January 29, 2013

Corrupted Ethiopian ministery exports water to Djibouti, Ethiopia suffering from water shortage

Filed under: Uncategorized — ethiopiantimes @ 7:25 pm
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Ethiopia is to launch a new project in Adi Gala, which will enable it to export potable water to Djibouti. An agreement was signed to facilitate the export between Sufian Ahmed, Ethiopian Minister of Finance and Economic Development and Ilyas Moussa Dawaleh, Minister of Finance of Djibouti.

The project will be fully financed by the government of Djibouti according to the agreement signed between the two countries.

The deal outlines the implementation of the project according to which the construction of a pipeline to carry the water will be handled by Djibouti. It is expected that the construction of the project which will supply 100 thousand meter cubes of water every day will take a year and a half to complete. The discussion between the two countries included ensuring the safety of the pipeline after construction and other details about water usage to be revealed soon said to Haji Ibssa, Public Relation Head of MoFED.

Ethiopia expects this project to raise much needed foreign currency from the sale of potable water he said. The project is also expected to benefit Ethiopian towns on the border access clean and potable water said Haji.


The UK’s harmful aid to Ethiopia

Filed under: Britain — ethiopiantimes @ 7:13 pm
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Britain’s Department for International Development (DfID) is accused of failing to properly address allegations of human rights abuses in Ethiopia, one of its biggest aid recipients.
While visiting South Omo in January 2012, DfID and USAID officials were told by Mursi and Bodi ethnics of the Ethiopian government’s use of rape, arrests, withholding food aid and other threats, in an attempt to evict people from their land to allow more commercial investments. A joint USAID-DfID report of the January trip emphasized that, while the accusations were extremely serious, they could not be substantiated by the visit and that a more detailed investigation would be launched. In November 2012, Justine Greening, the UK International Development Secretary, remained[/urlunable to address the situation in South Omo, a region, which is inhabited mainly by pastoralists of more than 12 ethnic groups, who, according to the Oakland Institute, are currently under considerable threat, since they are forcibly evicted off their lands in order to make way for the Gibe III hydroelectric dam project, road-building and commercial investors. While a DfID spokesman confirmed that the [url= t=_blank]government had been asked about the people’s accusations, he did not comment if any response had been given or if the UK Government was pressing the Ethiopian authorities on this issue. DfID response in the matter seems to contradict David Cameron’s development’s “golden thread,” promoting rights and freedoms of individuals, good governance and justice for the poorest people. At the same time, the British Aid agency is also involved in a legal action over its support of the Ethiopian government’s highly disputed three-year “villagization” program, aiming to relocate 1.5 million rural families from their land to new model villages in four regions across the Ethiopia. In September 2012, Mr O., an Ethiopian farmer, initiated legal action against DfID through London-based law firm Leigh Day & Co. He claims that, in 2011, he was forcibly evicted from and beaten off his farm in Ethiopia’s Gambella region, while witnessing rapes and assaults as government soldiers were forcing other people to leave their land. He also argues that, in the new village, he had no access to farmland, food or water and opportunities to gain enough money to feed his family. He was told to build himself a house, but, as he was not progressing quickly enough, he was taken to a military camp and beaten again. Like many other Ethiopian villagers forced to relocate, Mr O. soon decided to sneak past village leaders and “local militias” who controlled the area, refusing to let people leave, and fled to Kenya, joined nearly half a million displaced people living in the Dadaab refugee camps, one of world’s largest refugee complexes. Leigh Day lawyers argue that, by contributing significant funding to the Protection of Basic Services (PBS) program, DfID supports villagization, either by financing infrastructure in the new settlements or ensuring the salaries of the authorities overseeing the relocation operations. In a 2010 report, Human Rights Watch report had already revealed the fact that the PBS program was used as a weapon to starve, intimidate or reward people into supporting the ruling party, without however prompting the DfID to investigate the situation, but claiming instead that the problem did not exist. In response to the Leigh Day’s allegations, the DfID has argued that the UK does not fund Ethiopia’s commune development program and that it would review the situation on the ground and raise concerns at the highest levels with the Ethiopian government. Speaking more generally, it emphasized that it takes the issue of human rights extremely seriously and will review the situation on the ground and take any concerns to the Ethiopian government. Ethiopia is currently one of the largest aid recipients of British aid. After a recent aid review, aimed at reducing the number of countries receiving UK assistance, Ethiopia came out as one of the preferred receiving countries, with UK donations likely increasing from £240 million in 2010 to £390 million in 2014-15. Ethiopia is an attractive receiving country for the UK, because, with a population of 85 million people, Ethiopia has, as DfID recognized itself, “the largest market” of poor citizens, but also because its government, while ruthless and authoritarian, has managed to make some progress in reaching some of the UN Millennium Development Goals. While it would have been expected of the UK to reassess its investment in the PBS program after Mr O. launched his DfID pledged £480 million to PBS’s third phase, surpassing even the World Bank, which asked the independent Inspection Panel to launch an investigation into the connections between its money and the villagization abuses.

