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PBS Newshour :How my reporting trip to Ethiopia came to an abrupt end August 18, 2016

Posted by OromianEconomist in Famine in Ethiopia, The study of Evil, The Tyranny of TPLF Ethiopia.
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Odaa OromooOromianEconomist

Column: How my reporting trip to Ethiopia came to an abrupt end

BY FRED DE SAM LAZARO, PBS Special Correspondent,  18 August 2016
Women wait to receive food at a distribution center in Gelcha village
Women wait to receive food at a distribution center in Gelcha village, one of the drought stricken areas of the Oromia region in Ethiopia, on April 28. Photo by Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

Women wait to receive food at a distribution center in Gelcha village, one of the drought stricken areas of the Oromia region in Ethiopia, on April 28. Photo by Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

We came to Ethiopia to report on the country’s response to a historic drought. We left with a very different story and a taste of how hard it is for journalists, even those covering what should have been a mostly positive story.

For years, Ethiopia has struggled to shed its association with vast human suffering earned during the epic famine three decades ago.

Gleaming high rises in the capital, Addis Ababa, are testament to what today is one of Africa’s most robust economies. An infrastructure building boom has connected the farthest reaches of this sprawling nation of 100 million people, many of them now covered by a government social safety net.

As a result, even though Ethiopia’s current drought has been far more severe than that in the ‘80s — one-fifth of its population suffers moderate to severe food insecurity — there’s very little of the classic, horrible imagery: the emaciated faces of children with distended bellies, which became the backdrop of those historic famine relief rock concerts.

More hours went by before we finally got our “hearing” before five unidentified men. … Each of us was interviewed separately about exactly what our story was, why we chose to go where we did.

We went to Ethiopia to tell this new story, that drought does not have to lead to famine. Many experts say planning and good governance can greatly mitigate human suffering. Ethiopia’s government has won some kudos for its drought response this time, yet its abysmal record on human rights, its harsh treatment of journalists and political dissidents can hijack attempts to tell this story. And in our case, it did just that.

For foreign correspondents, obtaining a journalist visa requires extensive paperwork, documenting the serial numbers of all equipment down to cell phones, a detailed account of every place to be visited and, once approved — if approved — stern warnings not to deviate from it.

The treatment of Ethiopian journalists is far harsher: some 60 of them have fled into exile since 2010, according to the international group Human Rights Watch.

The morning after we arrived in Addis, armed with all required permits and paperwork, we set off for the Oromia region south of the capital, shooting images of the extensive housing and road projects under construction or newly completed, some images of farmland and finally a small farm whose owners were being trained in business skills while cultivating new specialty crops to help cope with climate vagaries.

It was here where we were summoned by Ethiopia’s “security services” to the police station. It is amusing to reflect now that our first reaction was annoyance: this would rob videographer Tom Adair of the afternoon’s best light. If only that was all we would lose.

About two hours into our wait in a dimly lit office, we were told to surrender all electronic equipment, including cell phones, and our passports. No explanation was offered, only the threat of arrest if we continued to insist, as we did, that our paperwork was in order, that it is illegal to confiscate a passport, especially without a receipt.

“Report to Immigration tomorrow, and you can collect it,” we were instructed by a plainclothesman who never introduced himself. That meant a six-hour journey back to the capital and to a building teeming with Ethiopians and foreigners alike, applying for passports or visas. In our case, our chance to get our equipment and documents returned.

More hours went by before we finally got our “hearing” before five unidentified men. They’d combed through every corner of our luggage in pursuit of hidden cameras or memory cards and demanded to see every inch of footage we’d shot. Each of us was interviewed separately about exactly what our story was, why we chose to go where we did.

An emaciated cow walks through a dry field in Ethiopia's famine

An emaciated cow walks through a dry field in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. Photo by Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

An emaciated cow walks through a dry field in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. Photo by Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

Our explanation was simple: Oromia was hard-hit by the drought. It is where we planned to film food distribution and other retraining programs run by the government and by Baltimore-based Catholic Relief Services, the largest nongovernment aid group operating in Ethiopia. A CRS official accompanying us was also detained through this ordeal. This was mystifying since his agency, far from being subversive, is a key government partner in relief work.

As it turns out, Oromia is also one of several regions that have seen political unrest and protests — unrelated to the drought — which the government has put down violently. In the days just before we arrived, Human Rights Watch reported 100 deaths at the hands of riot police in the Oromia region.

