July 11, 2014

Ethiopia: End the onslaught on dissent as arrests continue

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 3:11 pm
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The Ethiopian authorities are using a repressive Anti-Terror law as a pretext to crush dissent.The Ethiopian authorities are using a repressive Anti-Terror law as a pretext to crush dissent.

© AFP/Getty Images

These latest detentions add to Ethiopia’s ever-increasing number of journalists, opposition members, activists and other dissenting voices locked up for alleged ‘terrorism’ offences

Claire Beston, Amnesty International’s Ethiopia Researcher
Thu, 10/07/2014


The Ethiopian authorities must halt their continuing onslaught on dissent, Amnesty International said today, after the arrest of four more opposition party members this week, who are believed to be at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.


All four were arrested on 8 July in the capital Addis Ababa and the northern city of Mekele on “terror” accusations: a charge commonly used as a pretext to put dissenters behind bars in Ethiopia.


“These latest detentions add to Ethiopia’s ever-increasing number of journalists, opposition members, activists and other dissenting voices locked up for alleged ‘terrorism’ offences,” said Claire Beston, Amnesty International’s Ethiopia Researcher.


“In the run-up to next year’s general election, the fear is that this number will continue to grow as the government continues its onslaught on dissent. Everyone who has been arrested because of their peaceful expression of dissenting opinions, their blogging activities, membership of a legally-registered political opposition party or participation in peaceful protests must be immediately and unconditionally released.”


Latest arrests and torture concerns


Those arrested on 8 July are: Abraha Desta of the Arena Tigray party, who is also a lecturer at Mekele University; Habtamu Ayalew and Daniel Shebeshi, both members of the Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ) party and Yeshewas Asefa of the Blue Party.


Abraha Desta is believed to be detained in Mekele, in the northern region of Tigray, while the other three have been taken to the Maikelawi federal police detention centre in Addis Ababa.


Blue Party and UDJ members say they tried to visit the men in Maikelawi on 9 July but were not permitted access and were told they could not have contact until the police investigation was concluded.


It is commonplace for detainees in Maikelawi to be denied access to legal representatives and family members in the initial stages of detention. This can last for as long as two or three months and is in violation of Ethiopian and international law. This incommunicado detention significantly increases the risk of detainees being subjected to torture. Political detainees in Maikelawi are frequently subjected to torture during interrogation.


Illegal transfer from Yemen


Also on 8 July, state-run Ethiopian Television (ETV) confirmed that an opposition leader who had disappeared on 24 June in Yemen was being detained in Addis Ababa. Andargachew Tsige, Secretary General of the outlawed Ginbot 7 movement, was illegally transferred from Yemen, and his precise whereabouts in the Ethiopian capital have still not been disclosed. A British national of Ethiopian origin, he continues to be denied access to consular or legal representatives or relatives.


In the broadcast, ETV (the country’s only TV channel) showed footage of Andargachew Tsige looking haggard and exhausted saying his arrest was a blessing in disguise and he just wanted to rest. His wife told Amnesty International that she did not understand what the footage or the message was intended to mean.


There are a number of precedents of the authorities taking footage of defendants in terrorism trials and broadcasting it on ETV. In each case, this violated the individuals’ right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Andargachew Tsige has already been tried on three separate occasions in absentia and sentenced to death as well as life imprisonment.


The same broadcast announced that other opposition leaders had been arrested, based on their contact with Ginbot 7 and Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) – a satellite TV channel broadcast in exile and which the Ethiopian authorities called the “official media of Ginbot 7”. Details of the arrests emerged subsequently.


Ethiopia has previously used alleged contact with Ginbot 7 and ESAT as a reason to imprison and thereby silence other dissenting voices on allegations of terrorism. In 2011, the Ethiopian authorities banned Ginbot 7 as a terrorist organization.


Journalists and bloggers held under Anti-Terrorism Law


Six bloggers from the group Zone 9 and three journalists are also among those detained under the Anti-Terrorism Law in Maikelawi. All nine have been detained without charge since their arrest on 25 and 26 April 2014 for alleged terrorism offences. The deeply flawed Anti-Terrorism Law allows for up to four months’ detention without charge – one of the longest remand periods in the world.