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January 28, 2013

Tigray People Democratic Movement (video)

January 25, 2013

Protesters Occupy Eritrean Embassy in London

Filed under: Eritrea — ethiopiantimes @ 6:09 am

What really happened at Asmara’s ministry of (dis)information ?

The Eritrean capital, Asmara, saw an uprising on 21 January that was both unexpected and short-lived. Around 100 soldiers staged a mutiny and stormed the information ministry. The army responded by surrounding the building with tanks. After a 12-hour interruption, the state broadcast media resumed their normal programming, the mutineers withdrew and officials went home.

What really happened that day at the information ministry? Some information began to filter out the next day, and more has emerged since then. But it has not been easy to follow events as they happened. And establishing what this incident means and what it may bode for the future is even harder.

Eritrea is one of the world’s most closed countries and has one of the last totalitarian dictatorships. The mystery surrounding the events of 21 January and the chorus of denials and contradictory comments on social networks are the logical consequence of a situation in which privately-owned media have been banned since 2001 and no foreign press correspondents have been permitted since 2010.

This Horn of Africa country is ranked last in the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index and is Africa’s biggest prison for journalists, with at least 30 detained. Seven have died or committed suicide in detention as a result of the appalling conditions.

When the only media allowed to operate inside a country are government-run propaganda mouthpieces, the exile media play a key role. This is the case with Radio Erena, an independent radio station based in Paris and supported by Reporters Without Borders. It was Radio Erena that sounded the alert. We will get back to this. First the facts.

Mutineers take “Forto,” state media interrupted

Early on the morning of 21 January, around 100 mutineers took up positions in the information ministry, an enormous ochre-coloured building known as “Forto,” which sits atop a small hill overlooking Asmara.

The rebel soldiers quickly gathered all the employees “in the same room” and then Asmelash Abreha, the head of state-owned Eri-TV, which broadcasts from within the complex, was forced to begin reading a communiqué on the air.

The communiqué called for implementation of the 1997 constitution, which has been suspended since the 1998-2000 war against Ethiopia, and for the release of political prisoners and all those who were arrested while trying to flee the country illegally across its land borders.

After he had read the first two sentences, the TV station’s over-the-air signal was suddenly cut and its satellite signal began broadcasting archive footage. Army tanks quickly surrounded the building. They also reportedly took up protective positions at the presidential palace, located just a few hundred metres away, and at the airport. The rest of the city apparently remained calm but communication with the outside world became very complicated.

“Snowing in Paris”

After being off the air all day, Eri-TV resumed broadcasting at around 10 p.m. with news from Europe. “Snow in Paris is disrupting the everyday activities of the French,” the news programme announced. The mutineers withdrew in the evening, and the information ministry’s 500 or so employees all went home. The next morning they were all back at work, as usual.

The 1993 precedent

According to reports from various sources, including the opposition exile website, it seems that the mutiny was led by four people – Col. Saleh Osman, two majors and a captain – but was spontaneous and not very organized. Col Osman was a hero of the anti-Ethiopian resistance in the port city of Assab during the 1998-2000 war.

What happened to the mutineers and how was the situation resolved? The authorities did not make any arrests. “The mutineers withdrew peacefully,” said journalist Léonard Vincent, the author of a book about Eritrea, speaking on Radio France Internationale. In fact, not a single shot was fired.

An Eritrean interviewed by Reporters Without Borders and Martin Plaut, in a post entitled “21 January in perspective on his blog, both said the incident resembled one in 1993, a few days before Eritrea’s independence declaration, when a few ex-fighters staged a brief mutiny to demand their back pay.

To this end, they surrounded the office of the future president, Issaias Afeworki, then a hero of the liberation and head of the single party, the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice. The situation was quickly resolved by means of negotiation, but some of the ex-fighters were later arrested or disappeared.

But never since independence in 1993 has Eri-TV’s programming been interrupted as it was on 21 January.

After official silence, comments, spin and denial

Although just embryonic and ephemeral, this week’s uprising quickly drew the attention of the international community, foreign media and Eritrean diaspora because Eritrea is an extremely authoritarian country where fear is universal and any form of protest seems inconceivable.

At first there was complete silence from the government. The first official comment came the next day from Yemane Gebremeskel, the president’s senior adviser, who said: “All is calm today, as it was indeed yesterday.”