It’s fair to assume that the security services were looking for footage or evidence of any encounters we might have had with protests or protesters, highly improbable given that we’d barely arrived in the country. A glance in our passports could attest to that.

Finally, 24 hours after they were taken, our passports and gear were returned with the only “official” explanation we would get.

“You did not get permission from Security,” we were advised, even though no such requirement is published anywhere.

Oromia was now off limits and interviews already scheduled with government ministers about the drought were now canceled.

In Ethiopia, “Security,” the National Intelligence Service, appears to hold the biggest sway, enforcers for a government hell bent on controlling the flow of public information and the images it sends out to the world.

Internet service was shut down throughout the country in the period just before we arrived, presumably to muzzle social media and to prevent protest images from being exported, a virtually impossible task in this day and age. Nevertheless, footage of the protests were broadcast and distributed.

Given that weeks of careful planning (to say nothing of the hefty travel costs) were wiped out by the whims of a paranoid security apparatus, it’s unlikely we’ll be able to return and tell this important story any time soon.

When Peace Wreckers Become Peacekeepers: Why Do Authoritarian Regimes Make Their Armies Readily Available to Participate in International Peacekeeping? By Alem Mamo June 16, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in The study of Evil, The Tyranny of Ethiopia.
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“Peace is not merely the absence of war but the presence of justice, of law, of order – in general of government.”
—Albert Einstein

Why Do Authoritarian Regimes Make Their Armies Readily Available to Participate in International Peacekeeping

When the first United Nations Peacekeeping force was proposed by the Canadian Foreign Minister Lester B. Pearson in 1956 in response to the Suez Crisis the idea was received with a mixed reaction in the international diplomatic and policy circles. Some welcomed it as a ground breaking and watershed moment for global peace and security while others viewed it as a strange and impossible idea to build consensus from all member states. Whatever the initial reaction, establishing an international peacekeeping force eventually won the support of the majority, and Lester B. Pearson who subsequently became the Prime Minister of Canada won a Noble Peace Prize for his contribution in proposing and designing and building consensus to the establishment of UN peacekeeping force.

Since its founding UN Peacekeeping has come a long way in scope, mandate, mission and size. The traditional peacekeeping force contributors, such as Canada, have significantly reduced their participation to peacekeeping and moved into combat and combat related missions, creating a gap in troop contribution. As a result, nations from the global south are filling this void. This shift, in return, has raised the question of the human rights record of regimes, their armies and policies participating in peacekeeping missions in different parts of the world.

Over the last six decades UN peacekeeping operations led by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) have played an irreplaceable role in maintaining peace and stabilization in countries facing inter-state and intra-state conflict. This general achievement record, however, is not without a history of spectacular failure resulting in a tragic consequences. The slaughter of 800,000 Tutsis in1994 by Hutu extremists and the failure of the UN to prevent the genocide remains one of the darkest chapters of the UN and international diplomacy and multilateral response to crisis.

In the recent years UN peacekeeping operations ushered in new guidelines, frameworks and mandates to respond to each conflict dynamic effectively. Alluding to this point the United States Ambassador to the UN Samantha Powers was quoted as saying, “This is not your mother’s, or your grandmother’s, peacekeeping.” Indeed, most of the changes that have taken place over the last decade or so are commendable and they could significantly strengthen the capacity of the UN peacekeeping missions and their effectiveness. However, some of the changes, particularly the expansion of the pool where the uniformed and civilian peacekeepers comes from, is a case for concern both for the reputation and prestige of UN peacekeeping missions and for upholding the principles of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

In this regard, one particular case among many others stands out. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF)-led authoritarian regime in Addis Ababa has significantly accelerated its contribution to international peacekeeping, and currently there are 37 police, 113 military experts, and 7712 troops volunteered by the TPLF regime serving in peacekeeping missions in Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, the Sudan regions of Darfur and Abeyi, and South Sudan.2 The basic question to be asked here is why would the TPLF regime in Addis Ababa be interested in participating in international peacekeeping? Is it driven and motivated by world peace? World peace as a motivation certainly is a noble cause, however, the fact is world peace and regional stability are not TPLF’s primary concerns. Peace is the least defining characteristics of the regime. In fact, since its inception the TPLF has exploited conflict and directly and indirectly manufactured national and regional conflicts to advance its political and economic agenda.