On 9 July, six of the detainees were granted access to visitors for the first time since their arrest two and half months ago. They reported they had been moved from the underground cells in Maikelawi where political detainees are regularly held in the early stages of their detention to a different part of the prison which detainees jokingly call “Sheraton”.


All six said that they have been forced to sign confessions of their alleged crimes. Three had previously complained in court remand hearings that they had been tortured. The court took no action on the allegations.


The remaining Zone 9 members, Abel Wabela and Mahlet Fantahun, and journalist Edom Kasaye, continue to be detained incommunicado.


“The Ethiopian government’s record on respecting the rights of detainees is alarming to say the least,” said Claire Beston.


“All detainees must be granted immediate access to lawyers and family members, must be charged with a recognizable offence or immediately released, and the Ethiopian government must ensure that no-one is ever subjected to torture.”

Amnesty International


July 6, 2014

free web page hit counter Nigerian comentator Adeola takes UK gov’t to task over the kidnapping of Andargachew Tsige

Filed under: Andargachew Tsige — ethiopiantimes @ 1:20 pm
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July 3, 2014

Ethiopia calls for Andargachew Tisge’s trial after arrest in Yemen

Filed under: Andargachew Tsige — ethiopiantimes @ 9:10 pm
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Addis Ababa: Ethiopia said Thursday it wanted to extradite the leader of an outlawed opposition group arrested in Yemen to face terrorism charges.

“He is a criminal, and he definitely will have his day in court,” government spokesman Getachew Reda told AFP.

Andargachew Tsige, secretary general of Ginbot 7 labelled a terrorist organisation under Ethiopian law was arrested while transiting through the airport of Yemen’s capital Sanaa last week, according to a statement from the group.

Yemen’s National Security said he was held because his name was “on a list”, but giving no further details.

Getachew said it would be “the right thing” if Yemen extradited Andargachew, accusing him of plotting terror attacks in Ethiopia.

“He’s the head of a terrorist organisation who has been flaunting his leadership for terror operations inside Ethiopia,” he said.

But Ginbot 7 said Andargachew was detained illegally and called for his release.

“The Yemeni government doesn’t have any right to detain Andargachew, even for an hour,” it said in a statement.

The US-based Ginbot 7 says it is fighting for democracy and freedom in Ethiopia, and has called for the overthrow of the ruling party.

The group vowed to seek retribution if Andargachew, who they called a “freedom fighter”, is extradited to Ethiopia.

“If Andargachew is transferred into the custody of the Ethiopian government, if his life and physical wellbeing is threatened, we will avenge,” it warned, without giving further details.

In 2012 several people were convicted for having links to Ginbot 7, including journalist Eskinder Nega and opposition leader Andualem Arage, who were handed heavy sentences.

The group’s leader, former Addis Ababa mayor Berhanu Nega, lives in exile in the US.

Rights groups have accused Ethiopia of using the anti-terrorism legislation to silence dissent and jail critics, calling the legislation vague and over-reaching.

Yemen detains Ethiopian Andargachew Tsige during transit at airport

Filed under: Andargachew Tsige — ethiopiantimes @ 11:17 am
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WASHINGTON, DC – Yemeni authorities on June 24 arrestedAndargachew Tsige while he was in transit at Sanaa airport, sources said.

Andargatchew Tsige, secretary of Ginbot 7, a rebel group based in Eritrea, arrived in the Yemeni capital aboard Yemenia Airlines. He was waiting for his flight when Yemeni security men whisked him away into detention. Fears are mounting he might be extradited to Ethiopia.

The countries in the region, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Yemen, Sudan, and Djibouti are rogue states they don’t really need ‘extradition treaties’ to hand over political opponents as ‘convicted criminals.’

“Yemen should understand that any harm befalling the human rights, democracy and justice activist Andargatchew Tsige would painfully hurt the interests of the Ethiopian people who are struggling for freedom from life under the brutal TPLF regime,” the rebel group Ginbot 7 said in a statement.

“We call for his immediate release; any attempt to hand over Andargachew to the regime in Addis Ababa would irrevocably damage the age-old relations between Ethiopia and Yemen,” the rebel group said in its press release.

Andargachew’s life was checkered by arrests, tortures, and exiled life before he helped found Ginbot 7, an Eritrea-based armed group vowing to overthrow the regime in Addis by all means possible.

