April 29, 2013
April 23, 2013
April 15, 2013
The Gibe III dam will stop the Omo River’s natural flood, on which the tribes depend. Photo by Survival.
(Corrects story to clarify the British government through DFID funds Ethiopia’s PBS programme but it does not fund the Gibe III dam itself)
NAIROBI (AlertNet) – Half a million Kenyans and Ethiopians are likely to be displaced, go hungry and face conflict due to a controversial dam linked to a forcible resettlment programme ‘bankrolled’ by British taxpayers, the lobby group Survival International said on Monday.Gibe III
The Gibe III hydropower dam, due for completion in 2014, is being built on the Omo River in southern Ethiopia. It will reduce the flow of water to farmers and pastoralists living downstream, including those 600 kilometres to the south in Kenya, where the river flows into Lake Turkana, the world’s largest desert lake.
The British government’s Department for International Development (DFID) is one of many international donors funding Ethiopia’s Protection of Basic Services (PBS) programme, which subsidises basic services and local government salaries. This includes areas where people are being relocated to make way for the dam, part of a wider programme to resettle people into designated villages – known as villagisation – begun in 2010.
Survival argues that the forced resettlment of thousands of tribal people could not be carried out without the DFID-funded PBS programme.
“UK money is bankrolling the destruction of some of the best-known pastoralist peoples in Africa,” Stephen Corry, director of Survival said in a statement. “The UK government is renowned for only paying lip service to human rights obligations where tribal peoples are concerned. When it comes to human rights in Ethiopia, DFID’s many commitments are worthless.”
It is not the first time that the PBS programme has come under fire.
Last year, the London-based law firm Leigh Day began legal action against DfID on behalf of an Ethiopian man, known as Mr O, who claims he suffered severe abuse under the villagisation programme.
DFID visited the Lower Omo, where it heard reports of rape and intimidation, but it has not been able to substantiate the claims.
Survival International cites three recent reports by Oxford University, International Rivers and the Africa Resources Working Group to support its case.
The Africa Resources Working Group report warns of “an impending human rights and ecological catastrophe” and a “very real threat of mass starvation and armed conflict in the border region.”
The International Rivers report says that those who lose their homes and livelihoods are “likely to seek out resources on their neighbours’ lands in the Kenya-Ethiopia-Sudan borderlands.”
“Well armed, primed by past grudges and often divided by support from different state and local governments, these conflicts can be expected to be bloody and persistent,” it said.
The Ethiopian government is planning to use the water to develop large-scale irrigation schemes, create jobs and generate huge amounts of electricity to power the region.
April 14, 2013
Clients of the defunct car assembly plant based in Ethiopia, Holland Car, are pushing for the extradition of its founder and managing director, Tadesse Tessema (Eng.), to answer to government and the public about the bankruptcy of the car assembly plant.
Sources close to the matter told The Reporter that many of the clients that are pushing for Tadesse’s extradition are also those who are going through the formal court process to recover their advance and full payments made to purchase cars assembled by Holland car. By that time, Tadesse had left the country, to the Netherlands, and Holland Car declared bankruptcy; the assembly line had some 100 clients who had placed orders to acquire the cars and had made payments. However, after having to wait for their cars for an extended amount of time, these clients finally learnt that Tadesse was filing for bankruptcy and that there was a chance they might not be covered by Holland Car’s remaining assets.
Consequently, the group of clients is insisting that Tadesse answer questions regarding the bankruptcy and circumstances surrounding the collapse of the first car assembly plant in the country. Furthermore, sources also indicate that efforts are being made to locate Tadesse and bring him back via the Federal Police and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The claims of the clients, however, go much further than Tadesse offering explanations as to how he ran his company to bankruptcy; in fact, some of them seemed convinced that Tadesse’s declaration of bankruptcy was bogus and that the company, in fact, has assets that are concealed by the individual. Similarly, some of them also claim that Tadesse has used the advance and full payments he received from his customers for other purposes and, for that, he has to be held accountable. Hence, the government is responsible for bringing such indiscretion to justice, they argued.
