28, rebels said on Sunday.

Over 60 units in the business quarter of the town called Jinghera were sent up in smoke as they were housing security agents of the ruling TPLF regime, rebels of the Ethiopian Unity and Freedom Force (EUFF) told Ethiomedia on Sunday.

Metema has been a transit point for those who import and export – legally or illegally – items into Sudan and Ethiopia.

Earlier in April, the rebels had set fire to Khartoum Hotel in Metema, claiming it was owned by a ruling party official. In June 2011, EUFF had decimated about a dozen stores owned by ruling party officials.

 

On April 9, EUFF forces opened fire on Sudanese Al-Qadarif governor, Karam Allah Abbas, who had tried to stop an Ethiopian farmer from working on a farm the Sudanese official thought was a Sudanese territory.

Karam Allah Abbas protested to Ethiopian officials whom he was to meet across the border in the Amhara region.

The Meles regime, which is resented by the Ethiopian people for selling off fertile lands to Sudan as well as many other governments and multinational corporations, blamed EUFF rebels as Eritrean-backed shiftas.

In a recent interview with Bloomberg’s William Davison, Ethiopia’s second-in-command Bereket Simon confirmed the news report that those who had fired on the Sudanese governor were rebels assisted by neighboring Eritrea.

Many believe EUFF is a politically conscious, self-reliant patriotic group that operates 100% in Ethiopia, scoffing at those who seek shelter in Eritrea.

December 25, 2012

Ethiopia: Onlf Faction Arrives in Addis Ababa to Hold Talks

Filed under: ONLF — ethiopiantimes @ 1:33 pm
Tags: , , , ,

A faction of Ogaden Liberation Front (ONLF) arrives in Addis Ababa over the weekend to hold peace talks with the federal government.

Abdinur Abdulahi the leader of the faction told reporters that the faction arrived Addis to hold a dialogue with the government and to seek ways on how the faction can collaborate on national and regional development., Abdinur Abdulahi Farah said the faction has opted for peace as it has become aware that people of the Somali region have benefited a lot out of the federal system like other nations and nationalities of Ethiopia. According to him the faction came out of bitter internal struggle within the group after the stalled dialogue with the ONLF in Nairobi in last October .

According to Abdinur, the question of accepting the Constitution or rejecting it caused disintegration within the front and currently only few members continue to be on the wrong side. He said “Those members of the front who rejected the National Constitution have no popular support and they are only few led by Admiral Mohammed Ousman who is now hiding in Asmara”.

He said his faction’s decision to accept the Constitution came out of their understanding that the people of the Somali region have benefitted a lot from the constitutional system and are enjoying their right to self administration over the past two decades Abdinur also admitted that the smooth power transition following the passing of the late Prime Minister Meles came to pass peacefully contrary to the scenario formulated by the ONLF group. This, he says, has helped the faction to gravitate towards peaceful struggle. “We thought there would be power vacuum and chaos following the passing of the late PM Meles. However, things unfolded the other way. After witnessing the way the transition was handled, we, along with our supporters, realized that we had no better option than accept the Constitution and resort to peaceful means. “he said . Abdinur Abdulahi Farah is the Eastern Africa representative of the ONLF, executive member of its central committee and a spokesperson.

Ads by Google

December 21, 2012

DfID under fire for poor response to human rights concerns in Ethiopia

Filed under: Britain — ethiopiantimes @ 4:45 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Aid officials accused of failing to fully investigate reports of abuse by Ethiopian authorities against ethnic groups

MDG : Human rights abuses in Ethiopia : Mursi tribe, Mago National Park, Ethiopia

The Mursi tribe in Mago national park, Ethiopia, 2011. Photograph: Patricia White/Alamy

Britain’s Department for International Development (DfID) is under fire for failing to adequately address allegations of human rights abuses in Ethiopia, a major recipient of UK aid.

During a trip to South Omo in January, officials from DfID and the US international aid agency, USAid, were told by men and women from the Mursi and Bodi ethnic groups of incidences of rape, arrests, withholding food aid, intimidation and threats as the Ethiopian government seeks to evict people from their land to make way for commercial investments.

Audio transcripts of meetings, seen by the Guardian, record the aid officials acknowledging the severity of the violence the farmers say they have experienced. “They [government soldiers] … took the wives of the Bodi and raped them … then they came and raped our wives, here,” one Mursi farmer told the officials.

