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Protests, State Violence, and the Manufacture of Dissent in Ethiopia May 6, 2014

Posted by OromianEconomist in Africa, Africa Rising, America, Colonizing Structure, Corruption, Development, Ethnic Cleansing, Finfinne is Oromia's land, Finfinnee, Finfinnee is the Capital City of Oromia, Finfinnee n Kan Oromoo ti, Free development vs authoritarian model, Genocidal Master plan of Ethiopia, Hetosa, Human Rights, Human Rights Watch on Human Rights Violations Against Oromo People by TPLF Ethiopia, Janjaweed Style Liyu Police of Ethiopia, Knowledge and the Colonizing Structure., Meroetic Oromo, No to land grabs in Oromia, NO to the Evictions of Oromo Nationals from Finfinnee (Central Oromia), Ogaden, Omo, Oromia, Oromia wide Oromo Universtiy students Protested Addis Ababa Expansion Master Plan, Oromian Voices, Oromiyaa, Oromo Culture, Oromo Diaspora, Oromo Protests, Oromo Protests in Ambo, Oromo students protests, Oromo the Largest Nation of Africa. Human Rights violations and Genocide against the Oromo people in Ethiopia, Oromo University students and their national demands, Oromummaa, Say no to the expansions of Addis Ababa, State of Oromia, Stop evicting Oromo people from Cities, The Colonizing Structure & The Development Problems of Oromia, The Tyranny of Ethiopia, Uncategorized.
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Two things happened simultaneously on May 1st, both involving the U.S. State Department and its relation to Ethiopia. Thing one was the State Department’s news program, Voice of America, broadcasting its brief account of Ethiopian security forces firing upon student demonstrations the previous day (April 30) at three universities resulting in 17 dead and many wounded. Thing two was the Secretary of State John Kerry in Ethiopia giving a speech full of praise for Ethiopia’s rapid economic development as well as the U.S.-Ethiopia partnership in addressing the violence against civilians in neighboring Sudan and Somalia. Apparently, Kerry was unaware that the day before, just a two-hour’s drive down the road from where he was speaking, America’s supposed partner, the Ethiopian government, had committed acts of violence against its citizens. In fact, thousands of individuals at universities and in cities across the Oromia region of Ethiopia had been protesting for days, and as the journalist Mohammed Ademo’s article for Think Africa pointed out on Tuesday (August 29), what they were protesting was precisely the consequences of the rapid economic development and foreign direct investment that Kerry praised in his speech – the eviction and displacement of tenant farmers and poor people due to the expansion of the capital city Addis Ababa into the Oromia region.

We might observe a contradiction here within the same State Department. While the State Department’s news program laments an event and clearly points to the root cause, the State Department’s secretary appears ignorant of the event and also strangely unable to discern the causes of ethnic unrest across Africa. An Al Jazeera op-ed responding to Kerry’s speech suggests that the United States fails to see the contradiction in its policy that talks about democracy and human rights but in practice emphasizes security for foreign direct investment (as per the State Department’s own report on such investment in Ethiopia published shortly before Kerry’s visit.) Noticeably, two contradictory ideas are coming out of the State Department simultaneously. What do we make of that contradiction?

Before I answer that question, I might add on to this strange state of affairs by pointing out that Kerry did criticize the Ethiopian government for using repressive tactics against its journalists — the famous Zone 9 bloggers — but what strikes me is that at the very moment that Kerry criticizes the state of journalism in Ethiopia, the mainstream American news outlets such as CNN, National Public Radio, and the NY Times have for a long time neglected to give any serious coverage of the issues within Ethiopia and in fact did not report on the student demonstrations. The only American media mention of the recent student demonstrations and deaths is a very brief Associated Press article that appeared the day after Kerry’s speech (May 2) and that article embarrassingly gets its facts wrong about what happened and why. Such poor journalism is increasingly perceived to be the norm of America’s once celebrated media whose many factual inaccuracies and lack of any genuine will to truth arguably contributed to the Iraq War back in 2003. Curiously, the only news organization in America that did its job (the VOA) is the news organization intended to serve communities outside of America. Moreover, the VOA is part of the very same “department” that Kerry heads. The quality of mainstream American media coverage might seem excusable if it weren’t for the fact that BBC covered these tragic events in Ethiopia reasonably well, first on its radio program immediately after the massacre (May 1st) and then more comprehensively on its website the following day.

Theory Teacher's Blog

Two things happened simultaneously on May 1st, both involving the U.S. State Department and its relation to Ethiopia. Thing one was the State Department’s news program, Voice of America, broadcasting its brief account of Ethiopian security forces firing upon student demonstrations the previous day (April 30) at three universities resulting in 17 dead and many wounded. Thing two was the Secretary of State John Kerry in Ethiopia giving a speech full of praise for Ethiopia’s rapid economic development as well as the U.S.-Ethiopia partnership in addressing the violence against civilians in neighboring Sudan and Somalia. Apparently, Kerry was unaware that the day before, just a two-hour’s drive down the road from where he was speaking, America’s supposed partner, the Ethiopian government, had committed acts of violence against its citizens. In fact, thousands of individuals at universities and in cities across the Oromia region of Ethiopia had been protesting for days, and as the journalist…

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