Comments followed from a few Eritrean officials based abroad, including the ambassador to the United Nations, Araya Desta; the ambassador to the African Union, Girma Asmerom; the ambassador to Japan; and the consuls in Australia and South Africa. All played down the incident and criticized “garbage reports” in foreign media in the pay of “Eritrea’s enemies.”

“The government is insisting that the situation is under control while reluctantly admitting that there was an incident,” Léonard Vincent wrote.

Meanwhile, the exile opposition and government supporters waged a furious battle on social networks. Rahel Weldeab, who works for the pro-government National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students, tweeted: “People in Asmara are going about their daily lives while ‘experts on the Horn’ cry coup (…) I live right near the airport, nothing is happening.”

Another person on Twitter criticized the comments about the human rights situation in Eritrea and said that freedom of information was respected because journalism is taught at school. The exact message says : “And you can be a journalist in Eritrea. They even teach journalism in school. I don’t know wtf you talking about”.

Radio Erena, first with the news

Amanuel Ghirmai, an Eritrean exile journalist with Radio Erena, was extensively quoted by all the international news media on 21 January. Throughout the day, international media turned to the Paris-based independent radio station to find out what was happening in Asmara.

And for good reason. Radio Erena was the first radio station to report that an incident was unfolding in the Eritrean capital. Alerted early in the morning, the station took to the air at 9 a.m. (Paris time), an hour earlier than usual, and continued to follow events as they happened.

With support from Reporters Without Borders, Radio Erena was launched in June 2009 by a group of Eritrean exile journalists. Headed by Biniam Simon, a former Eri-TV star anchor, it relies on a network of local correspondents and contributors. Its independently-reported news and information provide an alternative to the government’s propaganda.

Because of its success and the quality of its programmes, Radio Erena quickly became a government target. Its satellite signal was jammed and its website was the victim of a cyber-attack last summer, after it had been broadcasting for three years.

January 23, 2013

The military mutiny in Eritrea was led by Colonel Saleh Osman

Filed under: Eritrea — ethiopiantimes @ 9:56 pm
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Peter Heinlein | VOA

A day-long siege at Eritrea’s information ministry Monday ended in a stalemate, with disgruntled soldiers retreating to a strategic location outside the capital, Asmara. That the incident provides rare insight into the inner workings of one of the world’s most opaque societies.

International observers are wondering what happened Monday after a group of soldiers drove to Eritrea’s information ministry and demanded that a statement be read out over state-run television. The statement asking for the release of political prisoners and for respect of the constitution was being read when the station suddenly went off the air.

Nearly 12 hours later, the station resumed broadcasting with no mention of the cause of the disruption. The troops that had occupied the ministry simply climbed back into their armored personnel carriers and drove off.

Information gathered from a variety of sources indicates the operation was led by Colonel Saleh Osman, a legendary figure of the Eritrea-Ethiopia war from 1998 to 2000. A usually authoritative opposition website reports that Colonel Osman and several dozen supporters retreated to the suburbs of Asmara, where they are in talks with President Isaias Afewerki’s government.

Information is tightly controlled in Eritrea. The watchdog group Reporters Without Borders ranks the Red Sea nation last out of 179 countries in press freedom, below North Korea.

Former Reporters Without Borders Africa director Leonard Vincent is the author of a book titled The Eritreans, and a close follower of the country. In a telephone interview, Vincent said Monday’s siege appears to have been a show of force, and not an attempt to seize power.

“Yesterday’s operation was not aimed at overthrowing by violence the government, but still it’s a standoff with the government,” said Vincent. “It’s an operation aimed at showing defiance toward them. So this shows the level of frustration in the army is very high.”

Vincent says the standoff at the information ministry suggests Colonel Osman has broad support within the military.

“If this was an isolated operation led by a rebel colonel, this kind of move should have been met by violence and severe repression,” he said. “This hasn’t happened, so there might be negotiations going on, and this unit might not be so isolated as we thought yesterday.”

Vincent believes it is too early to tell whether the operation was successful.

“We cannot say if it has succeeded or failed,” said Vincent. “What we can say is a faction of the army is showing its strength and is talking with the government on the basis of what they are capable of doing in terms of taking control of parts of the country.”

Vincent says the dissidents’ demand of freedom for political prisoners, particularly those jailed in a 2001 purge, has deep resonance among ordinary Eritreans.

“It’s the sine qua non [essential] condition for change in Eritrea,” he said. “The situation of political prisoners is awful. Reformists and journalists who were jailed in 2001 have vanished. According to sketchy reports, they are detained in high security prison in the far northeast of the country, and the majority have died from disease or by suicide. This is a method the government uses against any dissent or criticism.”

