August 10, 2014
August 8, 2014
August 5, 2014
July 30, 2014
The European Union Delegation issues the following statement in agreement with the EU Heads of Mission in Ethiopia: “The EU Delegation is deeply concerned about developments in the case of the ten bloggers and journalists charged under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation on 18 July, as well as recent arrests of opposition members. It calls on the Ethiopian authorities to ensure that proceedings are carried out according to the Ethiopian Constitution and respecting international and regional human rights standards, in particular granting access to legal counsel and family, as well as the right to apply for bail when applicable, and that the trial is transparent and free from political interference. The EU Delegation recalls the European External Action Service statement of 6 May 2014 which underlined the importance of enhancing the political space, particularly in view of the elections next year. It calls on the Ethiopian Government to ensure that the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation is not used to curb freedom of expression or association. The EU Delegation welcomed the additional commitments made by the government of Ethiopia to address areas of human rights concern in the recent Universal Periodic Review process in Geneva and called for early and continuing action to ensure implementation of all of the government’s human rights commitments.”
July 26, 2014
Nine Ethiopian journalists and bloggers, who had been arrested in April, have been charged with terrorism for having links with the US-based Ginbot 7 opposition movement, and for planning attacks. Ginbot 7 is considered a terrorist organisation in Ethiopia.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn denies he is undermining the freedom of the press. “Anyone who is seen and acting within this terrorist network will be eligible for the course of law,” he told reporters. “When you put yourself into this network and you try to become a blogger, don’t think that you are going to escape from the Ethiopian government.”
Who is Gado?
Gado, full name Godfrey Mwampembwa, is one of Africa’s most influential cartoonists. He draws a daily cartoon for Kenyan newspaper The Nation, and his work has appeared in various other publications, such as Le Monde, the Washington Times and the Japan Times.
Gado is also the man behind XYZ, a Kenyan satirical TV show commenting on current affairs and politics in the form of puppets. He was named Kenyan cartoonist of the year in 1999, and received the Dutch Prins Claus Award in 2007.
“I draw because I want to say something. My drawings are my tools,” says the Tanzanian-born cartoonist.
You can check out our whole Cartoon of the week series here.
July 17, 2014
The lawyer for a group of detained Ethiopian bloggers and reporters said Thursday he was filing a civil suit against the country’s police for holding them without charge for nearly three months.
The six members of the blogging collective Zone Nine and three journalists were arrested in April and accused by the government of unspecified “serious crimes”.
Rights groups have condemned the arrests as one of the worst crackdowns on the press in recent years and accuse the Ethiopian government of silencing dissent ahead of national elections next May.
“We are waiting for charges to appear. I’m going to lodge a civil suit against police requesting the court to compel the police to release them,” the lawyer for eight of the suspects, Amaha Mekonnen, told AFP.
He said his clients were currently in legal limbo, because a remand court had closed the case without authorising the police to keep them in jail and without permitting them to be released on bail.
“Their detention is illegal,” Amaha said, adding that he would be filing his challenge on Thursday.
“This is for me a clear campaign from the government to clear the floor so that it’s suitable for the ruling party,” he alleged, saying the investigation was dragging on because the bloggers and journalists were arrested “without sufficient evidence”.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Ethiopia has one of the most closed media environments in the world, with 49 journalists living in exile — the most after only Iran and Somalia.
“Ethiopian authorities are trying to create the impression that this is a legal matter, when in fact it is retaliation and an attempt to silence government detractors,” said the CPJ’s Tom Rhodes.
July 15, 2014
Amhara National Democratic Movement: A TPLF Surrogate and Watchdog Dominated by Tigryans Marching On Unchecked Destroying Amhara
The political organization that is applying into practice Tigray Peoples Liberation Front’s Manifesto in what is now the Amhara Region, where 92% of the population belongs to the Amhara nationality is ANDM. Other than its name it is run and totally controlled by former fighters of the Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement. That was set up by the TPLF and EPLF (Eritrean People’s Liberation front), with the purpose of confusing the Ethiopian people by spreading the notion of deception that their struggle is to liberate the entire population and the country from the bondage of military dictatorship, hegemony and thereby bring democracy.
After the fall of the Mengistu military government, the TPLF, head or lead party of the EPRDF launched successfully pseudo ethnocentric political organizations to run the Apartheid like States on its behalf. Among them, OPDO, SPDO, and ANDM and others were and are given administrative role in the respective states they are assigned to run without decisive political power. ANDM is born out of the Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement that the EPLF and TPLF created to expand their armed struggle beyond Eritrea and Tigray to the rest of Ethiopia. That is why most of its leadership are from Eritrea and Tigray.
