October 29, 2013
October 27, 2013
Ethiomedia is a reliable source of information for us Ethiopians as it protects Ethiopian interests and fights the good fight against those who are anti-Ethiopian, the likes of the serpent Tesfaye Gebreab (as some call him Gebre-ebab) and that of Jawar, by unmasking them and showing their true colors to the true children of Ethiopia!
While appreciating such, I saw a motto atop the front page that goes, as copied, which I think discounts the value of the rest of the information we get from the website.
Yes! we are made landlocked by the seating government, which came to rule Tigray and sat on the throne of Ethiopia by accident, we lost Our Port – the way to the sea! As your caption tells, it is better to have a port than having 40 dams of the size of GERD, but we lost the port, should you think we should lose the 40 dams we are constructing as well?
The tenure of a government is limited, like the life of any creature is, and we know from history that empires come and go, both in global and national contexts. I believe that EPRDF’s end will come soon ( either it will mutate to good government or extinct like those of its predecessors). However, our beloved Ethiopia will go on! Whatever profit the country gets, it should get from whoever governs – we have to pick the positive.
Here I kindly request you to remove the caption from your page, it has a meaning, if we don’t have a port , we don’t need the dams either; actually we need them very badly! Even now we are scaring Egypt, who was home to the secessionists Shabia (EPLF), TPLF and the now EPRDF- time for repay – we are settling the debt, and will serve as our future national security tool.
Hoping that you will treat my concern favorably,
Pretoria, South Africa
Editor’s Note – Dear Gashaw, you asked Ethiomedia to remove the motto: “40 dams are no match for one Red Sea port!” Why should you worry unless you are a disguised Eritrean agent like Tesfaye Gebreab? The motto is a reminder to readers, including yourself, that building a dam, no matter how giant, is no match for Ethiopia’s bid to restore part of the Afar Red Sea coastal area that has been annexed by Eritrea when two Eritrean groups moved to Asmara and Addis Ababa in 1991. True power of TPLF has never been in the hands of Tigrians but ultra Eritrean mercenaries like Meles Zenawi, Sebhat Nega etc. TPLF officials who had no Eritrean heritage were simply the slaves of Meles Zenawi, whether it was Seye Abraha or Gebru Asrat, two notables Meles purged in 2001 [Today, Gebru is genuinely deep in the opposition struggle while Seye Abraha is incurably crippled by his dead boss, Meles Zenawi, to be no good for an Ethiopian opposition].
To come back to the point, our Afar patriots, specially the original ARDUF fighters, fought a heroic fight for the first 10 years [1991-2001]. ARDUF was fighting against Shabia [Eritrean regime], but Meles fought on behalf of Shabia and was busy wiping out Afar settlements to crush ARDUF. During this 10-year-old war, the entire Ethiopia was in deep sleep! Very few Ethiopians know how Afars were the first Ethiopian patriots who fought against the Eritrean-led TPLF mercenaries that came to power in Ethiopia in 1991.
For instance, when former US President Jimmy Carter advised Meles in 1989 that he shouldn’t punish future generations of Ethiopia by turning ‘his country’ into a landlocked nation, Meles posed as an Ethiopian and told Carter, “Ethiopia had never had her own port. The Eritreans fought against us for 30 years because we had annexed their territory.”
Meles had no problem from the rest of TPLF leadership because he and his accomplices had murdered the politically conscious TPLF commanders like Suhul [first TPLF chairman] or Dr Atakilt Ketsela [who used to wrap the Ethiopian flag around his head and was firmly opposed to the notion that Eritrea was an Ethiopian colony]. Meles had the comfort of two groups: mercenaries like Sebhat Nega, Abay Tsehaye etc who will die for whatever Meles tells them to do, and the other group consisting of very obedient slaves who would never have the courage to look the mercenary straight in the eye, let alone to remove him as enemy of Ethiopia. That is why Meles never faced treason, and hence an outright arrest in 1998 when Shabia invaded Ethiopia and the entire country was blaming the mercenary prime minister.