A DfID official promised to raise their complaints “very strongly with the [Ethiopian] government”, according to the transcript, saying: “Obviously, we agree it’s unacceptable, beating and rapes and lack of consultation or proper compensation.”

A joint USAid-DfID report of the January trip, published only after the UK international development secretary, Justine Greening, had been questioned on the issue in parliament, said: “As a consequence of these events, the Mursi and Bodi in particular stated that they were living in fear, resorting to other food sources or going hungry. The phrase ‘waiting to die’ was used.”

However, the report added that “although these allegations are extremely serious, they could not be substantiated by this visit”, and suggested a “more detailed investigation” was made. Almost 10 months after the trip, however, Greening told parliament on 5 November that her department had still not been able to substantiate the claims.

A DfID spokesman confirmed that the Ethiopian government had been asked about these allegations, but he refused to comment on whether the department had received a response, or what the British government was doing to press Ethiopian ministers on the issue, or if the UK was planning to further investigate the claims.

The department’s reaction is at odds with David Cameron’s “golden thread” of development, which promotes the rights and freedoms of individuals, good governance and justice for the poorest people.

The South Omo region in south-east Ethiopia has a population of around 246,000, mainly pastoralists, composed of more than 12 ethnic groups. According to the Oakland Institute, these groups’ existence is under “serious threat” as they are forced off their land to make way for the Gibe III hydroelectric dam project, road-building and commercial investors.

“The suggestion by the UK minister that DfID has not been able to substantiate allegations of abuses in the Lower Omo valley is nothing short of a diabolical statement,” said Felix Horne, a consultant for Human Rights Watch.

DfID is embroiled in a separate legal action over its links with the Ethiopian government’s controversial “villagisation” programme, which aims to move 1.5 million rural families from their land to new “model” villages in four regions across the country. The scheme has been hit by allegations of forced evictions, rapes, beatings and disappearances.

Ethiopia is one of the biggest recipients of UK aid and a major donor to the Protection of Basic Services (PBS) programme, which human rights campaigners say is being used to pay the salaries and administrative costs of the officials running the relocation scheme.

In September, an Ethiopian farmer, “Mr O”, started legal action against DfID through London-based law firm Leigh Day & Co. He claims that in 2011 he was forcibly evicted from his farm in the Gambella region in western Ethiopia and beaten. He says he witnessed rapes and assaults as government soldiers cleared people off their land.

Leigh Day is arguing that DfID money is linked to these abuses through PBS funding in Gambella, where the Ethiopian government wants to resettle 45,000 households – almost 100% of the total rural population – over three years. The Ethiopian authorities claim the PBS programme addresses the challenges of poverty through cost-effective service delivery to scattered and nomadic populations.

Mr O has told his lawyers that when he tried to return home after being forced from his land, he was hit repeatedly with a gun, and taken to a military camp by government soldiers and beaten.

Lawyers at Leigh Day say Mr O is claiming that his family was forced to resettle in a new village where they were given no access to farmland, food or water, and where they could not make enough money to feed themselves.

Two assessments of the villagisation scheme in the region in February and June this year, which involved DfID, concluded they had uncovered no evidence of forced displacement or human rights abuses linked to the scheme. However, both acknowledged that basic services and shelter were not adequate in the new villages, and said about half the people they had interviewed had not wanted to move and that there had been pressure to do so.

Lawyers at Leigh Day are trying to establish whether the UK government is doing enough to ensure that British money is not contributing to human rights violations. “The UK spends a considerable amount of money on international aid and DfID has a responsibility to ensure that this money does not contribute in any way to human rights abuses such as the ones suffered by our client,” said Rosa Curling, who is representing Mr O. “Our government has a duty to ensure that the programmes it supports meet the highest compliance standards.”

In response to the claim, the DfID spokesman said: “We take the issue of human rights extremely seriously and we will respond in due course to this letter [from Leigh Day & Co].

“The UK does not fund Ethiopia’s commune development programme. We are aware of allegations of human rights abuses on the ground. We will continue to review the situation and raise any concerns at the highest levels of the Ethiopian government.”

The case is ongoing.