Therefore, the former fighters are all Non Amhara and those at the top of the leadership hierarchy of ANDM belong to the Tigray/Tigrigne ethnic group except Adisu Legese. If any one looks at the list of the Executive Committee of the organization, Berket Simeon, Helawi Yoseph, Kasa T/Birhan, Tadese Kasa and the majority of its Central Committee members are all Tigryans. When the TPLF carried out a nationwide conference that led to the present federal arrangement, the only ethnic group that was not represented is Amhara. This fact is even proved in 1991 without a doubt by the deceased former prime minister during an interview on national television. He said, “. . . no one came to us and openly requested to participate in the conference as a representative of the Amhara.” That is why Amhara lost huge chunks of its ancestral territory to Tigray, Oromia, Afar and Benishangul. In other words, the EPDM that didn’t represent the Amhara people and their interest at the above mentioned conference was and is nothing more than an imposition by the TPLF to fill the vacuum and rule what is left of the immensely shrank Amhara provinces.
After jumping to the horse wagon of ruling Amhara, the immediate task of EPDM was to change its color and appear as an Amhara. That is why it changed its name to ANDM. To the unrepresented and dismayed population of Amhara the imposition was and is felt as if the military dictatorship returned with another tone, but with a more sinister and coercive distractive agenda of dismembering Amhara piece by piece beyond recognition.
The regional state has 10 zones. Each one is run by a Tigryan from behind the desk. For example, South Gondar zone is ruled by Hadish Halefom under the guise of Head of Communication Bureau. Yoseph Reta a Tigryan, who was top in the leadership position of ANDM at one moment, led the Amhara state as president for 5 years between 2000 and 2005. Still, even after 23 years of TPLF/ANDM rule anyone who is assigned to any position in state administration must be approved by the TPLF upon the recommendation of Bereket Simeon (Eritrean), Adisu Legese (Oromo/Somali), Kasa T/Birhan (Tigryan), Helawi Yoseph (Eritrean), and Tadese Kasa (Tigryan). Their ok and TPLF’s blessing is a necessary evil to hold office in the Amhara regional state.
Bereket Simeon held the federal office of communication as a minister until last year. At present he is a senior advisor to the prime minister with a rank of minister. As an Eritrean and Tigray Tigrigne by ethnicity, his priority is to make sure TPLF’s interests are protected. After 23 long years of TPLF/ANDM rule, the Amhara region unlike any other state in the country is still led and dominated by Tigryans, because of Bereket’s vigilance and heavy handedness against the Amhara people politically, economically and socially. He personally recruited, trained, assigned and promoted a handful of Amharas who completely sold out their soul to serve the TPLF agenda as traitors to their own kind for personal material gains. Such role of Mr. Bereket is ongoing even as we speak.
This few individuals openly, time and again insult the Amhara people at large by using demeaning words like “chauvinists”, and “remnants of the old system” among others. Recently, head of ANDM’s national headquarter office and the deputy president of Amhara state, named Alemnew Mekonnen who is one of Mr. Bereket’s mouth piece was captured on tape cursing the Amhara people using disgusting language. The incident became an issue both in Ethiopia and in the diaspora community. In Bahirdar the capital of Amhara, Unity party held a demonstration attended by thousands of angry citizens denouncing the TPLF/ANDM official and demanded his resignation. Unfortunately in today’s Ethiopia expressing hatred towards Amharas or evicting and deporting them is a way of getting a promotion. For example, Shiferaw Shigute former leader of the Southern state became minister of Education after he forced and deported thousands of Amharas from Guraferda district a couple of years ago.
Bereket is one of the central figures in the TPLF movement in wiping out the Gondar Amhara population from Welkaite, Tsegede, and Tselemt. Bereket’s role in handing over the mentioned Amhara districts to Tigray is not only in favor of advancing Tigray’s territorial advance, and expansion, but also to make sure Amhara no longer has a common border with his country of origin, Eritrea. His next agenda is to lay the frame work that through speedy Tigryan settlement, the population balance in Quara, Metema and Armachiho switches in favor of Tigryans over Amharans, and there by facilitate their smooth incorporation to the Tigray state. Mr. Bereket’s role in this TPLF policy aspirations is to realize the future Greater and Independent Tigray state territorially stretching up to the Grand Renaissance Dam (in Metekel Amhara, now transferred to TPLF’s created Benishangul state). That is why all these years he chose with purpose not to intervene and stop in the country the wide spread and brutal discrimination of the Amhara population characterized by massacres, evictions and deportations among others.
Kasa T/birhan is chairman of the Federation council and vice chairman of the Meles Foundation. On the 118th year anniversary of the victory of the battle of Adwa, he traveled to the spot and promised that a state of the art museum glorifying the sacrifice of the people of Tigray will be built soon. Surprisingly enough, kasa didn’t even mention the sacrifice of the rest of the Ethiopian people under the leadership of Emperor Menilik. This Tigryan top leader of ANDM simply reflected TPLF’s denial of Ethiopian history.