The bottomline is the Ethiomedia motto in no way indicates that building dams is not good for our country. It rather underscores that the fight for the restoration of the Red Sea Afar territory to Ethiopia should remain fresh in the memory of the young generation of Ethiopia as opposed to the campaign of TPLF mercenaries like Bereket Simon who says we have raised a generation of Ethiopia that only knows Ethiopia as a landlocked country.
Unless you are an Eritrean disguised as an Ethiopian and spreads the deceptive remark,’we don’t need Assab because we can prosper without Assab,” I urge you to read, for the start, Dr Yacob Hailemariam’s book: “Asseb Yemanat?” When Ethiopia falls into the hand of a popularly-elected Ethiopian government, the legal campaign for the restoration of the Red Sea to its natural owner, Ethiopia, will begin with earnest. And Ethiomedia firmly believes Eritrea will be content with its own Massawa, while readily handing over the southern stretch of the Red Sea to its owner – ETHIOPIA. Anything out of this would be playing with fire.
More motto? Help home-based Andenet Party! Help home-based Semayawi Party! Help Home-based 33-parties united!
“Joint Dam Ownership” – What does it mean???
It is about the Dam.
Joint ownership??? What does it mean? Are we going to be fool and share our right on our natural resources with Egypt and the Sudan for centuries to come? I am not clear with this idea. This matter is not as simple as allowing leasing a land for foreigners for a certain period. In other words, it is like allowing Egypt and the Sudan to decide on our sovereignty issue regarding the Dam.
Please, this question should not be decided by the good will of one single Government official or anybody else. Look, how the Egyptians are smart enough and fast to accept this kind of ideas, which gives them to control the Dam indirectly. Let the people discuss this matter and have their say. Please open a discussion forum on this matter.
Editor’s Note – We invite scholars on the subject to probe the issue, and inform the public on what does “joint ownership” of ones own river/dam mean?
October 24, 2013
Ethiopian inquiry points to illegal imports, possible corruption in Huawei deal
Customs authority alleges that Huawei avoided taxes
Government investigators say that Huawei Technologies illegally imported $13 million worth of telecom equipment into Ethiopia, adding to the number of cases involving allegedly corrupt activities by Chinese telecom companies in Africa.
The equipment was allegedly imported into the country in the name of Ethio Telecom, a state-owned telecom company, without Ethio’s knowledge, according to the Ethiopia Revenue & Customs Authority (ERCA). This was done to avoid paying taxes, ERCA said.
ERCA has said it will confiscate the equipment and is likely to slap the company with tax avoidance charges. The equipment has been stuck at the country’s port since last year.
Ethio Telecom signed an $800 million telecom equipment deal with Huawei and another $800 million contract with China-based ZTE to expand its mobile phone network only three months ago. The equipment under investigation, however, was imported into the country toward the end of last year.
Questions are being asked regarding the timing of the imports. Industry are asking how Huawei Technologies knew it should start importing the equipment about nine months before the Ethio tender was actually awarded to the company.
Huawei declined to comment on the matter.
October 18, 2013
NAIROBI (OCT 18) – Ethiopian authorities have subjected political detainees to torture and other ill-treatment at the main detention center in Addis Ababa, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The Ethiopian government should take urgent steps to curb illegal practices in the Federal Police Crime Investigation Sector, known as Maekelawi, impartially investigate allegations of abuse, and hold those responsible to account.
The 70-page report, “‘They Want a Confession’: Torture and Ill-Treatment in Ethiopia’s Maekelawi Police Station,” documents serious human rights abuses, unlawful interrogation tactics, and poor detention conditions in Maekelawi since 2010. Those detained in Maekelawi include scores of opposition politicians, journalists, protest organizers, and alleged supporters of ethnic insurgencies. Human Rights Watch interviewed more than 35 former Maekelawi detainees and their relatives who described how officials had denied their basic needs, tortured, and otherwise mistreated them to extract information and confessions, and refused them access to legal counsel and their relatives.
“Ethiopian authorities right in the heart of the capital regularly use abuse to gather information,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Beatings, torture, and coerced confessions are no way to deal with journalists or the political opposition.”