So, why get involved in international peacekeeping? There are four key motivations for the regime to jump on the bandwagon of international peacekeeping. Money, international prestige, creating an illusion of peace at home, projecting military capacity and preparedness. Let’s review each one of these rationales separately.

First, TPLF sees international peacekeeping as lucrative business / money making opportunity. According to the UN’s publicly available information “countries volunteering uniformed personnel to peacekeeping operations are reimbursed by the UN at a standard rate, approved by the General Assembly, of a little over US$1,028 per soldier per month.”3 Which means based on the current troop contribution TPLF pockets close to a million US dollar a year (7862 x $1028= $80,811.36 x 12 =$969856.32). How much of this fund is allocated to the participating troops or police officers is not disclosed and there is no system of accountability or audit.

Second, the regime’s eagerness to dispatch troops to international peacekeeping is motivated by gaining some level of international prestige/recognition, which it often propagates for a local audience, as well as the outside observer. This allows it to project an image of internationally responsible regime. In doing so the regime believes it can harvest legitimacy to govern, which it has lost from the citizens of the country it rules with an iron fist.

Third, participating in international peacekeeping helps the regime create an illusion of ‘peace’ and ‘stability’ at home. Although, there is no full scale inter or intra-state conflict at the moment, sporadic and low-level conflict in different parts of the country continues. Most importantly, the undemocratic and authoritarian nature of the regime has led some groups to consider challenging the regime through armed resistance.

While the primary objective of this article is to highlight the deceptive nature of the TPLF regime and its selfish motivation for participating in international peacekeeping, it is also worth noting that other authoritarian undemocratic regimes marred in internal conflict and violated the rights of citizens are participating in international peacekeeping. It is an open secret that TPLF treats the army and police as its own private force instead of a national force that protects its citizens from any harm. In fact the biggest harm inflicted upon the people of Ethiopia comes from the police, Special Forces, and the army that the regime dispatches to squash any peaceful dissent or opposition to the regime. Structurally, the army and police senior ranking positions are reserved for members of a particular group instead of merit based representation of the all members.

Authoritarian regimes such as the TPLF use their military and police to silence dissent, torture citizens, and murder peaceful protesters, as has been the case in Ethiopia over the last two decades. How it is morally and ethically acceptable that members of the same police and army are welcomed the fold of international peacekeeping? Doesn’t this contradict the very values and principles of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)? The UN must uphold its own values and principles and hold those who violate the rights of citizens accountable instead of allowing them to participate in international peacekeeping. It is also worth noting that regimes known for violating citizen’s rights, such as Burundi, D.R. Congo, Central African Republic (CAR), and Yemen among others are participating in the UN peacekeeping missions. More significantly, these are regimes year after year failed to provide political, social and economic leadership that are vital for building sustainable peace in the countries they rule and yet they are part of the UN peace keeping missions.

‘Positive peace’ is not the absence of war, it is rather the presence of economic, political, social and cultural structures that promote, enhance and strengthen justice, inclusive economic growth free and fair political participation and promotion and protection of human rights. In the absence of these, one cannot claim sustainable peace in its complete form.

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Political Ponerology January 25, 2015

Posted by OromianEconomist in Ethiopian Empire, Ethnic Cleansing, Genocidal Master plan of Ethiopia, Janjaweed Style Liyu Police of Ethiopia, Polish psychiatrist Andrzej Łobaczewski., Political Ponerology, The study of Evil, Uncategorized.
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‘The political ponerology is an interdisciplinary study of social issues primarily associated with Polish psychiatrist Andrzej Łobaczewski. As a discipline it makes use of data from psychology, sociology, philosophy, and history to account for such phenomena as aggressive war, ethnic cleansing, genocide, and despotism… A form of government interesting to ponerologists is one they have called pathocracy, in which individuals with personality disorders (especially psychopathy) occupy positions of power and influence. The result is a totalitarian system characterized by a government turned against its own people. A pathocracy may emerge when a society is insufficiently guarded against the typical and inevitable minority of such abnormal pathology, which Łobaczewski asserts is caused by biology or genetics. He argues that in such cases these individuals infiltrate an institution or state, prevailing moral values are perverted into their opposite, and a coded language like Orwell’s doublethink circulates into the mainstream, using paralogic and paramoralism in place of genuine logic and morality.’ http://www.systemsthinker.com/interests/ponerology/