His office keeps on giving a green light to regional states in the federation to step by step evict and deport every Amhara and eventually become Amhara free Bantustan like states. This is the guy that TPLF uses as a front man and negotiator when interethnic problems arise in the country. Yes, he kept on travelling from place to place talking about nations and nationalities. But not even once attempted to peacefully resolve the plight of Amharas who continue to be victims of organized and forced eviction and deportation. Why should he? After all, the persecution of Amharas is officially sanctioned by the TPLF/ANDM government to destroy Amhara and Mr. Kasa is one of the Tigryans who drafted the policy.
Adisu Legese, another non Amhara top leader of ANDM was president of the Amhara state for 8 years from 1992 to 2000. Then deputy prime minister and now director of the TPLF/EPRDF cadre training institute as well as chairman of the so called Federal Support Board. Adisu recently traveled to Benishangul and gave a serious warning to the state’s handling of the killing of Tigryans in Asosa. Before he left, Adisu also gave a strict order that the Benishangul state, police, militia and other security apparatus must protect Tigryans and their interests at all costs and vigilantly more than anything else.
However, as the former president of Amhara, top leader of ANDM, Adisu who has a senior role in the federal government, didn’t even once intervened to stop the massacre and eviction of Amharas from other Ethiopian states since his party was imposed on the Amhara Regional state. He played a key role in the 2007 census that officially stated the missing of 2.4 million Amharas. He defended the report and strongly criticized opponents in parliament. As chairman of the census committee he is responsible for the false count that resulted in the reduction of federal budget allocation to the state. As a result of which the Amhara state was financially constrained from performing much needed development oriented activities.
Mr. Adisu is also using his position in the so called Federal Support Special Board by encouraging ethnocentric parties to enforce the TPLF policy of Amhara deportations from the regional states they run. As chairman of the board, he facilitates the flow of the necessary finance and security personnel to an official in the ministry of federal Affairs, by the name Shanko Dessalegne (with the rank ofHigher Advisor) whose job is to advance the eviction and deportation process of Amharas from the South, Oromia, Somali, Gambella, Afar, Harere, and Benishangul states. In this TPLF/EPRDF government policy that aims at creating Amhara free regional states, Mr. Adisu plays a key and central role in the intensified persecution process of the regime against the Amhara population.
Why is there a heavy presence of the Federal police in the Amhara region than all other states combined? In Amhara they provide security for every government bureau and ANDM offices. The security detail of all top regional and ANDM personnel belong to the Federal Police. The reason is that, the Tigryan and Non Amhara dominated ANDM has no trust and confidence on members of Amhara state police and militia. The latter are reduced to the level of a local supermarket guard.
For example in May 2013, a Non Amhara member of the Federal Police committed mass killings in Bahirdar, execution style. During the horrific incident Amhara police officers and militia forces in the vicinity were watching the crime as by standers, instead of taking action to stop and protect the 12 innocent Amharas who were gunned down without mercy in cold blood. Also, Amhara eviction and deportation victims unanimously testify and accuse that the Federal Police was and is actively taking part during forced and illegal displacements. The chief perpetrator in this regard is Hassan Shiffa a senior TPLF member, who is in charge of the force since its establishment in 1991.This is another proof that ANDM doesn’t have the interest of the Amhara people and the regional state at its disposal.
If you go down the administrative structure, the most important towns in Amhara are run by Tigryans as mayors. For example Gondar’s mayor is Getnet Amare, the mayor of Woldiya is Tsehaye Mengesha, and the mayor of the industrial town of Kombolcha is Abere Abera. Tana Beles Sugar Project’s senior official assigned to eliminate Amhara settlements from the Alefa Tacusa district of Gondar which is transferred to the Awi Zone and replace Amhara settlements and communities by Tigryan and Agew new settlers is Adgoy Mekuria who also call himself Adgeh.
This individual is handpicked by Abay Tsehaye, TPLF chief architect of Amhara displacement and deportation from Welqite and Alefa Tacusa in the name of advancing sugar projects. For example, Mr. Adgoy admitted on Amhara TV, 60,000 people or 12,000 Amhara families are uprooted from Tana Beles to make way for the sugar plantation and the construction of 2 sugar processing plants. But in his statement he didn’t mention about the new non Amhara settlers whom he and the TPLF strong man Abay Tsehaye introduced to the area at the expense of Amhara evictions to reverse the makeup of the population.
The number of forced out Welqite Amharas from their ancestral homeland in the Zarima and Waldeba monastery area for another sugar project is kept top secret by the TPLF, which continues committing a hidden and silent genocide against the whole Welqite population. This led to the incorporation of 3 Amhara Gondar districts namely Welqaite, tsegede and Tselemt into the Tigray state. Now, a modern asphalt road is under construction connecting Shire, a town in Tigray with Zarima and Adi Arqai in Gondar with the big purpose of totally incorporating the Amhara lands of the Simien Mountains to the Tigray state.