Since the disputed elections of 2005, Ethiopia has intensified its clampdown on peaceful dissent, Human Rights Watch said. Arbitrary arrest and political prosecutions, including under the country’s restrictive anti-terrorism law, have frequently been used against perceived opponents of the government who have been detained and interrogated at Maekelawi.
Maekelawi officials, primarily police investigators, have used various methods of torture and ill-treatment against those in their custody. Former detainees described to Human Rights Watch being slapped, kicked, and beaten with various objects, including sticks and gun butts, primarily during interrogations. Detainees also described being held in painful stress positions for hours upon end, hung from the wall by their wrists, often while being beaten.
A student from Oromiya described being shackled for several months in solitary confinement: “When I wanted to stand up it was hard: I had to use my head, legs, and the walls to stand up. I was still chained when I was eating. They would chain my hands in front of me while I ate and then chain them behind me again afterward.”
Detention conditions in Maekelawi’s four primary detention blocks are poor but vary considerably. In the worst block, known as “Chalama Bet” (dark house in Amharic), former detainees said their access to daylight and to a toilet were severely restricted, and some were held in solitary confinement. Those in “Tawla Bet” (wooden house) complained of limited access to the courtyard outside their cells and flea infestations. Investigators use access to basic needs and facilities to punish or reward detainees for their compliance with their demands, including by transferring them between blocks. Short of release, many yearn to be transferred to the block known as “Sheraton,” named for the international hotel, where movement is freer.
Detainees held in Chalama Bet and Tawla Bet were routinely denied access to their lawyers and relatives, particularly in the initial phase of detention. Several family members told Human Rights Watch that they had visited Maekelawi daily but that officials denied them access to their detained relative until the lengthy investigation phase was over. The absence of a lawyer during interrogations increases the likelihood of abuse, and limits the chances for documenting abuse and obtaining redress, Human Rights Watch said.
“Cutting detainees off from their lawyers and relatives not only heightens the risk of abuse but creates enormous pressure to comply with the investigators’ demands,” Lefkow said. “Those in custody in Maekelawi need lawyers at their interrogations and access to their relatives, and should be promptly charged before a judge.”
Human Rights Watch found that investigators used coercive methods, including beatings and threats of violence, to compel detainees to sign statements and confessions. These statements have sometimes been used to exert pressure on people to work with the authorities after they are released, or used as evidence in court.
Martin Schibbye, a Swedish journalist held in Maekelawi in 2011, described the pressure used to extract confessions: “For most people in Maekelawi, they keep them until they give up and confess, you can spend three weeks with no interviews, it’s just waiting for a confession, it’s all built around confession. Police say it will be sorted in court, but nothing will be sorted out in court.”
Detainees have limited channels for redress for ill-treatment, Human Rights Watch said. Ethiopia’s courts lack independence, particularly in politically sensitive cases. Despite numerous allegations of abuse by defendants, including people held under the anti-terrorism law, the courts have taken inadequate steps to investigate these allegations or to protect defendants complaining of mistreatment from reprisals.
The courts should be more proactive in responding to complaints of mistreatment, but that can happen only if the government allows the courts to act independently and respects their decisions, Human Rights Watch said.
Ethiopia has severely restricted independent human rights investigation and reporting in recent years, hampering monitoring of detention conditions in Maekelawi. The governmental Ethiopian Human Rights Commission has visited Maekelawi three times since 2010 and publicly raised concerns about incommunicado detention. However, former detainees told Human Rights Watch that Maekelawi officials were present during those visits, preventing them from talking with commission members privately, and questioned their impact.
Improved human rights monitoring in Maekelawi and other detention facilities requires revision of two repressive laws, the Charities and Societies Proclamation and the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation. These laws have significantly reduced independent human rights monitoring and removed basic legal safeguards against torture and ill-treatment in detention, Human Rights Watch said.
Ethiopia’s constitution and international legal commitments require officials to protect all detainees from mistreatment, and the Ethiopian authorities at all levels have a responsibility both to end abusive practices and to prosecute those responsible, Human Rights Watch said. While the Ethiopian government has developed a three-year human rights action plan that acknowledges the need to improve the treatment of detainees, the plan does not address physical abuse and torture; it focuses on capacity building rather than on the concrete political action needed to end the routine abuse.