Four months ago, Tadesse, via teleconference from Holland, broke the news that his company had finally gone under because of the huge investment cost that he had incurred in setting up the public transportation vehicle assembly line he built convinced that Holland Car would be supplying buses for the city. On the other hand, the unprecedented devaluation of September 2010 was also another factor, Tadesse said at the time.
April 13, 2013
(IRIN) – Record numbers of migrants from the Horn of Africa are crossing into Yemen, most of them on their way to find better opportunities in Saudi Arabia and other rich Gulf countries. But many do not make it any further. Seeking a new life, they end up unwitting victims of a smuggling racket designed to exploit the migrants at each juncture of their journey.
Recent years have seen Ethiopians make up the majority of these migrants: Of the 107,000 recorded migrants crossing the Red Sea/Gulf of Aden into Yemen in 2012, around 80,000 were from Ethiopia.
Four irregular migrants with diverse backgrounds, all from Ethiopia, told IRIN about their journeys to Yemen.* While their stories differ in details, they all share a similar set of experiences: brutality, broken promises and extortion.
Marta, mid-30s, from Dire Dawa, eastern Ethiopia:
Marta says she fled Ethiopia in 2010 when she and her family were accused of supporting the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), a state-designated terrorist group. “The government said, ‘You are with the party of OLF,’ and chased us out of country. I don’t know where my family ended up.”
“I spent a year and a half in Djibouti, where I gave birth to my daughter. After her father disappeared, we left for Yemen. I paid a broker 10,000 Djiboutian francs [about US$55] to ride in a boat with 15 others from Djibouti to Yemen.
“Our night-time crossing of the Red Sea was calm until the end. As we neared the Yemeni coast, the owner of the boat, who was part of the smuggling operation, threw us into the sea. No one knew how to swim because in Ethiopia, we don’t have a sea, just lakes. The brokers and their thugs were waiting for us as we came ashore. They raped me and the other women. I’m 9 months pregnant with a child from that night.
“When I arrived to Sana’a, I was tired and decided to stay. For seven months, I was a house maid, but now I can’t work because of the pregnancy, so I have no income. [Ethiopian] migrants from the community in Sana’a are supporting me.
“I’m interested in tackling my problems, but at the moment I am pregnant and I am tired. All my money goes to my daughter, so this makes me tired. One day I will win.”
Alima, 18, from Miesso, eastern Ethiopia:
Alima fled to Dijoubti after being accused of being a member of the OLF. “I worked for one year in Djibouti City, where life was not good but not bad, until gangs started robbing us near where we collected our salaries. That’s when I decided to go to Yemen, where I’ve been for five months.
“I paid a broker 20,000 Djiboutian francs [about $110] to take me to the island of Haiyoo, where we would take a boat to Yemen. Thugs captured us and demanded more money when we arrived to Haiyoo. Because I had no money, they raped me. Men who did not have money were beaten, and the women were raped. Eventually, I contacted family and convinced them to send $200.
“We arrived to Yemen, north of Bab al-Mandab [the Mandab Strait], in a 120-person boat, and were transferred to the Yemeni smugglers who control that part of the country. The gangsters raped most of the women and tortured and beat the men to extort more money.
“They sell women who can’t find more money to other brokers, who send them to work as maids in Yemeni households. A broker bought me and sent me to Radaa, where I worked for three months cleaning houses.
“One man who loved me paid for my release and married me. He was also in Radaa, working on a qat farm and raising livestock. We moved to Sana’a two months ago. He cleans in a restaurant and I’m a maid.
“If an opportunity arises, or if I make money, or if the situation in Yemen gets worse, I’m interested in going to a better country.”
Mesfin, 38, from Dese, north-central Ethiopia:
“I was born an orphan in Ethiopia, and grew up there. I had no family, and no one was helping me. Life was boring, so I decided to explore.
“I travelled five days on buses, trains and hiding out on heavy trucks before arriving at the border with Djibouti. I could have cut straight across the Welo desert to the Red Sea, but it was too dangerous. Most people spend their lives there.