In this regard, the TPLF established a smartly grouped civic organization called “Population Health Environment Ethiopia Consortium” or PHE Ethiopia led by its political activist Negash Teklu. The aim of this group is to get funds from the international community by pretending to advocate the urgent need of saving the Simien Mountains from human encroachment. The hidden agenda of the PHE Ethiopia group is to do all the necessary preemptive ground work of ridding the area from long standing Gondar Amhara settlements recorded since time immemorial.
Already, they dislocated and evicted Amharas from the Arkuazye settlement. Now they are in the process of eliminating the more than 600 year old Amhara settlement and community of Geeche. It is heart breaking to see the mountain life style of Amhara destroyed by TPLF/ANDM and PHE Ethiopia’s genocidal policy unleashed against all Amharas without reservation. This signals the beginning and end of the very existence of Amhara from the face of Ethiopia. Because, this particular eviction and deportation is taking place in the heart of Amhara just like what happened in Welkaite, Tsegede, and Tselemt and not from other regional states .Thus, I am afraid to say that the only memory of Geeche will only remain in the BBC television documentary.
Therefore, ANDM and its top leadership are working hand in hand with the consortium to evict 40,000 Amharas from the world famous Simien Mountains using international fund obtained with false premises. The final objective of this process of eviction or relocation in their own words is to guarantee the realization of Tigryan state’s territorial ambitions and expansion scheme on Debarq, Jan Amora, Beyeda, and Adi Arqai (which is already and unofficially under the control of Tigryan state administration).
So far many Ethiopians and Amharas inside the country itself and in the diaspora failed to stop the further territorial expansion of TIGRAY at the expense of Gondar AMHARA. Apart from Welqaite, Tsegede, Tselemt, Ofla and Alamata, the Adwa extremist group of TPLF led by the now deceased prime minister and Abay Tsehaye used heavy political and military muscle, to take control of Ras Dashen the tallest mountain in the country, and the surroundings of Abdurafee. Most of the sesame and cotton plantations in Metema and western Armachiho now a days belong to Tigryans attached to the TPLF. In these two districts a Tigryan settler holds up to 10 hectare of land while the right full Amharas are forced by the regional government to lease not more than one hectare of farmland or forced out of their ancestral lands to make way for the Tigryan settlers altogether.
These so called Tigryan investors, facilitate and orchestrate the influx of hundreds of thousands of settlers from Tigray with the objective of reversing the population balance in favor of the Tigryan ethnicity over the Amhara. This strategy has already transformed the mentioned fertile Gondar districts to have more of a Tigryan identity. For example Tigryan settlers in Abdurafee and Metema officially demanded the Federation council chaired by Kasa T/birhan to join with Tigray state out of Amhara. Since, ANDM as a policy encourages Tigryan investment and settlement throughout the Amhara state, Mr. Kasa T/Birhan will eventually agree to their request.
ANDM also hires Tigryan fresh college graduates in various regional, zonal, town and local government bureaus, while Amhara youth who completed their higher education either are left to become destitute or turn into daily laborers. Take Kombolcha and Debre birhan towns for example. Because of recent influx of large number of Tigryans, the two industrial towns make you feel like as if you are in Mekelle or Adwa. In June, 2014 Debre birhan residents voiced their concern that the young people of the town are overlooked in favor of the new arrivals when it comes to job opportunities during a public meeting, but the town’s mayor and the chief administrator of the zone couldn’t even explain or give a simple answer. Whereas, Amharas are forced out or evicted from other regional states as if Ethiopia is not their country, leave alone settle and hold employment, Tigryans enjoy all kinds of opportunities anywhere in Ethiopia as first class citizens. Such is how ANDM operate as a TPLF instrument all over to destroy the wellbeing of the Amhara people.
In June of this year, a delegation of ANDM led by Gedu Andargachew president of the Amhara Region who continues denying about the Ethiopian territory transferred to Sudan from Gondar, visited the boarder districts of Quara, Metema and Western Armachiho. In Abrehajira, capital of western Armachiho, the public protested Tigray state’s bold territorial annexation of their land in the surroundings of Abdurafee, and demanded an explanation. They also mentioned that the modern road being built stretching from Shire Tigray up to the town of Abdurafee in Armachiho, under the supervision of the Tigray regional government, is in violation of the current boarders of the Amhara state. But as usual Mr.Gedu avoided the issue purposely and jumped to other cases not related with the inhabitants concern and request.