“More funds and capacity building alone will not end the widespread mistreatment in Maekelawi and other Ethiopian detention centers,” Lefkow said. “Real change demands action from the highest levels of government against all those responsible to root out the underlying culture of impunity.”
October 17, 2013
Ethiopia’s remote Gambela region and Lower Omo valley are being rapidly converted to commercial agricultural investment centres. To encourage widespread industrialized agriculture in these areas, the Ethiopian government is depriving small-scale farmers, pastoralists and indigenous people of arable farmland, access to water points, grazing land, fishing and hunting grounds. It has also has been moving people off the land into government villages to allow investors to take over the land. Wealthy nations and multinational corporations are taking over lands that are home to hundreds of thousands of ethnically, linguistically, geographically and culturally distinct pastoralists and indigenous communities.
Anywaa Survival Organisation (ASO) recently had an opportunity to interview affected community representatives and leaders who fled these regions because of these government land grabs. A few of these “development refugees” gave in-depth accounts of violent tactics used against them (including rapes, intimidation, murder, harassment) as well as lack of consultation, compensation, legal redress and derogation of national and international laws intended to protect indigenous and pastoralists communities’ rights to own and use resources. These exclusive interviews, which took place in Nairobi, Kenya, offer insights into the human costs of Ethiopia’s development policies.
There is a deep-rooted understanding among the lowland communities that land belongs to the community rather than to the government. During the interviews, the land-grab affected people dismissed the government justification that all land in Ethiopia belongs to the state, and strongly argued that the land grabbing policy was intended to deprive communities of their land-use rights, destroy traditional farming methods and knowledge, and displace them from their ancestral lands and natural environment.
Land grabs are happening in many parts of Africa, and the topic has received much attention and criticism worldwide. In Ethiopia, land grabbing undermines affected communities’ active participation in decisions about their lives, denies them access to key information about land deals, and abrogates their constitutional rights to free prior, informed consent, compensation, and legal redress. Land grab projects benefit newcomers migrating into the land grabs target areas. According to one refugee from the lower Omo valley; “Since land grabs started, no single local person has been employed even at security guard level. But thousands of migrants from other parts of the country have moved in and are benefiting from the project. The project forces local communities into exile where they will remain as refugees.”
Ethiopia, a country notorious for recurrent famine, drought, and high-level malnutrition, is coming under sharp criticism for its land grabs and treatment of people affected by these developments. The government’s widespread abuses of local people and its forceful eviction to implement its policies have gotten the attention of the world media, NGOs, researchers, and activists. Yet, the authorities continue to ruthlessly implement the government’s controversial involuntary settlement programme as a formidable weapon to free more lands and destroy local community livelihoods and the natural environment.
For those with the first-hand practical experience, describing the land grabbing destruction has serious emotional impacts. Okok Ojulu, a community leader and representative said:
Land in Gambela belongs to the community and it is only the community that makes the decision rather than someone from far away as Tigary to give away the community lands. The action is an institutional plunder and amounts to stealing the land from the people. God hates stealing. The government policy is to annihilate the people from the land. Those people remaining back home are as good as dead as government plan day and night to implement destructive policies.
Another Gambela native, who wished to remain anonymous, summarized the land grabbing in his area:
Vast fertile land along the road toward Pinyudo, small Anywaa (or Anuak) town on the Gilo river bank was given to foreign investors and Ethiopian highlanders with close connection to the ruling political party, and cleared for commercial agricultural investment.
A similar concern was given by a lower Omo valley representative who also wished to remain anonymous:
We believe three-quarters of the people in the lower Omo valley will be displaced. Only a fraction of the local people will be employed in back-breaking daily labourer. Giving such large plots of land to private investors exposes traditional communities to serious food insecurity, conflict, and restricts their free movement with large cattle as they are used to in the past.