“I paid brokers 1,000 Ethiopian birr [about $50]. That was supposed to cover the entire trip from Ethiopia to Yemen, but I was forced to pay 400 Ethiopian birr [$20] extra at Haiyoo.
“We crossed the Red Sea in a small fishing boat loaded with about 80 people. While we were boarding, I heard the brokers contact Abd al-Qawi’s* people, who said they were prepared to receive them near Mokha. About five hours later, we hit land, and Abd al-Qawi’s gangsters started beating the men trying to escape and raping most of the women right there on the beach.
“They took me and some of the men and women to a detention centre, where they tortured them until money was transferred. The building was like a jail; people are not helped until someone sends them money. The women were raped there. I was detained and tortured for five days. On the fifth night, they untied me because I was in charge of feeding the others, and I managed to escape.
“I ended up in the main street of Mokha and caught a ride to Taiz in a day. An Ethiopian migrant paid for me to come to Sana’a, where I’ve been for five days. I want to work here, make some money, then return to Ethiopia to search for relatives.”
Yassin, 23, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia:
“I had no political issues – not many – in Ethiopia, but I had economic problems. I am from a poor family in Addis Ababa: no father, only my mother, and I have many sisters and brothers. I went to Yemen imagining living a better life because my mother couldn’t provide for us.
“I stowed away on a train from Addis to the Djibouti border, and from there to Haiyoo we travelled in a Land Cruiser. I paid a broker 1,000 Ethiopian birr [about $50] for the whole trip.
“After a week of waiting in Djibouti, we took a fishing boat filled with 45 people to Yemen. Before pushing off on our four-and-a-half-hour journey, another boat left ahead of us, which was built to hold 25 people but 50 piled in. The boat split in half and sunk not long after its departure. We could hear their screams as they drowned in the night. When the bodies washed ashore, we buried them before leaving. During the pitch-black crossing, we encountered a ship which seemed like an island it was so big. The waves filled our boat with water, and we almost capsized. We arrived near Bab al-Mandab.
“The landing wasn’t very scary because we were dropped so close to shore. But as we waded to the beach, Abd al-Qawi’s thugs started shooting guns into the air to scare those who tried running away. They loaded us into trucks and took us to detention centres to extract money. Because I know different dialects, I acted as translator and was released with those who paid. I saw them rape women, hang men by their hands and beat them with metal rods and red-hot poles; they shot off fingers and toes, poked hot shards of metal into their eyes and poured boiling plastic on their bodies.
“I travelled one day by Hilux to Haradh along the Saudi border. I saw the same beatings and rapes for extortion in Haradh throughout my six months there. As you see in Yemen, there is no work, so I have plans to leave to anywhere by any means.”
*Full names withheld
*Most migrants referred to Abd al-Qawi as the name of the Yemeni gangs who carried out the abuses, though the origin of this name is not clear.
April 12, 2013
by Theodros Arega
Hundreds of Ethiopians and origins of Ethiopia who reside in Stockholm and its surroundings went to the street this afternoon to express their anger over the on-going camping which targets the displacement of Amharic speaking Ethiopians from different parts of the country.
The protesters condemned the eviction of Amharic language speaking innocent Ethiopians from Southern and Benishangula gumuz regions which they alleges is masterminded and geared by the ruling TPLF party.
Religious representatives of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Ethiopian Muslims on the occasion also expressed their disappointment over this unconstitutional, racist and illegal practice perpetrated against one ethnic group. They demand victims of this crime who are displaced from their lands should be returned immediately and call up on all the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
Organizers of the rally on the other hand urged the government to release Eskinder Nega, Reeyot Alemu, Woubshet Taye and thousands of other Ethiopian prisoners of conscious immediately and unconditionally. They say, they went to the street to express their outrage over TPLF’s regime unconstitutional policy of evicting hardworking Ethiopians and their families from various parts of the country.