In June 2012, Andargachew, and other top leaders of Ginbot 7, including Ginbot 7 chairman Dr Berhanu Nega, were tried on trumped-up terrorism charges and sentenced to life in absentia.

May 28, 2014

Ethiopian Migrants Held at ‘Torture Camps’

Filed under: Yemen — ethiopiantimes @ 6:34 am
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April 13, 2013

80,000 Ethiopians entered Yemen in 2012 – UNHCR

Filed under: Ethiopia,Yemen — ethiopiantimes @ 6:06 pm
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(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.

February 28, 2012

Ethiopian dictator harbours Yemeni dictator

Filed under: Azeb Mesfin,Ethiopia,Meles Zenawi — ethiopiantimes @ 12:36 pm
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Aides to Ali Abdullah Saleh said Monday that the ousted Yemeni president plans to go into exile in Ethiopia, as pressures mounted on him to depart the country for fear of sparking new cycles of violence.

The news that the longtime Yemeni leader might leave to Ethiopia marks the latest twist in the meandering story of Saleh’s fall from grace.

As rumors have circulated of Saleh seeking refuge in a myriad of countries including Oman, and the United Arab Emirates where some of his family is already setting up residence, the ousted president has lingered on in Yemen, much to the dismay of the man who replaced him, the international officials who facilitated the handover of power, and people on the street who want his head.

The aides said that the former president will leave Yemen within two days along with some of his family members where he will reside in a villa in the suburb of Addis Ababa.

A diplomat in Sanaa confirmed that arrangements had been made for Saleh’s departure for Ethiopia. Aides said that visas have been issued and Saleh’s belongings already shipped to Ethiopia. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Inside the presidential palace there were signs that Saleh’s time in power was at an end.

Witnesses who went inside Monday said a whole hall that used to display precious souvenirs, antiques, golden watches, guns, hunting rifles and other paraphernalia collected under Saleh’s regime, was bare on Monday.

A senior army officer and a presidency employee told AP that the commander of the Presidential Guards, who is also Saleh’s nephew, has ordered his guards to move all the antiques to an undisclosed location. Even alcohol which Saleh used to serve to his western visitors had been carted away, said another employee.

Officials said that Saleh came under heavy pressures from Western and Arab countries to leave the country, upon repeated requests by the newly elected president and transitional government to prevent Saleh from staying in Yemen.

Newly inaugurated President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi was sworn in as president on Saturday following an election aimed at ending more than a year of political turmoil. Hadi was the only candidate. A power-transfer deal backed by the Gulf and U.S. gave Saleh immunity from prosecution in exchange for stepping down.

Saleh’s permanent departure from Yemen was not spelled out in the agreement but it was generally understood by all parties that he would find a new home. The fear was that if he stayed in Yemen permanently he would incite riots of those calling for his prosecution and, his opponents feared he would be able to exert control through his powerful network of well-placed family members and allies.



December 20, 2011

Thousands of Ethiopian Migrants Stranded in Northern Yemen

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 11:40 pm
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The International Organization for Migration says it is concerned and fearful about the fate of thousands of Ethiopian migrants stranded in deplorable conditions for many months in northern Yemen. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from IOM headquarters in Geneva the organization says it has run out of funds to repatriate the migrants.

For more than one year, the International Organization for Migration has been providing critical humanitarian assistance to thousands of Ethiopian migrants stranded in Yemen who want to return home.

The agency so far, has managed to repatriate more than 6,000 migrants. Thousands more are waiting to return, but the International Organization for Migration says, except for a lucky few, it cannot help them because it has run out of money.

IOM spokeswoman Jemini Pandya says thanks to some emergency funding from Saudi Arabia and Japan, the agency will be able to charter three planes to help another group of migrants return home to Ethiopia soon.

“We have had 1,000 migrants travel-ready for some time now, but until we received the stop-gap funding from Saudi Arabia and Japan, we have not been able to take them home,” she said. “In the next few days and weeks, we will be able to help most of them through these three charter flights. Among them are unaccompanied minors and medical cases. And, these medical cases include migrants who have suffered torture at the hands of smugglers, mainly through gunshot wounds or broken limbs.”

The International Organization for Migration is urgently appealing for $2.5 million to assist an additional 6,000 Ethiopian migrants to return home.

In the past year, nearly 18,300 Ethiopian migrants have been registered in the northern Yemeni town of Haradh on the border with Saudi Arabia. Many were returned by Saudi Arabia because of their illegal status.