A Saudi Arabian tycoon Al-Moudi, with close links to the top-level Ethiopian leadership, has been allotted 10,000 hectares for a rice plantation. His massive project has done considerable damage to the local environment, which includes a national park and wildlife habitat, and local communities that have lived in their homelands for many generations. The investment barely provides economic benefits to local communities. Young schoolchildren do back-breaking labour on the plantation during school breaks. In most cases, the land grabbing project benefits Ethiopian highland communities employed at both skilled and non-skilled levels. It is not difficult to understand why the land grabbing project in general has been branded as an “exclusive” one that is intended to displace local communities and force them to leave the area.
While the destruction caused by global land dealers differs by region, country and political system, in the Ethiopian context, the policy’s major impacts fall on pastoralists and indigenous communities. It is depriving local communities’ access to fertile arable farmlands along the Omo, Openo (Baro), Gilo, Akobo, and Alowero rivers, according to those who took part in the interview. “The policy is intended to create job opportunities for unemployed citizens from Amhara and Tigray,” asserted one community representative.
The government’s land grab efforts have had major impacts on various communities’ traditional way of life, culture, and natural environment. The continued human rights abuses employed to move people out of the land-grab areas, including arbitrary detention, arrests, forcible eviction, and even murder, have forced many in these communities to go into exile or resort to violence in self-defence.
These areas in the Ethiopian lowlands have a long history of marginalization and neglect, and have suffered various gross human rights abuses, including ethnic cleansing and murder campaigns. In 2003, about 500 indigenous Anywaa (Anuak) were murdered in just three days in Gambela region, an area that is now a hotbed of land grabbing and involuntary resettlement (“villagisation”). The government uses villagisation to reinforce the land grabbing policy implementation to forcefully evict indigenous communities from their ancestral land in order to give away their lands for commercial investment. For instance, 73% of the indigenous population in the Gambela region are destined to be resettled to unproductive lands without an adequate social infrastructure.
The communities in lower Omo valley are known for their traditional land allotments which are respected and known to every community in the area. The government villagisation programme destroys this traditional settlement pattern and inevitably invites unstoppable conflict among the communities, both among the various ethnic groups in the area and with the government forces and newcomers.
A main government claim, perhaps to silence critics internationally, is the ability of the policy to contribute towards solving the nation’s food security problem and spur economic growth. Ethiopia now requires annual international food aid and financial support. In a country of about 85 million, with 85% of the population dependant on the agricultural sector, these controversial developments are having catastrophic impacts on the food security and economic stability of many communities.
The targeted areas have been food self-sufficient in the past and have supplemented their diets with wild foods found in the local environment. As these areas are converted to export farms, the food produced is reducing lands for food crops for local consumption. A Lower Omo community representative explained the consequences:
When a community no longer cultivates on their land, they will leave the area. I think this is the primary motive of the land-grabbing policy.
Other important elements in land grabbing that are buried and overlooked in a short-term financial gain, employment creation and economic growth, are what is lost. The area is being stripped of its rich community cultural customs associated with the natural environment, sustainable small-scale farming methods, environmental management knowledge and techniques. Pastoralist and indigenous communities in the Lower Omo and Gambela region have unique, knowledge-based abilities to protect and preserve soil quality, biodiversity, and their natural habitat. Land grabbing has undermined and destroyed these traditional systems and values. Commercial farming would restrict local communities’ free movement with large cattle herds and cease rotational agricultural farming methods practiced by local communities – the main reason for current high-quality of land and natural environment.
The community leader and representative from lower Omo valley said:
Holy sites, trees, traditional places preserved in the past by the community will be destroyed once commercial farming takes off. The ecological balance and natural environment will come under intense pressure exposing the community into serious natural catastrophic.
The Gambela and Lower Omo areas, which until recently had marginal economic value and were considered by the national government as uninhabitable, are infested by deadly malaria and have humid weather conditions. However, in a turn of fortune, high demand for agricultural goods worldwide and the government’s renewed efforts at land grabbing and villagisation have lured private investors and government-owned companies into these areas, resulting in the widespread eviction of communities from their ancestral homelands. A desire to open the door to foreign direct investment and seasonal job opportunities furthermore forces stable, food secure and subsistent small-scale farmers to abandon farming, fishing, hunting and cattle herding. The Lower Omo valley, a home for about 200,000 population, for instance, lost 640,000 hectares to land grabs. The community and its large cattle herds (which are a source of livelihood and pride for the people) was squeezed onto 100,000 hectares – the only remaining land for human settlement and local economic activities.