The protesters also urged the government to release all leaders and followers of their Ethiopian Muslim compatriots and to stop its interference in religious matters. In a letter they submitted the Swedish Parliament, he organizers urged the Swedish government and the European Union to pressure on TPLF regime to respect its citizens’ rights enshrined in the constitution. The demonstrators say they will continue their solidarity with the on-going struggle at home and abroad against the dictatorial regime until the regime transferred its power to the government elected by the people. The two hours rally is concluded down town in Stockholm.
April 10, 2013
April 10, 2013
His Excellency Berhan Hailu
Minister of Justice
P.O. Box 1370
Via facsimile: +251-11-517-755
Via email: email@example.com
Dear Minister Birhan Hailu,
We are writing to bring to your attention the case of Ethiopian journalist and teacher Reeyot Alemu, whose health has deteriorated since her imprisonment in June 2011 on terrorism charges and who is now being threatened with solitary confinement. The Ethiopian Ministry of Justice has publicly subscribed to a vision in which “human and democratic rights are respected,” yet Reeyot’s full human rights are being denied to her in Kality Prison.
The Ethiopian High Court sentenced Reeyot, a columnist for the now-defunct independent weekly Feteh, to 14 years in prison on January 2012 under the country’santi-terrorism law. In August 2012, the Supreme Court acquitted her on two counts, but upheld the charge against her of participation in the promotion or communication of a terrorist act, and reduced her sentence to five years.
Prison authorities have threatened Reeyot with solitary confinement for two months as punishment for alleged bad behavior toward them and threatening to publicize human rights violations by prison guards, according to sources close to the journalist who spoke to the International Women’s Media Foundation on condition of anonymity. CPJ has independently verified the information. Reeyot has also been denied access to adequate medical treatment after she was diagnosed with a tumor in her breast, the sources said.
We would like to draw your attention to the 2011 report by Juan E. Méndez, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, in which he urged the prohibition of “the imposition of solitary confinement as punishment–either as part of a judicially imposed sentence or a disciplinary measure.” We would also remind you that Ethiopia is a signatory to the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and is legally bound to uphold these principles.
As a current member of the United Nations Human Rights Council and a signatory to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Ethiopia has committed itself to upholding the human rights of all of its citizens. This includes the right to freedom of expression and speech, as well as protection from cruel and inhumane forms of punishment such as solitary confinement.
All of the charges against Reeyot were based on her journalistic activities–emails she had received from pro-opposition discussion groups and reports and photographs she had sent to opposition news sites. Reeyot, who received the International Women’s Media Foundation Courage in Journalism Award in 2012, has covered key developmental issues in Ethiopia such as poverty, democratic opposition, and gender equality.
The prison sentence against Reeyot for performing her duties and exercising her rights as a journalist to ask questions and express opinions calls into question Ethiopia’s commitment to the democratic values and human rights the country claims to uphold.
We urge you to fulfill Ethiopia’s promise to build a humane and democratic state by withdrawing the threat of solitary confinement against Reeyot and ensuring her access to adequate medical care. No journalists should face detention or imprisonment in the exercise of their duty.
FENOTE SELAM, Ethiopia – Over 3,500 Ethiopians who were removed from Benishangul-Gumuz region recently and were being temporarily sheltered in this town were once again being transported back to their settlements, the Ethiopian Satellite TV (ESAT) reported on Tuesday.
Targeting members of the Amhara ethnic group has been the preoccupation of the regime for a long time, and the forceful eviction of the farmers from that part of their country had sent shockwaves across Ethiopian communities around the globe.
The eviction sparked anger and condemnation across the Ethiopian Diaspora while opposition parties both at home and overseas denounced the government action as inhuman and criminal.
The prominent opposition figure, Yacob Hailemariam, on his part equated the crime with ‘ethnic cleansing,’ and warned those party and government authorities linked to the mass deportation of citizens within their own country could be taken to the International Criminal Court.
“No matter how much time will go by, those responsible for ethnic cleansing in Ethiopai will face justice and suffer life in prison like their Rwandan counterparts” the former business law proressor said.