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Ethiopia: Oromia: The leader of the Oromo Federalist Congress Professor Merera Gudina has been released. #OromoProtests January 17, 2018

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Professor Merera Gudina's speech after the court of Ethiopia denied him hearing. #OromoProtests

OMN: Dura Taa’aan KFO Dr. Mararaan Hidhaa Bahan (LIVE) Amajjii 17, 2018

Click here for Photos: Oromia erupts as Ethiopia govt frees Merera Gudina, Africa News.


Ethiopia releases opposition leader Merera Gudina | Africanews

Ethiopian opposition leader Merera Gudina has been freed after more than a year in detention.

Merera becomes the first ‘political prisoner’ to be released since Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced on 3 January that the government will pardon several convicted politicians and those with cases in court in a bid to foster national cohesion.

Prison authorities told his family that he was released on Wednesday morning and allowed to go back home.

Merera, the leader of the Oromo Federalist Congress, has been in prison since December 2016 and was facing multiple charges, including association with terrorist groups. He denied the charges.

Free at last! Jailed opposition leader in Dr Merera Gudina freed after more than a year in detention.

Influential media portal, Addis Standard tweeted a letter (issued in Amharic) which stated that the charges had been dropped ‘for the benefit of the public and the government’.

A letter announcing to discontinue the multiple criminal charges brought by federal prosecutors against Dr. has been issued by the attorney general Getachew Ambaye. It stated charges were dropped “for the benefit of the public and the government.” cc: @Belay_Ma

Earlier this month, the government said it would pardon and drop the cases against more than 500 prisoners.

The announcement followed more than two years of anti-government protests that have rocked the country, with demonstrators calling for political and economic reforms and an end to state corruption and human rights abuses.

Ethiopia had always denied that there were any political prisoners in the country, as alleged by human rights and opposition groups.


Prominent Ethiopian opposition leader Merera Gudina has been released from prison after more than a year in detention. more at  aljazeera.com



Ethiopie, Merera Goudina libéré de prison


BBC: Merera Gudina, Ethiopia opposition leader, freed

Ethio
Image captionHuge crowds welcomed Mr Merera home

Jailed Ethiopian opposition leader Merera Gudina has been freed after more than a year in detention.

The leader of the Oromo Federalist Congress was released on Wednesday morning and allowed to go home, where he was welcomed by thousands of people.

He has been in prison since December 2016 and was facing charges, including association with terrorist groups.

The Ethiopian government announced on Monday that it would drop charges against more than 500 suspects.

Human rights groups have long accused Ethiopia of refusing to allow opposition groups to operate freely.

The government has denied holding any political prisoners but says the releases will foster national debate and “widen the political sphere”.

Those being freed will first undergo two days of “rehabilitation training”, the government says.

At the beginning of January, Prime Minster Hailemariam Desalegn announced the government would close Maekelawi – a detention facility in the capital, Addis Ababa, allegedly used as a torture chamber.

Why was Mr Merera arrested?

Mr Merera was arrested in November 2016 at the airport in the capital, Addis Ababa, after he flew in from Brussels.

He had violated Ethiopia’s state of emergency by having contact with “terrorist” and “anti-peace” groups, state-linked media reported at the time.

That month, Mr Merera had criticised the state of emergency in an address to the European parliament.

The government imposed it in October 2016 to end an unprecedented wave of protests against its 25-year rule.

Map of protests and violence in Ethiopia in 2016

More than 11,000 people were arrested, mostly in the Oromia and Amhara regions, which were at the forefront of anti-government protests.

Many in the two regions complain of political and economic marginalisation.

Who else will be freed?

It is still not clear which other politicians will be released.

Ethiopia says it will not free anyone convicted of using force to overthrow the government, destroying infrastructure, murder or causing physical disability.

However, it says it will pardon some of those convicted under the anti-terrorism law.

Critics and human rights groups have accused the government in the past of labelling its opponents, and some journalists, as terrorists.

Rights group Amnesty International says the release of Mr Merera and other prisoners should not be the last.

“Hundreds of prisoners of conscience continue to languish in jail, accused or prosecuted for legitimate exercise of their freedom of expression or simply for standing up for human rights,” Amnesty’s Netsanet Belay said.

Presentational grey line

Five more high-profile Ethiopian prisoners:

Bekele Gerbadeputy chairman of the OFC – arrested together with Dejene Fita Geleta, secretary-general of OFC, and 20 others in connection with the 2015 Oromo protests that resulted in the death of hundreds of protesters.

Andargachew Tsegeleader of Ginbot 7 (designated a terrorist group by Ethiopia) – arrested in 2014 while on transit in Yemen and taken to Ethiopia, where he faces the death penalty after being convicted in absentia. A British national, human rights groups have been pushing for his release.

Andualem Aragievice-president of the Unity for Democracy and Justice party – imprisoned since 2011, and now serving a life sentence on terrorism charges.

Eskinder Negajournalist and blogger – imprisoned since 2011 after criticising the use of anti-terror laws to silence the press. He was subsequently sentenced to 18 years in jail.

Woubshet Taye, journalist and editor – imprisoned since 2011 and sentenced the next year to 14 years in prison for terror-related offences.