December 20, 2012

Muslims persecuted in Ethiopia

Muslims persecuted in Ethiopia

CBDecember 19, 2012

By Cecilia Bäcklander, independent journalist and film maker

Ever since the 2005 election with its success for the opposition, the regime has taken a hard line with increasingly harsh oppression. There are armed rebel groups in the South-East, but they are divided and marginal.

A substantial discontent among the Ethiopian Muslims could bring a very different threat to the regime. The Muslims are about one third of the population; to challenge this group could have far-reaching consequences.

The Muslim protest movement is not only some angry young men. They are young and old, women and men. They can spread the word and have access to information from others in a way that had been hitherto unknown in authoritarian Ethiopia.

The heavy-handedness and insensitivity of the government risk radicalizing the movement and open up for consequences that could threaten the cohesion of the country.

There has not been much news from Ethiopia in the Swedish media after the release of two jailed Swedish journalists in September. But they are not the only ones accused of terrorism in the country.

Most of the opposition in Ethiopia disappeared after the 2005 elections – many have gone into exile, others are in jail. But lately, the Muslims in the country have begun to protest. They are 30 per cent of the total population of Ethiopia, and they rarely belong to the highlands elite. The regime is afraid of extremism and has tried to control who is elected to what position in the Muslim congregations.

This has led to protests with people killed and jailed. Many Muslims feel persecuted and fear being seen as suspects. Recently, 29 Ethiopian Muslim leaders were charged with terrorism under the same law used to convict the Swedish journalists.

Ethiopia has an extensive and thorough system for control of the population. There is a famous account by Ryszcard Kapucinski about how the various security services of Emperor Haile Selassie were monitoring each other.

The military dictatorship in power between 1974 and 1991 refined the control of the population through an administrative division of all inhabitants in so-called kebeles, which allowed no one to slip through the net. This division was introduced to manage the land reform, but it also served other purposes.

The current regime has maintained this structure. It contributes to making Ethiopia a more secure country than its neighbours since it provides a social control of criminality. Kebeles have a socio-economic function benefitting poor people. But they can also check oppositional ideas and activities.

Ever since the 2005 election with its success for the opposition, the regime has taken a hard line with increasingly harsh oppression. The official opposition has largely been crushed; its activists are either in exile or in jail. The country’s anti-terrorism laws have facilitated repression of everything that is seen as a threat.

There are armed rebel groups in the Somali region and among the Oromo – the largest ethno-linguistic group in Ethiopia – and the Afar near the border with Eritrea, but they are divided and marginal.

However, a substantial discontent among the Ethiopian Muslims could bring a very different threat to the regime. The Muslims are about one third of the population; to challenge this group could have far-reaching consequences.

It started a year ago. The government asserted that religious extremists were trying to take control of the Muslim congregations in the country and, by extension, to overthrow the secular state. The authorities demanded that the elections to the Muslim high council should be managed by the kebeles and not by the mosques. Some 50 teachers at the principal Muslim school Awoliyah were dismissed and the school was accused of being a breeding ground for radical Islam.

The government tried in various ways to promote the introduction of Al Ahbash, a pluralistic and moderate version of Islam that is common in Lebanon, but alien for most Ethiopian Muslims who are adherents of Sufi Islam. Ethiopia’s constitution guarantees religious freedom.

In the last year, Muslim group have held protest meetings across the country against the government’s interference in religious matters. The government accuses the dissidents of being led by extremists and has several times responded with arrests and deadly violence against peaceful demonstrators; and as stated above, 29 Muslims are now in court accused of terrorism.

As it were, one of the accused is married to a government minister, who was dismissed the other day for having critiqued the indictment.

Ethiopia has a crucial role in the conflict-ridden Horn of Africa. Addis Ababa is the seat of the African Union and thus the capital of Africa. Ethiopia with its 85 million inhabitants is the regional big power and closely allied with the United States in the war against terror. Ethiopia’s military are fighting the Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab in Somalia. There is obviously a fear of radical Islam.

However, the Muslim protests have been peaceful. It could be that the government is fighting a bogey, creating a security problem where there was none, and being guided by an irrational suspicion of Muslims.

The Muslim leaders now on trial assert that they want a dialogue with the government. But they also state that the protests will continue until the interference in their religious affairs stops.

Virtually all people I asked during a recent visit to Addis Ababa, from oppositional bloggers to taxi drivers, stress that the Muslim protests have been peaceful. They want to be left alone with their religion, in full accordance with the Ethiopian constitution.