Human rights groups have long criticized Eritrea’s record of jailing government critics. The United Nations last year estimated there are as many as 10,000 political prisoners in a country of six million people.

January 22, 2013

Ethiopia’s resettlement scheme leaves lives shattered and UK facing questions

MDG : Ethiopia : landgrab in Gambella : Resettling rural population

A family in Kir, Gambella. Ethiopia’s controversial resettlement programme has forced people to leave their villages. Photograph: Jenny Vaughan/AFP/Getty Images

Mr O twists his beaded keyring between his long fingers as he explains why he started legal action against Britain’s international development department over its aid funding to Ethiopia. Three other refugees from the Gambella region listen as he speaks in a stifling room in north-eastern Kenya. All have a story to tell.

The accounts are broadly similar, but the details reveal the individual tragedies that have shattered their lives: they say they were forced to leave their villages, beaten by soldiers, and sent to remote areas lacking all basic services under a controversial “villagisation” programme.

Eventually, they fled to Kenya, joining nearly half a million displaced people living in the world’s biggest refugee complex, a sprawling expanse of tents and rudimentary houses set in the sun-hammered scrub and sand outside Dadaab.

“We don’t have any means of retrieving our land. We decided to find an organisation that could be our lawyer and stand up for us so that those who are funding these organisations to displace us will be stopped,” Mr O said. He spoke through a translator in the language of the Anuak, an indigenous people who live in Ethiopia’s western Gambella region.

“Britain is a very big power in the world. Britain is Ethiopia’s top donor,” says Mr O, whose identity is being protected for his safety. The 32-year-old wears a stained white shirt, white trousers and a blue-beaded bracelet on his left hand.

London-based law firm Leigh Day & Co has taken the case for Mr O, arguing that money from the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) is funding the villagisation programme.

Ethiopia is one of the biggest recipients of UK aid and Britain, alongside other international donors, contributes significant funding for the Protection of Basic Services (PBS) programme. Lawyers for Mr O say that, by contributing to this programme, DfID contributes to villagisation, be it by financing infrastructure in new settlements or paying the salaries of officials overseeing the relocations.

DfID says it does not fund any commune projects in Ethiopia. A spokesman said the agency was aware of allegations of abuses and would raise any concerns at the highest levels of the Ethiopian government. Leigh Day is waiting for a response to its letter to the UK government in December.

The three-year villagisation programme aims to move 1.5 million rural families to new “model” villages in four regions, including approximately 45,000 households in Gambella. Official plans say the movements are voluntary, and infrastructure and alternative livelihoods will be provided in the new villages.

In January 2012, a Human Rights Watch report said the Ethiopian government was forcibly relocating thousands of people in Gambella, with villagers being told the resettlement was linked to the leasing of large tracts of land for commercial agriculture.

For the four Anuak in Dadaab, relocation has been a catastrophe: Mr O has not seen his wife and six children since he left, Peter’s wife was raped by soldiers, widow Chan and her eldest son were beaten, and Ongew was detained 11 times on charges of inciting villagers. The four did not want to give their full names for fear of retribution.

There is a desperate sense of powerlessness among the refugees, who link the recent abuses to years of alleged targeting of their ethnic group, including a 2003 massacre of Anuak in the town of Gambella. “I feel so very bad because I have been separated from my family, which shows we do not have the power to protect ourselves … Unless you decide to leave that area there will not be hope for you,” Mr O says.


Peter, a 40-year-old who lost his sight 20 years ago, bows his head as he tells how he was beaten when he asked the soldiers to take his disability into account before moving him in October 2011. Then, his wife was taken away and raped.

“I’m powerless. There was nothing I could do to stop that. Also, my cousin was taken by the soldiers and is still missing today,” Peter says. He left through South Sudan and arrived in Kenya with his wife and five children in March last year.

When soldiers came almost two years ago to move Chan, a 37-year-old farmer and mother of four, they beat her on the arm and face with a stick. The skin on the right side of her face, just below her ear, is uneven and marked. The soldiers also beat her then 18-year-old son on the head with a gun. Nobody could fight back.

“Because we don’t have power,” she says, her hands upturned helplessly on her lap. “Whenever these soldiers come to a village, there are very many. How will you fight? If you try to beat even one soldier, they will attack the whole village.”

Chan, whose husband was killed during the 2003 massacre, moved to the new village. “There was no water, no school, no clinic, not even good farm land because it is dry land,” she says. People were still being abused, so she decided to leave with her children. She arrived in Kenya last February. Despite the creeping insecurity in the Dadaab refugee camps, she says life is better “because nobody is coming to beat you in your home”.