 


Ethiopia govt had no business arresting Oromo leader Merera Gudina – E.U. MP

ETHIOPIA

A member of the European Parliament, Ana Gomes, has reacted to the the move by the Ethiopian government to drop charges against leading Oromo politician, Merera Gudina.

According to Gomes, who frequently comments on political ongoings in Ethiopia, Gudina “should never have been jailed.”

The university don who is leader of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) has been under detention for a little over a year. He was arrested in December 2016 after returning from an European trip during which time he addressed the E.U. parliament on the political situation back home.

Upon his arrest, the government said he was picked in connection with having flouted an October 2016 state of emergency imposed to quell spreading anti-government protests predominantly in the Oromia and Amhara regions.

He was eventually charged with terrorism but the offense was later downgraded to multiple criminal charges. The case like that of other political elements has been traveling at a slow pace with prosecutors seeking extensions and introducing fresh evidence.

The MEP also commented on Eskinder Nega, an Ethiopian journalist currently in jail. Eskinder Nega is a brave man, paying for freedom and justice for his country. He is still a political prisoner in Ethiopia. He must be liberated! She said in a tweet.

Nega and a Venezuelan writer and journalist Milagros Socorro have recently been honored by Oxam Novib (PEN Awards 2018). “Eskinder couldn’t receive the award because he is in jail for his journalism works,” blogger Befeqadu Hailu wrote.


Ethiopia has released a handful of prisoners – but nothing else has changed,  Mail & Guardian Africa

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WHO: Tedros Adhanom raised eyebrows with his appointment of Robert Mugabe and new recruitment policies. But the real shocker was his choice of a Russian to head up agency’s tuberculosis fight. January 17, 2018

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The Mugabe appointment “was stupid, but this is a disaster,” said Mark Harrington, executive director of Treatment Action Group. Ahead of the appointment, TAG led an open letter from more than 40 civil society groups asking Tedros to use a transparent, competitive process to choose the next director of the Global TB Program, tasked with fighting the top infectious killer worldwide.

 #NoTedros4WHO

World’s doctor gives WHO a headache


Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus raised eyebrows with his appointment of Robert Mugabe and new recruitment policies. But the real shocker was his choice of a Russian to head up agency’s tuberculosis fight.

 

Illustration by Eva Bee for POLITICO

 

Seven months into his tenure, the early moves of the WHO’s first African chief are stoking a backlash.

His supporters say Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus promised to shake the institution up. The critics, increasingly emboldened, say he’s undermining the World Health Organization’s effectiveness and putting its funding at risk.

The former Ethiopian health minister turned heads with his appointment of Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe as a goodwill ambassador in October. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Tedros — as he prefers to be called by Ethiopian tradition — was eschewing the normal hiring process for U.N. agencies, looking to increase gender and geographical diversity as quickly as possible. That’s unsettled some in the Geneva headquarters and the constellation of activists and researchers who work with WHO, who fear an overly political approach is bringing a culture change at the cost of credibility.

The latest disruptive move is his appointment of a little-known Russian official to run the WHO’s tuberculosis program, using a fast-track process, one month after meeting with President Vladimir Putin at a major gathering on the topic in Moscow.

The Mugabe appointment “was stupid, but this is a disaster,” said Mark Harrington, executive director of Treatment Action Group. Ahead of the appointment, TAG led an open letter from more than 40 civil society groups asking Tedros to use a transparent, competitive process to choose the next director of the Global TB Program, tasked with fighting the top infectious killer worldwide.

Reward for being retrograde

The December nomination of Tereza Kasaeva (an official at the Russian health ministry) prompted an editorial in the medical journal the Lancet, which described it as triggering a “potentially disabling controversy.”

“The domestic situation there is horrible. It’s probably one of the worst outside of Africa on TB infections” — Eduardo Gómez, King’s College London

“Russia has a poor record on TB and HIV,” write the editors of the journal, which is widely seen as the voice of the global health establishment. “Her appointment may be regarded as rewarding a country that does not deserve to be rewarded … WHO’s reputation — indeed, its political leverage — depends on the agency’s technical credibility.”

Russia is widely regarded as retrograde in its approach to treating the infectious disease, having developed a raging outbreak after the breakdown of the Soviet Union. Since 2000 or so, overall incidences are down and survival rates are up, but Russia is still a world leader on the proportion of infections that don’t respond to antibiotics; a recent study predicted one in three cases would be antibiotic resistant by 2040.

Kasaeva replaces Mario Raviglione, a leading TB expert with more than 25 years of experience fighting the bacterial infection.

Tedros says he’s just keeping a campaign promise to overhaul the agency in the wake of its high-profile failure to respond quickly to the 2014 Ebola crisis in West Africa. He is the first African to run the WHO — and the first director general chosen with a vote open to all member countries in May, overcoming what he called a “colonial mindset” among backers of his British rival.

Tedros’ advisers have defended his decision to name Mugabe a goodwill ambassador for noncommunicable diseases less than four months into the job as just a misguided effort to build bridges with a regional giant who, despite human rights violations and a long embrace of the tobacco industry, recently expressed openness to new commitments on health.