I heard only a few voices expressing support of the government’s actions to keep an eye on the Muslims because they wanted to introduce Sharia laws and had so many children that they would soon become the majority.

Such voices are the exception. There is a strong sense of pride in Ethiopia over the fact that different ethnic groups have since long co-existed peacefully with each other.

The editor of a magazine affirmed that there were two things you could not write about: corruption in high quarters and the Muslim protests. But on the social media the discussion is vivid. It is hard for the authorities to keep up – Facebook pages are being blocked at a rapid pace but new ones keep popping up. Furtively taken photos are spread around. There is growing anger.

The Muslim protest movement is not only some angry young men. They are young and old, women and men. They can spread the word and have access to information from others in a way that had been hitherto unknown in authoritarian Ethiopia. The heavy-handedness and insensitivity of the government risk radicalizing the movement and open up for consequences that could threaten the cohesion of the country.

December 19, 2012

Ethiopia delays appeal of jailed Eskeder Nega and Andualem Arage

Filed under: Eskinder Nega — ethiopiantimes @ 3:25 pm
Tags: , ,

Ethiopian blogger Eskinder Nega. A case in which he and opposition leader Andualem Arage appealed against being jailed for terror-related offences was delayed by an Addis court December 19, 2012. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP  PHOTO | AFRICA REVIEW

An Ethiopian court Wednesday delayed again the appeal of blogger Eskinder Nega and opposition leader Andualem Arage, who were jailed earlier this year for terror-related offences.

Judge Dagne Melaku said more time was needed to review the bulky case file.

Eskinder and Andualem were among 24 people convicted in June under Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism legislation. Eskinder was jailed for 18 years, while Andualem was sentenced to life.

Eskinder, who is representing himself, rejected the claim that he had links with the US-based Ginbot 7 group, considered a terrorist organisation under Ethiopian law.

“I am not a member of Ginbot 7,” said Eskinder in an emotional speech in court, prompting the judge to order him to calm down.

“All the evidence that the prosecution brought against me does not prove that I am a member of Ginbot 7.”

Rights groups have called Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism legislation vague and accuse the government of using the law to stifle peaceful dissent.

All those charged under the law since it was introduced in 2009 have been found guilty, including two Swedish journalists who were sentenced to 11 years in prison, but later released by the government after serving 14 months.

The appeal hearing will resume in January 18.

Eskinder and Andualem are both accused of “participation in a terrorist organisation” and “planning a terrorist act.”

Eskinder received the “freedom to write” award earlier this year from the US-based press watchdog PEN.

December 18, 2012

For Immediate Release: 16 Members of the European Parliament Call for the Release of Imprisoned Ethiopian Journalist Eskinder Nega

December 18, 2012
For Immediate Release

Contact: Patrick Griffith
+1 (202) 423-7925
pgriffith@freedom-now.org

16 Members of the European Parliament Call for the Release of Imprisoned Ethiopian Journalist Eskinder Nega

Washington, D.C.: Today, 16 members of the European Parliament issued a public letter to Ethiopian Prime Minster Hailemariam Desalegn expressing their grave concern regarding the continued detention of imprisoned journalist and blogger Eskinder Nega.

Arrested in 2011 and detained without access to an attorney for nearly two months, Mr. Nega was sentenced to 18 years in prison under the country’s broad 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation on July 13, 2012. Mr. Nega’s arrest and prosecution came after he wrote online articles and spoke publicly about the possibility of an Arab Spring-like movement taking place in Ethiopia. After his sentencing, the government initiated proceedings to seize his assets, including the home still used by his wife and young son. An appeal hearing in the case is scheduled for Wednesday, December 19th.

The letter, notes that the Ethiopian government has an obligation to uphold the right to free expression and reminds the newly appointed Prime Minister that he has “the unique opportunity to lead Ethiopia forward on human rights and bring the country fully within the community of nations.” The letter closes by urging the Prime Minister to take all measures within his power “to facilitate the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Nega.”

“This is an important recognition by members of the European Parliament from across the political spectrum that the right to free expression is universal and must be respected by the Ethiopian government,” said Freedom Now Executive Director Maran Turner. “Mr. Nega has been wrongfully detained in Ethiopia in violation of his right to freedom of expression, and he must be released.”