Every year, tens of thousands of desperate Ethiopians make the perilous journey across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen. They head toward Saudi Arabia in hopes of finding jobs in the Middle East.

Pandya says the vast majority of migrants are living in open, unprotected spaces in the town center without access to food, water, sanitation, shelter, or the means to earn money. She says the instability in Yemen has further marginalized the migrants.

“They have been made even more vulnerable by allegations that they have been recruited by opposing factions to fight,” said Pandya. “Their exhausting ordeal, their exposure to the elements without adequate nutrition and sanitation and their exposure to violence means that many migrants are suffering from diseases and illnesses, from snake bites and are showing signs of mistreatment from smugglers and traffickers. And these include severe burns, broken limbs, gunshot wounds and other physical and sexual assaults.”

The International Organization for Migration reports at least 30 migrants in Haradh have died in the past month, although it believes that figure is probably higher. The agency says the situation is critical and will only get worse the longer the migrants remain stranded along the Yemeni-Saudi Arabian border.

The organization is repeating its call to donors for more money so it can get the Ethiopian migrants home as soon as possible.

September 20, 2011

More than 3,000 Ethiopian migrants stuck on Yemeni-Saudi border

Filed under: Ethiopia — ethiopiantimes @ 8:31 pm
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By Stephanie Nebehay and Katie Nguyen

GENEVA/LONDON (AlertNet) – More than 3,000 Ethiopian migrants who desperately want to go home have been stranded on the Yemeni-Saudi border in extremely difficult conditions for several months, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Tuesday.

The Ethiopians, who are stuck in the town of Haradh, have registered to go home but IOM, which helps with migrant returns and evacuations, does not have enough funds to assist them.

“On Monday, dozens of migrants vented their anger in front of the IOM departure centre in Haradh, demanding to be returned home to Ethiopia, resulting in the arrest of 13 people by authorities for inciting violence,” IOM spokesman Jean-Philippe Chauzy told reporters in Geneva.

One of the poorest Arab countries, Yemen hosts hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants from the Horn of Africa who risk dangerous sea crossings on what they see as a transit route to richer Gulf countries.

Many have been undeterred by months of pro-democracy protests in Yemen where battles raged on Tuesday between armed loyalists and forces opposed to President Ali Abdullah Saleh. At least 62 people have been killed since Sunday when anger boiled over at Saleh’s refusal to accept a mediated plan for him to step down.

IOM said most of the Ethiopians had arrived in Haradh hungry, ill or exhausted by their long trek towards Saudi Arabia.

Faced with tightened border controls by Saudi authorities, many find themselves stranded and dependent on humanitarian aid. In addition, the practice has been for Saudi Arabia to forcibly return some undocumented migrants to Yemen, Chauzy said.

“We are caught between a rock and a hard place,” he added. “The main stumbling block is we have run out of money.”

The agency has already evacuated thousands of migrants from Yemen but needs a further $2.5 million to carry on its programme.

Insecurity has made the situation worse with the airport road impassable and difficulties in scheduling flights out.

IOM has evacuated 5,000 migrants, the overwhelming majority of them Ethiopian, over the past 10 months from Yemen.

May 31, 2011

14 refugees die at smugglers’ hands

Filed under: Ethiopia,Somalia,Yemen — ethiopiantimes @ 9:48 pm
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SANAA, Yemen, May 31 (UPI) — At least 14 refugees died at the hands of smugglers as they traveled from Somalia to Yemen, the United Nations said Tuesday.

The U.N. refugee agency said in a release issued in New York that 10 Ethiopians suffocated when the smugglers crammed them and about 15 others in the boat’s engine room with no ventilation. Survivors claimed the bodies of the dead were tossed into the sea.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said there were reports the boat carried as many as 115 passengers as it set out early Sunday from Bossaso in northern Somalia.

Concerned the Yemeni navy would spot them, the smugglers allegedly forced the rest of the passengers to get out of the boat too far from land and four more people drowned before they could reach shore, the U.N. release said. Two of bodies had been recovered.

“We condemn the unscrupulous and inhuman treatment of refugees and others who are desperately seeking to flee the violence, human rights abuses and seriously debilitating life options in the Horn of Africa,” said Erika Feller, assistant high commissioner for protection

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