The offer was quickly retracted, but not before it triggered international condemnation. An opinion piece in the Washington Post even speculated that it was payback to Mugabe for securing the African Union’s support in the WHO election, or to China for its backing.

Tedros’ first appointments have already transformed the gender and geographic balance within the top ranks, even as they have raised concerns about a closed selection that downplays conventional expertise.

Of eight new directors chosen largely through a fast-track process, including Kasaeva, all but one are women.

Tedros is trying change the recruitment system to eliminate “unconscious biases that make it unfavorable for women to get the positions,” a top Tedros adviser, Senait Fisseha, said in an email. Until that can be accomplished, she said, he had made “limited appointments of diverse and highly qualified women” to move his vision forward.

That’s music to the ears of those who see an endless game of musical chairs that circulates people from one U.N. or international development agency to another. Often that means wealthy Western countries dictating to poorer countries how to deal with their problems in order to receive aid.

Vlad in Geneva

Diversity is a worthy goal, said Global Coalition of TB Activists CEO Blessina Kumar. But it shouldn’t come “at the cost of effectiveness and competency. You can’t trade one for the other,” she said.

“Merit was the first criteria for all appointments, while secondary consideration was given to gender and geographical diversity,” WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said. “Dr. Tedros also sought to appoint qualified people with country-level experience, as a vital complement to the technical expertise that already exists within WHO. This will help to accelerate progress at the country level.”

Kasaeva’s appointment has proved politically volatile both for Russia’s speckled track record in combatting TB, and because it’s seen as playing into Putin’s hands, helping the Russian president project power on the global health stage while he neglects patients back home.

“The domestic situation there is horrible. It’s probably one of the worst outside of Africa on TB infections,” said King’s College London’s Eduardo Gómez, the author of “Geopolitics in Health: Confronting Obesity, AIDS, and Tuberculosis in the Emerging BRICS Economies.”

In 2012, Russia rejected a $127 million grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, stifling many of the groups on the ground. On top of that, the federal government cut domestic TB funding in recent years, according to Gómez.

Nonetheless, in mid-November, Russia pledged $15 million toward fighting TB worldwide during a major U.N. TB conference in Moscow. The foreign aid is a typical Putin move, said Gomez. “This is an opportunity to reassert Russia’s dominance in global health.”

Putin addressed the gathering and met with Tedros. A month later, on December 15, Tedros announced Kasaeva’s appointment in an internal WHO email.

“I can’t see what the upside is other than political payback,” Harrington said.

Backlash on Tedros

Defenders say Russia’s TB program is improving — driven in part by Kasaeva — and that she may be the best hope for getting the country to change.

Vadim Testov, a former WHO official now working on Russia’s TB program, said he’s seen the government’s commitment increase over time, and that it’s “ready to provide” financing to make Russia’s domestic TB fight successful. He noted that new regulations from Kasaeva’s team have led to a sharper decrease in TB cases over the last five years.

Kasaeva “will have influence on Russian officials” in her WHO position, Testov predicted.

Many aren’t sold on Tedros’ new approach and fear that global health will suffer — especially if the WHO’s biggest donors get spooked.

The backlash shows the risks from Tedros’ effort to upend the status quo. Defenders say the same-old same-old at the U.N. hasn’t served patients on Ebola, TB or a range of other issues.

“Whatever we’ve been doing for the last quarter century isn’t working that well,” said Salmaan Keshavjee, a Harvard TB expert who has worked on the ground in Russia with Partners in Health.

He argued that WHO recommendations have in the past been ill-suited to Russia’s circumstances and that homegrown experts from emerging, populous economies may be in a better position to solve their own problems and bring a new perspective to the global effort.

“If you want to hold the BRICS countries’ feet to the fire, they have to be involved in health architecture,” Keshavjee said.

Budget strings

But many aren’t sold on Tedros’ new approach and fear that global health will suffer — especially if the WHO’s biggest donors get spooked.

Though ultimately blocked, U.S. President Donald Trump’s proposal to cut back on foreign aid — announced on May 23, the same day Tedros was elected to lead the WHO — has alarmed many in the organization. The recent controversies drive some worry that other large donors like the U.K. or Germany might be tempted to draw the purse strings tighter.

The U.S. contributes almost a quarter of the WHO’s $4 billion-plus annual budget.

Tedros’ doctorate is in community health, and he served as Ethiopia’s health minister for seven years — winning wide praise for strides in expanding contraception, fighting malaria and, yes, controlling TB.

But it may be his experience as Ethiopia’s top diplomat from 2012 to 2016 that seems most apposite now. During that period, he kept his country in the West’s good graces (and the aid money flowing) despite growing concerns about the regime’s human rights violations, by stressing Ethiopia’s position as a stable, strategic partner in the war on terror.

Tedros’ team includes plenty of conventional choices; Jane Ellison, a Brit, served as something of an olive branch to the WHO’s No. 2 state donor after the U.K. strongly backed its own candidate in a campaign that turned nasty. Tedros also named a German to a long-sought top post after Berlin stepped up donations and raised Tedros’ profile by inviting him to the G20 summit.