All these measures are taken with the green light of the Tigryan led “Amhara National Democratic Movement” which, openly works with the Adwa group of the TPLF to break the political will, economic base, and cultural back bone and finally destroy the wellbeing of the Amhara community at large. Such tactic worked perfectly well in Welqaite and Tsegede, where the indigenous Amhara population is now officially a minority, replaced by 500,000 Tigryan settlers who call the Amhara districts their home. According to a sound information, since TPLF began ethnic cleansing against the local population, today, there are more people of Welqaite and Tsegede origin living in the US, Australia, and elsewhere than in Ethiopia’s Gondar region illegally controlled by heavily armed Tigryan recent settlers and ruled by TPLF.
Under the 23 years of ANDM rule, the Amhara regional state recorded the highest infant mortality, death rate or lowest life expectancy, and the per capita income as well as the standard of living is at the tail end compared to all other regional states of the country. The only place in Ethiopia where an intensive and coordinated campaign of sterilization of people in the reproductive age is conducted in Amhara as a policy by the TPLF led government to keep the population in check. As a result Amhara has the largest number of the old generation and the lowest number of youth in Ethiopia. The data that anyone can see from the publications of Ethiopia’s central statistics office confirm that Amhara is the least developed and the poorest region in Ethiopia and Africa as a whole. Even Aljazeera, recently aired a documentary that stated firmly that Amhara is the poorest region in Africa.
Therefore, ANDM, led and controlled by the Tigray/Tigrigne group is marching on, unchecked subduing and destroying the Amhara people as enshrined in TPLF’s and EPLF’s Directives and Manifestos. In this regard, it is the firm belief of many Ethiopians in the country and in the diaspora community, that the Amhara population are left with no other option but to wake up, organize themselves and defend their wellbeing and very survival without hesitation.
Finally the writer of this informative article poses a question to all Ethiopians and in particular to anyone who has an Amhara ancestral roots, “By standing on the side line, are you going to allow the piece by piece dismantling of Gondar and the rest of Amhara to continue until it is no more, or, are you going to do something about it by stopping the TPLF/ANDM conspiracy before it is too late”?
July 11, 2014
Ethiopian Muslims continue nation wide protest against Ethio. Government at Nur Mosque. July11, 2014
July 10, 2014
By Guest writer:
Needless to say, the tyrants in Addis Ababa have opened a new chapter that may or may not change the course of history when it comes to Ethiopian politics and possibly that of the region. It also remains to be seen whether this is an act of timely calculated risk or blind act. However, one also may speculate, based on past experience, the current phenomenon is nothing but a continuation of irresponsible and treacherous act of violence against innocent citizens, be it that of journalist, persons of the Amhara, Afar, Ogaden Somalis ethnic groups; opposition members, Oromo students and remotely situated minority tribes, such as the Anwak and other Omo-valley tribesmen who possess fertile lands.
Kidnapping opposition members/leaders or anyone that was seen as a threat to the statuesque in Addis Ababa has been a common practice by the government of Ethiopia. In 2007 Tesfahun Chemeda and Mesfin Abebe, both of whom are member of the Oromo ethnic group and refugees in Kenya at the time of their abduction by Ethiopian and Kenyan security officers. They both were eventually snatched back to Ethiopia and thrown into the notorious ‘MAIKELAWI’ prison with allegation that they were members of OLF (Oromo Liberation Front). Tesfahun Chameda died in 2013 while still in prison allegedly due to torture and malnutrition. Another man who is serving life in Ethiopian prison since 2006 is Bashir Makhtal. He is of Ethiopia’s Ogaden somlai ethnic and a citizen of Canada. He was a business man by profession. He too was kidnapped in Kenya and was taken to Ethiopia. If you wonder what his crime was: just an allegation that he might be a member of ONLF (Ogaden National Liberation Front). There was also the case of Sulub Ahimed and Ali Hussein, members of the Ogaden National Liberation Front. They both were in Kenya upon accepting an invitation by Kenyan Government which claimed to mediate peace talk with their Ethiopian counterpart in January 26, 2014. They too were kidnapped by Kenyan security officers who were allegedly bribed hundreds of thousand dollars by Ethiopian government. Their whereabouts is unknown to this day. Followed was the abduction of Okello Akoy in Southern Sudan with the collaboration of Ethiopian masked security officers and Southern Sudan police force. Mr. Akoy, the former president of the Gambella region of Ethiopia, defected early and fled to Norway where he took citizenship, in opposition to a massacre of innocent members of the Anwak tribesmen by the locals orchestrated by Ethiopian security force.
The abduction, detention and possibly repatriation back to Ethiopia of G7 (Ginbot 7) general secretary Andargachew Tsige is just a continuation of such treacherous act by the government of Woyane in Ethiopia. What makes this recent act exception is the fact that it took place outside of the continent of Africa. Mr Tsige was in transit at Yemen’s Sanaa airport waiting for his next flight to Eritrea when he was abducted by Yemeni’s security officers. Mr Tsige is a renowned political figure both within Ethiopia and the Ethiopian diaspora.