The text of the letter is copied below and a full PDF of the letter can be found at the below link. Freedom Now, a legal advocacy organization that represents prisoners of conscience around the world, serves as international pro bono counsel to Mr. Nega.

###

Dear Prime Minister Desalegn,

We write to express our grave concern regarding the continued detention of independent Ethiopian journalist and blogger Eskinder Nega and urge you to facilitate his immediate release.

Mr. Nega, a longtime publisher and journalist, was arrested in 2011 and charged under the country’s 2009 Anti-Terror Proclamation after he wrote and spoke publicly about the Arab-Spring movements then unfolding across the Middle East and North Africa. Although clearly sympathetic, Mr. Nega consistently emphasized that any similar movements in Ethiopia must remain peaceful. Despite this, the government of your predecessor Prime Minister Meles Zenawi arrested Mr. Nega, held him without access to family for nearly one month and without access to an attorney for nearly two months, and ultimately sentenced him to 18 years in prison. Even now, reports indicate that proceedings are underway to seize Mr. Nega’s home, where his wife and young son continue to live.

Unfortunately, Mr. Nega is not alone—journalists Woubshet Taye and Reyot Alemu have also received long prison sentences on terror charges. In response to your government’s use of the 2009 Anti-Terror Proclamation against journalists and opposition leaders, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and five United Nations Special Rapporteurs—including the Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights—have all expressed alarm at this worrying trend. As some have noted, the use of vague anti-terror legislation to silence legitimate expression threatens to seriously undermine the credibility of efforts to address real security threats to the region.

It is our understanding that appeal proceedings in Mr. Nega’s case are ongoing and we respect your need to allow the judicial process to continue. However, it is also your government’s obligation to respect the right to freedom of expression as established under customary international law and codified in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Ethiopia is a party.

You now have the unique opportunity to lead Ethiopia forward on human rights and bring the country fully within the community of nations. As such, we urge you to take all measures within your power to facilitate the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Nega.

Sincerely,

Alexander Graf Lambsdorff

Ana Gomes

Charles Tannock

Eduard Kukan

Eija-Riitta Korhola

Emilio Menendez del Valle

Fiona Hall

Frank Engel

Kinga Gál

Laima Liucija Andrikienė

Maria Da Graça Carvalho

Mariya Gabriel

Raped Ethiopian maid commits suicide in consulate

Filed under: Dubai — ethiopiantimes @ 10:35 am
Tags: ,

 

An Ethiopian Maid Commits Suicide inside the Woyane Consulate in Dubai

Postby revolutions » Today, 02:34
So sad! RIP

Image

Raped maid commits suicide in consulate

Amira Agarib and Afkar Ali / 17 December 2012

An Ethiopian housemaid has hung herself in the Ethiopian Consulate in Dubai.

Police were informed on Friday that a 26-year-old housemaid had been found dead inside the consulate, before rushing to the site where a number of women with various problems are being kept until they are able to travel back home.

It is understood the woman, who had only been in the country for six months, had earlier been raped by a Pakistani driver, and had left the family where she was working, leaving her without money to return home. She arrived at the consulate last Tuesday.

The woman was apparently scared that her sponsor would come to the consulate and find her and was said to be in a poor psychological state.

The police said they examined the scene and carried out an investigation, with the primary results showing the victim had committed suicide.

A CID official referred the dead woman to the General Department of Forensic Medicine for an autopsy.

The day after the woman arrived at the consulate, on Wednesday, a concerned official apparently tried to solve her problems and offer her help. The next day the woman complained of being sick, but she did not get medical attention, and the day after she was found dead. The woman apparently awoke some time after midnight on Friday morning, walked to a construction area inside the consulate, took a cable, wrapped it around her neck and hung herself from the ceiling.

The body will be handed over by the Dubai police after completion of legal and administrative procedures. A friend of the maid’s, who did not want to be named, told Khaleej Times it was still unclear whether the victim’s family in Ethiopia were aware of her death or not, or whether she would be buried in her birth country or the UAE.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a member of the Ethiopian community said that after the completion of the police procedures it would be decided whether the body would be repatriated, in coordination with the Ethiopian Consulate and her sponsor.

When contacted, the Ethiopian Consulate said they had no information.

news@khaleejtimes.com
http://www.khaleejtimes.com/kt-article- … tion=crime

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.