Mr O, then a farmer and student at agricultural college, was forced from his village in November 2011. At first he would not leave, so soldiers from the Ethiopian National Defence Force beat him with guns. He lifts the faded black baseball hat he is wearing, marked with the words “Stop violence against women”, and shows a thin, long scar on his head. Strong men were forced to lie down and then beaten while women were also beaten, and those who resisted were taken and raped in a military camp, he says.

He was forced to a “new place” which did not have water, food or productive land. He was told to build a house for his family, but when work didn’t progress as quickly as expected, he was taken to a military camp and beaten again. After one month he left, sneaking past village leaders and “local militias” who controlled the area, refusing to let people leave. He arrived in Kenya in mid-December 2011.

Ongew, a 35-year-old wearing a red baseball cap and blue jeans, believes the international community can stop the alleged abuses. “There are powerful countries that control the world. So we are requesting those international communities … to stand firm and force Ethiopia to leave our land and stop this villagisation,” he says.

Ongew used to distribute food to the new villages for the government but when villagers began to complain about the absence of services, he was blamed for inciting them. The father of four was beaten many times. He gets news of his family sometimes from a relative in Britain. He has heard that police have repeatedly questioned his wife about his whereabouts.

Mr O’s wife and children are now in a new village. He has not seen them since he left but news of them reaches him through new arrivals.

The four Anuak say the relocations are continuing, with new refugees still arriving in Kenya.

Mr O says he is not taking legal action in order to get money. “Money will not bring any change for me and my family … What we want from the court is our land back. We will go there, produce what we like, and we will support our lives as before.”

January 21, 2013

Rumours of military coup in Eritrea

Filed under: Eritrea — ethiopiantimes @ 3:59 pm
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According to reports, a group of soldiers have launched what may have been a coup attempt in Asmara, forcing state TV off the air. About Eri-TV boss Asmelash Abreha to read a statement saying the 1997 constitution will be implemented and political prisoners freedaccording to correspondent Léonard Vincent. The broadcast was cut.

Reports of unrest in small African nation Eritrea

By By JASON STRAZIUSO, Associated Press – 27 minutes ago

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — More than 100 dissident soldiers stormed the Ministry of Information in the small East African nation of Eritrea on Monday and read a statement on state TV saying the country’s 1997 constitution would be put into force, two Eritrea experts said.

The soldiers held all of the ministry workers — including the daughter of the president — in a single room, said Leonard Vincent, author of the book “The Eritreans” and co-founder of a Paris-based Eritrean radio station. The soldiers’ broadcast on state TV said the country’s 1997 constitution would be reinstated and all political prisoners freed, but the broadcast was cut off after only two sentences were read and the signal has been off air the rest of the day, Vincent said.

By late afternoon there were indications the soldiers’ attempt would fail. A military tank sat in front of the Ministry of Information but the streets of the capital, Asmara, were quiet, and no shots had been fired, said a Western diplomat in Eritrea who wasn’t authorized to be identified by name.

Vincent stopped short of calling it a coup d’etat and said it wasn’t immediately clear if the action was a well-organized coup attempt or what he called a “kamikaze crash.”

Later Monday government soldiers surrounded the ministry, an indication the action by the dissident soldiers had failed, said Martin Plaut, a fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies in Britain.

“It looks like it’s an isolated attempt by some soldiers who are completely frustrated by what is going on. But it wasn’t done in a coordinated manner,” Plaut said. “They did seize the television station, they did manage to put this broadcast out, but the government is still functioning calmly. There is nothing on the streets.”

Eritrea is an oppressive and politically isolated neighbor of Ethiopia and Sudan situated on the Red Sea that broke off from Ethiopia in the 1990s. The U.S. government’s relations with Eritrea became strained in 2001 as a result of a government crackdown against political dissidents, the closing of the independent press and limits on civil liberties, conditions that the State Department says have “persisted to this day.”

Isaias Afworki has ruled the country as president and head of the military since 1993.

If the power grab attempt by the dissident soldiers fails, they are likely in for severe punishments, Vincent and Plaut said.

“People call it the North Korea of Africa and that is accurate, so you either win or you’re dead, and I think these people are dead,” Plaut said. “One can’t be absolutely sure but that’s what it looks like.”

Associated Press reporter Andrew Meldrum contributed to this report.

Ethiopia VS Zamia and all other games on firstrowsports website

Watch the Ethiopian games on this web site

January 19, 2013

Ethiopians in South-Africa welcome the Ethiopian Team

Filed under: Ethiopian Football Team — ethiopiantimes @ 8:57 pm
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