What we should and must pay attention to is the fact that almost each country that was involved in these abductions broke either local or international or both laws. None of the abductees were given a chance of due process to determine whether there is legal ground for their detention and eventually repatriation to Ethiopia. They were not represented by any lawyer nor even given an opportunity to be heard.
We also have to pay attention to the fact that most of these abductees were citizen of other nations, not Ethiopia. Hence if there is legal ground to deport them, it should be to the country of their citizenship. Though they were born in Ethiopia, according to Ethiopia’s current law; one losses citizenship automatically once one becomes a citizen of other nation. Here we are also talking about jurisdiction. Kenya, South Sudan or Yemen for that matter could arrest a foreign citizen if he/she is found committing a crime in either one of these countries.
Now, we should also extend responsibility to the nations where these individuals are citizen of and to that of the international community. These nations did not interfere in the abduction of their citizens, nor did they attempt to halt their repatriation to Ethiopia. The only case that I remember of where these foreign nationals did help their citizen is when they interfered in the arrest of two Swedish citizens (both of whom are white) who were abducted by Ethiopian government in the Ogaden region and thrown to Ethiopian prison. I wonder if there is racial diamension to this.
The international community too failed to do anything about these abductees and other form of arrest and killings of innocent Ethiopians who number in thousands ever since the Woyane came to power. Every single day, there is a killing of Ethiopian citizens by its (Ethiopian government) brute security, police and military forces. The regions of Oromo, Amhara, Afar, Benshangul Gumuz and others have witnessed such ethnic cleansing act by its squads. We also witnessed mass arrest and killing of Ethiopian Muslims whose crimes was nothing other than holding peaceful demonstrations in Addis Ababa, Jima, Desie and other cities in the country. Today, there are thousands of political prisoners throughout the country; among them journalists, legal opposition members and leaders, peaceful demonstrators and etc.
It seems to me that if one is black and/or Muslim, one is irrelevant to the international community and it’s so called democracy and rule of law. Hence, at the end of the day, the solution has to come from within us, blacks and/or Muslims. We have to come together for our own sake; for the continuation of our survival and that of our country, Ethiopia!!! The question is: what is to be done?
We have tried peaceful process to voice for the voiceless. We stood in lines in rain and sun asking for our rights. We rallied in thousands peacefully, yet the response we got was either prison or bullets. We lost so many and continue to lose so many more of our brothers, sisters, fathers sons and daughters. It is our birth right to live on this earth in peace with respect and dignity. Nobody can take them away nor give them to us. They belong to all of us humans. If we cannot live with our birth rights, there is no meaning to continue living. We should hold hands and rise up!! Let’s once more sing, “Ye Oromo Amaraw Yetigrew bemulu; le democracy membet satinetatelu, bereat angibachehu bandinet tagelu”
Yes, I am advocating for armed struggle. You don’t have to belong to any organization; it is something you can do on your own, just like Boko Haram! I hate what Boko Haram does, but I must admit I admire the methodology it uses: no organization, no leader, and each strike on his own. If you catch one, that is where the story ends, you have no lead. You cannot infiltrate it because it is not an organization. You can act like Boko Haram against Ethiopian killing machines and its collaborators such as state media persons, bankers, businessmen, diplomats, cadres, beneficiaries and etc., in Ethiopia or in the diaspora. Yes, you can make any place hell for them. Your strike should also include officials and diplomats of those nations who collaborated with the junta in Addis Ababa by abducting our fellow countrymen.
We must be careful of innocent bystanders, children, and women. We also have to be careful of starting ethnic conflict. This is not to be something against the Tigrean ethnic group; it is against those who are using the name of the group to advance their own power monger interest. Remember, the ordinary Tigreans are as victims as all of us!! If we don’t do this, we are nothing but an average terrorist.
Yes, those of you who believe that you could be more effective if you operate under organization, it is your prerogative. Join, OLF, G7, ONLF and etc. Those of you who believe there is still room for peaceful dialogue; it is also your prerogative. But you need to work harder. You need to be creative because it seems that the international community is not getting it; or I should say, they don’t care because you are black and/or Muslim. Remember, it is the USA, Israel and British who have been funding and training Ethiopia’s brutal security and police force. Remember, it is USA’s weapons and machinery that were used to massacre the over 200 young men and women (most of whom were under 18) in the streets of Addis Ababa during the 2005 election. It is these nations and other so called western democracies that have been arming it (Ethiopian Government) toe to hair. It is also the Chines who have been involved in assisting Ethiopia’s brute security force in using the internet to surveillance citizens and block free press that happened to differ from the ruling junta when it comes to their political view point. Whatever it is you chose to do, I wish us the best.