60% of Nyangatom people have crossed international borders to protect their livelihoods and are wondering with their cattle around Ethio-Kenya and Ethio-South Sudan borders to protect their livelihoods. The army in large numbers are dispatched into Mursi areas where the government have started digging a canal and they are terrorising the community.
The recent villagisation programme (involuntary resettlement), for example, reinforces the policy by eroding traditional boundaries, land demarcation, grazing, hunting and fishing grounds. Previously peaceful and harmonious societies with clear tribal land boundaries, land ownership, land allotment for different purposes, unique settlement patterns, traditional environment management practices – to all this the policy of land grabbing would cause tremendous suffering to cattle, diffuse traditional boundaries and cause tension and conflicts among the communities. A FARM AFRICA report, as quoted in the Human Rights Watch Report, identified access to water points and limited grazing space for large cattle herds in the area as sources of frequent violent conflicts
Government land deals produce almost no benefits to local communities, but exposes them to extreme poverty and food insecurity, restricts their free movement, access to grazing and water points, and confines them in settlement camps. As previously mentioned, the policy has a strong ability to depopulate the local communities from these areas and to settle them in government villages. The combined effect of all this social upheaval and loss of control over one’s life practically evicts them and sends them into exile in refugee camps.
Human rights abuses are a major source of concern associated with land grabbing and involuntary settlement. In particularly, government use of military force has been implicated in murder, rape and unlawful detentions. An interviewee has echoed this sentiment stating that:
The arrival of newcomers attracted by job opportunities has deprived local communities of equal access to fertile land, led to the destruction of holy sites, and caused tensions between local people and these migrants, who are so different from us in their ways. We fear it will ultimately create tension and, eventually, a conflict that the government will not be able to control.
With a staggering 5 million hectares of fertile arable land country-wide earmarked for commercial investment, government human rights records will continue to be a source of attention. If the methods, style and strategies used to silence indigenous and pastoralist communities remains the same, the programme will continue to undermine Ethiopia’s reputation, and create a growing conflict.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) calls for the Ethiopian authorities to put in place strict measures to protect the rights of the indigenous communities to use land in accordance with both national and internationally recognised legal norms. The villiagisation programme reomves small-scale farmers to unproductive settlement sites without adequate social and economic infrastructures: education and health facilities, roads, markets and milling facilities. In most instances, the government discourages communities from returning to their traditional homes and farmlands by destroying their crops and homes.
The arrival of commercial farming in areas such as the Lower Omo valley, where tribal communities have lived side by side respecting land usage and settlement patterns in the past, invites far-reaching conflicts in the area. As 86% of the land mass that communities used for farming, fishing, hunting and grazing are grabbed by investors in the region, and implementation of involuntary settlement of different communities is enforced by military personnel, tensions have mounted very high in the area.
The communities fear that the policy will erode rotational farming methods that take place three times in a year to secure grazing pasture for large cattle herds in the area. As the presence of private investors restricts various traditional communities’ free movement with their cattle herds, it creates tension and unstoppable conflict. A conflict over single cattle that might cross a private investor farm would engulf the entire region into turmoil.
Despite government pressure, some in the affected communities have rejected the government plan to move them away and preferred to die on their current land. They strongly believe that commercial agricultural farming will destroy the ecological system, natural environment, holy sites, wildlife, protected and preserved trees, and reduces the areas’ ability to attract tourists.
The intention of the government is to destroy the livelihoods of indigenous people along the international border and should be taken seriously. Successive Ethiopian governments have barely cared for dark skin Ethiopians but to discriminate against them on the ground of their skin colour.
Read the full interviews here: Ethiopia’s Land Grabs: Interviews with the displaced
Nykiaw Ochalla is a director and founder of Anywaa Survival Organisation-ASO, an organisation that believes in social justice and environment friendly sustainable development without prejudice; active participation of indigenous people in decision making processes that affected their livelihoods and their full enjoyment of development projects benefits implemented on their territories.