STRIKE, STRIKE HARD IF YOU WISH YOUR CHILDREN TO SEE A BETTER TOMORROW
July 7, 2014
It’s 30 years since Ethiopia’s famine came to attention in the UK. Now, a farmer plans to sue Britain for human rights abuses, claiming its aid has funded a government programme of torture and beatings as villagers have been removed from their homes
“Life was good because the land was the land of our ancestors. The village was along the riverside, where you could get drinking water, go fishing and plant mango, banana and papaya. The temperature there was good and we could feed ourselves.”
This is how Mr O – his name is protected for his safety – remembers the home he shared with his family in the Gambella region of Ethiopia. The fertile land had been farmed for generations, relatively safe from wars, revolutions and famines. Then, one day, near the end of 2011, everything changed. Ethiopian troops arrived at the village and ordered everyone to leave. The harvest was ripe, but there was no time to gather it. When Mr O showed defiance, he says, he was jailed, beaten and tortured. Women were raped and some of his neighbours murdered during the forced relocation.
Using strongarm tactics reminiscent of apartheid South Africa, tens of thousands of people in Ethiopia have been moved against their will to purpose-built communes that have inadequate food and lack health and education facilities, according to human rights watchdogs, to make way for commercial agriculture. With Orwellian clinicalness, the Ethiopian government calls this programme “villagisation”. The citizens describe it as victimisation.
And this mass purge was part bankrolled, it is claimed, by the UK. Ethiopia is one of the biggest recipients of UK development aid, receiving around £300m a year. Some of the money, Mr O argues, was used to systematically destroy his community and its way of life. Now this lone subsistence farmer is taking on the might of Whitehall in a legal action; a hearing took place in the high court in London last Thursday, but judgment on whether the case can go ahead has been reserved. Mr O and his legal team now await a decision on permission from the judge, who will declare whether there is an arguable case that can go forward to a full hearing.
“The British government is supporting a dictatorship in Ethiopia,” says Mr O, speaking through an interpreter from a safe location that cannot be disclosed for legal reasons. “It should stop funding Ethiopia because people in the remote areas are suffering. I’m ready to fight a case against the British government.” The dispute comes ahead of the 30th anniversary of famine in Ethiopia capturing the world’s gaze, most famously in Michael Buerk’s reports for the BBC that sparked the phenomena of Band Aid and Live Aid. Now, in an era when difficult questions are being asked about the principle and practice of western aid, it is again Ethiopia – widely criticised as authoritarian and repressive – that highlights the law of unintended consequences.
Mr O is now 34. He completed a secondary-school education, cultivated a modest patch of land and studied part-time at agricultural college. He married and had six children. That old life in the Gambella region now seems like a distant mirage. “I was very happy and successful in my farming,” he recalls. “I enjoyed being able to take the surplus crops to market and buy other commodities. Life was good in the village. It was a very green and fertile land, a beautiful place.” So it had always been as the seasons rolled by. But in November 2011 came a man-made Pompeii, not with molten lava but soldiers with guns. A meeting was called by local officials and the people were told that they had been selected for villagisation, a development programme the government claims is designed to bring “socioeconomic and cultural transformation of the people”.
Mr O says: “In the meeting the government informed the community, ‘You will go to a new village.’ The community reacted and said, ‘How can you take us from our ancestral land? This is the land we are meant for. When a father or grandfather dies, this is where we bury them.'”
The community also objected to the move because they feared ethnic persecution in their proposed home and because the land would not be fertile enough to farm. “Villagisation is bad because people were taken to an area which will not help them. It’s a well-designed plan by the government to weaken indigenous people.”
The army used brutal means to force the villagers to resettle. Mr O says he witnessed several beatings and one rape, and he knows of several women who contracted HIV as a result. Some people simply disappeared. He claims to have witnessed soldiers, police and local officials perpetrating the abuses. The villagers, including Mr O and his family, found themselves in a new location in Gambella. He says there was no food and water, no farmland, no schools and no healthcare facility. Jobs, and hope, were scarce.
So in 2012 he dared to return to his old village and tried to farm his land. It was a doomed enterprise. In around April, he claims, he was caught and punished for encouraging disobedience among the villagers. Soldiers dragged him to military barracks where he was gagged, kicked and beaten with rifle-butts, causing serious injuries. He was repeatedly interrogated as to why he had come back. “I went to the farm and was taken by soldiers to military barracks and locked in a room,” Mr O recalls. “I was alone and beaten and tortured using a gun. They put a rolled sock in my mouth. The soldiers were saying: ‘You are the one who mobilised the families not to go to the new village. You are also inciting the people to revolution.’ Other people were in different rooms being tortured, some even killed. Some women were raped. By now they have delivered children: even now if you go to Gambella, you will meet them.” He reflects: “I felt very sad. I had become like a refugee in my homeland. They did not consider us like a citizen of the country. They were beating us, torturing us, doing whatever they want.”
In fear for his life, Mr O fled the country. The separation from his wife and children is painful. He communicated indirectly with them last year through a messenger. “I am sad. The family has no one supporting them. I am also sad because I don’t have my family.”
But such is the terror that awaits that, asked if if he wants to return home, he replies bluntly: “There’s nothing good in the country so there is nothing that will take me back.”
Modern Ethiopia is a paradox. A generation after the famine, it is hailed by pundits as an “African lion” because of stellar economic growth and a burgeoning middle class. One study found it is creating millionaires at a faster rate than any other country on the continent. Construction is booming in the capital, Addis Ababa, home of the Chinese-built African Union headquarters. Yet the national parliament has only one opposition MP. Last month the government was criticised for violently crushing student demonstrations. Ethiopia is also regarded as one of the most repressive media environments in the world. Numerous journalists are in prison or have gone into exile, while independent media outlets are regularly closed down.
Gambella, which is the size of Belgium, has a population of more than 300,000, mainly indigenous Anuak and Nuer. Its fertile soil has attracted foreign and domestic investors who have leased large tracts of land at favourable prices. The three-year villagisation programme in Gambella is now complete. A 2012 investigation by Human Rights Watch, entitledWaiting Here for Death, highlighted the plight of thousands like Mr O robbed of their ancestral lands, wiping out their livelihoods. London law firm Leigh Day took up the case and secured legal aid to represent Mr O in litigation against Britain’s international development secretary, whom it accuses of part-funding the human rights abuses.
Mr O explains: “The Ethiopian government is immoral: it is collecting money on behalf of poor people from foreign donors, but then directing it to programmes that kill people. At the meeting, the officials said: ‘The British government is helping us.’ Of all the donors to Ethiopia, the British government has been sending the most funds to the villagisation programme. “I’m not happy with that because we are expecting them to give donations to support indigenous people and poor people in their lands, not to create difficult conditions for them. They should stop funding Ethiopia because most of the remote areas are suffering. The funds given to villagisation should be stopped.” Mr O did not attend last week’s court hearing at which Leigh Day argued that British aid is provided on condition that the recipient government is not “in significant violation of human rights”. It asserted that the UK has failed to put in place any sufficient process to assess Ethiopia’s compliance with the conditions and has refused to make its assessment public, in breach of its stated policy.
“There are credible allegations of UK aid money contributing to serious human rights violations,” states Leigh Day’s summary argument. “In particular, there is evidence that the ‘villagisation’ programme is partly funded by the defendant’s payments into the promotion of basic services programme.” The concerns have led to a full investigation by the World Bank, it adds.
Rosa Curling, a solicitor in the human rights department at Leigh Day, says: “It’s about making sure the money is traced. When you’re handing over millions of pounds you have a legal responsibility to make sure the money is being used appropriately. The experience of the village is absolutely appalling. We’re saying to the Department for International Development (DfID), please look at this issue properly, please follow the procedure you said you would follow, please talk to the people who’ve been affected. Look at what happened to Mr O and his village. They haven’t done that.”
Mr O offered to meet British officials, she adds, but they decided his refugee camp was too dangerous. He offered to meet them in a major city, but still they refused. “They haven’t met anybody directly affected by villagisation.” Curling urges: “If you’ve got money, trace it and put conditions on it so it’s not being used like this. It completely defeats the point of aid if it’s being used in this way. We’re talking about millions of British pounds.”
The view is echoed by Human Rights Watch. Felix Horne, its Ethiopia and Eritrea researcher, says: “Given that aid is fungible, DfID does not have any mechanism to determine how their well-meaning support to local government officials is being used in Ethiopia. They have no idea how their money is being spent. And when they are provided [with] evidence of how that money is in fact being used, they conduct seriously flawed assessments to dismiss the allegations, and it’s business as usual.
“While they have conducted several ‘on the ground’ assessments in Gambella to ascertain the extent of the abuses, they have refused to visit the refugee camps where many of the victims are housed. The camps are safe, easy to access, and the victims of this abusive programme are eager to speak with DfID, and yet DfID and other donors have refused to speak with them, raising the suspicion that they aren’t interested in hearing about abuses that have been facilitated with their funding.”
DfID is set to contest the court action, denying that any of its aid was directly used to uproot Mr O or others affected by villagisation. A spokesman says: “We will not comment on ongoing legal action. The UK has never funded Ethiopia’s resettlement programmes. Our support to the Protection of Basic Services Programme is only used to provide essential services like healthcare, schooling and clean water.” Shimeles Kemal, the Ethiopian government’s state minister of communications, was unavailable for comment.