October 14, 2013
October 7, 2013
Every year for a decade or more a million Ethiopians, 10 million and
counting, have left, or fled, their homeland. While the television
screens of the world have been flooded with images of North African
migrants drowning off the Italian island of Lampedusa, the bones of
tens of thousands of Ethiopian refugees lay in unmarked graves along
Yemeni shores or at the bottom of the Indian Ocean or Red Sea.
How is it you might ask, that this 10 million human tsunami remains
almost unknown to the world? And why, why would ten million
Ethiopians, one in every 8 people in the country, risking their lives
in many cases, seek refuge in foreign, mostly unwelcoming, lands?
The answer lies in the policies of the Ethiopian regime which have
been described by UN investigators in reports long suppressed with
words such as “food and medical aid blockades”, “scorched earth
counterinsurgency tactics”, “mass murder” and even “genocide”.
Most of the Ethiopians refugees are from the Oromo nationality, at 40
million strong half of Ethiopia, or the ethnic Somalis of the Ogaden.
Both of these regions in southern Ethiopia have long been victims of
some of the most inhumane, brutal treatment any peoples of the world
have ever known (it has been estimated that a full half of all Oromos
were wiped out during the western supported Abyssinian Imperialist
colonialization during the late 1800’s by the forefathers of “Emperor”
These past few years saw the worst drought and famine in the Horn of
Africa in 60 years yet almost all of Oromia and the Ogaden affected by
this catastrophe were prevented from receiving food and medical aid by
the Ethiopian regime.
What country in the world is allowed to expel both the Red Cross and
Doctors Without Borders during such a humanitarian crisis and not be
roundly condemned by the international community? Only Ethiopia.
In Somalia alone the UN has admitted at least 250,000 starved to death
during this famine with estimates for the victims in Oromia and the
Ogaden running at least this high.
500,000 people starving to death in a couple of years and no outcry
from the world? At one point up to 1,000 people a day, mostly women,
children and the elderly, were dying of hunger and all we got was a
New York Times best seller on the CIA’s “dirty wars” in the Horn of
Africa which somehow failed to condemn this enormous crime.
Ethiopia remains the largest recipient of international, mainly
western aid, in the world. Recently sources in Addis Ababa from within
the offices of the IMF have sent word that Ethiopia’s import bill has
reached almost 12 billion dollars a year while exports are only $2
billion. $10 billion a year in “aid”, “loans” or “investment” make
Ethiopia entirely dependent on foreign good will to survive yet the
world is helpless to prevent the enforced starvation of hundreds of
thousand or over 10 million Ethiopians fleeing their country?
In the past ten years we have seen many reports on over two million
Iraqi refugees and now another more than 2 million Syrian refugees.
Yet more than twice this number of Ethiopian have become refugees and
this fact remains unknown to the world?
When speaking of these crimes I am not speaking in the past tense for
every day some 3,000 Ethiopians flee their homeland, almost 100,000 a
month, another million or more this year. Many flee by boat from the
shores of Somalia, heading for Yemeni shores and hopefully on to safer
lands. How many boats sink with the loss of almost all onboard, or
worse yet, have their passengers thrown overboard while still offshore
will never be known. The international navies that patrol this region
seem to care little for preventing the human trafficking mafias from
carrying out their ghoulish trade, far to busy protecting the
interests of the major shipping lines through these very same waters.
Have you ever heard of a drone strike or commando raid on a human
trafficking headquarters? Are any of these vermin trading in human
misery ever listed on international “Most Wanted” bulletins?
Why should they, for the criminals ruling Ethiopia not only are
allowed to continue business as usual but actually see their cash flow
in the form of “foreign aid and investment” increased by a third since
2010 while at the same time hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians starve
So next time you are confronted by images of lines of corpses along
the shores of Italy remember that this is something that goes on
almost everyday in the Horn of Africa but doesn’t merit comment, let
alone disgust and outrage by those most pious of commentators in the
Thomas C. Mountain is the most widely distributed independent
journalist in Africa, living and reporting from Eritrea since 2006. He
can be reached at thomascmountain_at_yahoo_dot_com